Perryn and Chris (Part 1)

Blood.

Blood on the walls, the ceiling, the windows, the sheets. The average human carries one and a half gallons of blood in their body, and thats what’s covering everything. One point five gallons.

“Chris…”

Where did the blood come from, the body on the bed? No. Chest is still rising, no puncture wounds, no slash wounds, pure, pristine, skin polished to a sheen, like a doll with its dull plastic eyes..Plastic eyes? Mannequin. Why? Who knows, maybe god knows, lets ask him…Very good, god. Very Clever.

“Chris…”

Its hot in here…Maybe I should turn a fan on. Click. The fan’s spinning, and oh look, splatter splatter splatter. Like I said, covered in blood, and now its all over us. Skin red as the devil’s, painted with this sanguine substance. All we need is the tail, the horns, and the pitchfork and we’ll be good to go.

“Chris…!”

“What?!” Silence. We look around at all the eyes turning towards us, a good fifteen other students of Mr. Clarences’ geometry class watching with their beady little eyes and the looks of supressed hysterical laughter spread across their faces. Breath in slow, calm your racing heart, wait for the hardon to go away. “I’m sorry…I dosed off…I didnt get much sleep last night… Up all night studying for todays test.” More like jerking off to the videos of that Lebonese chick we met on Cam4…

“I’m sure, Mister Keen…” John Clarence said to us, and the look in his eyes said ’I dont doubt you. You’ve never made anything under a low B..You’ll do just fine.’ And everything would be fine, after all it’s common sense that will get us through this world. “I was hoping you could give us the answer to question… Let’s see, we’re doing odd numbers… Question Nine, on page 208… Seeing as how your book isn’t even open and you probably need a reminder.” We didnt, of course, but it was just him being helpful – no need to get aggravated like you know we want to.

No one fucks with the quiet kid who makes good grades, especially after what happened with Joey Stanby a couple years ago, before we were even here. He took a pair of scissors and stabbed it into Jake Tillbury’s throat, who’d been beating him up whenever Joey didnt give him his homework. It’d become a routine – Joey would do his papers without signing his name, so that Jake could write his own. Like a disgruntled postman, he snapped – and stabbed Jake so many times that there was an inch wide empty hole open where his vocal cords had been. A lot of people saw it coming. All but Jake, who was too stupid and had little common sense. A lot of people mourned Jake, but no one gave a fuck about Joey – no one  took their hands away from their eyes long enough to see that Joey was grieving inside as well.

Jake’s parents, rich yuppies from who-knows-who-cares, pressed charges and Joey was given an adult sentence. We never quite figured out how long it was. Some said life, others said death row, but we merely sigh and sit back – watching. We glance at our paper, note the answer, and speak – words come out – Mr. Clarence smiles and nods, and now we can go back to sleep.

One set of eyes close, the other set watches. One sleeps, one smiles. Tick-tock goes the death clock, counting down til the day that once again something dies. The clock goes off, ring ring ri— Wait, what? That’s not the clock, that’s merely the signal for the next class. Groovy. One moves and collects the stuff from the table, the other rests with his head down against the desk making mumbly noises about how he can get no sleep. We sit up, Lexy staring at us as we glance over at her with silent irritation. Word on the grapevine is that Lexy Whatever-the-fuck-her-last-name-is has a crush on us. She’s short, a little chubby, but she has ivory skin and a ’fuck me’ face. She’ll do nicely, “Hey Lex…Wanna carry my books to next class?” She laughs, “No way, Doofus, its /your/ job to carry /mine/!” Which is what we’ll do, you know, just to make ourselves look better.

***

Perryn closed the laptop and raised her face to the emerging spring sun. God, the winter had been a long one. Checking my watch, I had but a few more precious minutes to enjoy the earth’s renewal before returning to the artificial lights of a temperature-controlled environment, the artificial people with the plastic faces and sterile conversation. I sigh heavily, wishing for a different life, a different something. I stand, tuck the laptop into the carrying case and head back to the office for several more hours of incoherent time-wasting directives from the incompetent human who is several pay grades above me but cannot fathom her True Mission in Life, which would be to Get The Hell out Of Mine.

I push the elevator button for “Up” and play the “Elevator Game”, waging internal bets on which side the doors will open first. Is a game I play several times a day, from the moment I arrive, until I leave, and a few times during the day to smoke a cigarette.

The elevator sounds its “Ding” and I chalk up another win … most of the time it’s the right side … and I step in, along with several other passengers, most of whom I do not know. We stand apart from one another by several inches, each of us having pushed the button to take us back to our dreary little cube-farm worlds.

Time is an illusion of the mind I decide as my eyes linger on the minute hand that never seems to move fast enough to 5:00. I hear the clack-clack, clack-clack of the project manager’s heels heading dangerously in my direction down the hallway. Her square, bulky frame darkens my cubicle door as she thrusts a sheath of papers littered with red ink at me.

“Perryn, The Client finally submitted these changes and we need to return a corrected proof to them by first thing Monday morning.”

