Valentines Day

   A Short Story

“Solemn.”  The laconic reply struck Glen like a sedative, his heart thumped slower and his face darkened.  To say he was emotionally taken back would be putting it delicately.  Glen knew what it was like; he knew the feeling, the listless fever that would eventually burn your body, the tainting melancholy that painted a face the way he saw Don’s right then; yea, he knew.  It was never an easy day for Glen either, but ever since a few months ago, he didn’t think like that anymore, he had been…saved.  Ha!  What an idiosyncratic term to use.  Glen was hardly saved, perhaps he had found a way to prorogue the inevitable, but salvation was an impossibility, something Don never needed to know.

“Sorry to hear it,” the words dribbling out of Glen’s mouth, almost making him gag on the insincerity they held.  He would never get used to this part; he had grown numb to the other obscenities and bizarre practices but the stalking, the confronting, and the “liberating,” as she put it, were morbid and serpentine; Glen would never become aloof to those.

Glen hardly looked the type to be driving a cab.  He wore thick, maladroit glasses, which matched the worn, jasmine color of the cab itself.  Beneath the lumbering frames sunk deep, green eyes and his rough skin, almost a scarlet tone, made him look lonely and weathered, although he was only thirty-two.  His lanky arms, mildly hairy, made it hard for Glen to find decent clothes, sometimes resorting to teenage hipster clothing to suit his needs.  He didn’t exactly have the world going for him, and his college degree in Arts hadn’t granted him much excitement or money either, and it really did show, although Don was probably too occupied with his thoughts to take notice. Glen wasn’t outgoing either; he never really had a woman to rely on, until recently.  He was more of a loner, and he preferred not to talk about the queer hobbies that he indulged in.

“How you doing back there?” Glen’s voice slightly ambiguous, “is it okay if I an alternate route? I know this superb shortcut, really does cut down on the traffic and fare.”

Don stared at Glen intently, a slight cockeyed glance; he had wanted to take the long route, that was the main point of this venture.  He was more interested in the soothing aura that the cab provided, ironically enough; he liked the jazz-type music and soft, pine aroma, he wanted to relax and ponder without the vexatious distractions of driving, but he wasn’t exactly the type to argue, especially for the destination.

“Uh…yea, that’s…that’s fine.”  Don sunk into the perse seat of the cab, tattered from a lifetime of use.  His fidgeting became more visible to Glen even through the black pockets of his thin overcoat, and as if trying to pacify him, Glen nodded with his head to something out the window, the sounds reaching Don’s lobes but not registering.  “Mmhmm.”  Glen’s eyes slyly crawled to the rearview mirror, surveying Don.  It was difficult, a gaping crack and taupe stain from cigarette smoke smudged the glass.

Casually, Glen spoke, “Tough day?”  Don grunted, intent on the passing stores of the town’s business district.  Pink, red, and white signs and hearts littered almost every store, glittering love-signs and superficial holiday thanks written on colorful boards sung at passing customers.

“Valentines Day is a *poop*,” Don grumbled, reverting his eyes to the mirror, meeting Glen’s gawk.  “A useless thing.”  Glen sensed he would say that, after all, he had been tracking him for almost two weeks, examining and preparing for right now.  The car turned down an alley.  “ ‘nother shortcut,” Glen explained quickly, his hand resting on his thigh, the cold steel of his gun percolating the fabric.  The car slowed for a pedestrian.  The short, attractive woman wearing a croceate jacket blocked the street and stopped in the middle of the road, shadowy eyes piercing the car.  Glen turned to Don, “here we are, time to get out.”

“I’m not ready, I don’t want to see her,” snapped Don, sweat now building on his face.  The silver shine of the gun, now centered on Don, spoke for Glen.  Still, Glen mustered up all the persuasion he could, forging it into two words, “Out.  Now.”

Don obeyed.  Ivory snow, about three inches deep, lay fresh on the concrete, more flowing from the rooftops and sky every minute.  Glen spoke exhaustedly, almost whiningly, “follow the woman, and don’t look back.”  Please just make this easy, Glen thought, as he trudged behind Don, an old acquaintance, occasionally checking behind him warily for careless bums or pedestrians; he didn’t want things to get chaotic, especially with the way his stomach was acting lately.  He probably had an infection he had guessed, most likely from all the human flesh.  That was something he didn’t tell his doctor though.  “Food poisoning,” were the words he recalled the doctor using.  Regardless, it hurt like hell, particularly when things got bloody.

Ahead, the barren strip of alleyway led to a steel door, a camera perched above regarded Glen and the woman, before a faint beep was heard, and the door groaned to a slight open, the woman in red, Glen didn’t exactly know her name, then nudging it open the rest of the way.

“In,” she muttered, a leather-gloved hand reached through the abyss the door seemed to contain and absorbed Don.  Crystal, the woman’s pseudonym, the only name she would accept, loitered over to Glen.  “What took so long?” her cimmerian fingernails slid over his skin affectionately.

“He wanted to take the long way…” a lie, although it probably wouldn’t strike her as abnormal. Although Don had wanted to take the longer route, Glen had to attend to other business beforehand.  Seemingly, she accepted the vindication, purring, “well come in and join the fun, Glen.”  The hairs on his skin lit up, a shiver coursing through his body, and he followed Crystal into the building.

A barrage of lights illuminated the empty stone floor, in the center, Don quivered and two other burly men stood opposite, nodding at Glen as he and Crystal entered.  “Hello boys,” she howled, trotting towards Don quickly.  Don whimpered, submissively looking up at Crystal, as he had done months before, now wishing he had stayed, and then at Glen, eyes looking like an anxious dog.  “No…Please…Crystal, be reasonable, I’m not telling anyone, I only left for a while, to find someone else, I was coming back, I swear!” his voice tumbled through octaves like static.  Crystal knelt.

Undeterred, emotionless, she spoke.  “Welcome, Don…” her deep-red tongue caressed her bare lips; “Glen here has informed me that you are indeed lonely on this day of love.”  Don, stagnant, said nothing, he knew what would happen; he had betrayed her, left the group in search of safety, as useless as it was.  So he just looked at the two smiling men on either side of him.  “I’m here to fix that,” she drawled, gazing affectionately, “…for a price.”  Small, forced chuckles filled the room, and she began to kiss him, his cheeks, his eyes, his mouth. She wanted nothing but his lips on hers, if only for a moment. She wrapped her arms around him…and plunged the syringe deep into his back.  “Tonight, love has been granted to this soul,” Crystal chanted dully, tossing a fork to Glen, “eat your fill.”  Tears swelled but Glen retracted them with all his might, wishing he was where Don was right now, sinking the pronged silver into the body’s arm.

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