2021-05-10 15:29 - Monday
Greenwich Village– Alison’s Apartment
The shoes were always the last items that Alison donned when she was dressing for Lucinda. Right up to the shoes, she still felt like herself, albeit in an outfit that revealed more flesh than she was comfortable exposing. She would catch sight of herself in the mirror as she padded about in her stockings and it was all still make-believe, like she was dressing for a fancy dress party. Applying the rich, colourful makeup and deep red lipstick would begin the first feelings of “being Lucinda”, as she called it, somewhere deep within her. But it was the shoes that brought Lucinda to life, every time.
Strapping on the spiky heels, Alison slowly straightened and regarded herself in the mirror. The shoes altered her stance, accentuating her already ample bosom and thrusting her bottom backwards. “Hello, Lucinda,” she murmured.
Since the success of her supernatural urban fantasies, Lucinda Graves had become more and more a part of Alison’s life. This evening, for instance, was devoted to one in a series of book signings for her sixth novel in the Darque Nights series. The smouldering vampire prince Donatien Darque had made her a wealthy woman, and Lucinda was a price she was all too willing to pay. She could only imagine how fast the series would have sunk without trace had it been the name Alison Scruggs on the cover.
Casting one last glance about her spacious apartment to ensure that everything was in order, she grabbed her purse and left to go downstairs and meet the limousine that her agent had arranged for her, as usual. What she found was her driver waiting for her with an apologetic expression.
“Sorry, Miss. I had to park down a ways. It’s only a block, but…”
Alison smiled her best Lucinda smile at him, all promise and glistening red lips. “Never mind. You go ahead and get the car ready, I’ll catch up.” He hesitated and she repeated, “I don’t mind, really. It’s only a block.”
He ducked his head and led the way down the pavement. Alison took her time, grateful for the extra few minutes to get properly into Lucinda’s skin. She let the shoes force her walk into something graceful, hips swaying with each step. She could see the driver was already standing by the limousine on the next corner, but a trio of voices made her pause.
“Look, a girl known by many names.”
“But not like us.”
Alison turned to look at the owners of those voices. Three women sat on the pavement, their age impossible to tell under layers of tattered clothing. The first thing that crossed Alison’s mind was to wonder why they wore so many clothes on such a warm May afternoon. Something about the trio made her flesh stand up in goosebumps.
“She likes to tell tales, this one with the ugly name.”
“Then listen, she should.”
“I beg your pardon?” Alison said. “How do you–”
The three women all turned their attention Alison, though they continued to babble as if she wasn’t there. She found herself rooted to the spot as they spoke, despite her urge to leave these crazy women behind.
“A murder,” the last one cackled.
“And who is to guard the kingdom?”
“The one with the ugly name?”
“I think not,” the other snorted.
“At least, not alone.”
Unexpectedly, the one in the middle made a sickening phlegmy noise, before spitting on the pavement. To Alison’s disgust the three began to fixate on the ground where the loogy had hit.
“A tiger caged!”
“I see a lamb and a lion.”
“The lamb is going to the slaughter?”
The woman who had spat scrunched up her face in consternation. “We need something more.”
“You know what it needs.”
The third woman dropped to her knees and began to search the area around them. “This will do,” she said, grabbing a small stick and handing it to her companion. The three began to laugh again as the woman took the pointy end and cut her finger. Little blood droplets fell to the ground, and once again the beggars were fascinated.
It was too much for Alison. Shaking off the creepiness and repugnance, she fished in her purse and pulled out a $5 note. She let it drop into the bowl at the women’s feet and continued on her way. The voices of the three followed after her.
“By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes!”
Alison shuddered involuntarily, and as she approached the limousine her driver took her elbow.
“Is everything all right, Miss?” he asked with concern. “What was that?” His nod indicated the trio of figures up the street.
“Oh, nothing really,” Alison replied in a voice that she tried to make airy but held a small quaver. “Just some beggars trying to perform a street play or something. Let’s go; I don’t want to be late.”
When the limousine pulled away from the kerb, Alison let out a small sigh and tried not to dwell on crazy street beggars. Although… maybe she could use them in her seventh book. She filed the incident under ‘story ideas’ in her memory and turned her attention to the upcoming book signing, consciously banishing the last lingering feelings of dread the women had invoked.