When she had finished her song, the gypsies extracted her tongue with a diamond studded arabian sword and declared their queen the greatest singer…”
by ed markowski
The pitchman who stood at the entrance of every
tent she performed in from Kalamazoo, Michigan
to Yazoo City, Mississippi for thirty-eight years
“On her way to fame and fortune with the Opera
El Grande D’Oro of Madrid, Spain, this once
brilliant star was abducted on the outskirts of
Sanguesa in the foothills of the Pyrenees by
a band of Romanian Gypsies.
That night, she was pitted against the queen
of the camp in a singing contest. When she had
finished her song, the gypsies extracted her
tongue with a diamond studded arabian sword
and declared their queen the greatest singer
in all of Europe.
Ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls of all
ages, for a few measly coins you are about to
meet and hear The Magnificent Magdelena,
The Diva Who Wouldn’t Die, The Singer Who
Wouldn’t Be Silenced, yes my friends, you are
about to bear witness to the one and only
Tongueless Tunesmith of Torino Italy!”
It is said though, that beyond the city lies
the forest, beyond the forest lies the
mountain, beyond the mountain lies
the sky, and somewhere within the fog
shrouded landscape of the legend…
lies the truth…
After having surgery to correct a cleft palate in
1927, her short a’s were pronounced as short u’s,
and her short u’s were pronounced as short a’s.
Taxi cab became tuxi cub, an apple a day became
un upple uh duh, sun up became san ap, an umbrella
became un ambrellu, push me pull me became
pash me pall me and a pair of purple pants became
uh pur of parple punts.
When she was fally recovered from the sargery, she
would sit on the porch with one of mam’s old huts
beside her. People would wulk ap und she’d tulk
und they’d listen, und she’d sing Ulexunder’s
Rugtime Bund or some other tan, und people would
toss pennies und nickles into mam’s old hut, und
she’d wink und say, “thunk you very match, udios
umigos, und please come ugun.”
She made real good money und by the end of Jane,
she bought herself a new bike, uh bluck cut, ten
dollurs worth of penny cundy, und a shiny red boa
thut she twirled ull around her when she sang.
She gave most of the money to mam und dud, bat
she shured plenty with me und our little sister
Putty. We feasted on Crucker Juck und Tarkish Tuffy
jast ubout every day.
By the end of that Sammer, jast about everyone
in town und the towns that sarrounded our town
hud stopped by to see her. Und thut’s how our big
sister Mury got sturted in show basiness, thut’s
really how she became Mugnificent Mugdelenu
The Tongueless Tansmith of Torino Ituly.
Ed Markowski lives and writes in Auburn Hills, Michigan. More of Ed’s stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.