WE'RE BLEEDING INTO A CUP WHEN WE'VE GOT ENOUGH WE'LL JUST PAINT THE WALLS
It's called The Waiting Room, the bar. You get a number when you walk in. You can sit anywhere. Order anything. No charge. John's number is 42. The numbers are shown in red LED light on the back wall. They start at 1 each day. Bar's been in existence since they figured out it'd be easier to get rid of the unhealthy people instead of taking care of them. They don't like to show a running count--it freaks people out. Freaked out unhealthy people cause riots, which are expensive to suffocate and a pain in the ass besides. Stuff them with their fantasies and those same people will walk into the execution chamber on their own. Easier all around. Cheaper too.
John sits on the banquette along the wall adjacent to the bar. They already know he prefers naked women to live music so that's why he's here tonight. Tomorrow they'll have a band. The day after, a magic show. They're not merciless, you know, they're not gonna send you to die without first giving you something you like. They're not monsters, after all.
John is wearing a white collared shirt and a blazer, dark wash jeans, wing tips. His hair is combed. He's wearing the subtlest sent of aftershave. His eyes are bright. His skin is clear. To look at him, you wouldn't guess he's unhealthy.
She is all soft curves and sexy coos. She's wearing black lace lingerie with a black sheer dress over it. As she slides over to him, John can feel himself die a little. He loves black lace lingerie, the drape of sheer over a woman's body. They know that, of course. Already he's where they want him.
She's holding a two finger shot of whiskey. Her eyes are almond shaped, but John can't see what color. The lights in the bar are dim and the candlelight throws shadows like confetti. Her lips are parted slightly. He will trace his finger around them. He will slowly kiss the long line of her neck. When he sees the goose bumps erupt from her creamy skin, he'll hold back the tears.
"Single malt?" She says when she's at his table. He gestures to the spot next to him and she sits. She smells like flowers and cucumber body wash. He wants to run his finger up the inside of her thigh. But before he can, she says, "Whatta ya got?" Her voice is like a song so the hardness of the question takes a moment to slap him. "Blood," he says. "Really?" She says. "I thought they got rid of all the bleeders."
She slides her index finger down the side of the whiskey and pushes it towards him. John knows that in the shadows there are other people playing out fantasies, trying to avoid the number in red LED light on the back wall. He is 42. He will know when it's his turn.
She is tracing his ear with her finger. She leans in and waits a second, then traces his ear with her tongue. He watches goose bumps erupt on his skin. He downs the whiskey. Her heavy-lidded eyes are fixed on his throat.
"I didn't need meds until last week," John explains.
She slides her hand over his. "Doctor file the paperwork?"
"Said he wouldn't," he says.
"They get bonuses for filing." She's whispering into his ear. "Did you let him take an x-ray?"
John looks down at the table, at his hands spread out like smashed spiders, at the sensual curve of her fingers over his. He drops his head.
"Bigger bonuses for x-rays," she says.
"I've known him forever," John whispers. "He said he wouldn't--"
"Yeah," she interrupts, "they all say that. But we don't live in that world anymore."
She turns her body toward him, her breasts pressing into his arm, then she slips her leg over his legs and now she's facing him, her hips moving into his, her mouth barely touching his neck. He can feel her breathe. She slides his hands along her hips and places them on the small of her back. The soft silk of her sheer dress. The warm life of her skin. Before he closes his eyes, he sees the red LED light on the back wall. It slides easily from 41 to 42 and the woman on his lap sets the palm of her hand over his face. He can feel the air trapped in his throat. He tries to inhale, but he can't. He wants to fight it but he knows it's useless. Instead, he focuses on the tiny hips that are moving into his, the scent of flowers and cucumber body wash, the letting go of memories. His legs barely kick when the air runs out of him.
And now there is one less unhealthy person in this world. One less nasty job of taking care of someone else.