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The International Writers Magazine: Fiction

Paulette's Reverie (excerpt from "A Symphony of Fear")
Dean Borok

Paulette regarded herself critically in the full-length mirror of her bedroom, still trying to decide if it was absolutely essential for her lingerie to match her street clothes. Nothing was more essential for her than to be perfectly put together even when walking her dog (though she couldn't remember when was the last time she had actually walked him herself) or rushing for a quart of milk at the Korean deli. As far as she was concerned, a thoughtlessly composed exterior betrayed a person's inner confusion, and a poorly attired person was not to be trusted in other, more important aspects of life.

Her hair was a radiant explosion of natural shades ranging from light brown to golden blonde. She had gotten the idea from a magazine photo of a quiche that she had observed while waiting her turn at the beauty salon. Her nails were two-tone raspberry and silver, with the raspberry color exactly matching her lipstick. Her eyelids were purple, exactly matching the little purple flowers on her French push-up bra and panties. Her make-up was applied with amazing subtlety. The natural look, as it was called, the desired illusion being that no make-up was being worn, and that the perfect complexion, betraying just the first blush of sexual awakening, was the woman's natural state. She took a quick inventory of her assets with the same attitude of invincible entitlement as that of the Rock Hudson character in "Giant" when overlooking his oil wells. Breasts, legs, buttocks, arms - perfect. "Son, some day all this will belong to.." Belong to whom?

All this perfection was more than any man had a right to expect. To Paulette's way of thinking, American women had broken through a barrier of physical desirability that had left their males holding the bag, so to speak. First of all, women didn't have all those superfluous muscle groups, which were essentially useless in the modern world. A lower intensity of training, combined with precision surgical enhancement, was needed to bring a woman to her peak of perfection, while men were having to waste precious time and energy to arrange all that mess into something resembling order. Sure, a man could eventually build himself into a pale imitation of what nature had intended for him, but what would he be then? Some kind of a useless, statuesque eighth wonder of the world, a Schwartznegger unable to run around the block for fear of tearing a hamstring, incapable of employing all that useless muscle mass to a useful end, which might involve a ripped bicep or glute.

She winced at the thought of it. Man was a beast of burden, a throwback to an earlier stage of evolution, an anachronism. When life was elemental the world needed men to do all the nasty, brutish things: carrying, building, killing. Life was all about getting and keeping the products of the sun's energy - meat, plants, organic objects. Then economies became more refined and the sun's energy came to be symbolized by money. Instead of trading eggs for a knife, you sold them for money and bought the knife. Still men had been useful.

But into today's electromagnetic world of energy impulses, what good were men. Instead of going out and catching reindeer, they had been reduced to going out and capturing digital pulses, which could be just as effectively done by women, or even children. Every week there was another story about a kid who broke the bank on Wall Street. Some of those kids’ video games were being used to train fighter pilots. Men had come down a lot. Their inability to keep their obsolete bodies in tune was killing them off and they were leaving their money to - women!

Paulette was certainly well-heeled! She had inherited all her daddy's money. All those years of him sweating, grunting, stealing and chiseling, until at the end his whole life could be summed up by some little handbag clasp that he had been able to bring in from China for a quarter. The warehouse filled with boxes of useless peaked caps that he had finally liquidated for six dollars a dozen so that they could travel half-way around the world only to get hijacked by some gang of thugs at the Estonian-Russian border, ending up on the head of a peasant kid in Khirgistan, all the rays of the sun which had started off as plant life, eaten by dinosaurs, putrified into petroleum, refined into polyester, woven into fabric, sewn into a Saint Antonio Spurs hat and sold for dollars which were now zeros and ones in a computer account with her name on it!

Paulette fell into a rapture of contemplation. She would never have to break a nail. She had a job, if you could call it that, as a real estate agent showing East Side apartments to star-struck out-of-towners. This career Paulette had planned with meticulous precision. No way did she need the money, but is was a prestige situation, the cream of world society practically on their knees, begging for a Manhattan pied à terre, ready to kiss her firm, gently rounded butt in Macy’s window for the chance to get gouged for a dark, cramped cubicle on the East Side for a couple of seasons. Then their country’s currency would collapse and they would be forced to return to Malaysia or St. Vincent, freeing up the apartment for the next wave of happy wanderers.

Yeah, Paulette was in the driver’s seat. She was like a sheep shearer, standing at the airport terminal gate along with all the other New Yorkers, clippers at the ready for the next load of out-of-towners who would run through, sheared clean, and sent right back through the “Departures” gate. The process would have run much smoother if everybody just stayed home and sent their money in. A micro-diagram of the world economy at the time of this story might look like this: imagine a pool table built on a slant with only one pocket at the bottommost corner. That pocket could be labeled New York, because all the balls are going to end up there anyway. It doesn’t matter if you came here or not, because your money was damned sure going to end up here no matter what happened!

The mayor, whose names was Keynes, gave an interview shortly before he took his midnight flight to Montevideo. He was asked to reflect on the city’s historically ongoing housing crisis, to which he had contributed as mightily as anybody else in history. “Of course they’re flooding in!” he exclaimed with a magnificence of spirit that only the grandest of thieves is capable of marshalling, and which had endeared him to New Yorkers for years, even as his larcenous nature stuck out in plain sight, “Where the hell else are they going to go?” Nobody in New York can live on his salary. There is always stealing and chiseling involved, right up and down the food chain. That is why New Yorkers are such humorless fucks. Everybody is only thinking about eating, about capturing a little part of the sun’s energy. If New York City had a national animal, it would be the seagull, which is a totally humorless animal. When was the last time you saw a seagull laugh? That most maritime of birds would rather steal than catch his own lunch because you get a double whammy, you eat without working, which is every New Yorker’s dream. The way Paulette had it figured out, all she had to do was sit tight, keep things down to a dull roar, and let Pops keep figuring out her investment strategy. That way she would go out of this world on the plus side of things. She would leave her children more than had been left to her, which is appropriate thinking for any decent American.
Dean Borok March 2008

Ghostal Regions
Dean Borok
(Extract from Symphony of Fear)
The world of dreams is an eternal infinite universe inside each person... driven by the unformed expression of neurotic impulses and sexual repressions of the dreamer

Havelock Gets His Fortune Told
Dean Borok

Still holding the dregs of his drink in his hand, Havelock Jones waded through the Halloween party in the direction of the fortune teller.

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