Saturday, February 25, 2012


The elevator doors pinged and drew open, all eyes in the lobby turning as if they instinctively knew there was something exceptional to see. She walked out and onto the once-ornate marble floor as if gliding on air, her svelte legs momentarily teasing as they appeared through the slits of the long red dress that hugged and highlighted every well-placed curve that the Devil had blessed her with. Cigarette smoke curled from her nostrils, creating a halo that made her face seem even more ethereal than it already was, with its porcelain skin and moist red lips that looked sensual and hungry, but had the hint of a sneer that let you know that she was nobody’s pushover.

I knew who she was. As a busboy I made it my business to know who everyone was that walked through those old glass doors. But I didn’t know her, certainly not in the way I wanted to. Her name was Allison. Her friends called her Alli…her enemies called her many things, but never a shrinking violet. She gave off class but looked like she would be equally at home in the dank alleyway behind a rowdy burlesque joint as she would in a grand ballroom. She was Veronica Lake and Vampira, as alchemised by Ed Wood on some musty, long-forgotten Hollywood backlot. If you looked deeply enough or caught her in a moment off-guard, there was a vulnerability in her eyes that told you she had been hurt, and was not going to let herself get hurt again.

She stubbed out her cigarette and I savoured the scent she gave off as she walked by, an intoxicating mix of perfume and natural pheromones that I imagined would only increase to near-lethal measures when she was in the throes of passion, seeping from her every pore and invading the senses of whatever lucky sonofabitch happened to be tangled up within her. Her long, slightly wavy hair - auburn with a hint of red - flew across her neck and cascaded across her back in thick waves as she turned and gave me a brief smile that made my spirits soar and went straight to my heart like a precision hit of adrenaline delivered to a mainlining junkie. I didn’t know if the smile was genuine, or one delivered out of pity for a poor fool who seemed to be on a long, meaningless road to nowhere, his entire existence confined within these four crumbling walls that echoed with a more glorious past. Frankly, I didn’t care what her motivations were. A smile from her was better than a kiss from any other dame I could think of.

The smile faded. Her head turned back. I savored the view from the rear, as it moved with the kind of perfect sway that is usually only reserved for fever dreams or desert apparitions. She walked out the main door and had no troubling hailing the first cab that came along. I looked down at my watch and began counting the minutes until I would see her face again.

Copyright John Harrison 2012


Photography by Marco Patino.

Note: Above are the opening paragraphs of a new pulp/noir piece I am working on. Thanks to the lovely Allison Grace (pictured above) for providing the inspiration.