The place fills up as the night wears on. A gaggle of thirty-something vanilla lesbians in Gap pants and t-shirts end up on a couch in my corner of the room. Then there's the chubby man in a synthetic brown wig with a very conspicuous erection under his secretarial stretchy-nylon skirt. He looks a bit uncertain of what to do, but happy to be here. Zelda, who is done wrestling for now, walks up to him, introduces herself and chats a little, putting him at ease. There is something sweetly nurturing about the Furies' approach to their guests.

Anybody is welcome to get on the mat, but Zelda Blaise and Lele Kent wrestle every hour on the hour and theirs is the standout performance. They tumble around on the floor to Arabic pop music, somewhere between dancing and fighting. At one point Zelda pins Lele to the floor and, sitting across her chest, wiggles her butt triumphantly in Lele's face. The crowd — that would be me and my newfound friends on the corner couch — cheers. A cut and slender Latino guy from the Fight House does an actual wrestling match with Chas, prompting one of the lesbians to wonder out loud about her sexual orientation. At the end of the night Victoria Power and the foot guy bring down the house as they manage to work in an impressive number of foot-in-face moves. Victoria wins and walks all over him as he lies exhausted on the floor. I'm getting over my uptightness a little. This is certainly good entertainment.

 



After the night at the club, I don't see the Furies again. (Though I do keep running into Karm at the laundromat.) Despite my emails and voice messages, Zelda is elusive. That, paired with me leaving my girlfriend and being swallowed whole by grad school, means that I am less persistent than I need to be. The story slips away.


Actually, to say that I don't see Zelda isn't entirely true. I do see her every once in a while: across the street in the window. This gets more and more awkward (for me at least) as the whole thing now seems a little too involved and intimate. It also serves to feed my guilty conscience over having dropped the ball on the article. There was always an element of voyeurism and exhibitionism in my interactions with them. Now it's at a new level. Little tableaus unfold in front of my eyes. Zelda and Lele fooling around on their bed, which is pushed up to the window. Karm opening the door, to deliver some message or another.

At this point I'm pretty much a recluse, except for occasional drinking sessions with like-minded friends, where I try to remember what I used to be like as a single person. An uncomfortable feeling hovers in the back of my mind that Zelda's antics in her window constitute the only action I'm getting. I suddenly feel on display in my own living room. I've gone from curious journalist to Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window.

It seems to be chiefly my fault. I was the one who broke the fourth wall, after all. When I mention my awkwardness to a friend, she laughs and says I should enjoy it. In the end, I cave and begin living with my blinds drawn.

One day I look out the window and discover all the furnishings of Zelda's room are gone. I had thought I would feel relieved; I do. I also feel a pang of emptiness, the way you do in New York when something you've gotten used to and regard as a fixture suddenly disappears.
 



A year later I send Zelda an email again. I'm out of grad school, have plenty of time on my hands and hope to revive the story. After a few days I get a reply from someone identifying himself as Julian, Lele Kent's husband. He explains that the Furies are more than happy to talk to me. He adds, "Due to reasons beyond our control, the Zelda Blaise character is no longer available nor a part of this organization." I respond, my curiosity piqued, but never hear back again.

I poke around the internet to try to find out what Zelda might be doing these days. All tracks seem to disappear in late 2007, around the time I lost touch with her. Eventually I decide I'd rather not find out more. I'd rather just remember Zelda and Lele as they once were: in love and exhibitionistic, wrestling on the floor of a skeezy basement in Hell's Kitchen. I'm attached to this ending, sad, a bit mysterious, yet tidy. But when I find Julian's MySpace page a few days later, something in the style seems familiar. I may well be wrong, but part of me suspects that Zelda Blaise isn't gone; she has only shape-shifted, Billy-Batson-like, into a new persona.

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