Fisher of Men
The bar at the corner of Highland and Grove smelled like stale death—dried blood and old sweat. Primal urges burst into the air like a Christmas tree on fire. The only window was a murky port hole from a forgotten vessel mounted in the door. The woes and torments of patrons, submerging deeper into their miserably fated descent, lingered inside where they are supposed to be. Others, almost defeated by what they had tried to drink away, would spill into the street only to move forward to a more convenient place of exhaustion. They were all sinners. They were all victims—victims of evolution, the process by which basic survival instincts are replaced with grief, faith, or guilt. The bar at the corner of Highland and Grove is where Vanessa Fisher found Ty.
She knew he had perfect vision and didn’t go to church. He had no family that he visited or spoke to. He was under six feet tall, handsome. He had a deep voice and a scar on the side of his throat just below his jaw.
She was velvet, a small, elegant creature of capability. She had short blonde hair, and eyes the color of broken safety glass. Her smile was sinister, a lunatic grin. She was something that God let fall from the sky with nothing soft to land on—a sinner.
Ty was sitting at the bar thumbing streaks down the condensation on his glass.
“You want to buy me a shot?” Vanessa asked tapping his shoulder.
No, pushed to his lips but he said nothing when he looked at her. She sat down. “I like fire,” she said.
He smiled. “Flaming Dragon?”
“It’ll be the first of many.”
“Smooth talker. Let’s see how you order.”
Ty ordered the shots.
The flames puffed against the rim of the glass.
She leaned forward, and with a short, solid exhale she extinguished the flame.
Three shots were all they needed. Each time he delivered the shots, the bartender scoured Ty with a glare that promised violence. Then, he would prowl back to the other end of the bar and stare at Vanessa.
They walked the sidewalk. The roots of growing trees had made the cobblestone as uneven and clumsy as their gait. He held her hand which was tiny and firm and offered to carry her purse. She refused. Metallic chimes quivered inside it when she pulled it from his reach. It helped her keep her balance she told him.
She knew nothing of the scar on his neck, that it was a childhood mark of despair—that he’d used a belt to hang himself from the top bunk of his dead brother’s bed and when the buckle snapped it cut him. She didn’t know he had a brother or that he was the reason Ty stopped at the gates of the cemetery each day but never went in.
* * *
There were no pictures in his bedroom, nothing hanging from the walls, no ornamental decorations. He was naked. Hands bound with cotton rope to his head board. Vanessa pulled a square knot tight and tucked the loose ends gingerly beneath the coils around his ankle. He watched her maneuver the knots with urgent proficiency.
“Where did you learn to tie knots like that?”
She smiled then stuck her tongue between her teeth. “My father.”
“He taught you how to tie knots?”
She jerked the last knot tight rattling the footboard. “He taught me about men.”
Straddling him, she kissed hard and wet. Eyes closed, her lips and tongue worked against his like a netted fish fighting to escape. Ty’s neck strained when he chased her tongue as she pulled away.
Vanessa stood and stripped her shirt over her head. He licked his lips to taste her some more. She stepped off the bed and undid her jeans. She kept her back to him and slid them over her ass, down over her legs and off of one foot, then the other.
“I want you to please me.” She turned to face him. “Do you want to please me?”
He tried to speak but only nodded. She set the purse on the bed and pulled out a book of matches.
“What are those for?”
“These,” she said, placing the matches on his chest, “are for the candles.”
She reached back into her purse and pulled out two small glass candles, placed them on the night stand, then walked to the switch and turned the lights off. She straddled him again. With her wrists together as if they were bound, she pressed her palms against his chest over the matches. Her biceps pressed her breasts to the top of her bra and he felt an insatiable lust heaving through his torso. His body begged to throw it inside of her—quake the smooth perfection of her skin and voice with gushing tremors and wails. The struck match snapped, jumped wildly into the air then simmered until he could see only her smile. She lit the candles. The flames glowed and cast frantic shadows on the walls.
Vanessa worked him inside of her. She moved her hips in small circles to the beat of her pulse. They whimpered love and promises neither of them could keep—lies to comfort each other until there was no reason to lie anymore. Vanessa collapsed against the clamminess of his chest. Her wet leather moan wrapped around his shoulders. She patted his cheek and kissed the corner of his mouth.
The hand she held on his face slipped to his throat and she ran her thumb down the stiff, brittle scar on his neck.
“Can you guess what people would do if they couldn’t have sex?” she asked slipping her other hand into her purse.
“They would find interesting ways to kill each other.”
Vanessa pulled the knife from her purse. The blade caught glimmers of candlelight. She placed the sharp edge of the steel against his throat below his Adam’s apple. His body tensed and he attempted to pull away. “What are you doing?”
“I’m teaching you about women,” she whispered.
Flexing against the ropes only knotted his joints. He was twelve again trying not to fight for his breath. Trying not to kick, trying to forget his brother chased the ball that he threw. Ty looked, but he could not see her damage. It did not bulge on her flesh. Her scars were bound to a father who had her on birth control at thirteen so he wouldn’t get her pregnant. The wounds were savage and vicious, and no sinner’s soul would be saved because of them.