"I'm not a racist," the cocoa man says. A smokeless corncob pipe rattles a glissando across lower incisors and his elastic smile turns my blood cold. "In fact, you'll be my first white man."
A nylon anaconda squeezes me against the chair. My face is untaped and ungagged and I could scream bloody murder, though I doubt anyone would ever hear me, aside from the saguaros and yucca plants. I try to speak, but the desert is in my throat. I try again: "What do you want?"
His eyes are white slits, peeking from behind black curtains. "I don't have a want. I have a need."
He brings me a glass of water and rambles over my heaving gulps: "I've killed black, red, yellow, and everything in between. And, I gotta tell you, we all--
I interrupt him with a water-going-down-the-wrong-tube cough. The floor is mine, so I speak my piece: "Don't try to rationalize it. Just fucking do it."
He nods solemnly, digs in his pocket. But he doesn't do it. Instead: "Next time you get an itch — on your leg, your back, your face, wherever — try not to scratch it. Avoid it like the plague. Maybe you can resist for seconds, minutes, hours, even days. But at some point, you're going to have to scratch that itch or you'll go insane. We all bleed the same. We all have an itch."
Just then, he strikes a match and sucks the tobacco fog from his pipe. I disappear behind a hazy wall, lost for all eternity. A silver glint from beyond the smoke. Some blurred hand and my stomach is on fire. The sticky wetness warms my fingers. I'm not of this world anymore. We all bleed the same.