Wanted &
Dance of the Mad Flies

by Fredric Mitchem


I used to be G., a Mordvinian. Now I reside in Guatemala and work secretly for the government. My flat has a trap door which leads to a subterranean city policed by minotaurs. When the maitre d' from the hotel across the street comes to get wine from the City he is thrust into a world of upside-down alcoves, dead-end stairways and galleries of invisible art; a great library which contains the facial movements in speech of all the great military leaders of the world since the time of Alexander; and a mammoth hall containing a replica in gold of the Lusitania from which silent music is played for the deaf constables.

To say I am a secret agent is not entirely true. Perhaps more relevant is that the maitre d' prefers to serve his guests beer.

It may be pertinent that I am assigned to kill him. I am by training a gardener; I weed the state of recalcitrants. The maitre d' knows he is trapped in 'my' City now.

He will suffocate, if he hasn't already, as there is no time for air down there.

Dance of the Mad Flies

I was sitting at the Butter-and-Eggs having my morning coffee. I noticed a young man with his back to me seated at a table wearing a long black coat with a huge ornate 'T' superimposed over the head of a bull on it. 'Taurus', I thought: One of the constellations of the zodiac. Forming the profile of a bull's face, a V or A-shaped asterism, or pattern of stars. In this profile, Aldebaran forms the bull's bloodshot eye, described as glaring menacingly at the hunter Orion, a constellation that lies just to the southwest.

T finished his espresso and rose to leave.

I was compelled to get up and follow him...

After walking a good two blocks, he turned into the entrance to the Neptune Arcade. I scurried to catch up. Once there, I could see he had stopped to peer in through the window of a shop. Was he looking at the shop's contents — or his own reflection? I darted into the entranceway of a clothing store and, peering cautiously around at him, uncapped my flask of absinthe and guzzled a couple of large 'fingers'. T moved on through the row of shops. He reached the end of the arcade and exited left onto the street. Recapping my flask, I pursued briskly but stealthily. Finally, coming out into the open, I saw that the entire sky had turned to iron grey-black now, overcast. We were on the Avenue of Ochre Leaves. The Green Lady made my head swim. But I pressed on, T's figure in my sights. My eyes REMed, darting like piranhas. I must collect myself, I thought. When I reached the alley, I could smell the fresh coffee brewing and the croissants and new bread in the oven of the Purple Onion Bakery. — I saw nothing of my 'prey' (or was I the prey?) I ran across the Avenue. The sky was dense, dark and angry. A sudden gust whipped up. There was music from a window somewhere. It sounded like the low ominous bowing of the opening of Stravinsky's 'Firebird' Suite. — Or was it the quivering of some heavy steel cables? Rounding the corner of a warehouse I spied him again, his figure somehow luminous against the iron black of the day, the lone delineation of some phantom creature amid the decay of urban sprawl. He turned another corner (I following at some distance). Above and to my right appeared a dirty, buzzing neon sign which read:


I caught the scent of pizza wafting out from the doorway beneath it. Glancing in the dirty window I was confronted with a man gaping... at me? He had sunken, bloodshot eyes and a grey pencil moustache — or was it the shadow of his prominent nose from the seedy overhead fluorescent lighting? Shaking myself from my momentary trance, I took up my pursuit. Straining to maintain a clear focus on the object of my notion — my eye rough in its hard resolve regarding its own shimmying rapid movement... Did T look back over his shoulder at me? He had stopped. I stopped likewise, 'naked' — having no cover this time. For a moment I thought he had spotted me — not only spotted me, but was staring directly at me. No, no... My eyes danced like mad flies, my ears buzzing. I withdrew the absinthe again and, uncapping it clumsily, guzzled the entire remaining contents now. But when I looked up:

No more T.

I had lost him... like a jinni in a bottle.

Fredric Mitchem attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, in the film department; the College of Santa Fe in theatre, and has written irreal and other stories since he was a small child.