He saunters by looking lost and shadily hot. I think that if he wandered into one of my stories, he’d be a drifting grifter with mostly repressed homicidal tendencies; just dangerous enough to be the focus of a fantasy. That flutter of fear would be a thrill.
He’d notice me smoking in the parking lot and ask if I knew how to find some obvious and nearby locale; the grocery up the street, perhaps. It’s an easy opening. People are better Samaritans than most would assume when it comes to the little things like that. They feel knowledgeable – like they are better people than they really are – when they help a stranger.
Then he’d ask to borrow my lighter for that Pall Mall he’s been chewing on for the last half block. His, “Thank you kindly,” would have a hint of well faked, old fashioned, country charm -- not because of the calming affect it has on most people, but because it weighs down time with extra syllables. He’d take the opportunity to assess me as a potential mark. Am I good for a couple of smokes and some change or could something more be had from me?
I’d smile and say, “You’re quite welcome,” with a little drawl of my own because I’m a mimic, which means more than either he or I are counting on.
There’d be an awkward pause as instincts war over moving on or honing in. And then he’d find some way to extend his stay; a backhanded compliment perhaps. “I like your hair. How do you get it to go like that?” His embarrassed laugh would dance along my spine.
And then I’m there -- no longer watching it in the theatre of my mind as he walks on by. Some philosophers with quantum fancies theorize that every choice we make creates another parallel universe. Every outlandish fiction we construct is a hard truth in another dimension. And every once in awhile, the filters in between allow us the tiniest taste of our other selves. The vastness opens and visions of another life tickle our brain.
“I sleep. Then I use this goo.” I smirk and roll my eyes, feigning slight offense. He falls for the smirk but not the eye roll. How perfect.
“Well it works for you.” He looks down and takes a drag just long enough to ooze some sex. “Makes you look a little wild.” Flatterer. “Are you a little wild?”
This opens the door for a patented ramble on my part. The surface-only banter conceals hidden agendas. We each size the other up under the distraction of my words, evaluating the defenses of our respective targets. One of us is dead wrong in our calculations. The other is oblivious to a monster barely kept in check. Under other circumstances – in other worlds -- we might have been partners in crime, had we actually met. In this particular scenario, darker games are afoot. Our goals are not mutually exclusive, per se. We’re on the same page but reading vastly different books.
To be continued...