Relentless, eternal youth, like my body was cased in plastic, preserved. An everlasting sheen.
No fear. The relentless thirst, and the unfurled talent for satiating it, the fingers strong as eagle talons, legs and lungs as powerful as the sky predator’s wings, they carry me faster than my prey.
Abstinence did not spring from memory, for that was a mental faculty I did not exercise.
In the Jardin de Luxembourg I watched one night, under the shade of an overbearing willow. I watched the last traces of the sun leave the sky I watched the picnickers pack their baskets, pour out the last bits of wine into their paper cups. I heard a murmur, the crickets, the wind in the trees, but that day the murmur turned to a moan, a decrying of the heaviness.
One group dispersed, leaving a couple. The man was a bit older, his skin pallid and his lips red. He chatted to a sprig of a girl. He was built stocky, but the second birth had cut the fat from his waist. The massive shoulders on the trim waist gave him the build of a boxer, a crusher. His chin was heavy with steel colored stubble. I could smell the pheromones he was releasing; they sung to her nose and she lifted her little chin, taking in the musk. I saw him nod his head. “Let’s get away. Go somewhere quiet.”
She popped up, as eager as a crocus sensing spring. Her sundress was striped yellow and blue. His eye held amusement, like a cat holds a mouse. He followed her up, his heavy arm cupping her waist, bearing her forward. The smell of her, the innocence and belief and joie de vivre amused me and I followed in the shadows of the trees, crushing some peonies to stay in the shadows.
“Chez moi,” she said, “Is simple. You will like it though. I have done things with the flowers.”
“Flowers,” he said. “I’m not a flower man.”
She laughed gaily, and promised that these flowers were so exceptional, even those who weren’t flower people would become flower people.
They traipsed across the curves of cobblestone, her trainers tip tiping along where his heavy boots clanked into the stone. He turned, his eye a ruby bead, and looked me in the eye. “Not sharing,” his eye said. “Find your own.”
My eyes said nothing. I did what I wanted.
He reached her apartment, green door, gray painted staircase. He flashed a gash of a smile at me and shut the door behind him. I leapt to the drain pipe, as easy as a leopard, and climbed. They were in her room and she talked about the flowers. “They must be fresh. I don’t think anyone notices, but I take them from the park. Nobody minds, there are so many there.”
He is behind her, sampling the bouquet before he drinks, holding the scent in his heavy nose. I too smell it, the passion she has flowers, her confidence of one hundred springs like this one, and I try to enter through the window.
No. It is barred to me. She has invited him.
Around her are vases. Some are in the window, and some are on the yellow table and three or four are set in the corners of the counter.
“Shall I weave you a crown?”
She takes some of the stems, daisys, wild susans, and sprigs of baby’s breath. She sits quickly in the green painted chair. She murmurs to herself, an almost song, as her quick fingers weave the green lines.
The groaning of the crickets turns into a ratcheting scream. The wind rushes and moans like the mother of a lost child. I feel it swirl about me on my perch, I see the flowers crane, and for a moment I feel the earth gaping open, a black chariot is riding forth!
He bears down, dropping his weight into her, the teeth hitting and cleaver the tendons and flesh on her shoulder. She falls to the floor, spasms. Somehow a chair has fallen, the flowers on the table are unvased, a disarray.
He sucked for a long time, even after she was dry. This wheel, the big fish eating the little ones. How I hated it in that moment.
I found a rake in the yard and broke its shaft across my knee. When he came out of the door, slightly drowsy from his drink, I popped out from behind an azalea. I guided the wood into his heart, and watched as her blood leaked out of him.
He grunted, “What the . . .”
I said, “You know, I really hate us. We suck.”
Then he fell to the ground. The crickets subside into silence. The wind ceases. I recover the splintering shaft and head out. Twice more that night I end a thirst. I like it.