Luz Lanch de Bairacli Levy


The Silver Fox and other Stories
A collection of
 short stories

by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy


daughter of Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
Published online by Ash Tree Publishing


The Silver Fox
(part2)
by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007
...continued from part one

 

The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents



On a bright spring morning the phone rang in Milenka’s apartment. “I am speaking from the Russian embassy. We have a parcel for you from Moscow.”

“Thank you. I will come in at noon. Will that be all right?”

“Yes. Good-day.”

Milenka felt happy. She was long awaiting music books she had asked her father to send from Moscow. Walking up the wide steps to the Russian embassy, she remembered how she had run there on that cold stormy night to tell Yuri that she could not keep their appointment, then how they had encountered each other that same evening outside Maxim’s. She recalled the storm, and how shy Yuri had become when she had escorted him to her guest room.

She passed the embassy guard, flashing him a smile. He nodded in recognition, then she entered the reception office. An elderly woman smiled at her and then went into a side room. “Here, this is for you,” she said, handing Milenka a rectangular silver box, adorned with thin silver ribbons.

“Are you sure that this is for me?”

“Yes, dear. It had your name on it. It came by special delivery from Moscow.”

On her way home in the taxi she wondered what the box could possible contain, assuming that it was one of her father’s practical jokes.

She ran along the corridor to her apartment. Once inside, she took off her gloves and then immediately untied the thin silver ribbons. She removed the lid of the box, revealing fine grey tissue paper. Within the delicate grey folds, arranged skillfully, lay the fur of a silver fox. She took the fur stole out of the box and held it to its full length. A white card fell to the floor. She picked it up and read it. “I will never forget you. Yuri,” it said. She put the card down on the table, then with wonder she looked at the silver fur. Green emerald eyes beamed from its lean face; its small black nose had been polished to a gleam. Its delicate dark paws hung lifelessly.

She placed it over one shoulder, then went to look at her reflection in a mirror. She selected from her closet a long black woolen coat, put it on, then draped the silver fox over one shoulder. Holding back her long hair, she looked at her reflection contentedly.

The following evening, escorted by Sergie, she went to a concert. As she descended her apartment steps wearing her black coat decorated with the silver fox, he gave a sharp whistle.
“Where did you get that?” He sounded amused.

“A gift from Moscow.”

“I hope it does not bite!” Milenka gave him a sharp glance, annoyed by his lack of appreciation.

Before the concert began, Milenka took off her coat adorned by the silver fox and placed it on an empty seat beside her. A young woman nearby eyed the fox with horror. Milenka noticed the woman’s expression, and accepted it as jealousy.

After the concert, while she was walking along the carpeted passage, Milenka heard a woman comment with disgust, “How can she wear a dead animal over her shoulder like that?” Milenka turned around to encounter two elderly women staring back at her aggressively. Sergie smiled at Milenka, patting her hand reassuringly.

That night Milenka was awakened by the sound of scraping at her bedroom door. She switched on the light, got out of bed and opened the door. A long beam of light lit the fawn carpet, disclosing no evidence as to what could have caused the disturbance. In the morning, however, while standing before the open closet, she noticed three drops of blood on the carpet. She examined her body, her hands and bare feet, but she found nothing to indicate the source of the blood. She took a close look at the drops; they appeared to be fresh. She placed a paper handkerchief on them, and three red stains appeared immediately on the soft tissue paper.


One afternoon Milenka ran along the corridor to her apartment. As she turned the corner, she saw little feet in shiny grey shoes and fancy lace socks swinging back and forth. Little Valeri, her piano pupil, was sitting on a high chair outside her doorway, abiding impatiently the lapsed moments of their appointment. He looked up at Milenka as she approached him.

“Hello, sorry,” she said, getting the key from her handbag.

Valeri sat motionless staring at the silver fox slung over her shoulder.

“Come on!” She called when she noticed that Valeri did not follow her into the apartment. The boy’s eyes seemed to become larger as he gave out a loud scream. Milenka looked around in horror.

