velvet mace

Envy Goes to the Opera

Envy slouched in his seat, savoring the rich textures of velour and smooth warm wood under his bare hands. His crisp white gloves, as false as the trimmed nails and translucent skin of his large masculine hands, lay across the pleat of his grey woolen pants. The sweet smells of expensive and exotic perfumes mingled with the tang of smoke from the gaslights. Envy closed his eyes briefly as the first staccato notes from the orchestral pit broke through the dull rumble of conversation. The theatre obligingly hushed as the random and clashing melodies reached their peak, then died down to a single click of the conductors baton against his wooden podium.

This was perfection. The Opera—where everything was neat and ordered and refined. Where actors mimicked a far better brand of humanity than the wealthy patrons that sat in the audience could hope to achieve with all their carefully cultivated manners. When the players began, they didn't belch out their lazy, self-indulgent words the way the humans had minutes before, they sang them in poignant melodies that hung in the air. These humans were worth listening to, worth imitating, worth being.

In another life, Envy thought he'd make a great actor. He imagined he could have this crowd of pretentious, pleasure hungry humans straining their ears to savor every word, every note he uttered. His body could assume whatever shape needed to sculpt their emotions, from breathtakingly beautiful to hideously grotesque. Their eyes would all be on him, their mouths would hang slack, glittering with barely contained drool and the gold of their dental work. He could play them all.

He ducked out at the first intermission—not because he wanted to, but because real life was not opera and couldn't wait until the moment of perfect beauty. Tonight's performance would be for a single, ungrateful human; a man so thoroughly steeped in mediocrity that the only thing that drew Envy's eye was the well tailored cut of his outfit. Envy followed as his unappreciative audience slipped out the side door of the theatre. The man lingered in the alley, pausing amid the scents of rubbish and rotting food to pull a pipe from his pants pocket.

Envy sighed slightly as he flexed his inner control. One white glove turned grey and shiny and wickedly sharp. The gentleman hadn't even turned his head in Envy's direction before the swift determined thrust pierced under his arm, skewering both lungs, before emerging from the opposite armpit. Envy watched with some satisfaction as his audience finally realized the show had begun, and had belatedly turned his head, his cheeks comically puffed up with his final exhalation. Moments later he slid off of Envy's blade to the ground, eyes still staring, baffled at the clear night sky.

"What, no applause?" Envy asked. He bowed anyway, reaching down with his off hand and pulling a fat envelope from the inner pocket of man's jacket. The damning papers within were now cut and drenched in blood. Obscured. Unreadable. Just the way Dante preferred.

Envy willed his arm to its normal shape, dark blood rolling off his skin in fat dollops onto the corpse's face. A slight shake and like a miracle the sleeve of his formal attire regained its virginity. He gave the body a light kick with his shoe, then returned through the side door in time to catch the first notes of the soprano's famous aria.