All of Them Comely

By Jaclyn Watterson

No surprise, the Yankee Doodle Dandy is trying to date me. He is some sort of man, or a jack-o’-lantern. He looks like cotton candy.

You’re not, I told him yesterday, my type.

You’re wearing, he said, high-heeled shoes.

Ventriloquism is a form of self-expression, but the Yankee Doodle Dandy oozes. Reinscribed by the blades of knives laid out, or the cake, I look amazing.

This is not a prom. But, rather — something else.

You’re stupid, I tell the Dandy. He drops a match to the dance floor; nothing catches.

You’re not, I repeat, my type.

The Yank is not listening. He’s saying something about macaroni: You would do well to take one or two such sort of people home with you every day.

Locating the flashlight in my beaded purse, I say, Sweetheart, let me tell you a thing or two about propriety. My living room resembles a rash more than a parlor. The sort you’re describing belong to a sailboat or a pontoon.

While the Doodler lights a second match, an Aficionado — another sort of man, or a mannequin — asks me to dance. I’m reeling away with my flashlight turned on and shining up into my chin.

My dress is lace, and the Aficionado’s face is delicately veined as a block of cheese. He’s asking if I’m serious about the Yankee Doodle Dandy. Because, he says, I’m more your type. I can show you a rhinoceros, or a vineyard. Traveling to my country estate tomorrow — join me?

At this, I’m approximating auto-asphyxiation into the bathroom. The people here could be men or women, and I keep my flashlight pressed between my jaw and esophagus — on.

You look a fright, someone says to me.

Isn’t the bride gorgeous! someone else is shrieking.

In a stall, I’m faced with the Doodle Dandy again. In lieu of a country estate, he’s offering medicines, which I never use, and I’m coughing and exploding his face with my flashlight. There’s nothing delicate in this face, though my flashlight has a pearl finish. Moving from a Yankee’s nose to his low cheekbones is no act of the imagination. By the time he’s dead, delicacy, like high-heeled shoes, is some sort of vector.

Stick a feather, I say, in that.

At three in the morning, ventriloquism is no longer a form of self-expression. No surprise.

Jaclyn Watterson’s recent work appears in places like Birkensnake, The Collagist, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. She currently lives with one cat in Salt Lake City.