I wake in a nest of pillows and blankets that smell of fresh straw and heather, blood and sex. Way too much light is coming in for this to be my city apartment, with its blackout shades and heavy curtains. I must be in my crash pad, the shell of a crumbling church a couple miles off the highway. My head aches, my mouth is dry, and I don’t remember coming back here last night. If I am completely honest, most of the details of last night are hazy. What little I can recall is a kaleidoscope of impressions: a biker bar, the aroma of leather and cigarette smoke, the taste of smooth whiskey, raucous laughter, loud music. The pile of cash spilling out of the front pocket of my discarded jeans makes me think I must have had a good night at the pool table.
I untangle myself from the threadbare blankets, stand on the hard stone floor and stretch, working out the morning stiffness. It is then that I notice you sitting in the shadows a few feet away, staring at my unfurled wings. Thousands of white feathers stretch across the framework of these hollow bones. I note that I could use a bath or a shower. My feathers are dull and crumpled from sleep.
I am vain about my wings.
Your expression is unfathomable. You are not unattractive and appear to be in a similar state of undress. For the life of me, I cannot remember if you are last night’s lover or my prisoner. For a long moment, I consider our nudity, my swollen knuckles, your split lip, the dried semen on my thighs, the dried blood on my naked belly.
Could go either way. Perhaps both? I have had crazier nights.
You don’t move any closer to me. I can’t tell whether you are currently restrained or just cautious about approaching me. I wish again that my memory of last night was a little clearer. I mentally promise myself for at least the 124th time that I will cut back on my drinking and start spending my evenings alone in my apartment with a good book, maybe catch up on Game of Thrones. Clean up my act.
Yeah, that’s going to happen.
“Are you an angel or demon?” you ask from your corner.
You sound more wary than frightened. I respect this. You have a pleasant voice, deep and melodic. An Irish accent, I think.
I consider your question, turning it over in my mind. I suppose it’s a fair question but it lacks a certain amount of. . . imagination. I grab the bottle of water next to the makeshift bed and take a long swallow before responding to you.
“What makes you think they aren’t one and the same?”
You lift your arm easily out of blankets to catch the partially full water bottle I toss to you.
One mystery solved.
© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved