Kirin was captivated by Janelle’s turn of phrase, the twist of her wrist to isolate the right key from the chain.
He was defenseless in the presence of her beauty. He knew, instinctively, he was not worthy of it.
Base pride would not suffice. He could not bluster past his shyness. Bluster and pride would not cover his inadequacy. They would be obscene in her presence. He detested their presence in himself. He could not approach her.
And lingered in that isolation a week. Pondering, savoring what had happened to him. He carried the possibility that he could think of her in the back of his mind like a large bill in his wallet. Like a thousand dollar bill next to the two ones and the five.
His life was, of course, filled with other things, the things he merely did and said, the mundane places he went, but it was also blessed, he found, with many things that on a personal schedule appear as blank spaces, the times he was doing “nothing.” And here he could take out the thousand and look at it. Think about the phrases and the wrist and the other artifacts of her beauty.
He also learned the times and places their paths might cross and passed through them slowly, attentive, looking to see her. He was embarrassed to be looking – he had no excuse. No reason to seek her out, no reason to be looking to see if she was there, nothing but his enchantment and no one knew of that. He feared she could see it, could look through him, though he knew it was irrational.
He was too young not to fear. He had never fought or won wars of any kind, except to conquer himself, to learn duty. That was enough.
He sought and found a common interest. She accepted his phone call.
And by some miracle he did not anticipate, did not, in fact even notice at the time, the conversation flowed. It was easy. He was not pushing the huge two-wheeled ox cart of his clumsiness, alone, uphill against her superiority. To the contrary, they were carried together in the surrey of their subject matter, and their Driver took them through forest parks and meadows, across bridges to vistas neither had seen before.
He found his voice.
He would not learn throughout his life her thoughts during this period. But he remembered, ‘til his dying day, his own. For in the weeks and months that followed he conceived the ideal. It was implanted, not constructed, in his heart and mind and he knew it as he knew the sunshine and the rain and the air in his nostrils. “It would be ideal,” he thought, “if we could spend the rest of our lives, together.”
The ideal spoke to both of them, individually, implanting in the blindness of their perception of what the future might hold, a single fixed constant, that they would face it together.
And so they did.
II. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The park was full of families and he was, after all, a father. They littered the vast lawns, sitting at and near the picnic tables and on blankets and the children moved independently of the parents in groups of five or ten in crowds of hundreds. Almost the whole school was there and they mingled, incessantly. They were, at most, acquaintances of publicly funded gatherings, sharing only that they were parents and lived in the area. The culture had progressively fewer common denominators each decade. Even the language was no longer commonly shared by all.
Wayne had just happened by.
And he moved through the crowds. Somehow, he could sense the flow of their currents and accelerate through them, smoothly changing direction, weaving a path as a shark or an eel pushes through the water by the undulation of its body. And he felt the strength of his intuitive undulation, the movement of the crowd and his own serpentine movement through it. It was instinctive. It did not task his mind. He remained focused on his prey.
Kim was incredibly beautiful in the park in the sunshine. He feared that others must see it as well. Physically precocious, innocent, full of laughter and inquisitiveness and perfectly shaped. He loved the way her upper thigh disappeared into the brevity of her cutoffs, and as he shadowed her migration across the grounds and she played with the children, as he moved, snake-like through the crowd, he could, from time to time, see a tan line beneath the denim left by a bathing suit that had been chosen as carelessly as the denim had been cut, too perilously meager for her age and physical maturity, surely without maternal guidance. He inhaled the sight of it as any predator savors the scent of the animal it tracks. She had grown up naively unaware of the consequences of her wardrobe and undergarments and what they revealed or did not.
She had been gone more than an hour before anyone wondered where she was.
Wayne acted without hesitation because he was very experienced. He arrived (it would seem, by chance) at that park well “seasoned.” The veteran of many short partnerships in mostly consensual acts of a sexual nature across the broad range of what the human mind can imagine.
He was very “open-minded”
… and committed to freedom, that is to say, the unfettered pursuit of his desire.
And he found that his desire had evolved.
His first experiences with women were quite unsatisfactory, one might say disastrous, even though he proceeded, in all honesty, with the forthright attempt to acquire from them the thing he wanted. He had conceived that it would be a mutual transaction, but quickly concluded that women had no interest in sexual relations.
Re-evaluating them, and his approach, as any salesman must to succeed, he mastered rejection. He discovered what it was they did seem to want, and although he had no interest in it, he became accomplished in appearing to offer it to them and he saw in the ruse, a kind of suitable vengeance for his initial rejections and what seemed to him their duplicitous refusal to offer an honest trade of some kind. He eventually was able to score high sales figures but not without some personal cost to his “real” life.
He changed slowly. Things that had excited him in the beginning lost their appeal, the touch of a woman’s hand, a kiss, the mere tactile perception of her body through her clothing, and he moved on, conquering and to conquer, through the personal ads and the galleries and the bars.
And then he came to the women who offered an honest trade. It was efficient. Convenient. But they seemed to lack the passion of the women he had defrauded.
And as his tastes evolved he found a certain passion, not to say outright lust, in alternative genders, at first the professionals who appeared, on the surface, as women, and eventually, on the same street corners, the boys who made themselves available.
And it had become obvious to him that the pleasure he derived from his sexual transactions, the straightforward and the devious, alike, had diminished markedly. His body demanded that he partake in these dark rituals but returned few dividends.
And in his daytime hours, his “real” life, he migrated socially, as well. He detested openly “religious” people, the self-righteous Bible-thumpers who, he thought, wanted to tell other people how to live. He was more than uncomfortable in their company, eventually coming to grips with the realization that he’d like to kill them. But, of course, it would have been quite inconvenient.
But he arrived in the park a completed work, the skills that had accomplished his trek across the landscapes of his “life” fully honed. He knew how to get things done. And he saw, in Kim, the opportunity to put it all together and return to the passion that had driven his first sad attempts at conquest, but this time successfully.
For Kim was not a compromise, a socially and financially affordable means to satisfy himself, she was exactly what he wanted, in the wholeness of its original beauty.
And within minutes of his decision to acquire the property, she was in his custody.
I know little of Kim, herself. I do not know what mercies were afforded her by the creator of the universe or the nature of His dealing with the antecedents of her mortality. But Wayne savored every morsel of the object of his hunger. The look, the feel, the sound of her fear and her shock and her humiliation and her agony filled and thrilled him. And the sound of her breaking was like the crunch of the outer crust of beautifully deep-fried shrimp. Her torment was his ecstasy. He savored every part of it. Lust consumes the object of its desire.
III. The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left.
Kirin and Janelle had many children who, in turn loved and learned and built and married and grew families of their own and set about replenishing the earth.
His own children, body and soul, had been discarded by medical services that, on average, cost $350 to $550 each, when accomplished in the first trimester, though Wayne frequently did not bear these costs, or in some cases, even know about them. But, in this way, he helped prevent overpopulation. Efficient, convenient, and straightforward (though messy) New Age transactions, every one.
PART TWO: Children of the Damned