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Saturday, November 29, 2014

12. Vincible (L’Exo7, Ruoen)

We are easy to find. Go to places where happiness abides. There we feed. In the places where desire takes people looking to close the gap between want and have, we offer the final solution.
I sifted through the detritus, the plastic cups, opaquely red, wafting on the slow streams of half drunk work. watching for the slither of the snake. A certain unconcern and disinterest, in the middle of courtship. This is not a perfect, for humans also can show this perfunctory love making.  
I hitch a ride out of Paris, and drop down into Ruoen on Boulevard de Novembre. I walk through the night ‘til I find a cinderblock club with rock music blasting through the seams. Kids outside in leather, with parts of their heads shaved, trying hard to look like they don’t give a fuck about anything to one another.
The bouncer takes one look and jerks his thumb. Forever twenty one year olds get in free.
The whole room is zoomed in on the lead singer, who is leaning back, straining, putting a lot of human like passion into the mike.
“I am the wolf, I am the falcon, I prowl, I soar!
All that I want is just MORE MORE MORE.”
His neck chords vibrate and strain. His hair shags and sways and the whole club is rocking with him. They are so unhappy and he offers them meaning for a moment. They surge toward the stage, hands out.
The song ends. It is the end of the set, I see, as the drummer, who no-one had noticed before, stands up and looks for a place to stow his sticks. The crowd turns and congratulates each other. “Great show.”
“He wrecked it.”
“Like I’m high.”
“I wish getting high felt like that.”
The singer prepares to drop his gloried body, a stringy leather clad talon, into the reaching hands of the crowd. He stops for a moment, and swivels his eyes through the crowd, taking in the scene, calculating the haul. He all sees like the hawk in his circuits. His eye lights on me. A little start. Two hawks, one field.
He jumps into the crowd, shrugging off the grasping fans, brushing past the compliments. He arrives next to me.
He says, “This is my drink.”
I say, “I’m not thirsty.”
He says, “I’m going to suck ten of these dumb bitches dry. A couple dudes too.”
I give him a half smile. “Go ahead.”
“Don’t touch my bitches.”
I order a ginger ale. “See,” I said. “I’m not drinking.” He is getting all apey. He moves off, swings an arm around a blonde and grabs the hand of a brunette. He drags them toward the door.  
I walked out after him. He pushed one along, “You like this, bitch?”
She didn’t seem to mind the dismissive, not to mention abusive nature of his verbal foreplay and that put me in half a mind that he was right. I was ready to walk away and leave him to it. But then I remembered that the world conspired with him, spreading giant images of sexualized women on billboards, running them through their screens that they had everywhere.
Can you blame a sheep for walking down the corralled paths provided for it, following the merry tinkling of the bellwether? The sheep does not know where it goes, whether to shearing, or to slaughter, and so it goes. The primrose path of dalliance was the only one these dumb bitches knew, and being dumb and following the animal grinding of their loins and their conditioning was stronger than instinct.
Rockstar was only confirming what she had always been told.
The other said, “Don’t ignore me.”
He laughed, and lifted up his head, unsheathing canines an inch long. I grabbed his hair.
“You’re going to have to stay thirsty.”
“Bitch! These are mine!” He still thought I was stealing his drink.
One of the girls hit me over the head with her little denim purse.
I said, “You still don’t get it. I’m not thirsty.” I put my shank of crossbeam up through his heart. He looked
down on it, trying to figure out what was happening. I explained, “The second death.”
The girls looked at me all shocked. “You killed him,” one screamed. The other started sobbing.
Someone emerged from around the corner. I leapt for the roof. Talking to police was not my thing. I caught the edge of it with my fingers. I was about to pull myself up and get out when I felt an iron grasp close around my ankle. Then a snapping down and I spilled onto back onto the alley. The girls were running away. I looked up and saw a woman. Tall. Beautiful as ice flows, her curvature the paused undulation of a glacier. Wearing a white evening dress too. “You.” She said like the taste of puke was in her mouth.
“You cannot kill the thirst. It is universal. It is even in the humans. Heirarchy. The exploitation of desire. These things are natural and eternal. You see them in there, worshipping? They want to be drunk. Look at them. Hanging on him. Hitting you. It’s all they are good for.”
I couldn’t argue with that. I just looked at her. She looked to well put together to be behind this cut rate rock club.
She reached out, a sneer of distaste on her perfect face. A curving fingernail, long as the talon of a bird of prey, cut the air between us. I was paralyzed, watching. The fingernail grazed my hair, and that’s all I remember.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

11. The Wilderness (The forgotten bars)

The taste was bitter. Still I was surrounded by the aura of youth, and I looked and though I was seeing again, the boy was still there. This boy was dead. I had sucked him dry by the banks of the Seine.
“How?” I said. How had he brought back my first memory of my second life, alive?
“To the initiated, such things are easy. I can give you the power to recall your kills. The sweetest ones.” Everywhere I looked the world blurred, choppy color blocks. But the voice I heard clearly; it was delicate and cultured; it was wise with years. “You must eat.”
The invitation held power. So much of humanity is spoiled, the passions convoluted or overindulged, grown fat or stringy. The young ones still rich with uncut feeling was my favorite flavor. Hope was even better, and ever more rare. And the power over death. I had cheated death, the gaping maw, but to be able to bring others back from it, from the smithereens of the earth’s ceaseless toiling.
“Just eat,” he said.
But just eating was the wheel that crushes, the tiger that takes the deer, the wolf and the rabbit, the eternal cycle. I hate the wheel, I thought. “Always the fear in the little ones, always the hate in the big ones.”
“No,” I said.
He said, “Ah. Do you imagine that there is anything of meaning beyond your thirst? Tell me what is it? You are some agent of good? For what and whom? These ones don’t even want to live,” I saw them all, their smell as sweet as honeysuckle, and all had the good in them, even the homeless and the old.  
“No.” I said. “I am of the earth.”
He laughed, a bell. Now I now the voice. Then I smelled it, a bouquet of life released, as if someone had crushed flowers under a steel tack boot. The glug of slaking as the punkrock boy with his fresh anger died a second time.
I don’t remember anything after that. I woke and somehow I had crawled into a group of bushes. The sun was still finding its way through, and I shrouded myself in sodden porn that I found.
That night I walked the streets again. I should have been thirsty. Either that or passing out—but I discovered that the Romani was right. I had full energy, even a single focus that was new. The blurry fugue world of thirst was replaced by a moon lit world of black and white, and my hands closed around weapons, fractals torn from old cross beams.
The first mark is a blond sweeping a middle aged man along. He is marveling at his luck, but looking back too. He has a squat woman at home, I can see, whom he loves, but this fine thing is taking him home. He never planned to cheat. He never thought he’d face an opportunity this good. His heavy brow is creased with determination. He will have his way.
She is pale beneath the moon and elf thin, pretty like porcelain. Her fingernails are red, they press into him, little dents raised in his hand. She laughs at something he says, he smiles like an idiot with a piece of tinsel.
I grab her hair and pull it back. She falls on her back and I fall with her, pinning her. I slam the splinter into her ribcage. Thunk. Thunk. Multiple times. She gasps then gurps. I look up. The middle aged man’s mouth is open. He doesn’t know what happened. I smile at him. Let him see my canines.
He scampers, home to his woodchuck.
This does not answer the craving the way that drinking does, that ephemeral first sip’s kaleidoscope. I am always thirsty. But this kill strengthens my purpose, a compounding, like the process whereby rock becomes diamond.
Young flowers surround her, peeping out of the earth. Hoping for spring.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10. Eat the Earth (Forty Nights)

