From my office, I can see her in the periphery of my vision, out there among the cubicles. She’s plain. Not disgusting; just plain. She must be hiding something behind those big, thick-rimmed glasses. I lean back in my chair, arms resting behind my head, and pretend to pay attention to the girl sitting on my desk--practically begging me to bend her over it--while I actually watch this inelegant girl do god-knows-what out in the hive.
And why shouldn’t I watch her? She watches me. Her head is always bowed, eyes gazing up like a rescue dog’s. Bulbous blue fish, her eyes, endlessly darting away if mine happen to pass over her. Maybe that’s the thing. Maybe it really is like in the movies, where the girl takes her glasses off. Why not? I know who she is, really. It seems so strange that no one else has figured it out. But then, people don’t notice the things I notice.
My apartment's just a few blocks from the office. I like the walk and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a girl back there directly from work. On a lunch break once. It’s a humble place, but people expect that with the older buildings downtown. I do a pretty good job with it, too--keeping it hipster chic, or whatever. Women always tell me how much they like it.
The best thing about my apartment is the fire escape. It’s perfect. If I had a balcony, it wouldn’t have the charm, the romanticism. I sit out there every night, in good weather, to smoke and drink wine and watch my city do its thing. You hear the voices coming up off the street, the traffic, eight stories down. It just sings. I truly love humanity--from a distance it’s all soft focus. Occasionally, you get the screech and bang of a collision. I’ll observe the whole thing, from crash to stretcher. I see a lot of things from up there; no one ever knows I’m watching--well, with the occasional exception.
Like the time I was smoking out there, and she blew by; she saw me, too. Her hair pushed back in the wind, her clear, blue eyes met mine for just a split second as she--literally--flew by me, arms out stretched, fists balled, her legs and tight, little butt planked behind her. I’d never seen her that close before. What was that costume made of? Latex? Spandex? It was like she was completely naked.
And then she just slammed right into this thing. I don’t know what it was; I didn’t even know I was in danger. It was like--what?--some sort of big fucking robot or something? God knows why, but it was fixing to wreck shit right downtown, near my building.
The whole thing was over pretty quick, but the aftermath, I watched well into the night. The unmarked helicopters and trucks rolling in from nowhere and the big white quarantine tent popping up over the carnage. I could see her buzzing around down there, shooting up to the tops of the towers now and then. I think she looked back at me a couple times to see if I was still watching.
By midnight the whole site was cleaned up. The tent pulled down. Just a crater there in the street, surrounded by construction cones and flashing, orange warning lights. And when the work was done, that’s when she came back to my fire escape.
I turned and saw her hovering there beside me, one foot lifted. All curves and skin-tight. I looked right at her--right into her eyes--and offered her a drink.
And that’s how it started.
Frumpy Girl is sitting at her desk with a serious expression on her face, like there’s somewhere she has to be. Then she bolts. What does she even do here? No one cares that she comes and goes?
I pull up my browser and search for local, breaking news. It’s all happening live. Another one of those metal things. This city can’t catch a break.
Then she shows up on the scene and ends the destructions.
Now, she’s pulling people from the rubble. Guiding rescue helicopters. I think I saw her dump the contents of a rooftop water tower on a burning tree in the park.
Damn, she’s going to be horny tonight.
Sure enough, she’s lying under me, now. Her skin is impossibly smooth and taut. I bite her neck hard--hard enough to draw blood--but it doesn’t even leave a mark. I slide down between her legs, bite the insides of her thighs. She looks at me with fingers curled in front of her mouth, holding her breath as if she were afraid I might actually be able to hurt her. I kiss the short, soft hair, then nuzzle her with my nose. When I nibble on her, she quivers, so I nip at her. She screams.
“Sorry,” I say, as if I hadn’t just probed her, hadn’t just sought out her weakness--and found it. Her point of vulnerability. Of course it would be here, between her legs, the soft skin, the seat of pleasure.
But she begs me not to stop.
Afterward, she just lies there, oblivious, like we “made love” or something. She curls up next to me and talks. I don’t get her, the stuff she talks about. You’d think she’d regale me with tales of her exploits, or whatever. But after she comes, that self-satisfied glow disappears. Now she’s saying, “This isn’t me. Not really. No one sees the real me. I’m not sure why I hang onto that other identity. No one sees her. But isn’t that who I really am? Before I had these powers? Isn’t that me?”
She buries her face in my chest, so I kiss her atop her head, stroke her hair; I’m pretty sure I can wind her up again for another round.
Months pass. I notice things no one else does; I put pieces together. It’s like my own super power. I watch the news. I watch the girl watching me. My nighttime visitor comes to my fire escape with consistency. I’m making connections; a pattern emerges.
I know when the next attack will come.
I suppose I could tell her. Waltz over to her little cubicle and just say it. That would make her job easier. How surprised she’d be. But, no; I have another plan; I know her weaknesses.
The day comes. I’m electric. I don’t look at her all day, but I can feel her eyes on me. I wait until I hear a boom from a few blocks away; she has that serious look on her face. I wait a beat longer--a beat before she heads for the door--then I say, “Trish, right? Can I see you in my office?”
Her blue-fish-eyes don’t swim; they fix on me, her mouth open and mute.
I have this certain smile I give to the girls who know I’m out of their league and aren’t sure why I’m talking to them. It’s reassuring, in a condescending way, confirming their feelings of inadequacy while letting them know this is a one time thing, don’t pass it up. I give her that smile.
“It’s--Trisha,” she says. That’s what I wanted to hear; I know she’ll follow me.
“Trisha. Right,” I say and we go to my office. It’s just a few feet away; I take my time, my body tingling with every stretched-out second I burn.
Somewhere on Broadway, people are very likely dying.
“I--I have to--” she begins to say, but lying is obviously not her forte.
I face her, sit on the edge of my desk and look her up and down.
“You’re the one who puts together the agenda for the staff meetings, aren’t you?”
She nods, then looks toward Broadway, as if she might fly right out the window.
I laugh an easy laugh. “I was wondering who does that every week. They just sort of appear out of nowhere. But, you know what? We wouldn’t be able to get by without them.”
She just stares at me now.
I tell her, “I’m trying to say, ‘good work.’ I’d like to see more from you. Maybe--” I clear my throat, as if this were the first time I’d ever done anything like this. “--maybe we can get a drink and talk about your special skills.”
She looks terrified. “What special skills.”
Another boom rattles the windows.
“Is there construction going on out there?” I say, and laugh.
People are definitely dying.
“I have to go,” she says, and it sounds like the words are cutting their way out of her throat.
“Oh,” I say with a slow, disappointed breath. “Another time, then. I just wanted to tell you what a good job you’re doing. You probably don’t hear that enough. But I’ve been watching you for a while. And I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen.”
I wait for her at my apartment. It’s all been over for hours--the worst disaster in the city’s history. It got pretty close to my building, before she ended it.
I smoke my cigarettes and wait.
It ended too quickly. I need more. A release. I need her to come here, broken and miserable. I’m all wound up inside. Where is she? I’ve defeated her; where the fuck is she?
She doesn’t come to work the next day. I never see the girl with fishbowls over her eyes again. But I see her, soaring up there above the rooftops. She looks down, but not at me.
Next: The Witch of Hamilcar, TX, Part 1 06.19.15