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P E N I T E N T   C O M P U L S I V E   R I T U A L

by Miracle Jones





Welcome, welcome! I see a lot of familiar faces in the audience, and I only see one or two people here to be assholes. Either way, I’m glad you’re all here. Be assholes all you want, my friends.

It’s truly great to be back at the Magic Moment Rotating Bar and Restaurant. I want to thank Clyde for believing in me—always, always—and obviously thank you Monique up there in the box for everything you do, darling. Some of y’all are probably wondering how I even made it to the stage tonight, considering everything. You don’t have to look so sad for me! The scintillating solution that will shock the shimmering shit right out of you is:

Magic!

An umbrella!  Here, have it.

I’m sorry, my timing is a bit off. Eternal Elodie would have twirled in her black leather minidress and she would have distracted you peasants with her pale perfect legs which would have allowed me to flick my wrist just so—which some of you would have seen—but you wouldn’t have seen Elodie sliding me the spring-loaded package containing two more refills with the sweep of her heel downstage, which I would have then retrieved with a simpering bow.

Here you go sir, have a completely different umbrella! Umbrellas are compressible cylinders covering collapsible cages that are casually convenient to carefully conceal. Umbrellas are also well-known to be pure anarchy. They live, they die, they escape their fates by running away to start new lives in the backs of cabs. They are dangerous to open and close. You could lose a god-dang eye in some ill-fated kersproing! Therefore making one appear out of nothing is so impressive that you don’t realize that THIS UMBRELLA is puny—a dinky runt that would barely keep your lover’s spit out of your face.

AND SO IS THIS ONE!

Some of you are getting concerned about the blood. Don’t worry, it’s my own blood. I’ve tried to slow the wound down as best I can, but the fact is that I’m going to bleed tonight. It’s the adrenalin of being on stage. The blood gets pumping. You feel yourself dissolving into the audience. You’ve practiced everything so much that it bores you dead delirious but suddenly an audience is there with you along for the ride and it feels outstanding to go fast and take the turns on two wheels. It’s all new again to you and so the ritual of practice becomes the fact of control. For a brief moment in a berserk life where nothing ever goes as planned, you’re a few steps ahead of everything disastrous and so you can make things pan out exactly the way you want, even with a flourish. It ignites your blood tubes right down to your muff pubes. Those snaky blue veins beneath your skin bounce like disco and then roar like power pop. And so I’m going to bleed.

Can’t be helped. 

It's a cross-shaped cut in my calf. I taped it up with purple electrical tape, same color as my hatband. See? Aren’t I stylish?

Please, there’s no need to call the cops or an ambulance. I’ll stand back a bit so I don’t splatter anyone. It’s a trick, right? I look just fine in my face, don’t I?

It’s all part of the show. It’s all magic. The blood is the liquid glass of the Magic Mirror Escape Attempt. That’s why you’re all here, right? Monique, if you wouldn’t mind cutting the lights down to just one spotlight on me. There’s no need to show them how the blood is pooling. It’s going to spread and they know that. 

You all know how blood works, right? 

PRESTO VAVOOM!

A book!

Yes, go ahead, give it up: I even crave your sarcastic applause. Let’s hear it for me!

You’re right, sir, the book was under my arm the whole time. Elodie and I used to love visiting all those old shitty bookstores in Manhattan back before they all became T-Mobiles. We would wander the stacks, hoping someone rich with taste had just died. New York spontaneously generates eccentric occultists. People without real jobs enjoy amassing secret decaying knowledge in the eternal canyons of steel and glass—benighted bassinets beckoning to baleful blueblood bedbugs! So instead of having kids, we had our book collection—though of course we mostly used all those old-ass books for Instagram photo shoots and promotional posters. I’d be holding a dangling leather belt and fanning some playing cards. She’d be down on her knees with her fingertips covering her nipples, biting a ball gag in sparkly rabbit ears. There’d be dusty books behind us and a show date. Don’t tell anyone, but books of secret spiritual arcana are, quite frankly, unreadable garbage. But we did used to crack one open from time to time for a decadent fucking lark.

She liked to read to me while I cooked, for instance. She never cooked. She would purr to me in a spooky voice while I stirred a sauce. Spells for summoning demons. Love spells. There was one spell she particularly liked. She liked it so much she memorized it. She would shout it at me whenever she wanted me to pour her a drink, which was all the time.