I wandered through the countryside, sleeping in closed wells and bear dens. Still the smell wafted to me from farms and towns, the children with their kites flying, dragging the kids souls up. The smell of teenage boys, their desire unfraught and free. I smelled it on the air and I burrowed into the earth, the smell musty, mineral heavy. Wet dust. Terrible.
Still it was better than the hunger thirst that the human breathed air caused me. After a day, I headed into the woods. Birds twittered into the night, singing some shit about spring time while squirrels ran figure eights in celebration. I growled at them “Go to bed,” but they didn’t seen me.
After seven nights, the hunger was less. I walked back toward the towns. I saw a shockheaded boy with strong shoulders and a perpetual smile, driving his combine through the fields, the cutting head lifted as the dark had fallen. He waved at me and even drove over.
“Need a ride?” he asked.
The brown skin that stretched over his neck sinews reminded me of the sun. Blood can taste sunny. But the odor, I barely smelled it.
He said, “What are you doing out here?”
I laughed. “Getting some space,” I said.
He said, “I’ve had enough of space.” He pointed to the wheat fields. “You going to the city?”
I said that I probably was.
He said, “Can I come with you? We’ll run away.”
I said, “Keep your innocence.”
“I’m not innocent,” he said. The baby-man fury was rippling off him, smelling so good I cold almost taste it, and he was ripe for the taking, asking me to escort him away from home. But I was good.
The thirst hunger died in me, and it didn’t return until I had been without for forty days. At that point, I had no thoughts of drinking. Actually, things passed me in a blur, the trees were painted in Monet brush strokes across the fuzzy purple nights and the people were just pastel dashes, their smell distant, and masked by the mineral truth that reeked in my nostrils.
Then a thin stroke of gray, topped with a triangle of white spoke to me, “Yuri. It is the time to drink your fill.”
My nose was flooded with strains as sweet as the music of the broken hearted. Riding over the top of the woven rainbow of possible savors, was a memory made new, the punkrock nectar of the sixteen year old lover and there he was in front of me, his eyes a bloodshot green, his pulsing neck white.
“Drink,” said the voice, “and be filled.”
The thirsty choked me and I felt my teeth grow long, as I reached out and took the boy by the arm. He looked at me in wonderment. Everywhere his youth, the mix of anger and desire, whirled through the air.
But riding back into my nose came the sting of wet earth, and the voice, “I am earth, and the fire does not burn me.” I fell down and scraped the human soaked dust from between the cobblestones and pushed it into my mouth.
The taste was bitter. Still I was surrounded by the aura of youth, and I looked and though I was seeing again, the boy was still there. This boy was dead.
“How?” I said.
“To the initiated, such things are easy. I can give you the power to recall your kills. The sweetest ones.” I could not see the owner of the voice, it was delicate and cultured, it was wise with years. “You must eat.”
It was no little temptation. So much of humanity is spoiled, the passions convoluted or overindulged, grown fat. The young ones, the innocence they have, this is the flavor I desired. Hope was even better, and ever more rare. And the power over death. I had cheated death, the gaping maw, but to be able to bring others back from it was true power.
“Just eat,” he said.
Just eating was the wheel that crushes, the tiger that takes the deer, the wolf and the rabbit, the eternal cycle. I hate the wheel, I thought. “Always the fear in the little ones, always the hate in the big ones.”
“No,” I said.
He said, “Ah. Do you imagine that there is anything of meaning beyond your thirst? Tell me what it is? You are some agent of good? For what and whom? These ones don’t even want to live,” and I saw them all, their smell as sweet as honeysuckle, and all had the good in them, even the homeless and the old.
“No.” I said. “I am of the earth.”

Sunday, November 9, 2014

9. The Gods and The Earths (Romani)

Follow this link for listening accompaniment.

