A noise in the corner, like a shoe scuffing on the tile floor, and my heart leapt into my throat. I could barely breathe.
I stood still, hoping whoever it was didn't know I was there. My ears searched the room for the tiniest sound. Nothing. All was quiet.
I took another step and tripped over a chair in a loud clamor of clanging metal, cursing, and "ow, ow, my toe." It was too late to be quiet anyway.
Then with a knife to my back, I clamped my mouth shut. The pain in my toe was gone, forgotten.
"CJ, isn't it?" I whispered.
"Yes." His voice was husky. Maybe if I didn't have a knife to my back, I might even say sexy.
"You going to kill me?"
Maybe it was the training, years of drills with the Sandbox, but I couldn't help digging for more information...
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Rita: Who are you really?
CJ: I could answer 'a dreamer' but I would be playing with words. I'm a young man with old eyes.
Rita: Are you handsome or dark and brooding with anxious eyes?
CJ: Probably both. The great majority of the men and women I know have described me as a fascinating, if a little scary individual; cultured tramp, refined bum, sophisticate hobo; the man of such wit and devilish charisma that women want to mother and men to punch in the face. But the few people who know me, usually leave it at a man with the soul of a poet, the hands of a lover and the eyes of an artist.
Rita: If dark and brooding, can you be saved?
CJ: Since I don't believe in salvation or damnation the question is academic.
Rita: Who is currently in charge of the cult? You, Rico Suave, or GergisKhan?
CJ: Gengis Khan thinks he's running the show, but Rico Suave pulls the strings, as usual.
Rita: Do you peel your banana from the top or the bottom?
CJ: From the bottom, naturally. Tops are overated, I'll take bottoms anytime.
Rita: What will your next steps be? Revenge, take over the world, secure the harem?
CJ: Since the world is a huge harem, I might as well take it over.
Rita: What is your favorite type of donut?
CJ: The one sampled in small bites, in that delicious twilight between sleep and wakefulness to the contented purr, next to my ear, of a two-legged feline.
Rita: How do you take your coffee? No, we're not asking because we're going to poison it.
CJ: Shared, creamy, and preferably to dunking the aforementioned donut.
Rita: Who was the mysterious man that died when taken into custody after the police mistook him for you?
CJ: Balthazar Ho, a Sino-Jordanian professor of subliminal callisthenics at Upper Volta University, was an extraordinary man. Slight of body, with piercing eyes and a clown smile, he would stroll under the stands of acacias flanking the campus, listening to the rustle of leaves and the clicks of insects. Throughout his life, he searched for a woman, a unique woman with whom to share meaningful silences, and welcome dawns holding hands as the stars fade before blushing clouds. Someone had beaten him to her, so he searched in vain. Disheartened from his hopeless quest, he considered monastic life. I convinced him that the slammer was more fun and he jumped at the opportunity.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
I was out of questions, and the knife pressed closer. I could tell that this would be one of those days that I'd regret not wearing that methril coat for special occasions.
Just then the curtains blurred as if blowing in the wind, and then they detached from the wall, coming at me like a ghost. CJ spun about and ran from the room, the blur chasing after him.
I reached for my back. There was a hole in my shirt, but my skin was intact. I breathed a sigh of relief. Once again, I had eluded death.
Disclaimer: This is a fictional story, written by reader input. Thanks to Carlos, Gwen, Renee, Joe, and Henry for their cooperation. You all have made this a joy to write.
This story is dedicated to the online Goodreads group On Fiction Writing and the authors of the Ménage à 20.