This story is dedicated to Phil Western. He helped me edit the content, namely the kill scene, which made for a richer story. He had an unmatched sense of aesthetic and truly understood mood, tone and pace in literature. He was first and foremost a musician, but he was also quite literary. When I went to his home it reminded me of my own: stacks of books were piled high in all directions. It wasn’t widely known, but Phil was working on a memoir when I met him. In fact, I may have been the only one who knew because he was intensely timid about his writing, even though the quality was exceptional – his love for literature shone through in his ability. He sent me a few excerpts and asked my opinion, clearly mortified I’d trash it. But it was gold! I immediately encouraged him to pursue the authorship of an autobiography. I wish I had continuously asked for more pieces because I’d edit and publish it, posthumously. I still have the excerpts and plan to craft them into something when the grief subsides.
W A R N I N G: for mature audiences ONLY
* * contains sex, drugs, violence * * *
SERIOUSLY, turn back …
OK, you were warned.
The Hues of Fear
Victorian furniture hangs upside down from the ceiling. Blood-red baroque sofas. Carved oak tables. Plush chairs outlined in plated gold. The club decor on the floor mirrors the above, except blood soaks the baroque sofas. The tables are carved human-bone. Lacquered eyeballs outline the plush chairs and follow every passerby.
The Lion’s Den, home of Miami’s underground. A haven for heathen posers.
Dark ambient pulsates through the speakers when Clayton arrives. The deep bass rattles his ribs as he waltzes to a table and sits.
Clayton crosses his legs and lights a clove cigarette that he dipped in embalming fluid. He sips a bottle of Zima. He resembles a mix of Marc Almond, Peewee Herman, and a Nagel painting. His lips, painted black, suck at the sweet Djarum Special. His eyes, encircled with black eyeliner, prey upon the dance floor a few feet from where he sits.
Twenty-somethings and teens with fake IDs swing and sway. Clad in lace, velvet, and satin. Leather, latex, and chains. They pop Xanax, snort ketamine, and eat acid. Masked with raccoon eyes and fake lashes and makeup that’s a cross between Halloween and Kabuki. Clayton will eventually have them all. Their desires. Their attention. Their money. Their hopes carved right out of their souls. He will devour them like bonbons and spit out their skeletons like fishbones.
The fog machine unloads a cloud over the dance floor. A woman bites the neck of another woman. Blood drizzles down her long throat. They kiss. The iron pleasure-pain panic wafts to Clayton’s nostrils.
He aims to pounce the dance floor, but a older woman in a satin gown interrupts him. Her black hair brushes against his forearm. He ignores the churn in his gut and puffs harder on the clove. Blows the smoke half in her face, then fans it away with his hand. Pretends it was unintended. Her face layered in gobs of makeup. It peels off and crumbles to the table. She grabs his wrist and yanks it toward her.
“I love your nails,” she says. “How did you get them so pointy?”
He taps his forefinger to his thumb and pulls away. He sized her up the moment she stood in front of him. She’d be a perfect appetizer to the main course. The least attractive give the most energy. He can cultivate it and save it for a pick-me-up when he crashes.
“I’ll show you,” Clayton says.
She twirls her straw in the vodka cranberry that’s halfway done. An ice cube jumps out of the glass onto the floor. She picks it up and chews it.
The music changes from ambient to “Submit to Desire” by Sleep Chamber. Clayton scoffs at the horrid selection.
His eyes shift to two of the most supple, androgynous club goers on the dance floor. Dinner and Dessert. The beautiful and naive always taste the best and last the longest.
“Do you have a car?” he asks.
In one seamless motion, he grabs her hand and presses it against his crotch, while he also pulls out a small bag of cocaine. His glance moves from the dance floor to her face caked in too much powder.
“You’re too hot to say no to,” she says, slips her hand down his pants, squeezes and downs the rest of her drink.
He leans forward and snuffs his clove in the ashtray. “I know,” he says, then stands. Her hand falls from his groin. He walks toward the door. She follows. They pass the deejay booth. The black lights reveal all the cat hair on her black stockings. Her desperation billows from her aura in plumes of grey. His psyche rolls it into a ball—only visible to him—and stashes it in the corner of his mind.
They get into her car. Clayton grabs her throat and shoves his tongue in her mouth. He pushes her into the seat, thrusts his body against hers. He pulls away and sits up. Chops a line of coke on a Dali’s Car CD case. Holds a straw to his nose and snorts it. He cuts a line from another baggie. Hands it to her. He spots her purse on the floorboard.
“Let’s move to the backseat and fuck,” he says.
She tries to move but can’t. She tries tell him but can’t. She clasps her throat with both hands and hyperventilates. Her body convulses. She hiccups blood and spit. He pulls her hands from her throat and restrains them while staring into her dilated eyes. He watches the light in them fade. Dimer and dimer, it flickers. The hues of fear run out of her eyes in reds and purples as the tears stream. Clayton catches them with his eyes and channels the energy into his brain. Blue and black bands of sorrow and regret shoot out of her ears. He chomps at them with his mouth, the licorice flavor coats his tongue, then he pushes the raw emotion up and into his skull. He smashes his tongue into her nostrils to suck out the last bit of hopelessness. It’s sour. He clamps harder on her wrists as she writhes and kicks. Her poison-induced paroxysm turns Clayton on. He takes one of her hands and shoves it down his pants. Its vibration from her conniption fit stiffens his death-obsession. He reaches down and jacks himself off with her quaking hand. Bitten-jagged fingernails claw the hardness. He softens, unfazed. Grabs her purse, opens her wallet, and takes the $93 in cash. She gurgles and chokes on her own phlegm and bile. Her body goes limp. She wheezes in shallow breaths. He exits the car. Peers through the driver’s side door at the elder goth wearing too much makeup who was too eager to fuck him. He inhales her colorless soul through the glass window. It enters his body in one, long breath. He orgasms in his pants.
He goes back into the club where everyone is too high and drunk to notice he just killed a woman for kicks. For psychic energy. For survival.
The club lights spiral around the room. Clayton orders a bottle of Zima. He eyes the two androgynous creatures still dancing. Pulls out a mirror from his pocket and applies more black lipstick.