She left me here alone with them again.
I asked her not to; I always ask, but she always forgets.
I try not to look at them, but the room is only four walls, and I’ve read all the books in the case now, some more than twice.
I do the, read the books, to keep from looking at them.
They seem whole, serene, even, their painted poker faces never moving.
Dust motes drift in the persimmon light of a dying sun, and there’s an air of expectation, though no one’s here but me.
Their eyes glitter as they track me aimlessly moving about the dark and stuffy ‘guest quarters,’ for such is my dwelling called.
The days of glory, when it housed royalty, heads of state, politicians, and valued courtesans (two sides of a coin, that), had long past.
It was now little more than a storage room containing forgotten tributes and trinkets of those times, but the dolls took up the most space.
They belonged to Doll Kensington, a woman child with a moue for a mouth and the morals of a…
No…no, I will not brand her a whore; she was voracious in her appetite, and highly skilled at sating them; she enjoyed sex unapologetically, and when expedient, or necessary, charged highly for those skills.
I was a fool to think I could save her
She was a fool for laughing at my foolishness.
Even now, I wonder if her spirit is the one within these dolls; I can fell the heat of the hellfire in their eyes, the longing for revenge.
They are, after all, no different from their namesake: her eyes glittered, but had no life, her limbs were pliant, but without strength, her face was garishly painted, and her red, red lips were cold.
But I never touched her.
I was alone in the bar.
Life and music, women and smoke, vice and danger all danced around me with the familiarity of tired old couples no longer in love, clinging to a tattered remnant of a happy, fading memory, even as they trampled it underfoot.
In the bottom of my glass, I saw myself.
It wasn’t appealing, so I ordered another to drown the face, but it only floated to the top again, and looked at me with sad, defeated eyes.
“It’s on me,” a voice next to me said, and a pale hand with painted nails slid money across the bar, and an old hand, bristling with white hairs and missing a finger, slid it off and took it to parts unknown.
I didn’t look up, or say ‘thank you,’ or do anything.
The pale hand went from the bar to my thigh.
“I can make it better.”
“Only for awhile.”
“It’ll have to be enough, love.”
I tossed back the whiskey, felt it burn my blood, and followed her out into the abyss.