Monthly Archives: September 2014

Hematophagy, Pt. 12

It was a quick drive to the Peppermint Schnapps. I rode in silence, trying to keep my mind on the road and the task at hand, and off the itchy cuts all over my skin, the insect-like hum of the car’s hybrid engine. Manny’s guards would be trained, smart enough to pat me down, even if Manny wasn’t smart enough to think of it himself. Getting a weapon inside the club and past the goons would be difficult. I likely wouldn’t need a weapon to get the answers I wanted, but I’d have felt safer armed than not.

Thirty minutes after I left the hotel, I pulled up to the club, neon signs burning even in the midday sun and promising girls girls girls, live dancers, nude, and the best lunch buffet in town. The unpaved parking lot was surprisingly full of cars, so either the men in town were especially sad and lonely or else that bit about the lunch buffet was true.

I parked the car and hopped out, grateful that I wore sensible running shoes and athletic apparel and not patent leather and suits as some in my profession are wont to do. A reputation and an image are one thing, but when a job falls apart, you don’t want to look sharp; you want shoes you can sprint in and clothes that can’t be grabbed on to. Beyond that, the parking lot was half-dirt and half-mud formed from vomit and beer and piss and God only knew what other fluids, and I’d be irritated if I ruined a nice set of clothes walking around in them.


Hematophagy, Pt. 11

I got dressed and put my personal belongings into order, all the while formulating my course of action in my head. The first thing I needed to do was get in touch with the individual that had put me into contact with my current employers. Fortunately, that wouldn’t be difficult. He was a stupid kid by the name of Manny Rotundo, the nephew of a small-time crime boss on the East Coast. Too much of a liability to let into the organization proper, but too much of an asset to cut out completely, he’d been shuffled off to a smaller city and given a list of contacts so that he could feel important but be easily written off if he screwed things up too bad.

Unfortunately for Manny, he’d screwed up. Bad.

The kid was young, not even thirty, and he didn’t have the wherewithal to make himself scarce during the day. He’d have a couple of goons at his side, courtesy of his uncle, but he’d likely be hanging out a strip club, the Peppermint Schnapps, since he’d seen Tony Soprano do it on television and decided it’d be a good base of operations for him, too.

I got in my car and went to go pay Manny a visit.

Hematophagy, Pt. 10

A string of realizations came to me. First, I would not be getting paid. I’d only completed half the job and I’d lost the book before a representative could come and claim it.

Second, I would probably be getting killed. If my employers had been willing to kill for the book once, they’d do so twice, I was sure. Losing the possessions of ruthless murderers was generally a good way to get yourself murdered.

Third, I’d likely been robbed by the very people who had hired me. As I searched through my belongings I saw that nothing else had been taken. Not the cash, not the weapons, not the drugs, not my phone, and not my many fake IDs and passports. Only the book. Which meant it’d been stolen by someone who knew what it was, knew its value and had no interest in even pretending to make the theft look like something amateur and hamfisted.

Of course, the fact that they’d broken in through the window and drained me of my blood without waking me spoke to a certain amount of professionalism in and of itself.

I took a deep breath, both to calm myself and because I’d been too terrified to breathe since realizing I’d likely be murdered. A lesser hired killer might skip town in the wake of this information. They might go underground, or retire, or choose any of a dozen other sensible courses of action.

Me? I had a professional reputation to maintain. And that meant getting that damn book back.

Of course, in retrospect it was this decision that led to everything going all to hell.

Lines from a Twenty-Something Anthem

Out late, iPhone, etc.

Somewhere this lost its magic
In between half-smoked cigarettes
And empty threats
Of being Bruce Springsteen

Well, tell me baby, ain’t it tragic
When the freeway don’t ride
Like it did on those nights
We had back at nineteen?

I remember we could drive all night
Going a hundred feet right
Laughing like we’d never have to stop

And I remember kissing in the park
Whispering “forever” in the dark
I remember back when we could still talk

Hematophagy, Pt. 9

I began my search by going to my bag and pulling out the small flashlight that I had used the night before. It can be helpful to perform searches with a flashlight, even when natural light or other artificial lighting is available. The narrow beam helps to focus one’s attention.

Some half-formed thought scratched at the back of my head. The thin, scratchy carpet of the hotel room, meanwhile, betrayed no secrets, being too hard and immovable to have been disturbed even by my frenzied advance across it. I knew I’d have to be more meticulous, have to check the door and the windows and the closet for some kind of insight into what had happened to me. Some sign of another person, some point of entry for whatever foul vermin had tried to make a meal of me.

The door was locked just as it had been the night before with the chain still on. There was no sign of insect leavings in the closet (and I got down on my hands and knees explicitly to check.) There were no hidden compartments in the walls, nothing under the bed, nothing lurking beneath the furniture. I will confess that part of me had expected to find some kind of monstrous creature underneath the uncomfortable loveseat that had come with the room, simultaneously scaled and hairy, spitting and hissing.

In my frustration, I put the flashlight back in the bag and threw open the curtains that blocked the sun from entering the room. I stood there for a few moments before I felt something crunch under my barefoot, cracking with the sound and texture of an insect’s carapace.

I looked down to find flakes of paint matching the ugly shade of the windowsill on the carpet. I cursed, loudly. That was how my assailant had gotten into the room. Despite the fact I was on the third story of the building, they’d found a way up and in, dragging the dried paint flakes with them when they’d climbed through the window. I was dealing with professionals, then, I realized. Someone with the tools and experience to… to…

The half-formed thought from earlier took full shape at that moment. I ran back to my bag, frantically tore it open, dumped its contents onto the ground, and swore once more.

The book was gone.

Hematophagy, Pt. 8

A lesser individual might have found themselves filled with panic at that realization. Not me. There was work to be done and there was no time to waste in the doing of it. The sense of purpose and the drive to uncover the truth about my mysterious attacker cut through the itching that pained my skin, the buzzing that filled my head.

I turned off the water and jumped out of the bathtub, nearly tripping once more due to my bundled up underwear, and began drying myself off. I needed to focus solely on searching the hotel room for clues and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I was simultaneously distracted by ruining the evidence as I dripped water all around the room. I could only hope that I hadn’t already destroyed some vital clue as I’d dragged myself across the floor.

Hematophagy, Pt. 7

The need was sudden, pressing. I tore off the shirt and the briefs I’d worn to sleep, stumbled as my underpants wrapped themselves around my ankles, fell to the floor, crawled into the bathroom. I needed relief. I couldn’t let trifling concerns like dignity or mobility stand in the way of that.

Dragging myself on hands and knees, I pulled myself across the tile floor of the bathroom, over the lip of the tub, and collapsed unceremoniously into its depths. I turned on the water, and found instant release in the ice cold flood that issued forth from the faucet. It soothed me so much that at first I didn’t even notice the water turning pink as the blood that had dried on my body stained it. But after a few relaxing minutes, I realized something.

If the water was turning pink, the blood must have been relatively fresh.

Whatever had done this to me had done it not long before I’d woken up.

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