"One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion."


Let's all be good thieves together.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Halloween Girl

With Halloween coming up here's a little short story for people.

Halloween Girl

It had been a bad October. Things had started off well enough -- looking at wedding cakes with my fiancée – but then a week later she was going to France to be the muse for a sculptor and jazz musician called Jacques. The week after that I received a phone call from my agent, the publisher who had bought one of my stories for his magazine had died of a heart attack while snorting cocaine off the ass of a fifteen year old hooker. As a result of the scandal his company was going belly-up and would be unable to pay any debts. Including the money they owed me. The rest of the month was filled with petty annoyances: my car breaking down, my landlord raising the rent, and the spontaneous human combustion of the quarterback for my favourite football team. Just the minor trials and tribulations you get when God decides to use you for target practice.

The final straw came on the morning of the 31st when I went to feed my goldfish Fred only to find him floating on top of the water very, very dead. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity in my bathrobe and fluffy slippers holding his little box of fish food. My mind at first seemed unable to process his passing but all too soon the shock was drowned by a wave of depression, followed by the almost irresistible urge to stick my head into his fishbowl and follow him into the great beyond.

I was saved from the ignominy of an embarrassing suicide when the phone rang, shocking me out of my trance. On the other end was my oldest friend Dave, he had decided that with all my woes I needed to get out of the house. Looking at Fred’s tiny cadaver I couldn’t help but agree with him. He had managed to score tickets to a local Goth club where he assured me that the alcohol would flow to the point where a four foot tall, overweight little troll with halitosis and body odour that could knock out an ox could get laid. Standing just under six feet with only a little extra padding and being freshly showered I fancied my chances at a little action to chase away the blues.

I should have known better. Every girl I talked to I scared away by either comparing them to my bitch ex-fiancée, or just blubbering away, telling them how much I missed her and wanted her back. Finally I just gave up and found myself a deserted table in a shadow filled corner where I could have a drink in relative peace and quiet, while watching the girls dance.

Soon Dave found me in my little oasis of solitude, two attractive, giggling young Goth girls hanging off his arms. He told me their names were Cherry and Sherry, or something like that and he’d been invited back to their apartment. He wanted to make sure I was alright and was willing to stay and keep me company if I wanted. I smiled at him and told him I was fine, I was just going to have another drink or two before heading home and he should go and enjoy himself. Smiling gratefully he promised to make it up to me another time and the trio vanished into the crowd. I returned to my drink and watching the dance floor, feeling my depression rising again.

That was when I saw her. I can’t say for certain what it was that drew my eyes to her initially. Was it her sinuous, graceful dancing? The age difference between her and her dance partner? It could have been the way the crowd seemed to part around them as though they were subconsciously unwilling to get too close. It could have been any combination of these things or none at all, it didn’t matter. Once I saw her -- I couldn’t look away.

She was tall, easily over six feet, with well toned legs that seemed to go on forever in those tight black, leather pants she wore. Her red and black corset hugged an hourglass figure as though it were a second skin, imprisoning a pair of buxom breasts as they strained to burst free. Her shoulders and arms were bare; revealing alabaster skin that seemed to almost glow luminously in the flickering strobe lights. The only ornamentation she wore was a silver snake bracelet coiling around her left forearm. Her long flowing hair was raven black, though even at a distance I could see a tracery of grey hairs marring its ebon uniformity. Her face was beautiful though angular, with high cheekbones, deep dark brown eyes, and ruby red lips, slightly parted in a seductive pout. It bore the marks of time’s inevitable march well, a wrinkle or two upon the forehead, some crow’s feet at her eyes but they did nothing to detract from her beauty. I would have placed her in her mid to late thirties while her dance partner was clearly just out of her teens. Still more girl than woman, with curly red hair bouncing around a cherubic face, she was at least a foot smaller than the woman who had caught my attention, and wore a red blouse with a dark skirt and too much white foundation in an effort to appear pale and interesting.

