The room is white with camp beds set up in rows. Dakin sits up on one of them, rubbing his arm as the nurse withdraws the needle.
“You can go out to the food now,” he says. “It’s free.”
“I know,” says Dakin. He gets up and walks out the door in the opposite direction, away from the laden tables, the biscuits, the coffee. He likes the feeling of weakness, so rare for him. He likes the pale look it gives him, how it contrasts against his black T-shirt and makes his knuckles white against the pale jeans.
He stops to look at himself in the David Jones window in Market St. His face reflects onto a dummy wearing a long red lycra outfit, like a man’s swimsuit from the 1930s. He runs a hand through spiky black hair and wanders towards Elizabeth St. Coffee. Oxford St. That would make everything perfect.
She stops to wipe something from the corner of her mouth in the café window. She whirls around as she thinks she hears the sound of glass shattering. There is no one behind her. She turns back to the café. There are silver trays loaded with chocolate brownies and cheese cakes. A cake with white icing and sugar roses catches her eye. Ugh, how tacky.
Dakin sees her looking through the café window. He wills her to come in and sit near him. He has no desire in his eyes or even interest. He looks like a scientist appraising a specimen. Despite most people’s suspicions, Dakin is not interested in men either. Not as men.
She sees him watching her and her blood chills. Suddenly, she wants to hold the sugar rose and crush it under her fingernails. She remembers little silver balls on cakes as a child, and how it hurt her teeth to bite through them. She tugs her jacket tighter around her shoulders and walks into the wind.
Inside, Dakin smiles to himself coolly. He knows she will come back, later.
The sky shimmers in the heat. There is a stench of rose oil and blood and bone. The weather has been more erratic this autumn than anyone can remember. In the garden of the brick house, a wrinkled woman looks up from the rose bush, trowel in hand, to see black pointed boots walk by. In the suburbs, it’s a less common sight than the inner city. The woman looks up but the figure has gone. The heat and the smell are becoming unbearable. As she goes to sit back down, she knocks over her glass of iced tea, loses her balances and puts her hand down onto the shards. With a cry, her hand flies to her mouth and she sucks the blood from her palm.
Ruby arrives at her mother’s house. She knocks and pushes open the screen into the house. The main door is open to let the heat out and the air in. She walks through the corridor, looking into the side rooms. In the lounge, her mother sits with guests. All have cups of coffee in small cups resting uncomfortably on saucers in their laps. Each saucer has a small silver spoon on the side. Her mother looks up as Ruby enters. So does Dakin. His eyes meet Ruby’s and she remembers the café, the chill.
“Hello, dear. You remember the Kleins? And this is their friend from… Melbourne? Um…”
“Dakin.” He stands, hand outstretched to be shaken. He is at least 6′3″ and very thin. She looks into his eyes. They are grey. The heat makes her thoughts swim groggily at him. She shakes his hand and sits down. The conversation goes by smoothly. She doesn’t notice when it’s time to leave, until Dakin presses her hand with a piece of paper. Her palms are sweaty. His fingers are ice.
In her room, alone, she unfolds the paper. It has his name, his number, and three words: you are mine. The words dance greenly. She picks up the phone and dials.
According to ancient Jewish tradition, there is a bone in the body that can never decompose. It can, however, be burnt. Without it, the Messiah cannot rebuild the body on the Day of Judgement. Dakin knows another tradition, that there is a vein, once pierced, that never stops bleeding.
He picks up a midnight blue cloak and swings it around his shoulders. He puts on a pair of glasses and grows his hair below shoulder length, ties it back with a black ribbon. His fingers are long and he plays with one of the silver rings on his forefinger. His look has changed but the colours haven’t. He walks out into the night.
Jared is leaning against the wall in the nightclub. The tall cloaked man who approaches him is vaguely known to him. Dakin rests his arm against the wall above Jared’s head and rests his body against the other man’s torso. Their legs intertwine. Jared feels desire for Dakin rise through his body. Dakin kisses him langorously, his tongue licking gently along Jared’s lips. Dakin moves back, takes Jared’s hand and leads him out, home.
Ruby sits on the floor in Dakin’s loungeroom. She feels the waves of cold wash over her, the heroin in her body making her numb. Dakin has pricked her finger and his and rubbed them together. “Just like Sleeping Beauty,” she mumbles, and closes her eyes as the needle goes into her arm. When she is asleep, he takes her blood and injects it into his own arm, revels in the bliss of it, the rush.
After making love with Jared, Dakin runs a sliver of glass across his chest, drawing patterns in cuts. He is careful not to cut too deeply. Jared laughs and calls him kinky.
Back at his place, Ruby is still asleep. Dakin undresses her and lies her down. He can sense it is her time of month and briefly considers licking that blood too but she begins to stir and he covers her with the doona and goes out into the loungeroom to smoke a cigarette instead. Dakin thinks Ruby is a witch. Ruby’s mother thinks Dakin is Prince Charming. She doesn’t know that his kiss does not wake Ruby in any way.
Jared is found in the morning by a neighbour. He has cuts all over his body and track marks in his arm. He is very pale. His body is cold although he has only been dead a few hours.