A pull, and a drag, and the kingdom was his.
Once the flame curled up long enough to light his cigarette, the man with sombre eyes extinguished it. He stuffed the matchbox in his pocket and looked up.
The light of the lantern lit up the boardwalk, with its closed shops and silver puddles. An amber glow engulfed his little world. Creatures of the night crawled through his eyesight, and the smoke from his mouth kept them from charging towards him. Claws clutching onto bottles. Shards of broken glass on the pavement. The clock strikes eleven, and excess ensues amongst the proletariat, desperately seeking out relief.
The echo of his steps was drowned out by the aching and maniacal laughter. Sliding past shells of flesh and bone, he took drags of his cigarette and tried not to take in the stench of urine and sweat. Eyes like bullets, taking him into their crossfires, would examine this abnormal husk in their midst, before quickly losing interest. With the drums between his ears picking up speed, he struggled to maintain a steady step.
He disappeared into an alleyway and flipped his cigarette onto the grimy asphalt. His objective was the glass door across the street, and his feet would take him there, would not disappoint him tonight.
He shook off the tar from under his shoes, and pressed the bell.
Perpetual irking screech.
A thump, and a yank, and the kingdom was his.
Behind the door waited a sealed face. Her open mouth gave away that she was surprised, but the bulbs behind her eyes remained dark. One hand on the door, the other clenching a phone in her hand, pressed against an ear so grey in the dark of the hallway.
She looked at his eyes, at his lips, and turned around, waving him inside. He obeyed, kneeling to solve his laces. On wet socks, he made his way on bleak tiles, towards the stinging saffron light.
“Yes…No, it was nothing…Hmm…Oh my god, you are SO right…I know, right? She is unbelievable…Did you? Well, someone needed to, I guess…What? No, I said that someone nee- yes, that’s right.”
He walked past her, putting a hand on her back. She turned around and stared into his eyes.
He couldn’t read her.
He reached the sideboard, took a couple of glasses from the cupboard, and cracked open the bottle of whiskey he had his eyes on from the moment he entered the room.
What a lovely sound. Like breaking someone’s neck.
Pouring the glasses, he delved into the smell of rosewood and malt. A dry throat could kill a man.
“I SO agree, she’s a bit of a …well, you know…Really? You think so?…No, me too.”
He placed the glass on the table beside her, and turned away from her. He felt her stare in his back as he raised his glass and got lost in the warm colours.
Here’s to war we wage against ourselves. Here’s to bombarding our foundations. Here’s to doubts and angsts and cynical apprehension.
Here’s to slaughtering ourselves.
And as he washed his throat with scotch, as the fire spread through his chest, laying a flaming siege to his rusty heart, he stood at the window and leered at the disaster and its minions.
“Quite right…sure. Honey, I’m afraid I …I’m sorry? Yes, you have to get ready…No, I understand. Have fun tonight. Love you, sweetie. Buh-bye.”
A soft thud.
Steps. A hand around his waist. Lips on his back. Teeth trying to drill into his skin, through his shirt.
A muffled sigh.
He took another sip.
“You know it’s not you, right? It’s never you.”
He nodded. “I know.”
Her fingers around his stomachs tightened. Fingernails perforating his skin.
“It’s the others. It’s always them.”
He turned around.
A brush, and a kiss, and the kingdom was his.