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La Incoronazione de Anna (1998)

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La Incoronazione de Anna (1998)
 “You can have your schooling, but you must be there when I need you. What isn’t clear about that, Anna?”
“We are married because of an accident! When did I tell you that I was signing on to be your dueña de casa? I am an actress. I am in three productions. THREE, do you hear me, Hector? I make the huevos y frijoles, the huevos revueltos, sometimes with pan y canela I was baking last night. I take the bus from the taller every morning after we set up for business. I attend my communications classes, I practice my lines over lunch. I walk from BUAP to Belles Artes cada dia chingado, every fucking day, because when I get home you expect my undivided attention, even to scraping the plates. Just last week you got mad because I couldn’t stop cleaning the bathroom and listen to you puteando all over your parts suppliers. And then you throw a temper tantrum at me because I don’t get back in time for the overpriced ceviche you serve before dinner? God dammit, Hector! If Maestro Garza knew I was pregnant, he’d throw me out of the school, and you want me to throw over the staged reading of Garza’s masterpiece?”
Anna clenched and flexed her fingers, now two fists, now a sheathed dagger pointed at her new husband’s teal silk shirt collar. Hector responded by flipping a pack of Marlboros from his cream-colored jacket pocket, catching the cigarette that slid out in mid air and snapped up the lighter from the edge of the dresser as he sat the pack down. midair with a wrist flick that released a cigarette from the factory-wrapped lattice. Snatching the cigarette, he set the pack down on the edge of the dresser in the same motion in which he snapped up the lighter that sat there. He lit the cigarette and placed it on Anna’s lips.
“And you didn’t…didn’t…”
She dragged on the cigarette. “Shit. Puta de mierda. I can’t even get mad at you, you’re such a goddamn gentleman, chingon.´ That balled left fist impacted, and was swallowed up by, Hector’s oversized left shoulder.
“I didn’t ask you about the reading. Not a word. You are right, and I am sorry. I’m still pissed because you waltz into the restaurant just as they were about to light the flan. But OK, he should appreciate my sacrifice.”
Anna was still wearing her violet spaghetti-strap blouse over the asymmetric black skirt she had worn for the reading. As an upper-crust politician’s wife in revolutionary Mexico, the skirt was to make her seem de modo with 1920’s New York society in order to render glamour to the Partido Nacional Revolucionario  founder Plutarco Calles. For the reading, she tried out a heavily ruffled white-on-white blouse with a floral collar and manly French cuffs. She couldn’t remember just how her costume blouse and bra had transformed into the spaghetti strap. She checked her handbag quickly, and feeling that there was no bra inside, her fingers replayed the sensation of swapping white for lavender, cotton for satin, in a single, sweeping motion. Right. I must have tossed it into the dressing room. Oh…
“Your sacrifice? I switched tops and shoes backstage, and dropped my costume in the dressing room without bothering to get dressed. Just as I took off my blouse, Tonto stumbled in. I don’t know whether he turned red from embarrassment or excitement.”
Tonto was short for Antonio. It was not a flattering nickname. Tonto blundered through his evenings at Bellas Artes unaware that Anna called him “Idiot” behind his back.
Hector vacillated between his gallant gesture with the cigarette and a flash of humiliation at the visual feast that the male acting student had taken in. He chose gallantry.
“Then tell me, mi tesora. Was Garza impressed?”
“Garza tells you nothing. He’s a stoic or a statue, I can’t decide.”
“They won’t be able to tell that viejo is dead until the wind blows him over and his body cracks like a vase when it hits the floor. So what was the audience like? What did they think?”
“No one threw any fruit or tomates, if that’s what you mean. But I think that we have a long way to go before we sell tickets.”
Anna took a drag on her Marlboro. Her character, Natalia Chacon Calles, was portrayed by Garza as a modern-day Poppea, the real power behind the throne of Emperor Nero. In fact, history doesn’t tell much about the First Lady behind the Mexican anti-Catholic zealot President Calles, but in the hands of a talented scriptwriter with a flair for revisionist history, this gap presented a rich trove of myths to be spun and legends to be invented. Like this: When Calles was choosing between de la Huerta and Obregon in the early 1920’s, Chacon inveigled against de la Huerta because his wife was practicing folk religion and was descended from Aztecs. Or this: Chacon weakened de la Huerta’s support among the peasantry by using the supposed miscreance of de la Huerta’s wife, even though she knew that her own husband had a special animus against Catholicism. The script ends with the assassination of Obregon, and for the climactic sequence, Chacon morphs into a kind of Señora Macbeth.
“I am happy with my performance, however. I am beginning to discover for myself this vèrité that Maestro always lectures us. The more movement, the less power. The less movement, the greater the power.
Anna raised and turned her left shoulder from Hector. The strap looped loosely around Anna’s bicep.
“Do you think I am powerful, Hector?”
“I think you are hot, Anna.”
Hector caressed Anna’s right ear. He brushed her bangs, raveling but still pinned up from the reading several hours earlier, from her forehead. Anna laid her left hand, small and frail by comparison to Hector’s workmanly mitts, on Hector’s right, and drew it behind her ear. With her Marlboro still burning, she slipped Hector’s jacket off of his iron shoulder, and brought her right fingertips against his left nipple.
Their sex that night had a scripted quality, far from the improvisational beginning. Anna thought, “Was it more or less powerful for me to mount him with my full-length skirt still on me? Should I have him slide my panties off first? How would Chacon have done it? Would Garza’s Poppea/Macbeth have stage-managed this, or just let go and gone for a joyous fuck? Can I pace Hector, so that we go for some kind of stamina record? Oh, please God, will he let me have an orgasm from straight-on sex, or do I have to beg for him to do the things that seemed unmanly to him (fucking Mexican machismo, anyway – who do they think they are)?
Finally, she decided that she would use the skirt as a prop, and that she would play Carmen with it. The asymmetry of the black skirt, combined with the full red roses that Anna had just picked from the garden that morning, thorns intact, held so they just barely scratched Anna’s pale breasts, made a dramatic re-enactment of Bizet’s gypsy, queen of the cigarette factory. She took complete control of the bedroom that night, staging every scene to the point of male frustration and agony, in a ninety-minute tour de force of all positions, all poses, and all corners of the room. Just before climax, Hector ripped the skirt off Anna, taking it up over her head, where it stuck as they exploded into a perfectly synchronized electric, psychedelic light and sound spectacular.
They had climaxed on the doorjamb of the bedroom. The costume skirt flowed from below Anna’s breasts around Hector’s neck. The tumble of white, tan, and sheer black lie in a heap between the two rooms. For the first time since they had been together, Anna wondered what she was really doing.
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About Ronald FIschman

I am a public school teacher who had a prior career as a cantor, opera singer, and composer. My greatest notoriety comes from my settings of Dylan Thomas's "Vision and Prayer" and Percy Byssshe Shelley's "Ozymandias" for singers and large instrumental ensemble. My first poetry collection, "Generations," honors the roles of son, husband, and father, and is available at Amazon.com.

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