Introducing the Prime of Darkness, Tiny Daylittle, and Love & War, Texas
|Sitting on the porch swing eating orange popsicles, Tiny Daylittle and the Prime of Darkness were being watched.
Although officially over, summer still hadn’t quite given up the ghost. Nestled in the heart of west Texas desert, Love & War was as hot as a pizza oven. Or Hell, Tiny thought, casting a sideways glance at the Prime of Darkness. She made a mental note to ask him about this one day. Sweaty and irritable, Tiny pushed the swing with her foot to stir the still air. Breezes were obstinate and refused to blow. As she bit off the end of her popsicle, Tiny squinted at the house across the street.
“They’re looking at you,” Tiny said after a while. “That’s gotta be so weird, to have people staring at you all the time.”
The Prime of Darkness shrugged, licking around his popsicle so it wouldn’t drip. “It’s probably a lot like being famous,” he said. “Like being a celebrity.”
Tiny snorted. “Not that this town’s ever seen anything remotely as interesting as a celebrity. Hell, I guess you’re the closest thing to excitement they get out here.”
Darkness followed Tiny’s gaze and saw that the family across the street was indeed watching them, though they made a good show of pretending they weren’t. “How do you know they’re not looking at you?”
Tiny cocked her head to the side, thoughtful. “They might be,” she admitted. “Should I give them something to look at?” Smiling, Tiny swiveled on her butt, leaned back, and stretched one leg out in front of her, pressing the ball of her foot against Darkness’s chest. She made sure the lookyloos across the street got an eyeful of a long swathe of alabaster skin from her ankle to her hip. With a devilish grin, she turned her head, stuck out her tongue, and wriggled her fingers coquettishly at the folks across the way.
The family across the street turned their backs, and Tiny could swear she heard the woman gasp.
Darkness shook his head and knocked Tiny’s foot from his chest. He wasn’t sure what game Tiny was playing, but he was pretty sure she was up to no good.
“I’m bored,” she complained, turning back around and crossing her legs Indian-style underneath her. “There’s nothing to do in this town. There’s not even– oh, hey,” she breathed, a sudden light flickering behind her eyes. “We should go see that Simon St. Laine show over in Placerita tomorrow tonight, you want to?”
Tiny shrugged. “I saw a flyer last time I was at the BRB. ‘Simon St. Laine – implausible magician’ or something. Gracey said he’s not very good. Corny. But it might be fun. You want to?”
The Prime of Darkness thought for a moment, then shook his head. “I don’t know, Tiny. It might be…awkward.”
She was about to ask why when understanding struck and she dropped her shoulders, deflated. “Oh. Because of the whole.…armor-wearing demon thing.” She indicated his outfit with a noncommittal wave of her hand.
The Prime of Darkness nodded.
“Well, listen,” Tiny said, her voice carefully light and nonchalant. “Can’t you just do that thing you do with the shadows? Where you sort of…bring them to you? And hide?”
The Prime of Darkness nodded slowly. “I can if it’s dark enough. But what about inside the theater? House lights can be bright enough that I can’t hide that well.” He shrugged his large shoulders, peered off into the distance. “I’ll just stay here. People here have gotten used to me. Or they’re too polite to say anything. You and Gracey should go, though. I can look after myself.”
Tiny thought about this a moment. It was true that the people in this backwoods town were surprisingly kind to the Prime of Darkness. Of course, that was probably because they didn’t know what he was. No one knew but she and Gracey. Most people seemed to think he was a circus performer, or mentally handicapped, or a participant in a reality TV show. (How they explained the lack of camera crews Tiny had no idea.) But ever since they had brought him home after finding him passed out on the side of the road, folks had just accepted him, like a blue-skinned man in a superhero costume wasn’t the strangest thing they’d ever seen in all their lives.
Actually, their willingness to accept him was kind of weird.
Tiny shrugged. “Well, whatever. Let’s at least go for a walk or something. I’m sick to death of this house.”
The Prime of Darkness nodded, got to his feet. “Yes. Sure,” he said. “You want to go now?”
Tiny stood, stretched, and tossed her popsicle into the trash. “I got to put on some sunscreen first. I’m so white I burn if you look at me wrong. But I guess you don’t have to worry about that?”
Darkness looked down at his bare arms, his blue skin almost purply-black in the shade. “I don’t think I burn,” he said. “But I don’t usually go out in the sun if I can help it. Maybe I should put some sunscreen on, too. Just in case.”
Tiny was about to point out that if he didn’t burn in Hell, he probably wouldn’t burn in Texas, but figured he would miss her joke and retort something about not having a physical body when he was in Hell. So instead she just smirked and said nothing as she followed Darkness into the house. If nothing else, the smell of Banana Boat sunscreen wafting off the Prime of Darkness’s blue-gray skin was something she didn’t want to miss.
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