In the Midnight Hour
Ron Morelli

"Not half bad," the man in the tight-fitting suit chortled aloud to the other gentlemen of the club. His teeth were wide and white, and in the dark of the club they glowed with a zeal second to none.

He tipped his drink up, more a salute to the belly dancer then to anyone else. She ignored him, her skin shimmering in the subterfuge of the manís laughter, and the clouds of smoke that wrapped themselves around her diaphragm like a cummerbund.

The manís wife looked on passively. She sipped her drink and batted the smoke from her eyes. Casually she turned to spy the gentleman with the slicked-back black hair and he in turn raised his glass to her. She offered him a pert smile, and mouthed the words: ďWeíre celebrating Hitlerís death.Ē

He said nothing, just turned his head away and went back to watching the dancer shimmer, sway; undulating her hips and thick, fleshy thighs through the forest of pant legs and spilled drinks; or mud tracked in from the men and their passive, bored wives. And soon they all sat in quiet but restless peace, wondering and waiting for the next thing to occur and would it be good or bad, or mildly indifferent like the liquid that rested on the bottom of their glasses.

And this was their job. To come in from the cold and the dark, to sit in the warmth and the dark, and to pickle themselves slowly from the inside out.

First published: May, 2004
comments to the writer: Knob'