Comrade Chicky spotted Little Red Coat at the train station.
A thin, pale
child, beautiful and delicate, she walked up the station steps
one foot perfectly in front the other. Comrade Chicky could
translucent flesh from across the platform. He could imagine
breaking through it. He could feel something so very rare.
approached her, not stopping to think for one moment of his
gaunt figure, the thick glasses and squinting eyes his students
made fun of.
He fingered the wrapped candy in his pocket. He'd been saving
it for the
Red Coat looked at Chicky with surprise and, Chicky thought,
disdain. But no fear. She answered that, yes, she had tried
candy once, and
she liked it. His hand slid from his pocket and he offered
the piece. She
looked at it for a moment, then at Chicky. Back at the candy.
She took it,
and slipped it into her own pocket. She looked away.
was time. Chicky's heart raced. But he had to do it. He explained
Little Red Coat that he had a secret candy shack nearby, just
woods. That the outside looked like a regular old shack, but
that inside it
was filled with every type of candy, even all the kinds from
the West. She
looked at him again, her face as impassive as the bare tundra
from the village and the woods. Would you like to see it,
he asked her.
Okay, she said. He instructed her to count to ten slowly and
him. Okay, she said. He walked away, thinking of her delicate
the blood pulsing underneath, thinking of her small, breakable
followed. At the edge of the woods he turned back and walked
with her. He
felt he should make a bit of conversation, but he couldn't
think of a single
thing to say.
they reached the shack he opened the door and gestured. She
before him. He locked the door quickly, even before she turned
having seen the dirty, ramshackle cottage distinctly lacking
in candy or
anything else of interest to a child. Her large eyes looked
even wider, her
milky face even more pale. To his surprise he saw not fear
but rage. She
growled at him. The child growled!
Chicky backed against the door, then slid along the wall toward
greasy workbench. His hand groped for the sharpened axe. He
felt its heavy
handle under his palm, and grasped it in one hand. He was
tumescent for the
first time in ages, and trembling. He rushed at Little Red
Coat, the axe
over his head, the other arm out to catch her thin shoulder
through the red
wool of her coat.
Red Coat ballet-stepped to the side at the last split second,
grabbing Comrade Chicky's outstretched arm as high as she
could reach and
pulling him with all her little weight and might toward and
past her. He
fell onto the dirt floor, knocking his head against a rusted
anvil that lay
at the foot of a filthy mattress. Little Red Coat ran at him,
axe from his limp hand. She would have seen her father chop
had even tried it herself on occasion. She hoisted the axe
high, losing her
balance for a moment but quickly regaining it, then brought
the weapon down,
with the help of adrenaline and gravity and fortune, onto
Chicky looked at Little Red Coat, seeing blood spurt in his
vision. She was backing away, then standing perfectly still
against the door
of the shack, the axe dropped before her. Looking at him.
himself fading. Dizzying. Not really any pain, but a rapid
draining of all
resources. Loss of tumescence. His anger flashed and he tried
to shout an
obscenity at Little Red Coat, but he could only produce a
that sprayed frothy blood.
Red Coat kept her eyes on Chicky as she slid one hand into
and pulled out the candy. She watched him as she unwrapped
sniffed it, and placed it carefully in her mouth. Then she
turned her back
on him, turned the oversized key in the oversized lock and
swung open the
heavy wood door. She looked back once, then shut the door.
Chicky could not see Little Red Coat run across the snow,
trailing, her fur hat flying from her head and trailing behind
her by satin
ribbons, her fur-topped boots a black blur over white snow
under red wool.
Comrade Chicky saw red. Then he saw nothing. Ever again.