Starving

“Oh, I’m in, my friend,” Ignatius said sidling to the door, leaning on the jamb with his hip.  “I’m definitely in.”  He slipped inside, and Randall breathed a sigh of relief.

Randall knew more about Ignatius than he cared to, or at least that he claimed to care to.  In actuality, the minutiae of details regarding Ignatius’s life had a habit of filing themselves away in the stacks inside Randall’s brain, though he did not know why he did this.  For example, Randall knew that before his change, Ignatius had been one of the most famous dressmakers in Paris.  Women came from across the continent, and even as far away as New York, Mexico City and even Hong Kong to have their bodies measured, squeezed and encapsulated in engineered fashion statements of silk and feather and wire.  After his change, he attempted to maintain his trade in warmer climates such as the colonies in Indochina, North Africa and the South Pacific.  Ignatius liked the work, and found that his clients never made him hungry.  But their husbands did.  And there is no better client in the world for a famous dressmaker than a merry widow.  No one seemed to notice that the husbands of Ignatius’s clients mysteriously disappeared, or that their bodies showed up, drained, half naked and partially frozen, in back alleys, sewers, parks, and once in the bed of the best suite in the best hotel in Paris.  Or, at least, people claimed not to notice.  Randall couldn’t help but suspect that perhaps Ignatius and his clients had a tacit agreement:  I give your husband the night of his life and take him off your hands, then, I give you a dress and your freedom.  Hundreds of women took the dress, and their husbands died happy.  Meanwhile, Ignatius was famous, and loved and rich.

#

The band crept onto the stage, picked up their instruments and began tuning up.  On the floor, most people didn’t notice.  Music thumped from tall speakers positioned around the large, high room, while patrons of drinking age pounded glass after brightly colored glass, and patrons who were not tried to hide their marked hand and sidle up to someone who might give them a sip.  Or buy them a drink.

Randall pulled the heavy door shut and felt it clank closed.  Four well-worn deadbolts supposedly secured it, although Randall knew this was just a show for nervous concertgoers.  A deadbolt could slow them down, but it can’t stop them.  Randall, of course, stop them, but only one at a time.

Back when he first started, before anyone had thought to elect a vampire to the city council, Randall had been free to kill as many as he wanted, as long as he could catch them.  In fact, the hunting and catching of a vampire had become the task du jour for most fraternities at the University.  The would choose the first cold night in October, when the vampire population would typically be caught unprepared for the cold, their movements labored and sluggish, their hands and feet beginning to ice.  Typically, their task was to surround a vampire, hold it down after making sure to protect their hands with heavy gloves and their faces with balaclavas, and wait for the sun to rise.  Timing, for this enterprise was key.  If they caught the vampire too early, then they might be tempted to pass a hip flask or two around the group just to pass the time.  Inevitably, the vampire, with knees on her back and Puma-ed feet pinning her neck, would regale the frat boys with stories of Morocco and Tahiti and the hidden temples in the Central American jungle.  She would tell them how she was once the lover of Gaugin or William Kidd or Faust.  She would tell them that she was once the most famous star of the Damascus Burlesque, that her dance of the seven veils put men into waves of erotic agony and metaphysical bliss.  She would ask them to consider an audience.  They would consider.  In the morning, frozen fraternity boys would be stacked into a neat pyramid, their faces stuck on an expression of pure joy.

This doesn’t happen anymore.  Anyone caught killing a vampire without a license faces stiff fines, and in many cases prison time.  Or, more likely, they just disappear.  Those, like Randall, who do have a license, must prove that they killed in order to protect life, property or business.  So he only kills at work.  Which is just as well.  After all, they know where he lives, and they know where he goes.  The non-dead community, knowing exactly what Randall is capable of, has decided as a group to give the man a wide berth.  Everyone, that is, except Ignatius.





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