Divine Marchesa. A short story (submission in Norwegian for Ephemera Online magazine (c) 2019)
The moment i saw his bed, his spartan hard one-man bed, it flashed like lightning through me: I love him. The bed was antique, covered with hand-woven arabic carpet and decorated with corduroy cushions in bloodred, it stood on a heightened parapet like an altar in a tiny-small sleepchamber filled with oriental god sculptures and weapons in self-erected castle in Northern Italy. The bedroom belonged to long departed rebel and poet Gabrielle d’Annunzio. It was him I loved.
Oh, I was just sightseeing with a heavy camera belted across my shoulder like many others, having payed entrance fee. No, no concert on grand piano in big private concert hall with private portraits today, that is after extra fee and only once a week.
Earlier on I got a memory which led me on discovery journey through Riva del Garda villages, through white stone Limone and Salo, yes Salo that sounded like the title of Pazzolini movie about Sodom and Gomorra which I was too scared to watch, too red, sin or politics colour?
The memory was bright, it was a big mansion in Piemonte, and I was a guest, a female middle class writer, swiss or german but rather American on surface, Herzog…Hirzig…the name was vague memory as I was tiny unlike me now a century later, who was invited over to the nobility’s outpouring of excentrism grand extravaganza. The mansion was owned by Marchesa Casatti. He was there.
He was short and bold, and missing one eye which he had lost in a shooting episode. Right before was when Mussolini came to power. With black shirts and taste for la vialenza and extremism, he divinified Gabrielle. He saw him as a mouthpiece for his own grand-marche to save Europe from barbarians. He built himself a casle nearby, down by Garda lake, which he called “Italian Victories”, with a half buried in earth submarine and eclectic collection of world artefacts, as well as personal performance stage, on the money received from private benefectors and as payment for attempt to revive italian theatre and movie industry launching most ambicious in the scale of set decorations and length of narration mythology based story of a kidnapped child oracle. Yet when Mussolini came over to express admiration and took off his hat in the entrance hall, did not let him in and called “pleb”, to afterwards set a plaque over the hat hanger saying “Mussolini did not come beyond this point”.
I was there. She was there too, the divine Marchesa. I wanted him. But his heart belonged to her.
I did not go into regression, but after visit as a nothing suspecting tourist, the memories came clear as a movie You had starred in. I knew both the two of them, indeed many others at the mansion, like the futurist artists gang who wanted to manifest the arrival of the iron beast who came to capture humans in his claws to transform them into centrally controlled robots. Socialism was on expancive in Russia, so it was in Italy. Mussolini was inbetween Scylla and Harybda, flatsquashed between the two threatening each other cliffs: cultural nationalism and socialist democracy, but to the difference from Odysseus or Ulysses he “Did not come beyond that point” and was sqeezed and annihilated by the self-opposed two.
Right before that there was gathered by Gabrielle, like by Mussolini, a little army of young home-runaway nobility offsprings and artists and announced an independent state, held alive with supplies of cheap high quality wine and cocaine, on the border between Italy and Jugoslavia, an independent bohemian political formation. They did not last long, when italian government directed a proper army and forced them to capitulate.
It is then, after homecoming, I saw them both, at a costumed masquerade honouring heathen gods in a lakeside mansion in Piemont.
Sandy beach was losing itself in clear water, further pillared entrance of limestone shade of yellow palazzo, with upper chandeliers light illuminating the beach brighter than moon and stars, fortified from the rear with high rock, leaving only steep serpentine road access by a tiny automobile, by no means one of those huge monstrous five person royces needing own driver.
Marchesa Casatti was an eccentric person deeply caramelized in occultism, she was both a friend and a mentor for versatile range of personalities within Futurism, a laboratory of cosmic architects, and Golden Dawn, a black magick sect run by Aleister Crowley who kept to daily invocations to angels, demons and everything invisible inbetween the dimensions we know or we do not know of, was nearby in Sicily and was always seen around, but never face in face. Did I know him? Was I staying in Sicily, former capital of Renee d’Anjou holy kingdom, the one who brought to people the legend of Arcadia, the underground kingdom, entrance to which treasure and paradise hunters claimed to have found in Naples one time or another throughout centuries? Was I the one who famously made The Beast Himself eat my poo after he in his turn made me poo in public on a porcelain plate and serve it to his friends? I do not remember that. But I was here, in Piemont, an intoxicating italian evening, as one of Marchesa Casatti freuleins.
Costumed party. I was dressed as A French Maid, La Belle Chocolatierre, “the pretty chocolatemaker”, in apron over short wide dress with petticoat and with a silver chocolatecup as a prop to carry around. I could have chosen something more frivolous, but was reserved by nature of character and was at such an event for the first time.
