Big Echo

Critical SF

 Electric Geisha

by Duchy Man Valderá
translated by Toshiya Kamei

For Maia

She opened the thirty-two lacquer boxes, one inside the other, leading to an infinity of other boxes. The last one, covered with a golden cloth on the black layer, was barely touched. Her fingernails were painted red. Following the strict orders issued from the back door, she only had to lie on her back and let strange hands run over her.

The blade came down several times, leaving everything blue in the hollow of her armpit.

Several days ago someone had asked her to paint her nails. She took out the whitest socks, arranged her belongings. There were no drops of blood or traces of sweat, but the brush stroke ran from left to right one last time. She had to get close enough to see how the glare swung in another direction, but the fear of a bad omen forced her to confess. Hanging from her ankles in the elevator pit, she learned to display her thin figure. She looked great.

As she wiped the silver blade, the edge of the bathroom sink creaked.

Combing herself was a time-consuming task. After washing and drying her hair, she had to soak it in a jar of walnut oil for three hours. To do this she lay down on a board with her head down, then the cage was closed, and her face was hidden behind the beautiful mask of the outer cover. A cruel fanatic paid to witness this scene for several days, only the body and the cold wooden frame. It was an old piece. If she placed her forefinger lightly between her eyebrows, her eyelids moved.

She rubbed alcohol over the rest of her arm without spilling it.

The mask makes it almost impossible to breathe. Finally it is open, and her hair is drained and brushed down until it loses all the consistency and heaviness of the oil. Essences are often used to reduce the smell of the nut a little while the ends that do not coincide are cut off.

She did everything backward. She dipped into the hot water.

The idea is that not a single hair or a needle moves while her neck breaks. The nape of her neck must be prudently bare in order to guarantee the effectiveness of the cut. If her hairdo comes undone, her head will be destroyed without remedy.

The blade did not lose its splendor through the fogged glass.

If the client requests it, she has to swallow a set of crystal beads and undergo a diet of carefully chosen liquids. The day they are expected to return she must do herself up, wearing the most ample garment in her wardrobe. She will receive the client with her back to him, on her knees and with her waist straight, exposing her back side –only the set of beads can be released– remaining still while the operation lasts, and everything that the user names.

Astringent soap bubbles.

Another modality consists of inserting a narrow long needle in some hole. It can be decorated and finished in the form of a flower or an insect. It must not be very sharp as it could cause some unforeseen damage. It will never be inserted or extracted by any other person than the one instructed for that purpose.

The dry towel. Drops of vapor on the floor.

The object will always be used from a distance. The distance established between the user and her complete nudity cannot be less than three meters. Any rubbing or manipulation of the object will be done on intercalated garments whose minimum thickness is one inch.

The knot whispered along the tie.

The price will be arranged one year in advance. The client will pay his entire fee on his first visit, being obliged to remain silent and enjoy his rights in an organized and serene way, always subject to the formalities of the House.

White blades peeping through each dark edge.

She stepped on the soft carpet, picking up the invisible silk as she avoided the puddles. All eyes on her figure. New scars trembled in the non-existent brocade. Sharp circles beating through her shirt. On the street, under the cold breath, with her neon-stained shoes, she stretched out her arm, catching the glow of the first car in her tiny cufflink.

The metallic ringing of her heart was barely perceptible. She could not recall her own name.

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