A poisonous toad holds venom deep in its pores waiting for the touch of a vicious predator, not so you who seeps poison into a precious victim. That was me.
I could see it oozing from between your teeth when you smiled. A dangerous flash of white and sweet red tongue like a fruit behind leaves. All animals do, you’d say, but I didn’t want to know what you meant until it was too late.
I should have noticed the strength of your muscles when they flexed at me. But they were beautiful too, and long. Smooth lines everywhere and not a flaw to hold to. I would have liked to find one so I could hang my weight on it, gripping with desperation. I know I have many. It made your climb easier to find so many footholds to grab onto on your way to the top. The top of what, I’m not certain, but you know, because you’ve been there.
I watched you from across the room, breathing at me in way that’s frightening and flattering. The rickety chair beneath me creaks and cracks like a premonition. It startles me. Raising my hands to my sides for balance to reposition myself it seems I’ve been leaning forward in my chair, precariously drifting toward you without thinking. For a moment the hypnosis seems to be broken and I can look at my surroundings.
My drink on the table is nearly empty, swallowed in quick, tiny sips. I need another. The bar to the side from far away looks grimier than I remember. Brown streaks like mud run down the front, but when so many people crowd it, one hardly takes notice. Now on a Tuesday night, not many have come to this small watering hole. Only a few mean looking cats prowl the edges.
I slink by them and roll my shoulders forward over the railing. My fingertips rest on the gummy wood. Gin, I say. Gin, like water, clear and cool. The other animals stare and look me up and down. I don’t belong here, I think. But then your voice comes back to me and sooths the fear, quiet and lingering at first like the wind through a palm tree. It’s like your brushing my hair.
I turn with the new drink in my hand and return to the table, sipping again, and by the time I sit down half the drink is gone. It tastes more like gasoline than juniper. But what can I expect in times like these when the runs take longer and the cops get greedier. Nothing of quality gets by them these days. I remember walking back from my lunch hour, watching a group of five or six gather round a beat up jalopy. Scratch marks and dents rippling across her sides showing where branches and maybe rocks and other cars had tried to take her down. None had succeeded until now. Broken down on the side of the street, drawing attention, the hounds had gathered and found it easy pickings. They had cackled, deep in their throats and then tore into the insides. Broken boxes, like bones were scattered in the gutters and the haul had drawn more attention.
The bands sax grow hotter nestling in the curves of your voice and I forget about the bad gin and scavenging cops. Suddenly you power blew into me, my drink was empty and I was weak headed, dizzy with you and the gin.
Suddenly, crashing through the underground entrance, a pack of police were whistling and the haze was ruined. A stampede formed, rushing toward the exits. Chair legs like twigs scattered and cracked. A trumpeting of feet and screams of prey broke through your song and were separated. You left with the band, gripping the instruments like their young. They huddled in the cave of the stage. More important to the ravenous policemen were the patrons. I felt sick to my stomach for the first time since finding you. Was this withdrawal? I wondered as purged my gut of you with a toxic grunt. Though it made little difference in this swampy bar, the policeman stepped his ugly boot in the mess and took great offense. I felt the familiar cold of the metal rings around my wrists and let them jangle, enjoying the closeness of its ringing to your voice and knew it would be another night in jail.
This week, Trebez chose the song above. You should read her song inspired piece here.