“Step into my parlor,” said the Spider to the Fly," I think, my awareness expanding elastically. Though I don’t smoke, my cigarette burns in my hand, its insult awaiting. As the bus pulls up and I step aboard, my J.C. Penney suit swishes cheaply against my whippet thin thighs.
I draw deep the mouthful of smoke, and hold it. Then, with a careless flick, I send my firetipped friend into the gutter as I climb the steps.
Oh, mercy, mercy, me. Things seldom work so wonderfully! My awareness fills the bus, but in truth it need go no further than the second row. He is there, in all his earnest young glory.
Though I have several other techniques prepared, I know that I will get a strike on my first worm, so to speak. Effortlessy, I move my face into a mask of self-absorbed indifference, my eyes cold behind glasses I don’t need. I pretend to scan the bus for an empty seat, and as my head turns to the earnest young man I exhale the smoke with feigned carelessness.
He starts with surprise and what appears to be almost a habitual angry scowl clouds his face as I look away, not noticing and sit down opposite him.
I focus on the window as my peripheral vision examines minutely, and the bus rolls.
A well-kept but slightly threadbare sportjacket over button down, carefully styled hair on the longish side in a cultivated “careless” look. Light blue sweater vest? A grad student perhaps?
No matter, he is perfect and magnificent. His mouth moves as if he is about to address me, but no, nothing. He encapsulates within himself. I withdraw my awareness and internalize for a moment. Waiting.
Shortly the young man’s thought processes catch up to and rationalize his instincts. Checking against various internal criteria it is clear to him that his feeling of offense is justified.
But. He doesn’t. I feel it building within him to do so. Like a series wound engine that will burn itself out if it carries no load, his thoughts cycle round and round his righteous wrath. And, Oh mercy mercy me. Things are what they seem to be. It is all directed at yours truly. So wondrous. So exquisite. It has never been like this. I allow my awareness out a notch to sample the sumtpuous waves of generous hatred radiating with beautiful mindless symmetry.
With my little cigarette trick I had expected nothing more than a snack, but a veritable feast pours forth from this young man. I taste it all. Dare I feed? An opportunity like this is so rare!
The stare. I am giddy inside. Oh mercy mercy me! My iron control slips a moment, and I groan slightly in pleasure. Quickly I clamp down.
But no. He keeps teasing me. All from the innocent little ciggy. Oh mercy mercy me, I have no need for the little bottle of sulfurous gas so reminscent of flatulence. I have no need to spread out my newspaper into his face with seeming carelessness. No need of an innocent elbow into his side or to kick his seat. As I said, I hooked him on the first worm.
He’s almost muttering. Mein Gott en Himmel! So strong it is. He is like a beautiful tomato on the day past ripeness! So tight and on the verge of explosion with his internal rotting organic luxury. My pleasure borders on decadence, and I know that I must feed!
But no! He’s going to work! Don’t ignore me. Please. Please stay and play! He begins to scribble hurriedly and the scowl deepens and I know that I am not forsaken! It is me! A tribute to me! Oh mercy mercy me. Would that I could see it! I must.
Clamp down. Withdraw your awareness.
For the rest of the ride I assert my iron will and resist sampling his hate. I will feast later.
He gets up and acquires a transfer. A moment later I do the same, and he notices me not as we walk in opposite directions.
I halt. In an instant I transform. My back straightens rigidly and my mask of sel-important indulgence falls away. I add years and dignity to my expression, lose my glasses, straighten my tie, and remove the toupee.
It is as an older but dignified Professor that I turn and follow the young man.
I sit apart on the next bus and again he notices me not.
He is scribbling again. So perfect! Yet I resist, folding my awareness within myself. One must fast before the feast.
Another bus. Another destination. It is an hour later when he enters the building alone.
Again I transform. I am nobody, generic. I clamp down mightily on the eager gleeful giddiness within as I close behind him, as my hand settles on the long wicked blade within my pocket he pushes open the door of his apartment.
Snickety snick! Oh Beamish boy! Come galumphing in my tulgey wood!
Without picking up pace my foot pushes decisively on the door a moment before it closes. I send it flying backwards.
Oh beamish boy, it is the Jabberwock I with the vorpal blade!
On to the exquisite feast.