My secluded universe was again looking for balance. I guess the contract old Mr. Me had devised, which proposed to Asian women to live in the nude with me, must have been written quite well because there hadn’t been any collision since Maggie’s arrival and she had settled in nicely with May Linh, Lily and me.
I guess Maggie felt secure in this remote place by the beach in this always warm southeastern Asian country, where, other than us, nobody other than delivery boys ever came. The swimming and the sun, and Lily’s massages I guess, and Maggie looked better and better and happier and happier every day.
Anyway, one evening, Maggie must have been with us maybe two weeks, something weird happened. It was late at night and the weather was terrible, not a typhoon or anything like that – anyway May Linh, Lily and I weren’t scared of typhoons anymore and we had in the past two years and a half known several of them. No, it was just a big tropical storm, rare in this season, and there was a lot of wind and rain and the ocean was thumping – nobody swam today – and, in our recluse home by the beach, surrounded by the jungle, the night was dark, very dark, only stricken by lightning, Crack and then Boom.
Because of the wind, we just had a small light outside on the porch, not our usual lamps and candles. Most lights were also turned off in the house. It was ok though because it was still warm and I was kind of happy that, maybe because of the storm, all three of them were with me on the porch this late.
At the beginning, when I bought this house with the hope to convince one or more women to live here with me on the nude, while I was still alone, I remember sitting here, on that same porch and looking at the ocean and thinking and hoping.
The porch didn’t look then like anything the way it looks like now. May Linh first, then Lily had brought taste to my bare rough place. It was still bare. Other than on May Linh’s altar, there was no picture anywhere, no pictures of anyone’s past, no poster. But there were mirrors and flowers everywhere in the house, flowers coming out from the garden May Linh and Lily had created and reflecting in the mirrors. And it made my shotgun house looked immense and wide and large, when it was in fact narrow, but, above all, the house was now so cozy and comfy. With all these women living here, the opposite would have been a surprise.
On the porch there were now plants providing shade during the day and protecting from the wind in the evening, and more flowers, a working board and a cabinet Lily had built, with a cooler inside for the beer and the wine and now Maggie’s vodka. There were cushions on the chairs and it was very harmonious. In fact, the porch is where I spent most of my time. When I wasn’t sleeping or swimming, I was on the porch, easy to find.
That’s where, in the evening, May Linh would often join me after playing her piano and she’d have a glass of white wine, with ice cubes in it, or two and sometimes three glasses. We didn’t need to talk. So we were together like that, without saying anything, looking at the ocean and the sky, lost in our thoughts but somehow really together. In the evening, Lily would usually be in the office, learning America by heart. Then May Linh would go to sleep, usually with Lily, and I would hang a little bit longer on the porch, maybe smoking a French joint, having a couple of beers more and then go to bed, although by the time Maggie showed up, I was pretty much going to sleep at the same time May Linh and Lily did.
That evening atmosphere changed somewhat with Maggie’s arrival. Maggie refused absolutely to leave the house and go anywhere – she was adamant about it – and she wouldn’t even go to town with May Linh and Lily, Lily driving, which they were doing at least once a week but she’d stay on the porch with me. God, could she drink though! Vodka, bloody Maries. I didn’t know what to think about that.
So it was May Linh and Lily who were buying Maggie’s vodka. I guessed they were buying it only when they were going to town, and I could understand that they didn’t want anyone in the village to see them buy bottles after bottles of vodka. Maggie could drink. Still, even in those circumstances, I thought she was drinking a lot, and smoking.
I knew the feeling in a way because it had been a long time since I last bought my own cigarettes, either May Linh or Lily, whoever was doing the groceries, would get them for me. Beer, water, wine, laundry were delivered. Again, I guess May Linh and Lily didn’t want vodka on that list. Still, May Linh and Lily always bought Maggie her vodka and I didn’t hear them once making any judgment about Maggie’s vicious’ habits, nor mine. We were more puzzled by the fact Maggie didn’t want to go anywhere.
