AND then there was light! To a simple person passing by the alcove in the alley, it may have looked like the shabby beggar of indeterminable age was contemplating the universe through the prism of the ghostly green bottle. The mad dog perched precariously above his head. His eye catching the kaleidoscope of fluorescent light that danced against the backdrop of a Hollywood night. But, if that simple person passing by the alcove, stopped to take notice; upon further review, it was apparent that the old sot was greedily searching the bone dry bottle and lamenting the last vestiges of the alcohol, as the winding legs diverged to produce a final drop. He tilted his head back, his tongue rimming the neck for one final taste still devilishly beyond reach, Only then did his eye latch upon the lightshow played out in the upper stories of the alley buildings. As he moved the bottle away from his sight, he saw tiny balls of radiance revolving several feet above. The interlacing illuminations became transfixing, as they played almost childlike for an audience of one. Only moments ago, the vagabond had felt his soul so crushed that, had the carriage of death arrived before his feet, he would have welcomed it as a close friend. But now, as the dance of the orbs swirled in dazzling display, it ignited in him a recollection of chasing fireflies in the fields where he grew up as a child, so far in the distant past. He clapped his hands together as the balls of light bounced and swayed, following each sphere’s pass with a rapturous gaze.

The light stretched into ecliptic beams, swirling until they intertwined against the backdrop of the chipped cement wall, dangling stucco, and spider webs that formed the alcove. One electric light bulb swayed forming shadows that fleshed out the story building in the bum’s consciousness. A feeling of inner peace swelled within his breast, as the scenes of an idyllic life brought back memories of a distant world, one that had always touched him in his dreams. His body rocked with the lights, come to my world as landscapes shimmered, seducing him. He thought of his life, the hardship, the descent then I shall lift you up the struggle for the very staples of life, day in and day out. The lights danced shifting cloudlike forms, a woman beautiful beyond measure go to her. The derelict’s eyes glistened as another agonizing vision appeared before him, bodies heaved upon hillock, an old man standing a large staff; the woman save me encaged and rose into the sky. Horror surmounted greed, and the bum bristled with an outrage at the invasion, as the shadow formed before him your life for mine bowing in supplication. He knew in that single moment that he and he alone could save the world and, in doing so, perhaps; save his very soul.

Suddenly, the ellipses collapsed please an exchange elongating into interstates of melting neon. Within the shadows formed a muddled Mobius strip, twisting in and out of view. Orbs appeared once again, oval patterns of atoms or were they tiny universes accelerated in the bum’s imagination, do not be afraid as the orbs began melting from solid to liquid. Molten light raged a bottle’s throw above him and terror gripped his mind, as all of the light suddenly extinguished, converging into a single socket like the point of a gun. He felt the barometric pressure rise then fall like the swinging of a door in a stairwell our last hope as the single beam of light pulsed then pounced upon the conflicted soul.

Given no time to move, the old beggar absorbed the impact of the beam, his body jolted erect, the bottle smashed against the cement bricks, the crumbling stucco that coated the surface, all sucked into the maelstrom, as magnetic fields pulsed with the light and swirled the glass shards past the bum’s face in startlingly close proximity. What had begun as an extraordinary seduction soon became a thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror battled to hold sway. The swirling column of light embraced him, as his body was lifted from the pavement, arms and legs stringent in the sign of an ankh; he thought he heard the voice once again please I lose control whispering into his ear.

The beggar’s body jerked like a marionette on a string, ringed by an amoeba of light, raised in a macabre dance, as his limbs dangled grotesquely. The outside force pushed against his sinuses, held him in stasis, our souls entwine swinging in and out of the low wattage pulse of the single bulb overhead. The bum had known great despair, moments so crushing; he considered just packing it in and giving up completely. But nothing had ever, so utterly, threatened him in such a real and visceral way, or confronted him with the very real possibility that his very essence was being sucked from his body. He attempted to push out the flow of electrical charges that were pulsing through every cell, allow please. But there was another force, more powerful, imbedding its will within his mien, a seductive voice that countered his every argument, we will be as one calmed every fear and the hard life of a beggar could bolster no real resistance to the force of will that now controlled his very essence. But there, there in the core of his being, something else began churning—something combustible.

********

Cassandra Diamond’s stomach was churning, as she bent her petite body far into the passenger side of the sports car. On tiptoes barefooted, her pose almost egret like, all legs and ass pissed off cried out, she attempted to swoop her Gucci knock offs of course they’re originals from the floor of the vehicle. Her bff had meticulously applied the pancake to her forehead; but, now hours later, the slight freckling that constituted her Irish side had bled through. Her Welsh side supplied her violent temper pisssed off cried out; doubled over, she felt she might puke right there on the car seat serve his ass right! tried a dry heaved, much to the driver’s horror, but nothing came out that damn asshat she snatched both shoes by the straps. He didn’t even wait for her to say she was sorry I’m not sorry again, before he screeched into the oncoming traffic, leaving her on the sidewalk. She shot a double bird salute and screamed a few epitaphs about his anatomy or lack thereof, but neither caused a ripple in the part of town shit a good five blocks from her home, she had been abandoned in.

