Killing Me Softly
James sat at the bar, taking a slow, deep hit from the cigarette in his left hand. The place was old, shabby, and dark. He was one of the few miserable souls taking refuge in the crumbling building. It wasn’t home, but it would do.
“How bout another?” the bartender asked. He had an accent, but James couldn’t quite pick up on exactly where the old man was from. Not that it really mattered. James nodded, and the man poured a shot of scotch in a dirty glass and slid it across the bar.
“Good Evening,” came a low, sultry voice from behind. James turned to find a dark, beautiful woman standing on the stage, microphone in hand. She was enchanting to look at in her gold thigh length dress. The dress hugged every inch of her body in all the right places and sparkled with every move the woman took. She was tall, and her skin was the color of melted chocolate. She scanned the room until she found James, and he was taken aback to find that her eyes were violet. He turned around, breaking eye contact and downing the shot in front of him.
“Who’s the lady?” he asked the bartender gruffly.
“Her name’s Cinn.” At this, the bartender flipped a switch and the lights dimmed almost to the point of complete darkness.
“How’s everybody doin’ tonight?” the woman crooned. There were a couple whistles and sporadic clapping. James remained with his back to her, staring into the bottom of his empty glass and letting his cigarette slowly burn its way into oblivion.
“Strumming my pain with his fingers…“ the woman crooned slowly, “singing my life with his words. Killing me softly with his song…killing me softly…with his song…” There was no music, which made no difference cause she didn’t need it. Her voice was low and sweet, like honey, and it was soothing to James’ broken soul. His back remained turned to the woman, but his ears were all hers. “Telling my whole life, with his words…killing me softly….” Somewhere from stage, the sound of soft piano music, matching the chorus of the song filtered out among the tenets of the bar. The performance seemed somewhat out of place. The woman was a flower blooming in a trash can. When the song finally finished, she thanked her pitiful audience and walked off stage, her heels clicking softly on the filthy floor. The clicking grew louder, and James realized that the woman was headed towards the bar. He didn’t have long to wait until she was sitting beside him. The bartender gave her a bottle of water, and before taking a sip she plucked James’ cigarette out of his hand and took a hit.
“You have a nice voice there miss. Pretty stupid of you to wanna go ruin it with these cancer sticks,” he said gruffly. She flashed him a smile which showed off a row of perfectly white teeth. It contrasted nicely with her flawless skin.
“The name’s Annette Cincere, Cinn for short,” she said holding out her hand. Her nails were painted a deep gold, and it was obvious she had a sense of class. The women he was used to had dirty blonde hair with dark roots, fake nails that were too long to function, and who were either addicted to cocaine, alcohol, or both. There wasn’t much he could say about it, though; he liked his women rough. However, this woman was different, he knew that much.
“Nice to meet you Annette. Name’s James,” he replied in his deep, harsh voice. Smoking for 20 years did wonders to his throat. She smiled again and sipped on her water.
“Nice to meet you, James.” Silence fell upon them, but it didn’t bother James. He wasn’t a very interesting person, and he didn’t care much for the human population. Silence was his security blanket.
“So what’s your story?” the woman asked, her voice smooth and thick like honey. He chuckled.
“I don’t got one.”
“Well of course you do. Everyone does,” she replied with a smile. He raised an eyebrow, skeptically.
“Well then, I must be an exception,” he said, pulling out another cigarette and lighting it. It was her turn to be skeptical.
“Whatever you’re tryin’ to sell Mr…James, I ain’t buyin’ it.” He took a long, slow drag from the Marlboro Red before responding.
“Alright Miss Annette. What’s your story then?”
Annette was intrigued by the older man sitting beside her and was caught off guard by his question.
“Hm….lets see. My story? Well…you probably have more important things to do than listen to a black girl talk about herself,” she replied, brushing her hair from her face. It was a wig, not that she really needed one, but she loved to wear them when she performed.
“I got all night, darlin’,” the man said. He was a rough looking man with tanned skin, a muscular build, and intense blue eyes under dark, bushy eyebrows, which contrasted sharply with his salt and pepper hair. He looked to be somewhere in his mid to late 40’s, about 20 years her senior. She noticed that on the left side of his face he had a scar, which started just below his eye and curved sadistically, like a quarter moon, until it met the corner of his broad lips. He was handsome to say the least, and Annette was starved for the attention of a man…a real man that is. This man had lived a hard life, that was evident, and it made him all the more alluring. The regulars in this place were nothing compared to this stranger.
