Beauty and the Beast
by Jonathan Wood
He dreams of a seduction of the flesh, of the muscle and the bone. He dreams of claws tenderly peeling the skin from him, reducing him to nothing. Just a heart.
He wakes to the cry of his own name. Fans are legion outside his hotel. They dog his shoot. They break onto his sets and caress him. He has retreated. He has locked himself away from the world. Perry, his PA, makes urgent calls. His agent is on line one.
“Get out there and pimp it, baby.”
“Breach of contract, darling.”
He swears at Perry. It is easier to curse Perry than to curse himself, his own face. He doesn’t deserve this, he knows. His beauty is skin deep. No one else knows.
She comes to him in his dreams. Monstrous. Hideous. Beloved. She takes his beauty from him. His face. His famous pectorals. He is nothing before her. That is everything.
They call his name louder. He is the epicenter of the world. Perry brings him advil and prozac. Perry squeezes his shoulders. He shakes Perry off. Why is Perry even here? Perry is better looking than he is. He tells Perry this. Perry doesn’t understand.
He has already rejected suicide. That way lies martyrdom, and then even his memory would be lost to the fable of his fame.
She comes to him again that night, bestial and low. She buries her face in his abdomen. Sweetly she eviscerates him.
He wakes sweating. He is not alone. Perry is there. Perry has him bound. Even Perry has failed him, has succumbed to the power of the myth. Perry wants his pound flesh.
He closes his eyes. And in this invasion of nightmare into reality, he calls to her, his monster, his lover, his beast.
Somehow she hears him. Somehow she unfurls from dreams and hotel furniture. Bathroom tiles are her spine, bed posts are her ribs, shattered glass is her claws and teeth.
She takes Perry. Takes him apart. She leaps from the window down to the baying crowds, and she rids him of them. She defiles his myth in viscera and blood. She is slaughter in his name.
She leaps back up to his room, swollen with the limbs of her victims. And he feels free, finally free of it all. And she advances while he dances. And he smiles as she opens her jaws.