STEAMPUNK STRIPPER! By Neil Coleman 12/11/19
“No … you stay home, girl. I took you for a long walk this morning. I got up early, just for you.”
Perdy’s eyes said otherwise. She gave me a look that went beyond my attire. Indeed, she couldn’t have cared less about my crazy ‘look.’ My black costume festooned with a plethora of decor from times past … or was its times neutral, historic reality mixed with fantasy gone mad? Perdy had been there, while I slaved late into many nights, cutting, inventing new techniques, attaching, mending, repairing mistakes, pricking fingers, swearing copiously, calling for help, strutting around, then changing my mind.
On one occasion, well past midnight, I almost threw in the towel, until I realized that an old towel was all I needed to modify a kind of ‘vagabondous’ look. I stitched it to a flowing cloak. My costume weighed as much as a small car, along with so many additions, I could be heard from quite a distance; clinging, clacking, ringing and reflecting light in a manner that defeated the stars in the Milky Way.
The morning of the parade was upon me. Breakfast was done and dusted, I visited the toilet for the last time because any visits from here on were going to be a mission. Perdy made another attempt to ‘guilt-me-out.’ I folded. Hell … her company would be great, and she loves a good walk. The noise of the parade would keep her close to me, and I’d stay well away from the beating drums of the ‘Latin Marchers.’ “Come on then … here … stick this on your collar. It’s just a bit of bling-punk-bling!”
I attached Perdy to me in the usual fashion; a tried and true method to contain her exuberance; the long leash clicked around my much-expanded waist, in a non-calorific manner. Still … I looked like a huge monument to fashion gone wrong. I figured I’d be lost in the crowd of similar displays of Thame’s version of The Big Gay Out.
I pushed the car seat to its maximum and folded myself in. “I may regret this, Perdy … It’s gonna be a hot one.” She jumped up onto the parcel tray and barked the whole way in to town, where after driving around the block several times, I found a car park behind the bookshop. We walked down a side-street, avoiding the main street. A crowd had gathered at the southern end of the street, waiting for a signal to begin the procession. Perdy wasn’t the only dog. She dragged me towards a beautiful Labrador, whose Mum had matched her attire to that of her fur-babe. Her glance at Perdy informed me that she thought I was a lazy bastard. “She won’t let me add much more than a collar,” I said defensively.
Ten minutes later, the parade kicked off. An explosion of music covering many genres punctuated warm air. I was already sweating, beneath the top-hat, cloak. and yes … the dagger! At first, it was manageable, trudging along to the cries of the admiring crowd. It seemed everyone was taking pictures, or sending out live feeds on Facebook
It wasn’t long before Perdy decided that walking along the main street simply bored her … barking at the crowd, the dogs, imagined vermin and people she knew from our numerous walks. She took interest in a voluminous dress, that dragged along behind a woman, enticingly just out of her reach … almost … oh no! She pounced, grabbing the hemline in her mouth. She tugged … all eight kilos of muscle, and reverse pulled. The woman screamed as half her dress departed from her back. Luckily, she had an underlay of frilly garments, something passing for a Nineteenth Century petticoat, I guess, but looking more like something from a sex shop. She tried to grab the ruined dress from Perdy’s mouth, a hopeless task, because my monster had started ripping it to shreds, like an unlucky rat. To make matters worse, the people around us were laughing. I wasn’t.
I took off my cloak and thrust it towards the distraught lady. I looked at her more closely. I knew her, beneath her layers of makeup, long eyelashes and iridescent lipstick. “I’m so sorry,” I offered pathetically as she grabbed the cloak and wrapped it around her shoulders. Bits dropped off, bouncing in front of Perdy, who immediate tried to gather them up. In the meantime, the crowd of marchers parted either side of the spectacle. From various comments, it sounded like people thought it was ‘staged.’
Thankfully, the woman played along, but the darting, angry looks directed at Perdy and me, spoke otherwise. Then she seemed to recognize me. Unbelievably, she started laughing. “YOU … owe me, big time mate!” Perdy had finally let go the remnants of her dress. The cloak added a crazy, pseudo-sexual quality to her look, something halfway between a dominatrix and Wonder Woman.
“I am so sorry,” I spluttered. I had met her several times on the walks Perdy, and I enjoyed every day. “How can I make up for Perdy’s ‘wreck-fest?”
We stopped and moved to the side of the road in a gap outside a café. “Let’s go inside,” I said, indicating the café. She followed. We found a seat, close to the window, just outside. “What can I get you?”
“I don’t think they serve what I need. Just grab me a flat white and a slice.” She pulled a small flask from her Victorian handbag. Tell Rex to leave a gap … for this,” she added. “I so need it. Now … where are you taking me for an EXPENSIVE dinner, tonight?!”
“Thanks Perdy … you always make my day, eh. Is it gonna be poll dancing next year?”