by alisa

She dug it out of a cliff in Lima. An interesting bauble, looked old. She tossed it lightly from hand to hand. It was cool to the touch and heavier than it looked. Expensive? She thought so.

She smiled and put it in her fanny pack, intending to surprise her husband with it later. It was his favorite color. She momentarily entertained the thought of turning it over to some authority, knowing full well she wouldn't. Finders keepers, right? And anyway, it was probably lost by some other tourist, long gone by now. Odd thing to find stuck in a rock. Its little eyes were gold.

She forgot about it until after lunch.
The limo was pulling into the hotel parking lot to take them sightseeing.
‘Look what I found today, honey.’
It lay cradled in her palm. Staring at him. He felt a surge of nausea. He picked it up gingerly as if it were a scorpion.
‘Where?’ His mouth felt sticky.
‘At the beach, isn't it cute?’ She looked at his face. Sunburned, a few wrinkles around the eyes. He suddenly seemed aged. Mental note, buy him some sunscreen.
The driver opened the door and she got in.

He put it in his camera bag. It looked around and began to scream.
‘What's that noise, babe? I think your flash is on.’
He hurriedly unzipped the bag. It looked up, blinking and bared its teeth; it laughed - that whispery sinister laugh.
He poked it between the eyes with his forefinger and mouthed, ‘Shut up.’
‘Yea, the flash was on, thanks.’ He glanced at his wife sideways, she was looking out the window. Thank God. He returned to the camera bag.
‘Shut up!’ He mouthed again.
It gave him a quirky little grin, rolled over and feigned sleep. He zipped the bag shut.

The tour was endless. They had compromised on the day. Swim and riding in the morning, then when it gets hot, instead of a siesta, an air-conditioned car tour. She wanted the views from the hills and a stop at the gold mart.

He tried to behave normally and hoped he was pulling it off, expecting the worst at any moment. Back at the hotel she asked him if he were alright.
‘I think I just need a run on the beach, `bout an hour?’ But he didn't dress to jog, she noticed.

‘You little monster!’ It stared at him, eyes glittering. He could feel hatred pulsing through it. He set it on the sand in front of him and shivered. Leave me alone,’ he pleaded. It shook its head.

‘Your husband is certainly good looking,’ said an elderly woman from across the bar.
‘Yes he is.’ She smiled, thinking of how many times she had heard that statement, or a variation thereof. To her he was a Greek statue. Perfect. They had been married two years and she still couldn't believe that he wanted her and only her. She tried to control her jealousy, knowing it was ugly.

He picked it up and held it to his wrist. It bit into his flesh and lapped at his blood.
His wife had asked him about the scar the night they met. He remembered telling her he had been bit by a dog. And she had laughed and said, ‘I'm glad it wasn't attempted suicide.’ Some dog, he mused. It smiled and flexed its wings, satisfied for the moment.

He lay on his back and focused on the setting sun. Remembering. Ten years ago in Brazil, again in Venice, it had been paradise. All the memories; all the women. It had been a nightmare, roller-coaster ride through hell. It had been heaven.

He held it inches from his eyes. ‘I've missed you,’ he whispered.
It crawled onto his face and curled into a ball over his left eye, finally sleeping. And the man dreamed. Dreamed its dreams.

She paced the hotel room. That prick, that God damn bastard. It was after midnight and he'd been gone for hours. Fucking secretive son of a bitch! She had never been able to get used to it. He never told her anything about himself.

At first it had been intriguing, the proverbial tall dark handsome stranger. They had met in Palm Beach and were married six weeks later in Vegas. They had done nothing but travel. He was wealthy, but never worked. He had an impressive stock portfolio and several homes, but he didn't like to stay in them. His passport was American.

Whatever, she thought. It had a stamp from every conceivable airport in it. Her anger faded, as it always did, to a dull anxiety. The man she was married to was a stranger. ‘Shit,’ she said aloud and headed back down to the bar.

He found her there sipping a daiquiri. 'Oh, look who makes an appearance. Hello stranger care for a drink?' She rarely drank to excess and he rather liked her drunk. He sat next to her and ordered scotch.

She lit a cigarette while her last was still burning in the ashtray. He stubbed it out and looked at his wife. God she was something. Thick shaggy blond hair like a mane. Long lean body. Five holes pierced in each ear. Thin gold rings on her manicured fingers. Thick full lips...

