The warning, “let sleeping dogs lie”, should really be about a body in the street. Ignore it and you risk seeing it twitching in your dreams forever.
We had no right. No right holding hands as we walked down the dark city street, no right to stop and kiss deeply, no right to get drunk on the smell of each other’s skin as we embraced. We had no right to be here at all, together.
The thrill of transgression added to our passion.
The night had only begun for two illicit lovers. First we wanted to savor the deserted streets, the cool wind that caressed our faces, the magnificent lights of the Brooklyn Bridge that cast a glow on the dark, oily waters of the East River, and, most of all, to savor our momentary illusion of freedom.
Tomorrow this night would never have happened. It would be tucked away safely in a secret compartment in our minds, like a jewel in a strongbox, to be taken out and treasured in the privacy of our own thoughts.
Or so I thought.
“Come,” she said, shaking her head playfully, pointing down another street.
“I don’t know,” I answered. It seemed darker than the one we were on.
“Are you afraid my husband is waiting for us in one of those alleys, with a gun?” she asked, laughter in her voice.
Amalia’s laughter was something wondrous, like the sounds of angels beholding the glorious handiwork of God.
“He does have a gun, you know,” she continued. “And he would kill us if he found us together. He hates you.” She laughed deliciously, pulled me to her, and kissed me.
“We’ll find an alley,” she said, “and you’ll take me standing up.”
We turned the corner onto an unknown street.
That was when we saw him.
A man lay still on the ground, a few feet from the gutter.
Was he dead? In a drunken stupor? Injured?
I walked closer. Amalia followed me reluctantly, her body, once weightless, now a drag on my movement.
The man was not dead. Occasionally, his body jerked slightly. A faint moan came from his mouth.
It was too dark to see if there was any blood.
“We’d better get the police,” I said.
“Do you remember the 51st Street story?” she asked.
How could I forget? It had been all over the newspapers, shortly after we began our own affair. Another illicit couple, deciding to be good Samaritans, had stepped in to help. Their reward was to get their names, and their adultery, all over the city.
“If we call the cops we’ll have to give a statement,” Amalia said slowly, emphasizing each word, as if speaking to a child about a subject beyond his understanding. “And then,” she continued, in that same didactic tone, “our next statements will be to divorce lawyers.”
“We can’t just leave him,” I protested.
“We’re not leaving him because we were never here,” she said. “Someone else will see him and get help.” She tried to pull me away. I stared at the helpless body.
“It’s not right,” I muttered.
“Come on,” she said, tugging at me. “We’ll finish in a hotel.”
I allowed myself to be led away.
Amalia broke into a run. I, too, ran. We were almost out of breath when we reached a subway station. We started down the stairs.
A policeman was at the bottom, walking up. We passed him, silently.
There will be no hotel with Amalia, not tonight, not ever. And there will be no freedom from the image of that body in the street, burned in my mind, forever.
Harry Steven Lazerus was born in Brooklyn in the last century. He has lived in New York, Israel, Texas, and a work cubicle in California. He currently works as a software engineer in the space program but has also taught physics and astronomy at CCNY and picked apples in Kibbutz Tsuba. His stories have appeared in AlienSkin Magazine and Anotherealm. Another story is scheduled to appear in The Mythic Circle in 2010.
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Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.