Green note: I’m bringing Psycho Liza home. The idea of her came to me in January of 2010 and I gave her a timid spin in May, but she didn’t get to show her true colors until the Brazill gig this January. Truth is, I’m scared of Liza. Trouble is, it’s obvious ‘Thursdays in Dulville, GA’ is not the end of the line for her. Bringing her here puts me under the gun.
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The door to the pub flew open and hit the wall with a sound like a single shot bang. Everybody in the place jumped a mile high and looked toward the source of the commotion, their nerves jarring their limbs like jackhammers.
All eyes locked on the wide open doorway filled part way with a mini-Elvira, her big creamy breasts askew in their confines and most of her ass-length black hair loosed from its clip. She looked like she’d been chased out of Hell, hounds on her heels, into a snare of silence and stares. She was motionless but for panting and darting her savage eyes back and forth, gauging the danger.
“Do something for crissakes!” Boss Barker hissed at Hal.
Hal laughed nervously from behind the bar. “Evenin’ Miss Liza!” he hollered over to her. “Come on in and take a load off, won’tcha?”
Liza’s eyes darted to Hal. He could see the damaged gears clunking in her head and he felt her disease spinning off them like mud. He cleared his throat and lied, “You’re lookin’ mighty fine tonight, Darlin’.”
Liza swept her eyes back across the barroom, and by sheer do-or-die desperation, the staring, mute folks jolted themselves back to drinking and jawing as much like usual as they could muster.
Liza blinked and took one step inside.
Hal let his breath out, wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. He poured a glass of merlot and held it up to Liza. “Here you go, Darlin’. It’s on the house.” A smile quivered on his lips.
Liza blew a strand of hair out of her face, plumped up her breasts, and clicked her tall black boot heels across the floor toward the bar, her black, silky wrap fluttering out to the sides. She took the wine and smirked at Hal. “Thanks, Hon. You still my man ain’tcha?”
“Oh you know it, Miss Liza.”
“Ain’t no one at my table is they, Hon?”
“No ma’am,” Hal said, “it’s reserved for you ever’ Thursday.”
Liza turned her back on him abruptly and clicked her sharp heels toward a raised section of the barroom in the back corner.
Hal snapped, “Someone go shut the goddamn door.”
Jim Colt slid off his barstool. “I got it.”
Buck Walsh quit peeling the label off his beer bottle. He leaned into the bar and said real low, “I told y’all somethin’ was wrong, I mean real wrong, like to make Psycho Liza this late for her usual happy hour, like maybe she got fired or got herself in a car accident or got raped or maybe—”
“Or maybe she done snapped the rest of the way to crazy,” Boss said and bust out laughing.
Jim hopped back onto his barstool. “Oooowee, this place is packed.” He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder and said, “Theys even some outta-towners in here tonight.”
Buck whipped his head around, got a bead on the strangers, a man and his woman at one of the tippy cocktail tables having a good time. He turned back around quick and whispered fast and scared, “You think we oughta warn ‘em ‘bout Psycho Liza and the game she play, well it’s not a game to her but it is to all of us, an’ you know it’s the best fun we got in this fallin’ down town since the Bijou went bust an’—”
“Idiot!” Boss slapped Buck upside the head. He shook his jowls in Buck’s face, “Think about it, you moron! We go tell them folk that shit an’ what the fuck do that make us look like?”
“It’ll be alright, Buck,” Hal said. “Jus’ give ‘er some time with that wine an’ she’ll calm down.”
“I dunno,” Jim said, “Look at ‘er.”
Liza stood beside her table squinting at the lights in the stained glass valence that hung from the ceiling all the way around the bar.
“She gonna sit down and start or what?” Boss grumbled. “Missus say I gotta be home by nine.”
As if she heard him, Liza turned slowly from the lights, her eyes glowing with the reds and oranges of them. She set her wine glass down on the table, pulled out the chair and arranged herself on it.
All the folks in the barroom watched her out of the corners of their eyes. And they waited.
Liza dipped a finger into her wine and touched it to her forehead. The wine drop ran down to the bridge of her nose and cut left through smudged eyeliner and on down to the corner of her mouth. She snapped it up with her tongue and lifted her wine glass and drank half of it down. And when she looked up, the cool fires of red and orange had transformed to the blue and indigo and violet of white hot.
Here am I, you defenseless man-beasts,
Holding high court, queen of your Lust,
While you piddle with unworthy sows
Cast your pearls not there, nay, but avow
To lay them before me with a wink and a kiss
Liza looked around the barroom, man by man, catching their attention with the heat of her eyes and winking and licking her lips at them. They winked back and smiled and that made them hers. Then one by one the women reached out to touch her men when she wasn’t looking, seeing how close they could get before the fire in her eyes burned them. It was a delicate balance, tricky to pull off. Only Victoria Parsons had come the closest, almost kissed a man before Liza caught her. Liza stood up and made like she was gonna tear Vicky up, but she sat back down when Vicky ran out the door.
Liza blew a kiss at Jim Colt and he smiled and winked at her and followed her eyes over his shoulder to the strangers. They were animated in conversation, their eyes sparkling and tickling each other’s fancy. Their laugher rang out joyous and quieted to chortles and then down to whispers at just inches away.
Blackness filled Liza’s head. Smoke from firestorms rumbled across her eyes, and she became as a blowtorch, blasting the stranger-man with the whole of her sickness.
Look to me, man, and take my cup, for
I am the only woman, the feminine source,
Of your endless desire, the fount of your fulfillment
Over and over, and I say when, I hold the key
Look to me now, man, now man, now man
The stranger-man seemed impervious. He reached out a hand across the top of the cocktail table and the stranger-woman took it and time stopped its onward march for them, a blissful breath taken in and held.
Obey your lust, you man-beast
Ever only a knee-jerk away, just
Do as I say, mantis prey
I am Kali, the black Shakti!
I am the One Eternal Woman!
Dance for me, fertilize me
The strangers opened their eyes and withdrew slowly from a kiss, their smiles full as apple flowers dripping with nectar. They took up their wine glasses and prepared for a toast when the stranger-man felt the heat of Liza’s stare. He looked in the direction of the heat and his head jerked back involuntarily, his eyes widened, slathered with horror.
The stranger-woman rescued the wine glass from her man’s trembling hand and she leaned in close with grave concern. She touched his arm, asked him what’s wrong, and in absence of his words she followed the line of his dilated pupils to the pathological laughter of Psycho Liza.
Jim Colt cried out, “Oh sweet jesus!” and Hal dropped a bottle of Old Crow onto a stack of glasses. He turned in slow motion amidst crazy witch laughter and breaking glass and patrons’ gasps, and he saw Psycho Liza moving from her table like a panther along the limb of a tree. Her eyes were yellow and slitted with evil, and she picked up speed through the parting people.
Her black, silky wrap flapped out from her sides like helpless crows with broken wings. They brushed the stranger-woman’s cheek in a flurry and batted hard against the stranger-man’s head. They flew out the door, their wingtips red, leaving peals of laughter and disease trailing after.
All movement within the barroom stopped on dropped jaws and hands clamped to mouths. All hearts missed a beat when the stranger-woman screamed. And in a collective sweep, all eyes turned from the door to a rush of blood flowing from the stranger-man’s neck.