I woke up to the stink of garlic. I could feel the rash it brought up on my neck and cheeks. It was going to be hard to pull a drink with this kind of complexion, I thought.
I traipsed through Pigalle until I found a Japanese tourist drunk enough not to care about skin rashes, or just not see them, and split him open, and sucked him down, while he murmured quiet syllables of good bye. “That’s what you get for being drunk,” I thought, “Drunk.”
When I turned, sustained, to the night’s work, my real issue. Killing a drinker. I wandered through the alleys, watching for operators. I thought I found one I could take, a rotund masc with eyes like a clock. When I went to charge, I found the black haired vixen blocking my path.
I pulled up. “Good,” I thought. “No trolls.”
She said, “Such fortuity. Or, perhaps, I know you.”
She reached out, pointing a red fingernail at me like a gun, her finger as long as a spider’s tentacle. She grazed my temple and BANG. Kaleidoscope of negative color and out.
I woke under some garbage bags, in the gloaming, and felt my head swim and turn. I retched some Japanese blood into the earth. What kind of drinker has fingers that trigger mental explosions? She was some other thing.
I wandered lonely as a cloud, not thirsty, scared of hunting my own. I went into the countryside. Nights I walked, past little rues and hamlets until I came to a collection of raggedy cars and trailers and brownish children running in circles. When I was a long way off, I heard a man shouting something. The children scurried into the cars. The adults followed them in, and I walked up to the camp. I saw mothers peeking behind the curtains, holding up crosses and spitting prayers at me. In the middle of the camp was a fire, with a great pan of potatoes and green stuff, and some small animal too.
Stirring the panfry was an old woman. She looked up and her face was pretty, red lips and, behind heavy glasses rimmed in brown, large eyes. Her skin was more stretched than wrinkled.
I said, “You’re not scared of me?”
She laughed, and her voice was deeper than a man’s. It resonated through me when she said, “You don’t scare me.” Still she traced a cross in the air. Where her passed, a gold gas filigree hung in the air, ethereal x. She blew it gently and it wafted toward me.
“Don’t,” I said. As it breezed by me it unmoored my limbs from their sockets. Then it was gone. She grimaced through her thick glasses.
“You’re not scared of me?” she parroted back.
I shrugged. I had no idea what all was going on.
She said, “You seem upset. I smell garlic on you, and you talk woozily.”
I said, “And then there’s the way I look.”
She said, “I can’t really see.”
“You care?” I asked.
She took a tinsel fork from in the folds of her garment and with quick stabs loaded it with potatoes, greens, and small animal leg. Like a man. “Strange rumors, a former woman who killed three soul suckers in a night. Strife among the second born. You fit the description.” She munched for a while. “I hate your kind, by Mary, by Kali Sara. You march in the dark places, marshaling all to your appetites.
The children have to run inside. Not since Hitler has there been this fear. Blaming murders on us, knowing nothing of you. Always the fear in the little ones, the hate in the big ones. 
“I’m saying, ‘What you are doing, it is good.’ However, you are doing it wrong.”
“You got tips, old woman, I’d appreciate it. I’m not making any progress out here.”
“You want to kill them, but they smell you. They smell the used blood, its fetid copper aura. You smell like the hunger of death, the insatiate thirst. To kill them, you must kill the drinker in you first.”
“Stop drinking. In separation there is strength.”
“How am I going to survive if I don’t eat?”
“Fem does not live on blood alone.”
“Oh yeah? What else is there?
“I’m supposed to eat the earth?”
“Pregnant women do.”
“I’m not exactly pregnant.”
“With purpose you are pregnant. And pregnant women are strong. You need strength.”
“I’m not eating the earth.”
She stood up. The eyes weren’t so much big I realized, as magnified from the glass on her spectacles. “Take my hand,” she said. I grabbed it. “Lead me to the fire.”
“You are at the fire. It’s right in front of you.”
She jumped then, into the flames. I shouted. “Help.” Then she rose in it. The flames wreathed her, a
wrapping of sheets. The crackle of the fire rose to the sound of the heavens drum, and then she unfurled, the flames buoying her and splaying into long arms. She was framed by a star of fire; she waved her many arms, threatening and promising. I cowered down, throwing myself to the dirt.
The sound subsided. I looked up and she was sitting by the fire again. She scratched at the dust on the ground, gathering a pinch. She brought it up to her mouth and dropped it in, and followed it by another pinch of potato. “Not bad,” he said. She said. The voice was so deep.
I was losing consciousness. The vision of the chasm that opened revisited me. She said, “I am earth, and the fire does not burn me.”
Then I was in it, a closing opening in the earth, the heavy smell, the tight quarters. A tunnel. I knew that I must go one, go further, before I found the way. The only way forward was to wriggle, and I did, but each wriggle made the tunnel smaller and I fought the panic rising within me. I hate earth.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

8. Death to Suckers (Le Pigallion)

I awoke to purpose. Kill drinkers. First I needed a drink. I nodded at a middle aged guy with a red cap. His eyes lit up like he’d discovered the fourth dimension. Nineteen year old dream, staring at him? Slurrrp. Not that good. Too much realism. Enough to go on.
I marched back to Jardin de Luxembourg, but couldn’t find any drinkers, so I took the metro to Pigalle. English boys with full sized bellies wandered along complaining about the tip they had to give. I saw her, too elegant for the place, in calflength boots of kneaded leather, eyes like knife holes, and a smile that came from remove.
I reached in to the pocket of my sweatshirt, and got a good grip on my broken broom handle, and watched as she separated one of the bovine English boys from his herd, and got him headed off into the dark. I got close, hearing her say, “Of course. A one time. You and me. No-one needs to know.”
He said, “That’s good. I mean, I really like you, but Inny wouldn’t like it.” He must have been very drunk.
She laughed. “Inny won’t know.”
I was about to reach out and grab her straightened ponytail when something slammed me and I flew into the wall. I turned and four trolls glowered at me. The vixen looked, saw us, and then opened up the boy’s throat. “Ouch,” he said. Then it seemed to click for him. He was dying, “Inny, I’m sorry. I thought it was a bit of fun. Oh, Inny . . .” he lost the ability to speak. Then she dropped him.
She walked over to me. She bent down and looked closely at me. Blood was smeared all over her face. “Killing drinkers, Yuri?”
I shrugged. The trolls advanced. One of them hit me with something. It stung like a bitch. Then I realized it stunk to. It dangled form his hand. A garlic glove in a sock. Great.
He hit me with it again. The sting was so strong I about blacked out.
The vixen said, “You get it? We know what you did. You got a couple endings last night, ‘cause no-one knew, but now it’s different. We’re watching you.”
Smash smash an aura of garlic. The earth opens and swallows me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

