Lady Cassandra Grey
a story by
Quid Pro Quo
Lady of a million snowy linens, gold plate, and jeweled goblets: greed for gold turned your fair countenance green; white your flowing hair of tarnished gold beneath your towering headdress; blue your pubic purse. Tell me, what did you find in that forbidden room in yonder eastern gallery of damask ottomans, curiously wrought cabinets, richly embroidered antimacassars, and baroquely gilded mirrors?
(Nothing, my Lord. Nothing at all.)
Lady Cassandra Grey, where is your husband?
(Why, he has gone hunting for the day. Why dost thou ask?)
Where is the key to the forbidden room?
(Anne, sister Anne, sister Anne. Do you see anyone coming?)
She sits all day atop her castellated tower watching dust settle upon empty roads. The moon drips blood through haggard trees.
(Sister Anne, sister Anne, signal haste to our brothers. Why aren’t our brothers coming? Wherefore thy silence, Sister Anne?)
She combs her dirty hag hair with a gold gap-toothed comb, and rubs a little gold key between bony fingers moaning, “Sister Anne, Sister Anne, O morning star of highest heaven.”
Lady Grey, did you know that your sister is now a madly mirthful strumpet? She will not hearken to your useless genuflections, and your brothers will never come, for their bones are crumbling in the family vault with the excrement of the years.
Mad mother of a million miscarried days and stillborn Sabbath nights, she sees the blood crawl over marbled floors—hears the injunction to remove her silken robes, unfasten her baroque girdle, and take her place among the others. She hears the serial bastard’s endless incantation:
“Wipe, wipe—thy tears of remorse are all in vain.” Her hair is a bunch of dirty gold in his angry fist. “Strike, strike the final hour. Commend thy soul to God. Anne will watch her sister die as the cock crows its zenith hour.”
Blind silver blur and the flying hooves of a million horses and roaring cataracts of Eustachian blood culminate in a swooning apocalypse of sound and fiery stars.
(Sister Anne, Sister Anne…)
Post Mortem Inquest
Bailiff: How died the very first Lady Bluebeard?
Coroner: She died at the cruel hand of her wrathful Lord.
Bailiff: What provoked the ire of her unnaturally cruel Lord?
Coroner: Excess spleen, unmanly grief, and jealous attachment.
Bailiff: Duly recorded for our Magistrate, who will consider all these things.