Another dizzy spell, the stocking cap too restricting, her new rojo wig hanging limply to her shoulders paparazzi shoot you motherfuckers her black Maschino with gold lattice too constricting, her Lady of France push up pinching in the wrong places, she parted the onlookers stooped to hook her Guccis with her finger, as she teetered her was down the sidewalk. The crowd dissipated, as she traversed the courtyard, then turned to see the sliver of an alley before her, dark and confining. A premonition like a wave permeated from the alley sending a jolt to her body; an involuntary shudder coursing a rattle up her spine. But after the night she had, she steeled herself I’m Cazz Diamond damnit! and preceded past the dumpsters of the Korean restaurant.

Brad so stupid that he thought an eight ball had something to do with billiards, them laughing their asses off, her mortally embarrassed, then the coke and tequila with Redopolho or whatever the fuck was his name, the pot and cognac and the great sex that left her panting for a fucking minute. Bursting through the door, right at the peak that dumbfuck Brad and his bourgeois sense of chivalry, caused a shit storm of a fight, chest bumping like two bighorn rams I chipped a nail macho asshats going at it like girls all slapping and no punching. How Brad latched onto her dangling arm, dragging her from just wanna sleep the succulent invitation of the bed.

Then, after the explanations and supplication, she had finally convinced him they should leave; but, now her head was throbbing. Brad was going on about her being a slut but his words were all jumbled, flying around her head in a swirling string of expletives. What the fuck did she think she was doing, how did it look for him, he was so fucking shallow she swore she heard don’t do me like that come out of his mouth Christ! Another fine mess she had gotten herself into.

She had been going down this road now for a while now, a road to destruction blasted out in living color for all the social media to see. But some things she had been able to still keep hidden mother would call it managed the still unexplained sudden death of her sister tall with model looks picked for the “Survivor: Teen Series”, how her mother had cajoled bullied, blew them more likely to let Cassandra substitute, and then as the glam “CAZZ” her rising star reached the zenith on, Whose Life is it Anyway? a coming of age piece of crap that had amazingly kept her at age 16 for seven agonizing years. It certainly wasn’t her fault that the crowd she hung out with never grew up either, child celebs always looking for that next high. Hell, their parents were sometimes bigger partiers then the kids. She had put on her Guccistraps and made a life for herself.

But the memory of her sister would come back to haunt her again and again. And after the show was put out of its misery, Cassandra found herself realizing how fickle the TV industry could be and how cruel the tabloids could crush a soul not equipped for stardom. She felt the bottom fall out though when that rag SCAB! had uncovered the intimacies of her sister’s death and splashed them on the front page of issue no. 507 fucking 507 some nobody by the name of Roger Miller. She stumbled a bit, feeling unbalanced. OK, so she had been partying a bit too much, drinking and drugs yeah a bit too much too, she was bored. She was also tired, and the more she partied the more she made the cover of SCAB! which defeated the whole purpose to run them into the ground, instead she was making them buckets of money.

Cassandra couldn’t believe that she hadn’t even put up a fight, dildo Brad and his bravado just let him whisk her through the house and out to his fucking sport coupe that should be the name of his new show, Dildo Brad! she felt so drained. And here again , she stumbled, now realizing that she had not slipped the strap on right and here she was teetering along the cracks of the sidewalk in her comefuckme heels, here in this shitty part of town. She picked up speed as the alley closed in around her. She had taken the shortcut before, but only in the morning walk of shame, never this late this dangerous Koreatown came out at night. She had heard the rumors, the unwashed were spreading right up to her penthouse on Wilshire, five blocks away. She had heard hushed whispers recently of something insidious happening to the homeless probably gangs but from her view it was hard to really wrap her head around such things. She loved Trump but geez things had gotten shitty, the unwashed were up to her doorstep. But she was Cazz Diamond and no dark creepy alley was going to deter her; she put her head down and upped her pace.

Her most pressing problem at the moment was that she needed to pee like a dromedary and; with every step, she could feel a warm trickle escape and make its way down her thigh. She was of two minds: the first, her education in the school of child actors knocks, where fine breeding would abhor the loss of such essential body control, the other, the street girl of her youth, who just wanted to squat right here in the alley and let loose, to hell with the heels messing those valuable stilettos. She looked with horror at the trash cans and bins lining the alleyway giving barely little room to hide away and do the deed. God, she had to piss like a racehorse.

