“Where did you get that jacket?” To that question, he always replied, “Abroad,” while the more fashion savvy would ask, “Who are you wearing?”. He preferred not to say.
He walked through the throngs of civilised people, a manikin of normality. Dark jeans, plain blue cotton shirt, short sleeves. Nobody saw his eyes that darted behind dark lenses. In the city park people passed him by. Parents, dogs on leashes, children on leashes. Those, he despised. Teenagers roamed in gangs drunk on the delirium of sunshine. Old ones perched on benches, always one layer too many for the conditions. The worst skin.
He walked slowly, rhythmically, shiny alligators devouring the pavement at leisure, searching for the weak, the way a leopard picks off the stray, the unfortunate which limps or runs slower than the rest. Only with humans they don’t try to hide their physical imperfections, plastic surgery didn’t count as it was generally to hide insecurity. But insecurity doesn’t make someone slow, or even necessarily vulnerable. As people criss-crossed paths on the glorious day, perhaps searching for nothing more than a tan who was wondering if someone might eat them? Chances are not one.
Nobody looked scared. They were too busy babbling, smiling innocuously, simply glad to bare some skin.
And what beautiful skin. Not all, but some. Most were not the right size. The selection process became easier that way. And even those who looked six foot five, their bodies were not necessarily the correct proportion, or sex.
He would spot them and trail them. No need to be downwind, to hide at all, brazen never failed. He followed his target, and stood beside them if possible. If not he would walk as close as possible for as long as necessary, to judge the dimensions.
Very rarely was a skin perfect. Usually there were flaws. Tattoos were the devils work. It was a lot of effort only to find a wrist, a sleeve, a bicep, chest or back were inked. Some of the artwork was breathtaking, but recognisable. Naturally occurring tattoos, birth marks were equally boring to discover. Sometimes dying the pelt would be sufficient to cover them, but not always. And moles. A skin could look ideal with only wrists and neck to go on, but once it was too late, it all just felt rather pointless for both parties.
Sitting down briefly, he sighed, alone on the bench dedicated to someone nobody cared about whose relatives hadn’t even sat on it since the day it was installed.
Eyes alert he searched for the tall, for the ideal. He had a customer in France who was more than willing to pay top euro. Six foot five with a bit of flesh on them was perfect. Once the hide shrunk during the tanning process, it would be suitable for the client of slim build, about six foot tall.
Eating the flesh was something that evolved with the business, and in today’s climate of recycling and zero-waste, it was a natural thing to do. He chuckled, thinking of all the friends he had entertained who would sometimes ask how he managed to make his steaks so juicy and flavoursome.