“Always the frog,” he said: “never the rabbit,” and began to weep. The frog was white, with sweet dark green eyes, moist and bright.
The magician had beautiful sad eyes and his lashes were now mascara wet-shiny — he was a cloud of sadness and she liked his atmosphere.
He wore a close-fitting midnight blue suit, which was shiny in a good way. Turning his slender hips, he was a really magical children’s magician.
He also had eyelashes no man had a right to.
Bad Kitty knew she ought to head home but wanted to comfort him. And found herself saying: “‘He’s beautiful—I’ve never seen a white frog,”’ and BK wanted to add, “give him to me.”
She felt confused and sad too (how much did I drink, she asked herself and honestly answered relieved: just a few) and when the magician gently put the frog away in his jacket pocket and covering his face with his hands, sank down on the sofa, she sat down beside him.
Bad Kitty had been beset all day by a hollow feeling —a sort of high lonely note, a question posed by a train whistle screaming—that often afflicted her after a run of parties, after the holidays: she felt generally unsettled and generally dissatisfied, in a way that made drinking convenient. She knew it was no real answer but on the other hand she didn’t even know what the train whistle was asking so she had turned into the next bar on her way to her nephew’s birthday party and had had a couple of vodka sodas, and then at the party had had the beers.
And now, she felt a wave of sorrow and a pre-loss pang, probably just at the vanished frog, but which with her could be a somewhat sexual sensation. This confused her: these pangs were never felt over a man.
She patted his arm and after a while he dropped his hands and took a handkerchief to his eyes. He looked so unhappy and BK, after relinquishing a rush of hope that he’d pull the frog out of his hankie, said, “Well, does this end for you soon? Could I buy you a drink? I really do like the frog. My favorite bar is right on the corner…”
“Oh yes please—I will just wrap things up.”
Bad Kitty thanked her sister-in-law, complimenting her sincerely on the entertainment, and then kissed her nephew, slipped him a fifty, and sauntered out oddly high. She was counting her drinks again and as she sat down and ordered a vodka soda, she said to herself “three.”
All the sorrow washed away and she was happy to sit and wait.
How everything changes when you allow yourself time. Cut in extra time and look how obstacles dissolve into air. Doing what one wants and being the first one at the bar: all is well— Lordy, everything seemed so simple from the bar-stool point of view. And, deciding that she would let herself make a cash offer for the frog, no matter how gauche that might be, she relaxed and took Pimp out of her bag.
She’d been finding Iceberg Slim’s book brutal but hypnotic —though when the “stepfather” kills the boy’s kitten in the basement, Bad Kitty decided, now we know: this is only for the explorers. She closed the book
In the mirror, which was mottled, she saw him come in, small and slight and just that little bit off — she supposed he was one of those people she liked though perhaps she ought to have been steering clear.
And so her eyes were sympathetic looking up and she lifted her coat off the barstool beside her invitingly. The magician thanked her, pulling his own coat off as though it were a red-lined cape though in fact it was a simple gray wool topcoat.
“I could skip all nephews as far as parties for ten-year-olds go for a good while. Better to go out for pancakes with him—“
She saw he felt criticized, bereft.
“Not that I didn’t enjoy your, er, magic” and Bad Kitty patted his arm again.
The magician looked down into his black top hat and looked like he was in a played-out space that was just plain sad. All around them were some older ladies: four super tanned blondes with deep lines and long lips and extra cheekbones —two on each side of them, skinny lizards in leopard print in their early seventies: pretty amazing in their own fabulous way. She wanted to chat about them but thought he was too unhappy to care. It turned out however that he had spunk and, moving the hat near Bad Kitty, he reached in and, turning his hand toward her, and all the time looking her in the eye, offered her the beautiful snow-white frog. Its eyes gleamed up at her romantically—and he reached out with his empty hand to gently touch her right hand, which she only then saw was tense, almost a fist, which he was opening up gently, to receive the magic frog.
The frog: she had been given this amazing creature!
What ought to be next, she wondered, and felt like kissing him.
Bad Kitty draws the little creature to her chest and is very happy—a great deal of her happiness already taking shape in the spinning of plans (an immediate trip to the big Union Square pet emporium, which offered for sale lizards and the snakes thank god downstairs —to pick out a frog-happy terrarium as well as a supply of food, maybe a box of crickets —and she is already in the bliss of its very small topiary, imagining the miniature semi-aquatic plants she will plant in the happy bright gravel)—
She looked up, brimming over with frog possession, to thank the magician, but felt hot in the face confused. It was as if his sister was sitting there—
“I know,” the magician said, but only waved a hand as if to say there weren’t really words for the fact that he was now a she.
Bad Kitty cupped the frog now with just one hand to her chest and with the other picked up and slowly drained her drink. Words were evading her as well. She looked down at the frog’s small face with its sweet round eyes, which seemed to belong more to a warm small rabbit than to any amphibious creature, and that seemed like a rhyme to the thought she’s had that very morning on being woken up by her cat, that the secret beauty trick of cats is having amphibian eyes in the warmth of beautiful furry mammal faces….
The magician, who had become more attractive in a serious way, had caused two drinks to materialize: she gazed politely at their glasses now. Bad Kitty didn’t remember this would be Drink Four, not usually a very good idea, and asked, “Is this a trick?”
To be continued