the woman in the dark alley
or Asking for It
I am walking down a narrow alley shortly after dusk. I know I shouldn’t be out this late, but the time flew.
A scruffy-looking woman entered the neurotically-thin passageway just a few terrifying steps ago and is slowly walking toward me.
At first my fingers tightened into an anxious fist and began to shake, but I knew what to do. I pulled out my phone, all the right emergency numbers on speed dial, and am writing this.
The dirt-red buildings rise on either side of me like steep cliff walls sprouting from the deep echoes of a windy canyon. A perfect place for an ambush.
My heartbeat quickens with my pace. I could turn around and walk the other way, but it might only encourage her. Besides, I doubt I could outrun her anyway. Not with these Martin Dingman crocodile moccasins.
I can barely see her in the dim yellow light as she staggers toward me, but I can tell that she is leering at me with a salacious sneer that means she has only one thing on her mind. And I can see the outline of something in her hand. Maybe a weapon. Maybe nothing at all. It wouldn’t matter anyway. She looks strong.
I begin to perspire lightly, which probably only eggs her on. I know she can hear my hurried, butterfly-thin breathing.
An old paper bag rustles by me in a dusty draft and a siren weeps somewhere in the distance, but I know that there is no one around to save me. For better or (probably) worse, I am on my own. Dave, a good buddy, had offered to come with me. Why didn’t I bring him along? Would she still have attacked if there were two of us guys? Would this story have ended much differently? My eyes dart furtively around, but there are only the swallowing mouths of the disapproving shadows to cry out to for help.
I am not one of those kind of guys – a woman-hater. A bachelor. I was out buying something special for a girl I like. It should have been simple. I like her. She likes Snoopy. I couldn’t find one that was just right. And Time flapped its tiny wings as it lifted into the air and soared away, but I didn’t notice the gathering darkness until I stepped into it.
Why had I worn this provocative V-neck and these skinny jeans? Did I always have to look so attractive when I went out? Why didn’t I wear something dumpier, something that would’ve turned me into a nameless, shapeless blob instead of this slutty, muscular hunk who is obviously asking for it?
My chest muscles heave under the too-low V-neck that barely covers my pecs. My ass strains at the back pockets of the skinny jeans, struggling, threatening to bust out, while I try, unsuccessfully, to tuck it back into my torso. My huge biceps bulge out of my come-hither shirtsleeves, curving in all the right places, drawing her to me like a hyena to a wounded animal.
She is close now – close enough to touch. Close enough to wrap her delicate, pale fingers around my tanned, hulking neck or bludgeon me to death with her porcelain fists. Close enough so I can see that she isn’t looking at me at all; she is looking straight, unblinkingly ahead, her head tilted slightly down and her lips pursed. In her hand is her cell phone, connected to a number that says Mom. I exhale deeply, slowly, and, I hope, imperceptibly. My eyelids close tightly – and briefly – in relief. Surely a woman who talks to her mother wouldn’t prey on a lone, exposed man, a stranger to her.
She disappears from view behind me, the clicking of her chilling heels fading with the adrenaline in my thick veins, as I press the dial button on my phone. “Hey Dave,” I whisper deeply into it. “Oh. My. God. You’ll never guess what just almost happened.”
I pause. Where did the clicking go? Why were the hairs on my arm…
There is a dull crack, and a savage bite of pain flickers like a lightning bolt from the base of my neck to a spot deep inside my head, between my eyeballs. A blood-spattered high heel is the last thing I see.