Hey! Hey kids! Put down the Nintendo DS, quit playing with those Nintendogs, stop tossing around that – alright, is everyone going to be chill right now? Gibbs, leave the STREET DOG alone already and – okay, listen up. It’s story time again. That’s right, another installment of the Lily Story by our good pal Martha Curren-Preis! Hip-hip hooray! Alright Martha, we’re ready when you are.
She met him for the first time at the diner two blocks from her parents’ house in Paulino Town. A twenty-four hour establishment, its patrons took over the streets at night for the pinball races. Men rolled up in wheelchairs and bicycles and rusted Chevies to compete for the title of “Grand Master Magician” and thereby be counted as one of the pinball elite whose names were shot across the diner’s exterior in neon lights. The summer Lily met Dr. Flock, however, the entire testosterone count in Paulino was reeling from the upset of the newest Grand Master who, of all things, was a one-armed girl from the neighboring town of Tramp. While the tournament rules didn’t prohibit female participants, there had never before been one who had actually stuck it out for more than a couple of days among the quarter-toasting, coffee-drinking, dipsomaniac males who, between plays, stayed up all hours to flip through the piles of pinball magazines littered across the diner’s back table, searching for the newest tilt and touch-angle technologies that might give them that additional edge. Not to mention the fact that the cunt (or so she was named by Rainer McLane, favored male contender) had only an eight-inch stub where her right arm should have been were–Rainer speculated–her mother to have exercised a bit more caution during the first trimester.
The girl herself, Madeleine, was a particular friend of Lily’s, dating back to the previous summer when the two waitressed together in the nearby city of Sharksville. Both girls had taken the job as a means of escaping home. For Lily, this meant only that she could smoke whenever she pleased and talk to boys without fear of her father making some joke about “late bloomers.” Madeleine, conversely, shared a place in Tramp with David, a painter, whom she loved. But in the month of June, David had taken to pursuing Madeleine relentlessly around the apartment with a hand-held tape recorder in order to inform his new project, “Truncated Sound, Taut Canvas.” He recorded her eating, talking on the phone, sleeping, and even taking a shit. Madeleine needed space. She told Lily she’d begun experiencing a palpable twinge in her flipper finger (on the left-hand side) whenever she heard a click or a whirr, no matter if the sound emitted from the tape recorder itself, the toaster, a helicopter, or, most markedly, a pinball machine. Her anxiety led her on several occasions to fire prematurely during game competitions. She needed the time away from David to recuperate her heightened nerves.
Madeleine became the best waitress Sharksville had seen in several summers–though perhaps this was due to her burgeoning sideshow status among certain wizened locals who’d never before witnessed such balance, such poise, and such ambidexterity in a city eatery. Lily relied on her breasts for tips. One late night she and Madeleine experimented with two-tone liquid rouge. In a state of drunkenness the women applied the rouge to Lily’s peachy pink nipples, darkening them noticeably so that their newfound hue seemed to wither the folds of Lily’s cotton uniform, rendering the fabric of her top irrelevant. After that, Lily layered her breasts in mauves and fuschias every afternoon before work; had David seen them, her nipples would likely have unhinged a new aesthetic obsession. While she spent the extra cash on tea and crockery, Lily primarily kept up her evening cosmetic application for the anonymity her breasts provided: busy gazing through, the Sharksville patrons generally disregarded her face. (Not so with Dr. Flock. He first noticed Lily that summer over the Sunday Sports section and resolved to teach her better ways to mask.)
Now, isn’t that nice when we’re quiet and we listen? That does it, nap time for everyone! Get upstairs…now! No, no, not you, Bones…you’ve got get back to work. Hey, wake up! I said wake up!