It started as a tingle, that’s all. Just a little buzz of electricity where my shoulder meets my neck. There was no pain. It didn’t even tickle. But it made me feel weird—almost dirty—as if what I’d been suspecting all along was really starting to happen.
I remember taking out my compact right there on the train and pushing aside the strap of my blouse to look at it. Of course there was nothing there—no pimple, bump, bruise or redness. There was no lump knot beneath my skin, the muscle beneath didn’t even feel sore.
But the tingle didn’t go away. I got off the train, walked into The Smoky Bottle and it stayed with me, like a bug or something riding on my shoulder. My fingers worried at the spot as the music started to play. This new occupation didn’t do much for my already non-existent dancing skills.
I tried to drink it away, ordering whatever cheap vodka was on special that night. It tasted like broken glass on fire—the kind that was the best for blocking out the world. I drank glass after glass while leaning on the speaker, trying to let the sound vibrations wash me clean.
Dylan or something asked me if I wanted to go home with him. He thought it was cute that I’d come to a bar all by myself. I wanted to tell him that I wasn’t alone. But that wasn’t right, so I moved aside the strap of my blouse and asked him if he saw anything there.
Dylan or something said: No, Baby, you’re beautiful.
Dylan or something reached for me and put his mouth right on my tingly spot. He did it without asking, just pushing the strap aside or untying it, I don’t remember. All I remember is being grossed out by this stranger’s sucking mouth and the tingling that made me imagine that bugs were boring their way out of my body and into this weirdo.
So I pushed him away and called him a psycho and ran to the ladies room.
Through the graffiti on the mirror, I looked at my faces. My three faces. That is the miracle of cheap vodka. Under the flickering florescent lights, I examined the base of my neck.
And the longer I stood there looking, the easier he was to see, especially because the lights were flickering.
“Jiminy effing Christmas,” I said to the little man sitting on my neck. He flickered like the lights. One second a tiny shadow. The next second gone. He sort of dressed like Mr. Peanut with a little top hat, cane and monocle. He wasn’t naked like Mr. Peanut, though. That would have really been something. I just don’t really remember what else he was wearing.
“Hello,” said the little man. His accent was oddly refined, which put me off and made me feel like I didn’t know how to talk to him. So I just stood there staring at him and trying to pick him off my neck which was now very red from Dylan or something’s hickey and my constant scratching.
Finally, I couldn’t take it any more and my three faces yelled:
“Who are you? When are you going to get off me?”
The little man gave me an exasperated look and said, “I’m your conscience and your answer is never.”
I decided to try the IndieInk.org challenge this week and this is what happened. My prompt was: "Why do I care for what is clearly not there?" This is probably a stand alone piece because I had no idea what was going to happen until I wrote the last sentence. My original intention was to put the devil on her shoulder or some kind of bar-guy eating demon, but ultimately a conscience growing on someone's shoulder like some kind of cancer can be a heck of a lot scarier. My challenger this week was Hannah and my challengee was Amy LaBonte. My challenge--which I take a good deal of credit for--was "This doesn't taste like chicken." Please pay both Hannah and Amy a visit to read more short fiction.