#thesideshow August 5th 2015 Toy Piano by Rebecca Harrison
August 5, 2015
#thesideshow August 7th 2015 His Bland Hallucinations by Sam Silva
August 7, 2015

#thesideshow August 6th 2015 Advanced Conversational French by Sara Adams

I.

Charles sets up the web cam on top of a newspaper dispenser while Jane warns nearby pedestrians that they’re going to need some space.

It’s hard to give her space, though; she’s in a short black vinyl dress that’s probably supposed to look leather, with heinous makeup and gigantic shoes and hair. So people are kind of congregating, and the fact that she’s asking them to stay away is making them linger.

A twenty-something indie-ish college student with a notebook asks if they’re making a movie. Charles gives her a thumbs up. Jane leans against a streetlight post and looks in the other direction.

He turns to the webcam and winks, and then walks up to Jane. He taps her on the shoulder and she smoothly turns around, kind of snake-like.

Quels sont vos honoraries?” he asks, adjusting his suit jacket.

Je dirais cinq cents,” she replies firmly, hands on hips.

There are tons of people watching. Children. Families.

Ah, oui?” he inquires with a grin. He retrieves his wallet for the money but finds, to his horror, much too little. “C’est bien trop cher pour moi,” he says finally, with regret.

He angles the open wallet to show her his limited funds.

C’est tout ce que vous avez?” she asks. She looks into the wallet. There is a hundred dollar bill and a few twenties. “Ce ne sera qu’une courte visite,” he adds, as she looks up to him and winks.

He smiles. “Vous êtes bien aimable, mademoiselle.”

She continues smiling, and takes him by the hand.

Et si c’est plus de trios minutes, je paie un supplement, n’est-ce pas?” he asks as they walk to the bus stop bench.

Naturellement!” she exclaims with an adorable sparkle in her eye.

Charles leaves her to move the webcam to a more convenient location, then returns.

For obvious reasons, people begin to disperse.

II.

Jane and Charles still perform free weekly shows for valued future customers via webcam.

They have just been released from jail – they were charged with public indecency during a filming session in the city; they tried to argue that a prostitution-themed porn simply had to be filmed in public, but to no avail – and are excited to resume their careers.

They used to be outrageous, but the years in jail have leveled them.

They decide to stick to a classic plot for their first week back – he is a delivery man and she is a quiet and sexually frustrated housewife.

Alors, comment devrais-je faire pour expédier ce colis?” Charles asks, standing in the doorway, with a lopsided suggestive look.

Donnez-le-moi,” she replies with confident succinctness.

Mai ce colis pése au-dessus d’un kilo,” he states with feigned concern, as if what he’s got is much more than she could handle.

Qu’est-ce que vous suggérez?” she asks with adolescent concern, putting her hand over her mouth, walking back from the doorway, and fumbling with her shirt without making eye contact. Suddenly she jumps up. “Ce bouton vient de sauter!

Ne vous inquiétez pas!” He replies, proceeding to grab her by the waist. “Je m’en occuperai.”

They begin but mid-way though he suddenly pulls back, with the solemnest look. “Jen e vais pas bien, Jeanne,” he says softly, burying his face in his hands.

This is the first time something like this has ever happened to Charles and Jane.

Enfoncez le bouton A,” she instructs, “essayez de venir,” she whispers, irritated, shooing him out the door and trying to reattach the button to her shirt.

But Charles continues to watch her with sorrow in his eyes. He isn’t retrieving his prop FedEx package from the doorway or putting his belt back on or anything. He is just watching her.

Jeanne, je ne vais bien pas du tout. J’ai mal partout – á la gorge, á la téte, á l’estomac, aux yeux…J’ai aussi mal au coeur,” he confesses, with regret and a certain type of embarrassment only impotent amateur adult film actors could know.

III.

En fin de compte, nous y avons mis presque deux heures,” Jane recalls to her sister Nicole over their Saturday morning coffees and hot toast. Nicole honestly has no interest in Jane’s sex life/career. But she wants to be there for Jane, who continues to talk. “Mais, comme on dit, tout est bien qui finit bien!

Nicole sinks in her seat, thinking about how to end the conversation.

Despite their embarrassment, Charles and Jane decide to try again the next week. This installment has a sort of cliché-futuristic scenario, and they’re shooting in the living room. They have put black posterboard all over the walls and ceilings and hung green Christmas lights.

Jane has purchased several blow-up chairs (in cool colours such as blue and purple) and wholetone harp music emanates from the boom box tape player on the floor.

Jane is dressed in a skintight silver jumpsuit. She isn’t exactly sure how she is going to gracefully de-robe. They make Charles a robot costume out of a large cardboard box and some paint.

It’s a little tacky.

Charles clicks on the webcam as Jane positions herself suggestively on one of the chairs.

Quelle est cette petite machine?” asks future-woman Jane, subtly stroking her own thigh and pouting her silvery lips.

Charles makes some robot beeping sounds from the corner of the room.

Il y a un drôle de bruit,” says confused future-woman Jane, looking around the room while opening her legs further towards the camera.

Charles makes some more beeping noises and approaches Jane, walking into view of the webcam. Jane tries to look as though she is understanding and translating the beeps. “Ah, oui? Alors six et demi,” she ponders aloud.

She then embraces Charles-in-a-box in a rigid, awkward sort of way.

They soon realize that this is never going to work.


 

Sara Adams is a Montessori teacher in Portland, Oregon. She has work in lit mags such as DIAGRAM (forthcoming), tNY Press’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literature, and Shampoo Poetry. Contact info and links, including a link to her co-written full-length New Translation of Twilight, atwww.kartoshkaaaaa.com. Her chapbook, Poems for Ivan, is forthcoming from Porkbelly Press.

 

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