Leaning against an old Chevrolet on Maudlin Street, I smoke a cigarette—hard—chuckling at the hisses and howls of alley cats beneath the butcher shop’s broken neon sign. They flick their tails and prowl about, pestering fellas headed home to cold wives and cold dinners, straight from the misery of their long evening shifts. Persistent, with purrs and claws—smooth as cream— they graze oily pant legs (and thighs) for want of a rub…or two. Tossing my smoke at the sidewalk—a cherry-bomb explosion drawing the glow of hungry eyes—a young, new one to the corner catches my eye, preening her strawberry-yellow hair, distracted by night shadows that stretch and duck in the periphery. I light another smoke and call her over with a “Psst,” motioning with my hand, as tracers from a flaming tip pull heads from her pounce in unison, to and fro. Cautiously, she turns to me, as the sign overhead begins to flicker blue, casting a harsh pallor upon angled faces with its undead light. Calling her over, again, she slowly heads my way—eyes shining and features soft. “What’s tonight’s special?” I ask, as she pulls the cigarette from my newly shaken fingers and takes a drag. Letting out a long sigh, she blows a steady stream of spite—sweet—into my face, and jabs, “A pound of flesh with a side of soul. Hungry?” looking as if she’d heard that line one too many times. “Nah,” I answered (a burn taking over my cheeks), “not tonight.” Then I turned and walked away down Maudlin Street—not looking back—wishing I knew her name, loving her.
Originally published in Terror House Magazine