7. The Earth Groans, I Stake (Jardin de Luxembourg)

Relentless, eternal youth, like my body was cased in plastic, preserved. An everlasting sheen.
No fear. The relentless thirst, and the unfurled talent for satiating it, the fingers strong as eagle talons, legs and lungs as powerful as the sky predator’s wings, they carry me faster than my prey.
Abstinence did not spring from memory, for that was a mental faculty I did not exercise.
In the Jardin de Luxembourg I watched one night, under the shade of an overbearing willow. I watched the last traces of the sun leave the sky I watched the picnickers pack their baskets, pour out the last bits of wine into their paper cups. I heard a murmur, the crickets, the wind in the trees, but that day the murmur turned to a moan, a decrying of the heaviness.
One group dispersed, leaving a couple. The man was a bit older, his skin pallid and his lips red. He chatted to a sprig of a girl. He was built stocky, but the second birth had cut the fat from his waist. The massive shoulders on the trim waist gave him the build of a boxer, a crusher. His chin was heavy with steel colored stubble. I could smell the pheromones he was releasing; they sung to her nose and she lifted her little chin, taking in the musk. I saw him nod his head. “Let’s get away. Go somewhere quiet.”
She popped up, as eager as a crocus sensing spring. Her sundress was striped yellow and blue. His eye held amusement, like a cat holds a mouse. He followed her up, his heavy arm cupping her waist, bearing her forward. The smell of her, the innocence and belief and joie de vivre amused me and I followed in the shadows of the trees, crushing some peonies to stay in the shadows.
“Chez moi,” she said, “Is simple. You will like it though. I have done things with the flowers.”
“Flowers,” he said. “I’m not a flower man.”
She laughed gaily, and promised that these flowers were so exceptional, even those who weren’t flower people would become flower people.
They traipsed across the curves of cobblestone, her trainers tip tiping along where his heavy boots clanked into the stone. He turned, his eye a ruby bead, and looked me in the eye. “Not sharing,” his eye said. “Find your own.”
My eyes said nothing. I did what I wanted.
He reached her apartment, green door, gray painted staircase. He flashed a gash of a smile at me and shut the door behind him. I leapt to the drain pipe, as easy as a leopard, and climbed. They were in her room and she talked about the flowers. “They must be fresh. I don’t think anyone notices, but I take them from the park. Nobody minds, there are so many there.”
He is behind her, sampling the bouquet before he drinks, holding the scent in his heavy nose. I too smell it, the passion she has flowers, her confidence of one hundred springs like this one, and I try to enter through the window.
No. It is barred to me. She has invited him.
Around her are vases. Some are in the window, and some are on the yellow table and three or four are set in the corners of the counter.
“Shall I weave you a crown?”
She takes some of the stems, daisys, wild susans, and sprigs of baby’s breath. She sits quickly in the green painted chair. She murmurs to herself, an almost song, as her quick fingers weave the green lines.
The groaning of the crickets turns into a ratcheting scream. The wind rushes and moans like the mother of a lost child. I feel it swirl about me on my perch, I see the flowers crane, and for a moment I feel the earth gaping open, a black chariot is riding forth!
He bears down, dropping his weight into her, the teeth hitting and cleaver the tendons and flesh on her shoulder. She falls to the floor, spasms. Somehow a chair has fallen, the flowers on the table are unvased, a disarray.
He rocks as he sucks, locked in a sweet coma, his butt banging the table. The flowers spill off the rocking table, dropping across his massive shoulders and onto the floor. Her limbs, paroxizing, crush them, a skew of broken petals, a slush of spilled blood.
He sucked for a long time, even after she was dry. This wheel, the big fish eating the little ones. How I hated it in that moment.
I found a rake in the yard and broke its shaft across my knee. When he came out of the door, slightly drowsy from his drink, I popped out from behind an azalea. I guided the wood into his heart, and watched as her blood leaked out of him.
He grunted, “What the . . .”
I said, “You know, I really hate us. We suck.”
Then he fell to the ground. The crickets subside into silence. The wind ceases. I recover the splintering shaft and head out. Twice more that night I end a thirst. I like it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

6. The Words of the Homeless Prophet (You can buy a forty lots of places. You can drink a forty a lot of places.)

Follow this link for a song to listen while you read.