My brain explodes with frustration that The Client should have thought of that much, much earlier in the week, but after 9 years in the business I know better than to protest —after all, The Client is Never Wrong. The Client Pays the Bills. The Client doesn’t care about your personal life or your sanity, Perryn! My stomach aches with repressed anger, noting Mary Harris’ smug, half-smile as I take the papers from her hand. I glance quickly thru the changes, assessing the amount of time it will take to complete the task and in a tight, constrained tone I reply “I’ll have it done by then, Mary. This shouldn’t take long”. As she turns and walks away I count to 60, stand up, shove the papers into my laptop case and quickly make my way to the stairs. No elevator games tonight.

***

“Ding, Ding!” The subway doors open and I step into the crisp, cool evening that heralds early spring on the east coast. “Fuck her. Fuck the Client and their fucking last-minute changes. I want a beer.” I sling the laptop case strap over my shoulder, leaning hard into the heavy door of the Sunset Grille as I make my way into the perpetually-dim womb of my favorite dive. My refuge from the irritations and superficialities of the day. Refuge from what once was a stimulating, creative job that somehow morphed into a living hell. The bouncer never bothers to check my ID anymore, he just smiles and says “Welcome Back”. I love him.

“Guiness Stout” I say to Lorraine, hoisting my ass onto the worn vinyl bar stool as I simultaneously hang the computer case on the hook under the counter. Lighting a cigarette while she opens the tap to pour the Guiness I stare into the mirrored back wall of the bar at the reflection of myself.

At 32, Perryn Page was an attractive, auburn-haired single woman whose last long-term commitment ended with his getting another woman pregnant. The string of brief sexual encounters and an internet fling that crashed-and-burned when she discovered that his relationship goals were firmly polyamorous left her disillusioned and disappointed. She loved her condo and enjoyed her privacy. What she lacked was a reliable Friends-With-Benefits.

***
We crack our knuckles, not bothering to look at the perfect laminated picture of ourselves as we move towards the Sunset Grille, our eyes roaming across the tinted windows as we step up the sidewalk and pull the doors open, stepping inside. We don’t hesitate, we merely show the bouncer our ID casually while looking around, waiting for him to get a good look at us to compare…The comparison is made and he steps aside to let us in – the proof is in the writing and the actions, this one is older then he seems.

We approach the bar, not caring to glance at the other passengers on this train to emptyness, a fair-skinned hand reaching for the menu to glance at what’s available. “I’ll have a…Pina Colada, heavy on the vodka.” Something sweet to dull the taste of the alcohol – watching as Mr. ’Hello, My name is Smith’ gives us a double-take before shrugging and preparing to mix the drink.

Aside from our fair skin, we are somewhat normal looking – or so we would like to think. Normal means ’easily forgotten’, though we suppose that we could pass for attractive if we wanted. We stand at Five foot ten, regularly built with hair down to our shoulders. We suppose our eyes are attractive, after all, somthing must have caught Lexy’s attention, and it certainly wasn’t our cleanliness – Our eyes are gray with small hazel rings around the pupils. We tend to stare off sometimes and have our subconcious do our work for us, which also tends to freak people out.

We glance down at the drink in front of us – the thick, white, drink staring us back in the face, taunting us, belittling us. ’Neither of you are man enough to drink me…’, But we are. The drunk next to us looks over at us a moment, laughing, “What are you? Some kind of fairy?” he says, not recognizing that in that instant he had signed his death warrant. Our eyes turned towards him a moment, dark and cold in their precision and for a moment, somthing deep down did recognize that this day would be his last, as something gave him pause. We turned back towards our drink, taking it and bringing it to our lips as we pour the cold liquid down our throats – the tropical flavor greeting our tongues as our blood runs cold. The man is celebrating this being his last day in town. He’s moving. Got a new job. He won’t be missed here, not for a while, at least…No one will remember his passing and will simply believe that he severed all ties that bind. We’d kill him anyway for simply questioning our sexuality because of something so trivial as a drink preference, but that didn’t matter. He was the one.

***

“Here you go, Perryn. Haven’t seen you in a while” says Lorraine as she places a small, square napkin on the bar and then sets the thick, dark brew on it in front of me.

“Not much to tell.” I shrug. “Same ole, same ole. Mary Harris —the bitch— is intent on making my life more miserable than it already is.” I lift the glass to my lips and take a long pull from the beer, it’s frothy head leaves a mustache along my top lip. I reach for another napkin to wipe it off, glance into the mirrored back wall and freeze. The young guy at the end of the bar is standing unnaturally still, his hand poised over a drink and his eyes locked on the man to his right.

Instinctively I am aware that something is not quite right. I set the half-empty glass down and lean forward a bit, whispering “Lorraine? Who is that guy—” my eyes transfixed on the motionless figure of the young man.

Lorraine —a short, rotund woman of indeterminate age— looks over her shoulder and then back at me, casually shrugging while she places another napkin on the bar. “Who, the kid? Dunno. Never seen him before.”

I drain the remainder of my beer and set the glass down. “Another?” she asks, reaching for the empty mug.

Nodding, I light another cigarette and avert my eyes, but there is something … compelling about the character standing nonchalantly at the other end of the bar. “Yeah, neither have I.” Lorraine turns to refill my glass, and I try to locate another point upon which to fasten my attention but as if pulled by some magnetic force I allow myself another look.

He’s staring back at me.

Comments