Blip Magazine Archive


Home : Archive : Links

Lina ramona Vitkauskas

The Transaction is Complete

The Virgin Mary was sitting in my bus seat, smoking a Carlton Menthol, adjusting her lavender lapel. She picked my seat on purpose. I thought she’d look in my direction, you know, acknowledge she’d mistakenly snuggled herself cozily into it with an awkward gesture, a wave of the hand over the mouth like a kid who’d just spilled apple juice all over the floor. Or maybe she would notice me panting and hovering over her like a heaving mess with my Oleg Cassini travel bag slung over my shoulder like I was carrying Vito’s cousin Nicky inside. If anything, because she was the Virgin Mary, maybe she’d at least sense my presence—at least. But I had to sigh really hard. You know, like when your mom tells you, "no, and that’s final," but you still wince and your whole body slumps down and you go, "Awwww maaa...." SIGH. Just like that. And to top it off, she didn’t even flinch. She just kept reading the Bible calmly, lightly tapping on the end of her cigarette into the tiny silver mouth in the seat divider.

"Move it, lady... I gotta line back here," he gruffed into the back of my neck and I could feel the heat, smell the remnants of a beef sandwich with red sauce and sweet pepper. It was making me horny. If anyone breathes on my neck like that, it’s like a prickly light feather tickling and it drives me bananas. But it was so pathetic for me to get horny from this fat guy talking into my neck and just wrong that I was getting wetter by the minute when I was just trying to get my seat back from the mother of God.

"Did you hear me lady?"

It was like he was talking through me so she’d notice. Maybe she’d finally look up from reading her Bible.


"Do you know who that is?" I heard someone whisper behind the fat guy, but the driver interrupted.

"Ahhhh, people, what’s going on here? What’s the hold up?"

I had to pipe in, but it came out quiet, like a weak sparrow. "Well, she took my seat."

"People, people...what are kindergarten? Jesus!"

She instantly looked up. But not even at me. At the ceiling. At the sky.

"Just take the seat miss, " the driver barked to me and some little kid echoed righteously with, "yeah".

"You heard ‘em lady," Beef Sandwich grunted, still making me tingle with the hotness of his meaty-sweet breath with red sauce. It was bad enough I hadn’t got my period yet, especially considering my farewell romp with Louie a few weeks before. He was crazy-drunk that night, stumbling into my bedroom and cutting me up with those damn squirrel teeth, kissing me like I was a nut he wanted to crack. I had to buy Carmex and smear it on my chin even.

I shoved my Oleg into the top compartment and slouched into the aisle seat next to her. She smirked and kept reading. She knew what she was doing, making me go through all this trouble. I looked up, narrowing my eyes at Beef Sandwich.

"Thanks for nothing," I grumbled under my breath. I didn’t care if he heard me or not. I just got ripped off of my own seat and got all hot and horny for nothing. Now it was just pissing me off more—me being totally aroused and not even being able to sit by the window.

Beef Sandwich sidled by to the seat three rows down and pushed his bag into my arm real hard as he brushed by. As if I didn’t know it was on purpose.

"You really shouldn’t be so angry all the time," she opened her tiny opal lips like fish.

"Oh you know who that is?" I heard the same lady say to Beef Sandwich three rows down.

"Shhhhh..." a deep voice said. "She knows."

I opened my mouth to tell her off. Like if she was all holy then why didn’t she just give up the seat instead of smirking there like an sly old hag? I was gonna. But then she said it again.

"You really, really shouldn’t be so angry all the time." Her voice was very low and scratchy, like she was trying to be sexy. She had put out her cigarette, no longer looking for her son in the ceiling, eyes still not moving to me at all. She was reading the Bible.

"Well, I’m sorry, Lauren Bacall," I grumbled softly. "But you weren’t eliminating any of the frustration."

She smiled widely, her golden teeth glistening, her eyes still averted to the text as if she were reading our conversation. Her pantyhose were nude and her pumps were white. What was she thinking representing and spreading the Word looking like that? Her red hair was piled in soft mounds of curls on top of her head, some wisps straying down the side of her cheek. She had an old, embroidered handkerchief clutched in the hand underneath the Bible. She kept on grinning like she just ate me for breakfast.

