Monday, September 19, 2011

Night People

From my bedroom window, on the second floor of a three story building I own at a busy city intersection, I can see the diner. Across the intersection from the diner is a bar that stays open late and across from the bar is a hotel. It is midnight and steady rain is falling. When I see the police car pull up to the diner and see Gloria get out I take the freight elevator down to the alley and cross the wet dreary street.

I recognize those in the diner: Rose, a plump waitress, Marty the cook, a cab driver, a red haired transvestite hooker called Cherrybomb, a young female prostitute, a pair of nameless black drug dealers, and Hargrove, a tough looking white guy who did time for robbery and assault.

I wave to Gloria who gets up from a stool at the counter and hugs me. Her blond hair is wet and the damp smell is intoxicating. I step back. She is my height and weight, 5’10”, 150 pounds. She looks beautiful in her blue police uniform. I like the way her lips curve under her straight nose and the sparkle in her blue eyes makes me smile.

“I’ve been thinking about you,” Gloria says. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

“It’s been a year hasn’t it?” Her tongue flicks out and she licks her full lips. “Since your wife left you?”

“I’m over it.” I squeeze her hands with tenderness and she leans into me. I can feel the press of her breasts against my chest.  “I’ve been building the courage to ask you to go out with me. Will you?”

Gloria kisses me on the cheek. “I’ve been hoping you’d ask.”

I catch Hargrove watching us. “He scares me.”

“I’ll make sure he doesn’t give you any trouble.”

I order an egg salad sandwich, French fries, and a pint of milk. When the order comes I leave the diner with Hargrove following.

“Some lousy fucking night, isn’t it pal?” He has a rough voice.

I don’t answer him. I glance back and see Gloria in the doorway of the diner, hands on shapely hips. I always worry that Hargrove, or someone like him, will break into the building some night while I am asleep and rob me and kill me. People have to believe that I have money, lots of it, stashed there. I think of my gun resting on a stand by my bed.

Crossing the street in the rain I peer into the showroom window of my army-navy surplus store, left to me, along with the building, by my father.

I take the freight elevator to the third floor and switch on a light. A naked woman I am holding captive is asleep on a bed in a cage. I keep her drugged to almost unconsciousness. She stirs.

“When will you let me go?” She is sobbing. Her arms encircle her bare chest in a tight grip.

I feel the frown lines in my face harden like cement. “Soon it will be over for you.”

I pass four wooden coffins that are lined along the wall. Three of the coffins hold the gutted and preserved bodies of women I have murdered. There is the faint scent of formaldehyde. In the first coffin is the body of my wife. She never really left me. I grew tired of her and strangled her. The other two bodies were women I attracted and then grew tired of also. I have recently grown tired of the woman in the cage and soon she will occupy the fourth coffin. I plan on constructing a fifth coffin for Gloria, for when the time comes when I no longer find her desirable.

Noise from the door being pried open in the alley entrance of the building startles me. Hargrove, it has to be Hargrove, breaking into the building to rob me.

“Please Gloria, stop him,” I pray, “before he reaches the third floor.” I hold my breath and wait for a gunshot.

The woman on the bed sits up. She is trembling. She seems to be praying too, praying obviously for the intruder to reach her and save her.