AT THE PALACE
OF SEDUCTIONS, the gentlemen of the orchestra play songs from the old
country. They play with arthritic fingers, worn out hands and lips, with
tired hearts enriched only by distant nights of love, now barely remembered.
At the tables, widows hide behind their decorative fans, whilst gigolos
stumble across the room slowly and with trepidation, like aged leopards.
Dandies check themselves in handheld mirrors. Such desires, such breaths
hardly taken, not for so many years now. The old men direct the women
out onto the polished floor, to move them tenderly through the ritualised
code of the tango; the various steps, calibrations, the holds, the perfect
theatre of the kiss.
One final surrendering. There are such longings, there are such callings
in the blood that long to be delivered.
In a small private alcove, the retired colonel sits in his wheelchair,
his designated servant standing by his side. The music seems far away,
cold, and slightly out of time with the creaking mechanism of an ornamental
clock whose fingers move in the shadows. The colonel sighs and thinks
back on his dancing days, when the body seemed in thrall to some fierce
instruction. The young girls, the married women, the prostitutes
The scorpion creaks across the table, its velvet body sparkling with cheap
jewels. The servant places a gentle finger upon its back, holding it in
place. The colonel looks on, nervously. His eyes are so bad these days,
he sees everything covered with a fine mist, wet with tears. Finally,
he gives a slight nod. The servant rolls the sleeve of his master, exposing
a thin-boned arm. The old man trembles at the touch, and he remembers
the advice given him by the dealer.
'Be careful of your passion.'
The creature moves closer. The tail hovers above the bared arm, and then
stabs forward suddenly, with a hidden, coiled power. The jewelled sting
pierces the soft skin of the old man, finding a vein. The ticking of the
clock fills the air like a heart stuttering. There is a sweet sticky smell
in the small confined space and the old man cries out in pain, and in
fear. His eyes widen. Blood fills his vision.
The music swirls from the dancefloor.
The colonel spasms in his chair, his arms flailing. The scorpion is knocked
from the table. It lands on the floor beside the old man, who has fallen
with it. The creature lies on its back, legs waving frantically, its tail
spurting. A purple arc of fluid sprays across the man's terrified face.
Such desires, such longings
The wheel of the chair spins slowly to a standstill.