Short Story
                                               Blue Dancer
                                                                  By Timothy C. Hobbs


     Joshua Tate. Professor of history.

     On Wednesday and Friday nights, Professor of Papa John’s Body Shop and Exotics—nude, white
bodies in blue lights, flesh swaying to the beat, flowing in the fog of tobacco smoke. Sweet.

     “I could set my watch,” Ray the bartender says. “The usual, Professor?”

     “Hit me, Ray.” Joshua tilts his glass. Fire in the throat, cool fire. “It’s time to change my face again.”

     The beat moves in like a hammer of God. Can’t stop it, just roll with it.

     Blue Dancer starts to sway, and the place is caught by her. Hypnotized.

     “My, my, look at that bitch move! Is she new, Ray? I haven’t seen her before.”

     Ray refills the glass. Three fingers. “Oh, she’s something, isn’t she? I mean Papa don’t usually go for
no contract. But this is one exception, you can’t blame the old bastard for.”

     Blue Dancer grabs the music and makes love to it, entwines with it. Perfect body, consuming eyes.
Cosmic beauty on earth.

     “Now I know how the little birdie feels looking into the eyes of a snake.” Joshua leans against the bar.
“Delicious.”

     A hand waves from across the bar. “Better cool down, Professor.” Ray moves toward the customer in
need of attention. “Why don’t you have a game? It’s just starting, the night I mean.”

     “If I can walk with this lump in my jeans,” Joshua says as he heads to the pinball machines.

     A spray of lights, buzzers popping, points rolling. Hard fingers with light pressure on the flippers. Steel
ball keeps moving; body melts into electric machine, machine into body. All become one. Electrical
flashes like a bowl of pulsing stars. Whammo!

     “Damn.” Joshua wipes the sweat from his forehead. “I can’t even get a shitty free game. That
shimmying whore has jinxed me! Can’t concentrate on the game, only on her revolving tits.”

     Blue Dancer leaves the stage. Pale chickens follow.

     Joshua retreats back to the bar. “When does Aphrodite reappear, Ray?”

     Ray rolls his eyes. “Not till tomorrow night. Like I said, a very exclusive chick.”

     “Ah, ‘tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace’. . . Recognize it, old swami of
the shot glass?”

     “Come on, Professor.” Ray shrugs. “You’re the brain, not me.”

     Joshua laughs and slaps the bar. “Then give this brain some morning pain, old friend. I must be leaving
early tonight. Finals to grade.”

     Glasses wiped clean, waiting for liquid flames. Reflections of a distorted grin from a tired bartender.
“Bet you’ll be back Friday night, Professor. She’ll be on the stage again.”

     “Contrary to my routine, I think I’ll make a rare Thursday appearance. She’s got me hooked. I guess
Papa knows a good thing when he sees it. Right, Ray?”

     Laughter floats from a smoky black room.

     “Well, see you tomorrow then, Professor. I’ll be here. That’s for sure.”

                                                                                     * * *

     “What do you mean five hundred dollars!? You are her manager, aren’t you?” Ray pointed you out.”

     Fat fingers worry a ring. Ashes drop to the floor. “Yes, Professor Tate, Ray is correct. Bullock’s the
name,” the obese man points to an undulating Blue Dancer, “pleasure’s the game. This game will cost you
five hundred.”

     “Jesus, I’ve paid four hundred for a weekend before, but we’re talking one night here.” Blue Dancer
smiles at him. It floats to his face like a butterfly. Rapture’s enfolding wings. Joshua bites his lip, runs
fingers through his hair, and lets out a sigh as he sits across from Bullock. A crystal tumbler rolls in his
fingers. Mirrored reflections. He sees a fat, smiling face through the glass.

     “Beautiful, isn’t she?” Bullock’s sad face drools at the moving blue shape. “I found her in Greece when I
was in the Merchant Marines. She trusts me completely and will do anything I ask. Anything!” he cocks an
eyebrow at Joshua. “Well, Professor? Yea or nay?”

