And now, a randomly generated scene …
Nouns: lentil, salon, swimming, chameleon, pile, trap, limit
Adjectives: absorbed, befitting, hallowed, better, thinkable
Verbs: enter, propose, rectify
It was on tentative, creeping toes that the brothers did what was barely thinkable to the other boys on their block—what remained barely thinkable to poor Ronan: they cracked its broken back door and entered Bellinger’s salon.
They had never been allowed inside, barely been allowed even to peer inside the large square front windows. No child had.
“That stuff’s not for kids,” their mother explained each time she returned, poking her face, her generally critical fingers caressing with such admiration.
The darkened salon appeared empty. Damon stared about him. The walls were stacked tidily with tools and books. A little wheeled cart nearby was loaded with ointments, tweezers, needles, and scissors to be whizzed around the shining floor to any of the numerous mirrors. Apart from the strong smell of disinfectant, the air was scented with curried lentil soup. It drifted from the upper level. Bellinger must be there.
Ronan was understandably nervous. “This is hallowed ground to him,” he reminded his absorbed brother in a mutter. “The place he practises his craft. If he ever was to catch us here …”
His eyes jumped beyond his will, drawn to movement. But it was only a trio of GM goldfish swimming in their aquarium, near fluttering behind the glass with their outsized fins and massive bobble cheeks.
“And the man is a chameleon,” Ronan added when Damon didn’t reply, now engrossed with, of all things, a small rubbish bin. Ronan saw some blobby, yellowed substance spattered on its rim. A shred of flesh-coloured tissue – he didn’t want to think what – flopped over the edge, as well. Why were all the adults obsessed with this place? “Literally, Damon. And you’ve heard Lon’s stories – “
Along with his brother’s pride, Ronan cursed Lon long and lewdly in his mind. It was that smart-aleck that had proposed Damon take up this absurd quest in the first place.
“ –Bellinger likes nothing better than to trap kids that sneak in here. He needs faces to practice on, and refine his craft.”
“Pile of rotten mincemeat,” Damon at last spoke, a confident grin breaking through the general awe of what they’d done.
“I don’t care if it’s a pile of rotten mincemeat,” Ronan whispered harshly. “Hurry and pick something – nothing he’ll notice is gone. We have a time limit, don’t forget. He’ll be finished his evening meal any moment.”
Despite his brother’s urgency, Damon considered his surrounds lazily, drawing out his time in that forbidden salon and relishing each moment, on the lookout for their proof of entry.
“What prize is befitting … ahh, here we are! These ought to convince Lon.”
Damon chose a small set of bone shears and lifted them exultantly into the air.
“Fine,” Ronan said tersely, glancing over each of his shoulders, fine hair prickling sharply along his arms. “Let’s get of here.”
Prize held high, Damon’s jubilant smile melted into a perfectly round O of surprise, muting his intended reply. His arms dropped.
Bellinger, thin as straw and entirely unwrinkled though decades curved his spine and shoulders, stood directly behind Ronan. He wore a face that Damon, through his icy shock, was sure had once belonged to the florist around the corner.
Ronan stood perfectly still. He felt the looming presence behind him, and though he dared not look, knew who it must be.
Damon eyes remained locked with Bellinger’s – that lightning violet-blue wasn’t a shade he offered in the catalogue the brothers had leafed through – for several long, tense seconds. Only when he blinked did Damon think of the bone shears he’d taken, cold in his tight grip.
Perhaps he had time to rectify that proud theft before they discovered Lon’s story – every word of it – was true.