Venus Envy Judge Santiago Burdon

Flash Fiction, Judge Santiago Burdon

When I lived in New Orleans a long while ago, my Dame de Mois at the time, Simone, gave me a Ledbury dress shirt for my birthday. It was magenta with the inside collar and cuffs in a subtle eggshell hue. I was excited to try it on and model it for her. The process of opening a new dress shirt is tedious. I have always been curious as to why they use so many straight pins in new shirts. I began pulling out the pins and putting them in a nearby empty beer can. 

       ” Don’t throw them away!” She screamed. “Give them to me, I save straight pins!” 

       ” Why the hell would you want to save all these pins?” I inquired

       ” I use them on my Voodoo dolls.” She smiled in a scary sort of way. 

       ” What the hell are you talking about? Are you telling me you’re a witch?” 

       ” I don’t particularly care for the word “witch,” I’d prefer Wiccan,

it would describe me much better. Witch has many denotations and has been popularized in books, movies and in fairy tales. Most often we are portrayed in an evil or wicked manner, which is not the case.”

       ” So you practice Magic, like casting spells and mixing up potions?”

       ” Well yes but it isn’t sinister like you’re making it sound. Are you familiar with the Wicca Religion and practices?”  

       “Somewhat, but I’m not as knowledgeable as I wish I was now.”

       “We aren’t evil or Satan worshipers, I’m a good witch not a bad witch, celebrating nature as well as the Moon and planets.

       ” I appreciate your attempt to make me feel comfortable, but the good witch, bad witch reference doesn’t help, it reminds me of the “Wizard of Oz” movie. That damn movie caused me a great amount of anguish as a child ; witches, those damn flying monkeys and all those dwarfs, midgets or little people, whatever is the politically correct name for them, it really freaked me out. My mother made us watch it every Thanksgiving back in Chicago and the song “Over the Rainbow” sent me into a panic and state of fear whenever I heard Judy Temple sing it.”

       ” No Santi, it’s Judy Garland who sang it, not Shirley Temple, you mixed them together.” 

       “See what I mean. A perfect example of how just talking about it causes me distress. “

       It was the first and last time I wore the shirt.

I don’t believe in Witchcraft, God, astrology, ghosts, angels, ESP, tarot, numerology, palmistry or mediums, werewolves, vampires and all the other Pseudo-sciences. I haven’t made a decision on whether or not Bigfoot exists. If so, he is the “Hide and Seek” world champion. I have experienced mystic, paranormal events since we’ve been together for which I can find no logical explanation. 

       I met Simone at a gathering to celebrate the Movie Premiere for ;”Interview With The Vampire.”. I was excited at the opportunity to meet Anne Rice. She autographed my copy of the book which I lost long ago. I was invited to the “Gala Event” by Richard DuBois, a college roommate from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who was now a Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University. It was the perfect subject for him to be teaching, the reason being he was always so full of bullshit. And that’s exactly what I believe Philosophy to be, “Bullshit.”

       I was in a conversation with a group of people discussing Vampires as well as other supernatural beings when the subject of witches and Marie Laveau, New Orleans most famous witch came up. New Orleans is known for its large population of practicing witches, with Witchcraft as a registered religion in Louisiana. I mentioned Nietzsche’s book” Beyond Good and Evil,” and his quote referring to witches.

“Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt”. -Friedrich Nietzsche. No sooner than I had finished speaking, there she stood in front of me, materializing from the shadow of a Magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) created with help of the brilliant light of a full moon.

       She was an absolute vision of loveliness, with facial features that were hauntingly familiar. She reminded me of someone I knew but I couldn’t recall who or from where. 

       ” Good evening I’m Santiago. Have we met before? You look strikingly similar to someone.”

       ” Hello I’m Simonetta, Simone for short. I don’t believe we’ve met but it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Santiago.”

       ” I apologise for being so forward and this isn’t a pickup line, I have a strong feeling as though you’re a pleasant memory and if we haven’t met before , we should get to know one another.”

       “I hope it’s not a pickup line because it isn’t very clever and lacks originality. I do enjoy making new friends.”

       ” Wonderful, I don’t bite, well not immediately.” I joked

       We strolled about the garden in the moonlight, immersed in intimate conversation which felt strangely comfortable even though we had just met. Simone knew things about me I had rarely shared with anyone. I found the insightful knowledge she revealed about me astounding. My turbulent childhood, my failed marriage and incredible children, my work and the dangers involved. She even knew I was a Musician and that I played both Guitar and Piano, it was as if she was reading my soul. The experience was in some manner tantric as though we had been sexually intimate. 

       We returned to the reception hall discovering most of the guests had left and our stroll had consumed close to two hours. 

The building was adorned with some very interesting Art. We took a moment to admire the paintings before parting company.

       ” Do you enjoy Art Santiago?”

