4.2 Dark Alleys

by Matt P.

“Do you think he saw you?” Lacey asked once they were beyond the large glass windows at the front of the bar and grill.

“He saw us.” Both Antigone and Siobhan answered in simultaneous deadpan. “We haven’t been living good enough for him to have not.” Siobhan clarified, shaking her head. “Worst part is he probably won’t say anything at home, so we’ll have to tell him or it’ll be awkward as hell.”

Antigone nodded as they walked along through the trendy shopping district. Some blocks had buildings so close to one another that they shared walls but between others, and in gaps where buildings once stood or between blocks, there were long and shadowed alleys. Some wended away straight through to the other side, while some of them took interesting turns so their endings couldn’t be seen.

Siobhan paused for a moment to stare down one. It was straight, and seemed to go back half a block back before ending in a blank brick wall. The only distinguishing feature was a wooden door, brown but with flecks of green like it had once been painted. The frame held a little more of the paint and had been carved with leaves of some sort. She recognized some of the leaves as oak, but the others…something made her think Christmas.

“Yew.” Antigone spoke from beside her, her eyes on the door as well. “It’s oak and yew.” Siobhan nodded.

“I thought it might be ash, like the old saying, but.” Sibohan shrugged. “Weird door.” The two gave each other a shared nod, before they looked back to find the others staring at them. Antigone blushed slightly and looked away, while Siobhan just raised her eyebrows in a small challenge.

“You two done with your freaky twin shit?” Monica asked, crossing her arms as she met Siobhan’s eyes evenly while the other girls watched.

“No.” Both twins answered simultaneously, their tone and cadence exactly the same. Lacey let out a surprised laugh, and then covered her mouth. Even serious and somewhat un-amused by their presence Monica let her lips quirk in to a bit of a smirk, as they resumed walking.

“Come on, we’re meeting Scotty at the Burger Smack.” Lacey offered as they joined the others. They continued walking toward the corner. It was occupied, on their side at least, by a large store proclaiming ‘PSYCHIC’. The sign beneath it promised, rather than the usual, a litany of overly honest claims: “Cold readings, false reassurances, vague generalities. Credit cards accepted.” Now it was Antigone who gave a startled laugh.

“I’ve always wanted to try that place.” One of the other girls, the brown haired Jeanine, commented.

Siobhan nodded. “I hate psychics or tarot crap, but I’ve gotta admit…that one tempts me.” She said with a laugh as she kept walking, before she realized everyone else had stopped.

They were standing stock still, staring at a man kitty-corner to them. He was crossing the street diagonally, heedless of traffic, with his hands raised like a preacher. Moses parting the sea of traffic, Siobhan thought to herself as he walked toward them. But from Lacey’s intake of breath, she could tell the other girl was worried.

“Is he on something?” Antigone asked, looking the man over. When Siobhan looked again she had to agree. His hair was greasy and wild like he hadn’t washed it in a few days, and the hands were shaking. But it was his eyes that caught her attention the most. He irises were a pretty shade of blue but they were so small; his eyes were as wide as he could make them, and the whites seemed like they were going to swallow not just their blue centers but his whole face. And there was something in them, like he was seeing a whole world beyond what she was.

“Salvation.” Lacey answered with a nervous shake of her head. “It’s…I dunno. A super special local bit of crap.” She said, her voice high and tight. “Like meth, but way stranger. Some people just get really happy, and some get violent and angry.”

Siobhan nodded. She could see Lacey and Monica trying to decide what to do, and Antigone was deciding which way they would need to run if he started toward them. Siobhan just started grabbing hands and backpack straps, and tugged them toward the admittedly false psychic.

“Scotty can wait, my inner eye is telling me we need to see an honest fake mind reader.” She declared, as she hustled them in to the shop.