Re-posting the story of Maggie Noyr here because I've substantially re-written the beginning, and the next part, and the next part, and the next part...
On a peninsula in the center of the world sits La Ciudád, where
everything has been orderly for many years. It is an alabaster-white and
lemon-yellow city, a city of red firetrucks and little green taxicabs, and blue
doors in pink walls, red-and-white striped bars on first-story windows,
green-uniformed police officers and brown-spotted stray dogs, green leaves on
the grey boughs of ancient oaks, green palms on tall bending trees, purple and
pink flowers in window boxes, and lots of people in all shades, wearing all
manner of things, bustling here and there, for La Ciudad esta un ciudad, and it
has been orderly for many years.
But not for long. For there is also a woman, a tall, wine-dark woman of gleaming eye and close-cropped hair.
“I’d say I got lucky,” said Maggie. “There was a nice peach floral print
sundress left among the tattered scraps. Perfect for the morning sun, don’t you
“I don’t understand,” said a fair lady, a short and stout woman wearing a
glittering silver cocktail dress. “I don’t understand how you can be blithe
when we’re both looking at a worst-case scenario. Have you never seen this
before? Have you never been caught by this before?”
The two of them were standing outside a low mud-yellow apartment
building, in the spring morning light of the seaside. There was but a gentle
breeze upon the morning air, just enough to lift the gulls high in their search
for fish and scraps, just enough to make the waves kiss the shore with a gentle
rushing sound, to rock the boats up and down without rolling them. Yet the spot
at which the two women gazed, the fourth-floor corner apartment they had just
vacated in haste, was behaving as if it were a roof caught in a hurricane. Bits
and pieces flew off and vanished, leaving a yawning hole in the block’s top
corner, rapidly spreading.
“Never seen this in my life,” said Maggie.
“You’ve lived in this city all your life and you’ve never seen nor heard
of this,” said the fair lady. “How is that possible? Is this your first time
taking someone to bed, that you would forget to close the window?”
“It’s my first time doing anything,” said the wine-dark lady. “I do not
believe I existed until a few moments ago, and I was not granted a background
that included such knowledge.”
Maggie felt a hand upon her shoulder. She tore her gaze from the
apartment building, and stared into the eyes of a fair lady whose expression
brooked absolutely no possibility of accepting any further nonsense.
“My dear,” said the fair lady with not a trace of softness, “to begin
with, I do not recall asking your name last night. If you would be so kind as
to tell me.”
“Maggie,” said the tall woman. “Maggie…uh…let’s say Maggie Noyr. Yours?”
“Alejandra D’Uberville,” said the fair lady. “I’m pretty sure you just
made up that name for yourself, but, more to the point, I would have some words
with you on our way to the police station. Come on.” She took Maggie by the
hand without letting her companion offer a word of protest, and led her away
from the shore.
The city in question, La Ciudád, is one of those places where everyone
does their work early in the morning to avoid the mid-day heat. Only mad dogs
go out in the mid-day heat. Sensible people are done by mid-morning. So as
Alejandra led Maggie through streets broad and narrow, under shade cast by high
tenements and cast by tall palm trees, their haste did not seem unusual.
Everyone around them, the men carrying laundry, the women carrying lumber, the
people in suits carrying briefcases, the children carrying broken bike wheels,
had things to do and places to go that needed doing before the ninth hour of
the day. The markets that Maggie and Alejandra strode through were full of
people haggling insistently before the mid-day heat spoilt whatever fruits and
meats they sought. The policemen who were rounding up ruffians and vagabonds
were bundling them into cars with haste.
The greatest difference between these people and Maggie was that Maggie
wanted to slow down. She did not wish to leave Alejandra behind entirely, not
when the city was entirely unfamiliar to her. Yet neither did she wish to visit
any police station. And so she attempted to loose her hand from Alejandra’s
grip, to no avail.
At last, when the two were standing in an alley across the street from a
low green slab of a building that said Estación de Polícia, Maggie said, “You
know, I don’t actually have to follow you.”
And all of a sudden, Alejandra’s grip upon her was loose.
The fair lady was standing in the shade, arms crossed, eyes twitching,
shuddering bent over like she was caught in a cold rain.
“Madre de Dios,” said Maggie, “What happened to you?”
Alejandra’s convulsions ceased, and her eyes relaxed. She straightened
and smoothed her hair. “I do not know,” she said. “It’s like someone reached
right into my will and pulled a lever. Was that you?”
“I do not know,” said Maggie. “if it was, I’m terribly sorry – ”
“Do it again.”
Alejandra stamped her foot. “Do it again!”
Maggie looked confused, and said, “I don’t actually have to obey you.”
Alejandra went rigid as if she was a soldier in formation, and she
shuddered again. Then she relaxed. “There,” she said, “there it is.”
“There what is?”
