Posted on: May 2nd, 2009 Speaking of Butterflies

by JM McDermott

I went to a charity ball, and charitably offered to bring a young woman along. She could never mingle in this expensive crowd without being on my arm.

She didn’t mingle much. Mostly she talked my ear off.

“There’s a butterfly that drinks blood somewhere in a jungle,” she said. She was a biology student at the university – she had told me – and she should know these kinds of things. “It flies around the jungle looking for rotting corpses, and then drinks their rotten blood.”

I sipped my martini. I tried to look engaged. “Do you know what my favorite game to play is when I’m at one of these stupid functions?”

She touched my arm. “You’re not listening.” She leaned in close enough so I could smell her perfume. She had a designer dress on, but I could see the very slight bump in the back where the tag was still attached, hidden under the thin, black silk. I watch for these sorts of details.

“I don’t want to talk about butterflies. I’m changing the subject,” I said. I pointed out at the crowd. “I like to look around and guess who the male escort is.”

“That’s depressing,” she said.

She bit into my wrist with her teeth. It hurt. I ripped my hand away from her. She had drawn blood. I rubbed at my bleeding wrist, annoyed.

“There’s also snails that eat the dead,” she said, “They live in mountains in the desert and feast on dead deer, dead pigs.”

I pointed at a man with a ponytail and a green suit jacket – tacky. “That’s the one.”

“I’d rather talk about butterflies,” she said, “like when the monarchs fly south in a giant, beautiful flock to stay warm. Like how caterpillars will eat poison and eat poison and eat poison and then when they fly nothing evil can eat them because of all the poison inside of them from when they were young.”

She had this conspiratorial look on her face when she said that, like I was supposed to know what she was talking about but all I could think about was taking her home and peeling that skimpy, black cocoon off her back, and opening the front clasp of her bra like two silk wings.

Filed under: bad-ass, stories

--Brain Harvest