This spell is short. It’s from this very particular magic book that I hold here in my steady white hands. This book is called One True Love, and it’s just variations of spells for virgins to see their future deflowerers in a mirror. Let me read you the passage that she loved so much that it became her own personal hymn to me.  Ahem,

        The fool sublime,
        In his flowering prime,
        Vaults beyond time,
        And blood must twine,
        With shadow and wine.

“BLOOD MUST TWINE WITH SHADOW AND WINE” she would shout dramatically, stabbing me in the chest with her cute little pointer finger if I didn’t top her off fast enough, hoping I would snatch her up in my arms. Or at least fight back.

No matter how hard I try these days, I can’t stop remembering her smell or stop talking to her in my head. Where do you think my words go?

Ugh, why am I asking you? You don’t know shit. You’re just an audience, a collective entity as dumb as the dumbest person among you. Which is this man right here!  Take a bow, sir.

Let’s break this little poem down. I’m obviously the fool sublime here on this stage. But how does a person vault beyond time? Eternal Elodie would have said something like whiskey and Dilaudid. She wouldn’t have wanted to hear anything about meditation or trepanning your temporal cortex with an oyster knife, shucking out the spongy bolus of your hippocampus to squash it under the heel of your Chelsea boot. She had her own ways to transcend. She spent most her life trying to get beyond time until she finally got beyond all of us.

Yes, here’s to Eternal Elodie. Drink up! I can see that you all miss her. Do you think I’m betraying her by being up here? Do you think I miss her too?

Let’s get right to the point: I know some of you here blame me for what happened. But maybe you don’t know as much as you think you do about what exactly went down between us. Maybe you didn’t want to reckon with some hard truths about her. I loved her. More importantly, I liked her the way she was. And guess what: I actually knew her. I found her sexy and exciting. I liked it when she was completely in my control, barely standing up, just a quivering bag of appetites and nastiness. Does that mean I’m to blame for what she did? I also liked it when she was sprawled out and hogging the bed on a lazy Sunday morning. I liked it when she whined and complained, which was constantly. I liked it when she got what she wanted, which was always.

Ladies and gentlemen, pay attention to this noose. This noose just keeps going. It just keeps going and going and going. This is Eternal Elodie’s eternal noose. Here, madam, you can have it. I won’t be needing it tonight. Elodie always said real magic is just ritual. Like the ritual of looking for your one true love in the mirror every day, saying the words until you see the gleam of bright brown eyes behind you. 

Here, take this book. I don’t need it anymore. It’s just a prop.

Look, we didn’t have a particularly romantic origin story, but she loved to tell everybody about how we met no matter how much it embarrassed me. Just in case you don’t know—while we wait for this blood to spread—let me tell you that we met on a BDSM dating website where I put up a job advertisement as my profile.

I wanted an assistant. She wanted someone to make her disappear. On our first date we were both very performative. However, she was allergic to my roommate’s cat and she didn’t want to show it. It was hard for her to maintain her whole void-haunted darkslut ambiance when she was sneezing and blowing her nose constantly. Eventually I started laughing at her and she started hitting me with her itty bitty fists and then we were hopelessly in love. We were mostly in love with hurting one another in permanent ways. But this meant really getting to know one another. This meant companionship. This meant true intimacy.

There’s all kinds of paradigms for classic BDSM relationships. Daddy / daughter. Boss / secretary. Trainer / animal. Owner / object. But surely the magician / assistant dynamic is one of the most special and least understood. You’re complicit together in performance. You don’t just use each other: you work together, anticipating each other’s moods and mistakes in order to make something miraculous together. Obviously one person gets the credit for being in charge and that is the MAGICIAN. And obviously there’s something unspeakably erotic—TO YOU!  THE AUDIENCE!—about a person letting this creep the magician do whatever he wants to this poor assistant with total blind trust, putting her in all sorts of perilous situations. But then we all watch her jump up, totally okay and uninjured…sexy as hell and beaming like she just got fucked by a cartoon unicorn with a dick that cures clinical depression and poverty. 

And come on, y’all know the truth about this business. You’re magic fans! Y’all know how things really work. She did the negotiating, she handled all the booking, she got us both health insurance, she talked to other acts, she smoothed over disputes. She designed the costumes. She did all the blocking for the show and she set all the tricks. She did everything, really. My only job was to be in charge.

HERE, ANOTHER UMBRELLA!