A face, a broad forehead, a flat nose, not attractive except in the eyes. They see life and they laugh. They see people and they rejoice. They see me and love. The memory is a recrimination. I recoil from it, “no,” I say. The people at the next table look over. I can’t go there.
I get up from the table. I cannot mine these memories, that existed beyond the border of the second birth. To remember being human . . .
The Valkyries choose who goes to Valhalla. I didn’t know anything about where the ones I chose went. As far as I know their bodies just went into the ground, but some of them said prayers and stuff as the last of their bubbles eased out the neck holes. When they talked about lights, I didn’t believe them, I thought they were trying to convince themselves.
I’d like to believe some of them went somewhere nice, but their decisions to follow me home spoke otherwise. Half the men had ring marks on their left hand. I used to laugh when I pulled the gold bands out of the pockets. Broken promises, broken necks. Not that I thought I was justice. I was thirst.
They were weak. We were all so weak. It only took a little mistake, a moment of letting the biology ride.
But to remember the time before the second birth. Being human . . .
One drinker said that we were the next step in evolution. That’s bullshit. We aren’t a species because we don’t breed. We don’t copulate. We drink. Without humanity, we wouldn’t be. We aren’t a species. We’re not parasites either. We are temptation. We are thirst.
I left McGlincheys and took a long walk. In a corner of my mind I knew the old one was working through clubs, but I was done with him.  No point in hunting drinkers. I went through the alleys northward. Away from the veneer over the flesh, the skin of dead animals that they used to cover the fact that they were animals.
I found some people that lived under a bridge. Their little camp was milk crates, cardboard boxes, a home made from trash. They didn’t have a lot of hope or desire left, so they wouldn’t be that tasty. Not tempting. I found an extra milk crate and squatted down by their barrel fire. The heat radiated, a yellow burnishing of these dusty, crusty people, and it felt bad but I could tolerate it.
The people around the fire looked old, but it could be their life. It takes it out of you, sleeping in boxes insulated with plastic sheets in snow and sleet. It was only the wind that night though, and the fire seemed to be helping them. They stretched out frayed hands, black fingernails, trying to collect some of the warmth. I couldn’t remember how warmth felt good. I wouldn’t remember being human.
I said, “Any of you know how to kill the old one?”
They all turned to an old woman. Older than the others. I thought she was a woman. She was wearing so many layers I couldn’t see one or another shape. She had a red wool cap pulled over most of her head, and all that poked out was a pointy bit of nose and a pointier chin, which had a few hairs on it. She looked at me.
“Trying to kill me? Shouldn’t be hard.” A bunch of croaks sounded. I realize that this was the sound of these street people laughing.
I said, “If I wanted to kill you, it’d be done by now.”
“Ew. Getting touchy, thirsty birdy?”
“I’m not thirsty,” I said. This bitch was annoying me and I was about to start drinking again for just one second.
“You are always thirsty.” She stood up and stepped closer to the fire, her drab eyes suddenly full of its blazing orange. “You thirst for a return to innocence but we are cast far from Eden into the darkness, and there is death. You want to cheat death!”
She seemed to grow, the fire casting a great shadow as its flames licked around her mustard yellow triple patched sweater, and her toothless mouth gapped with the words she spoke. “The old one is not as old as death, and Eden is on the other side.”
“What?” I said.
She grew even taller than, and her voice rounded into the deep buzz of a man, “The earth is lined with the drinkers, and the drunk, and Eden is far from here. Broken, broken are the hearts, the houses, the hopes. Crushed are the children, the chosen, the cut-off. You run, you fight, you drink, and nothing changes, but we are promised death. Death is the only promise.”
She subsided into her seat, and the old man next to her passed her a forty of Steel Reserve. I shook my head. I said, “I know death is older than the old one, but how do I kill him?”
She said, “Eden is on the other side.”
I said, “Is she crazy?”
Another man, this one not as old, but still aged, said, “All the ones who see are.”
They all started croaking again. Laughing. But it was not in their eyes. There was weight in their eyes, and it was not just the burden of tonight and only one forty of Steel Reserve between five old humans who weren’t fit for drinking, and the cold that they would suffer, heaped upon one another, trying to sleep through the night—they had asked the questions, and they had found the answers.
Just homeless. Not worth a drink. Drunks. Heroin users. Shabby dressed tent dwellers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5. To Not Remember (McGlinchey’s)

A song to accompany our heroine, and you, as you follow her adventures.

I gave up on following him. I didn’t mind seeing all the people die, idiots. I just didn’t like feeling helpless and getting laughed at. I made my way to a bar dark enough, with the right pinch of bitter discontent, to be uninspiring to my appetite. McGlinchey’s. There, among the cigarette burned vinyl red tables, and the beer soaked peach upholstery, I could think.
He asked me if I could remember. If I could remember how it felt to want to be bit. I hadn’t known I could until his smile triggered it. There was other stuff in there, the flash of an open face, the books. I pushed it down. I didn’t want to remember.
Memory is weird. If you’ve ever seen a baby, you know how it is. Babies don’t know anything except for boobs and milk. At some point they figure out what is going on. They still like milk. They get older, they get words, and then they have memories. But even then they can’t remember what was before. Their memory starts for that. Some people theorize that babies have those memories somewhere, memories of the milk rich time, of the time before when pink cream is pumped in their veins and they live in warm water.
I don’t know. My memory was like that. I slowly became aware of myself. I knew first that I was thirsty and that it was easy to drink, that I flicked my hair and nodded. It was instinct to eat alone, to take them away from the herd and even in the beginnings of my memory I never took them by force, I made them follow me.
My first memory is in Paris, and I was speaking French to a sixteen year old boy. “Je te aime,” I said. “Viens avec moi,” I said.
He came away with me. Oh, that nectar blood, in him was a love of punk rock, a passion for the game of soccer, a deep desire for his co-worker, sixteen too, a girl with a plain face but a wonderful bust. I drank it all, sweet sweet sweet. I dropped him and his cheeks were sunken, the skull bones popping out against the flesh. I realized he was dead. I wondered if there was another boy so sweet in all of Paris, or the world.
Ten boorish full sized men later, and I knew he was the most tasty I was going to drink that night. None of the other deaths had meant anything to me, but I remembered the first one. It was my first memory since my second birth.
I became aware that I drank more than I needed, but I had no other desire. Why not drink. Then I learned that the best part, beside the hope in the blood, was the hunt. It is hard to draw the alphas and the self satisfied from the pack, they are so comfortable. Their surprise, at becoming a victim, is the best spice a blood can have.
The ones that never folded, that never came away, they were ones I wanted most. Sometimes it seemed like they knew, the fifteen year old boy with the silver cross chain, perennial garlic breath, and a laugh that was too sweet for words, he was always going home as the sun set.
I could tell you of a thousand seductions. The introduction of force when it most surprises them. There are many ways to induce surprise, and I used them all. But I never knew that my memory stretched back before, and the second it went there, I knew why. I didn’t want to go there.
Of course, this is the old one. I will need everything I can get, every piece of info, if I plan to stand against him. Bring respectability to this crusade against drinking. The final prohibition.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

4. An Elegant Ending (Le Bon on Rittenhouse)

Follow this link for a song to listen to while reading.

