The Animal Inside

The overhead light swung across his face by an energy of which I am unsure its genesis and for the first time I saw him truly.  Where before there was a phantom conjured only by the distant thought of shadows, now there were flesh and bones.  I couldn’t help but feel I had seen this man before.  I’d say he was a distasteful sort but that would be too kind.  He was plump in his face and for a moment his expansive sweaty forehead reminded me of a retired aircraft carrier I’d visited as a child.  I was certain that his ruddy complexion beneath too much stubble was shielding something dreadfully important from me.  But I could not for the life of me determine the pivotal fact that was sleeping just beneath the surface.  I had the distinct impression that this vital information was like a grave dug in a high water table and was floating ever higher, ever closer to popping above ground.  Where you been? he said, in a bestial voice higher than either of us anticipated.

It was only then that I realized that this was an interrogation and I was questioning this man about a string of murders.  All nasty affairs but, of course, there’s no other kind really.  “I went for a coffee.”

“Where it at?”

I looked at my hand and he was right.  It was as empty as the universe often feels.   But then I looked at his hand and watched as he pressed a Styrofoam coffee cup to his pouty lips.  My fist clenched and I wanted to reach across the table, smack that subhuman look off his face and right onto the dirty floor where our ancestors might have fought for supremacy ten thousand years ago.  I’ve never despised a person more.  I was summoning hatred so deep it was nearly ready to fly around the room on hell’s wings.  It was only then that a calming light shone through the window bars and I remembered the fact I’d forgotten.  I am an animal, but not just.  And this man is just like me, but not quite.

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