“And now the music, my boy,”

21 Jun

“And now the music, my boy,”  Madame Ludmilla said, then cranked a Victrola that appeared to be in mint condition, shiny, like new.  She put on a record.  The music was a haunting melody that reminded me of a circus march.

“And now my show,” she said, and began to twirl around to the accompaniment of the haunting melody.  The skin of Madame Ludmilla’s body was tight, for the most part, and extraordinarily white, though she was not young.  She must of been in her well-lived late forties.  Her belly sagged, not a great deal, but a bit, and so did her voluminous breasts.  The skin of her face also sagged into noticeable jowls.  She had a small nose and heavily painted red lips.  She wore black mascara. She brought to mind the prototype of an aging prostitute.  Yet there was something childlike about her, a girlish abandon and trust, a sweetness that jolted me.

“And now, figures in front of a mirror,”  Madame Ludmilla announced while the music continued.

“Leg, leg, leg!” she said, kicking one leg up in the air, and then the other, in time with the music.  She had her right hand on top of her head, like a little girl who is not sure she can perform the movements.

“Turn, turn turn!” she said, turning like a top.

“Butt, butt butt!” she said then showing me her bare behind like a cancan dancer

She repeated the sequence over and over until the music began to fade when the Victrola’s spring wound down.  I had the feeling that Madame Ludmilla was twirling away into the distance, becoming smaller and smaller as the music faded. Some despair and loneliness that I didn’t know existed in me came to the surface from the depths of my very being, and made me get up and run out of the room,down the stairs like a madman, out of the building into the street.

Carlos Castaneda, The Active Side of Infinity (Harper Perennial, New York NY ©1998) p. 23-24

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