I knew where to find him, as I swiped my way up onto the El stop at Spring Garden. A train jangled its way into the stop. I got in the train. A kid sat next to me. “Where you going, baby?” I dropped a stare into his chest and he added, “You like what you see?”
I said, “Do I like dirt?”
“You saying I’m dirty?”
“We’re all dirty.”
“Then we should get this dirt together. Mix it up.”
“My dirt is not on my shirt though. Go wash.”
The whole car laughed. He looked hard at me but walked into the next car. I felt bad for any women between the ages of three and dead in there.
I came out from the dank subway at Walnut and walked toward Rittenhouse. I passed an enormous lady, her flesh folder over itself mid-forearm. She was playing a recorder, the song, “Forever Night.” Out in front of her was a hat which some people had thrown pennies in. She was playing terribly. I had a flash of how she would taste, there was some love of beauty in her, a delightful taste but enough hopelessness for the rancid to be in there too. She’d make an interesting cocktail.  
Past her the shops windows were dressed with care, mannequins among the plastic boughs, their styles culled from the pages of Vogue. The dogs walked carefully on braided leather leashes, their hair groomed so well it looked natural. The park grass was brown, the trees leaveless. I looked in the windows and I saw the old one in Le Bon. He was at the bar, his black clad knife of a body slung upon the bar and framed by the glowing chestnut of the shelving, backlit by the light shining through the amber hued whiskey bottles.
I sit on a bench across 18th. There are lots of lights in the park. No crime down here. Plenty of police walking, driving. They try to keep the riff raff out. Too bad they let the old one in.
He leaned back and ordered, one word, laconic as a crocodile. I saw as one by one each eye in the place turned and take him in, the luscious dark hair, the cock of his hips, the half laugh in his eyes.
You’d think, they were older here, professionals, suits and tailored jeans, architects, doctors, businessmen, lawyers, they would have blood cool enough to resist his charms.
A silver haired gentleman in a navy jacket and leather dockers, his eyes blue and piercing walked to the bar. Talks with the old one who reaches out, his hand a charged current, a zap of connection. Touches his forearm. A half laugh as they talk.
Two minutes later, he’s pulling Silver Hair out into the alley. They disappear behind a green dumpster. A minute later, he slides out of the alley alone. He walks across the street, and sits next to me.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” I said. Across the street a middle aged man was looking around in the bar, and then heading into the street. He pulls out his phone and starts texting. The boyfriend. His night will not go well. It will feature running home. Calling anyone and everyone finally working around to the exes, afraid. Whenever this ends for him, it will end back here. Under the yellow tape, the form of his lover, sapped of love and life, behind the green dumpster, nibbled by rats, eaten by death.
The old one licks his lips, “When you follow people you should allow them to talk to you. It only seems fair.”
“You’re not people.”
“True. I have escaped that misfortune.”
I didn’t say anything. He liked talking and I didn’t want to encourage him.
“The thing is, they all want it. We just give them the thing they are seeking.”
I still didn’t say anything.
“You aren’t doing them any favors, stomping around, staking us, and refusing to follow your instincts. They want the teeth.”
“You are telling me that you ask them, ‘You want to die from me drinking all your blood?’ ‘Cause you and I know you don’t.”
“Didn’t their mommas warn them about strange men? They warned them, ‘You go with a strange man, anything can happen. He could be a serial killer. Rapist.” They don’t usually say they’ll drink you. But there are so many ways to be consumed. People want to know. The knowledge beyond the mystery. The revelation of truth. Strange men, strange man, death under the hood. They want it. They want those that have known death and still live. The second life. My teeth. Your teeth. Don’t you remember how you wanted it?”
I wanted to punch his thin nose. I actually swung at him but he was up and my fist went into the concrete bench. Dull thud. Bit of concrete chipped off. Ouch. He was standing up a pace away.
“I thought you learned your lesson, little girl.” Damn he was fast.
“When you were drinking, how many did you have a night? I want to get the quotas right.”
I shrugged.
“Five? No, you look more like a ten a night kind of drinker.”
Somehow he could read my thoughts.

“More? Impressive girl! I’ll make it twenty just to be sure.” And his lean butt walked back across the street, returning to Le Bon. This time he grabs a bleached blond waitress who he took up a fire escape.
I watch through the bare branches of the sycamore, as he walks her up the skeletal structures, and drops his teeth into the flesh above her collarbone, and she drivels. When he tossed her, and bloodless she listed through the air like a plastic bag he turned to me where I sat absorbing the cold. He held up his long fingers. Three. This was going to be a long night.

Monday, November 3, 2014

3. Primordial Curse and Transcendent Being (China King BEER)

Listen to this song while you read. The video is special.

I had a feeling he knew I followed him, though I had climbed up to the roofs. There was nothing in his movement, for his held was forward and a little lifted, his fine nose sifting the scents of the evening, as unconcerned as you would expect a creature that knows he is on the top of the food chain to be.
He walked by a group of girls, sixteen-years old, wearing bangles, hightops, eagles’ hats standing out front of the chinese store. The store had a neon sign saying BEER. One of the girls, a curvy Puerto Rican, said something to him, as they passed and he laughed.
She said it again, “You need a haircut.”
He turned, somehow appearing strong and masculine despite the thinness, “You could cut it for me.”
She said, “I’m going to charge. Take me half a day to cut that mop.” I reflected that is was not a mop. It was hard for a head of hair that full to look so perfectly quaffed. A frozen waterfall. A couple of centuries is all it takes to learn to style your hair perfectly.
He said, “I can pay you so many ways.” His voice went deep, rumbled.
All the girls tittered. Then he beckoned, his thin hand waving like windblown willow wands.
Her girlfriends said, “Don’t go with that freak.”
“Yeah, he pale as shit.
“Like a crack fiend.”
But she said, “What’s he going to do? Skinny-jeans-ass wearing. Nice butt.”
I could have told her but then he’d just drink someone else. Also, she wouldn’t listen to a freak on a roof anymore than her friends, especially when the freak on the roof was telling her he was a thirsty dead man. She followed him out of the glow of the streetlights, through the boughs of a yew tree in an abandoned lot.
I followed him in a little later, dropping off the roofs into a mulberry tree nobody have ever trimmed, onto the weeds and human detritus that coated the abandoned lot. He was wiping the back of his mouth. The girl, so full of energy a few moments ago, was on the ground. Little holes in her neck bled thin trails.
“Knew you were behind me. Like that?” he nudged the girl’s corpse. “Make you hungry?”
It did. Not her, already used, but the friends. “P? Hey, P, you all right.” They were calling from the block.
He said, “Maybe we should go. Don’t want to be around for the funeral. It’s such a drag.” His lips were curled into a half smile.
That half smile sparked something in my head, like, “I know this monster.”
He leaned forward suddenly, his copper tinted eyes staring deep into mine.
It flashed in my head, long fingers’ silently drumming on the desk, the excitement of the Lacanian text in my hand. Looking up seeing those eyes twinkling. The desire to feel their gliding caress, the assurance that it was full of knowledge, on my back, the slender arm, strong as a steel cable, pulling me, what would the tongue and then the teeth feel like? I had met this one before.
He said, “Ah, you remember now. That summer in Prague.”
The girls were yelling real loud from the block now, “P? P!! What the fuck, P? He do something? We ‘bout to come back there an’ shit. Yo, freak-white fiend, don’t do nothing to her.”
I looked back to find him and he was gone.
“Too late,” I said to no-one.
The corpse stirred, and looked up at me. The eyes didn’t; they wobbled and then the pupils dropped down. The head though was toward me. “Dead flesh . . .” she said.
I shook my head. And then she reached for me and touched my knee. And then I got scared, because I was in the tunnel again, and it was closer than before, and stunk, and I knew I had to go down it and that was the one thing I didn’t want.
I shook off the hand, and started running, but I heard her finish, “binds to dead.”