'What are you staring at, fucker? Tired of chasing the senoritas?'
She hardly ever swore. He set the statue on the bar and sighed.
'Remember this?'
'It's alive. I've had this for a long time."
'That's a nice little story, dear.' She picked it up and tapped it's head against the bar.

‘You've been hanging out catching up on old times with your little friend for six hours?’ He looked at his watch. ‘I fell asleep on the beach. I'm sorry.’

‘I was worried about you and now I'm pissed off. You said you'd be back in an hour. I've been sitting here all night. I'm bored out of my skull.’
He looked at the hideous little statue sitting there so docile. How innocent it looked. ‘I'm sorry,’ he said again.

He touched her neck and pulled her to him, softly kissing her cheek. So warm and smooth. He stood up and put some money on the bar. The statue crawled into his pocket. They left.

She woke first. She felt like she had been hit by a truck; her head ached, her whole body was stiff. Vague scenes from the previous evening filtered back to her. Sitting in the bar - how many drinks? She looked at her wrists. Ugly purple bruises. She sat up. Blood on her stomach. Had he slapped her face? Yes. She touched her mouth. Lip swollen and sore... it split when he hit her.

She looked down at him, naked, sleeping on his stomach. Long evil red scratches down his back. What the hell did we do to each other? She thought.

She lay down and snuggled up to him, kissing the right side of his face. She licked his ear and kissed his chin; he slowly woke and looked at her. They stared at each other, remembering.

He kissed her slowly, licking the blood off her mouth. She pulled him to her and they made love again. Not the savage violent sex of the night before; slow, intimate, tender. When they came, she felt her throat knot and tears fill her eyes. He kissed them and kissed her mouth. The salt stinging her cut. They slept.

He woke again after dark and heard music coming from the beach. His wife was in the shower. He looked out the window, de je vous again. The party in Kingston; the first time he had killed for it.

It flew to his shoulder. Feed me,’ it whimpered.

He held it to his wrist and closed his eyes. She had been beautiful; a Jamaican girl, a prostitute, maybe sixteen. He had slit her throat during intercourse. How many in all? He couldn't remember. But he had never married any of them, never fallen in love.

She came out of the bathroom wearing a towel turban style on her head. ‘What is it baby; you look like you saw a ghost.’

She sat on the bed behind him and massaged his shoulders. ‘I love you so much.’ ‘I love you too.’ ‘I don't know if I could stand to lose you.’ She leaned on his back and rested her chin on his shoulder.

‘Hey...last night that was... She started again. I don't know what happened to us, but you're not losing me. I'll never leave you.’ She put her arms around his waist and softly bit his neck. ‘You're mine.’

They dressed and went out to join the party. He felt as if he were floating through a dream. How did it find him? He had thrown it into the Mediterranean five years earlier, and slowly over the ensuing months he had forgotten the killing - the ecstasy of death.

Its pleasure, not his, he was aware of that. Only rarely now did he wake in the night stifling a scream or a laugh. Seeing its eyes in his dreams. ‘You're mine, it had said. Mine, mine, we'll be together forever.’ He thought he had escaped it. He'd never stayed in one place long. And yet, he always knew it would find him.

When he met his wife, he had known she was the one. She could very nearly read his mind. She was an heiress, a Playgirl. Four ex-husbands and all before thirty. She had walked into his life and never once pulled back. She was funny, sexy, strong and smart and he thought life was improving daily. Until yesterday when he saw that statue in her hand.

They separated at the bar. It was crowded and by the time he had signed for their drinks, she had wandered off. He searched through he crowd for her, panic starting to itch. He finally saw her dancing. The statue hanging on a leather strap between her breasts. She saw him and waved. In the firelight her eyes seemed inhuman. She walked to him slowly, smiling. He took her hand and they strolled down the beach, the surf splashing warm on their bare feet.

They made love on the sand. Urgent, fevered sex. She was on top of him digging her fingernails into his shoulders, he rolled her over and put his hands around her neck. Not wanting to, not wanting to, needing to.

He felt searing pain as she slid a thin knife between his ribs, piercing his lung, his heart. The statue crawled onto his forehead. He whispered something to his wife, blood gurgling from his mouth, she couldn’t make out what it was.

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