Fear is the Sorcerer That Prowls
by Chad Beattie

     people chat amongst themselves. corners occupied by plants, human-made. ring marks on tables. mouths programmed to open and close. i don't think they know i'm here. i study their insecurities. they think they're good at hiding them. they think nobody is able to detect them. maybe they're right. maybe i'm mad. one guy who calls himself johnny thunder belches loudly and laughs. marianne laughs too. she has a crush on johnny because johnny is loud and crude and plays guitar in an indie rock band. my mind averts.
     i lite a cigaret and stare out the window. the nite appears dark & calm. a bouquet of flowers dances under the bare moon lite. the world is alive elsewhere. inside this room all is safe and systemized. we act as they expect us to act and we react just the same. when one acts or reacts outside the boundaries of expectedness a separate portal opens. a deep ripple erupts in the air. bones weaken. individuality is exposed. they start pointing fingers, laughing menacingly, vigorously, like a symphony of boiling clams.
     i walk outside to breathe. a purple cat approaches. rubs against my ankle. starts singing. this magnificent warmness overtakes me and suddenly i feel glad to be alive. if only for a moment. johnny thunder prances out. he lites a cigaret and farts. his eyes are brutal. cold. i stomp my cigaret out on my shoe and lite another. we don't speak a word to one another. there's nothing we could possibly say. nothing at all.
     i return inside. loneliness embeds me. i feel tired. i crack open another can of stale beer. i pour the beautiful liquid down my throat. then i find my corner and watch. i watch all the way til sunrise, staring madly into the red beating eyes of those who have never starved, who have never loved, who have never suffered. a hopeless solemnity exists in humankind. we are the aftermath of failure. we don't buy guns to protect. we buy them to shoot. we are not good to people and they are not good to us. we are the failed result.
     everyone sleeps except me. i stay awake all night thinking. i think about marianne. i think about her eyes, hungry and glowing. i think about her smile. never present. i think i love her, but i think a lot of things. everyone is asleep. no one is awake. besides the purple cat. i rub behind her ears as she purrs.