Sunday, November 2, 2014

2. The Hall of the Valkyrie (JR’s)

A song to listen to while you read.

The name of the bar today was JR’s. The place was worthy of the name, with a floor more gum than linoleum.  An old man sitting at the bar nodded at me. I ignored him.  A middle-aged man with long hair who still thought he was good looking saw me and said, “Hey, Snow White.” I ignored him too. Then I sat at the end of the bar and the barkeep was already there. Looked like he was twelve, must have never shaved.
“I didn’t know boys could tend bar,” I said.
He said, “I’m not a boy.”
I just laughed.
“What are you having? It’s on the house.”
“Oh? What’d I do to earn that?”
“You walked in here. Look around, we’ve got a sausage fest going on.”
“Ginger ale then.”
He said, “We got a lot nicer options.”
I said, “I don’t drink. Beside ginger ale.”
“That’s a shame,” he said.
“No, it isn’t,” I thought.
I wanted to go ahead and have some more thoughts but another drinker was leaning into my space.
“The bars already got my drinks.”
“Let me buy you a real drink.”
I turned. It was the middle-ager with brown and gray streaked long hair and two days of stubble. I said, “Look, no offense but I want to be alone.”
“Why’d you dress so nice then?”
I could have told him a lot of stuff, but he was just a human, so why waste my time. If he thought I was dressing nice so he could touch me with his greasy hands, he was too fucking deluded to talk sense into anyway. Since when did a tank top and jeans become nice? Nice is now a way of saying he can see that I’m a woman?
“Fuck off,” I said.
There was a time when I dressed in sweat pants and hoodies, hiding the fact that my body was female. At that point I wanted to be free from my body. When I first died, everything I wore was allure and promise, the body half in, half out. The whole deal with drinkers is the drink has to come willingly. It’s not right if you just fall on people between the alleys, or whatever. They have to want it, to say, “Come in,” or nod when you say, “Let’s go,” follow you into the alley. And when I was done with all that, I said, no more clothes like that. Sweats. I didn’t want to look like a girl. Cut my hair short, just a buzz.
But then they still talked, “Yo, dike, let me show you what a man can do.”
“Why’d you steal my sweatpants, baby?” It was like the fact that I didn’t dress how they wanted me to was some sort of crime. So I came around to thinking that I may not be in the drinking game, but I’ll wear what I want. I like to look in the mirror and see my forever twenty one complexion. It’s not like I have much else to hold onto.  
Grabbing my wrist. It was the half-dead greaser. “Fuck off? How about fuck on?”
I twist, hammer him in the balls, and let another elbow flow through his head. Nice audible knock like the UPS man. Everybody in the old dirty bar looked over. “Excuse me,” I said, “he was getting a bit fresh.”
Greasy Hair was crawling around on the floor like a deranged dog. The old man started clapping, junior behind the bar looked kind of nervous. I dragged Greasy Hair to the door, stood him up, where he wobbled for a moment before I sent a sneaker into his ass, propelling him into and through the door. It slammed back after letting in a gust of cold. Cold felt good.
I went back to my seat. Don’t know why I came here. JR’s. Game was going on a tv small enough to be from another century. They didn’t sell food, the sign behind the bar said. It’s scribbled in pen, “Order pizza, we got no food.” They should have written they only have drink. Didn’t matter, but I’m explaining, “Shit place.”
Then I knew. It wasn’t a drinkers’ hunting ground. The kind of place to find drinkers is where the young people, the promise-full, love-hoping, dream-believing are at night. Beach parties, down by the fire, with a cooler of cold ones. The trendiest clubs where they go, looking to make a connection. Bars with cover charges, anywhere that the young and hopeful drink, that’s where we drink.
Not JR’s. Another iteration of Joe’s Bar. “I’m looking for a break,” I realize. “I need to figure some stuff out. It started just as desire to kill the drinkers. But now I know everything I’ve been doing, it’s nothing. I can kill these young ones all day—or night—but we’ll still have the problems. It’s the old one. And I’m not equipped to kill him. Hustle, passion, some ju jitsu, it’s nothing against the old one.”
Not again, “No thanks,” I said, not even looking up. It’s another technique. If you ignore them they sometimes leave. Not always. Not usually. Sometimes I just want to go back to the old days and take them outside and open up their necks like I was eating a watermelon.
“You look like you’d be so good at drinking.” The voice, delicate, cultured. The tongue caressed the word drinking, like saying a prayer.
I look up, and see the curtain of hair hanging across his face, the bright lips and the piercing eyes. Traces of a long fine nose. Short break.
He asked, his voice as precise as the ticks of watch, “You want to go outside again? Take a little jaunt around the alley and see if you can stick me with that bit of oak you got in your pocket?”
I knew I was outclassed. Not only that, I remembered the knee, the pain. The not healing.
He responded to my silence. “Worried about your knees?”
I looked at him. I was wondering if he’d slide his hand along the bar and touch me and my joints would unsling themselves and jangle like broken rubberbands.
“The one knee seems to have healed. Tell me how that happened?”
I shrugged. “I don’t really understand it.”  
“You will tell me, though.”
I could hear some actual passion in his cultured voice, and realized that he wanted to know. At least he couldn’t read my mind.
I said, “My business.” I took of ginger ale. So sweet. I wanted to spit it out, but I managed to swallow it.
He laughed, a bell like melody. JR’s clientele looked up, startled. He said, “So tell me, why are you killing your brothers and sisters?”
“They suck.”
“Haha. A bit of word play. You also suck, though your way of sucking, is sucking at sucking. Drinking old blood? Blood without the hunt? Don’t you notice how flavorless it is, how it curdles in the mouth?”
I said, “I don’t drink.”
 “Just so,” he said. “Listen, I like your energy. I can show you new hunts, more complicated targets. The game is afoot, and you sit here, in JR’s.”
I said, “I think it’s pretty obvious where I stand on that.”
“Of course. Well, I’ve decided to double my kill for every night you don’t hunt. You know, so that you know your abstinence isn’t saving any lives.”
Great. “Don’t put yourself out for me.”
“Oh, it doesn’t put me out. The exercise will do me good, and of course, a beautiful lady such as yourself is worth every extra effort.” The things he said were stupid but somehow those hundreds of years of life made them sound important and clever. And then he walked out to go and kill his quota and mine. Not that humans were a big deal, no offense.
I looked at the ginger ale, fizzing meaninglessly on the counter, shrugged, and walked out after him.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

