Marie De Salle
by Edmund Zagorin
So there was this man, you could say; a man, yet not a man. Already three days dead, yet continuing to walk around in a perfectly irritating fashion. He sipped cheap rum from a clandestine but seemingly infinite source concealed on his person. He entered the morgue in Tartan plaid, claiming nonsensically that he was searching for the body that belonged to him. Marie De Salle put him up to it. It was all a con, every last word, but to what end? In point of fact, he had only been a hot air balloonist for seventy-five days, and what's more, his license was forged.
Marie De Salle sat at the bar in Palm Beach, rotting, eyeless. His prescription sunglasses had fallen off his face and lay broken in the midst of his uneaten chicken Caesar salad. Then, a week later, he turned up on a gurney with a toe-tag labeled Marie De Salle. The famous old bat actually came in to confirm that the body indeed represented her (at least corporeally) and that Marie De Salle was in fact medically dead, and had even reached the advanced stages of rigor mortis. Then she found a man who looked just like him in the break room by the potbellied coffee urn. The doppel smiled chipperly when Marie waddled in and clicked her lips together by way of saying 'hello'. But then just as quickly, he disappeared and who knows where he went?
Two strippers sat at a table in the discotheque playing cards and eating maraschino cherries. They both wore the same pearl necklace of cigarette smoke. It didn't matter to them that someone else had come in, because both of them were on break. If a customer asked for something, well he could goddamn sit and wait his goddamn turn. In the opposite corner from them sat a grim-faced Cheneyesque caricature, rubbing his hands together, embalmed in a blood-moneyed suit and chewing on his cellphone at someone in India who was helping to outsource his limbic system piece by piece. The man who just came in was, of course, Marie De Salle and he was absolutely putrid. Cheneyesque glared, horridly reptilian. The two strippers didn't give Marie De Salle a second thought until he arrived at their table with a job application and slammed it down in between them.
"I want to work here," said the corpse. "In my lifetime I was Marie De Salle, the famous fashion icon. There are thousands of famous pictures of me. Now I am dead in another persons' cadaver, and I'm looking for companionship. I have tons of international hot air balloon experience. You might be thinking "how's this dead guy going to make a good stripper?" My answer: I can take something extra off that neither one of you would even try." And with that statement, the corpse of Marie De Salle peeled off the palm of his left hand as if it were an isotoner glove. The older stripper didn't even raise an eyebrow. "Honey, yuh ova-qualified," she said, munchily. "Why doncha find a nice grave to take a lay-down in? Looks like ya could use it." And the corpse of Marie De Salle turned around and stumped out, dreadfully disappointed.
Edmund Zagorin is a Detroit-based umbramancer whose serial "Sorry, Our Unicorn Has Rabies" appears on Jukepop. His work has appeared previously in Marco Polo and Kalkion and is forthcoming in Writing That Risks (2013), an anthology by Red Bridge Press. If you would like Edmund to mail you a story for free, sign up here.