Chapter 2 The Morning After
Abraxas woke early, and stood on the balcony as the coffee steeped in his French press, sending its warm, comforting smell into the apartment. He was smoking his first cigarette of the day, dressed in loose flannel pajama pants. It was cool, but promised to be warm later in the day. There were no clouds around the mountain, and he had a clear vision of it as it majestically obscured and slowly released the rising sun.
The light changed from red to orange to a brilliant yellow, robbing the sky of its blue color as it watched. The city began to stir, stretch, and slowly disgorge it’s denizens into the street, on their way to jobs, appointments, AA meetings, school, or whatever agenda each individual had for the day. The roar of the public transit, two blocks distant, could be heard, as could the upraised voices of those who waited patiently for their next conveyance.
He glanced back into his studio apartment. Bed, desk, kitchen, bookshelves: all in one room. Abraxas lived fairly simply, but tastefully. Nothing was out of place, except the clothes scattered across the floor and the sheets on his bed. Those were disturbed by the long dark muscular legs of Magdalene, who looked as though she were either cuddling or wrestling the blanket into submission. Her brow was creased in her sleep, and she made muttering noises that were neither menacing nor endearing, but a little of both.
Abraxas crossed the room to the kitchen area, just a stove, refrigerator, microwave and sink. He pushed the plunger on the coffee, and poured two cups. One cup had a magnificent profile of a rooster on it, the other was from The Other Aeon.
He walked to the bed, staring down at the sleeping form in his bed. Her supple body stretched out in tense repose, at once unconscious yet ready to spring into action.
“Magdalene,” he whispered.
She stirred but did not wake. Out of the corner of his eye, Abraxas saw the rim of the sun peek up over the edge of the mountain. Well, he’d tried to wake her up nicely, but at this point, instinct took over:
Magdalene sprang off the bed in a flailing disaster of comforter, limbs, and sheets. Her scream was of fright, rage, and exasperation: “By the virgin and the whore I hate sleeping here, you crowing freak!”
A pillow flew in his direction, which he dodged, keeping the precious coffee intact. He dipped his beak into his cup, the Other Aeon one, and gargled a little down. He handed her the rooster cup.
Her hair was disheveled, and her eyes flashed murderous rage even as she took the cup. She drank it like a shot, one gulp, all down at once. She held the cup out again. “More”.
A clucking chuckle in his throat, Abraxas poured her another cup. “Here you go. I can’t say I’m feeling a lot of sympathy for you, though. You know I’m up with the sun.”
“Regardless, isn’t it? Whether or not you’ve slept at all, you’re still up.”
“Sleep, she is for the weak.”
She threw another pillow at him. And drank deep of the coffee again.
“I’ll put some more on.”
“Good plan, feather head.”
“You’re grumpy in the morning.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m grumpy all the time.”
“Not during sex.”
“I just hide it better,” she said. She started playing with her hair. “Ow, my shoulders hurt. Your beak is sharp. And did you have to tease my hair out like this?”
“Habit,” he said. “I probably did it in my sleep.”
Water whistled, coffee was added to grounds, and then he came over and sat back on the bed. She looked at him over her cup, her green eyes intense, sipping in a way that was both annoyed and alluring.
“So, this is the cup He gave you?” She looked at the rooster cup. It was well executed, an artistic rendering of a Black Australorp chicken.
“Yeah. His idea of a joke, I guess.”
“He did have a bad sense of humor.”
“So, um, did you feel his promise last night?” he asked. “The promise of …”
“’Where two or more are gathered?’ Yeah, he was here.” She sipped again, more annoyed than alluring.
“He is coming back, you know.”
She looked up at him. “So what if he does? Things have changed. The world, our world, is different now. We can’t put it back together. It’s fractured. Passed. Not…”
“Perfect,” he stated.
“Perfect,” she agreed. “And if He comes back, who’s to say He won’t make it worse?”
“He didn’t do badly the first time,” said Abraxas. She stood, the comforter falling off her body, and headed for the tiny closet Abraxas called a bathroom.
“He didn’t do well,” she said through the closed door. He could her ablutions taking place, and so busied himself making more coffee, and went back out on the balcony.
Some time later, she came out and stood next to him. Her naked body glowed with the efforts of her ablutions. Abraxas looked her up and down, then out at the street. “Hussy,” he said.
“You like it,” she said. “I’m comfortable in my skin, and there’s no law against it here.”
“You should have shorts on, at least.”
