I wrote this story for M's birthday. M is a wonderful soul, and she let me post it on my blog here, for all of you to enjoy. Or did she?
Lilly and Damien came out of the restaurant. It was close to midnight and the streets were empty. The leaves rustled in the trees with the warm breeze, and as she slung her arm through his, she said "I think I overate", and then burped. "You always say that", Damien laughed. "And then you still have room for ice cream". "True", Lilly conceded. They walked quietly for a while, breathing in the sweet smell of spring, mixed with smells of cars that had passed there during the day, of street food and of dog shit. They always take this route back home. It is just long enough for them to digest all that food, right before they get to the ice cream parlor next to their apartment building. Lilly burped again. "sorry", she said, but she didn’t mean it. "You're so gross", Damien laughed again. "I love it". He pulled out a clean handkerchief from the pocket of his fancy suit. "Here", he offered it to her, "you're dripping at the corners". She took it from him and wiped her mouth, then shoved it back into his pant pocket.
They crossed a street, and then Damien stopped. Lilly waited a moment. "'Sup?". Damien hesitated. "Weird", he said. "I've been through here a dozen times, first time I see this alley". "So?" she said, craning her head towards the darkened alley mouth, to see what's so interesting to make him stop there. "Want to go check it out?" he said. "We'll get the ice cream later". "Onward!" she cried, dragging him forward and into the alley. The alley was darker and quieter than the street they were walking on before. It was completely empty, and it reeked of cigarettes. All they could hear was the clacking of the gamblers behind barricaded windows. "let's see what's at the other end", they said together, then burst out laughing. After all these years, this happened to them all the time now. She held his hand and they walked into the darkness. The alley continued for another twenty yards and came to an abrupt stop at a tall wall. At the bottom of the wall was a pile of old rags and junk. "How disappointing", he said. "I thought there'd be something… I dunno… interesting here". "Oh, but there is", she answered in that know-all voice she sometimes liked to pull on him. "It's us. It's always us". The air felt denser there, as if it was being compressed by the darkness, and he felt like he was hearing her through a closed door. He looked at her. her mouth contorted into a smile. He adored that smile. So glamorous! The smile kept growing, the corners of her mouth reaching to her ears.
"Now?" he asked. "You want to do this here? now?". She opened her huge mouth as if to roar. A loud hiss came out through sharp glowing fangs. He took off his jacket and put it neatly on the pile of rags. Under the jacket he had nothing on but a sleeveless shirt, worn from use and wash. He flexed the muscles in his arms, happy to feel the air on them again. His graying hair was coming out of the neat tie that was taming it all evening. Their eyes were locked as they circled each other, their moves like an ancient warrier dance. Between them, a faint light was beginning to shine, like a tiny ball of iridescent plasma. "Are you going to do it right here?" came a whining voice. They stopped, her mouth going back to its human size again, his hair settling back to its neat composure. "Wha'?" she said, her voice high and comical. "Who there?". The pile of rags and junk moved a bit and revealed a dirty man. "If you think you going to do your dirty things here, then think again! This is my spot and I need my sleep", he ranted. The couple looked at him and started to laugh. Light was glinting off her perfect teeth and the old man suddenly had a terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. "are you going to eat me?" his voice quivering with age and fear and he wasn't sure why he even asked that. "Nah man", said Damien. "We already ate. Didn't realize there was someone here, sorry to bother you". He picked up his jacket from the pile that was the old man and carried it in one hand, the other touching Lilly on her shoulder. "Let's go", he said. "I'll get you some ice cream". "Okay", came the high-pitched answer, and they left the alley, as the old man was settling back to sleep.
They left the alley and turned down the street. "I love this city", Lilly mused. "So much nice food, so much entertainment!". "Can't have food without entertainment", Damien said. "It makes everything taste better". Then he fell silent. They walked on more quietly now, deep in thought about food and entertainment, and maybe also about wild dances and hair coming loose and balls of light.
Soon they arrived at the ice cream parlor. The lights were still on, and a few late-night goers were inside. As Damien and Lilly came in, everybody fell silent. The girl at the counter stopped what she was doing, and just stood there and stared at them, her eyes growing wide. Damien walked up to her. "Good evening, my dear", he said, smiling charmingly. "Two servings of your Ruby Red, if you please". The girl swallowed hard and nodded.
She finished serving the woman who had waited patiently until now and hadn't said a word as Damien broke into her turn. Then, she got out from behind the counter, taking off her apron and leaving it on the counter as she walked towards the table where Lilly and Damien were sitting. The rest of the customers stayed where they were sitting or standing. Nobody made eye contact. Nobody left the place.
The street outside was empty, and so nobody heard the screams. They went on for quite a while, and as they finally stopped, Lilly and Damien came out again into the warm night. "Give me that handkerchief again, will you?", Lilly asked. Her voice was thick now and she moved heavily, like someone who had gone passed overeating and straight through blatant pigging-out. “I love having ice cream after dinner”.