A premonition began growing in her mind in the beginning was a twinge and her heart pounded straight up to her temple, She began to increase her gait, looking to the feint light that outlined the end of the block and an escape route. As her pace quickened, so too did her perception and with a sidelong glance, she felt the calliope of lights and shadows playing out just beyond the garbage bin. She quickly broke into a run only to have the strap slip completely off her foot, forcing her to stoop, as the alley opened into an alcove.

Suddenly, she was struck bodily by a sickening stench. She bolted upright elbows to chest into a man, more overcoat than flesh, wrapping itself around her back. The suddenness of the onslaught was such that it prevented her from even crying out and, looking up; her vision swam between the kerosene fumes wafting before her face and the morphing of the old slacken jaw and pockmarked guise before her. For an instance, the jaw tightened and a young visage echoed into focus—a proud and handsome face, a beautiful face, a face that had appeared countless times in her dreams. The juxtaposition of the two faces appeared once more, almost an apparition that glowed and cringed in agony. She saw that the lips of the vision tremble, as if he were murmuring inaudibly and a wave of apathy welled within her; suddenly a strong grip held her shoulders bringing her back to her senses and she began thrashing to extradite herself from the bum’s grasp. But the grip proved more forceful than she imagined and now the face within a face turned to her, almost in recognition, my prince the bright blue eyes boring into her soul.

“At last, I have found you,” the beautiful man’s lips sputtered. Cassandra could not have said it any better. The young face took control; she returned the smile, lost in the moment. But something was happening with the bum who held her and, with the animal instinct of survival, she thrashed her way out of his grasp. “Please, you must help her.” She tranced for just an instant on that dreamy face that seemed to pulse in and out like a ghost in one of those crappy horror flicks. But the bum had a hold of her once again and she shook the cobwebs from her drug addled mind and with it the countenance of the man she had seen only in her dreams. The face staring back was slobbering and hideous, bordering on the grotesque; the pock marks now melting never mixing cognac and coke again and once again her animal instincts kicked in. She began flailing her arms in an attempt to break the hold the bum had on her.

“Get fucking off me,” she struck him in the groin with her pump, sending the shoe skittering along the asphalt, “Let me go, you fuckin perv!,” but she wasn’t successful and the grip tightened now, as she saw the dreamy eyes reappear with a look of determination, the visage of the warrior’s face returned to the piteous face of the bum. The first blue flame leapt across from the fissure of his breast. Now, she desperately tried to extricate herself from the bum’s coat; the stench of sulfur and a plume of smoke screamed she free herself now.

“I lose control of this vessel,” the aqua eyes bore into hers; pleading but benevolent, “All is left to you, now” The arm of the overcoat hooked her shoulder. She was in a quandary, his eyes held her entranced, but a draft of vapors before her eyes forced her to twist away from the wave of heat. “She is your mistress as well,” the voice seemed to drift, even as the face melted away, leaving Cassandra with the dead weight of the bum. She twirled and struck, but the blow glanced harmlessly and once again Cassandra was confronted by a cauldron of blue flame.

The bum’s chest was engulfed, the overcoat ignited, terror reigned in both their eyes and a frozen scream hung on his lips never to be voiced. What happened next would follow her in nightmares for her remaining years. The bum’s tattered shirt dissolved before her, a small blue flame licked the chest hairs singeing butane-like in their furor, the abdomen opened flame licked like a human lighter, charred bbq filled the air, flesh bubbling around the hole in the sternum. She looked up to see the remnants of that beautiful face melt into a grotesque deathmask. Heat pounded her senses and her skin began to undulate, as if a million ants were crawling across her chest, then the searing pain helped wake her from her inertia.

Hysterically, she attempted to pull free but at that moment an unearthly cry rose from the bum’s lips and the chasm in his chest widened, there came a fierce breath, as if a furnace door opened and the carcass burst at once into a human torch, scorching her face and breasts as the ghoulish dance continued between the two. She heard a shattering scream and then realized it was her own. There came a convulsing shudder over the bum’s entire being, a sickly smile quivered about his lips as the appearance returned handsome and noble; and, with a laudable shove, he sent the girl reeling across the alleyway.

A satellite of harsh light glowed before her, the bum in the center, as Cassandra, feeling numbness across her face, crumbled into a puddle of her own making. Crying ferally, face down in the alley, she managed to rub her blinding pain in her own urine extinguishing the flames; and, remembering some lesson she had been taught as a child, began rolling in the stank alley.

She was coherent only long enough to see the final visage of the hollowed out carcass as it collapsed at the knee into some trash cans, the flames consuming the skeletal shell and the reflection of a wisp of smoke that seemed to trail along the sidewalk in an array of colors. Colors that foretold dawn was approaching. She lifted her head to see the early morning light filtering, and then laid her cheek upon the cool pavement. In her mind’s eye, she could hear an approaching truck. She closed her eyes and the vision of the man’s beautiful face emerged once again, sturdy and gentle—the face of her prince. The vision remained until her last semblance of consciousness melted away, her need to pee long gone.