By Kathe Koja

Love: it’s a triangle. battle: is coming. Betrayal: is inevitable. intercourse: beware of the naughty puppets.

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But what distinguishes a gentleman is the ability to accommodate, no matter the circumstance. If one seeks divertissement in Paris, one visits the Objet d’Art. Here, one goes Under the Poppy. It is a sort of vulgar wordplay, “poppy” being gutter slang for a woman’s female organs, though a somewhat grimmer version of Papaver orientale is indeed painted over the door. One recalls the delicacy of the door-knocker at the Pale Ophelia, that lovely nude form meant to be caressed as much as grasped, or the naughty devil winking from the wall at the Roxy….

Go on,” and she is gone, melting into scenery’s shadow as Decca appears stage left, face pinched pale in the darkness—but Guillame waves her off because it is time, now, for Jonathan to play the overture, for the noise on the floor to dim, time to light the candles and pinch the nipples and let the play begin. As the curtains part, “Miss Marigold” becomes a different tune, more intimate but still recognizably a waltz, appropriate for dancing and they do: the dark boy and the fair girl, Vladimir and Vera, as Jennie stands apart, harness concealed by her bouffant gown, ruched and spangled for a princess though no princess surely ever showed such rash décolletage.

It had a story about Cinder-Ella, too, who lived among the ashes until she found her rightful prince, and one about the Mouse King, and the people who live underwater and talk by bubbling, one bubble to another; it was how I learned to read, that book, until our father found it…. I should have killed him, really. At the Gaiety Theatre there are plays, and dancing, you could hear the music from the street: a real band, with a fiddle and piano, and the ladies bright as butterflies in spangles and lace; I saw it on the sign and I thought, If I could only dance, or sing!

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