Jill, or the Big Little Lady
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78 The little lady inched open the door of her pickup truck using both of her Barbie-sized feet, and in a grinding effort of lower body strength flung the door wide. She jumped to the curb, barely cleared the gutter , and landed next to a hazy rain puddle—ringed with rainbows of gasoline, studded with sticky blue and pink islands of gum. A man standing at the curb smoking dropped his cigarette. He was smitten at the sight of the small figure flying through the air. The lady watched the cigarette fall toward her, a burning timber, imagining how it might ignite the gasoline-infused puddle and burst it into flame. Frankly, she was surprised LA wasn’t full of flaming rain puddles. From her vantage point, the city was always more real and more like a postapocalyptic movie. The cigarette merely sizzled, shed a few glowing embers. But the man bent toward her. “I have to say . . . that was a nice parallel park, little lady.” “Oh, gee, congratulations for noticing,” she piped up. At her hip, the lady, we’ll call her Jill, carried a coil of leather with a tiny grappling hook. It glinted in the sun, blinded the man for a moment. He thought the small woman looked like the adventuress Lara Croft—a half-digital, half-analog version; then again, partly, curiously hologram. She was small enough to have stepped out of a game screen but her flesh was realish à la Angelina Jolie. She had realish vibrating flesh, not only like Lara’s or Angelina’s but like the Jill, or The Big Little Lady 79 Jill, or The Big Little Lady delicate holographic image of Princess Leia, beamed out of R2-D2. And the man, we’ll call him Phil, who had spent a good deal of his life watching movies, wanted to pick her up and hold her small vibrating body in his hand. Jillcheckedtoseethathergrapplinghookwassecure—sheused it to scale stairs and to hoist herself onto chairs and tables. Today she had an appointment with a well-known movie producer. She would have to navigate her way into the bar in front of which she’d parked her pickup truck; she’d have to heave herself up the entrance stairs, dodge flat and high heels, and dart past the bouncer. And she would do it. She was begrudgingly ready to risk life and limb—despite or maybe with the help of this man standing before her. She paused and looked up at him. He was probably a regular. He had a goatee and messy shoulder-length hair, not merely meant to lookunwashedbuttrulyunwashed—forwhichshekindoflikedhim. He was very thin and wore thick Martin Scorsese glasses, heavy architecture on his fine-boned face. And he nurtured a drawn look; he had an inward curl to his body that suggested he thought himself too smartforLAbutwouldprobablykeeplivinghereanyway—advertising his disenchantment and being too sensitive for his surroundings. Jill knew that once inside the bar she wouldn’t need him anymore . She’d been to bars like this. Next to fish-thin waitstaff she would expand, not just to her normal size, but beyond. “Doyouknowtheowner,MikeSwanson?”theladyasked,pointing to the entrance of the bar—a door arched and scalloped like a seashell, and cut into a slab of white marble. “Ha!” Phil replied. It was a response that denoted a relationship, but also a response she didn’t want to indulge. She quickly asked, “Will you show me inside?” She smiled up at him, with a slight buzz which signaled either attraction or a coming growth spurt. 80 Elegies for Uncanny Girls Phil, for his part, was still awash in her resemblances: A miniature Linda Hamilton? GI Jane? Or, oops, his mother circa 1971? He felt at a loss, but came up with, “Are you sure you want to sell your soul?” “Of course not,” Jill said. “I want to write and direct.” Phil was confused. The truth was, Jill had just moved to LA from Iowa with a singular and burning desire to make a movie about tragic merpeople. She’d envisioned a whole extended family. They walked around LA, squeezed into leather pants or fishnets, opalescent leggings, or pencil skirts—the kind of clothing that would remind their legs of their lost fishiness, or fusion. At around midnight in bars along the Sunset Strip, just as the merpeople were getting to know a potential someone, who might kiss them and reverse their exile on land, the skin behind their...


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