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The Lady V. waits until the gloaming to go to Stop ’n Slop, as she calls it, for the supermarket seems to her a slaughterhouse: the bloody steaks and ham hocks, the sticky chicken, and thick-thighed wives. Still, she folds her black coat closed, puts on her black shades, and makes her way down aisles as bright as hallucinogens or Capitalism. She knocks muskmelons and holds leafy bunches of cilantro to her quivering nose. She avoids cloves of garlic and anything to do with Feminine Protection. Soccer Dads draw near her as though they wish to kiss the crimson lips or sock her in the leprous jaw. Soccer Moms feel themselves perilously close to tears as she passes by, but they adjust themselves and go home as loud and as hardy as elephants in orange and yellow culottes. For her part, the Vampire Lady fills her basket with reds and blues: tomatoes, eggplants, blueberries. Her hunger is for beauty.

first published in The Golden Key