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Beautiful and Dead

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Mr Gibson sipped a drink in the smoky London pub, clerical collar and wife safely ensconced in their hotel room. He hadn’t been to the city since before his marriage, and he had certain…peccadilloes that needed servicing.

This time, he had money. After the indignities visited upon him by the matriarchs of his town, after the rejection of his woman of choice and his subsequent ensnarement, he deserved his own pleasures. Tonight, he would not have to settle for the streets. As a man of means, he would find the right class of company.

He froze as he locked eyes with a striking, well-dressed woman. She slid a thumb back and forth over her full lips, then sucked it into her mouth as she walked toward him. His heart began to race. Something about her cheekbones gave him a flash of déjà vu, then it was gone.

She whispered in his ear—a price—and glided toward the door. He followed.

A private room. The woman had spoken not a word to him, merely sat on the bed and stared.

Mr Gibson stood taller.  “You may begin by removing your clothes.”

She didn’t move.

“I-I have paid, quite a sum, and I have set out my specifications. Is there a problem?” She tilted her head, and he was hit with the queer feeling that she could see right into his heart.

She spoke, “Yes. You have paid. For your deepest desire. Tell me, did you ever ask your wife to satisfy it?”

“What?” he stammered, “I-of course not! I’d never!”

“Indeed. You only reveal the truth of yourself to a woman you can scorn for it.”

Mr Gibson gaped. “I say, it is of no concern to you! If this is how you will speak to me, I shall leave. I shall take my money and leave!”

She stood, strode toward him as he shrank against the wall. “Oh, you shall not! Because you are still hoping to slake your lust upon me tonight.” An icy hand pinched his ear, pinned him with it.

“Enough is enough!” he sputtered, “I am a man!” He tried to shove her shoulders and was stunned to find she could not be dislodged. His knees buckled with fear. She dragged him from the wall by his ear and slammed him to the floor.

“Yes, you are! A man. How dark you must have thought yourself, with your sad little fetish you could not bear to inflict upon your prim wife.” She stood over his legs. “How many nights did you think of us, the whores in the street, while you crawled atop her? Does she grind her teeth and bear it? Or does she watch the ceiling and dream of impossible passion?”

He stared, mesmerized.

“I watched you on the street today. I saw the way she looked at you, while you barely see her. She would give you anything, but you only want it from a whore. You think you show her deference, but she knows contempt. I remember your contempt!”

“What?! I’ve never laid eyes on you before!”

“You don’t remember me. But I remember you. The disdain in your eyes when you came. But I have known many men, enough to know that what you really hated was yourself.”

She dropped to her knees, straddling his waist.

“And yet I loved, did ya know that, my lad?” Her voice transformed, an Irish accent lilting, and the penny dropped. He remembered—flashes of red hair, the cheapest of rooms, and a sad smile upon those same lips as she gathered up his few tossed coins and dressed herself.

“You? How?” He tried to scoot back away from her, but her cold thighs tightened their hold and her hands crawled toward his neck.

“Dirty, used, and chewed up, by men such as yourself, and still I could feel compassion for them. I still could love! To the last breath of my life. My life, taken from me by the greed of a man who could not spare me my own last moments in his haste to use me. Now, I do…not…love—anymore.”

Tears sprang from his eyes. “Wh-what are you? I—what are you going to do to me?”

She looked up, as if casually considering. “I’ve not decided.” She leaned down, inches from his face, hands now ringing his neck, and whispered. “What am I? A demon, perhaps? I am life and death. I choked the breath from a man like you.”

“Please! Oh, please,” he sobbed, “Please don’t kill me! I’m so sorry.”

She tightened her hands. “Yes. Yes, you are sorry.”

He was panicking now as her hands began to close his airway. He squirmed, but could not budge her. He felt the veins in his head popping, his vision turned to stars, and he realized that this would be the end of him. For all his public propriety, he would be found dead in a prostitute’s room.

Suddenly he was released, gasping huge breaths and crying fat tears. Her face swam back into view and he was locked in to her giant brown eyes.

She swiped tears from his face and licked them off her hand. “That’s enough for you.”

“Thank you,” he gasped, “thank you! I’m sorry.”

“You shall never look at another whore in this city. I am the night and my eyes are everywhere.”

“Yes, yes, of course, I’m sorry, I promise.”

She climbed off him and stood back. He lay frozen for a moment, unsure. She waved a disdainful hand. “Go on then. Run!”

He rolled over and scrambled up and toward the door, falling once along the way. He glanced one last time as he opened the door. She stood like a statue, beautiful and dead.