Three men

Three men sat on the stage.

With a pff the young woman perched on a stool (its cover embroidered in red plaid) blew a wire of hair off the corner of her eye. The men did not move. She stared, nail polish slowly molting, bright red flakes mingling with the yellowed nail chippings on the ground. The man with the newspaper forced a brief ahem into the damp silence. The man with a touch-screen, fingerprint-recognizing, spell-judging, photo-uploading, smart-conversing cellphone made a brief attempt to shift an arm within the cylinder of his suit sleeve, then abandoned the endeavour. His phone didn’t attempt small talk. Neither did he.

A droplet of sweat landed on Newspaper Man’s newspaper. A yellowed piece of hair drifted down to join the nail clippings.

Permanently black, Newspaper Man’s fingers groped across the crosswords, grasping and clawing, beginning to snarl, dogs ravenous for their next meal, swallowing the words, knuckles lapping loudly, coming towards you, coming for you next oh god. Hungry, hungry! they cry. Slithering and writhing and completely, horrifyingly still. What’s the need for food or water or a place to shit in this situation?

He’s just looking for the next page to turn.

A brown-speckled ring drops to the ground, a shallow pupil contained within, cushioned with orbed layers of yellow-dove fat. It takes on a grainy texture, mingling with the clippings.

A cold leg twines with another; one steel and one pale. Following the pale one up from the ground, the woman can be discovered, motionless.

At least the men have their newspapers and phones.

Newspaper Man scratches at his collarbone, transfusing it with black. Fingers of ink venture out from the area, silently, peacefully. Man in Suit With Phone undergoes a moment of discomfort as a name and number pop up on his screen, reflected on his high cheekbones, quietly, transiently. Phones aren’t supposed to ring.

The lights come on. No one notices.

Three men sit on a stage.

Where is the third? He left while you were reading.








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