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Fiction: Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast
By Larry Lefkowitz
Editor's Note: Previously published in the Pink Narcissus Press anthology Rapunzel's Daughters under the title "Getting Along With Mr. Wrong" in 2011.
“Beauty,” I queried her over our cups of tea (mine cinnamon, hers strawberry-lemon), “what are we to do today? It’s overcast, best we stay indoors – you know what rain does to my fur.”
Beauty didn’t answer, caught by a magazine article about Lady Gaga.
“Beau-ty,” I repeated. Beauty liked my syllabic pronunciation, preferably with a Noel Coward accent.
She looked up. “Did you say something, Beast?”
“I did. I inquired as to what we should do today. “
Beauty sighed in that dramatic way of hers, stolen from a BBC reenactment of one of Jane Austin’s novels.
“I suppose,” she said, turning the pages of the magazine absently, “you will ravish me.”
“Yes, it cannot be ruled out, though it gets increasingly fatiguing. And you comply so nonchalantly lately. Not like in the old days when you would beat on my chest and –“
“Yes, I know, Beast. Something’s changed.” She said this without looking up from her magazine.
“Maybe we should vary the routine. I could dress up as –what’s his name? The actor you like. The Caribbean buccaneer. Or go back to some of my past routines. You remember? The bagpipes? “Roamin’ in the Gloamin”?”
“How could I forget? It was like being ravished by an octopus. And that skirt!”
“Kilt. I was deep into the role. An adherent of the Stanislavsky method of acting. And you made a fine Lolita in our little Nabokov tribute.”
She looked up from her magazine. “They were okay in their day. You were naughty to try to vary the legend.”
A case of the flesh being willing and the spirit weak. I had pangs of conscience every time I did it.
Still, it was preferable to the boring old ravishing according to The Legend.
“Beauty, I won’t stand for disparagement of The Legend. Admittedly, repetition breeds boredom, but ravishing is what the Legend of Beauty and the Beast demands. One or two ravishings a day.”
“More like one a day lately,” she corrected.
“I’m getting older, Beauty. Beasts age, too, you know—not just rock stars.”
“I know. Your ravishings lately—how can I put it?—have not only become less frequent, but somewhat..." Beauty hesitated, and then circled her hand vaguely in the air.
“Tepid,” I ventured.
“Pre-cise-ly.” she said, imitating my enunciation of one of my favorite words, which she claimed I borrowed from Margaret Thatcher.
“Maybe it’s because I get tired of ravishing Lady Gaga, I snapped – those overly done hats, those huge shoes, the whole shtick.”
“I adore Lady Gaga.” Beauty replied.
“Next thing, you will want a tattooed rose on your delicious shoulder.”
“A chastity belt!” she shot back.
Her new cheekiness probably came from Lady Gaga. Or Britney Spears. What a contrast to the passivity of her gothic novels stage. I would read them out loud to her, and then we would ravish. Gothically. But nothing remains as it was, even in legends. Fault our revisionist age. Post modernism and such. Anybody can read legends as he wishes, and not as they were told and passed down from generation to generation.
My reflective silence apparently oppressed Beauty, for she threw down her magazine – with Lady Gaga on the cover! She could not remain peeved for long. The Legend wouldn’t permit it. Putting both hands under her chin and leaning on them in her Little Miss Muffet pose, she said, to mollify me, “How about a game of scrabble?”
“I always beat you in word games.” I replied tartly, still miffed.
“I’m not as intellectual as thee.”
“If you read the T.L.S. as I urged you these last decades, you would be.”
“Lady Gaga doesn’t read the T.L.S.”
“Maybe I should ravish Lady Gaga.”
At this, Beauty let out a long laugh. “I could hardly picture the two of you. You’d have to do it wearing elevator shoes.”
An unkind cut. She knew I was sensitive about my height.
“Ah, for the days when I would sing ‘Hey nonny no, today we’ll go a’ ravishing’ as I jumped into the air and clicked my hobnailed boots.”
“Yeah, in your furry, furry voice.”
“What do you expect – I am the Beast.”
“That’s fine for you. What am I? The Ravished, that’s who.”
“We each have our roles according to the parameters of The Legend. Besides, you are Beauty, the epitome of—" I stopped, offended, because Beauty had covered her ears, shouting, I heard it all before.
“You shouted!” I pouted. Beauty had never shouted at me before.
She ran to me and gave me a hug. “I know, Beastie, I’m out of sorts lately.”
Mollified by her hug, I pawed at the zipper of her dress. A flouncy thing with large pasted-on flowers. Lady Gaga’s influence at work.
“How about a little ravishing, Baby?” I purred in my Humphrey Bogart voice.
“Not today, if you please, Bogie. I have a headache.”
“What?! A headache?! A common housewife’s excuse. Any housewife worth her apron would give her eye teeth to be ravished by me!”
“You use a mixed metaphor?” she laughed. “You’re hopelessly behind the times. Housewives would prefer to see others ravished on TV. Like in Sex and the City.”
“I got carried away, hence the mixed metaphor, ergo, the solecism.” I explained to her. “The truth is, what with TV and the internet the legends are losing their force. Vintage is out, the ephemeral is in.”
She sighed. “Maybe we should bow out gracefully. Close the shop. I’ll take up aerobic dancing for exercise.”
I ignored her wit, but replied to her proposal. After Walt Disney got hold of the Legend, we became but pale imitations of ourselves. I agree to bow out as gracefully as a Beast can. I said to her, “But how about one last ravish?”
“Oh all right.” she consented. Then she stopped. “Maybe we could make it a game of Scrabble instead—go out intellectually. You might be remembered as a savant and not as a beast.”
“Why not both? Scrabble followed by ravishing. Feast for the mind, feast for the body.”
“Ok, I’ll get the Scrabble game.”
“And I’ll get my fur-gell.”
#Unreal #BeautyAndTheBeast #Legends #FalseFolklore #Relationships #Ravishing
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