     “Hell, you know I’ve got to have her.” Joshua says and sees a smile spread across Bullock’s face. “I just
want to know one thing, Bullock.”

     “And what might that be, Professor?”

     “Are you married to her?”

     A tinkle of laughter. Hands clapping in amusement. “Oh my word no, Professor. Although she has had
a number of husbands, but then, who could hope to hold such beauty? No, she belongs to the world.
Believe me she is very, very worldly. As for her connection to me.” Bullock shrugs. “I’m only her manager.
Strictly business.”

     “All right then, when can she come to my apartment?”

     Bullock puts his hand under a double chin. “How about tonight, after her last show?”

     “Oh yeah, that’ll be fine,” Joshua says, his brain burning with the thought of that body wrapped around
him.

     A small gray pocket book emerges. “Now, Professor, if you’ll give me that address.”

                                                                                     * * *

     Tonight’s the night. Just like Christmas in July.

     Clear, cool ice around the bottle. Candles burning low. A once-in-a-lifetime find. Make it last a long
time, an eternity.

     The storm blows in unannounced, unwanted. Gusty winds drive the rain and the night glows in
spreading veins of lightning.  Powerful but peaceful.

     Relaxed by the rain, Joshua dozes. The blur of fuzzy, bitter memories falls in time with the wet patter on
a window pane.

     “You have to marry me,” a voice pleads. “I’ll never have an abortion or give it away!” Lips move in
terrible waves. A tossing sea of ruin.

     “Now listen to me, Pam. You know this kind of scandal would destroy my career!” She turns away from
him and stares out a window. “After all, you said you were on the pill. If I believed there was any possibility .
. .”

     “Possibility!? Oh sure! Big shot Professor! You make me sick. I thought you loved me, but I was just
another student lay, wasn’t I?” Fire shoots from her eyes. “And don’t think I’m letting you off the hook. Wait
till I tell my father. You’ll be glad to marry me by the time he gets through with you!”

     “Be reasonable!” he says as she walks away from him and heads toward the door. “Stop, please! I can’
t let you leave like this. I’ve worked too hard to let some horny, little bitch spoil it all!”

     She laughs and picks up her coat. The door to fate opens before him. A quick slap to the head.
Surprised, terror-filled eyes. Another hit, another. She falls, slamming hard against a coffee table. Red
spatters on a white carpet. A few jerks, then quiet. Over. She’s now something for a hungry river.

     He sinks in the water with her and then wakes to the bellow of thunder outside.
“Why won’t it leave me alone?” Joshua swears, sweat pouring. He wipes his face with his hands, then
checks his watch. It’s late. “Where is that broad anyway? She might have come when I was dozing. Better
call the club.” As he reaches for the phone, the doorbell chimes.

     “Bullock? What are you doing here? Where’s . . . ?”

     Bullock pushes through and falls in the nearest chair. “Excuse me, Professor. I’m beat. I don’t mean to
be rude. As for what I’m doing here, I like to check out things before my Blue Dancer arrives. No offense,
but there are a lot of sickos around these days.”

     “Sure, sure.” Joshua laughs it off. “There are a lot of weird people out there all right. I imagine you’ve
seen your share.”

     “That I have.”

     “How about a drink while we wait for the main attraction?”

     “She does have a name, you know.”

     “I think I’ll call her Miss Blue Tits, okay?”

     “Very original,” Bullock says, not amused. “But I suppose it’s your party, so you can call her what you
like.”

     “Damned straight! Now what about that drink?” Joshua says while filling his own glass.

     “No, but can I talk you out of some aspirins? My head is splitting.”

     “Sure thing.” Joshua sits his drink down and heads toward the back of the apartment.

     Bullock quickly moves to Joshua’s unattended glass. Small, white pills fall in. Tasteless, effective.
Power over body, not mind.

     Joshua returns shortly with the aspirins and a glass of water. “Thanks,” Bullock says as Joshua sits and
drains his own glass.