“So what brings you to the deep south?” she asked, twisting her body seductively to face him. James kept his eyes on the empty shot glass in front of him, ignoring her advances. She grinned wickedly, for she loved a challenged.
“The weather,” he said almost distractedly. Either he was playing hard to get, or he truly had no interest in what she was offering. Annette’s blood was starting to race. She couldn’t lose this man’s attention. There was something about him, about his soul, that was intoxicating to her senses.
“Hey, cowboy, let’s say me and you go find a more comfortable place to talk,” she said in her lowest, sexiest voice. She ran her fingers through his thick hair, taking in the very essence of him. He smelled delicious, and she was starving.
James stopped himself from cringing, as the woman ran her fingers through his hair and down the back of his neck. The woman smelled like a rotting corpse, and James couldn’t help but be disappointed. From across the bar he hadn’t noticed the smell until she was actually upon him, seducing him.
“Alright, pretty lady,” he said, looking at Annette. She grinned maliciously, and James noticed a look of pure hunger in her eyes. Filthy creature. He got up from his seat, threw a couple dollars tip on the counter, and headed towards the exit, the woman right behind him. It was nights like these he wished that he was like any other normal bar scum. But like his daddy always said, wish in one hand, shit in the other, and see which hand gets full first. The night was warm, with the glow of a quarter moon and a light breeze.
“So where we goin’?” Annette asked, her voice somewhat deeper than when she had been speaking in the bar. She and James were the only two people out and about, and he knew she was only seconds away from making her move.
“My cars parked out back. We can stay here or find a hotel,” he replied.
“Stay here,” she growled low in his ear, her lips grazing his skin. James held his breath as she licked the back of his neck, her tongue rough, like a cat’s. Ignoring the gesture, he continued to make his way to the black, 1967 Chevy Impala sitting unaccompanied in the back lot of the bar. They were almost to the car when the echo of the woman’s heels on the pavement stopped. James turned around, slowly. In the place of Annette a creature with green, wrinkled, leathery skin stood. James noticed she had a tail with lethal looking spikes at the tip, and her face was unrecognizable with a long snout and massive teeth. Her once violet eyes were now a golden yellow, and fixed hungrily on James. She looked like a prehistoric reptile fresh from the swamp. He dug through his jacket and pulled out his pack of cigarettes, unperturbed by the scene in front of him.
“At least you had the decency to not do this in my car,” he said, exhaling smoke through his nose. The creature screeched a reply at him, while dropping to all fours. James’ mind was racing, quickly analyzing the situation. From his days as a boy, growing up in the bayous of Louisiana, he remembered something his father told him one time when they were hunting for gators.
“Now Jamesy, there’s only one way to kill a gator, and that’s the kill spot,” he father had said, showing James on the dead carcass of the alligator he was skinning. The kill spot was a dime size area on the back of an alligators head, the only real vulnerable part on the reptiles leathery body. Applying this knowledge to the present situation he was in, James kept his cool as the creature in front of him hissed a warning. Seconds later, the demon reptile was scampering towards James. In one quick motion, James had reached in his coat, pulled out a pistol loaded with lead bullets, aimed for the kill spot on the creature, and pulled the trigger. The demon hadn’t uttered a sound as it was suddenly stopped in its tracks, the bullet wound seeping and oozing with green muck. James took a hit from his cigarette and watched as the leathery body began to shake, and morphed back into the body of Annette Cincere. Her now violet eyes stared blankly at the night sky, and blood seeped from the back of her head.
“What a waste,” he muttered to the dead woman. Walking over to Annette, he picked up the bullet he had shot and made his way to his car. Popping open the trunk, he pulled out a can of gas and dumped it on the dead woman’s body, careful not to get any on him. Taking one last hit from his Marlboro, he tossed the remaining stub on the gasoline soaked corpse and walked away. The smell of burning flesh was violating to his senses. James got in his car, lit another cigarette, and left the dingy bar’s parking lot. Without warning, as he glimpsed in the review mirror and saw the orange glow of the burning demon, the radio clicked on and a voice like honey came spilling from the speakers.
“Killing me softly with his song…killing me softly…with his song…”
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Photo by Rachel Dotson. © All rights reserved.