I woke up in my motel room. No memory, what-so-ever, of how the hell I got there. But when I looked at myself in the mirror I could feel familiar, wicked eyes retreating somewhere into the blackness that had strolled off with my memory. I needed a drink more than at any other moment of my life. I could almost feel the warm sting of my favorite whisky filling my mouth, surging down my throat, hot and soothing. Christ, I was thirsty. My hands were shaking. I resolved not to cry. Tears were for bitches. I was iron. I had to be.
I was on the next plane bound for home within hours.
When I entered my house, I was greeted by a small pile of letters that had built up on the other side of my mail slot. One of them seemed almost to glow. I picked it up, turned it over and read the name of the sender: Dillan Wickett, or, as he was better known—Dillan Wicked.
The name almost seemed to grin at me. A great big ‘ol Cheshire smile, all for me.
I opened the envelope, and carefully unfolded the letter inside. It read:
Before I get into the guts of what I wish to convey, I should say—no, I’ve no desire to rip you apart like a piece of screaming, bleeding paper. I mean, I do, certainly, but I’ve decided to restrain that impulse. But, even if I did want to come to your house and multiply your body parts, I’m fairly certain you’d give me a good run. You really would, and you probably don’t even know it. Anyway, I’m still here at the prison, just waiting till the time comes for me to leave. I trust you haven’t told anyone my secret? Not that you shouldn’t, mind you. It would definitely make things more interesting here if you decided to, though. And I’m sure you wouldn’t care about the poor orderlies and policemen and guards and emergency personal and so on that I’d likely have to rip apart if you did tell. No, you sure wouldn’t care…And that’s because you’re a little killer yourself, aren’t you? didn’t know I knew, did ya? Ha! Well, killing lingers in the eyes like smoke. I could tell once the dim of the storm touched those big wet peepers of yours. Cold like fall rain. Cute, really. But you’re still pretty wet behind the ears. Your probably just a neophyte killer, yes? you’ve likely only just begun to pile them up. Don’t worry, the next one will be easier…Take it from me.
But, unfortunately, I’ve only got so much paper, so I should get to the reason I decided to write you. (No one takes the time to send letters anymore. Shame.) I’ve been thinking about your questions concerning the…woman, and I remembered something about her, from a dream, I think. I love it when I have trouble distinguishing waking from sleeping. It makes me feel so young. Oh, to be young again! If you think killing is invigorating as an adult murderer, you should have had your first kill while you were still but a wee child. It’s like someone pouring honeyed, molten lava into your body. It felt like the warm days of summer lived inside my lungs! The hot energy of a thousand first kisses moving through every cell of my body! Man, was it an exciting time to be killing, over and over. The faces and sounds they made were so new, and then there was the discovery of the wonders that lurked beneath the skin…Anyway, I should calm down—the guards are beginning to wonder what I’m laughing at. (I’m sure they’ll find out soon enough. Poor guards, right?)
So here’s the juice—I remembered one of the places she used to take us all. We would often travel, you see, sometimes for days, through some of the most wonderfully wicked places. There were very particular places, she would tell us, where the world was weakest, and we could see the shapes of strange things from another world, outlined in the most ostensibly banal things: clusters of tree branches, the cacophony of crickets, the wilt of reeds in a swamp, and so on and on. You get the picture, I’m sure. But there was this one place in particular where she would always return to. She said it was the closest thing to the end of the world, and so it was the closest thing she had to a home. I’ll tell you where it is…if you come to see me again. I’m being transferred, you see. Their sending me to the to that great big prison in Thunderburg. Come and see me there in a week. And we’ll chat, lion to lamb.
See you soon,
My hands were shaking again. The booze was only a few feet away. I refused to cave-in to the drink. I didn’t know why, exactly. I thought it was just to control something, anything, even if only the monkey on my back. But there might have been a more complex answer. I don’t think I could have articulated it, then. But I think it was my desire to feel the edge of things, the sharpest parts of my journey. I didn’t want to blunt my senses. The pain was becoming solace, the fear was turning to excitement, and uncertainty was melting into wonder. This was no longer scaring me—it was becoming …thrilling. Maybe.
There was a single message left on my answering machine. It was Greg. He said he was worried about me, as I hadn’t made it to my last appointment. I expected the message to be from Jeffry. I hadn’t seen him in forever. So much for love. But I really didn’t care.
I called Greg back the next morning. I didn’t want to talk, really; I just wanted to see him. I wanted to see how he looked, standing all stark and stupid within the new life I’d been making for myself. I wanted to watch his solid world contend with the liquefying reality I was sinking into. I wanted to feel myself conflict with the world. I wanted to hip-check the sun.
I dressed up for my meeting with Greg. I rarely showed myself off, but I wanted to watch Greg watch me. The tightness of my clothes seemed to further isolate me from the surrounding world.
We were to meet each other on the small boardwalk near the outskirts of town. I can remember grinning when I felt the eyes of so many men slinking over the curves of my breasts, down the arc of my ass, and up the sides of my exposed legs. I walked down the moonlit boardwalk with a kind of saunter. I knew things, done things, that none of those around me would ever understand. My every secret felt like a blade tucked away behind the vanishing borders of the little leather ‘come-hither’ I was wearing.
Greg’s eyes went right for my breasts, but he pulled them away quickly enough, and with no small amount of visible effort. He knew I noticed it. I just smiled. Wide and playful.
“Uh…Wow, you look amazing, Veeve,” he said, discovering a newfound, if altogether crude, interest in me.
“You look good, too. Hey, sorry for the no-show. I’ve just been really busy with a story,” I said, as I watched him search for a completely new way of communicating with me. He came here as a pup, and he was regretting the wolf he wasn’t. I found power in his weakness.
He had become awkwardly tongue-tied at the sight of me, trying and failing to express his new view of me. I decided to close the distance between us with a hug, to dissolve the tension… I closed my arms around him, letting him feel me against his chest. He went soft and weak. I could feel his body taking its cues from my every movement. He was completely mine, and in less than thirty seconds. But as I looked into the moonlit water that flowed under the boardwalk, I caught sight of my reflection. I saw the witch’s eyes…staring out from my face! I could feel her smile pushing my teeth together and trying to stretch my lips across my cheeks. And then came her words, slithering like snakes up the back of my throat. I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth. I don’t even know what I said to Greg, when I finally ripped myself away from him and ran crying down the boardwalk.
When I got home, I puked my guts out in the sink right after I found the small stiletto I’d apparently slipped into my purse.
I didn’t leave the shower all night. I just scrubbed and scraped my skin until the sun came up. Then I did what I had to do.
Whisky never tasted better.
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