The energy of the magician / assistant is not completely contained in an isolated logic gate like other S&M dynamics. It shorts out. It spasms; it sparks. It demands your attention as it threatens to spread and consume. It dominates an entire audience with the power of its frazzled, cracked, plasma-spewing imperfect connection. Femmes in the audience wrapped around your facile lovers for protection: you may think you want a daddy, but are you sure you don’t really want a magician who will make you practice the same trick over and over again—and then love you with all their stupid heart if you actually get it right? And who will tie you up and hurt you and fuck you like a button-eyed broken ragdoll if you get it wrong, denying your very humanity as punishment the same way any real god would do? Don’t you want to get the trick wrong on purpose sometimes just to see your obsessive fussy maniac become a ravishing, mindless savage?

I want to show you her favorite trick. It’s so fucking basic.

Okay, watch this.

PRESTO VAVOOM!

That’s it. That’s the whole trick.

Glitter squirt from a little wrist cannon.

Now your shrimp cocktail is full of glitter, sir.

Look, here’s the little CO2 cartridge ejected up into my vest.

Sir, she called what has just happened to you getting GLITTERSKEETED. She loved it when I GLITTERSKEETED rubes like you with my GLAMMERHAMMER. She was always trying to get me to glitterskeet tourists on the train. I tried to show her how to do it herself, but she was all like: absolutely not, no way, I’m not going to carry around a CO2 canister full of glitter attached to my wrist at all times like some kind of psychopath. That’s what YOU are for, she would say.

She pointed; I clicked. She was the fucking worst. She was the fucking best.

But you aren’t here to see me gas on about sweet dead beloved holy unreachable Eternal Elodie. You’re all here to see this new Magic Mirror Escape Attempt trick I’ve been posting about all week. Please, keep the spotlight right on my face, Monique. This is how you vault beyond time, if anybody here is curious: you wait and wait and wait and bleed and bleed and bleed. You’re all so incredibly silent. I assume this is because you are completely slackjawed with anticipation. I’ve got my fingers around your throats, right? I’ve got you tied up so you can’t move at all?

A magician’s assistant is called a box jumper. That’s because they jump out of boxes. They do not jump out of coffins. I know this for a fact. They left me alone with the body for as long as I wanted before the service.

UMBRELLA NUMBER FIVE?  WHERE ARE THEY ALL COMING FROM?

We were never technical wizards, Eternal Elodie and I. We were trying to move people’s genitals, not their souls. We were comedians, really. We kept alive some pretty retrograde notions about the whole magician / assistant dynamic with our sex-themed show, but we had all these tattoos, you see, and so people were happy to enjoy our work as part of some new retro dirtbag avant garde. The show was always really about our actual chemistry. Y’all came to see us play out some of the darker aspects of our real relationship—and certainly our most salacious and fucked-up private sex acts were transparently on display for all y’all sickos in the form of the hoary old tricks we did. Elodie’s bruises were consensual but real. The way she moaned when I sawed her in half was the same way she moaned when I slowly fucked her in the ass after the show. 

We achieved the effect on stage with a voice activated remote anal vibrator. There’s no substitute for verisimilitude!  The visible erection in my slacks was always real.

And there it goes! The grey veil. The swoon!

You can call the police or an ambulance now if you like, though if I’ve timed out everything correctly, I doubt they will make it here fast enough to matter. The dispatcher will want you to keep me talking, but honestly, good luck shutting me up. My vision is starting to narrow. I’m making you all disappear just as I told myself I would. It’s adrenalin. It’s blood loss. It’s magic. 

Did you turn my mic off? I’ve never realized how fast this rotating restaurant actually spins. You can really see the stars whip on by, can’t you?

Monique, if you can still hear me, please keep the spotlight right on my face. I don’t want to look down yet. The blood must twine with shadow and wine if I want to see her again. I’m going to need to hug this stool here for moment. I don’t think I’ll be able to uncork this wine bottle standing up. I’m feeling a little dropsical and dreamy if you want to know the truth.  

I’ve never felt so fluent and free on a stage before!  Fluency is a beautiful word, don’t you think?  Fluent comes from the Latin for river. Effluvial. To be fluent is to flow like a ribbon, like blood from a gash or like wine spilled from a bottle….

