Your Flame

I’m the only drug you’ll ever need,
the one desire you’ll always feed.
I’m the space between delight and delirium,
burning through rhyme and reason;
a blaze that’ll scorch your soul.

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Message Sent

The room is dark, thick curtains cover the only window; thin lines of light try to peer from around its edges, but for naught. Victoria has been laying on her bed for God-knows how many hours now. She’s not really counting. Her right hand barely feels the hard plastic of her cellphone anymore. The screen is black, silent, but her sight has rarely strayed far from its crystal frame. A nightstand rests loyal next to her bed, the frame of a photo. Jaggy lines on the lower left corner snake briefly into the frame. Victoria is being held from behind by another woman, both are staring at each other, smiling.

She breathes in deeply, as if waiting, then with an index finger, Victoria presses a button. Light explodes amid the darkness, blinding her for a few seconds, but she’s not startled, not anymore. Alas, as before, no news messages, no calls. Nothing. The shadows around her elongate and twist as Victoria’s fingers brush the screen. Her nails are all blunt around the edges, the skin around is red in many spots, looking bloody under the light.

A subtle fragrance of lilacs floats in the air gently, before it used to drown the room, making Victoria’s head spin, but it felt good. Was good. At the thought, she turns her head with some reluctance towards the other side of the bed. Nothing to remember her by. Not even the sour smell of old sweat. Only lilacs and a blank cellphone screen.

Her memories of how it ended were too fresh, too painful. There had been a display of fireworks on the beach near her place, same as when they met, some celebration or another, Victoria could not honestly say for sure now what it was. But how they met? Somehow, that was more vivid in her mind. She also smelled of lilacs on that day.

Three years ago they had bumped into each other, fireworks exploded high above them. Veronica was eating an ice cream cone which promptly rolled down over her favorite red t-shirt. Of course she had to pick chocolate.

“Ohmigosh! I’m so sorry! I was distracted looking at the fireworks and—here, let me!” Veronica had no idea when a handkerchief had appeared on her hand, dabbing it with some spit while trying to grab ahold of Veronica’s t-shirt.

It was the eyes. Windows to the soul, she heard someone said once. Such a cheesy and trite line. But now that she was staring at those two gray pearls, she couldn’t think of anything else but that. “Ohnonono, itsnoproblem, really!”, she was tripping with her tongue, trying to get the words out as fast as she could: get the obligatory dispensations, then say something else. The tugging at her shirt brought eased her down, though her pulse quickened, “Really! It’s ok, you don’t need to—hey!”

“Don’t move, I’ll be done in a second!” She was scrubbing back and forth over the dark brown stain, her hands were quite long and delicate, but they were holding a strong grip over Veronica’s shirt. She wore a small, shy smile, Veronica thought, that could fit a cute porcelain doll. Dimples appeared on both sides.

Before the rest of her dignity went down the drain, Veronica grabbed the woman’s hand to stop her from cleaning anymore. “Thanks.”, she managed to mumble, blushing slightly, not really sure what had gotten into her. “Gotta go. Sorry.”

“Wait. Can I buy you a cup of coffee at least? I know it’s not much, and I’d be pissed if this had happened to me, so…I’ll feel really shitty if I can’t make it up to you somehow!”

Veronica blushed a bit more, her hand brushed her cheek without thinking. It was very warm. “S’ok, really.”

“Please?” The porcelain doll was now making a sad face. It was unbearable.

“Well…ok, but I take decaf. Otherwise I’ll lay all night with my eyes like an owls.” She extended a hand towards the woman, grinning and feeling slightly like an idiot. “I’m Veronica.”

A twinkly appeared on the woman’s gray eyes and her smile somehow managed to, if possible, turn even more endearing. The fireworks were all but a memory now as they continued to explode. “Small world: I’m Veronica too.”

Veronica felt the woman’s hands hands were a bit calloused, but she did not mind. Not mind at all.

Veronica & Veronica. It seemed funny at the time. Two Vs. That is what she remembered from back then. Now, she was the only one here. She tapped the screen a few times, the sound of an old manual typewriter echoed in the room.

I miss you, my favorite letter.
-Your V.

She pressed SEND, staring at the screen until the light from it dimmed, then, finally, went dark, swallowing her once more.

Club Out

Fade into the black canvas of the room,
losing control that you never owned.
Under the lustful watch of wandering gazes,
beyond flicks of tongue that desire your flavour.
Swallow my gasps and maybe you’ll breathe fresh air in this strobing nightmare of primary neons.
Otherwise step aside and choke out of my sight.

Job Interview

“Hey, there you are!”

“Hey…”

“Sorry I’m late, but now I’m here, so…ta-daaa!”

“Yeah. You’re here.”

“Aw, c’mon. I’m not -that- late. Right?”

“…”

“I mean…ok, guess I am, but…you don’t need to get mad about it. Well, maybe a bit, but just a–”

“They didn’t hire me.”

“Oh? Oh, shit…I’m sorry. Damn. But you’re more than qualified for it!”

“I know. They made a point to mention how impressed they were at my resume, over the entire interview.”