“Valeri! What happened? I am not angry. I was late, not you.”

The boy got down from the seat and began backing away.

“Valeri, what is it?”

“The animal, it moved!”

“But sweetie, it is only a decoration.”

“That is not true! Auntie Mariette has one like that, a brown one, and Papa said that it was a real fox, that they trap them cruelly and empty out their stomachs and fill them with sawdust and then polish the teeth, and take out the eyes, and stick flashing stones in their place and. . . . Papa was angry with Auntie Mariette, he upset her, and Mama told Papa to apologize, and Auntie Mariette went home, and Mama spoke to her on the telephone. . . .”

“Have you practiced your lesson? Shall we hear how fast those little hands of yours have become?” Milenka suggested, to stop the child’s nervous excited talk.


One windy afternoon, Milenka was walking down a boulevard holding a bunch of fragrant narcissus. A sudden gust of wind came up and blew the cellophane wrapping out of her hand. She held the flowers tightly, protecting their delicate petals from the strong wind. An old man stopped in front of her, and looking at her accusingly, he said, “How can you?”

“The wind, it was so sudden, it blew it out of my hand.”

“To be walking around happy and free with a dead animal draped over your shoulder. How can you?”

Milenka was stunned. She stood inert, watching the hunched figure fade into the distance.

That night Milenka was awakened by a bizarre sensation of light feet stepping on her bed cover. She sat up startled, switched on the light and looked around the room. There was no sign of anything which might have caused the agitation. She awoke once again during that night, this time to faint panting sounds near her bed. She lay still, fearing to turn on the light, when she saw two green eyes glaring at her, flashing in the light shining through the lace curtains. She reached out for the bedside lamp and switched it on. The silver fox was draped over the back of a chair. It shimmered in the bright light. She sighed, beguiled, then went back to sleep.

One afternoon Milenka was giving a piano lesson to a new pupil, when the little girl looked up suddenly, saying, “Your dog is crying.”

“Please pay attention to the lesson!”

“But your dog is crying.”

“My dog? I don’t have a dog.”

“You do, because it is crying.”

Milenka, puzzled, looked at the child.

“Can you not hear it?”

“I do not have a dog. How am I supposed to hear it cry?”

“But he is crying. Listen.”

A faint whining reached them from the bedroom.

“This is not possible,” Milenka thought. She went into the bedroom. The whining was coming from the closet. She stood in front of it, not daring to open the doors, fearing an attack from whatever it was that was trapped inside. She picked up the phone and asked the guard to come up immediately.
The guard arrived; Milenka showed him into her bedroom and then walked out. A few minutes later he came up to her. “All you have in there, Mademoiselle, is one very dead silver fox.”

 

One early morning Milenka was awakened by a loud knock on her bedroom door. Mimi, the loyal maid, asked, concerned, “Are you all right?” Milenka lay between the satin sheets, wondering why Mimi had awakened her so early. Slowly, she got out of bed, put on her silk kimono and opened the door. Mimi was standing on a ladder cleaning the windows. A crisp light filled the room, and an icy wind cut through Milenka as she went up to Mimi.

“My dear,” Mimi said anxiously, descending the ladder. “You were screaming, my poor child. You must have had a bad dream. I’ll make breakfast, that will help you feel better.”

As Milenka stood in front of the mirror combing her hair she suddenly recalled the dream of the past night, its screams echoing in her head: In her dream she was running from blood, it was everywhere, flowing in the stream, splashed on the rocks. Large red puddles constantly enveloped her, compelling her to step into continuous blood pools as she ran, screaming in terror.

