When the Blade (as he secretly called himself) felt blue, he liked to relax behind the old splintery cabin, where his three Darlings were buried, and feel the power of their vanished lives pulse through him. It was quiet in the shade of the laurel oaks, and on lonely evenings the Blade pretended that his Darlings lived with him, with their cries and pleadings and wet fearful eyes. His kingdom was small, twenty feet by twenty feet, and he ruled over only three subjects. But he ruled over them completely, life and body and soul.
Today, with his portable tape recorder playing a worn Beach Boys cassette and the clear harmony of “God Only Knows” drifting up into the oaks, he sat down between two of the unmarked graves: one of the mouthy carrot-topped girl from Louisiana who had fought so hard, the other the young woman from Brownsville who had cried the whole time and hardly deserved to be a Darling at all. He had selected a new Darling, a prime choice. But fear made his spit taste like smoke, because he had never wooed near Port Leo, much less wooed anyone… famous.
He had followed her for a daring ten minutes yesterday, sweat tickling his ribs, idling near her in the grocery store while she shopped with the big-shouldered boyfriend who had brought her to Port Leo. The Blade didn’t like the boyfriend named Pete, not one bit, although he liked to think about all the mischief that Pete had been up to, starring in those nasty movies. The Blade had eavesdropped in the grocery, pretending to inspect the jug wines, while the couple selected beer. She fancied Mexican beer, one that folks drank with a lime slice crammed down the neck of the bottle, and he wished he knew its taste; but Mama didn’t let him drink. The Blade hoped they would talk about sex, being their vocation, but Pete and his Darling talked about grilling shrimp, the rainy autumn, how irritating his Godzilla-bitch ex-wife was.
His Darling’s voice sounded edgy, and impatient. I’m tired of us sneaking around this town and you pissing off these dumbasses. Let’s go to Houston to write your movie. I’m in big favor of Plan B. The hint that his Darling was making a movie, here in Port Leo, tightened his throat with desire. The boyfriend muttered no. Then she’d said Jesus, let this crap with your brother go.
The sweet agony of being close to her flamed into fear. He’d grabbed a gallon of cheap cabernet in terror and bolted for the checkout lines, crowded with new winter Texans. He’d fled to the cereal aisle and shoved the jug behind the Cheerios and waited until his Darling and her boyfriend left the store before leaving.
They hadn’t seen him, known him.
Pete was writing a movie? He didn’t think that the films those two did involved screenwriting; didn’t they just point the camera, clamber on the bed, and do their artful moaning and thrusting with all the sincerity of professional wrestlers?
Last week he had driven into Corpus Christi when he learned that his soon-to-be Darling did movies, of an extremely dubious sort. He frequented adult bookstores, driving the two hours to San Antonio or the thirty-odd miles to Corpus Christi, avoiding the few establishments that were too close to Port Leo along the ribbon of Highway 35, never going to any single store too often, paying with bills worn thin from lying under Mama’s mattress. He never asked the clerks for recommendations—he didn’t want to be remembered—and tried to fit in with the faceless men who wandered the too-brightly lit aisles of the porn stores. He was unremarkable; just another lonely guy with eyes only for the bosomy models on the video covers.
His research uncovered she had only acted in a few movies; she had directed far more. He almost felt proud of her. On his last jaunt, off the sale table, he bought a video she had headlined five years ago, her last acting job. She went by the name Velvet Mojo, an appellation the Blade found tasteless. The tape was called Going Postal. He suspected the post office would receive a satirical treatment. Perhaps even a deliciously violent treatment. But the movie disappointed. No violence. And while his Darling was versed in erotic tricks involving stamps that made his tongue go dry, her friend Pete performed with her which seemed… wrong. The Blade watched them couple again and again until the world’s edges grew soft and his mind napped. He heard Mama cursing. He awoke, he felt bleary and offended. She deserved rest with the pleasure of his company.
He could save her from this sordidness. He would.
That little shady spot under the old bent oaks, it would be perfect for her. But winning her would be tricky. Wooing other Darlings and avoiding suspicion had been easy: Louisiana and Brownsville and Laredo were far away. She was within a mile or so. And he would have to wait; he could not truly enjoy her now, but he could in a few days. His hunger sharpened, and he imagined her lips, speckled with her own blood, tasted of copper and strawberries.
The Blade stood with resolve. He would make her his. But first he would have to make sure that no one cared if she was gone.
© Jeff Abbott» Buy “A Kiss Gone Bad” and read more now!