THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY preview: “The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley

In celebration of the recently released THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, Tachyon and editors Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman present glimpses into the future of fantasy from several of the volume’s magnificent tales.

Tallest Doll in New York City


Dahvana Headley

a particular snowy Monday in February, at 5:02 p.m., I’m sixty-six
flights above the corner of Lexington Avenue and Forty-Second,
looking down at streets swarming with hats and jackets. All the guys
who work in midtown are spit into the frozen city, hunting sugar for
the dolls they’re trying to muddle from sour into sweet.

up here I can see Lex fogged with cheap cologne, every citizen
clutching his heart-shaped box wrapped in cellophane, red as the
devil’s drawers.

you happen to be a waiter at the Cloud Club, you know five’s the
hour when a guy’s nerves start to fray. This calendar square’s
worse than most. Every man on our member list is suffering the Saint
Valentine’s Cramp, and me and the crew up here are ready with a
stocked bar. I’m in my Cloud Club uniform, the pocket embroidered
with my name in the Chrysler’s trademark typeface, swooping like a
skid mark on a lonely road in Montana. Over my arm I’ve got a clean
towel, and in my vest I have an assortment of aspirins and plasters
in case a citizen shows up already bleeding or broken-nosed from an
encounter with a lady lovenot.

tonight, it’ll be the members’ doll dinner, the one night a year
we allow women into the private dining room. Valorous Victor, captain
of the wait, pours us each a preparatory coupe. There are ice-cream
sculptures shaped like Cupid in the walk-in. Each gal gets a corsage
the moment she enters, the roses from Valorous Victor’s brother’s
hothouse in Jersey. At least two dolls are in line for wife, and
we’ve got their guy’s rings here ready and waiting, to drop into
champagne in one case and wedge into an oyster in another. Odds in
the kitchen have the diamond in that particular ring consisting of a
pretty piece of paste.

For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.

Cover art by Camille André

Cover design by Elizabeth Story