Need your feedback on an anthology entry, please!
My friends over at Horrified Press are accepting entries for a drink-themed anthology!
Been thinking of putting some of my short stories and flash fiction in publications, just to cast a net, hopefully attract an audience to my art. This is a piece I wrote last year. I’ll need to do some expansion if I’m going to apply for this particular anthology, but really, the first thing I’d like to know is, is it macabre enough?
If you could honor me with an opinion, via comment or direct email, I would absolutely appreciate you!
(Tentatively Titled) Tokyo Rose
The bottom of the lipstick tube read “Tokyo Rose.” A supplication for successful sexual innuendo, in the form of flaming red. From right to left, Tokyo Rose smeared against full, pink lips. There. Done.
The mirror reflected something of an automoton, the way she stood. Shoulder blades wide, arms directed to each side, palms facing thighs. Legs splayed, feet directed outward to push the pelvic blades forward. A black minidress coated the areas between her arms. Skin, dewey and lush. Hair up, tucked neatly with a minimal amount of pins. Anything else? The onyx wings defining her eyes danced as she searched the vanity counter for the diamond encrusted wristwatch and matching earrings. There. Done.
Horns from impatient drivers carried into the night, the bustle of late night diners and evening outers flooding the sidewalks on a hot, August night. One heel before the other, in a sort of straight lined walk that determined the drunken from the sober, as she sauntered down two blocks to the martini bar.
The men’s magazine said for a woman to sit with her torso open towards the suitor as a sign of interest. Crossed legs with a high knee indicated seduction. She considered those notes as she slid her rump onto the well-oiled wooden stool at the corner, facing the door, at a precise 90 degree angle for optimal viewing of prospects. The bartender asked her drink. Her notes said to order something that requires sipping, denoting patience and, in a submissive sense, delicacy. A Negroni is her choice. The bartender asked what gin. She made it his choice, with a request for easy ice.
One by one, some by two if slim enough to master the small doorway, entering with alternating demeanor but similar objectives: go home with someone tonight. She hoped one of them would see past all that. She hoped one of them, maybe even more than one of them, would enter the bar, see her, observe her minimal, stellar appointments and easy expression and decide, yes, I would like to speak to her. Look at her and speak to her.
One by one, some by two if slim enough to master the ever growing crowd around the bar came to view her, acknowledge her. Smile back, the men’s magazine suggested. Always smile, even if his presentation is poor. It shows character. Some spoke in a hurried flirtatious manner, trying to seal a deal with two minutes of cordial exchange. But she’s not like that. She wants depth. Some spoke into a device in their hands, while simultaneously ekeing out subversive comments disguised as compliments. The conversation with the device apparently more engaging than her wide, brilliant eyes.
Evening turned to night turned to early morning. Her Negroni and spirits, half spent. Finally, an engaging character sidled to the bar. He smiles. She smiles back. He comments on the futility of socialization in an app driven world. She agrees. He sinks his elbow on the bar top and presents his torso towards her, which she replicates in kind. He asks how long she’s been sitting there. She smiles nervously, and responds, “All night.” He leans towards her face, an Eskimo kiss hung midair, and tells her, decisively, that she has nothing to offer any of the men in the room.
She controls the expression of despair and the want to slap him for accosting her with the insult. He knows it and smiles. As he straightens his spine and turns away from her, he offers an aphorism. A woman sitting still in a bar, dressed in black, drinking alone is an unworthy challenge. She pushes her stool aside and grips his arm in fury, demanding to know why. His eyes lower. His hand softly cups hers. “My dear. My lovely dear. This society assumes worth in the form of self-taken photographs, drab commentary on afternoon sandwiches, and constantly revolving relationship statuses expressed in the ether-Net. It has bred vapid nihilists parading as gentlemen. And you, my dear, my lovely dear, are a gentle lady. If you don’t conform for the masses, then you might as well die. Yours is a breed inhaling its last breath of existence.” He kisses her on the cheek, and dissipates into the crowd.
She turns to find her seat taken by a loud speaking, swearing man taking a photo of two young women kissing each other in mock desire.
One heel in front of another, sober save for the Negroni, two blocks back to her apartment.
She faces the vanity mirror and finds onyx wings distorted into a black mask dragging salted fringes across her cheeks.
She pulls open the drawer, removes a small revolver, pulls back the hammer, and feeds the barrel into her mouth. Her finger delivers a welcome release.