Writing | Mice in Glass Coffins by Danielle Willis

I met Felina because she called me in the middle of the night and told me she'd read my book Corpse Delectable and could tell I was a real vampire. Apparently Charlie from the horror book store had given her my phone number, and she wanted to know if I'd meet her for breakfast, an odd request to make of a vampire; but I said sure anyway, and we agreed on 11 o'clock at the Bon Ami on Jones Street, where I spent about a half hour drinking coffee and staring out the window at a puddle of vomit on the sidewalk before she finally showed up.

Her lateness was entirely justified by the obvious effort she had put into her wardrobe, which consisted of a floor length black velvet cape, a ruffled shirt with a red velvet vest, black velvet pants, black leather buccaneer boots, an enormous silver pentagram necklace and earrings made from the jawbones of rats. In addition to sporting the most opulent Goth drag I'd ever seen in my life, she was emaciated, had long black hair down past her tits and skin the color of liquid paper. I asked her how she got her skin that white and she said Porcelana Fade Creme.

We ordered pancakes and Felina told me she was being considered for the part of Madeleine in the film version of Interview With the Vampire and that her boyfriend was Nicholas Shreck, close personal friend of Charles Manson and author of The Manson File. Their apartment was only a few blocks away if I wanted to come over after breakfast -- the only thing was, Nicholas was a Satanist Nazi and didn't approve of her being bisexual, so we couldn't be too obvious in front of him. I said I hated Nazi politics but thought the uniforms were fabulous, which seemed to dispel any fears she might have had of my making some kind of social faux pas.

Felina and Nicholas lived on Hyde and Larkin in a dark flat full of cats, antique furniture, morbid bric-a-brac, and piles of festering garbage. There were framed pictures of Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler all over the walls and in the parlor was an enormous altar draped with a swastika flag, on top of which were several wrought-iron candelabras and a statue of Satan in goat form. Felina said Nicholas was going to be interviewed on the Geraldo Rivera Satanism special and that I could be on it too if I went to the 8/8/88 celebration at the Strand Theatre and made sure to sit down front and scream "Hail Satan!" a lot. I said I thought it sounded like fun. Then she went to the kitchen to make us some tea and I plunked myself down on a brocaded sofa that smelled like cat piss and stared at a desiccated mouse in a miniature glass coffin sitting on top of a faded Zyklon B gas label on the coffee table until she returned with the tea and Nicholas, who had just woken up from a nap.

Nicholas was a tall, snotty-looking blond in a Victorian nightshirt. I was afraid he was going to launch into some tiresome diatribe, but all he did was mumble hello and glare at me through watery, pinkish eyes. Felina explained that he'd left his contact lenses in for six months and still had a bit of an infection. Nicholas asked her if that information was really necessary, at which point one of the cats jumped onto the altar and threw up.

Later that week Felina and Nicholas had a fight and Felina came to spend the night at my house. We drank several pots of coffee and tried to have sex but we were too tweaked and kept cracking up, so we got dressed up like white trash housewives and made my roommate take Polaroids of us instead. I didn't see her again until the 8/8/88 celebration.

The date August 8, 1988 had some kind of occult significance that I have since forgotten, but at the time it seemed important enough to invite Mistress Lilith, the proprietress of the pagan dungeon I was working at in Berkeley, so we piled on the ghoul makeup and took BART over to Civic Center. The 8/8/88 celebration consisted of several boring Charles Manson movies, a Survival Research Labs film of a horse skeleton hooked up to various kinds of machinery that was interesting for about five minutes but went on for twenty, a live performance by the transcendently boring industrial-dirge band NAN, and finally, a quasi-Fascist Satanic ritual involving Anton LaVey's large-breasted blonde daughter Zeena reading aloud from her daddy's book while Felina, Nicholas, and Mark Pauline stood around in Gestapo uniforms. I alternated between screaming "Hail Satan!" at the Geraldo Rivera film crew and trying to make Felina crack up. Lilith, meanwhile, was getting freaked out and paranoid because as a white witch she didn't want to be associated with Nazi Satanists. I tried to calm her down by explaining that they were just a bunch of art-damaged Re/Search magazine trust-fund trendies, which only served to convince her that I was in league with them. Lilith had done a great deal of acid over the years and had actually known Charles Manson in Haight Ashbury. At any rate, my employment at the dungeon was terminated shortly thereafter and rumors of my attendance at Black Masses began circulating through the poetry scene.

Felina went to Europe for a few months and the next time I saw her was at the Market Street Cinema. She'd broken up with Nicholas and bleached her hair out to red because she wanted to look like a mermaid. We finally consummated our relationship onstage to the accompaniment of a really annoying Cure tape. Her cunt smelled like ammonia and we made three dollars in tips.

The last time I saw her was at Carl's Junior in North Beach. I was waiting for my friend Bambi to get off work at Finocchio's when in walked Felina with a couple of rocker chicks in black leather jackets. We drank coffee and split a Carl's Happy Cheese and I asked her if she wanted to hang out later and she said she couldn't because her and her friends were on their way to do some heroin. I never heard from her again, though according to my roommate she tried to get in touch with me once or twice while I was in New York but either forgot to leave her phone number or didn't have one and I forget who it was but somebody told me she was pregnant and living with a rich guy who was into an intense retro-50s trip. I have the worst luck with girlfriends.

from: CNL: Stories | reprinted from the Compost NewsLetter | Samhain 1992