Three green chameleons race each other across the terrace; one pauses at Madame's feet, flicking its forked tongue, and she comments: "Chameleons. Such exceptional creatures. The way they change color. Red. Yellow. Lime. Pink. Lavender. And did you know they are very fond of music?" She regards me with her fine black eyes. "You don't believe me?"
During the course of the afternoon she had told me many curious things. How at night her garden was filled with mammoth night-flying moths. That her chauffeur, a dignified figure who had driven me to her house in a dark green Mercedes, was a wife-poisoner who had escaped from Devil's Island. And she had described a village high in the northern mountains that is entirely inhabited by albinos: "Little pink-eyed people white as chalk. Occasionally one sees a few on the streets of Fort de France."
"Yes, of course I believe you."
She tilts her silver head. "No, you don't. But I shall prove it."
So saying, she drifts into her cool Caribbean salon, a shadowy room with gradually turning ceiling fans, and poses herself at a well-tuned piano. I am sitting on the terrace, but I can observe her: this chic, elderly woman, the product of varied bloods. She begins to perform a Mozart sonata.
Eventually the chameleons accumulated: a dozen, a dozen more, most of them green, some scarlet, lavender. They skittered across the terrace and scampered into the salon, a sensitive, absorbed audience for the music played. And then not played, for suddenly my hostess stood and stamped her foot, and the chameleons scattered like sparks from an exploding star.
Now she regards me. "Et maintenant? C'est vrai?"

(truman capote, from music for chameleons)


_M_D_F_ said...

I read The Duke in His Domain just a little while ago and loved it. A weird person who could hang with weird people.

kidchamp said...

the preface in which he describes teaching himself to write sort of reminds me of next generation episodes in which ladies mistakenly fall for data. (big fans of capote around here.)

Adelaide said...

Martinique, my shadowy heart home.