The gypsy, pale olive skin and glossy black hair stared at me with dark eyes that seemed to look right through me. “You and your lady friend come inside,” she said. I hesitated. “What are you afraid of?” She reached up and touched my face with her fingers. A scent of peppermint and sage filled my nostrils and made me giddy. “You afraid I seduce your boy friend?” She asked Jane. Just then a policeman walked by and the young gypsy woman stepped back away from me. The policeman glared at her and she disappeared back inside her tent.
I listened for an instant and I could hear the strains of violin coming from within. Sweet and sorrowful it played. We stepped inside and quietly slipped off our shoes before we crossed the plush purple carpet. Suddenly there was a loud creak and when we turned around there was a large gypsy man with a brown felt hat pulled low on his forehead standing in the doorway. “It’s alright papa,” she said. He just looked away and then stepped back into the shadows.
Sleep eluded me that night. I lay in the darkness upstairs in the old farm house that my Grandmother owned. Our family had lived on this land for four generations and when I was thrown out of my Mother’s house by her new husband my Grandmother had insisted that I come to stay with her. She told me, “Nicky I’m tired of rambling around this huge house all alone.”
Why not I thought? I still had my senior year in high school to go through before joining the Army why not spend it with Grandma. That was one month ago. It was August and that was fair time in Rhinebeck.
I laid in the darkness trying to empty my head of troubling thoughts, carnival gypsies and fortune tellers. It seemed to be impossible though I couldn’t get her out of my head. I could still smell the peppermint and sage that had lingered on her finger tips.
Jane had noticed it and was annoyed by it even though we were just friends. She had mentioned it on the way home. “You’re awful quiet.” She had said in the car.
“Bone tired that’s all,” I had said.
Jane lived next door to my Grandmother and since she was around my age like all Grandmothers she tried to hook us up. I had no interest in Jane except for a friend. It was nice to have someone to hang out with. I was a stranger in a strange land being from the city and it was nice to have a guide. When school started I was quite sure we would drift apart each to our own crowds.
Now I was wide awake again and thinking of my gypsy angel. All my senses were in high gear a heightened sense of awareness. I strained to catch any untoward sound in the house, a creak here and a drip there, my Grandmother in her room next door as she coughed and then turned another page in her magazine.
What was it like in her world? She was around my age my gypsy angel. What was it like on the carnival midway when all the people were gone and you were alone with the spinning tea-cups and the mad-mouse, when the lights were off and the music silenced.
It must be ominous the silence. That’s was what I kept thinking about and what I wanted to know. It was where I wanted to be with her. It was where my heart had wandered off to on this warm summer night as the scent of the carnival lingered on the breeze.
I could see the glow of the lights outside my window and they drew me on like a moth to a flame. I stood at my window and sucked in the smell of grease paint and diesel fuel with just a hint of danger and intrigue mixed in.
After turning on the light on my bedside table I sat on the edge of my bed torn between the world I knew and the world I wanted to know better. It was truly the calm before the storm. I got up slowly and took my pants and shirt off the chair. It was time to decide.
Despite my sense of urgency about the need to be over there and with her right now I moved slowly, carefully down the staircase going to great lengths to avoid the squeaky steps. I silently slipped the chain off the top lock and closed the door softly behind me. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath I was free.
The magnitude of what I was about to do sent goose bumps down my spine. I crossed the road there wasn’t a car in sight and the only sounds I could hear were the sounds of the generators running at the fairgrounds.
It was a tight squeeze but I snuck under the wire fence where the kids snuck in. It was an absolutely balmy night. There had never been a better night to get wild and crazy and as I walked along the midway I felt like I belonged there.
There was one snack-wagon still open and there were a couple of guys sitting out on a picnic table having a beer. My heart froze what if they said something? I felt beads of sweat pop out on my forehead and my hands felt cold and clammy. They’ll know I thought. They’ll see right through the guise and know I’m not one of them. As they looked my way I started to panic but they just smiled and said, “crazy night.” I smiled back and nodded as they went back to their conversation.
I glided by like a ghost haunting the midway, the center joint, the line joints, and the stick joints were all my play ground, and who will win the rag in a bag I thought. I know, I know, but I couldn’t sleep I had a premonition that something…no everything starts tonight. I was born again to the smell of cotton candy and fried dough. Like drugs they coursed through my veins. Then there she was sitting in front of a sign that said, “DARE TO KNOW THE FUTURE.”
I stared at her I couldn’t help myself. She shook her head and said. ”You’ve come back to me they all do once I’ve laid hands on them they wear the stain of passion on their souls and the scent drives them mad with lust.”
I nodded and took a deep breath the scent of peppermint and sage filled my head and made me tipsy. “Okay, so what do we do?” I replied half in a trance.
“You want to be with me.” She said. “You want to be here when the darkness comes, you want to be in the middle of it all.”
“That’s why I’m here,” I replied.
“No, you are here because I placed a spell on you. Do you have nerves of steel? Are you strong enough to be my lover? I think not go home little boy.”
“Bitch,” I cried as I lunged at her wrapping my fingers in her long black hair and yanking her head around so her lips were just inches from mine. She just stared up at me defiantly. I knew that danger didn’t scare her she thumbed her nose at it. I let her go and fished in my pocket for my pack of Newport. As I lit one up she took it gently from my fingers. “I don’t even know your name,” I said.
“Aishe,” she whispered.
“I’m Peter,” I said.
“I know who you are Peter you have been chosen just for me.” She whispered as she placed her lips to my ear. Then in one motion she spun around me like in a dance and said. “Come with me.”
All my strength suddenly seemed to ebb away and I was entirely at her mercy. I followed her down the darkened midway like a puppy. With a click of her fingers and a wave of her hands the lights came on and the carnival came alive. Invisible hands worked the rides each one longer then the next and ghosts called from the joints promising untold riches if we popped the balloons or made a basket. “Win a prize for the little woman,”a ghostly voices whispered.
Things seemed to be moving faster and faster as Pink Floyd’s Money thundered out of huge speakers all around us. “Perhaps something earth-shaking is happening here.” She laughed. “World shattering, mind bending,” she screamed hysterically as the Tea cups spun faster and faster.
I wanted her now more than ever I took her by the hand and led her off the midway out of the bright lights and on to the soft green grass. She put her hands on my shoulders and closed her eyes. I felt her strong yet sensitive hands work the tension out of my muscles as her fingers probed deeper and deeper. My senses were reeling, I felt high and drunk all at the same time. We tumbled into each other’s arms and I knew that our coming together was right, it was the destiny that I was born for and then reborn to.
I was fully aroused my body shaking as I plunged deeper and deeper inside her. My tongue and fingers centered fully on her ecstasy. Her whispered voice changed to moans and then animal grunts and hisses as her passion grew. Her nails ripped through my shirt and raked my back just before my sweet release.
Suddenly there was a flurry of motion and the man with the brown felt hat yanked me off her. “Watch out boy,” he cried as he raised his rifle and fired three times. On the ground where Aishe and I had made passionate love was a dead Bengal Tiger. The man with the felt hat just shook his head as a single tear ran down his cheek. “She knew she was cursed with the mark of the tiger upon her but she wanted to know love just one time.”
Timothy Wilkie is a writer/artist living in upstate New York. His short stories “Ossuary”, “The Flaw”, and “The Cell Phone” have been published in The Horror-zine and his story “Sweet Meat” has been published by Massacre Magazine. His art has been featured in The Horror-zine and Arabian Nights. Twice he has received the Golden Poets Award from the American Poetry Association.