He shimmers, slightly in the lamp light, or it could be the sheen from the light drizzle that had plagued our little town for a week now. Either way he was a stranger, and curious to me, as I stood in the doorway of the General, out of sight, in the shadows.
Out of place to be sure, his eyes gleamed brightly as they scanned the empty street, and focused on the rattling soda cups that lay abandoned in the gutter. I shifted my weight slightly, leaning into the lighter darkness on the edge of my stone hiding place, and watched as he stiffened slightly, staring at me in my dimness, first unsure then with intent. I could shrink back into the darkness, but that would mean exposure. I know I’m afraid. It will take time to stop looking over my shoulder, and my physical wounds have yet to heal. I’d settle for a full nights sleep and a good….
“I know you’re there. Might as well come out. You’re too pretty to hide.”
What the mother fuck. Who the hell IS this guy? I don’t respond, instead just focus my attention. Good looking, tall, well-built with hands that look strong, and absolutely nondescript. Except for those gleaming eyes, there is nothing remarkable about him. He is a dead man, without the good sense to lay down and die. I will help him with that. His mouth curves up in a knowing smirk, turning his handsome face into something of a mask of goodwill and evil intentions.
“I’d like to introduce myself properly. Instead of standing out here in this,” he calls out, holding his palms up to the sky and tilting his face upwards, “Glorious isn’t it?”
Glorious? No, it was not glorious. It was wet and cold, and frankly had driven me to the brink of insanity. The only saving grace was the lovely, thickly creeping fog that blanketed the town on most nights – people became silhouettes, darting here and there, dancers in some macabre ballet. I could breathe then, unseen in the dark obscured pathways, until it’s too late.
I slide into the light, and watch his expression change from pleasant to predatory, the creases at the corners of his mouth smoothing out as he becomes calculating and cold. The street remains empty, but for the occasional stray tom on the prowl and the crackling of a plastic bag rolling along with the briny scent of the ocean wind. Up close he appears younger, his hair shaggy and windblown, with the confident air of one who has never suffered. His eyes tell the reality. They are old, so very old, sparkling with dark good humour and ripe with madness.
“Underdressed for such a night, don’t you think?”
I shrug, glancing down at my attire, now spotted with the dampness of the air. True, I was without coat or an umbrella, for good reason, and not his concern. A flapping of fabric finds his overcoat on my bare shoulders, a hand on the small of my back, and I snapped my gaze back up to find him seeking out my eyes.
“Kindly remove your hand or I will remove it for you, at the wrist.” His smirk widens into a smile, and he shakes his head before kissing my forehead.
“Stop that!!” I shout into his face, pushing hard against him and stumbling over my feet, while feeling along my waist band frantically. In his hand, my weapon, its tip waggling back and forth in the meager light.
“Who are you?”
It is more than curiosity now. I need to know his name before I cut his throat. Call it a tick or a drive, it was my own kind of souvenir. His features cramp slightly as the light catches the still fading bruises on my cheeks and jaw line, the swollen lip, and look away, wishing I’d left this one alone.
“I’ve known you forever, and never. Call me your guardian devil, if you require a title. My name is Buer.”
I rated pretty high on the watch list to deserve the Prez himself. Still wary, I cock my head at his outstretched hand, the smooth and unlined palm hardly a shock. “Frankly I expected horns and a sunburn. You hardly fit the mental image. Care to tell me the price I’m intended to pay for such a greeting?”
Buer chuckles at my retort, a sound full of brimstone and dark good humour, and obviously meant to make me uneasy. “Come now, let’s play nice shall we? I’ve given you my name, won’t you give me yours?” Still he stands in the drizzle, that smile on his lips enticing and horrible with his hand out. Shake hands with the Devil? I smile in return, letting the storm in my soul begin to build its chaotic fury. Taking his hand I lean in to whisper in his ear,
“I am Eris.”
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