6 Nights of Midnight: 6 – Vignettes

A man with a knife waits outside The Bar on Whiskey Road.  He sweats though it’s not hot, though he’s in shadows.

A girl sits within a circle of candles three levels under the streets.  She breathes deeply of an unnatural orange scent.  You can’t grow oranges in Midnight.  You can buy them.  They ain’t cheap.

There’s a police officer doing his rounds, circling the same few streets over and over again, not bothering with the alleys, or with the subterranean sections of the city.  His mind’s not on his work.  It’s the tenth anniversary of his father’s death.  It was another world, another city, from which he long ago fled.  He’s still afraid his brothers will catch up with him.  Make him pay.

The mayor, a former boxer called The Duke, sits at an oversized mahogany desk.  He’s just poured today’s scotch.

There’s a woman in an apartment listen to Ella and Bessie and Janis.  She cries silently.  These will be the last tears she sheds for her, for what they had, for what they might’ve become.  She’s burning her lover’s letters in a black pot.

A child counts the cracks in the ceiling and wonders if one day the whole mountain will just collapse.

There’s a young man leaving a bar with a woman and a promise of illicit delights.  It’s the latest, Scarlet, designed and manufactured beneath opium dens right here in Midnight.

A ghost drifts aimlessly through the vacant corridors of a narrow building that, in the early Twentieth Century, was a library.

A baker stands over vats of sugar and cream.  She wonders if it’s worth the effort, if perhaps she could become somebody else.

Melinda, with her camera, cannot remember when she was innocent, but still she seeks out the Fairgrounds and tries to recapture something she believes she captured once before.

Silhouettes pass by translucent windows in the Historical Society building.  The doors remain locked.

A boy and a girl, right now, are meeting for the first time at a mutual friend’s house.  Theirs will be a love for the ages, worthy of poetics, balladry, and legend.  No one else will believe it.

Father O’Leary sits in a room under St. Lazarus’ Cathedral reading something old and written in Hebrew.

In another city, a woman dreams of Midnight’s Masquerade Ball as it happens.  She loves the masks and the costumes, all the bright colors and romance and intrigue.  If she’s not careful, she’ll be consumed by the City of Night.

An old man, who has some difficulty walking, who scavenges for food, who lives in the crevices and hidey holes, leaves pennies in random places.  He gets a roll from the bank every Friday.  He leaves the coins heads up so that whoever finds them can have the luck he never found for himself.

There’s a doctor performing unnecessary surgery for the thrill.

There’s a boy eating ice cream.

An illusionist pulls flowers from the air and gives them to a woman who, with some little pursuit and persuasion, may one day become his magical bride.

Midnight, City of Night, breathes like any other city.  You’d almost believe it was safe.

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