A Quilted Narrative for Suzanne Vega

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Information about A Quilted Narrative for Suzanne Vega
Entertainment

Published on August 11, 2008

Author: undertow

Source: authorstream.com

Slide 1: A Quilted Narrative dedicated to Suzanne Vega Slide 3: The cracking noise woke her with a jolting start. Straight lines appeared in the walls and floor of her recently purchased apartment. Segments of reality and dreams played freeze tag in her mind's eye. Slide 4: Like some journey in black and white, positive images of her childhood…..then after a while, she started to dance like no one stood. But then came the familiar, always-frightening voice from the next room, "Marlene, on the wall you'll find the list of things I need you to pick up at the store after work." Slide 5: With a growl, Marlene came back to reality, reached for her bag and searched for the bunch of keys with the small blue thing attached to it. She immediately rushed to her computer looking for the answer in a secret thread of the Undertow as to which was the right key to which door. Slide 7: After a couple of minutes the neighborhood girls came into the room, laughing and shouting, "What are you doing? Let's go out and sing Chihuahua...." "Ok but first can you help me with this chess problem?" She asked them, "If the knight moves to defend the pawn, wouldn't the queen be left alone?" Slide 8: How to make a move, when the chess board looked like the recurrent thread of her life? How to choose when she was simultaneously the queen and the soldier? Slide 9: "I could ask my neighbor, Luka, maybe he is not a chess-champion but the attempt is worth trying and it could distract him from his troubles a little," she told the girls. Slide 10: But Luka was not in so Marlene decided to abandon the game of chess, live with the problem, and went out with the girls, taking with her the list on the wall only to realize to her surprise that it was written in some kind of coded language! Slide 11: While walking on the street, one of the girls told Marlene, "Hey, that guy looks like a gypsy! I'm sure he can decipher the enigma of the coded language." Marlene felt that this was a really absurd assumption but they were out of options. So the girls and Marlene approached the gypsy and asked him to take a look at the list, to see if he could make any meaning out of it. Slide 12: The gypsy looked at the writing, and then with a puzzled look he stuttered with excitement, "G…g…girls, this l…l….list is not wh…wh…what you th…th…think it is!" He said that he could explain things better if they could go somewhere and have a cup of coffee together. Slide 14: The first place they saw was Tom’s Diner on the corner of the street.  When they were all sitting inside, the gypsy, seemingly speaking in tongues, said to everyone's astonishment, "In the eye of everything is its reverse." Slide 15: Then, holding the list in his hands, he turned to Marlene, "This can either be your cell or your wing, so I have to ask you - is solitude standing in as your guest or as your friend?" Slide 16: Marlene couldn't utter a word but the Gypsy knew the answer and he told her, "This list holds the sum of your life, not its whole, just like when you look at the stars and you can see but parts of the entire night vision." Before leaving the diner he finally said, "Be true to your song, let go when you must, and remember the wonder of the wooden horse," and Marlene puzzled how he knew of this special toy from her childhood. Slide 18: When the gypsy left, Marlene and the girls looked at each other, baffled and even more curious about the list and they wondered who else could help them crack the code and interpret it in plain, simple language but they were suddenly hungry and looked again at the menu which said, “This is no fancy restaurant but we do serve some pretty fancy poultry dishes - all our chicken brought in daily from the Ironbound section in Newark.” Slide 20: After their meal (which turned out to be surprisingly good as the chicken was indeed fresh), the group left Tom’s Diner and as they walked along the streets they saw a poster of Odysseus and Calypso, advertising an exhibition on Greek Mythology at the Met. Slide 22: They decided to go to the exhibition, hoping to find in the big space of the Met, among the Greek mythology and its riddles, some help to their own riddle. Slide 23: Unable to derive any insight or clue from even the monolithic myriad of stimulants at the museum, Marlene and her friend were ultimately unable to come to any predictions of the meaning of the list or its contents and, frustrated and in need of refreshment, left the museum for the fresh, clean, invigorating air of Central Park. Slide 24: As they lay on the grass beside the lake, some joggers passed by and Marlene, feeling confused and incomplete, asked herself "Why can't I be like those whole girls, running so gracefully  through life?” Slide 25: Right then and there, Marlene felt like a rusted pipe against the grace, and she longed for a lasting wave of song to flow through her and fill everything within her. Slide 26: While sensing the dramatic change of scenery and pace of the park, the institution green of the city, Marlene felt something changing within her as well, but, not able to put a finger on it, she kept the feeling to herself. Slide 27: However as her thoughts drifted away an idea crossed her mind: What if the answer to the list was in her book of dreams? Practicing her catty skills she climbed up a concrete fence where, after giving some thought to the matter, finally concluded to give it a try as it had a fifty-fifty chance. Slide 28: Yet when she told the girls about her idea, they looked at her skeptically and reminded her how much she had complained lately about being tired of sleeping. "But hey,” Marlene said, “I do not only dream while sleeping! My dreams are my personal pilgrimage!" Slide 29: "In fact," she continued, "in my dreams of night I keep dreaming about men in war, I don't really know why that is - I can sort of feel the limbs they've lost, you know? So it's not surprising I don't like sleeping!" Slide 30: The girls looked at her in silence, worried, until one of them decided to forget about Marlene’s nightmares and said “Ok then, why not go for it? Isn’t there this secret place you always go to, some room off the street?" Marlene grinned at them sheepishly like a chimp, “Hmm….actually, that’s a private bar called Fat Man and Dancing Girl, where they serve this really killing cocktail called 99.9 Degrees Fahrenheit!” Slide 31: At this moment, one of the girls said: "Oh yes, I remember now! I once took this cocktail in Liverpool, it's a specialty composed of gin, vodka, dark rum, Irish whiskey, Tequila, oyster juice, lime juice, tomato juice, Tabasco sauce and whipped cream. Take a single sip and you'll suddenly hear like your blood makes noise!" Slide 32: Deciding they all needed a fix, the girls went with Marlene to the club but Marlene hesitated as she knocked upon the club's door, having a distinct feeling that it might be bad wisdom to enter. Slide 33: Nevertheless she entered, showed her membership at the entrance, and nearly fainted when she saw the guy with the fedora across the room as it was the love of her life - someone she had known as a child and whom she thought had died after the rock in *his pocket turned out to be a bomb that had exploded. Slide 35: She approached his table and heard him saying to a starlet beauty seated next to him, “Now if you were in my movie…..” but he stopped as he saw Marlene and exclaimed with a mixture of disbelief and delight, “Oh my God! It’s you!” Slide 36: Marlene looked at him as if he were a ghost and just stood there, stunned, unable to say anything - all she could hear in that moment was her blood sing* an old melody from the past. The man sprang from his seat, rushed to Marlene and as he reached out to her, he said with great emotion, “When heroes go down, we usually don’t come back but I was lucky.” Slide 37: “I know you feel the disappointment that I didn’t contact you,” he went on, “but if I did, your life would have been in danger yet now is not the time to equivocate the past but to celebrate this moment with the Song of Sand.” Slide 38: Frank cued the house band and when the melodious, haunting music started, Marlene found herself dancing with him to their song, just as in the past, and she started weeping with a mixture of emotions – from the pain and sorrow of the past to the joy and relief of the present – and when the music ended, she felt she needed a Tequila (99.9˚F would have just been too much!) and with a throbbing heart while holding his hand, she walked slowly to the counter, as girls go. Slide 39: Even after the Tequila, Marlene still couldn't quite believe he was there - after all she had been at his grave too often and the tombstone was still vivid in her memory. She also remembered seeing that thin man at the graveyard who had given her the shivers - there had been something spooky about him. Slide 40: She had longed so badly to be in the honeymoon suite with Frank back then - but all she could feel was the look of that strange man who seemed to follow her to the graveyard every time.  