The Balance of Blood
Ten minutes into dinner, and I want to kill him.
He only talks about himself, and the only time he directs the conversation to me it’s about how good I look. He called me ‘the prettiest girl he’s ever seen’. That’s interesting; I haven’t showered for days, my hair needs another dose of jet black, and I’m wearing the same Rorschach-pattern leggings I’ve been wearing since the beginning of the month. I’m pretty sure there’s a bloodstain somewhere on my skirt, too.
His eyes tell me that he’s enamoured, if not lustful. Funny how people can be so enticed by strangers. Unfortunately for him, this stranger isn’t even close to whatever image he’s got made up of me in his head.
I know he’s thinking of me naked.
I don’t touch my sous-vide steak, even though he paid—I’m not in the mood for meat. I also don’t want to fill myself up before we get back to my place, and I’m sure as the Devil he’ll want to take me home.
He’s still talking. Something about money, now. I smile and nod, and when I finally get a chance, I use the opportunity to tell him he’s not like the other guys, that he’s very intelligent.
It almost makes me gag.
He laughs. A very stiff, goofy laugh. He’s nervous of girls.
He continues flapping his lips, tries to touch my hand, but I casually slide it out of his reach. He’s dirty, not his appearance, but his mind. I blurt out that I haven’t had this much fun in ages, which is a lie, but again I smile and again he laughs. He just laughs this goofy strained laugh at everything I say. Gee, I never knew I was such a comedienne.
He attempts twice to make jokes about our waitress, and fails both times. The first was a blonde joke, and the other was something filled with curse words about how he shouldn’t have to tip unless she really goes out of her way and blows him. Didn’t I hear that in a movie somewhere?
Hah-hah. Funny joke, James.
Or was it Jim?
I tell him he’s funny and cute. And even though at this point I just have this urge to strangle the guy—right there on the table with everyone in the restaurant watching—I hold it all in. I have always been extremely good at waiting. He sits up like a begging dog, big smile ear to ear. Laughs that goofy, forced, pathetic laugh again. Meanwhile, his eyes are saying ‘Lecherous’.
Very smooth, John. Jordan?
“Ciara,” he says. “I think you’re a pretty cool girl.” Wow. He must be number one-billion-and-one on the list of people that don’t pronounce my name correctly. I told him how to pronounce it when we met. I fucking told him.
Bad move, Justin.
He goes on but I interrupt him. “Tell me a secret,” I say.
“Oh, I dont have many secrets,” he says.
I didn’t ask how many secrets you have, I asked you to tell me one. How dense do you get?
“Everyone I’ve ever met has secrets,” I tell him. “And everyone has a dirty secret. Come on. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”
He asks why and I tell him I want to get to know him. After a long time convincing him that it’s okay (it’s not) and that I’m not judging him (I am).
Come on, you loser, idiot fuck. I need a confession. Just give me the admission of guilt.
I press and press, and he’s already put me on a pedastal so I know he’ll come around. After a minute, his goofy smile melts and he finally reveals his dirty little secret:
“I suppose I—killed some people,” he says. “When I was in the army.”
Boom. There it is. Sweet, sweet secret.
Let me guess, you were young and you didn’t really want to. It was for a greater good, it was all within context, blah-blah. And you’d never do anything like that again, right?
Of course not. You’re just like Dad was.
I finish my wine and then say I’m not hungry and that I’m cold and that I want to go home. He offers to walk me. He doesn’t even really know anything about me. But I allow it. I have his secret.
He deserves me.
We’re walking down the street and I curse under my breath when I realize I still don’t know his fucking name. He said it earlier but he just wouldn’t shut up long enough for me to maintain interest. I need his name. I need it for thelabel.
“Sooo, where do you work again?” I ask.
He’s all weirded out now because I’m sure he already said it about a hundred times. But he can’t resist, and goes on about some computer technician networking crap, using unnecessarily long words that just give me a headache. No consideration for diction, no consideration for eloquence.
Come on, you dumb bastard, say your name.
Jason. That was it.
Two hours later, and he’s lying face-down in a pool of his own blood in my bathtub. A deep, clean cut, right through the jugular, that will always do it. They’ll usually only last a few minutes, but I use the time to talk. I can let loose and tell them what’s really on my mind, and reveal all my sweet, sweet secrets. And those secrets will die with my victims in their final moments. I always feel more comfortable conversing with things that are inanimate, or dead. Maybe because I don’t want others to have to know those horrible secrets. Maybe there’s that tiny part of me that cares.
I straighten my back and start cleaning my special knife in the sink. I only ever use my special knife for this stuff. It’s a legitimate hunting knife with an ivory handle and wolf illustrations on the blade. Must have cost an arm and a leg. I’ve kept it perfectly sharp for years. My dad gave it to me. He killed people, too. Just like Jason, here. He killed people from a distance. What was so different about it if I did it up close?
I look over at him. He’s quietly wheezing and clasping his neck with both hands. It won’t help. The blood’s already stopped spurting out and now it’s just draining. He’s slowly slipping away.
“Dang,” I say, “that Armani shirt doesn’t look too good when it’s soaked in red, does it, Jason?”
He just squeaks. Big man.
His blood-drenched hand shakily reaches out in my direction, only for it to promptly flop down against the ceramic tub with a wet thump.
“You’re making a mess,” I tell him.
I drop the knife and it clatters into the sink basin. I go to the kitchen, grab an empty wine bottle, and return to the tub.
I dip the bottle into the blood, and gather about a litre. I don’t care that I’m covered in the stuff; I love it. I love secrets. I love killing. I love it more than sex.
Sex: the act of expressing true love. The unmistakable feeling of loneliness strikes again and seeps into me like acid. Despite my acquisitions of these dopey meaty men, I haven’t been laid in years. It’s not that I hate sex. It can be a natural, beautiful thing. But there are some people—it is called satyriasis in men—who do it compulsively and without romantic inclination. They can never love in the true sense; my dad was one of them. Murder and sex aren’t all too different, I think.
Or perhaps I just crave intimacy.
Silly, silly girl full of sweet, sweet secrets.
I lick some blood off my fingers. I tell myself to stop being stupid. I take the bottle to the kitchen.
Lupo is waiting for me on the counter; my stuffed wolf doll. Grey fur, red eyes. Had him since I was little. My best friend. My only friend.
As I apply a white label to the bottle, I turn to Lupo. “Do you think I’m stupid?”
The small doll stares, motionless.
“You’re right,” I say.
I smoothen the sticker with my thumb. With a black permanent marker I write ‘Jason’ on it. ‘Crude’, ‘Egotistical’, and ‘Killer’ go on there, too.
After that, I pour a few drops of its contents into a glass full of vodka. The red liquid enters the alcohol and slowly spreads inside the glass like smoke. I place the bottle in the fridge, with the others, and then gulp down my delightful beverage.
There’s a void in me that no one can fill, especially not you, Jason. You can’t have me. No one can. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘opposites attract’? Well, it’s not going to work out because were the same, now; life-eaters, covered in crimson, stained until all we know is pain—ensanguined.
It makes no difference what I did. You’re just a dead thing, taking up dead space, in a world of dead dreams.
But you make a tasty drink!