a tale of 2 puppets

here’s an ancient short story of my yesteryears written in one of my long, wine-soaked weeks passed. i can’t even remember which time period it was put together. before the military? during?  i recently submitted it for a small anthology. it was consequently rejected (like most of my stuff.) but i can see why, and you will too. the language is too phantasmagoric and cluttered to be in a book of compiled stories likely meant to be a mild read instead of a WTF.  originally, the marionette show was in san francisco, and i only adapted it to be in new orleans. that was pretty much my only edit. i just like showing the writing of my past, to me, to anyone. it’s like a glimpse of where my mind was back then. i know exactly who i wrote the story about… and it’s still my secret to the grave.

i’m also still on the fence about whether or not to submit the other short story that i’ve written. the one that i previously posted an excerpt of about a woman who loses everything on a mountain pass. i’d rather have it as a stand alone rather than incorporated in someone else’s vision. although, they’d likely reject it. it’s a bit more quentin tarantino than i’m sure they’re used to. we’ll see.

and, since i’ll have more time in the coming months and perhaps less of this weighty writers block, i can finish the few novels i’ve got chapters and chapters for with no end yet, but planned. i love writing poems and shorts, but a finished novel is my ultimate goal.


Once upon a time, there lived a humidity-powdered French Quarter marionette that was as elegant and pale as a swan dining on diamonds. She was a stardust-saturated ballerina with posy-blotted cheeks, who kept bird-shaped gloomy chocolate in her pink tutu pocket. Her porcelain skim-milk body echoed the dewy coffin sweat of Snow White and her lips ink-stained scarlet carnations on all the faces lucky enough to receive the pocketbooks of her kiss-kisses.

One day, she fell hopelessly in love with the bone-white morgue and razor-honey body of a London dandy lad puppet all clad in cemetery-black and scissor-eyes brimming with danger and absinthe. Together they were a fervid-manic menagerie of moonstone love-sores and anise-flavored longings; in other words, of course, as all spindle stories begin everything was as it should be at the beginning of their soot-perfume perfect union. When he would steel-clank grin and curl the jitterbug killing-spree of his wormwood jaunt, she would butterfly flutter the aquamarine maze of her heartsick eyes, and they would collide to wildly dance on the gleaming vault that was their gingerbread stage. The ballerina’s blue-glass heart was a votive, wide-open chasm of love for him, a silver bell reliquary of tumbleweed devotion. And she wished that they would be together forever. That every night they would dance and dance again eternal!

But, you see, like all passionate stories of puppet love, this one had a terrible catch woven in the fateful tapestry of its cat-eye fine print. For you see, when the glimmering satin tides of miniature sweeping laughter would disband along with the enchanted crowd of the spook-show on Bourbon Street, when applause dissolved into abandoned hurricanes of sputtering and corpse-gray trash, when all the red velvet cake cushion seats lay vacant of an audience and icy, when the twirling wooden apparition-bodies were tucked away for safe keeping, and when the rainbow-petal confetti accolades that the lifeless stage cradled like changeling infants had all been tidied and the dreams and stories faded… each night a constellation-airline of cursed midnight spears of faithless moonlight would shank the puppets in their un-breathing lungs. Silence would overtake their secret souls until next they were conjured. And they would sleep and sleep deeply in this waxwing quiet till next it melted into a new nights dalliance, teardrop coated within the marble guillotine of it like a blood spiked set of petit fours.

And so one day, when the French Quarter marionette dangled awake from her au lait prism music-box slumber, sugar-knuckles conducting away from her coin silver eyes the heavy goblin glitter crumbles of the Sandman’s witching dust, London, sleek as a fang, and the two devil-bead hearses of his vivid gas chamber eyes, were gone.

