A single Black Rose to lie upon her breast
A single Black Rose to stop the tears from soaking his vest
A single Black Rose to mourn this memory
A single Black Rose to become a plot in this cemetery
~ A Single Black Rose by Michael Koelliker
~ A Single Black Rose by Michael Koelliker
The Kindness of Strangers
Mike Wilcox is in a hurry.
And he doesn't do hurried very well.
Keeping time has never been one of his strong points.
Time is relative to the artist in him.
His messy mop of brown hair tops a boyishly handsome face and a spray of freckles and a cupid bow mouth complete his Peter Pan appearance.
He was supposed to be at the gallery half an hour ago but another sleepless night and an hour of fitful sleep in the morning has befuddled his biological clock.
Beads of sweat collect at his brow as he pelts out of his little flat. He runs wildly to the end of the road where he foolishly expects his bus to be waiting for him.
It is not.
Just then the heavens open and it starts to rain.
Then he remembers that his bright red umbrella is in a stand by the front door.
"Great!" He scowls under his breath "Just great!"
All the omens suggest that a bad morning usually leads to a less than stellar day.
And he has an exhibition to organise.
Then he sees her.
She is standing at the bus stop on the other side of the road, a little apart from the other people.
Tall and lithe and dressed in a black coat that hugs her body.
She is like a beautiful mourner.
A tangled mane of black witches hair frames a white oval face and blood red lips.
Her dark eyes glimmer like black fires.
She is Eve.
She is Astarte.
She is s Siren.
She is a a whore from the red light district.
The woman slowly turns to look at Mike Wilcox
She seems to be looking right through him.
The hairs on the back of his head stand on end.
There is a strange smile on her face.
Then a large bus rears into view and when it finally departs and she is no longer there.
A wave of large red and brown leaves swirl in her wake.
Mike Wilcox suddenly has a feeling of intense loss.
Above his head three large black crows descend upon
He checks his watch.
It is exactly 11 am.
He will be here tomorrow.
Wilcox spends the remainder of the day dreaming about the mysterious beauty.
People talk to him but he is lost in his own thoughts.
He sketches her face and dreams about kissing her blood red mouth.
He can't eat.
And he can't sleep.
She has filled his mind.
The following morning, Mike Wilcox makes his way to the bus stop a little before 11 am.
Several men and women obscure his vision.
It is busy today.
Finally the people separate and there she is.
Dressed in that black coat with her waves of black hair framing her intriguing face.
The woman smiles at him and he feels a shiver rush down his spine.
And desire pulsate's throughout his body.
|(door by alexkatana deviantart.com)
Before he can change his mind, he races across the road to her.
"Hi my name is Mike!" He blurts out quickly as he awkwardly holding out his hand before he loses his nerve.
The woman giggles.
He notices a velvet band around her neck.
She smells of freshly cut roses.
"My name is Aneliya" the woman finally says
Her voice is husky and her gaze unflinching.
The eyes are shining like two dark stars in a white face framed by mad black hair.
Her scarlet mouth breaks into a smile.
She is Mona Lisa.
"Would you like to meet me tonight?" Mike says quickly "We can have a drink and then just ... just talk"
The woman gives him a knowing look as her dark eyes burn into his soul.
Mike Wilcox sees his whole life flash before his eyes.
What power does this woman possess?
"Be here, tonight at 8 pm" Aneliya informs him firmly.
The bus arrives and she and the others disappear into it leaving Mike standing alone at the bus stop.
The bust stop is empty save for the swirling leaves
And a little senior woman who suddenly appears from behind a tree.
She looks deeply into his eyes.
Then the older woman slowly shakes her head.
Mike Wilcox shivers where he stands.
Have I just made a terrible mistake?
But he quickly crushes the idea.
All day Mike Wilcox struggles to focus on the job in hand.
Everything fades into an irrelevance as he obsessively replays the mysterious woman's face and voice in his mind.
Times passes and Mike hardly even notices.
He is in suspended animation
Lost in his reverie
He is a man in love with someone he doesn't know.
A dark ghost haunting his mind.
Mike is standing at the bus stop.
His heart is beating so loudly that it is like a herd of horses stamping through the street.
"Come with me" the unmistakable yet mysterious voice commands from somewhere behind him.
Mike turns to see her.
Dressed in black again with her witches hair framing her pale face.
Her lips are red.
She is Vampira.
Mike quivers with longing.
Then Aneliya begins to walk quickly and Mike has trouble keeping up with her.
She tosses back her thick mane of black hair and laughs.
"I live quite near here but my family come from the west country " Mike babbles away "are you from New Acres?"
"I am nobody and I come from nowhere" Aneliya answers evasively.
She takes his hand and leads him on.
Mike Wilcox is ready to obey her every command.
A waft of her intoxicating perfume fills his senses.
He has to have her.
They walk down the familiar high street with its impressive parade of expensive shops and boutiques.
Then they turn into a dark alleyway.
Mike can't remember ever taking this turning.
The ground is strewn with rotten fruit and vegetables.
The stench is terrible.
Coming out of the alleyway into the dim light they pass several dilapidated shops including one which is boarded up called Mr Bilial's Curiosity Shop.
They hurry past and edge through a gap between two of the run down shops.
A secret passageway.
Standing before them like a huge dark mountain is a large Gothic mansion.
The building is so immense that it is impossible to tell how many rooms it has.
A crumbling portico is held up by aged columns.
Ivy leaves and weeds seem to be creeping through every crack.
A centuries old mansion frozen in time.
Mike Wilcox is stunned by the imposing building and is momentarily dazed.
Am I dreaming?
A huge shining black door beckons them to open it.
