Tuesday, April 26, 2011

8/365 Playlist Story -- inspired by Days of Decadence by Obi Best

A man and a woman sat at the counter. The counter stretched out into the dark end of the restaurant. Behind the pair the wide windows, steamed up from the intense summer night rain humidity looked out onto an empty wet street. Beads of condensation connected and snaked lazily down the glass. Outside a blue crosswalk man blinked out to an orange hand. Numbers counted down. The light was blurred and fragment on it's way in. The proprietor busied himself in the back. Dishes clinked. Water ran.

The woman shifted on her stool. She adjusted her powder blur taffeta dress; ran her fingers under the string of pearls on her neck. She furtively glanced over at the man to her right. He was dressed in a slightly rumpled navy suit with a white shirt and a black tie. Her mink stole fell a few inches off her shoulder. She picked up her spoon and stirred her coffee, watching cream swirl into tan.

The man tapped the counter with his lighter, and stared into his steaming white cup of black coffee. The woman put the spoon down, picked up her cup and blew gently on the beverage. She looked again at the man out of the corner of her eye. She took a miniscule sip and placed the cup back in its saucer. She opened her outfit-matching clutch and fished out a slender stick of tobacco.

"Could you light me up?" she asked the man, in a voice barely above a hush. He looked over at her and chuckled.

"Sure, lady," he said. He flicked his lighter alight and leaned over to her cigarette. She put it in her mouth and bowed down, her eyes on him. She breathed in.

"Thanks," she said. He grunted and turned back to his coffee. She took a couple of drags, and spun her body slightly on the stool to face him. "It's a hot night."

"Yes it is," he said, not looking at her.

"I wonder why we both are having hot coffee," she said. He said nothing. "I wonder if we've lost our senses." Again he did not speak. "What do you think?" After a moment he turned his head to face her.

"If you're trying to initiate a conversation, why don't you get to the point?"

"You're rather blunt, aren't you?"

"What is it that you want?"

"Who said I wanted anything?" She raised an eyebrow and smiled out of the corner of her mouth.

"I wouldn't know," he said, turning back to his coffee.

"You intrigue me," she said. She picked up her coffee cup and took a sip.

"Really," he said.


"Why is that?"

"People out at three in the morning always have interesting stories to tell," she said.

"I can imagine why you're out at three in the morning," he said.

"You'd be wrong," she said, taking another sip. "I'm not that kind of lady." He looked over at her, sizing her up.

"I bet you can't guess why I'm here," he said.

"There could be any number of reasons," she said, smiling at him. "You've been in that suit for awhile, that's easy to tell. Maybe not more than a full day though. You were tapping on the counter--"

"Was I?" He quickly pocketed the lighter.

"Yes, you were. You were deep in thought. Something is troubling you, but you can't immediately solve the problem. You don't have all the pieces of the puzzle yet."

"That's rather vague," he said.

"You're drinking your coffee black. That means you're straightforward. You abhor people who beat around the bush," she laughed lightly, "probably people like me." She smiled, then looked down at his hands. She reached over and picked up his left hand, and turned it over to look at the palm. He did not resist.

"What, are you a fortune teller as well?" he asked.

"Not exactly," she said. She brushed her hands over his. He closed his palms gently, caressing the tips of her fingers as they retreated back to her person. He smiled at her.

"You work in an office. At least until recently. You may have had a manicure recently. You make a considerable amount of money, but you're still just a salary man."


"Am a close?"

"You're warm."

"I am, but as I said, I'm not that kind of woman," she said, smiling.

"Is that it? You haven't guessed why I'm here right now," he said. She looked at him for a moment, before turning back to her coffee. "Well?"

"I think you killed someone earlier today," she said. He stopped smiling and looked a little gray. He quickly forced a smile.

"And would that bother you?" he asked.

"It depends on who you killed and why." She smiled at him. "I think you've been wanting to kill this person for awhile. You've lost sleep over it. It was someone you were jealous of. You finally worked up the courage to do it today. All your plans came together. You strangled this person. And it was the perfect crime. No one would suspect that it was you."

"How could you possibly--that's so specific--" he sputtered.

"I am right, aren't I?" she said. The man looked over his shoulder out into the empty street, then he leaned over the counter to see what the owner was doing, and make sure that he wasn't listening. He turned back to the woman and grabbed her wrist violently.

"How do you know?!" he hissed.

"I don't plan on telling anyone," she said. She rested her other hand on top of his, and carefully peeled his hand off her wrist. The man went slack on his stool.

"It's not true. I uh, was just joking with you," he said.

"Of course," she said. She opened her clutch and took out two dollar bills, placing them on the counter. She took out a business card and slid it over to his coffee cup. "Let me know if you need to make another appointment." She got up from the stool and walked to the glass door.

"Huh?" he said, as she disappeared out into the night. He turned over the card to read "Death. 555-5555. Bulk discounts."


I can't find a video for the song, but the song made me think of the painting Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper.

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