As I watched them dance I soon saw that the red haired girl was responding to the older woman’s movements in an almost dazed fashion, as though she were not in full control of her body. It was then that I realized their movements weren’t even remotely in time with the fast paced beat of the song; they were following a tune that only they could hear. I stared in fascination at their slow precise movements as they danced. I could see hints of an ancient symbolism in their movements that had been forgotten long ago. It was a dance of seduction and supplication, the older woman represented some unearthly predator while the younger was its prey, pleading for mercy while slowly moving towards the inevitable surrender to the predator’s will. As their dance reached its conclusion and the young woman opened her blouse baring the flesh between her neck and breasts to the older something strange happened to me.

The ever present music that reverberated through the club seemed to fade until only its beat remained fast and rapid, then that began to slow as did the other dancers until they were unmoving statues and all I could hear was the steady, slow thump – thump echoing in the club like giant heartbeat. At the same time the colour seemed to drain away turning the club into a cold, lifeless tableau like an old sepia photograph. As I looked around my first thought was that I was dying, but then I realized that the women I had been watching dance were still flush with colour and visible signs of life in stark contrast to the rest of the club. I drew in breath to call out to them but some primeval instinct prevented me from speaking as the older woman leant in towards the younger.

I could see a sudden flash of steel as she opened her ruby lips to reveal a razorblade she had somehow concealed in her mouth. With a lover’s gentleness she slowly drew the blade in a crimson line across the flesh of her victim whose mouth opened in an O of pain or pleasure I couldn’t be sure, all I could hear was the damnable thump – thump. Then as suddenly as it appeared the razorblade vanished and the woman’s tongue slowly and gently licked up the blood that had begun to slowly ooze from the wound before suckling at the wound itself like a hungry kitten. I could see the girl’s eyes roll back in her skull as her head tipped back, clearly in ecstasy at the sensation of the older woman feasting upon her. As I continued to watch in terrified fascination barely able to remember to breathe, I noticed that the older woman’s hair was slowly growing darker and more luxurious, the grey hairs changing before my eyes to black. At the same time the crow’s feet and wrinkles gradually vanished as the skin tightened and became taut once more.

Finally the woman finished with her meal, now looking in her early twenties. After a last languid lick of her tongue to clean up any stray droplets of blood she kissed the wound and I watched stunned as the flesh closed leaving no mark behind. She then gently closed the blouse and stroked the hair out of her partner’s eyes before planting a tender kiss upon her lips. At that the colour and signs of animation had fled from the red haired young woman and she joined the rest of the club in that bizarre frozen moment they seemed to occupy. Her business concluded the raven haired woman began to make her way towards the exit while I held my breath and tried to remain as still as possible lest she realise I had witnessed her ritual.

She froze halfway to the exit and turned to face me. For a second deep within the centre of her brown eyes, I swear I saw a fiery red spark that threatened to consume me but then it faded and she smiled. She raised her hand to her mouth and blew a kiss at me before vanishing out into the night. The instant she left the club, the beat began to pick up pace once more, the colour and music returned and everything was normal. For a second or so, before I heard a scream and turned to see the red haired girl lying prone on the dance floor. I sat in that corner shivering until the club closed, unwilling to go out into the night afraid she might be waiting for me. I finally got a cab home and in the morning I was almost convinced it had just been a hallucination brought on by too much alcohol and my fragile mental state. Perhaps the red haired girl had just collapsed due to overheating or exhaustion, perhaps even some form of drug abuse. Unfortunately my morning newspaper quickly disabused me of that comforting belief when I read the review of the Halloween party.

It had gone well though there had been a moment of concern when Ms Regina McKay, 21 had collapsed on the dance floor. Paramedics were called and it was soon determined that she was suffering from a form of anaemia or lack of blood. She was being treated in a local hospital and was expected to make a full recovery.

I felt every hair on my body rise in terror and my heart threatening to explode in my chest upon reading that, fearful that the raven haired woman whoever she was might come after me. I soon calmed down though as I realized that if she had wanted to hurt me she would have done so at the club, I tried to tell a few of my friends the story but they just laughed at me and in time I put it to the back of my mind.

I’ve gone back to that club a few times but I’ve never seen her there again, though she does appear occasionally in my dreams, forever dancing, forever young, with droplets of blood on her smiling lips she’s my eternal Halloween girl.