1. To Quench the Unsated Thirst (In Forty Bars)

For a multimedia experience listen to this song while reading. 

I’ve tackled them all kind of ways. When they are coming out of the alley, sated on blood, or when they’re going in to the alleys, hungry, holding a human by the hand. Each time I got my target. We rolled, they snipped, and somehow, by force of will, agility, how ever, I slipped the wooden tip of my stake between their ribs, and hammered it with the heel of my palm, and the oak slid home. The bodies slump, the elegance of their hips gone, a body lying in the alley, a bag of trash waiting for the interest of raccoons, opossums, and cats of low character.

I didn’t know that they were just the ordinary ones, the standard issue drinkers, ten years old, maybe twenty. 

I only learned how little killing them meant the first time I faced off with the old one.

They were leaving the club Lounge, hand in hand, dancing off Delaware Ave into the space between the old warehouses. The girl with him, eighteen, nineteen, and she looked pretty in her make-up, but the heels, the open back shirt, she had tried hard for tonight. She couldn’t believe her luck when a silken charmer slid next to her, and asked what her interests were. I ran after them, silent. He turned her into the darkness of an alley, and pressed her against the bricks, his narrow nostril flaring, taking in the musk of her underneath the perfume, the smell of blood flowing.

He bent toward her. His hair fell in a curving wall, so that only his dead eyes and the ruby red of his lips glistened through.

I knew, from lots of practice, that the moment before biting was opportune. The drinker is vulnerable. I pulled the oak stake out and charged. I didn’t see what happened, just found myself flying and clanging through a trash can. I pulled my head up and looked. He had one hand under her, lifting her like a soda, and his adam’s apple worked as he slaked his thirst. She writhed in his grasp. I pulled a syringe out of my back and jumped up. By the time I was on my feet, he dropped her. Finished.

She fell on the used condoms like another used condom.

I charged leading with two feet of sharpened oak. He slid along the ground, like Voldemort’s shadow hunting unicorns. I missed. As I went by he reached out with a long finger, and grazed my knee with his fingernail, and the knee exploded with a pop.

He stood up, throwing his long shadow across me, and walked out the alley, “Hey, good looking,” he said, “let that knee remind you how young you are.”

I tried to chase him, but the leg gave out under me. I hopped a few feet, and sunk to the ground as the lean silhouette disappeared into the night. The pain came next. This knee was supposed to be supernatural, I kept thinking.

I went out on crutches the next night. Same club. Same scene, not the same drinker. The girl with him wasn’t as sold as last night’s victim but he was muttering something about White Flight and the promise of the high kept her with him. Her- Fake tan, little black dress. Him, crew cut, pale skin, pink eyes. I tried to chase them. The noise of my crutches was loud, even when I tried to keep it quiet and he turned.

“Excuse me,” he said to Jersey, and came back for me.

He punched me once, hard and I went down, the crutches clattering away. He laughed. “We know about you now, you stunted crazy bitch.” The knee started hurting all over again when I fell. He took Jersey off into the alley, and I heard a little shriek and watched him come out again fifteen minutes later. My knee was still hurting.

I distracted one, and her human got away, but that wasn’t what I was in this for. Humans weren’t worth drinking, they weren’t worth saving. Killing drinkers—that was the only thing I thought was worth anything.

Each time I met a drinker they knew me and anytime they touched me, the knee flamed up and I went down. I didn’t know what to do. There are no doctors for my kind. I never had an injury after my first death.

The next day I was down a deep alley, past a pile of humans nobody wanted anymore, past a drinker who was finishing, who ignored me, whom I ignored, whom I knew I couldn’t take, when I came across a corpse.

It was the girl the old one had dried out. I could tell by her thin brown hair, the red high heels, from Payless. She looked up at me, her eyes dried up raisins, her make-up smeared by the trash and she opened her mouth, and spoke.

“Your knee is broken.” The voice rasped like steel sawing through aluminum.

“Shit happens,” I said. “You need a drink.”

She was not drinker though. No drinker ever looked as empty and sad as she did.  

“Here,” she said. She took her fingernails and pushed them into the soft skin of her foot and ripped upwards, opening a long slit. She reached in and pulled out a tendon, thick as a pinky finger and whitish color, with a pink viscous layer dripping off it. It wiggled and wriggled from the end of her finger. “I won’t be needing it.”

She crawled across the alley floor, displacing condoms and syringes as she went, and reached toward my blasted knee. She held out the tendon and it nosed its way against my leg, parting the flesh and inching and worming its way in. It hurt like hell, and I think I screamed. 

The dead girl said, “Dead flesh binds to the dead.”  She looked up at me, her eyes just dark sockets. “Get him.”

Then she collapsed onto the floor of the alley. Like a normal dead person. My knee was shipping rivers of pain. I fell on the ground blacked out, and I saw a tunnel. Long tunnel, dark and the prettiest music was playing, like the go-home song at the club.

Then it was gone. I took a step. The knee was healed. I jumped and I started running, faster than before.