He glided from the bedroom to the kitchen in remarkable style, sitting on his wheel-barstool. He never understood why his inability to use his broken leg should imply an automatic loss of stylistic integrity. He went back to his study, holding a cocktail glass so tenderly, that the ice cubes melted instantly, causing an unexpected overflow. He looked at his phone and the phone groaned, complaining about the heat-wave, which was getting on his nerves too; he had spent the entire weekend staring alternately at a painfully blank word document and a strange man with a spectacular double chin, who kept watching him with his sleepy eyes through the rear window overlooking the courtyard. As soon as he would decide to wave at him, the man would disappear only to appear at the window of a different apartment a few minutes later, his doughy head moving occasionally in a somewhat disapproving manner.
He grabbed his phone and decided to straighten things out with her on WhatsApp. He took a deep breath before typing his response:
He downed his cocktail in one big gulp. A constipated Muse. Well, now that was a curse. She had disappeared for three months and all she would do was chat with him on WhatsApp, sending him all sorts of banal stuff combined with disgusting clichés. She had finally come up with something original, of course, but still, the concept of a constipated Muse was definitely a curse. The mysterious man at the window was staring at him again; this time it seemed like he was speaking into an old black dial telephone, his eyes still lethargic and expressionless, his mouth moving like the mouth of a ventriloquist dummy, his soft fingers playing obsessively with the cord. His phone bleeped. It was her again.
Suddenly, it dawned on him. (It would be unreasonable to assume that all his ideas were inspired by his Muse, after all). The guests’ bathroom! The one he hadn’t used in over a year and whose existence he had nearly forgotten, as he had gradually turned it into a storage room for all sorts of old, useless or broken stuff; torn shower curtains, damp matchboxes, broken sunglasses, cracked coffee cups, empty wine bottles, forgotten keys, scratched negatives, shattered champagne glasses, damaged diamond necklaces, torn pieces of rope, burnt out light-bulbs, rusty toy-carousels, shredded scarves, wrinkled ties, expired cans of corn and vertigo pills, faded plastic flowers. All of a sudden, he was convinced that his Muse had been in this tomb of frayed inspiration all that time, hiding under his nose. He was so certain, he could clearly picture her sitting on the toilet, phone in hand, typing nervously, sweat dripping down her temples. That’s why he headed straight to the guests’ bathroom.
He burst the door open, hoping to catch her red-handed, but instead of a Muse with red hands, he saw the broad shoulders of a tall, inconceivably elegant man, standing in front of the basin. The man remained absolutely cool, he didn’t even turn to see who had barged in the toilet, and just let out a bass, slightly sharp murmur, softer than the shaving foam covering his cheeks. He watched the mirror above the basin hypnotically and saw the tanned face of the ladykiller slowly being revealed under the razor blade strokes that softly made the foam disappear, until he – freshly shaven now – turned to him with a smile so radiant, its edges seemed as perfectly refrained as the song of a cricket left alone in a deserted big city in midsummer.
“Voila! Now I’m ready!”
It was Cary Grant.
“What on earth are you doing here?”
“Getting ready to go out, as you can see.”
“But … Where is she? My Muse … Have you seen her? Was she here?”
“Well, where did she go?”
“Now look here, my good man … I do beg your pardon but … I had to throw her down the airshaft. I never allow a lady to see me unshaven. “
“But … she is my Muse!”
Cary Grant looked at him with a gaze so deep, one wouldn’t even dare to dip a little toe in it, then took off his jacket (he only wears a white, freshly-ironed shirt in cliff-hanger scenes), opened the window and hung down the airshaft. As he was about to begin his heroic descent, he said calmly:
“Now, now, my dear fella, there is no need to worry; I have done this several times before, as you might know. I shall bring her back safe and sound. After all, it’s only been ten minutes since I threw her out and I am pretty sure that she hasn’t died of boredom yet. Although, she did look a bit tense … Would you mind terribly if I clasped her in my arms for as long as I’m rescuing her? And as soon as I get the job done, I must give her a Technicolor kiss and she shall be awed by its efficiency, is that alright?”
“Yeah … no problem.”
He stuck his head through the window to watch Cary Grant descend into the airshaft. And there they were; all the blondes with the eyes of frost, piled on top of each other, oestrus-ridden mannequins covered in sweet decay, enveloped in the flaccid shadow of the curious man at the courtyard, still staring absently through the window, cutting the cord of his black dial phone with a pair of scissors. Suddenly, Cary Grant stopped midway and looked up.
“Hang on! I can’t save her like this!”
Cary Grant jumped back into the bathroom, no sign of wrinkles on his clothes, only allowing a tiny wrinkle on his forehead to reveal that he was remotely concerned about something.
“Got any Brylcreem?”
Andriana Minou is a writer/musician based in London, UK. Her work has been published in many journals, such as Sand Journal, FIVE:2:ONE, Typehouse, Paper Nautilus, Tiny Spoon, rattle journal, Maintenant Dada, while her latest book of short stories, ‘The Fabulous Dead’ is about to be published by Kernpunkt Press (March 2020, New York). Three books of hers are published by Strange Days Books (Greece). Her upcoming projects include the texts for a music performance in Amsterdam and the libretto for a queer opera to be presented at the Greek National Opera in March 2020. www.andrianaminou.com
Timeo Musas: Latin for “Beware of Muses”, a reference to the phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid; “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes”, meaning “Beware of the Greeks bearing gifts”.10