An XKE, sleek and maroon, cruised the streets of San Francisco sniffing for body heat like a hungry dog; and gunning the gas driving so fast whenever he, who actually was not XKE but the man in the driver's seat, thought he could get away with it on Market Street; even around the Tenderloin District near the YMCA -- that was so much more than just a place to get off the streets, a human zoo full of pick pockets and transvestites, pimps, prostitutes, drunks, addicts, even a few homeless people who managed to tag along squeezed into an elevator headed for room 202 where a recent shipment of coke was being marketed in little cellophane packets, ten for $30, a hundred for $250, a line for $5, or $2 just to enter and watch people snort like anteaters, like elephants with insatiable appetites or like pretty, little hummingbirds in 6-inch heels.

Nadia hummed sultry jazz on her CD player while the man at her wheel, decadent beast, hot- shot lawyer with ten grand (his cut in a criminal defense, a birthday gift to himself without the fancy ribbons and wrappings or any personal touch -- for three hours toil executed in the judge's chamber by his low cut secretary, former client who could type pretty good, plus ten minutes of his own precious time on a cellular with a man who spoke like an AM radio station announcer who stuttered "Cool" at the end of every comment he, the lawyer made) took a deep drag only to erupt coughing and gasping for air.

Loose and free driving his Nadia XKE, this lawyer had one thing on his mind tonight which anyone with a little imagination could determine by the way he stopped at every corner, wherever there might be someone standing, someone strutting in an obvious manner, someone willing to hop in for a hot ride around the block a couple of two or three times. This is how it was for the lawyer in his XKE, until a cherry spotted him taking a fast turn onto Powell Street.

The siren pursued him to Chinatown as people waved him on, cheering as he drove to North Beach, then Fisherman's Wharf taking corners like Mario, drawing further and further from the cherry till he lost control and Nadia did back flips down an embankment into a park rolling, tumbling like an Olympic gymnast gone berserk at a soccer game where throngs of people wearing pink hats stood in amazement watching their team scatter in horror. And then it started to rain torrents, splashing onto the soccer field driving everyone back into their cars, but not the sleek maroon Nadia, who smouldered in the rain like an abstract sculpture, and the lawyer whose appetite for center stage had always been a priority, now a puzzle, 500 pieces scattered about, mixed with tens and twenties and a bunch of a hundred dollar bills, wet and clinging to the grass.

It was an amazing image so unlike life, so different, this young girl, Nadia, who dazzled everyone with her extracurricular activity, poetry in vogue like so many fantastic images, clever metaphors linked together in a convoluted fish bowl turned upside down, splattered onto a green rug, streaked with blood; so crazy in her appearance that nobody could figure out what the message was or had become, even when it was spelled backwards, not even when someone with ESP or voluminous know-how tried to interpret. No one could slip past her veil to drink the cup of understanding, least of all the casual listener dropping by for coffee, leaving in a mental daze, poetried into the twilight zone, a black hell hole, hell hell, hell hole with lots of people in
gray jackets reciting words that mesmerize, so unlike life, so different...

"So let's have another cappuccino before the next poet takes to the stage," said the emcee, "and raises the silver preying mantis to his angry blue green lips to recite silver dollars the size of oranges, the weight of nations so profound they will cast a spell even on the lovely poetess with eyes so wide, so green, seated in our midst at a table by herself like an alien from another planet absorbing the knowledge of this new world, preparing to speak to its inhabitants for the first time."

The audience listened, a few exited, at last the poet with angry blue green lips finished his fifteen minutes of open-mike, and then it was her turn to enter the spotlight. She looked into the crowd of hungry admirers, she did not touch her hair, she did not arch her back, she did not cross her legs, she just took a sip of water, swallowed and began speaking.

"Greetings dogs in heat.We have good oranges for you, many silver dollars' worth that will make you glow. We come to you with back flips in our thoughts, and having spun out of control now wish to sniff your attention."

"The universe awaits your arrival, but if you persist in this twilight manner that journey will not occur, not even in your wildest simile. Therefore, we, the maroon women of Antares advise you to cruise your XKE's back to the purest essence, somewhere between a star and a metaphor."

"We who have been reflecting upon this a bit for many days at least, adjure you to examine your consonance and to vaporize what the world may think of your assonance. A thousand pictures unknown, no matter if they are stroked in sable or mink, cannot replace one word of simple bonfire."

"Hear ye! Hear ye! O rebellious earthlings. We have chosen to speak to you in your American English. Next time we may not be so patient. So say we, the women of Antares."

By Mr. X (10/97)


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