What offended Lou most about the protest was it’s lack of taste.
The signs were written in black, bold fonts on neon and hot pink pieces of card glued to lengths of wood. Some earnest art project gone horribly wrong. He stood and watched them with his forehead furrowed in amusement, smoking and smirking to himself.
He seldom took time off. Today though, he had outsourced the day to day affairs to a few ‘trusted’ subordinates and had found himself in Pensacola. The weather was something that he found entirely comfortable, even with the dark pinstripe and the cravat, his hair remained a perfect sculptured wave of white blonde hair and his face was a perfect study of milk poured atop ivory.
He tutted to himself, cast the cigarette to the ground and crushed it beneath the heel of his boots before walking to join the other mourners. He walked alongside a young couple, their eyes red with tears who kept looking to the small, vicious knot of people across the street. The elder of the two went to approach but his partner put a steadying hand out and shook his head.
‘They’re not worth it.’
The young man turned and looked into the perfect, violet eyes of the stranger.
‘Sorry, he hates those guys.’
He looked past them and narrowed his eyes.
‘On grounds of taste alone, I’d agree.’
He knew that the couple were Iain and Benjamin, that they had met in college and were at one point, experimenting with the deceased in a polyamorous relationship before primal notions of dominance asserted themselves and they did not speak for a while. He knew the worst in people, and that was why he loved them so much.
Looking at the church, he knew what would be said and what would be meant. Funerals were clumsy affairs and seldom captured a life, good or bad. They were for the living, and the dead oftentimes spoke of the self serving omissions and errors that irritated them. The event that marks your passing has all the depth and veracity of a celebrity autobiography.
So, seeking amusement, he walked across the street. He heard calls and ignored him, lit up another cigarette because it would irritate them and he smoked like a fiend. He was not afraid of cancer, cancer was afraid of him.
‘YOU’RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL, FAGGOT.’
They spoke in upper case, angry comments on the internet without the excuse of anonymity. He pitied how empty they looked, even he knew the fullness of existence. Even though it hated him.
‘I was actually coming to thank you, actually.’
His fringe had fallen into his eyes but he kept it in order to avoid having to look at them directly. He inhaled the cigarette smoke, enjoyed the tickle in his throat and how they had lapsed into silence.
One of them, with his dad bod, undulating chin waddle sparsely covered by a beard that resembled glued on pubic hair stared at him. Every instinct screaming to run, but self righteousness and hitherto undiagnosed fetal alcohol syndrome made him stand his ground.
‘For saving your immortal soul? I should think so.’
Lou chuckled, a dry, ugly sound like dessicated branches sweeping against a window pane. It was a laugh that once sounded chimes in the heart of creation, but time and circumstance had rendered it’s beauty into something practical and terrifying.
‘Oh you sorry little sac, you really have no idea how it works, do you?’
Lou managed something that had eluded the great and the good who encountered the group’s feverish infant protests.
‘He doesn’t concern himself with hatred, neither does the boy. He pities your lack of understanding, if anything.’
He lit up another cigarette. It carried an unearthly scent, due to the fields it was grown in, fertilised with the eternal corpses of the damned. It made marijuana look like child vitamins and the crowd’s noses wrinkled collectively in response.
‘But why let the facts get in the way of the resolutely good time you all appear to be having, eh?’
Dadbod gripped the sign in his doughy hands and began to advice. Lou laughed and waved his finger in a mocking gesture.
Dadbod, looked around, lost in a storm of primal panic and aggression, before committing to the worst possible decision and charging him. Huffing to accommodate his lack of experience with actual aggression and a cardiovascular system that would lose in a race with a sleepy dormouse, he charged and for a moment, imagined shoving this petulant asshole to the floor. In an instant, he saw the approval of his peers as a parade of hateful good feeling and was heartened by it.
Which was when Lou stepped neatly to the left and watched him tumble, using his face as a brake. Pink and scarlet shreds of skin laid in streaks against the asphalt, like abandoned gum, devoid of flavour but not colour. Dadbod screamed, clutching his face and Lou walked over to him.
‘This, Gary, is a perfect metaphor for your approach.’
His smile uncoiled, a bright and terrible beauty that made it’s mark on this world and he continued.
‘I have no time for lectures, but I encourage you to really pray. Listen to that small voice, the one that you actually struggle with but you pretend is dyspepsia, and follow that.’
He stood up, bowed formally from the waist and went about his day with a wink that made the nascent libidos of many of the protestors and crowd flutter like a newborn butterfly. There was a woman at the tent hire place he wanted to look at, and a plate of chicken parmesan to enjoy.