Alejandra turned, and pointed to the buildings standing behind the police
station. They stood tall and gleaming white in the morning sun, with their roof
ornaments, the little cherubs all holding spears at a convenient angle to
discourage roof-climbers and pigeons, shining with a blinding light already.
“There,” she said, “there is my home. There is where I come from, which I
refused to tell you last night. The neighborhood of Des Gens Biens. Where all
the good people live, who are so good that they are worthy to command everyone
Maggie raised an eyebrow. “Are they really.”
“And here you come,” continued Alejandra, “and you not only defy me, but
state that I have no authority? You can imagine what that would do to me, my
“What about what you’re doing to me?” said Maggie. “Leading me to a
police station? Are you insane? Police lock you up and do things to you.”
“How on earth do you know that,” said Alejandra, “if you were born this
morning? But then, I should say you were not, and you are having a laugh at my
expense. Otherwise it would mean that I was also born this morning, and all
beforehand is but a fiction. I shudder at the thought. Do not make me shudder
“Why should I not?” said Maggie. “You took me this close to danger. I
don’t have to get any closer.”
Alejandra shuddered again, and doubled over, retching.
“Good heavens,” said a voice from the shadows. “How powerful your words
must be, Maggie.” A man stepped out of the shadows, a swarthy and scruffy man,
shorter even than Alejandra, a man whose tarred rough hands and sun-browned
skin bespoke much of his life without him saying a word.
The fact that the pretty-faced fellow beside him was
holding a large Dolphinfish simply illustrated the point.
“Who might you be?” said Maggie.
The swarthy man looked confused. Then he sighed. “I
had feared thus, Maggie my dear. That when you returned to the world you would
have lost all knowledge, again. Yet at the least you can walk, and speak.
“What do you – ”
“Rafael and I can’t stay here,” said the pretty-faced
man with the Dolphinfish. “There’s no place in this city that’s safe if you
don’t look busy. Las Tías de Ojos are always watching. We’ll meet you at the
fish market.” With that, both men left as fast as they appeared.
Maggie turned to Alejandra and gave her a look of
“I never did tell you what I wanted out of the police
station,” said Alejandra.
“Tell me,” said Maggie.
Once more Alejandra shuddered as if caught in a cold
rain. “Please,” she said, “be careful about ordering me to do anything.”
Maggie sat in the shade of the alley, and said, “My
apologies.” She patted the ground next to her. “I would appreciate your telling
me what your goal is here, if you don’t mind.”
Alejandra sat, and said, “This city. La Ciudád. Things
happen here. Things vanish, before our eyes. People vanish, before our eyes.
For vices. If you have intercourse with someone and you leave the windows open
all night, you and the room will disappear. If you gamble with the windows
open, you and the room will disappear. If you smoke tobacco, if you are drunk
in public, if you urinate in public, if you hand out racy photographs, then
woosh, you are gone.”
“Do you mean, like, the police come in and – ”
“No! No, and if you are as naïve as you say then you
should have accepted the truth of your eyes, Maggie. It’s not the police. It’s
the wind. It’s as if all our old maiden aunts of the past are looking down upon
us, and sweeping us away. The wind itself is a damn Vice Squad. We call them Las
Tías de Ojos for they have eyes upon us always. There was a whole wharf
district where the prostitutes left their windows open and WOOSH. There was a
whole district full of pornography theaters and WOOSH. And so on.”
“And you are going to the police station because…”
Alejandra drew herself up in an attitude of pride and
dignity. “To lodge a complaint, of course. The police are supposed to protect
“How are they supposed to help?”
“I don’t know. I’d just like to think that someone is
listening. And I’m from Des Gens Biens. They will listen to me. If I want to
deal with Las Tías de Ojos I have to
start somewhere, right? Maybe I start with the people who act like them. Maybe
if I know how to handle police officers I can get a sense of how to deal with Las Tias.” She rose, and made to leave
Maggie rose beside her and put her arm on Alejandra’s
shoulder. “If you would be so kind as to wait and think about this,” she said.
Alejandra stopped, and did not shudder.
“Think about you versus me,” continued Maggie. “You’re
from Des Gens Biens. If that is what will make them listen to you, then it
implies that they would not listen to anyone else. Would they even accept my
presence at the station? There are scraps of my past that are coming to my
mind, Alejandra, bits and pieces. Memories of clubs swinging down upon people
beside me. Rough handling of people who looked like me.”
Alejandra turned, and gazed at Maggie with a quizzical
look. “Were you born this morning or not?”
“Perhaps I was,” said Maggie, “and all these memories
are fictive. Yet fiction is illustration, not lies. Have you seen anything like
what I describe?”
“Only towards ruffians and troublemakers.”
Maggie raised her eyebrow.
"Well they were!”
“The police. Look, it’s coming on mid-morning. We need
to either get to the fishmarket soon or hit the police station, else we run
afoul of La Tía de la Mar. If you don’t want to deal with the police, then
leave me to it and run to meet your Rafael. Alright? I’ll be fine.”