"That’s not my job anyway," she finally said softly, bringing her eyes to mine. One was sapphire. The other—completely black, the entire pupil enlarged, permanently blanketing the deep pool of color underneath. Her skin was kissed with patches of olive, flax, plum, raisin and bleach. I could feel her hand press down on mine, folding them into my lap.

"Your nails are blue," was all I could say. And they were. Neatly manicured ice chips swirled with azure stain, something blue—like when you get married.

"Do you know who that is?" the lady whispered again to two Amish women dressed in stiff, black gowns.

"Tickets, tickets," I saw the driver out of the corner of my eye.

She covered my other hand with hers and I faced her completely.

"See? Now you’re not so pissed off anymore, are you?" She smiled wider.

I felt my wetness drying, the heat of standing and sighing hard inside me slink off into a light, soothing warmness. Yes, I guess I wasn’t pissed off anymore. But she still took my seat.

"I know," she answered my thought with her head cocked. "But you will need this seat."

I pulled my ticket out as the driver approached. I was still examining the differences in her eyes, the black that suffocated the blue, invaded the white space, feeling the softness of her skin.

"Are you blind?" I asked slowly, following the movement of the dark orb.

Her voice was still smooth and even like milk. "Only to some things. But I guess we all are."

Her grin was Chesire as she peered over my head at the driver, breaking me away from the hypnotic draw of her swirling, pinwheel spheres.

"Miss?" he asked me, tapping my elbow lightly. "Tickets?"

I distractedly handed him my stub. She was still looking at him and squeezing my hands in my lap, making me pulsate.

"The transaction is complete," she whispered and the driver shook his head knowingly, drifting to the next row of tall, red seats, cutting crowns of heads like so many bleeding halos.

This was just the type of cryptic junk I’d expected if I was ever going to run into her. And perfect place, too. I was wondering why all this time had gone by and she hadn’t shown up on the scene. Why, all of a sudden, I had it written all over my face that I was going to Florida to get away from Louie, the nutcracker. Why she’d decided to be here, now, to try and stop me or talk me into believing something. In anything besides Louie. I guess you had to expect something crucial to happen. I pulled my hands away from her slowly and adjusted my bra underneath my sweater. The hotness had subsided for now, but it was still lingering, lunging in and out, a wave of titillation. I was about to get my period.

"You’re late anyway," she said airily, lighting her next cigarette as the bus yanked away from the station. "That’s why."

Now I turned to her sharply in sheer exasperation. I was hearing enough of this. I stood up and I didn’t care who on the bus heard. She took my seat and now this? This was enough of the show.

"Okay," I sighed hard again. "Okay…I suppose you’re going to tell me I’m pregnant with the next Messiah, right? That Louie was really another son of God all along and I blew it? That I should just go back to Louie, huh?" I demanded, my voice wavering. The woman three rows back by Beef Sandwich gasped in horror.

"Oh my Good Lord, do you know who that..."

"Yes!" I spun around fiercely. "Yes! We all know who it is!"

"But that’s not right to talk..." the woman began, standing up with me.

"Ladies!" the driver screamed from the front. "Sit the hell down!"

The Virgin Mary was just smiling, watching me get angrier as my forehead began to bead with sweat. It was getting warmer underneath everything—my jeans, my sweater.

"Jesus!" The driver threw up his hands up. The Virgin Mary heard and looked up at the steel, welded ceiling of the bus. At the sky. Her Bible was put away now, her cigarette extinguished and she had closed her eyes, raising her hands half-way above her head. A tiny gold butterfly with teal wings dripped from her earlobe into her lap.

"Your earring fell." I curtly pointed out.

She kept her eyes closed but put her arms down.

"But I suppose you already know that, too," I finished and decided I wasn’t going to push it anymore. Not with the woman by Beef Sandwich, not with the Virgin Mary. I was still going to Florida, away from Louie, just like I’d planned. Louie was screwing everything except me and see how bad it got for a faithful girl that she gets hot from a fat guy breathing on her on a smelly bus? I was so sick of him anyway. Those damn teeth of his. My lips were always bleeding and bit-up. And that Carmex really burned like hell.

