The Destroyer Cometh
I screwed up again. It’s the one thing I excel at. Now I found myself expecting to cross paths with at least one demon or other whom I would have to convince that “I was not the blood.” Read the last post to learn more.
The first touch was that of a malaise. A gnawing feeling soon followed. It was like an itch at the center of my back. Days passed. Something rose at a snail’s pace on the edge of my mental horizon. Wherever I was, at work in Brooklyn, walking the streets of Manhattan, in bed late at night, I kept looking for it.
It took a week or so for an amorphous mass to appear in my mind’s eye. With an excruciating slowness, it took shape. Days later I saw the figure of a hunched creature and could just make out its surroundings. Over the proceeding days and nights, I watched the figure trudge through forests and fields, and along the shoulders of highways. Always on the move, the creature’s lumbering steps were like pathetic gestures. As one foot dropped ahead of the other, each step seemed like its last.
Every hour, every day, it kept closing in.
It was 3:33 AM. Sleep was a distant memory–seemed like a stupid girl I used to know. The images of the creature were indelible. I rolled over in bed onto my back and thought about jabbing my thumbs into my eyes. I thought a lot about death. In one form or other, it was coming.
More tortured days . . .
The sun rose on the right and fell to the left of the creature. It had the shape of a woman. She came from the north. I first saw the outline of her face when she reached the Bronx. I had been over in Brooklyn–in East Flatbush. She was on the Grand Concourse. I could tell where she was by the median, the stylish street lamps, the art deco apartments and similar brick detail on other buildings.
(Grand Concourse, Bronx – Photo by Joe)
She was a dark, pitiful thing. There was no light of soul or flash of intelligence. Her skin was leathered, stretched over hollow cheeks, and her deep eye sockets seemed colored by charcoal.
I couldn’t say that she was evil. She was more like a broken and crippled thing to whom love is a vapor. Though I sensed there was “something” in her that needed to hurt to feel.
The day after she entered the Bronx, I went to find her. I told no one. I wanted it over.
Before I recognized a single building, by the hilly lie of the street I could tell she had made her way onto Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
It was midday and I got off the subway at Lexington Avenue and 51st Street. I wore a silver cross on my neck that my lady friend had given me. She goes to church all the time. She goes for all of us. In my pocket was a spike. Benny, “the cigar store Indian” had given me months ago to battle a vampire.
In that area, Lexington doesn’t stand out like Park, Madison or 5th, yet stands apart from the more pedestrian 2nd and 3rd Ave’s. Lex is not too touristy, modern, or ostentatious, even though it shoulders the Chrysler Building. It’s probably the first street in Manhattan that I knew the name of because my father worked there when I was a kid. Most importantly, uptown on Lex there are real hills. New Yorkers crave “real” hills. On that avenue, they lend to the character of the buildings, which make it such that it can’t be found anywhere else in NYC.
From the corner of 52nd, after a short search I spotted the creature across the street, nearly three blocks uptown. Given her plodding steps and ghoulish face, I was a little surprised no one took much notice of her. She had the inward focus exhibited by many homeless people, which seemed to be enough to push interest away.
I wasn’t afraid. There were plenty of people on the sidewalks and the sun was high in the sky. Nothing could happen at that hour.
But I found myself thinking how sometimes when I stroll along Lex, if the air is right and the sun isn’t too bright, out of the ether I can just pick up on images that seem to be set in the 1940s.
I waited faithfully and didn’t stare. I had seen enough of her over the past few weeks. Though I noted that her coat and dress were peasant-styled. I thought they were either bought in a small town in Europe or in a designer’s shop on Madison Avenue.
I crossed the street to meet her. Once she came onto the same block, I lifted my head to face her, but lost her seconds later on the crowded sidewalk. I grew hesitant and moved out of the path of the oncoming pedestrians. My eyes darted about.
A tall model sashayed into my path. The brim of her hat was angled over her eyes, and her hand was lost in a flood of hair. The position of her hand seemed odd until I saw she was just cradling her cell. She took a quick left and stepped in front of me. I almost flattened her.
Just as it occurred to me that this beautiful woman was “the creature,” she raised her hand to stave me off, yet snatched my hand with a surprising strength.
When her green eyes met mine, I couldn’t look away. Entranced by her beauty, our eyes seemed to connect at the level of our souls.
“You want to know the hurt in me?” she said kindly, still gripping my hand. A sharp fingernail was depressed deep into the center of my palm. “The hurt is words. Words can truly hurt. Words can destroy. I can destroy.”
“I’m not the blood,” I whispered, caught under the spell of her eyes. They seemed to sing a silent siren’s song. I hardly noticed the pain from her prodding fingernail.
“I know it’s in you.”
“I can be the destroyer if you so like,” she said and let go my hand. “I can destroy you with words, and then take the blood from you.”
“Yes,” she said, craning her head in such a way as to expose part of a breast, “reach for more.”
My eyes caught sight of the now exposed flesh in much the same way a vampire would a long, slender neck. The soft skin more than appealed to me.
“Touch, if you so desire,” she said. “Take, if you so need.”
Every ounce of my being said to duck my head and to take whatever she offered. I looked at my freed hand and saw it was streaked with blood. When I looked to the woman, her eyes were tiny slits, focused upon my bloodied hand. Her arm cocked back.
Startled and unsure what was going on, I stumbled back. There was something languid about her. Once again, she tried to snatch my hand–the one she had bloodied. I was able to pull away in time. A light of displeasure flared in her eyes.
I staggered back even further, turned and hurried down Lex. Yet with each step, I only wanted her more.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Thirty-Two