Voting Option No. 1

Black and Blue Corners

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Image: girlsdontread.blogspot

“Hey!” She called after him, heading in the opposite direction, her feet nearly tripped up.  A kind of OCD trying to take hold.  She merely picked up her pace.  “Hey, you!”

Pausing, the man glanced over his shoulder, before coming to a stop.  Slowly, he turned to face her, but didn’t move.  Catherine hadn’t really noticed, for she was moving plenty fast enough to gobble up the distance between them.  He was slightly taller than she’d imagined and seemed to have a rather solid build under the wool trench.  Broad shoulders.  His face was cast in shadows, though.  It was the damn trees in their square plots of grass near the curb.  Their branches arched over them, nearly touching the eaves.  Someone should probably do something about that.

“The waitress saw you take my cigarettes,” Catherine accused, as she continued toward him.  “I’d like them back, please.”

“Why?” He asked.

“Why?” She repeated, flabbergasted.  “Why would you take them to begin with?  Are you some kind of clepto?”

“No,” he chuckled lightly.

Oh, but he was something of the dangerous sort, Catherine realized the moment she stopped a few feet before him.  He had the intense, penetrating gaze of the Superior Ones.  Those minds that were both calculating and meticulous.  Brassy jazz cut through the night air from far behind them when someone else entered or exited the Blue Corner, as if to beckon Catherine back to the sanctuary of her small, square table and suffocating memories.

“I’ll give them back on one condition,” he responded in the next heartbeat, shutting the din from her past down.

Catherine nearly laughed.  He was bargaining with her?  With her own property that he’d stolen?  It really did take all kinds.

“What’s that?” She asked, having no intentions whatsoever on following through.  She just wanted her damn cigarettes back.

She could hear the words before they even left his mouth.  Dinner, phone number, drinks, coffee… the list was endless.  His bargaining skills would be nothing short of cliche, and Catherine was already tired of the conversation, before it had really begun.  Her eyes latched onto the golden cardboard, as he withdrew the pack from his pocket.

“Put a real effort into quitting,” came his surprising answer.  Where was the catch?  Shouldn’t the bargain benefit him more than her?  “Really weigh the pros and cons on it, for your health now and in the long run.  Can you do that?”

Catherine fixated on the pack again, watched the exchange from his hand to hers, before peering back up at him.  “Is this like a hobby of yours?” She asked, wanting desperately to be irritated.  “Help one smoker at a time?  I mean, you didn’t even have the decency to piss me off about it.”

His smile disarmed her, and the warning flags began screeching more incessantly in her veins.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll think about it,” she added in a quick rush, turning away before he could respond.

There was a part of her that wanted to light up just then, but she recalled thinking about quitting earlier.  Of loathing how easily she’d gotten hooked.  She wasn’t even angry, so what would be the point of being spiteful?  It seemed childish.  Besides, she was practically running from the panic stirred by his lingering gaze on her back, in swift, long strides that echoed through memories she simply couldn’t shake loose.

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