Dark, angry clouds moved across the pale blue sky, their bellies full to near bursting. Thunder shook out a warning, rattling the windows of the ramshackle motel where she sat on a dirty comforter. Lightening streaked, illuminating the angry clouds. Winds gusted, picking up sediment and little pieces of trash, and then dumping its treasure in favor of something gaudier.
A woman’s skirt blew up over her head and the tourists click-clicking with their cheap Kodak disposables stopped and starred.
Death stopped short and tilted his head up toward the angry sky. Be still, he commanded. But the sky neither responded nor reacted. The angry clouds continued their sweep, painting the pale blue an eerie black.
Death was dressed to the nines on this evening in a Jones New York black suit jacket with four gold buttons about the cuffs and pleated slacks lined to the knees.
Inside the lined pockets of Death’s jacket, the coffer, no bigger now than a quarter, hummed.
He paused at the corner of 7th street and Figueroa Ave. in downtown Los Angeles and turned left. Women smiled. He did not smile back.
Inside the Olympic Hotel, the girl called Barbie sat on a filthy comforter and watched a Betty Boop clock as it swayed unsteadily on a thumb tack above the door.
The air inside the room was cloying, a choking mix of mist and mildew and piss, smells that could not be scrubbed from the threadbare carpet.
To this smell, Barbie was oblivious.
Once she had been a pretty girl, bright with a promising future. A lawyer, doctor, perhaps a movie star. She’d had friends, family, people who cared. But once had been a long time ago, so long ago that she couldn’t remember the days when her life had been free of pain.
Now she was no more important that the men who lay on top of her, the drug dealers and bored husbands, and grunted until they found release.
Still watching the clock, she stuck a cigarette between her blackened lips and flicked the wheel on a penis shaped lighter. When the paper caught, she tossed the penis on top of a stack of magazines on a rickety old table near the bed.
She watched the clock and she waited. One day that damn thing was going to fall.
Death peered into a storefront window. By moral standards, he was not an ugly man. He possessed all the characteristics he had been told made the girls swoon, height, build, and eye color. He was just over six feet though had never bothered with measurements, with a slight yet noticeable athletic build, icy blue eyes and a thick crop of brown hair.
He stepped back from the glass and it shattered. Jagged shards of it collected at his feet.
Through the gaping hole, a bug eyed man with a distended belly, stood as if he was rooted to the floor. The apron tied around his thick neck was caked with grease. His knuckles had grown white around the handle of the broom that he had been sweeping the floor with.
Boo, Death said.
The man’s legs abandoned him at that moment and he dropped as if he weighed nothing more than a sack of feathers. The broom handle snapped under his weight.
Death moved on.