Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"CAT & MOUSE" (1988/'93)

The blade that shot out from the woman’s hand slices through the soft skin on the punker chick’s throat like butter. Blood flows out in a wave, pouring down her shirt. She stands for a moment till her knees buckle, dropping her to the floor. In a flash her short life zips by finishing with her impatience to get into the club’s one toilet, only
to find the woman with a big skinhead’s blood on her face, the skinhead looking like he’d given it all.
Then the floor rushes up and hits the punker chick in the face.

“Fuck off, Jack!” Suzi jumps off her bar stool into the swelling crowd of clubbies. Jack turns back to his drink, chiding himself for his petty jealousy. After all, he knew from the beginning that she is a “free spirit”, as they used to say, and would see (i.e. fuck) anyone she chose. But he really likes her (never admit more) and it bugs him
that she sleeps with all comers.
Jack is so busy with his reverie that he doesn’t notice the enigmatic woman, dressed in New York black, slide up and sit in Suzi’s vacated seat.
But she notices him. She studies him for a moment. Then, leaning forward, “Ohhh, why the long face?”
Jack blurts out a startled “Huh?”
“Why you so sad?” she queries in her slight accent.
Jack studders uhs and wells and such.
She laughs. “Has the cat got your tongue?”
Jack laughs nervously. “No, no, it’s just, well...I just had an argument with my...girlfriend.” (Ooh, bad move that.)
“Tsk, tsk,” (sultry, so sultry) “you shouldn’t take things so seriously. Life is to enjoy, not waste on small problems.”
Jack forces a laugh. “I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course I am right.” A very persuasive “Trust me. I have seen much of life,” wistful “and death, and I know.”
“Oh, come on.” Jack the Gallant. “You’re pretty young to be sounding so old.”
As from deep within the earth, she looks deeply into his eyes, a wry smile just touching her blood red lips, “I’m much older than I look.”
“Yeah, how ol...?” (Mistake #2 only just avoided.) “Sorry, I forgot myself.” (Then reinforced.)
“That’s all right liebchkin. No harm.”
Jack is swept up into a killer pause. The woman just smiles.
Jack suddenly regains consciousness. “So, uh, you wanna join me for a drink?”
“I never drink...liquor.”
“Oh?” Jack puzzles. “Then what brings you to the bar?” He throws out a laugh (again).
The blood rushes to his head. “Uhm, so, what’s your name?” he studders.
Jack’s in trouble. “Ersha...bee...”
“You can say the English. Elizabeth.”
“Oh. Thanks. Elizabeth. I’m Jack.” (Such a conversationalist.)
She draws up close to him. “Hello, Jack,” she purrs.
Jack feels the desire to say something clever, but nothing comes of it.
“So, liebchkin, you live near?”
“Huh?” he blurts. “Uh, yeah, not too far.” His stomach becomes numb as the next question rises to the surface. “You wanna, uh, go to my...“ (swallow) “...place?”
Now the blood rushes from his head and swells in his crotch.
“Well, shou..you want to, uhm, go now?”
She laughs deep in her throat. “Yes.”
She slides off her seat. He does likewise, fumbles for a moment, then motions for her to precede him to the door.
Once outside, Jack hails a cab.
As the cab careens along, Elizabeth watches Jack fidget. Twirling her fingers in her hair, she asks “What is the matter, lover? Afraid I bite?”
Jack laughs, “No, no, it’s just...” he looks at her “well, I’m not real good at this sort of thing.”
Now Elizabeth laughs, “Don’t worry, you will do fine.”
After what seems like an eternal silence to Jack the cab pulls up
in front of his apartment building. Jack pays the driver, and they get out.
In the lobby Jack stops a moment.
“Yes?” Elizabeth asks.
Jack hedges. “Well, I, uh, we...I’m afraid we have to...walk up...six flights. I’m really sorry,” he gushes out.
“No problem,” she says calmly. “You want to race?”
“Huh?” Jack is thrown. “Uh, sure.”
They cross to the foot of the staircase.
“On the count of three?” ventures Elizabeth.
They both run upthe stairs, Elizabeth taking them easily, Jack stumbling a bit.
Elizabeth quickly outdistances Jack. By the fourth floor he is terribly winded, struggling to keep running. She is nowhere in sight.
Jack finally pulls himself to the sixth floor landing, panting heavily. He sees Elizabeth standing easily against the wall, no sign of fatigue.
