Geisha House

Geisha House

Casa de geishas

Ana María Shua


Initially, the women appear to be recruited at random; however, once assembled, a certain configuration in the group is noticeable, an organization, which if developed, could become a style. Now Madam searches for the missing women, and not just any will do, but only those who fill in the gaps left by the others, and at this stage it’s now possible to determine what kind of brothel is in the works and even what type of clientele it might attract. Like a book of stories or poems, perhaps even a novel.


Of course it’s not a real House and the geishas aren’t exactly Japanese; when times are tough they can be seen working the docks without kimonos, and if they don’t go by Jade or Lotus Flower, neither are Monica or Vanessa their real names. So why be shocked that those who feign pleasure in the supposed House, and sometimes love (but for more money), may not even be women, as long as they comply with health regulations. Why be shocked that they may not even be transvestites, as long as they pay their taxes, or that they may not even have navels, as long as their clients aren’t bothered by that somewhat cruel absence on their smooth bellies, so inhumanly smooth.


In summertime, there is dancing on the patio, with lanterns and nocturnal moths. Slowdancing, the partners embrace, bodies seeking bodies, interlocking, bellies clinging to bellies and chests to chests. The music is heavy, the air thick. To separate them, a quick dip in lukewarm water will suffice.


There is no caress more sublime than the slight brush of a hand with eight fingers, declare those who instead of choosing a woman, opt to enter alone and naked into the Room of the Spiders.


The voyeurs are led to believe they watch without being seen. They’re told the transparent wall in front of them appears, on the other side, to be a mirror. Actually, just a pane of glass separates them from the jubilant exhibitionists. Madam, adept at cutting costs, excels at these combinations.


Many prefer to be bound, and naturally, the kind of bondage varies depending on the resources of the elated victim: from silk ties to blood ties. After all, when you get down to it, nothing´s more binding than family responsibility—certainly the most expensive of all painful pleasures.


For those who take pleasure in the suffering or humiliation of others, a combination of gratifying stimulations are suggested, of which certain TV shows are not excluded.


Some masochists relish the thought that others witness their humiliation. Those who have the means hire two or more girls. But for those truly rich, a stadium may be rented with five thousand extras. (It´s rumored the spectators are sadists who are charged admission.)


For the most sophisticated (but let’s admit that it´s a very expensive perversion), Madam is willing to provide the services of the client´s own wife.


Prissies wear a lot of clothes and take them off slowly. By the end of the first year, they’ve already removed hats and socks, which they carefully place on a chair. When finally naked, they look at their partner with some disappointment and a few demand she be exchanged for a younger woman. Like all the rest, they pay by the hour.


None is more successful than The Girl Who Is Not Here. Although still young, many years of dedicated practice have perfected her in the very subtle art of absence. Those who request her end up settling for another, whom they possess with indifference, trying to imagine that they hold in their arms the best, the only, The Girl Who Is Not Here.


The ladies paint themselves before night falls. They paint their eyes, nose, arms, toes, and the crease behind their knees. They paint themselves with imported makeup, acrylics, and pencils and brushes. By dawn, they have vanished. With each passing hour and each man, they fade away slowly but surely.

From Quick Fixes: A Collection of Sudden Fiction. White Pine Press, forthcoming. 2006 NEA Fellow.

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