New York City at 3am was a dark fantasy. A time when all the beautiful creatures of the shadows came out to play under the ever-changing light of the city. Andrew Barrington dragged on his cigarette as he shuffled down the dirty sidewalks. Trash wilted against the unforgiving brick of the ancient buildings of his borough. This was not what Andrew had pictured when he had dreamed of his life in New York. He had seen sparkling skyscrapers, lithe beauties in Christian Dior. Fame. Fortune. A column with his name under it. But here, in this filthy underworld, Andrew instead caught tidbits of tawdry conversation whispered in raspy, seductive tones by the women lounging in the harsh neon of the sex shop windows.
One more block to go. Three flights after that.
Then back to that broom closet of an apartment Andrew called home. Pausing to take another pull at the cigarette, he closed his eyes and could see the yellowing paperbacks stacked by his bed, the scarred screen of a dated laptop. It was there that Andrew could spin the dreams that he so yearned for in waking. Sighing, Andrew snuffed out his cigarette against the cold pavement. An icy feeling gripped his gut and seemed to spread. It was failure. Emptiness. A college education wasted.
“Hey, got any smokes?”
Andrew paused and drank in the sight of her, not bothering to conceal the primal interest that ignited in his expression. The first thing he noticed was her hair, a bright fuchsia, crudely chopped around her nymph-like face. Her skin was pale and seemed to be drawn too tightly. She was a little too thin and the cheap tourist t-shirt she wore made her look like an eight-year-old boy, but to Andrew she was exotic and beautiful. The knowing flash in her eyes, the way her scrawny hip jutted out; numbly he handed over his pack of smokes and lighter, entranced by the sight of her thin lips wrapping around the cigarette.
The words choked him for a moment than tumbled out in a hurry. “Come back to my place?”
She quirked an eyebrow at him and hummed thoughtfully over her cigarette. Andrew knew what her answer would be. Without another word he shoved his hands in his pockets and walked quickly down the sidewalk, the pink haired girl following a few steps behind.
“I’m not sure what the protocol is. I’m kind of new to this.” Andrew mumbled minutes later as he shut the door behind them.
“Relax.” She said flatly, her small hands reaching for his belt.
Andrew’s body sagged heavily against the cracking plaster of his walls, his eyes fluttering closed as his heart began to race. His mind taunted and scolded him, but he felt something besides the cold, finally. Every now and then, he glanced down at that head of remarkable hair, bobbing up and down at his waist, but for the most part Andrew just closed his eyes and thought of the next thing he might write.
It was over almost as soon as it had begun. Breathing heavily, Andrew fished out a handful of wrinkled twenties and watched the pink haired girl leave his room quietly.
It was like she’d never been there at all. She left no trace of her presence… except for one thing. The burning, lustful flash of inspiration. Andrew closed his eyes and saw the pink haired girl again, but this time she was stepping from a Rolls Royce, wrapped in fur, a fantasy. He sat down before his keyboard, the keys worn and greasy from years of use, and mouthed a silent prayer of thanks for his muse.