(My response to Dave's "Can You" challenge. Italicized text is his prompt)
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The masks were what struck me first. Why were they wearing masks? Of all the strange things that had happened to me today, this was the strangest. It was just so damn…cliché! Frustration welled up in me.
"If I’m going to die, it’s not going to be by a character out of a bad Justice League cartoon damnit!" I said under my breath.It sounded good, but with no weapons and zero fighting ability, I wondered if I was being a touch optimistic.
The masks were tied on with pieces of black ribbon, alternately smiling and frowning. Stereotypical comedy and tragedy depictions that you see on the walls of any third rate tattoo parlor.
The two figures were moving with a seductive grace that was decisively feminine; the curves of their bodies accenting each movement. They were wearing one piece body suits that hung baggy and loose like pajamas but were drawn up tight at the wrists and ankles. There was a design stitched into them of a peach tree branch starting with the bottom of the branch on the ass end and the leaves and blossoms blooming across the breast. Jet black slippers completed the ensemble. They were carrying ebony staffs that ended in three foot blades. They began to spin the staffs with what I assume must be more than passable skill and started forward.
"You’ve got to be kidding me…"
They moved in perfect tandem, feet rising and falling with synchronized, hypnotic grace. The street was narrow, bordered on both sides by closed-up storefronts, their blank faces offering no shelter or protection. I looked around for someone- anyone- who might be able to help, but the street was empty. The middle of the day, and the street was empty. How unlucky can you be?
As I watched, the advancing figures whirled their staves around in a complicated figure-eight, then tossed them high into the air and caught them! They were showing off! I was about to be killed by a pair of overachievers. I seemed to hear my heart thudding in my ears like a bass drum. I couldn't think clearly. Someone was crashing cymbals together inside my head. In panicked desperation, I threw myself against the north wall, arms up to shield my face from their deadly blades.
And they passed me by!
Ignoring me, they continued onward down the street, now high-stepping as they turned the corner. As I slumped to the pavement, I saw a man in cap and bells following them, waving a balloon on a stick. Then a man in a bear suit, juggling colored balls. Then three ballerinas in glittering leotards. Then a whole band, their red and white uniforms bright against the midday sun.
As the parade passed in front of me, I felt relief sweeping over me, washing away the fear. I vowed there and then, before God, myself, and the Sathington Willoughby Junior High School Marching Band: No more drinking before noon.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.