That night the indigo weathered spirits of the sunken-melody ballerina were far too weighty with sorrow to dance. And how could she dance without the brimstone cackle of London’s casket juicing boot heels parrying at the vehement gallop of all her ivy-cauldron leapings? It would simply not be the same, she thought mournfully! And thus instead she did not dance, not once. That night the wistful ballerina tearfully ran away in a rip of chiffon and swallow of ivory-lace, to seek an answer for her troubles! An answer to what had become of her pall-bearing lover. Where had he gone so suddenly? And why? There was but only one drifting mystery man, with his varnish-smeared firefly smile and clandestine tarry voodoo eyes, whose jazz-funeral musk always knew what happened when things went strange. They called him Papa. And when she found him alone, the dead skeleton prod of his cobweb suit a smudge on an ocean of green and purple alchemy salve, he was examining bits of weeping crow bones and ovals of pearly mermaid’s gems

And he was already expecting her.

The watercolor tonic of her teary nightcap, dripping eyes, seemed to bleed on and on into the immortal realm of a river. Upon it, folded and unfolded college-lined paper ships, giving a lonely fleet of abandoned marrow vessels a sea to sail with, a voyage to embark on without a destination. When the seared brown sugar of those spirited eyes was slaughtered and wet enough, cindered bright and properly drying, Papa cheerfully spread the wolf-debris of his maniac grin and asked her fluidly, “Why are you crying? All things happen for a reason. He didn’t run from you, he was crushed and perished to ghost splinters. He lives no longer.”

She faintly wondered through a golden meow of sadness and a slender whimper of hopefulness, licking away the circular taste of one of her honeycomb tears. “Is there no way he could ever come back to me?”

“There’s always a way, but didn’t you hear? Things, they happen for reasons don’t need to be known, whether we believe they do or not. You sure it’s what you want? Him come back? You sure he loves you much as you love him?” listening to the creole snake-oil bedtime tale of his words was like watching cotton-candy be spun by the red and white striped handlebar of a mustache man; it was saccharine sweet, brutally hypnotizing, and full of clockwork hidden, marvelous artistic ritual.

“Yes, more than anything.” she wanted that man back whom she loved! And went on urgently to explain with the fiery and bold logic of the lovesick, that she would not know what else to do with herself had she not him to love. She missed him dearly and deeply. Missed how he would scroll the chain-link of his forearm around the blade-runner bones of her shoulders, hold her against him, twine his fingers into the thorny briers of her starry raven-feather hair, so that no secret their heartbeats exchanged between them could be overheard by anyone, or anything, but the curiosity of their own boiling anatomies.

Papa was convinced.

Tangling a tackle-box song of witchery maws and animal skin percussions within the burrow of his languidly palpitating eyes, he warned her with a narrow of them, that the spell would be shattered and London would die again… should he ever fall in love with someone else besides her. Convinced that she could keep his wood-heart kindled, she agreed to go on with the deed. And so the magic was done.

London ghosted back that night with swinging funeral flight and they danced wildly again like old times, but oddly, the French Quarter marionette noticed how he and an older, platinum smudged doll-face, seemed delighted in each others company especially at being reunited. She couldn’t help what she was, the white-ice doll London grinned with, with her lace and polka dot moles in all her immaculate places. Doll-face was difficult not to look at, so bewitching and delicate were her cream flavored and becomingly disheveled charms.

And so, like a puddle of trampled flowers sniveled loose from the acrid clench of an executioner’s boot heel, the French Quarter marionette awoke the very next night to the horror of London dead in the sugary leashes of her forever saddened arms.

words = samantha lucero 2016 ©
image = not mine.

11 thoughts on “a tale of 2 puppets

  1. Holy Mother! That was astounding. It got rejected? Stupid asses don’t know art. Tim Burton could make a whole movie out of this snippet. My God Sam, I wish I could write something like this. Just, wow.

    1. I don’t even know what to say. I guess I finally found my tribe. 🤓
      Yes, it was not used in their anthology. But I think that they were looking for scarier. Or less fantasy? The idea was just to take place in New Orleans, and to be scary. I think this is a bit more peculiar than scary.

      1. I think it definitely gives a very shadowy macabre vibe, especially with your mastery of description. The language is very dark, but lucid and invoking. If you have any sort of imagination like mine, it read as very creepy.

    1. I’ve definitely moved past using it so much. This style, that is. My usual (non) short stories (the chapters I’ve mentioned of books I work on.) may have that descriptiveness peppered in, but much more watered down. It makes for an easier read and smoother write. Thanks for the comment. They always help!


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