I’m having an impossible time with this cork. I’m murdering this cork. I’m making a little granola topping out of his cork. Are there any sleepy hamsters in the audience? Okay, it’s officially fucked, this cork. Ladies and gentleman, I have sawed this cork in half!

Here, it doesn’t matter, this wine isn’t for drinking. I’m just going to push this cork all the way through into the bottle. I don’t even drink wine. When I drink, I have a single bourbon on ice or something and I drink it all night. She took wine seriously. She’s not going to be happy about this wine. I bought it for her as a joke. I don’t know if you can see the label, but it says Jalapeño Wine. It isn’t just wine with some jalapeños blended in or something. It’s wine totally made out of fucking jalapeños. How disgusting is that?

I bought it for her online as a present. I was trying to be the one jerk she remembered. You like spicy food and wine, eh Elodie? That seems inefficient!  Here is an efficient way to enjoy both of your culinary passions at the same time.

I told her that I bought it for her to show her that I was a guy who liked to solve problems.

But the things I like aren’t problems, she said.

This wine sat on our shelf the entire time we were together. Is it time? I would ask. Is it time to drink the Jalapeño Wine?  Never, she would say. It is never time to drink the Jalapeño Wine. 

It's a little green. Not like blood at all. It’s very thin. I’m going to taste it.

It’s strong. I don’t know how alcoholic it is, but the flavor is strong. It burns. But it does me no good in my body. That taste was just for her. To entice her to me. There’s wine in my blood now, Elodie. Are you interested in me now?

Now here’s the second part of the trick. I’m going to just roll up my pants to my knee here. Yeah, it looks pretty bad now. It’s been bleeding for awhile. Here goes the electrical tape…

PRESTO VAVOOOM!

Anybody faint out there? I’ve always wanted to make someone faint. Please, everyone stay where you are. Help is on the way. I’m still talking. I can still feel my hands. I feel the smoothness of the bottle. Here comes the second part of the trick. Ladies and gentlemen, wine into a wound!

This is not the right way to clean a wound. It’s sticky and it burns. It’s waking me up, though. Yes, it’s pooling nicely—down my thigh, down my ankle, soaking my socks and shoes. I can feel it splashing through my toes. My legs are so deathly pale, aren’t they? White as good bond paper. I’m very cold. I did not plan to be so fucking cold. If it weren’t for these extremely hot lights, I wouldn’t have made it here to the end. Usually I sweat right through my jacket, which can be a huge problem because wet clothes don’t hide concealed bulges very well. But tonight, the only heat in me is coming from the capsicum of this terrible Philadelphia wine that somehow lasted as long as we did.

Can you still hear me? I don’t think my mic is working.

That poem again…

The fool sublime…

I’m the fool. You know it. She knew it.

In his flowering prime….

Why not. Why not assume I’m at my best here tonight!

Vaults beyond time…

Has anybody’s watch stopped?  I can barely see you out there.

If you aren’t out there, then where did you go?

Where did I go?

And blood must twine…

My blood…

With shadow and wine.

It's dark down here. I taste the sticky sickly-sweet jalapeño wine on the roof of my mouth. I can see the red and the green and I can see her smile and her bright blue eyes.

I can’t close my eyes yet.

I’m so cold and sleepy. 

I have to focus. I have to see her. I just have to lean forward. Monique, can I get a little more light down here where the blood pools with the wine in the darkness?  Monique, can you hear me, darling?

It's like a mirror. It’s like I’m floating on a silent lake.

Elodie, is that you?

Is that you, little miss Ellie? 

Can you see me?  Raise your hand and wave to me if you can see me. I love your outfit. You look so damn fuckable, darling. I can barely see you…please come closer. I’m just going to lean forward a little more….put my nose right in it…

What’s that up my sleeve, you ask?  GLITTERSKEET, Ellie! One last time.

I’m going to just lay down on my side here where I can look at you. It’s like you’re right here on the stage with me. I see the pool of my own blood ripple with my breath. The pool is so big. It’s more than a lake, it’s an ocean. I’m going to press my face right up against yours. I’m so cold but this blood is rather warm and it’s full of your favorite sparkles: gold suns in the red sky. I’m just going to close my eyes for one second so I can hear the applause for us with every fucking pore...the best part...like a rush like a river like wine like blood like spit like your spit like your tears like your love darling like a mouthful of your fucking promises like a mouthful of your wonderful lies…like all your magic words that will live forever...









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(c) Miracle Jones 2023