IT’S THAT MOON AGAIN, SLUNG SO FAT AND LOW IN THE tropical night, calling out across a curdled sky and into the quivering ears of that dear old voice in the shadows, the Dark Passenger, nestled snug in the backseat of the Dodge K-car of Dexter’s hypothetical soul.
That rascal moon, that loudmouthed leering Lucifer, calling down across the empty sky to the dark hearts of the night monsters below, calling them away to their joyful playgrounds. Calling, in fact, to that monster right there, behind the oleander, tiger-striped with moonlight through the leaves, his senses all on high as he waits for just the right moment to leap from the shadows. It is Dexter in the dark, listening to the terrible whispered suggestions that come pouring down breathlessly into my shadowed hiding place.
My dear dark other self urges me to pounce – now – sink my moonlit fangs into the oh-so-vulnerable flesh on the far side of the hedge. But the time is not right and so I wait, watching cautiously as my unsuspecting victim creeps past, eyes wide, knowing that something is watching but not knowing that I am here, only three steely feet away in the hedge. I could so easily slide out like the knife blade I am, and work my wonderful magic – but I wait, suspected but unseen.
One long stealthy moment tiptoes into another and still I wait for just the right time; the leap, the outstretched hand, the cold glee as I see the terror spread across the face of my victim –
But no. Something is not right.
And now it is Dexter’s turn to feel the queasy prickling of eyes on his back, the flutter of fear as I become more certain that something is now hunting me. Some other night stalker is feeling the sharp interior drool as he watches me from somewhere nearby – and I do not like this thought.
And like a small clap of thunder the gleeful hand comes down out of nowhere and onto me blindingly fast, and I glimpse
the gleaming teeth of a nine-year-old neighbor boy. “Gotcha! One, two, three on Dexter!” And with the savage speed of the very young the rest of them are there, giggling wildly and shouting at me as I stand in the bushes humiliated. It is over. Six-year-old Cody stares at me, disappointed, as though Dexter the Night God has let down his high priest. Astor, his nine-year-old sister, joins in the hooting of the kids before they skitter off into the dark once more, to new and more complicated hiding places, leaving me so very alone in my shame.
Dexter did not kick the can. And now Dexter is It. Again.
You may wonder, how can this be? How can Dexter’s night hunt be reduced to this? Always before there has been some frightful twisted predator awaiting the special attention of frightful twisted Dexter – and here I am, stalking an empty Chef Boyardee ravioli can that is guilty of nothing worse than bland sauce. Here I am, frittering away precious time losing a game I have not played since I was ten. Even worse, I am IT.
“One. Two. Three – ” I call out, ever the fair and honest gamesman.
How can this be? How can Dexter the Demon feel the weight of that moon and not be off among the entrails, slicing the life from someone who needs very badly to feel the edge of Dexter’s keen judgment? How is it possible on this kind of night for the Cold Avenger to refuse to take the Dark Passenger out for a spin?
“Four. Five. Six.”
Harry, my wise foster father, had taught me the careful balance of Need and Knife.