Tuesday, May 16, 2006

White hands

Scratch fiction topic tag: Frank
He looked an upright man. Frank fastened his collar, trying a smile in the mirror. Not the slow smile he wore at at night, walking softly into the woods, down past the Stankas farm, looking out for the glow of her white skin against the tree trunks. This was the smile of a young Bible scholar, a public smile, wise and open.

Frank looped his tie over, mouthing his speech silently into the mirror. People would stop on the street to listen, he was sure. He levelled his own gaze at his reflection: he had it just right, a perfect note of friendly compulsion.

Frank stood on the street corner, elevated on an apple crate, Bible in one hand. The workday ending, buildings vomiting out their collection of lost and broken humans. Frank raised the hand holding the Good Book, and opened his mouth to speak.

Years later, people would remember that day. A secretary told her daughter how his hair shone in the dying sunlight, how his face seemed lit from inside. She was late getting home, but she had to stop, as though she had lost the reins of her own body, slowly her head turned to listen. A banker gave up his job that day and became a minister, for the rest of his life telling his flock about the man holding the Bible above his head, how his words burned to the center of the banker's soul, reducing his former life to ashes in an instant. The janitor on his way to clean the school felt the young man's voice pull away all of his artifice; he stood naked at the feet of the man on the apple crate, his sins exposed. Naked, the janitor moved closer to the the man, warming himself in the flame of righteousness.

It was dark when Frank got home, apple crate in one hand, Bible in the other. He felt light and empty as a toy balloon. He would tell her everything, how hundreds of faces turned up to drink him in, how a streetful of strangers worshipped at his feet.

Frank slipped past the tree with the rope swing, the corn house, the barn, trailing his hand across the rough stones of the wall bordering the Stankas farm. The blueberries were ripe, hanging heavy over the wall; Frank took a handful to offer her.

He saw her through the trees, white hands moving in the dark, white neck bent, she danced to music he couldn't hear, dark hair falling across her face. She stopped at the sound of his step, shoe scraping over stone. Her black eyes pinned him where he stood.

Frank opened his mouth to tell of his triumph, to tell the beginning of great things, all of it was there, waiting, behind his breath, but though his news built and pushed, out of his open mouth came nothing.

She smiled at him, the only smile she had.

She reached out her hand and opened his, the blueberries staining his palm. With one more look up at Frank, eyes shining like black stars, she leaned over his hand, taking the blueberries into her mouth, her lips soft against his palm, breath hot, her tongue traveling his lifeline.

Frank shuddered, his mouth opening, he looked up at the trees stretching above him, moving against black sky.

The blueberries gone, all traces lapped up, still she didn't stop, she opened her mouth wider than the world, and bit.

She straightened up at last, white hands pushing back her hair, licking her lips.

The next evening, a thousand people pushed against each other on the street corner where Frank had preached the day before, all of them speaking of the man on the apple crate, Bible in hand. An hour passed, two; dinners burned and wives looked anxiously through curtains for husbands who were never so late. As the earth slowly turned its face toward night, the crowd dispersed, whispering sadly to each other as though they were leaving a funeral.

The last of the hopeful finally bending their steps toward home, a young boy caught something out of the corner of his eye. He reached for his father's sleeve, to tell him the man had shown at last, but it was only a woman, white hands brushing dark hair from her face.


monkey 0 said...

you give us chills, c.b., you and your lady, eyes shining like black stars...

Fence said...


I like.

anne said...

Very... Very. Really.
And I really like how, until the "feast", I expected him to be a bad guy. Also very clever, then.

Chemical Billy said...

I live to chill and creep you, friends.

Anne, even now, I don't presume to know who's the good guy and who the bad.

King Mongo said...

A man's got to feel safe before he lets a woman eat his berries.

At least one goddamned thing I took from prison that prison couldn't take from me.

Chemical Billy said...

really, mongo, before he lets anyone eat his berries.