Three nights after the orgy near Delphi, I.O. awoke in the woods, having seen the oracle in a dream. It was twilight, and a full pregnant moon hung in the sky. Next to her laid a man. Only he wasn’t a man really. Not yet. He had a smooth boyish face, with high cheekbones and soft golden hair. His eyelashes were long and curly, almost womanly. His eyes were bright and blue and he had a soft curve of a nose that pointed gently upward.
He was beautiful; a boyish man with celestial features. Yet, as I.O. soon noticed, this creature was no seraphim. The bottom half of his face was more austere. There was something hard –even cruel about the shape of his jaw line and on his brow a circular mark lay conspicuously discolored and raised causing his smile to reveal a subversive temperament.
He was a strange fellow: both imp and angel, man and boy. But above this paradox, , he was a carnivore. His teeth were sharp. So sharp, he could open a bottle using his only his mouth. He claimed to eat a lot of meat: organs, particularly. “You never would think how good a good set of kidneys dresses up a salad,” she recalled him saying. “Indeed,” he had continued, “a good hardy lung does worlds for my constitution. Without meat, I feel tired and hollow.” And then he had tossed back his head in such a way, characteristic of a feral dog. “I’ve eaten well for the last few days, so at the moment, I’m the quintessence of virility.”
His statement must have given him pause, for he fell silent for a long period and stared at her with such intensity that she was forced to look away. The anxiety of the moment finally broke as laughter bubbled out of them and when it subsided, he and I.O. made sex.
But now, that is all over. Now they are up and walking. I.O.’s chorale is not far behind the two walking through the woods. They do not make themselves known to the man-boy-wolf, but I.O. is keenly aware of their presence. The man-boy walks along with one hand on the seat of his bicycle. The chain of the bike clicks continuously as they walk along together. I.O notices a good amount of dark muddy residue stuck on the tires of the bike and on the spokes of the wheels. The bike had clearly been to many places.
The forest floor on either side of the dirt path is covered in ferns. The chorale follows the pair, brushing through the green fragrant plants. I.O. fears that the man-boy will catch there scent. And now, much to her dismay, a breeze is coming through. There is music hanging on the breeze. The Boy stops and peers over his shoulder, tilting his head slightly and closing his blue eyes half way. A sly grin is creeping across his face while I.O. shivers. They are both stark naked and listening to the sonorous strains of a woman singing.
The music gets louder as they round a corner at the edge of a small clearing. I.O steps on something firm and smooth. Looking down, she sees a vast blue mosaic floor. Her foot has a brown leather sandal pump strapped around it. Looking about her, she realizes that they are no longer in the woods, but a ritzy club in Rittenhouse –the Park Bistro. I.O. is clad in a chic orange tunic-dress that is gathered at the waist with a blue handbag. Inside the handbag is a book. Pulling it out, she reads, “Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms?’’
“Good stuff,” says the boy.
“Good stuff,” says the chorale.
The boy doesn’t hear them. “I will leave you here.” He says. He is wearing white fitted pants, a blue collared shirt and a straw bowler hat. He looks like a dandy, a hard carnivorous one. He still has one hand on the seat of his yellow bicycle. Looking at the hand, I.O notices that a finger is missing.
“But I don’t know anyone,” she stammers.
“You will. Ah look, you could make an onion cry with that face.” He says. “I’ll be back around sometime.”
With that, he mounts his bicycle; clangs open the glass door with the front wheel and zooms out. The bike spills onto the pavement. The host can’t seem to wipe the vexed look off his face. There is a big dark smudge of dirt on the blue floor.