     “Getting a little late, isn’t it, Bullock? Is she gonna show, or did you plan on stiffing me with some bullshit
excuse so you could take the money?”

     Before Bullock can answer, Joshua’s head feels like it’s been smashed by a sledgehammer.
Dizziness hits. The room starts to spin. Falling. Through the confusion, a fat face leers above.

     “You should be pretty much immobile by now, Professor.”

     “Mmpf . . . ftgt . . .” Lips won’t work, only mumbles.

     A hand pats lightly on Joshua’s cheek. “You can’t speak or move, right Professor? But you can hear
and see quite clearly.”

     Josher muffles a groan.

     “Good, good. I wouldn’t want you to miss a moment of this.” Pam appears from a billfold. Eyes stare
from a photo into Joshua’s. “Remember her, Professor?”

     A wild stare. Saliva dripping from the corners of Joshua’s mouth.

     “You should, you bastard!” Bullock grabs his face. “She was my daughter!”  He drops Joshua’s head
on the carpet. A rug fiber tickles Joshua’s nose. “This is the last picture I have of her.” Bullock stares with
sad eyes. “You killed her, didn’t you? You knocked her up and then wouldn’t marry her. And when she
pushed, so did you. Enough to kill her, right?”

     Heart racing. Panic hits like the thunderbolt outside. Pleading eyes.

     “When she stopped writing, I knew something was wrong. I reported her missing when I came home on
leave.” Bullock paces, glancing coldly at Joshua. “The police had no clues. They assumed my daughter
had run away. But Blue Dancer knew what happened. She can look into the past like we stare into mirrors.
There she sees what has been. It’s just a shame I found her so long after Pam’s disappearance, and it’s
unfortunate that Pam never mentioned you in her letters. The police will only believe the written word, not a
psychic one.”

     The apartment door blows open. A strange smell follows the cold breeze. Foul but sweet, like rotten
strawberries.

     Bullock stops pacing and stands over Joshua. “Your date is about to arrive. Would you like to wait and
find out just what she is?” Bullock leans close to Joshua’s ear and whispers, “No, I think I’ll let you in on her
little secret.” Bullock falls into a chair again. “Well, Professor, she is from Greece, like I said. Her ancestors
are well known there, but being a history professor, I’m certain you’ve heard of them as well. Does the
word Empusa ring any bells?”

     A word leaps from an old memory. Pages appear.

     “I know how to control her to my advantage. In fact, I’ve managed to acquire a small fortune with her
help.”

     Letters focus. Clearer now.

     Empusa (im-poos-a): spirits that . . .

     “Yes, she is so beautiful. Overpoweringly so. Like an ornate plant that lures its supper to fly or crawl into
a sticky, wet grave.”

     turned themselves into lovely young women and coaxed . . .

     “But these bugs pay me first! A greater satisfaction for me, a better kill for her!”

     men to marry them only to kill their new grooms on the wedding night and . . .

     “In this particular case, and I’m sure Pam would agree, an outstanding turn of events for me!”

     gobble every drop of their blood.

     “I know your senses are heightened. The drug I gave you adds that special effect to its many others.”
Bullock waves his arm in a graceful bow. “So now, Professor, without further delay, may I present your
bride. A short wedding true, but a memorable one nonetheless.” Laughter follows Bullock out the door.

     From the corner of his eye, Joshua sees a blue shape glide in. His senses are painfully alert, but
struggle as he might, he cannot move away from the thing staring at him.

     Razor fangs smile down. A pointed tongue glides over them in expectation.
Lips smack loudly. A hideous, ancient nightmare face descends. The strawberry smell grows stronger.
Cold hands turn Joshua’s head to fully expose the pulse racing in his neck.

     A soundless scream.

     White teeth gleaming, tearing as rain knocks on the windows. A gurgling, sucking noise.

     Blue Dancer’s face has turned to crimson!
About Timothy C. Hobbs
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