Soft jazz music smoothly creeped up the microphones, slid across wires and was expelled, a loud, wonderful serpent, filling the nightclub, bouncing against the walls.
The man with the sunglasses smiled as he walked inside. The wonderful sound was all around him, it wriggled in his ears and nested in his skull, behind his eyes. He couldn’t help but smile.
He saw her across the crowded room, a small-framed girl, her skin white as fresh snow, mixed with sepia. She saw him too and smiled, her eyes beaming with a warm, emerald glow.
The winged serpents in the room kept bouncing off the walls. Their wings were made out of music notes, their tongues flicked in and out to the rhythm of the song, their tails writhed, unseen, among the dancing crowd. Their hisses were the booming distortion caused by the megaphones.
He crossed past them, walking carefully. He moved as if he were some sort of shaman, his steps following some strange, invisible path, guided by the whispers of his spirit animal. Dodging the dancing couples, avoiding the men and women that orbited the tables, ducking under the trays held by busy waitresses, his eyes never wandered from his target.
She saw him and the smile faded. In her mind, she longed for him to be close to her, to feel his very presence, she wished she could see their blindingly white smile from up close and reach out to touch his ebony skin. But there was something inside her that goaded her to tease him, to toy with him, to make him work for this prize they both wished to share.
So she slid back into the crowd behind the bar, her shoulders and hips gently swaying to the rhythm of the music. His smile almost faded then, but he reassured himself. She wasn’t rejecting him, she was calling him out.
The serpents slid across the floor, their wings retracted, their scales click-click-clacking as they slid on the glass. They circled the woman, leading her away from the man, while their brothers that had remained aloft crowned his head, their hisses urging him to move forward.
He resisted the urge to go faster, to push through the crowd. He knew that any sudden movement would scare her. He had, instead, to be patient, to lock his eyes on to hers, to follow her movement through the tall grass and deduce her tracks through its ebb and flow.
She could not see him now, as the crowd pressed around her. Her smile faded and she feared that maybe she had dragged this out to far, that maybe she had discouraged him. She panicked at the thought of keeping up this foolish game, of the prospect of missing him (even though this was the first time she had ever laid eyes on him). But then she found a clearing among the massed crowd and she saw him there, his eyes fixed on her, as he moved through the crowd. She sighed in relief then. The game was still going.
The serpents then scattered and took flight to meet the rest of their brothers. They fanned out then and formed a perimeter round the room. Like one, they hissed and beat their wings and bared their fangs. The crowd, feeling some sort of strange yearning, following some impossible command, were herded onto the dance floor. The serpents cracked their tails and beat their wings and they all started dancing.
He saw her then, swept by the crowd into the dance floor and moved among them. He could feel them part away as he closed in on her. They parted as he crossed then filed in again, as if his very motion, his very presence, was enforced by some invisible presence. He saw her then, standing in the middle of a clearing, looking at him, as she wiggled her shoulders playfully, smiling an innocent, girlish smile.
She saw him as he came to her in the clearing and he stood there, looking deep into her eyes. She felt a shiver run up her spine, she felt the hairs between her legs stand up at attention. There was something that passed between them, as they stood in the eye of the maelstrom, two people having found each other in the middle of this cacophony of human motion. She didn’t say a word and he didn’t either. He just swayed his shoulders like she did. He just took her hands in his and they started dancing.
All around them, the serpents hissed, shedding their feather and their scales, as they fell all around them, like some invisible hail made out of moonstones. They shed and they shed and in the end they faded. The crowd stopped dancing then and returned to their seats. They laughed and joked and held each other. The dance floor was cleared now. There were just two people there, holding each other.
There was silence for a moment. Then the band started playing again and soft jazz music smoothly creeped up the microphones, slid across wires and was expelled, a loud, wonderful serpent, filling the nightclub, bouncing against the walls.
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