Milenka went into the kitchen; the table had been set for her breakfast. She sat down and began telling her dream to Mimi. “I was running on soft grass, my bare feet caressed by the tender leaves. A clear stream shimmered in the sun. A large forest of pale green trees lay ahead of me. I was drawn into it by enchanting music. My feet stepped lightly on the ground. I was led into a clearing where a silver fox played gaily with fluffy grey cubs. They leapt from rock to rock and hid in the tall blades of grass, their fur glistening in the sun. I stood spellbound, watching them play. Suddenly, the horrifying cry of a wounded animal filled the forest. The little fox ran in terror, disappearing among the trees. Then there was blood, it was everywhere, in the stream, on the rocks, large puddles covered the ground. I stepped into the blood. I tried to scream but I had no voice.”

“It is that fox fur you wear. It brings bad luck! I didn’t want to say anything. One day you left it on the chest in the hall; those eyes, the way they glared at me! I prodded it with a broom before I picked it up. It looked alive. It is no good, that dead fox! I knew that; it carries bad luck.”

“Mimi, don’t be silly; it is only a decoration.”

“Dear, I want only your good. Listen to me. It is not right to wear a dead animal like that.”
Milenka smiled. “Old women’s superstitions,” she thought amused.


That weekend Milenka was invited to a friend’s country home. When she arrived she was greeted by a smiling friend and a large German Shepherd. “You remember Triumph, my big baby; nothing to fear.” Anita, her friend, greeted her.

“How wonderful that you came! Pierre will be so upset to have missed you. He frequently talks about you. Poor thing, he has to stay a week longer in that awful city! He says it is still freezing there, and so lonely for him in the evenings.” Anita became silent. She studied Milenka carefully, then continued with her typical flow of talk.

“What is that you are wearing? A silver fox? How elegant! My God, those flashing green eyes, they look so real. You look fantastic with it draped over your shoulder. But of course, that mysterious Russian man sent it to you. It must have cost him a fortune. Do you still hear from him? Do tell! But my dear, come inside, you must be worn out from the long journey. Come into the kitchen; we'll have a cup of tea; I have made fruitcake, your favorite!”

Anita ushered Milenka into the house. “Take off your coat; leave it in the hall. We’ll take
your baggage up later. I have the room overlooking the forest ready for you, but let’s have tea first. ”Anita led the way into the kitchen.

They were sitting in the kitchen, chatting idly, when they heard the dog growling furiously, and then what sounded like him engaged in a fierce fight. The women looked at each other perplexed.

“Do you have a cat?” Milenka asked startled.

“No, no, only the dog. I wonder what is causing him to be so angry. I had better go and have a look.”

When Anita did not return for a considerable time, Milenka went to see what was delaying her. She found Anita kneeling beside her dog, stroking him gently. A large blood stain showed precisely on his grey hair; the fur of the fox had been ripped to shreds and was scattered over the floor.

Anita looked up at Milenka, her large eyes filled with tears. “I am awfully sorry about the silver fox.”

“What has happened to the dog?”

“He has been bitten, It doesn’t seem serious, but he has lost a fair amount of blood. I’ll telephone the vet. But Milenka, your fantastic silver fox!”

“But Anita, what has happened to the dog?”

“Bitten. Look at the blood.” She held up her bloodstained hand.

“Yes, bitten, but by what?”

“What do you mean? An animal! Poor thing.” She looked affectionately at the dog, who lay very still, resting its head on her hand.

“But there is no other animal in here; what could have bitten him?”

Anita looked startled. “What are you trying to say?”

“That there is no other animal here besides your dog. That means that he could not possibly have been bitten.”

“But he has!”
“Yes, I know. But what bit him?”

Both women looked around the hall. The only open door was the one that led into the kitchen, where they had just been sitting.

A long beam of light fell significantly on the large pieces of silver fox fur spread out over the dark wooden floor. The head of the silver fox, unspoiled, lay upright, its green eyes flashing banefully at the perplexed women.

 

by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007
for reprint permission, contact Ash Tree Publishing
PO Box 64 Woodstock NY 12498
or write to: wisewoman@herbshealing.com

 

 

Click here for more stories by Luz, daughter of Juliette de Bairacli Levy
The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents

 



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