The Cabaret Jungle

Elizabeth Burnam


The Jungle was the grimiest pub on La Rue de Terre, the nightclub equivalent of a well-loved ashtray, and Rita had a voice like spiced rum. Every night, her poison berry lips lulled you into a state of hypnosis, the steady drum of booze like hot rain down your throat. Her body swinging slowly like a vine, wild and lush, while the wanting and the day-old cologne wafted from the sleeves of your tweed coat. Le coup de foudre; she shocked your heart like a lightning bolt.

But you were just another John, drooling like a beast in the front row, and she slinked past you without a second thought; when a snake sheds, it makes room to grow. Every night, your eyes pawed up the length of her moon-white thighs, while her dark, panther-black hair curled towards the throng of drunken prey. A hiccup and an open tab, another slash-and-burned home, and all the wilted, sweating blossoms in the sun. She was both a prayer and a marketing ploy—a shaman and a sharp, city-sized hole.

Rita, sweet Jungle Rita and her clawlike grin. Scavenging bird spiraling in leather boots and feathered wings. But you were a hunter—le coup de chance, that she’d dance into your line of sight, your shotgun cocked and itching to applaud. You loved a blood red dress. You loved a clear shot and a soft, pretty maw.

When you aimed, all went quiet. The bullet smacked the broad in the back of her throat, a song cut short, a bird with her beak bound shut. Le coup de l’etrier; here’s one last drink for the road, the wild, winding road home. Full, ochre moon, and the neighborhood cats. The devil in a velvet hat. Show’s over, folks.



Elizabeth Burnam was born and raised in a yellow trailer in Syracuse, New York, keeping secrets and getting her feet dirty. Now she lives in Burlington, Vermont, where she recently graduated from Champlain College for Professional Writing. Her work has been published in The Raven Chronicles.