“Ok, but did they at least give a reason? Anything?”

“They didn’t have to. From the moment I walked in there and made eye contact, I knew they’d dug up dirt on me. My little trip to the hospital.”

“Those assholes! Isn’t that shit, like, illegal or something?”

“Even if it was, I can’t prove they did it. I just smiled and thanked them for their time.”

“That fucking sucks so much, man. But hey, you always land on your feet, c’mon, I’ll buy you a beer!”

“What’s going on here? Who are you talking to?”

“Oh, sorry officer. I was just talking to myself…”

A Shot of Espresso

The aroma of roasted coffee beans and baked pastries hung in the air like a sweet and extravagant perfume at ‘Moi Noir Paris’ cafe. Patrons sipped lattes, cold-press coffees, and other overpriced caffeinated drinks over the sound of tapping keyboards and mellow jazz.

A tall man and a short man, both wearing long trench coats the color of wet earth, sat in a remote corner, away from prying ears.

“It hadda be done Lou, right? No two ways about it. We get a call from the office, they say a name, boom. That’s that. Nothing else to discuss, right?” Fingers drummed over the table.

“Right, Sal.” Lou had both hands laid flat over the table around a tiny espresso cup.

“‘Course I’m right, Lou! Chrissake…If it hadn’t been us, they would have given it to some fucking animal! We had to take this job, we owed Franccetti that much.”

“May he rest in peace.” Lou rapped softly on the table with his knuckles.

Si…may he rest in peace. Well, better him than us, right? In the end it’s all about respect. Rispetto, see? Now, we’ll get paid and go our separate ways; ciao bella and all that.”, Sal said, scratching his chin with the back of his fingers.

“Respect. Sure.” Lou slowly bent his right thumb until an audible crack rose above the chorus of tapping keystrokes. He repeated the gesture with the rest of his fingers, slowly, without breaking eye contact. Sal only winced at this three times.

“I mean…our fee for this contract’s double the usual rate! Like my ma always used to tell me, ‘Sal, honey, always look on the bright side and good things will come’”

“Mine died when I was four.” Lou said softly. He picked a sugar packet, tore it open and poured its contents in his mouth before crumbling the packet in his hand. Lou loved sugar, but never on his coffee.

“Er…In any case, I’m probably going to buy a sail boat, like the one old Francetti used to have! A beat up one, mind you. Keep myself busy fixing it. Heh, what a swell guy, right? Made a couple of nobodies like us into somebodies.” Sal’s grin almost looked wistful.

Lou simply nodded, his knuckles had turned slightly white. For a second, Sal thought he saw Lou’s hand tremble, but then he opened it, dropping the crumpled bits of paper before resting his hand flat over the table again.

Sal’s eyes went to the crumpled paper then to Lou’s face. “Still…we would have been small fry if we’d stayed with him. Now we’re on to bigger and better things!” Sal’s grin now looked like a monkey’s, all teeth bared, eager to pick a fight.

“Bullshit.”, Lou said flatly.

Sal had slipped his right hand under the table and into his trench coat’s side pocket. “What’s your problem, asshole?”

In reply Lou picked up the small cup in front of him, looking at it, as if trying to ingrain every detail into memory. Giving the tiniest of nods, as if approving something unseen, he slurped the black liquid in the cup and set it back down again with an audible clink.

“You fixing something up. Bullshit” Lou repeated in the same tone.

“Hey, fuck you, alright? Fuck you. I’m good at fixing things.” Sal’s voice had gone up an octave.

“Except a decent cup of coffee back at the office.” Lou split his thin lips into a crooked grin.

Sal’s eyes opened wide before he burst out laughing, uncoiling himself. A few of the younger patrons swiveled their heads in their direction, eyebrows raised. “Idiota. Of all the lousy, shitty jokes to make…” Sal pulled out his hand from the trench coat, using it to give Lou the finger before reaching out to punch him gently on the shoulder.

“It was Franccetti’s. I liked the old guy.” Lou said, still flashing his crooked grin, but his eyes looked away from Sal.

“Me too… Anyways, you want to call it in or should I?” Sal drummed his fingers on the table, trying to recall a song he once heard, but wasn’t hitting the notes right.

“Be my guest.” Lou shrugged, as if it was none of his business. “You tapped him. They’ll probably give you a bonus.”

“Thems the breaks, man. I was always a lucky shot!” Sal said with some false modesty.

“Bang.” Lou winked, making a gun gesture with his hand towards Sal.

“Ok then,” Sal tucked his hand on his left trench coat’s side pocket and pulled out a small black flip cellphone. “I’ll give’em a call on the burner. Just gonna be a block away from here; safer that way. Back in five.”

“Right.”

Sal gulped down the rest of his latte, quickly squeezing Lou’s shoulder on his way out. Lou sat alone with the sound of keyboards and jazz filling his head. He pulled out two black leather gloves from his trench coat and put them on, counted a minute, stood up and headed towards the entrance; his left hand tucked into his trench coat’s side pocket. The sun hung low, making his shadow stretch far and wide as he walked down the street.