Anyway, that night, the weather was terrible and I guess that’s the reason why we were still out on the porch, all four of us, which was quite rare that late at night. Now that I think of it, it was probably the first time this happened. But it was a good evening. Every one of us seemed to relish the moment. So I was coming back from the kitchen with more drinks and I was still in the big room, near May Linh’s piano when, in the dark, there was all of sudden a loud and blinding strike of lightning over the beach, really close, and the electricity flickered and I saw May Linh, Lily and Maggie, all three of them, through a very strange light, in black and white, in sharp contrast, as with a flash or like when you’re looking at a negative picture.
And what I saw struck me because what I saw in that split second were all three of them as old women, very, very, old women, like what they would look like maybe one day when they’d be very old. It lasted a glimpse, even less, but I saw it clearly; if I was a painter I could paint that picture so clearly I saw it, and it scared me somewhat.
When I arrived on the porch, I could discern the three of them and, in the dim light, I looked at their body, what I could see of it, and their faces were relaxed and beautiful, not minding the storm a bit. But me, for some reason, I could hear the wind howling and I couldn’t hear any ruckus coming out of the jungle and I never liked it when the jungle was silent at night.
I don’t believe in god but, like almost everybody, I’m certainly superstitious. So, as I sat with them and popped open a beer, the image remained in my mind and I was trying to remember where I saw it before although I knew it was impossible. Then I saw May Linh, then Lily looking at me, I knew they were probing my mind, trying to figure out what was bothering me and I could feel they were sorry but couldn’t help me. Maggie was oblivious of the conversation between May Linh, Lily and I since not a single word was pronounced.
And then it came back and I immediately got goose bumps. What I saw earlier in that freakish stroke of lightning where the three Parcae of the mythology, that’s why they seemed so familiar. And now I remembered, the three sisters controlling the thread of life. One was spining the thread, another one was measuring it and the third one – Morta, that’s it, now it came back to me – and the third one, Morta, was cutting the thread and Bam. If I recall correctly the legend, even the gods were scared shit of the three sisters. No wonder that fleeting vision of them three right here on my porch frightened me too.
What was their name again? I tried to find it alone but couldn’t so I got up and went to the office to check it out. This was quite unusual for me to do this and the house was dark and nobody was in bed yet and that was unusual as well. Anyway, there it was. Yes, now I remembered. Nona, Decima and Morta. Nona spun, Decima measured and Morta cut the shit out of it.
When I came back to the porch, the storm was trying to show off but May Linh and Lily and I knew it would soon just chase away at sea, like the others. But I wondered, what if those were my very own three Parcae? Which one is which? And what does it mean for me to find myself with them? That the end is near?
Nona was the one Parca spining and threading so I guess that had to be Lily. Lily could give a new life to a rock, like she did with old Mr. Me, like she did with May Linh and like she had started doing it with Maggie. So May Linh had to be Decima, measuring time as she put the thread on her spindle.
Christ almighty! Maggie had to be Morta, Maggie is Morta! I had a feeling of impending doom as I heard the wind snigger all of a sudden.
I tried to hide those thoughts in my brain so May Linh and Lily wouldn’t come across them. I knew that they would anyway and that I couldn’t hide anything from them, nor them from me in a way, but I hoped they didn’t have my white man’s mythological references. Indeed I saw they were looking at me and probing and they were puzzled.
Maggie may have had those references but she wasn’t anywhere near to be able to communicate with us like that and I didn’t want to ask her because she just looked kind of happy sitting there, nude of course, like all of them. I could tell Maggie was feeling the strength of the storm, almost being in it and yet remaining well protected in that wonderfully conceived shotgun house, surrounded by such people as May Linh, Lily and old Mr. Me. Indeed, Maggie seemed to marvel at the whole situation. I’m sure the vodka helped though.
Anyway, if Maggie was the third Parca, it meant troubles. It made sense, there is nothing to fear from the Parcae, quite the contrary, for as long as there are only two of them, Nona and Decima. And now Morta was there and I shivered although it wasn’t cold at all.
Well, everyone was ready to call it a day anyway so we went to bed together and, as I slid under the sheet, I could feel May Linh’s body loving itself close to mine, so I gave her a tender French finger kiss as if we both needed warmth and reassurance.
Outside I could hear the storm beating on the house.
Do Aliens also fear the Parcae? You bet!
Iconography: Abstract by Ellar Wise