Devil and the Moon Part II

By taking the moon, he had changed the night completely. Those near enough to home went there and locked their doors, but those left outside had become victims and wolves.

He wasn’t a particularly handsome man, and it was hard to guess his age. When he smiled, or leered, he seemed young, but when he was thinking to himself, as he seemed to be while they walked through the back alleys to the main street of town, he seemed altogether too old for his body. his gait betrayed a furtive restlessness of someone used to being chased, which was supported by the poor state of his shoes.

THe night had become altogether dark and cold. She thanked heaven she wore her sweater that evening and tried to ignore how far away the idea of heaven seemed, like her mind reached out to it but had to give up like a bad cell connection failing to make a call.

She was with him for now, and as long as he held the glowing disc in his pocket, she needed to stay. “Stay and see this through,” she thought. It didn’t matter that the idea was insane. That he couldn’t possibly be carrying what he was supposedly carrying, she was dealing with a situation, a crisis. She did that well, by going on automatic and dealing with details as they come. That’s what she needed to do now, and she could sort out whether she had really watched someon walk across the sky, darting from start to star like a burglar, later.

“Here,” he said, sounding unpleasantly pleased with himself.

She wanted to say, “Where are we,” but the reality dawned on her before she could. This was the same street she looked at every day, a dozen times a day, while going to work, while buying groceries, or meeting friends, the main street that ran through the heart of town. But something had changed. It had gotten dark; real dark like the ancestors of man must have known before the advent of electric light. Back when legends and fairytales about devils and demons could be whispered back and forth and believed with total sincerity. The world had been a scarier place. On this dark, cold street it was again.

“Notice anything different?” he said. Everything seemed to be in place. The street lamps still shown, but their light couldn’t reach beyond the canopy of their covers, so the light itself seemed assaulted on all sides by the consuming darkness. She looked to the sky and her eyes welled up with tears in a way that wasn’t entirely attributable to the bitter wind. It was altogether empty. If there was stars still there, they couldn’t penetrate, and, of course, the moon was conspicuously absent.

“I don’t see such a difference,” she said, trying to feign bravado.

“Really? That’s because you lack my long-term perspective. You think of these people as you see them today. I still remember little monkeys hiding from the darkness, worshipping their one great protector from the unknown.” He patted his pocket.

“Have you grown so much you don’t need your protectors? Let’s hope.”

He took her hand (not that she wished him to, but she seemed unable to say no) and lead the way up the street. It must have been around midnight but the streets were unusually empty. That is, those who did appear in the dark seemed to make every effort to vanish or remain invisible, so faces flashed pale before her and were gone as though the living had become ghosts and only she and Him remained real and alive on that street. And those she did see were huddled as though in fear of freezing to death. She could hear the wind howl but she couldn’t really feel it, no more than to numbly register that it was there. Not enough to taste it’s effect. She felt strangely set above…privileged. She, her strange companion, and their own private moon.

She heard a shattering of glass and saw a figure though a pane glass window duck out of site. It was a pretty young waitress, who seemed to have made a a mess of the plates from a big order in a fancy restaurant. The customers seemed uneasy and testy. The manager appeared over the waitress as she feebly tried to scoop of the shards of her misdeed. It was impossible to hear the words, but even through the glass she could feel her shame and humiliation.

The Man laughed, sharp and unpleasant. “She’ll be fired tonight,” he said. “She’s new to the job, and the manager knows the restaurant is in poor straits, he’s anxious to please these well paying customers. She just lost her other job. This will mean she loses her apartment. She’ll no longer be able to stand on her own emotionally or financially. Who knows what becomes of an independant young lady then.”

She looked at Him intently “Don’t blame me,” he protested. “I didn’t make her drop the plates. Maybe she’s nervous. Maybe she should be…she’s sleeping with another woman’s fiancee. Really, am I so impressive you credit me with every slight misfortune?”

“No,” she said. “It’s just…I think I know that waitress.”

“Come on,” he said. “We need to keep moving. The night is wasting away, and we have a whole town to see.”


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