Suddenly, We Hear the Sirens

Matthew Schultz


The Hollies, “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)”

A long, cool woman in a black dress walked into Whisky a go go. It was midnight. The band on stage was playing her song. She moved invitingly through the center of the room. The crowd broke around her as if a river parted by a stone. She met the glance of everyone who looked at her. They all looked at her. It was Saint Valentine’s day.

A man holding a bottle of Chivas approached her but before he could speak, she placed a card into the pocket of his shirt. Without a word she was gone. The man studied his card. It was a picture of the woman bathing in a river and the words LE TOILLE were written across the bottom. In the paperwhite sky, stars gleamed like fireworks. The man used his teeth to tear a corner from the card, which he then held beneath his tongue. That was when the sirens started to howl. The long, cool woman in the black dress was dancing in the balcony. No one could reach her. The distance drove them mad. She was in love with the madness.


Matthew Schultz teaches Creative Writing at Vassar College where he also directs the Writing Center. He is the author of two novels: On Coventry and We, The Wanted. His recent poems appear in Rust + Moth, Thrush, and Juke Joint.