Against an old Chevrolet on Maudlin Street, I smoke a cigarette—hard—chuckling at the hisses and howls of alley cats beneath the butcher shop’s broken neon sign. They flick their tails and prowl about, pestering fellas headed home to cold wives and cold dinners, straight from the misery of their long evening shifts. Persistent, with purrs and claws—smooth as cream— they graze oily pant legs (and thighs) for want of a rub…or two. Flicking my smoke at the sidewalk—a cherry-fire explosion drawing the glow of hungry eyes—a young, new one to the corner catches my eye, preening her strawberry-yellow hair, distracted by night shadows that stretch and duck in the periphery. Lighting another smoke, I call her over with a “Psst”, motioning with my hand, as tracers from a flaming tip pull heads from her pounce in unison, to and fro. Cautiously, she turns to me, as the sign overhead begins to flicker blue, casting a harsh pallor upon angled faces with its undead light. Motioning, again, she slowly heads my way—eyes shining and features soft. “What’s tonight’s special?”, I ask, as she pulls the cigarette from my newly shaken fingers and takes a drag. Letting out a long sigh, she blows a steady stream of spite—sweet—into my face, and jabs, “Cunt with a side of soul. Hungry?”, looking as if she’d heard that line one too many times. “Well,” I answered (a blush searing my cheeks), plucking my smoke from her delicate fingers and taking a drag, “I don’t know about that, but the sandwiches ‘cross the street are pretty good.” I hand my cigarette back to her, turn, and start walking across Maudlin Street to the Black Crow Cafe, hoping to hear the slow tread of footsteps behind me.
David Estringel is a writer/poet with works that have appeared in The Opiate, Azahares, Cephalopress, and DREICH. His first collection of poetry and short fiction Indelible Fingerprints was published April 2019, followed by three poetry chapbooks, Punctures, PeripherieS, and Eating Pears on the Rooftop (coming Summer 2022). Twitter: @The_Booky_Man