He stood there, brazen-faced in the doorway, the slim-built. black-tied man. She lay, not dissimilar to how he’d seen her before, horizontal, her long, inviting neck stretched so her head hung off of the bed slightly, so that she gazed, upside down, either at the ceiling or at him. He wasn’t sure.
The night he’d come before, the light from the hotel hallway had been a warm red, the walls in the suite a magnificent cream. He had howled with her and smoked with her and touched her between these walls, the man, but now, as his figure stood there in the doorway, it had become faraway and obscure, how they had laid there and spoke of a time when they would have lit up, inside, there in their nakedness, and he’d said, cool mannered and uninflected: ‘well we still can’, to which she’d told him how she liked that it took her outside, smoking, and they’d ushered out onto the balcony, where he’d risen his hand to her lips and sparked a flame, and there they had been, exhaling out over the tranquil muffle of the city sounds.
Though now there was a disquiet, and although soft sirens and screams flowed through the open window where the curtain fluttered, it was an internal disquiet from the black-tied man himself. First, there came that hesitation, when she had remained still, and then she had remained still some more. And now the man’s figure in the doorway made the room and the hall feel like it was made of stone, as if he was fighting with the location’s grandeur by forcing an air of indifference.
While remaining distant, he edges nearer. He takes a cigarette from the bedside table, places one in his mouth, and one in hers. She had loved to smoke, but he knows this act is no constellation. The lighter that he removes from his jacket has a pale gold guilloche design. One of his more subtle gadgets – it wasn’t crudely phallic like his others – it had a simple purpose, and brought a simple joy, though a refined gadget it was no less, the night before when he had risen it to her lips on the balcony.
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