With the hose coiled at his feet, and blossom-stained needle still hanging from his arm, Maxwell slowly ran a trembling hand down the aged, piss-stained wall, his older tracks sore and exposed, and fumbled for the non-existent light switch. His pale, sweaty fingers twitched, sending pieces of mouldy, flaking paint towards the floor in a gentle arc. A few tiny specks settled onto the backs of his cuticles, another larger one found its way under a fingernail, drawing blood. He felt the prick but immediately ignored it as a newly discovered utopia moved outwards from a point just below his navel and spread suddenly throughout his whole body. As he began to revel in the beauty, an awful, venomous scream charged all his synapses at once, reeling him backwards into the empty doorway. He paused, eyes turned inward, retched violently and fell to his knees writhing, his mind instantly thrown into a haze of tortuous agony. He slumped further down to the floor as the junk pain seared and scarred its way through his body in all directions, sending him into savage convulsions. His hands moved upwards, clawing at the air, where his knuckles briefly raked at his temples searching for a way to bleed the pain. They found none, and Maxwell, his threshold surpassed, blacked out as the accusing ghosts cascaded into his nightmare.
He entered silently, and stood in the doorway for an instant, legs akimbo, then began his slow elegant walk alongside the counter, searching the faces as he went. The one at the end, yes, that one looked ready – skin just the right shade of grey, empty eyes deep-set and indistinct, focused elsewhere. The kind that no one ever misses. He leaned forward, removing the grey one’s hat, and whispered in his ear. As the grey man smiled vacantly, he raised himself up slightly, looked heavenward, parted his lips in a perverse smile, and sank his teeth into the top of the old man’s head. As the blood began to escape in pulses, the waitress, who had been watching the newcomer, raised trembling hands to shoulder height, elbows splayed as though suspended weightless, screaming, unable to move. The cook, hearing her scream, peered out through the serving hatch in time to view this pageantry of carnage, before simultaneously soiling his chef’s blues, and mouthing a silent prayer as he watched him gracefully chew off the top of the grey one’s skull with teeth that belonged in no human man’s face, lapping at the jellified contents. A vile stench hung in the air about him like a green cloud while the others, in their fogged quasi-existence, appeared to show little or no interest. Through the blood and the screams, and the crazed, lifeless disinterest, he remembered Magritte’s “The Famine”, and began laughing at one of his better jokes.
His anger rose with each passing moment, until finally he exploded into a demonic rage. First, his face contorted into an evil mass, his eyes leaping out accusingly towards her. Then he began to dribble uncontrollably, and, as the saliva slipped from his chin, he shot his arms upwards – fingers outstretched – and arched his head backwards. His hands shook and transformed into vile, reptilian claws as he opened his throat and bellowed. He twitched his torso to the left, almost raising himself up from where he sat and, with all his strength, cleaved his hands downwards in an arc until abruptly arrested by the table’s surface. He fell silent. Slowly, his neck craned forward, his face lifting towards Vivienne. His eyes, barely visible beneath his tossed hair, first rolled inward, then glared at her in accusation. His fingers, now dug into the table’s top, began their excruciating journey backwards, the surface curling up and breaking beneath his blistered talons. The exploding shards glittered as his tongue coiled out of his mouth and bent around to lick the spittle from below his own chin. He then leaned forward, his stare never leaving Vivienne, and tasted the table where some of it had come to rest. He pulled his fingers from the rippled channels they had made, lay his hands gently in his lap and took a deep breath. “But enough of me,” he whispered, “let’s talk about you”.