She was there as well, she was orchestrating the party. Wrapped in golden draperies, with a skull in her hand and a living python snake around shoulders as a moving boa. Her hair was wild and unmanageable, nose and whole profile sharp and directed forward, like of a priestess. A tiny orchestra of orphees with lyres was built in a circle. She made an entrance when the sun went down into the sea horizon and lit a circle of tall wax candles. She threw a handful of herbal incense in the flames and the terrace filled itself with fumes of illusive character creating unreal shapes of smoke, and kindling the fantasy as firework cascades to endless heights, creating the fog of lust and creatures in the shadows. Phantasmagoric poetic fume, which triggered our most subtle wishes and dreams. Then started the dance. The wild heathen dance, under the pillars of marble enspiralled in ivies, and the grapewine terrace. In the middle stood a huge several litres grail with wine in it. Everyone were coming over and filling their cups from it and joining in the macabre dance to lyre music. Those were the Greek goddesses, the wariors and the historic heroes, as well as characters from Marie-Antoinette and Louis the Fourteenth Court, and The Natural Kingdom characters: animals and birds.
He, Gabrielle, showed up last, calling upon whispers and hidden attention. He was dressed as pan, the forest god, in fur pants and with horns on the bald head. He took a sip of wine from the grail, and the whole scene transformed immediately into a metaphysical orgie.
He was asked for a dance by Marchesa. A sexual ecstatic dance. Their bodies enfawned each other and hands were wandering over sensual parts. All invited were watching, but when Marchesa went around with a cup offering with something more ample than ordinary wine, were joining the group dance, in circle.
Rhytmycal music, rhytmical movements. Rhythm, rhythm. Rhythm embraced the terrace, white marble terrace over the seashore, encircled in grapewine portals and seps disappearing away in the garden. More guests were wandering in the labyrinths, yes, both physical labyrinths of fertile garden, and the labyrinths of subconscious, of psyche. The dreams embraced the space like a dawn, as fog appeared in front us antique statues and shadows of antique heroes, of Heraclus and Andromeda. The Grail, the epicentre symbol in the party. The live and youth source, which has an ability to turn time and turn everyone drinking of, into antique heroes, dressed in courage and inspiration, beauty and passion. Grail, which in its ultimate search brings eternal life and eternal salvation. Grail, hidden, lost but not forgotten, though owned by her, real or fabled? We will never get to know.
The head went in a dizzy spin, the wine was acting upquicking and uprising. I was swept away by a roman hero in a toga in a similar rhythmic dance, the lyre players were supported now by Greek drummers in a rhythmical cacophonia.
In a pair dance, caleidoscopically swapping between the couples in a spontaneously fractal dance pattern, our pair bumped into Gabrielle, me being touched by his upper thigh in fur part of Pan pants. The fur was electric, or was it me being a cat with fur uprising in electric currents rubbed by igniting wand? The electricity of fur made me forget where I was.
I was facing a goat. No, not Pan, a creature with muscular goat thighs and human chest and head, not the devil, a similar one with horns on top of human head. An actual goat. I was pressured by someone’s command to go down on my knees and he entered me from the back while going up on back limbs, as if in an impulse to match a human two-legged way, and yes, he had his way.
I tried to remember who the commanding voice staging the obscene scene belonged to….it was familiar almost like a relative, a husband, a father….Aleister. It was Crowley’s scenario.
Is it the reason for me making him publically eat my poo at a public dinner, after he made me poo on a porcelain plate? Was it revenge act?
Then another dimention in time opened up. I was a priestess, one of the Grail Women he made walk around naked and be eventually worshipped in a half an hour long ceremony, but never get physically used for quenching lust. This time he did. It was not about lust, it was about virginity. He wanted to initiate someone into sex magick and selected me which he never did, but unlike other rituals, I had to have my eyes blindfolded. I reconed he was someone hugely important for secret services on this or that side of La Manche, all of which Aleister had dealings with.
The Male Virgin was strangely mature for his age, I would give him over 30, even with eyes closed I felt him being not that tall and absolutely not dignified in gender attributes, but with intensity I never sensed before, it was quick as well, it was over quickly, too quickly for me to understand anything, and I was let retreat to my own devices. His name was sounding in my ears, but I could not discern it…Adonai, Delphi…Adolphi? Yes, that was what they were calling him.
I flipped forward in time to the table scene, and my poo on a porcelain plate. I remembered The Male Virgin and his zeal and intensity. I realized I had polluted him with orgones of a goat which I was made to copulate with before the Sex Initiation ritual. I realized it was a set up from Aleister, something that could cause anything from madness to ruin. I felt sinister plan of the Most Evil on Earth from inside and made him eat my poo.
And Gabrielle? He sensed it all, he heard rumours, he was watching over all like an archangel he was named after, without being one, maybe like a man-poet. All was happening near his heart of Italy.
I came back to now.
I was in a castle dedicated to Italian Victories, by magnificent Garda lake together with other tourists from around the globe. It was nearing sunset. The sun was hanging low over gabrielles historic garden as an eternal and unreachable Grail.