Excerpt from Linda Danz's collection of short stories: Breath Visible, published by Bookbaby, December 2017
Plums (second excerpt)
They were multi-faceted glass ornaments, Guillermo and Liza, artfully contrived to reflect the secreted desires of their crowd—those followers who goaded them in their exploits, parroting less brazenly their shameless moves, before malice set in.
Guillermo Glas Flores. Everyone called him Guy. He was mongrel, rock-star lean, not as tall as he appeared. His accent was Dutch but he was often taken for a “dese, dem and dose” guy. Sometimes he sounded more like a native New Yorker than Liza. He glowered from Spanish eyes that penetrated a conversation like hot coals and made you think he towered above everyone else in the room. Black suited him. His unruly hair, as sleek as obsidian, sprang from his head like a nest of severed ravens’ wings. He wore black t-shirts that had faded to soot and fit him like a second skin. He walked oddly upright, suffocated by tight leather pants that left his permanent ass-print on the plastic seats of her white kitchen chairs. Guy’s feet were crimped into a weary pair of black lizard Tony Lamas—toes pointed heavenward—exaggerating his naughty elf persona. The boots gave way to frayed espadrilles in blistering New York summers. Nearly year-round, he wore a vintage leather motorcycle jacket. The waist was too high and the arms too long. Discarded after an overlong, dissolute evening, it lay like a spent doppelgänger, unable to shed Guy’s form.
Liza’s everyday look favored Timberland boots, jeans and flannel shirts, offering the element of surprise when a lover discovered a penchant for fishnet teddies and satin underwear on a softly rounded body. Guy ribbed her about her monolingualism. Typical American, he said. She’d fire back, “That’s why God invented subtitles.” Her fine, long and naturally white-blonde hair lay braided into a tender rope that drooped across her shoulder. With their heads pressed together over his desk, one might think of them as night and day.
Liza usually called him Guy. She called him Dingo when she loved him, Guillermo when she loved him less.
Guy’s heritage was star-worthy. Hundreds of years, it seemed, of writers and artists, architects and musicians. His maternal Dutch side included celebrated stained-glass artists whose colorful windows illuminated stark clapboard churches in New England. A reclusive Spanish father penned darkly political plays and novels in Paris, far from Guy’s mother in New Hampshire.
Liza knew little of her own family’s history. There were uncles she’d heard about, French Canadians. Uncle Ti Jean and Uncle Ti Pierre who were rumored to be fur thieves and who skulked about a great aunt’s drafty Victorian in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Irish and Scottish element might have been only slightly more praiseworthy and less alcoholic. On her father’s side was an unyielding wall of Christian Fundamentalists.
The friends had met in an overheated loft space in Chelsea, where they designed and produced a small activist newspaper. They passed coke-fueled all-nighters alongside raffish young journalists with an unquenchable thirst for drugs, alcohol and the blood of the Establishment. The smell of hot wax permeated the art department and did nothing to conceal traces of marijuana coming from the camera room. Pay was poor but their artistic lives were rich. It was before the impending rise of the cost of everything and the need to find a way to make more and subsist on less. It was the best time of their lives.