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Fiction: A Woman Without Her Neighborhood

July 30, 2009

woman1by CARMIEL BANASKY

I didn’t know much of the plan but it involved forming a cult to sabotage progress in our neighborhood. It was all Ginnie’s idea. We would use pig’s blood so no one could be implicated. We would hold ritualistic sacrifices and dance around a fire, chins greased in heat, limbs lit like gnarled disco balls. At least, we would make it look like we did and take photos and send them to papers anonymously. It was flawless, thorough. It was an art project like everything else. The crime rate needed to rise and we would see to it. The real estate war was on and we were not going to sit back like some helpless second-generation hippies. We’d fight back like guerrillas.

I had only lived there for a year but I felt a great affinity for the mean Polish men shifting curses in the bodega and the enormous black men on the corner who never molested me. It was their territory and they made a conscious decision to protect it, and me with it by default. The white kids were kudzu suffocating their domesticity. Rather than weed us out, they were big for us, and we would be big for them. The infestation would stop here. We would be the last change.

A cult has to have rules. So does a group forming a fake cult to run out condominium investors. The first rule was to take this seriously. We joked at first but it was not a joke anymore. We were in it. The second was No Divas. We were all artists, and we would all get a chance to document in whatever medium without stepping on each other’s toes. It was a collaboration. There were no leaders, since the cult’s lineage was anarchism, but Ginnie was the mouthpiece. Ginnie was everything. She was on-call. The third rule was Research. We didn’t want to shape a mimicry of some other cult. We had to be fresh. Another axiom was that not everyone could know the plan. In fact, to prevent leaks, no one could know everything. Except maybe Ginnie. And finally, we were to remember this was for the greater cause, to save our neighborhood from the Man, so there would be no backing down like chickenshits. It was all or nothing.

The actual cult had its own rules that we would leak to the press gradually. It wasn’t a doomsday cult by any means, but it had to linger and make you check your locks twice. We argued over whether the centerpiece should be the prospect of alien invasion or a more paradisiacal miracle. A religious prompt won out – it was more in our sphere of understanding; we were creatures tied to old literature, not science.

To be close to God, the central rule states, you need to lose yourself. To strip yourself of yourself. To be leveled. To become part and parcel with everything you touch, with the land, with others. This “God,” we decided, was grotesque yet beautiful. God was not above sex or anything. And since everything was equal, God was not above bestiality, either. God could fuck whatever he pleased. What else. Since we strived for equality, we had to consider what venues would allow it. What were the great levelers, aside from death? What saw everyone as equal?

Cockroaches
Bedbugs
Getting lost
Public Transportation
Traffic
Airports

(There are those who have the means to pay for a long cab ride home so we scratched getting lost.)

Bedbugs. Our first bioterrorist threat was to infest the buildings they were going to commit to the Man’s haunches. Mango used to have bedbugs. She froze some but she didn’t keep any alive. We had to figure out how to breed bedbugs.

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