A Dream of Deliverance by Rebecca Kaddish Hiss
My lady buzzes in my direction: A fluffy chick of a flax-haired girl in a yellow sweater and aureole, she wobbles to the sound of electrostatic in the low-lit corridors of my homely office building. Framed in mid-menial task, my lovely, faceless maiden is downy as her hair tumbles over the copier, fuzzy as her shadow disappears behind the water cooler and nowhere to be seen when I look for her outside the delivery system window. She is the color of pale banana and vegan soy pudding (taupe and terrible-tasting), a haze of blond and the smell of ripe corn upon an empty expanse of Nebraskan prairieland. She’d be put ill at ease by my affections so when she asks Why are you dressed up today? Is it for X? and winks comradely, I swear it so: I love another! She titters over my assumed inamorato and I concede for the sake of momentary connectedness, with sadness disguised as shyness. She touches my back but it’s not the frisson I was in the dreamland market for, knowing she means her affection fraternally.
So I race out the back door! Slamming the doorway! And make (mechanically) for the Roseaway restaurant on a cheesy fucking NYU block of the borderline West Village. Maybe Cornelia Street or some crap. Why would I come here? It’s a boring, unmerited, snobbish and humdrum “hot spot” with the usual too-loud boors in weird late-90s cocktail clothes thinking they’re living while they’re alive. Dully roiled, I teleport to its sister restaurant, the Violetside in Philadelphia. Why, the streets here are narrower, emptier, rain-slicked and cobble-covered and I am immediately emboldened! The Violetside is closing down for a private party, but I creep my way o’er to the giant locking gate where I unwittingly deceive the lockers-up with my cunning use of smallness and the ownership of big, upright eyes that give the lie to my innocent incursion (though they must know, Father, in the watery membrane and multilayered retina of my eyes, I am not an unrighteous infiltrator; I am not wont to give the lie to my double-dealing mode of entrance for I am ultimately decent, I just want FREE FOOD AT THE PRIVATE PARTY… Or is that what I want?).
There’s no mistaking the guest of honor, floating like a foggy apparition of all the girls I ever loved! getting lost between party masks and ninety degree angles of elbows. My light-colored, drained-out, yellow-gray long lost love flits about in all directions, but never in front of me. Never directly. I’m aware that pencil-sized fireworks are shooting off and sending forth showers in shimmering pinks and purples, offsetting attractively the silver party masks, sparkly formal wear and costumery of the party guests, who all have faces I can identify.
Silver platters upon silver platters of finely decorated petit fours and layer cakes, crumbly pies and custard cups on doilies and monogrammed napkins are graciously offered by liveried servers with slick, shiny hair and artless, asexual smiles. Of course I gift myself with as many as I can fit on my napkin, then go back again for more but the party guests look unfavorably on. Am I acting greedily? Or more directly: Am I greedy?
Now it’s hot, very hot, so I take off the first of my many layers. Wearing so many articles, I’m trapped in cotton sleeves and elastic, netting, lace and knots. I hear mention of my fair-haired lass of the constant yellow outline. Whisper whisper whisper–she’s 30–whisper whisper can’t make out the rest of the dialogue. She’s 30?! I ask in a gasp, disbelievingly. Honey, I’m 30, says a sassy woman, or at least says her voice, as her person is obfuscated by hubbub, lights and motion. No, that’s not what I meant. I meant I’m surprised she’s so young. Who are these people?
The next morning, I’m riding on the top of a bus with the sassy-voiced woman on a reconnaissance mission to find a man named James from the infiltrated party. To do so we have to ride back to Philadelphia because as of now, we’re far beyond the outskirts and have to retrace our steps—motor-wise—from geographically outermost to inner; that is, sandy mass to outpost town to village to suburb to city. A veritable, microcosmic tour of America! A symbolic progress from rural West to urban East, the founding of this land from its dawning to discovery to modernity! What ho! I say. But this is no time for cheer. My mother (the sassy 30-year-old from the party) is on her solemn quest for James (I keep telling her Look, I know the Violetside’s sister restaurant in New York, the Roseaway, so I have a direct link; let me find James for you! But she just says No, no, if it came through my daughter it’d be too embarrassing, I have to do it myself. Of course her search method is so grassroots it’s unrealizable: Asking arbitrary individuals at rest stops and while in motion, on the highway, shouting from our bus to another if they know James!?). My father is driving the car and amenable to the situation at hand, but keeps it to himself. My brother is posing for one of those “funny” (state) college travel pictures where sporty, muscly Americans make self-consciously silly faces in front of monuments and natural wonders, but he’s standing too close to the edge of the top of the bus and my heart jumps out of my chest every time the bus lurches. His girlfriend just laughs warm-heartedly and tells me not to worry.