A Classic Case of Projection
There was a smell in the air like gasoline. The woman, whose hair was on fire, fingered absently through a copy of Vogue. She was inches from the pool. The fire in her hair never seemed to die down, increase, or otherwise consume her as one would expect. After some ten minutes a hotel waiter emerged with a single bottle of Coca-Cola on a silver tray. He carried the bottle over to the woman, set it on the small table to her left, and then slowly stepped away from her. He did not turn around until he was five paces back. I noticed as he made his way across the concrete back to the slim black portal that led into the hotel that he looked over his shoulder as if to confirm that he wasn't being followed. High up in the sky ran the white geometric line of an airplane carving its way across the planet. The woman turned a page in her magazine. Her hair was captivating. I couldn't look away. She laid the magazine face down upon her thigh and reached over to the bottle of Coca-Cola. She removed the straw that had been left inside the bottle and she brought the neck up to her lips and drank. The way the woman drank was unbelievable. She chugged that beverage in complete denial of every other quality of her person, she drank the dark liquor down so quick that it drizzled from the corners of her ruby red lips and ran down the sides of her cheeks, around the ridge of her chin, then down the long plane of her remarkable neck. A single thin bead of brown dribbling down. She sucked and drank until the bottle was empty, raising the end into the sky above her head and penetrating the opening with the tiny red point of her long thin tongue, after which she set the bottle down back upon the side table, wiped her chin with the back of her hand and then resumed reading her magazine. A few minutes later the attendant returned to take the bottle away, whereupon the woman inclined her neck up in his direction, which prompted him to remove the towel from his arm, and slowly rub her neck clean. In the process of doing so, the arm of his jacket caught fire, but the man took no action to extinguish it. He finished what he was doing, placed the towel back upon his arm and retreated in the same fashion that he had before, all while the flame on his arm grew bigger and hotter. I could hear the noise of the flame being put out from the dark recesses of wherever the waiter had retreated to. I looked over at the woman, but she was gone.