Chapter One – Lizard Lady

Her hands cracked with glue when she separated her fingers. In a small screechy voice, she claimed,

“Lizard lady.”

She laughed flicking her tongue.

“I am not of this planet – ah!” She stretched her hands hiding her face.

“When I get up there I better see a billion hat boxes, finished!” Paulie yelled up the stairs.

Nora dragged her bare feet, also covered in glue, to the top of the staircase and waved Paulie up. Nora’s filthy feet discarded scraps of poster board, over-curled ribbon, more scraps of poster board, tissue paper, rose petals, and metal gears that she stepped on causing her to hiss. Tossing it across the room seemed to bring her pleasure and she was back to sloughing her way through the daintily disguised craft rubble.

50 or so hat boxes sat handsomely atop a 10-foot long table. The poorly painted white wood cracked and sprinkled itself gently around the base of its legs.

“Check out this one,” Nora insisted grabbing one from the pile.

Barely able to get her arms around its enormous size, Nora bragged about the metallic gold trim and the blue and white silk ribbon used in place of paper. It would serve to some spoiled rich girl as a shabby -chic – out – of – the – way – yet – in- plain – sight – blanket storage or box.

“A hat box for your blankets? Brilliant!” Paulie fell for it every time.

“I know right!”

“So you wanna do the images right here in this light, then?” He asked.

Nora walked around the ten-foot table and admired her labor.

“Lizard lady!” She repeated.

“What are you on about, with this lizard lady?”

Nora stretched her arms and feet out for Paulie and insisted that she was molting. She shook her head then grabbed another box. It was a clock. The hat box top was a working clock while bits of metal gears, big and small, were woven together to form the sides of the box. White satin and pink pearls peaked out the impermeable gear windows.

“It actually works?” Paulie asked.

Nora lifted the top with her dried white gluey hands, flipped it over gently and revealed the innards of a standard Staples clock. It required no batteries or any sort of maintenance; once it stopped working would the $250 novelty? That did not concern the designer. She would have already spent it in London by then. Lizard lady set it down and carefully peeled the glue off of her fingers.

“You’ve gone absolutely mental, haven’t you?” Paulie said.

“I couldn’t stop. I don’t know what got into me, but I just couldn’t stop.”

Nora finally sat. She blamed her mental capacity on 3 days of no sleep, no food except potato chips and far too many cigarettes.

“You don’t even smoke,” Paulie admitted.

“I think I do now,” Nora said smelling herself.

Wincing, she picked up her phone, a pack of cigarettes and started for the stairs. Paulie remained to circle her masterpieces and determine the perfect capture.

Downstairs, a loud knock rumbled the front door. The two got quiet. A second loud knock rumbled the door.

“Paulie, do you think its Ian?” Nora did not move.

Shrugging, Paulie descended the staircase quickly. Nora quietly stepped down the wood stairs she had painted last summer while having a happy fit over the ever – pleasing effects of white. She insisted white created balance to anyone not tired of hearing of it. White would make any room appear clean, open and airy – and who on earth did not want that. Apparently, when the fall had arrived she didn’t. She bemoaned to Paulie how it was him who had allowed her to do something so irresponsible, so rash. Paulie, simply took one look at the stairs and the color swatches Nora flashed in his face and told her no.

She listened to Paulie having small talk with Ian. It infuriated her that Paulie was able to have this everyday human interaction with that asshole. Why was he being so damn nice? And why couldn’t she hear anything that Ian said?

“Right, well I’ll let her know you stopped by then, right. Ok cheers.” Paulie was a gentleman when the mood suited him. He shut the door and headed back to the stairs. Perched on the stairs, Nora waited.

Frightened, Paulie blurted, “You are simply ghastly. Go take a bloody shower and get hold of yourself, yeah? Jesus!”

Nora looked about herself then couldn’t help asking, “What did he want?”

Paulie shook his head and passed her on the stairs.

“I want to get these images shot before the clouds cover this full moon,” He stated.

Nora climbed the stairs stopping at the top. She sat down. She looked at Paulie’s back. He fussed with the hatboxes, posing them and clearing some from the table. He stepped away from the table to set the positions of the lighting umbrellas.

Nora yelled, “Tell me!”

“Tell you what? How much he still loves you and can’t live without you? That his emaciated frame is the direct result of your relinquishing your heart?” He paused.

Nora stared at him.

“You have no right to know what he said, you cracked dried witch!” He finished.

Nora attempted stomping down the stairs but her glued covered feet slid away from her. Sliding on her butt she slammed into the attic door. Her knees kicked at her chest and her head lay on a stair.

“What did he want?” Paulie mocked.

Paulie peered over the edge and half smiled.

“Lizard Lady? More like cockroach girl.”

He took her picture, turned and walked back to the moon and the table.