He struggles, between breathes, to say “You...a track...star...or...some... thing?”
She just laughs. (A lot of that.) Jack leads her down the hallway to his door, which he unlocks and opens, letting her enter ahead of him. She walks into the darkened apartment without the slightest hesitation. Jack switches on the overhead light.
Jack walks into the closet cum kitchen. “You wanna drink...oh, right, you don’t drink. Well, I also have...” he opens his refrigerator (if it could be called that) and looks in at — two beers, left over Mcie D’s, and a glass of water, “...water?”
“I will have something...later,” as she circles the room, moving her hands over everything.
“Hope you don’t mind if I have one,” as he opens a beer.
“Not at all.”
Jack exits the kitchen, finds Elizabeth reclining on the sofa (his bed).
“Join me lover?”
“Yeah, sure.” His groin swells again.
He crosses to her. He has butterflies (more like swirling snakes) in his stomach. He takes a swig of beer and sits next to her. She pulls him into her arms.
“So, tell me about your little girlfriend.”
“What?” (What is this leading to?)
“I saw you argue.”
“Oh, yeah. Well, she, uh, we aren’t really serious.” (Uh, well, she isn’t that is).
“No? Why not?”
“Well, she likes to see other guys, and I see other girls...” (correction) “... women.”
“Yah.” He “opens up” “Like this drummer she just met. She’ll sleep with him tonight.”
“You don’t sound happy. “
“Oh, I don’t care.” (Liar!) “It’s her life.”
“Why you with her? You need someone to take care of you.”
“Hey, I can take care of myself.” (Oh, and what a lovely job you're doing.) “Anyway, I write poetry, and she puts music to it. So it’s a working relationship."
“Why’re you so interested in her?”
“I am interested in you.”
She pulls his head back by his hair and kisses him. He drops his beer. His heart pounds. They kiss long and hard. He fumbles to undo her top. He gets his hands underneath to find no bra, her breasts firm, her nipples cold and hard. There is something odd about her skin, but he barely gives it a moments notice. (He’s going to get laid!)
She pulls his head back farther, kisses his throat. He doesn’t see her draw back her lips, and how sharp her pearly white teeth are. She rips his flesh with them. He yells and jumps off the couch, feeling the broken skin.
“What the fuck?” He looks at his hand and sees the blood on it. He steps back.
“What do you think you are, a vampire?”
“I am from Transylvania.”
“Great joke, lady!”
She laughs, unforced, “Are you afraid, lover?” She stands.
He takes two steps backwards, “Of course not.”
She moves forward suddenly, making him back up too fast, and fall over a chair. He scrambles to his feet, panicking for a moment, then regaining some (very little) of his composure.
“Now. . .
She laughs, advances on him slowly. He backs away.
“Getting a little kinky on a first date, don’t you think?”
Elizabeth mocks a pout. “Oh, come here lover.”
Jack stops with his back to the wall. She draws the tip of her tongue around her lips.
His mind searches for a way out. (So polite.) It grasps something. He opens the door.
“I need to borrow ice from a neighbor,” then he’s out, slamming the door behind him.
Jack hauls ass down the stairs, to the fourth floor. He runs up to a door and knocks frantically.
Seconds pass like hours, jack watches the stairs, listening to every sound. He knocks again.
A groggy voice from behind the door, “It’s Jack.” The door opens a crack, a sleepy man’s face sticks out. “What’s up, Jack?”
Jack being loud and quiet at the same time “Mark, can I come in?!”
Mark gazes at him a moment, follows his frantic look to the stairs, then opens the door, letting Jack enter.
Inside the apartment, which is the same as Jack’s, though more thoughtfully furnished, Kathy turns on a light, then asks “What happened? Another fight with Suzi?”
Jack leads Mark away from the door. He speaks in a hushed tone as he begins to explain, “I brought this girl home...”
“Jack!” Kathy disapproves. “And where’s Suzi?”
“We had an argument. Then I met this girl...er, woman. I think she’s crazy!”
“Why?” wonders Mark, “because she came home with you?”
“Look at this!” Jack shows them the scratches on his throat.
Kathy sighs, “God, Jack, one psycho after another.”
“Hey!” is Jack’s paltry protest.
“Well, you do pick some strange ones,” throws in Mark.
Jack tries to protest further, but can think of no defense. Finally he asks “so can I stay here till she gives up and leaves?”
Mark laughs, Kathy sighs and shakes her head.
There is a knock at the door. Jack freezes. Kathy frowns. Mark lifts his eyebrows. Mark starts towards the door, but Jack stops him.
“No, don't, it's her."
“Get a hold of yourself,” Mark losing patience. “How would she know where you are?”
Mark crosses to the door.
“Calm down, Jack.” Kathy begins to see the humour. “We won’t let the vampire get you.”
Mark looks through the peephole. No one in sight. He turns back to Jack and Kathy.
“No one there.” He takes a few steps. “Must’ve been a mistake.”
The door bursts in, splintered wood flying into the air.
“Hey!” is all Mark can manage.
Elizabeth moves right up to him, backhands him across the face with such force, that his neck snaps audibly. He bounces off the wall and drops to the floor.
Kathy opens her mouth to scream, but Elizabeth is upon her, grabbing her by the lyrinx, crushing it, and lets her crumple to the floor.
Jack clambers out a window onto the fire escape. He runs down the steps. He slips and almost falls, grabbing onto the railing to right himself. He doesn’t see Elizabeth fall past on her way to the ground. He hears her laugh, and looks back up, but cannot see her.
“Come on, loverboy,” she calls to him.
He becomes confused, looks down, and sees Elizabeth standing on the pavement below, looking up at him. She laughs deep in her throat.
He is stunned, the fact of what he sees taking moments to penetrate his consciousness.
Then he freaks.
He spins around looking for a way out, stops, staring wild-eyed at the adjacent window. He throws himself through it.
Jack hits the floor hard. The apartment he so gracefully entered is pitch dark. He scrambles on the floor to where he hopes the door is.
The overhead light comes on, revealing a shivering old man, who stares wide-eyed at Jack.
Jack throws out a “Sorry,” sees the door, jumps up to it, fumbles with the locks, gets the door open, and runs out, slamming the door behind him.
Jack hops down the last flight of stairs, pulling up short in the lobby. Flattening himself against the wall he cautiously peers out the front door.
He hears Elizabeth whisper (as if in his ear) “Ja—a-ack.” He looks about him frantically, but she is nowhere in sight. He slowly inches his way to the door. Then on the front steps he sees her ascending. He vaults down the hallway to the back door.
He opens the door just enough to stick his head out. The back alley is deserted. Jack runs out, down the alley and out into the street.
He sprints down the street. After a few blocks he slows down and looks back, panting heavily. The street is empty. He walks over to the nearest stoop and sits down, trying to catch his breath. He watches the street.
A cat meows behind him. “Don’t bother me, little one,” he warns. He feels it rub against his back. He turns to shew it away, and finds himself face to face with Elizabeth.
Jack screams and jumps up. Elizabeth grabs his shirt, which rips as he shoots headlong down the street.
As he runs Jack looks for help. It is amazing to see no one in sight. He knows banging on the front door of an apartment building will get him nowhere.
At an intersection he spies a police car parked down the cross street. He stumbles in his attempt to change direction. As he starts for the police car Elizabeth rises up from behind a parked car and crosses between him and it.
Jack grabs his hair, groans, turns and runs in the opposite direction.
His heart pounding, he blindly runs, on and on, for what seems like many miles.
Finally, his lungs bursting for air, dragging his feet, he collapses.
He lays on the ground, face down, hyperventilating.
He strains to raise his head. He rolls over onto his back, and stares, his eyes glazed over, up at the sky.
He slowly focuses on graying heavens. He blinks a few times, uncomprehending. Then gradual realization seeps into his mind.
He sits up. He looks at the horizon.
Sunrise. He stands up and squints at it to be sure.
Yes. The sun is rising.
“Yaaahoooo!!!“ he cries. “Here comes the sun, here comes thé sun, and it’s airight,” he sings (don’t give up your day job!). He dances around like a fool (what else?).
Finally, he plops down on his ass to watch the morning glory.
“It’s all over”, he laughs.
He leans back into arms that wrap around him like an iron maiden. He lets out a yelp, struggling uselessly. Elizabeth holds him fast.
“Ohhhh, I can hear your sweet blood flowing,” ecstatic anticipation.
She bites his ear, drawing blood. He screeches, thrashes violently, to no avail. Her blade comes up slicing his jugular vein.

A limo driver stands by his parked vehicle looking down on a couple embraced on a beach, as the sun brings on a new day.

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