Across the street a young man dressed neatly in a striped shirt and tie
passed by. He stopped at the foot of a stairway for a moment and adjusted
his wire-rimmed glasses.
Maria moved to the edge of the porch for a better view and leaned against the post as if she were holding herself in place. Her shadow fell on Damon as he squatted his back on the same post.
"Oh! There he is."
Damon noticed her shadow and looked up from the wine cooler he held to his chest. Leaning forward, he glanced down the street.
When he realized that no one else was in dight, Damon focused on the man in the tie, studying him closely. Unaware that he was being examined, the young man patted his hair neatly in place. he adjusted himself with a noticeable effort and scurried up the stairs, disappearing into the house adjacent to them. Damon leaned back and perched the wine cooler on his belly.
"Ahh, a deliscious choice."
"He's so . . . Yeah, he is, isn't he?"
"And he loves you?"
"Ooh, he doesn't even know I exist."
Pushing herself away from the column she leaned down and plucked a wine cooler from the bucket of ice that sat next to Damon. he looked up, grinning while he watched her pace the patio with the unopened bottle.
"Ah-ha. You need a magic beetle."
She could hardly hear him over the cloamor of thoughts in her head and was too busy sorting them to answer him. Do I really like him or, she argued with herself, do I like who I think he is? I barely know him, maybe I'm just infatuated with him . . . . Still, there is something about him. Something . . . .
Without realizing it she answered herself out loud.
"I guess I really like him."
"Lust, my dear. Pure lust."
No. There had to be more to it than that. She was sure there was. If only the young man would say something to her. Perhaps the right phrase, then she would know. Then she could sort out all her thougts and she would know. But what would that phrase be?
"If only he could . . . ."
"Maybe he would, maybe he can't. Why don't you call him over and find out."
"Ha, pussy, pussy! Ah . . . hah. I didn't mean to, you--Oh, hell. It's still funny."
He did in spite of herself, enjoy taunting her into things she would never do, or was too embarassed or scared to do. Things that titillated her, but had to be denied before she made a fool of herself. She was sure he could read her mind, see her secret desires. That must be why he taunted her.
On the other hand, nothing ever bothered Damon. Nothing he did at least. He was almost totally unihibited and it made her wonder whether he had a conscience somewhere in that heap of hormones. He would often explain to her, "It takes two to tango," and "If they didn't like it they don't have to join in." Maybe it was true; he never had to do much more than wink and make a suggestion. Her own inhibitions would have pushed him safely away if he just weren't so much damn fun and she weren't so curious.
Maris sighed, wondering what her life would be like if she had his power. her silence assured Damon that his humor had gone unnoticed and thankful, he continued.
"It's simple. You just wrap a piece of paper with his name on it around a beetle." Holding his bottle with one hand, he gestured as if wrapping an invisible bug with the other. "Then, you bury it under a rose bush. See. Simply."
She came to a stop. Standing over Damon, she stared grinning at his face.
"Ever been in love?"
"Ahgg, never cared for it. Lust makes it all blue, like the sky in summer. Give it a try some time."
He swept the air with a wide arc of his arm then guzzled half his wine cooler. Marla studied his grin and thought his he appeared so innocent, so simple. he was like a big dog, a big, dark-eyed dog. Trotting aroung ffrom one ripe fanny to another, and the occassional trouser leg, he always managed to return to her. He rarely went to the same place twice, but Damon always came back to her, for her.
She patted his head, pushing his shaggy hair into a bushy mess that draped over his eyes.
"Alright, you win. What kind of beetle?"
"Have you ever noticed the way his cheeks dimple when he smiled? Either pair, either smile."
She thought about the neatly dressed man and began to pace aain. Twisting the bottle top, she imagined him without his shirt, then his pants, and finally his briefs. She blushed. The bottle top fell off, spilling the cold contents down her arm and breaking her concentration.
"Oh, what difference does it make? I'll probably never ever meet him."
"Of course not, not with that attitude. Any beetle will do, and you'll have him, any beetle at all." Damn was still grinning. "He'll be quite the experience."
"Maybe if I--"
"If you don't I will! A body like that, you'd be a fool not to."
Maria's hesitation annoyed him and his smile faded. He knew she lacked the courage to do what she really wanted, but why did she have to whine so much? It's just a harmless little spell. He wished, for once, she'd shut up and do something.
"No," she worried, "he wouldn't, would he?" She sat next to Damon, noticing his smile return.
"Okay, where am I going to find a beetle?"
"Ahhh, hold on."
Leaning to one side he reached behind his back, then pulled his clasped hand out. he held his fist towards her, opening his hand slowly and offered a small, glossy green bug.
"Here's one. I thought something was crawling up my ass."
"Oh . . . yeah . . . thanks."
Maria grimaced as she carefully took it from his palm.
"Now what do I do?"
"Now, on this piece of paper you write his name."
Setting his bottle between his legs, Damon pulled a pen and notepad from his shirt pocket. He tore a blank piece of paper from the back of the pad and handed the pen and paper to her than placed the notepad back in pocket.
"But, it's so small."
"Hey!" he looked at the bottle sticking up near his crotch. "Write his name seven times."
"I'll give it a try but there's not much room."
"Oh, you can do it. Just write real teeny-tiny."
"Okay, what now?"
"Fold it seven times and wrap it around the bug."
"Geez, I don't know if this is any easier than just--"
"Now bury it." he gave her no time to change her mind and barely just enough time to finish twisting the paper around the wiggling beetle.
"Under . . . tht rose bush over there, under your bedroom window. I think that would be appropraite."
Grinning, slightly embarassed by his implication, she kneeled in front of the scraggly bush. She began to sweep away the loose soil at its base with one hand while holding the beetle in her other. Bits of dead stems and rotting flowers littered the ground and her hand found a stray thorn.
"How deep do I--oww!"
"Oh, did I forget to warn you about the thorns?"
Plucking it from her palm with her teeth, she noticed Damon was staring across the street again. His lack of concern pissed her off and she began to grumble.
"How deep do I bury it?"
"It's growing wild you know. You really should trim it once in a while."
He continued staring at the house with a grin.
"How deep?" she growled.
"Just deep enough that the dogs won't dig it out."
"You know, you're really a pain in the ass."
"So I've been told and thanks for noticing.
"Dropping the beetle with the note into the shallow hole, she quickly covered it up and returned to stand over Damon.
"Do you ever shut up?"
"Uhmm, no. Not often as I recall."
"I didn't think so, you little imp. Now what? Do I just wait?"
"Well, uh, basically, yes." He leaned forward to face her as closely as possible without having to stand.
"Doesn't it excite you?"
"No, it doesn't."
"Oh, everyone loves a tease." He slumped back, licking the top of his bottle.
You're such an asshole."
"And you love me anyway. Oh, that reminds me. You'll probably dream about him tonight. Enjoy it. I want to hear all the details."
The Printwork of AR
Cover image by Ego Plum
clipart, manipulations, editor--AR
co-editor, creator--Grant Hawkins