The presence of this man, though, had another effect on Marlene, since it made her feel, with her whole heart, that Frank's and hers was all but a casual match. Slide 41: At the same time, the image of that man left her no rest with his headshots constantly recurring in her mind and the initial confusion became a sentimental journey recalling memories, images of places and faces, a phantasmagorical crowd of people she once knew....and in this struggling and yearning mood she huddled to Frank saying, "Hold me tight." Slide 42: The hug turned out to be her wish comfort." What you need now is a caramel!" exclaimed Frank. And then he continued in a more serious tone, "We need to let go of the past, make peace with it, since it was no cheap thrill for you and me." Slide 43: Looking intently into Marlene's eyes, Frank said, in a leap of faith, "Maybe this is our second chance, a new beginning, another birth-day, with our love at last having the possibility of being made real." “Oh, darling, kiss me", she whispered. The stockings fell down..... Slide 44: The following hour was a kind of magic as time seemed to stop and from the window they admired the enchanting shades of a generous sunset. "Do you know, Frank, I'm getting hungry,” she told him “I would like to eat my favorite plum." Slide 45: However, this romantic atmosphere was cut by a pat on Marlene's shoulder. "Marlene,” said Lolita, one of the neighborhood girls, “I don't want to interrupt but we are a little bored in this bar, so we're leaving. Are you coming with us?" Marlene's answer to this question was going to change her destiny forever. Slide 46: While pondering her answer, Marlene reached for the list in her pocket, looked at it as she remembered the gypsy's words, and then said, "No, I'm not coming with you, because I can see it now - this is a map of the world before Columbus, and I'm finally ready to embrace my brave new world." Slide 47: Yes, finally her brave new world. But the happiness which she was floating upon suddenly got a little cracked from a thin sense of superstition, “Will I end up being a penitent to pay for my joy?” she pondered. Fortunately this short insecurity slipped quickly from her mind. Slide 48: Marlene's friends, Lolita and Priscilla, witnessing her resolve, understood that this was a journey Marlene had to undertake by herself, and, before leaving, lovingly wished her all the best. "You are both so lovely and understanding, thanks so much,“ she told them. Slide 49: After they exchanged goodbyes, she began to resolve the next matter, “Do I take Frank with me? What a question, of course he comes to share my happiness! I don't want my journey to be a widow’s walk!” Slide 50: While these thoughts were running in her mind, she remembered that she was actually hungry and was going to eat her favorite plum before Lolita approached her. The plum was delicious but it was also really juicy so her hands became all sticky and wet so she went to the ladies room and washed her hands with soap and water. Slide 51: While doing this cleaning, being a girl of thoroughness, she wished last year’s troubles could fade away for good. Especially during that year, Marlene felt like a machine ballerina, doing pirouettes at everybody's beck and call but her own, and now she realized that had to change. Slide 52: She also remembered that, during that time, she often called on St. Clare for protection and guidance, and for a moment she was overwhelmed by a feeling of deep gratitude. Slide 53: Thinking about the events of the day, she recalled how in the park she wished to be wrapped in a wave of song, and how that was so true now, and so new, as she sensed being lifted by a song in red and gray. Slide 54: A gentle rap on the door broke her reverie, and Frank’s voice could be heard on the other side, “Marlene, sweetheart, are you still in there? It makes me wonder why you always take forever at the ladies!” Slide 55: Marlene dried her hands, stepped out of the restroom and found Frank waiting by the door, “Oh come on,” she playfully chided him, “you were ‘Mr. Solitiare’ for just a couple of minutes and besides, whatever happened to that budding actress you were sitting with?” Slide 56: “Turns out she hates Westerns so she declined the lead role and simply told me, ‘I’ll never be your Maggie May’ which is just as well,” and here his voice dropped to a whisper, “because posing as a film maker was all part of my undercover espionage assignment.” Slide 57: "While I was pretending to be the director who makes Westerns, I thought that if I were a weapon, I'd be a word, because words can be like bullets in all these duels they stage," Frank said with a chuckle. Slide 58: “Well if you ever shoot me with your bullets,” she answered back, “I will avoid them by jumping right and left of center.” Slide 59: “Don't be afraid,” he reassured her, “I was only joking. By the way, how’s our good friend, Rosemary?” "She couldn’t be better and has just released a wonderful new book and it has a cover of a harbor that astonished me for its calm." Slide 60: Frank, at these words, spontaneously started singing the Harbour Song and Marlene, struck by the music and memories, felt a pleasant joy. When he finished the song, he said to Marlene, "You've been a woman on the tier for so long, somehow always waiting for me, but now I’ll see you through this turning point in our lives." Slide 61: Feeling no doubt about Frank's commitment to her, she replied, "A big part of your past is wrapped in mystery, but I take you as you are now, and I ask the same of you, even though you and I know there are some loose ends we need to weave through before starting anew." Slide 62: “Yes,” replied Frank, “first we better figure out the mystery of this curious message on this paper you passed me and you know, on Ludlow Street right here in the city of New York is a woman who can help us do just that, so come on, let’s go.” Slide 63: As they left the club, Frank asked Marlene, “How on earth did you get hold of this paper in the first place?” “Actually I thought it was a list of things my dad wanted me to get.…” Marlene started but Frank interrupted her, “And how is that eccentric psychologist inventor father of yours who can never be unbound from his work?” Slide 64: “He couldn’t be better and in fact he’s just invented a machine that can read and interpret dreams so he’s analyzing a pornographer’s dream these days and trying to help the guy understand his deeper unconscious longings.” “Wow! Well Zephyr and I always got along and I’ve always been impressed by his cool inventions and new theories on psychology.” Slide 65: As they took a taxi to Ludlow Street, Frank was secretive about the woman they were meeting, but when she opened the door of her apartment, Marlene watched him greet an eccentric-dressing, middle-aged lady with enthusiasm, which obviously meant that Frank and Ava knew each other well. Slide 66: Frank introduced Marlene to Ava who turned out to be his great aunt and then to Marlene’s surprise, he took a small bundle from his trench coat pocket, gave it to Ava and said, “Knowing you are such an avid fan of Edith Wharton, I got these rare Edith Wharton’s figurines at an antique dealer for you.” Slide 67: Aunt Ava (or The Silver Lady as Frank fondly called her) seemed speechless with joy, then with an effort, she said gratefully to Frank, "I'm really bound to you." Slide 68: She brought Frank and Marlene into her living room and as they sat, Frank showed her Marlene’s mysterious paper at which she exclaimed, “Why, this is in Sanskrit! It’s a poem called Anniversary – and what a beautiful poignant poem it is!” Slide 69: The hours flew as they dwelt on the ancient poem (and Marlene vaguely recalled an Indian spiritual guru visiting her father last month which explained the likely mix up with his shopping list – duh!) and soon it was time to say goodbye. "Remember me," said Ava and as they left her house, they felt as if they had passed an angel’s doorway. Slide 70:  For some moments they stood under a street lamp with the glowing stars and crescent moon above them as if the heavens were beaming with them, then Frank took Marlene gently into his arms and asked her the obvious question. The End Slide 71: This quilted narrative is based on the song titles from Suzanne Vega’s albums and is written by members of the Undertow, her community of fans from around the world who communicate on her official website www.suzannevega.com Contributors (by usernames): anku, aryamps, bobking, bodhibird, chris, fatima, gianni, jose-carlos, miloluvr, moni, paulo, ra, son-of-albert, troubadesse, wendy-o, zeynep, zzzoltan Thank you Suzanne for inspiring us through the gift of your music, poetry and your person.

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