“FINE.” She walked back in, put on some of his shorts, came back out, snapping the band. “Happy?”
“Ecstatic,” he said, gathering her into his arms. “So, what’s on your agenda today?”
“Tonight, I’m going to try to give Peter another aneurism. I have a great act planned with Hermes, about switching the male to female and female to male. On stage. Just playing with the gender roles in dance.”
“Why don’t you bring it to the Other Aeon? They’re much more receptive to avant garde stuff there.”
“Sure,” she said. “You, and Philip, Thomas, Sophia, Demi and the Rulers, and that’s about all would see it. Maybe someone from your GFHG group. No one else goes there.”
“We keep trying to drum up more business…”
“And it never works!” she pushed herself away a bit. “At least the Kingdom has all kinds of people in it. People see my work. It can’t just be the elite that sees and appreciates it. Everyone needs to see it.”
Abraxas saw the direction the discussion was going. “Ok, ok. We’ve talked about this before. You know that was His schtick…”
“And now it’s my schtick!” she said. She twisted out of his arms.
“Look, I wish you’d let me help you. Make up posters, maybe a youtube channel…”
“No! No. It’s gotta be in person. It’s… It’s the only way I know to connect,” she said.
“You could learn…”
“Look. You do your thing, I’ll do mine.”
They both stood, and stared out at the mountain, now fully illuminated by the morning sun. His comb glowed bright red. He didn’t want to fight, but he thought Magdalene was wasting her talents. How could he make her see?
“What about you?” she asked, “Got anything interesting planned?”
“I have a meeting at InThePlaceOf industries. They’re introducing a new line of prosthetics, and they want me to help them market it.”
“Didn’t you try working with them years ago?”
“Yeah, but Thomas has changed some, and Didi was always a lot more open to my ideas. Maybe we can get something going. Didi said this would be right up my alley.”
“Print? Youtube channel?”
“I think they want me to look at the product, and see what I can do with it.”
Abraxas finished his coffee, and went in to the apartment. He walked to the bookshelf, and reached into the aquarium tank there. He pulled out a 4 foot python, and rubbed its head. “Good Morning, Nachash! How are you today?”
The snake looked at him with cold eyes, and flicked its tongue. Then it moved, and crawled up around his shoulders.
“You know Nachash is just Hebrew of snake, right? You named your snake, Snake,” she snarked.
“It is! OH MY GOD! My whole life has been a lie!” He smirked back at her.
“Elitist,” she said.
“Anarchist,” he returned.
She drained her cup. “And on that note, I’m going to head home and get some more sleep. Not all of us are morning people, you know.”
“I know, it’s the curse I bear, just like being beautiful and insanely wealthy. I am the creator…”
“And destroyer of your own world. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m just a divine spark wreathed in flesh, while you are the Blazing Spectacle from which none can turn away, but if only they could, they’d see their True God.”
“When you put it that way, it sounds so…”
“Elitest? Snobbish? Cock-sure? See what I did there?” She grabbed her white robe, and wriggled into it. She did not take off the shorts.
Abraxas groaned at the pun. He watched her grab her bag, throw her toiletries in, and slip into her sandals. She headed towards the door. He met her there. She threw her arms around him, her bag hitting against both their sides. He dipped his beak down towards her, she ran her hands up the side of his face, touching his wattles and ear-lobes. His beak slid up her cheek. The snake remained obligingly still, observing behavior.
“Will I see you tonight?” she asked.
“Probably not. The Feather Headed Gods are meeting tonight.”
“What do you guys even talk about?”
“Deitific discrimination. Wage inequality for the avian-skulled. The lack of wide rimmed glasses in this town.”
“Well, we have talked about those things. I could tell you, but then I’d have to cut off your head and attach a birds head. I’m thinking a spoon-bill.”
She smacked his chest, opened the door, and sauntered out into the hallway. She cast a glance back over her shoulder, and saw him leaning against the doorjamb, gazing at her leaving.
“Don’t!” she threatened mockingly.
“Hate to see you leave,” he began.
“Don’t!” she said, menacingly.
“Love to see you walk away,” he finished.
She took two steps back down the hallway, her hands curved into grasping talons. Abraxas slipped back into the apartment, taking Nachash with him. He went back out onto the balcony, watched her exit the building, and start off down the road towards the bus station. “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” he called out. She flipped him off.
He laughed, and went back in to dress for his day.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Jonathan Stewart, Lainie, Rufus Opus and The GnosticNYC Network