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Thirty Minutes Alone

Nets me this:

Peregrine had never noticed the size of Early’s teeth before. Which is strange considering that Peregrine “Perry” Turch had worked as a runner/gopher/jack-of-all-trades for Early’s Birds for the better part of a year now. Of course, he’d never been called before the big man himself, having been recruited by one of Early’s generals, Red Stanley, who controlled everything from Scuttle Street to the harbor docks where Perry had been summoned tonight. But now, watching the big man delicately nip an apple slice from the blade of his pocket knife, Perry found himself unable to see much else, as if the room itself had shrunk in comparison to a set of teeth.

It wasn’t just the fact that his teeth were big, Perry decided, for Early was a big man himself, and one might only expect that his choppers would be proportional. No, there was something more than mere size at work here. Perhaps it was their uncommon sheen, an almost pearlescent glow seen only rarely in even the wealthiest of Dunbarton’s citizens, and quite possibly never amid the inhabitants of Dunbarton’s lower west quadrant — referred to affectionately as ‘The Pit.’ The fact that one of their own, even one as exalted at Big Jim Early, was sporting not only a full set of teeth, but a highly polished one at that, was surely the secret of their unholy allure.
Perry nodded to himself, satisfied with his deductions, and felt his back start to relax into the soft leather of the club chair Early had motioned him toward some minutes ago, before the big man began the tedious process of peeling the apple he was now slowly devouring.
It had been quite a ritual. The polishing of the apple against his lavendar waistcoat. The testing of the pocket knife for sharpness, done by slicing through a sheet of paper in one broad sweep leaving only a clean sort of shushing sound in its wake. Then the careful task taking off the peel in one continuous piece.
Perry found himself forgetting to breathe as the skin spiraled almost to the floor, so thin he could see the glow of the oil lamp on Early’s desk shining through it and no wider than his own pinkie nail. It wasn’t until Early took the first, naked slice into his mouth, that Perry remembered to inhale. And only then in reaction to those incredible teeth.
Early’s lips closed over the final slice. As he munched, grinding the apple to a juicy pulp and swallowing it with an audible gulp, his black eyes never once left Perry’s faded blue stare.
To his credit, Perry held his gaze right up to the point when Early licked his lips, seeking that last bit of fresh apple pulp and pulling it into his gaping maw. And then Perry forgot to hold eye contact, forgot once again to breathe, forgot everything but the fact that Big Jim Early didn’t simply have big teeth. He didn’t have pearly white teeth. What Big Jim Early had were great-big, pearly-white, razor-sharp fangs.

And the worst part — the part that made Perry wish he’d never heard of Red Stanley, or The Pit or the entire city of Dunbarton — Big Jim Early was smiling.

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2 Responses

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  1. Anne Riley says

    I love this! Really, it’s soooo good. I hope you will let me read for you once you get to that point. I am sucked in already! Great voice!

  2. jodi says

    Thank you, Anne! I’m getting kind of wrapped up in this one, but am uncertain whether to outline what I think I know so far for fear of killing the entire thing. Decisions, decisions.

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