       ” Yes, with a passion. I’ve gone to a variety of Art Openings and visited Art Museums in quite a few countries. The Louvre in Paris, The National Gallery in London, Art Institute in Chicago but my all time favorite is the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. I’ve got it ! I know why you seem so familiar. Do you know anything about the Artist Botticelli?”  

       “As a matter of fact I know that he painted the “Birth of Venus” and he was Italian.”

       “You’re exactly correct. Did you know he used the same model for most of his paintings. “The Primavera” and “The Birth of Venus” are among his most popular works of art. They both hang in the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy. Do you know what is incredibly strange? The model he used in both of those paintings was named Simonetta. Your resemblance to her is as if you are her twin. You’re absolutely a work of art, a true angel without wings.”

“Now that’s a great pickup line. You’re getting much better.”

“If I may ask, just exactly how old are you?” 

“Sometimes I feel like I’m older than time itself.”

       Simone possessed a celestial angelic air about her that drew me to her as though I was bewitched. There was a distance in her eyes, when I gazed into them it was as though she had cast a spell. I’d drift off to a place where the night comes to rest and the stars go to dream. I should’ve had some idea of her association with Witchcraft, now that I think about it, there were numerous clues I didn’t pickup on.

       We visited Audubon Park often and I was impressed by her knowledge of plants. She knew the Latin name for every tree and flower. She had a large herb garden in her yard and worked at an Herb Shop. She knew the healing power of each and every herb and what malady it cured. Licorice root was prescribed for me by Simone for my Asthma and Heartburn. I’m not sure if it actually helped, because I am a horrible patient never obeying directions, opting for Scotch, Marijuana, Cocaine and Vicodin as well as other recreational drugs. I never thought it strange how she referred to all drinks as a potion. Coffee, juice, tea were all potions, I assumed it was just an eccentric reference. We enjoyed a wonderful relationship, I can recall only one argument in the entire eight months we’d been together. The sex was sensational, it was as though it was a spiritual experience at times. Our souls wrapped together as one.

She was born on the Spring Equinox celebrating both her birthday and the change of season. The practice of worshipping the cycles of the moon, the change of seasons and basically all of nature is an important part of the Wicca Religion.

We once attended a “Handfast Ceremony” for one of her close friends in her coven, which was actually a Wedding Ceremony.

       ” Santi, I thought you were aware of my practice of witchcraft and accepted it. You were always so willing to participate in celebrations and ceremonies, I just assumed you knew. You never questioned or commented about my practice and didn’t express any objections. This doesn’t cause you to rethink us being together, does it?”

       ” The reason I never mentioned or questioned what was going on is quite possibly I didn’t want to know. I believed we were having such fun sharing in the celebrations together. You appeared to be so happy.” 

       ” Do you still love me? Do you?”

       I can’t recall if I’ve ever actually said that I loved her. Damn I hope we didn’t exchange “I love yous.” Everything seems to deteriorate in a relationship after that exchange takes place.

       “Simone you are everything and more than I ever experienced in a lover and I have never felt the way I do about you with anyone else in my entire life. It causes me to wonder if I may have been under some kind of spell or the influence of a potion of some kind. What am I saying, it couldn’t be possible, I don’t believe in Witchcraft.”

       Things were never quite the same between us after that day and my Ledbury shirt. 

A month later I received a call from my business partner who was now in Costa Rica offering me an opportunity to earn an enormous amount of cash for assisting in a Cocaine smuggling expedition. It seemed like a bad idea so naturally I accepted his invitation. One more last time.

 I decided to move from New Orleans to Costa Rica in a week and told Simone of my plans.

          ” A week! I’m not sure I can be ready in that short amount of time. There’s a lot I’ll need to take care of.'” She responded in an excited tone.

       ” It’s okay, I wasn’t planning on taking you with me.” 

       ” You mean I’m not coming with you to Costa Rica? You’re an insensitive bastard.”

She stomped off slamming the door then opening it and slamming it again. 

” Fuck you Santiago! Hope you get Dengue or Malaria or some other shit!”

My reason for not taking her with me is because of the danger associated with such an endeavor. If I were killed or busted, it would be a tragic episode filled with drama for her to have to deal with. Five years ago I was busted in Colombia and served almost three years in prison. I was in a relationship with a wonderful woman at the time who said she would wait for me. I wouldn’t burden anyone with such a torturous responsibility. I intended to explain to Simone why our relationship should be temporarily ended. I never had the chance, she wouldn’t take my calls or personally talk to me. I’ve always regretted my decision to move away from my Wiccan Venus.

       I did contract Dengue eight months later, spending a week in the hospital. Now and then I feel short stabbing pains especially in my groin area. A Doctor’s examination couldn’t determine a cause for the piercing pains. I had an idea as to the reason for the stabbing pains and the person that might be responsible. I just don’t want to think about it, write about it or say it out loud. I don’t believe in Witchcraft.