Chapter 28

The women laughed.

They’d been the only patrons in the quaint little wine bar for most of the afternoon.  Occasionally a tourist couple would wander in off the streets, have a drink and leave, but there weren’t many of them.  Save for the cruises, the island had sealed itself up for the winter and wouldn’t officially reawaken until the beach season began.

Tara was the first that they’d called to have shown up.  She arrived looking timid and out of place but now, two glasses of merlot later she was as boisterous as the rest of them.  She wore a new hair style and had driven there directly from the salon. 

Her puffed curls had been flattened by the stylist at Hellcatz.  They’d been gelled and sculpted into a tight coif.  She claimed that she was going for a younger look.  She asked them all if they liked it and everyone had agreed that it took years off of her face.

Clara had soon followed.  She’d come from a business meeting where she’d been pitching an air conditioning manufacturer on the idea of placing of a single butterfly in their ads.  She was in a good mood and she’d ordered a bottle of expensive cabernet for them all to share.

She’d told the people at the air conditioning company that butterflies remind people of springtime and cool breezes.  She’d said that butterflies are colorful and pleasing to the eye.  She had charts to show the men gathered around the conference table that people would be more willing to buy air conditioning if there was a butterfly associated with their brand.  They’d approved of her ideas.

Now, she held her wine glass and looked around the bar.  “This is such a unique little place!”  She said eying room.

“I know.”  Tara said, leaning forward in an animated way.  “Why don’t we have places like this by our houses?”

“It’s genuine.”  Myrah offered.  She looked up from her drawings and seemed to take it all in anew. 

“It’s so historic and cozy.”  Jill smiled.  She’d used the word ‘cozy’ to describe the place over and over again.

“These walls are really cracked.”  Myrah continued, pointing at the exposed brick with her pen.  “They’re genuine.  They haven’t been manufactured to look that way.”

Clara smiled.  “Are you badmouthing your husband?”  She asked coyly.

The builder’s wife shook her head.  “I’m not badmouthing him.”  She said.  “He’s good at what he does.”

“Which is to manufacture buildings with fake cracks in their walls and plastic bricks.”  Clara chided.

The women giggled. 

Tara rocked back in her chair waving a hand in front of her face.   The laughter and wine had caused it to be flush with color.  “How did you find this place?”  She asked with a sighing grin.

 Jill looked over at the builder’s wife.  “Myrah just decided to drive out to Galveston.”  She shrugged. 

“I haven’t been to the island in years!”

“Me neither!”

“It’s so crazy the way that they do things here.”  The school teacher said hunching her shoulders.  She leaned back over her wine glass placing both of her hands on the stem and whispered conspiratorially.  “I actually saw a shop selling dirty underwear right next to a funeral parlor when I was driving over here.”

The women nodded.

Jill held a hand below her chin thoughtfully.  “I wonder why don’t they do things like that where we live?”  She asked.  “It’s so unique having a lingerie store next to a funeral parlor.  It’s like things are more avant garde here.”

“You wouldn’t like it.”  Clara said shaking her head.  “Imagine having to go buy sexy underwear right next to a place that’s holding a funeral service.  It would just be depressing.”

The girl sat in silence thinking it over.

“Were we live, things are laid out according to plan and reason.”  The advertising executive continued.  “You get your hair done at Hellcatz and while you’re feeling sexy you may or may not go next door to get yourself a skimpy little pair of panties to wear for your husband.  There’s no death or special parking considerations to worry about for accommodating a hearse, there’s just the salon and the dirty underwear store.”

The women considered these things.

“There is an order.”  Clara said.  “On the first level of the mall they sell stuff for the husbands and the kids.  They do this so that they can get these trespassers in and out as quickly as possible.  They want them to park, purchase and leave.  They reserve upper levels are for us.  They want us to take as long as we want.  We are the true fibers of the malls fabric. We come in peace.  We walk around.  We talk.  We buy things for ourselves and our families.  We do this with love and without interruption.”

Tara nodded.  “That’s like at the grocery store and how they put the milk in back so you have to walk through everything else to get to it.”  She said eagerly.

“No.”  The woman corrected her.  “It’s actually quite the opposite of that.”

Clara held out her hands.  “Where we live everything is laid out for convenience sake.”  She said in a steady rhythmic cadence.  “They don’t want you to have to make unnecessary trips and stops.  They want you to spend your money.  They want you to do everything that you have to do before you get back in your car and leave. 

“In strip center’s they put the dry cleaners next to the places that sell donuts.  They put the card and party shops beside the grocery stores.  The put the places that sell shoes next to the places that sell clothes.  This is because they know that when you drop your laundry off at the dry cleaners in the morning you’ll want donuts.  They know that you’ll need to buy a Happy Birthday banner at the card and party shop after you’ve finished shopping for groceries for the party.  They know that you’ll want a fiery new dress to go with that pair of heels that you just got for yourself.”

“How do you know all of this?”  Jill asked.

Clara smiled.  “It’s simple.”  She answered proudly.  “Just look around at the world that you live in.  At the core of everything is all that you could ever ask for.  The fast food places and filling stations are left to the outskirts.  They orbit the shopping centers like vultures.  This moves those who aren’t serious about gathering what they want from the heart of the complex out into the world faster.  They sell things that are there only to fulfill basic needs.  The wants and desires lie closer to the center.  They sit behind parking lots and buggy returns.  Everything is compartmentalized.  Everything is designed for our convenience.  It’s a paradise!”

Myrah slid a napkin over to her.  “What do you think of this?”  She asked.

On it she’d drawn up another design for the sign.  The words for their subdivision had been topped with a row of flowers. 

Clara nodded. “Nice.”   She said.  “Put a butterfly on there and it will be perfect.”

The End

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