"Nothing burns like that." She finally said opening her eyes.

Just ignore her, I thought. She’ll keep wanting to mystify you with that crap, but it was just like if you were gonna give in to Louie again. And don’t you go back to that liar. She’ll tell you you’re carrying his baby and you’ve gotta go back—go back and make it right—forgive. She’ll tell you not to make this trip to Florida. That it’s nothing but trouble, and you won’t find what you’re looking for down there. But don’t believe it. Start your life over again, baby. Without that piss-head.

"You are pregnant, you know, " she said flatly, lighting one of her overly-lengthy Carltons. Must’ve been 120's. Why did mysterious people always have to smoke long cigarettes anyway? Was it an unwritten rule amongst religious icons, Communist spies, and movie stars?

She dragged graciously on her cigarette, longingly, as if it’d been awhile since she felt the relief of a hearty rush of nicotine swirling inside her. She wasn’t going to offer any information.

"So, hey, what about all that crap they say about second-hand smoke?" I asked, changing the subject.

She rolled her eyes and flicked her wrist down with disgust. "All a bunch of crap."

I wanted her to turn to me again so I could see her eyes, but she didn’t. She ground out her cigarette, this time on the floor with her tiny white pump, and looked out the window. She was right about the bathroom. I needed it. I started to get cramps and I had to pee real bad. Maybe I would start bleeding today.

"Well, you were right about needing this seat," Her expression was blank in the tinted reflection of the one-way glass. "The bathroom is close, yes?" I looked for a sign. Her face got real stony and rigid, still fixated on the passing gray fields. She folded her hands in her lap again and started to hum softly. John Denver. Louie’s favorite.The blue in her nails began to fade to a soft, rose hue.

"I just can’t tell sometimes," she murmured between bars. "I just can’t tell."

"Can’t tell what?"

"Just stay there. Please don’t let him go into the water." She went on. " 'For ofttimes he falleth into the fire and ofttimes into the water.’"

"Who’s not suppposed to go in the water?" Now I was sure she was pulling one of her stunts again. Speaking in tongues and verse. Whatever.

"He can’t swim…poor little one…"

I balanced myself against the seat as the bus rumbled underneath my feet, jostling me. The sharp pain in my side stabbed me now, called me to relieve the pressure of my tightening jeans.

"Now you’ll be able to sleep," she whispered, bowing her head.

She was rolling her head in a hypnotic circle, rocking back and forth gently. I thought maybe I should just ask her. I thought maybe she’d at least appreciate my bluntness.

"So are you, like, stopping deaths right now? Putting dying people at peace? Is that what this is? Are you asking me to come back to you? Tell you I’m sorry I sinned and all that? And did those kids really see you at Lourdes? Fatima? What about that fat lady in Atlanta...?"

But now she was quiet. I clicked my tongue.

"Okay. All right. Fine. Do you want me to go to confession? Is that what this is about?"

She stopped the humming, the head rolling, the visionary out-loud premonitions. She stopped the praying. At that moment, she looked at me with the black orb and the ocean, the bleach and the flax dulling, the olive and plum and raisin draining, the supple opal lips shriveling to crisp and chapped. She looked smaller and more fragile, like she had shrunk, not like the robust woman adjusting her cleavage into the lapel of her lavender suit who smiled when she took my seat.

"Well?" I was sure I’d start to bleed today.

"No, you don’t need to go anymore," she croaked bleakly. But it sounded like she was answering someone else’s question.

Lina ramona Vitkauskas recently received an Honorable Mention in Story Magazine¹s Carson McCullers Prize for "The Transaction is Complete", won the 1996 DES Journal short prose competition,  and has been published in The Poet, SWING magazine, The Outlet, and Milk magazine. She is a Chicago native, Lithuanian bred, and is now playing in theatres near you.


Maintained by Blip Magazine Archive at

Copyright © 1995-2011
Opinions are those of the authors.