Alpine Zanzibar, The Genteel Fantastic

by 

On the night Alpine Zanzibar died, that diva light, that genteel fantastic, the people that loved him bought him the moon. Together his friends pitched a fortune and purchased the lunar landscape for the entire night, inflicting their choices for the moon’s color on the entire earth. At 6PM the moon was a crisp blond color but at the strike of midnight it turned a dark and mysterious blue. The gold of that light was to celebrate the long life of Alpine Zanzibar, and the blue was to mourn his passing.

The party was at the Silver Swan, the establishment where Alpine Zanzibar held his bohemian court. The Silver Swan was not just bar, nor a cabaret, but the night home of the residents of Second Paris, a place were hearts were mended and souls found, glory on a honest to damn wooden stage. Years before most of the patrons had even been born, the genteel fantastic Alpine Zanzibar had opened the Silver Swan and had commenced the nightly revelry as the city of Second Paris grew around him. The party was part roast, part jazz funeral, but most of all like a birthday and all of it like the life of the man it celebrated, all glory, all fabulous fantastic.

Alpine Zanzibar himself appeared an hour into the festivities, having just emerged from a day spent with his closest friends, his created family, those brothers and sisters holding back their tears and throwing back bubbly drinks. He wore robes of shining purple and glistening blue, the colors of the evening, past the set sun.

In accordance with Zanzibar’s own request, they held the usual cabaret; girls dancing, the political puppet show outlining the faults of the United Parliament, the heckles and the teasing, the stripping and the finale, which Zanzibar sang himself. He sang his torch song, his familiar standard, the old love song, almost antiquated until Zanzibar put it past his lips.

Suddenly, as the last chord played, there was the sound of wild horses, and the laugher of women. From the cold autumn night, like a crisp wind blew in that proper villain, that rouge, the gypsy Prince; Vlad of the Jagged Spire. He entered with his cadre of gypsy girls in their striped corsets. Vlad wore his stylishly disheveled Victorian tails, and top hat. His dark hair curled around his shoulders, and the crisp click of his heels on the ceramic tile sent the crowd silent. Long had Zanzibar and Vlad been rivals, Zanzibar stealing Vlads gypsy ladies to his stage and Vlad temping Zanzibar’s lovers into his caravan.

Vlad swept through the silent crowd, holding the edges of his stain lined cape and mounted the stage with an effortless little hop.

“Long have we been rivals, Alpine Zanzibar, but tonight, that ends.” Vlad wrapped his arm around Zanzibar’s waist, pulling Zanzibars body towards his in a smooth, practiced motion. Vlad caught Zanzibar in a long and passionate kiss. When they finally parted, Vlad bowed to Zanzibar. “A decent rival happens once in a thousand lifetimes. My deepest thanks.”

Zanzibar lifted the glass thrust into his hand, and proposed a toast to Vlad, and Vlad toasted Zanzibar, and into the night the patrons of the Silver Swan toasted each other and danced and laughed and sang away every hour.

Alpine Zanzibar took the key from around his neck, that brass key to the Silver Swan, and placed it around the neck of his lover, the doe eyed boy named Daniel, whose white shirt clung to his ribs like paint on a wall. Daniels eyes went liquid, he lost a crystal tear to Zanzibar’s thumb on his cheek and a kiss that was tender and sweet, a taste, an echo. But Zanzibar wouldn’t let his lover cry for long. He encouraged the band with a dramatic wave, let the drink pour from the fountains, and danced with the girls. Vlad whirled, skirts flew, and the organ played on.

After midnight, when everyone was drunk and singing, Zanzibar went to the back room and changed his clothes. He wiped the paint off his face and put on grey trousers and a flat, black cap. He picked up his satchel, the one with a change of clothes and his new identification cards, the ones that said Eugene Johnston, freshman university student in physics. He opened the back door into the alley and walked towards the public transport pod-station. Behind him, Alpine Zanzibar’s friends were toasting the life of a man they loved, ahead, Eugene Johnston started his life.

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