Starving

“Will you dance?” Ignatius held out a frosty hand. Randall stared at it, his eyebrows raised. “Oh,” Ignatius started, suddenly flustered. “How rude.” Quickly, he fished into his pocket and fished out a pair of white leather gloves and eased his fingers inside. He held out his hand again. “Shall we?”
“No.” Randall didn’t look at him, but scanned the crowd instead. The dead were behaving themselves. For now.

Ignatius scowled. “All work and no play. What a dull boy you are, Mr. Kinney.” He spun on his heel and slid into the crowd, his movements light and sure, like a cat. Randall watched him, though he did not want to. He felt the thumping sensation in his chest and told himself that it was only the bass. The bass, and not his heart.

#

When Randall was a boy, his grandfather used to tell him stories about hunting vampires when he was stationed in the South Pacific.

“A base is a magnet for all kinds of low-life, boy. You remember that.” Randall had few memories of his grandfather besides a frizzled, white and black chin and a continuously lit cigarette – Menthols, mostly – and the jam jars filled with a swirling, amber liquid that made Randall dizzy when he sniffed it. “Two-bit whores, pushers and vamps. They’re all the same when it comes down to it. But you only get to kill the vamps.” He took a drag. “Legally, that is.”

His grandpa’s first kill was accidental – a lucky flick of the wrist with a rather large shard of glass that he found on the ground. The glass, unfortunately, cut both ways, and while the vamp lost his head, Randall’s grandpa lost the little finger on his left hand as well. After that, he learned how to dispatch of at least part of the unwanted element hanging around the base at night quickly and efficiently until most dead were either terminated or scared off. When he retired, he moved his family up to Minnesota because of the cold. He told his wife it was for the safety, but really he just wanted to train his boys in peace, and he told Randall so.

“The trick is,” he told Randall, “to kill quick. Don’t let them look at you. Don’t let them talk, or even open their mouths. They’re slick, all of them, and they’ll try to tug at your heart so they can eat it raw. Do you understand me, boy?”





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