Ok, this is another terribleminds flash piece. I’ve got some stuff to say about it but for now I’m making a quickie post here to make sure I get it in before the deadline. Not that it really matters, but I like to hit deadlines, even unimportant ones. I think it’s a good habit to develop.
The House on Cedar Avenue
Trent shuffled along Cedar Avenue on his way to the house. The first time he’d gone there he’d swaggered. He’d also nervously looked over his shoulder before crossing the threshold, paranoid, as any right thinking man would be, about who might be watching him go in. Tonight he glanced neither left nor right as he mounted the stairs. Experience had taught him that whatever arrangements for privacy needed to be made must have been made by Madame Zuul, because no one who should have cared about the goings on in the house on Cedar Avenue did.
The door knocker had a biting chill to it, but Trent grasped it and banged out four even raps. Tall, elegant Anthony opened the door, his familiar comforting smile ready to greet all customers.
“Welcome, Mr. Greene. Do come in,” Anthony said.
Trent stepped into the foyer and allowed Anthony to help him shrug his way out of his coat.
“Is Evie available?” Trent asked.
“Of course. Madame Zuul knows she is your favourite,” Anthony said.
“That was, kind of her. It’s nice to be…Well. Anyway. Thank her for me.”
Anthony nodded and indicated the wide stairway to his left. “Evie is in her regular room.”
Trent lay on the four poster and watched as Evie sat up and stretched beside him. Like every time before, her tattoos fascinated him. When he first came to Madame Zuul’s establishment he was surprised to discover that all the girls sported at least some ink. Madame Zuul had told him a girl without body art could be arranged, but the cost was exorbitant, and he shouldn’t expect her to remain ink free long. Not if she was working at Madame Zuul’s. Evie always seemed to have new tattoos or her old ones would seem more complicated or more vibrant.
“You didn’t look so good when you came in tonight,” Evie said. “Are you feeling better now?”
“No. I mean, I did. I felt, more connected. Whole. I don’t know…I felt good,” Trent said.
She ran a finger down his leg. “Well, I’m glad you had that anyway. At least for a little while.”
As she got up off the bed Trent considered the tattoo on her left shoulder blade. It had shown up a few weeks ago and it scared him. A woman, in a flowing dress, seen from behind. She was, ever so slightly, looking back over her shoulder at someone or something. Only a sliver of the face could be seen.
“She looks like my wife,” he said.
“Who does?” Evie asked.
“Your tattoo. I think. The first time I saw my wife she was looking back, ever so slightly, over her shoulder like that. I only caught a glimpse of her, but I was hooked.” Evie turned around to face him, and the woman in the dress was gone. “She left me two days ago.”
“I’m sorry,” Evie said.
“Not your fault. Not this place’s fault. She never knew about any of this. She had other reasons.”
Evie nodded, and Trent was surprised by the sadness behind her eyes. “Still,” she said. “I really am sorry Trent.”
Trent shrugged. “She was the last thing. The only thing I hadn’t lost.”
Evie watched from the bottom of the stairs as Trent, his wrinkled coat back on, headed out into the night and the door to the house on Cedar Avenue closed behind him.
“He won’t be coming back, will he?” she asked.
“Not to see you I’m afraid. But he’ll be coming back,” Anthony said.
Evie returned to her room and let her robe fall to the floor. One by one she looked over each tattoo that had been added since her first night with Trent. The newest one, the one in the dress, was finally finished and perfect in it’s detail. Evie stared at the half a face she could she looking back at her in her mirror. Evie thought she knew what Trent had seen in her, the first night they had met.
Two days later the tattoos started to fade and Evie knew Trent was on his way back for the final time, but she wouldn’t be seeing him.
Trent glided lightly along Cedar Avenue. His arms hung at his sides, the gashes on his wrists hidden by his coat. When he came to the house he didn’t bother with the knocker, he simply stepped through the door. Inside he didn’t take the familiar left staircase but instead went straight through the other door in the foyer that led to Madame Zuul’s private rooms.
She was waiting for him.
With effort he raised his head. “It’s all gone,” he said.
“I know,” she said.
Trent Greene floated into her embrace. The candles in the room flickered and, finally, a calm came over him as Madame Zuul consumed the last, the very last thing he had that she could only take when he truly believed he had nothing left to lose.
EDIT: Ok so here’s the more I wanted to say. First of all, this challenge again called for three elements, randomly chosen to combine to help shape the story. My three elements were: Ghost Story, Brothel, Tattoos. I’m not sure if I really wrote a ghost story, but I’m just calling artistic license on that one so nyah nyah on that.
I did a twenty minute free-writing brainstorm on those three elements before writing this (more on free writing in an upcoming blog post) and came up with several story ideas and I liked them all. So, I’m thinking as an experimental writing idea that I am going to write all of them and post them as I do to. I think it’ll be fun (for me at least) to see what variations I can personally come up with for Ghost Story, Brothel, Tattoos. They’ll make an interesting little flash collection when I’m finished.
As always comments and criticisms will make me dance a happy dance about my laptop so feel free to leave them and if you want to read more of my fiction you can find a list of it here.