Criminal in Disguise
Her polished, shimmering lips part and a wispy ghost of cigarette smoke slithers between them. I breathe it in without a second thought, even though I have to resist the urge to cough and expel the poison from my lungs.
“Smoke?” She holds out a cigarette between two delicate fingers, expectantly.
“No. No, thank you,” I manage to wheeze out, still trying to recover from inhaling her smoke trail.
“You don’t smoke?”
An eyebrow that has clearly been penciled onto her face, rises as if to ask me why I’m standing outside a bar if I don’t smoke.
“I’m trying to cut back. My goal is less than two packs a day,” I lie, blatantly. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life. I always thought that inhaling chemicals was for damaged people who enjoyed being gradually destroyed.
Her glitter adorned eyes and fake eyelashes interrogate and tempt me to take the cigarette she is still holding out to me. This woman is a stranger. A strange stranger. So why am I so drawn to her? The only reason I’m standing outside in the crisp night air is because I saw her lingering here under the streetlight. If I had some kind of plan before I don’t remember it now.
This woman has a peculiar sense of fashion. She wears fake hair, high heels, a mesh top, and a tight, black miniskirt. Her look is topped off with excessive makeup and a chain tattoo around her ankle. Everything about her screams “Look at me!”, and I can’t tear my eyes away.
“For my health,” I reply.
She draws the cigarette away and slips it back in with the other white wrapped, cell killing assassins. She continues to stare at me. Her natural eyes are covered by bright blue contacts, and it makes me nervous. I wonder what she is trying to prove, and more importantly, what she is trying to do to me. I have the feeling that she can hear what I’m thinking and I consider returning inside.
“I’m not a prostitute.”
Her statement seems strange. It’s as if she is trying to distract me from something worse.
“I didn’t say you were.”
“I look like one, and that’s what you’re thinking. What I think is that you haven’t smoked a single cigarette in your life. I also think you’ve never seen a prostitute before.”
I must be a really bad liar or she must be a witch.
“You aren’t a prostitute. So, I guess I still haven’t.”
She is starting to confuse me now.
“I dress like a prostitute for a reason. It’s a disguise that attracts the type of people who buy illegal drugs—like pills—and anything else they can find in order to experiment, and to escape reality. Do you want to escape?”
This woman isn’t a prostitute, but she is still a criminal. She’s a criminal who disguises herself to make a living. I’m shocked, but all I can think is: YES.
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Marissa LaPorte is a 19-year-old student currently attending Grand Valley State University. She won the annual “Edgar Allan Poe Writing Contest” held at Escanaba High School three consecutive years, and placed second place her fourth year. LaPorte has been selected as a winner and a finalist for many flash fiction and short story contests held on the writing website Figment.com and she was a runner up the “Letter’s About Literature Contest” held in Lansing, Michigan. LaPorte has also been published in two college literary magazines: the Hedge Apple of Hagerstown Community College and Serendipity of Bay De Noc Community College. Website: https://www.facebook.com/Maris-LaPorte-1155504271147092/