Lady Night

I knew it was her. The rain was pouring down, and the neon lights were reflected in the wet pavement. I saw her through the tinted glass as the car drove by.
       It was going to be one of these nights. A night with demons emerging from the gates of Hell. I tried to force myself to think of sunny days, but rain from a leaden sky was all I got.
       I decided to go to the bar on the street-corner. You could see the interior through the big windows all along the facade. Inside in the naked light, empty walls with no decorations or pictures were on display. There were no costumers; it suited me well.
       I entered.
       The waitress was sweet.
       “You look desolate,” she said emphatically. “What do you want?”
       I stooped. What did I want?
       “A cup of coffee,” I said without looking up. “Black.”
       I needed to stay awake; I dared not sleep.
       I considered if I should talk to the pretty woman, make her a suggestion. But to what avail? She’d just burn her wings, and vanish in dust.
       She sat down on a chair and leaned back, knees crossed. I don’t know if she looked at me; I didn’t look at her.
       I sat on my barstool, concentrating on my coffee for five minutes, ten minutes. Then I asked for a new one.
       “You seem to need it,” the waitress said.
       “I certainly do.”
       Not much of a conversation. I smoked a cigarette while I finished my coffee. No use hanging around there anymore. I raised from the barstool and headed for the door.
       At the door, I hesitated. I saw my reflection in the glass. It was dark outside. I was scared, but I didn’t want the waitress to know, so I stepped out into the rainy darkness with a sudden jerk.
       The flickering night-lights chopped my thoughts into fragments. How could she be here now? And why? I would go home if I knew I could find peace there. Instead, I went to the red-light quarter. What would I do there? The last thing I wanted was a hooker.
       A young girl looking older than her age confronted me.
       “ I can make you happy,” she said. “Why don’t you come with me?”
       “Happy,” I thought. “What do you know!”
       I looked up and caught her eyes. I fixed my gaze on her; maybe a little too long. She stepped two steps back with horror in her face. Then she ran to a small group of girls standing at the corner. She gesticulated towards me, and I could hear in her voice that she was crying. The other girls talked calmly to her and sent angry looks in my direction. They then seeped away around the corner.

There she was. Again. The car with the tinted glass passed slowly by me, turned right at the next corner, and disappeared. This time it returned, it had just driven around the block. She stopped the car, say ... ten yards from where I stood. The door was opened, then nothing.
       Was it an invitation? No, rather a trap. I lit a smoke and waited. Nothing happened. I finished the cigarette and tossed the butt to the pavement. At that moment a white hand came out of the car door and closed it with a silent thump. The car started, drove away, and didn’t come back.
       I realized I wouldn’t find peace staying out in the streets, so I might as well go home. To postpone the inevitable, I decided to go through St. Andrew’s Park.
       It was a relief to leave the lights and the traffic behind. I sat on a bench at the lake. The water was pitch-black. I leaned back and closed my eyes to calm my inner turmoil. When I opened them, I saw a faint light on the surface. As it grew stronger, I could see that it was her in a bright summer dress, laughing and jumping with joy. The image remained for a minute or so, then faded into a bright spot. The evening star, I knew. An angel sent from The Holy Mother. I said a silent thankful prayer and went for the exit.

I should have known it wouldn’t last. Nighttime is the right time for magic to come alive. I should have stayed on that bench until the daylight came. As soon as I entered into the lights and the noises, alarm rose in me, knocked me down like a hammer. I tucked the collar around my ears and hurried the last bit of way to my home.
       When I opened the door, I was met with the scent of her perfume. Nobody was there, nothing had been touched. I kept everything in relative order, and the room was easily overlooked.
       I went into the bathroom to splash some cool water on my face. When I looked in the mirror I saw my face, the skin falling from the bones. Despite my broken eyes, I could still see my naked skull in the mirror.
       It gradually became replaced with her beloved face. Pale skin, black hair, and the mouth painted with a dark red lipstick. She made a motion with her hand to make me come closer. She pursed her lips as to a kiss. How could I resist. I felt her soft lips, then I withdrew. The mirror was blank, I didn’t see her, I didn’t see myself, but a red mark from her lipstick remained on the glass.
       “By-y,” I heard her voice say in a passionate tone. The lipstick mark in the mirror moved in accordance with the words.

       “By-y. See you the next time.”

Copyright © 2020 John Hyldgaard
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