The doorway to the Underworld.
Mike follows Aneliya into the mansion.
Suddenly he freezes.
The door has opened up into the largest room he has ever seen.
Statues align the walls as from ancient Greece.
Half naked gods and goddesses as in Mount Olympus.
And Aneliya is the goddess Athene.
Huge paintings and gold framed mirrors adorn the walls.
The white marble floor is so bright that it reflects his face.
Men, women and children are sitting or standing with solemn expressions on their faces.
They are all watching Mike Wilcox attentively.
He feels a sudden and primal urge to run.
Mike notices with mounting horror that every single person in the room is wearing a gold mask.
And that the room is deathly silent.
They have been waiting for him.
"This is my family" Aneliya pronounces joyfully as she takes a mask from a young man and hands it to Mike.
Mike reluctantly puts on the mask.
Suddenly the silence is broken by a cacophony of noise as people begin laughing and talking animatedly.
Someone pats Mike enthusiastically on the back.
Several burly men embrace him - laughing wildly.
A glass of wine is thrust into his hand.
A small band appears and begins playing as people take to the centre of the floor and dance to the mesmeric music.
Aneliya is talking to a shorter and more stout woman that Mike guesses must be her mother.
And he doesn't know why.
Mike takes a big gulp of wine - it tastes sweet but chalky.
His head is now spinning from fear and something else.
The violin music is getting faster and faster.
People are dancing wildly around him.
Someone pushes Mike enthusiastically into the centre of the floor and he feels himself being tugged around like a dancing monkey.
People are laughing and shouting in a language he cannot understand
He no longer tries to decipher what is happening to him.
The hypnotic sound of the music possesses him.
He begins to lose his inhibitions as the wine seeps into his very bones.
Mike struggles to find some clarity in his addled mind.
Another hour and he will be on his way home.
The thought of his modest little flat suddenly puts him at ease.
Soon Aneliya will be sharing his bed.
Anything is possible with her.
Mike Wilcox staggers onto his feet.
He loses his balance and falls down onto his knees.
Everything is swimming before his eyes.
He struggles to focus.
Mike Wilcox looks up from the floor to see the captivating Aneliya looking down at him.
He remembers why he is in love her.
To look at her beautiful pale face is to remember.
The older woman she was talking to earlier appears from behind her. She is flanked by three large men and several excited women.
"You are perfect!"Aneliya exclaims looking deeply into Mike's eyes.
Mike's heart skips a beat.
He finally rises unsteadily to his feet.
She must want him too.
They can leave together now.
This is a crazy momentary lapse.
The older woman slowly shakes her head.
Suddenly Mike remembers the senior woman at the bus stop and icy fear grips him.
"My sister" Aneliya cries "her name is Galina"
The men and women separate allowing a woman to emerge from behind them.
Is this the monkey woman?
The woman in front of him is not wearing a mask.
Her staring face is withered like a dry leaf.
Her back is crooked and one shoulder is higher than the other.
She smiles showing uneven teeth.
She is a reflection in a mad hall of mirrors.
|Grecian statue (by LindseyKal deviantart.com)
This is the Land of the Dead.
Mike opens his mouth but no sound will come out.
Fear has stolen his tongue.
Someone violently pats him vigorously on the back.
"You are perfect for her" Aneliya declares, as a surly man bolts the huge black front door behind them.
The monkey woman grins broadly and opens her arms to Mike Wilcox in expectation.
But he is holding his head and screaming now.
This cannot be happening ...
This is a nightmare from which he will awake ...
But it is all too real
"No! No! No!" Mike Wilcox screams as the music gets louder and louder.
People are clapping and cheering.
The monkey woman is tugging at him - showing rotten teeth.
Aneliya looks proudly on.
Outside the old mansion, the sun is finally setting.
And three large crows descend upon the branch of an old oak tree and squawk loudly at each other.
Three birds of ill omen waiting for a victim to succumb to his fate.
"Tell me a little bit more about your childhood?" The therapist asked.
Arno Moon let out a long and weary sigh.
"Let me see ... my father left my German mother when I was ten and I've lost count of the amount of times that I and my brother Leon changed schools because my father always liked moving on ... "
"How did those changes impact you?" The therapist enquired thoughtfully.
"You mean regarding my inability to commit romantically?" Moon responds "You mean that the early upheavals may have set up a pattern of some sort?"
The therapist smiles knowingly and her clear blue eyes glitter brightly.
"It's possible" the attractive brunette replies "What is your relationship with your father like?"
"We have a good relationship!" Arno Moon cries "He is an artist and a free spirit. I never blamed my dad for the breakup with my mom!"
"What is your relationship with your mother like?" The therapist presses "Do you see her?"
"I have an understanding with my mom" Moon answers carefully "She lives in Munich and we talk ... sometimes"
"Are you angry with your mother?" The therapist asks him.
"Not inordinately!" The man answers sharply "My parents got divorced and both of them moved on and met other people. My father's wife is great and my mother has a great guy in her life"
"Are you still angry with your parents?" The therapist asks - looking intently into Arno Moon's brown eyes.
The man slowly shakes his head.
"Not that I'm aware of!" He answers tersely.
"I mean ... does it still affect you?" The therapist demands.
"Listen Erica ... this is too much now!" Arno Moon declares as he turns to the woman "Would you cut out the third degree?"
Erica Bailey lets out a deflated sigh and pouts dejectedly.
The couple are lying in a big motel bed in the middle of the afternoon.
"You've gotta stop bringing your work to bed!" Moon continues.
"I know" Bailey replies "But I guess I gotta justify screwing my clients somehow!"
|The Marijuana Motel (by MarijuanaMotel deviantart.com)