Don’t stop here… it’s bat country

Sadie ducked down and screamed. “What the fuck was that?”

I had to snicker. “It’s just a bat, Sadie. Our singing must have called him out.”

Sadie stood up straight and brushed herself off. She laughed nervously. “Anyone you know?” Sadie gave me a teasing glance and quickly turned away.

My jaw dropped. Did she really just ask me that? When Sadie glanced back, the look on my face must have been a good one as Sadie cracked a smile.

“Hey! Don’t look at me like that! I’m only two days into this! I don’t know what all your kind can do! All I’ve got to go on is romanticized fiction, vampire porn, and the occasional Hollywood action movie!”

The “Not So” Magnificent Seven

The seven men circling me were most definitely looking for trouble. They carried with them quite a selection of weaponry: baseball bats, chains, lead pipes, a knife here or there—you had to appreciate the diversity. After all, variety is the spice of life.

The sun had just set and the shadows were beginning to creep along the ground. There were four of them to my right and three more to my left. If I played this just right, this could be the most fun I’d had in New Orleans to date.

The apparent leader stepped forward with the Devil dancing in his eyes. He was a rough looking sort, probably from down by the docks. He had a scar that ran from above his right eye down to his left cheek. Holding a baseball bat in his right hand, he pointed straight at me with his left. “Is this the guy, Vinny?” he snarled.

I recognized the bastard who answered. He was a short little nothing that literally resembled a rat in the face. It looked like his mother had climbed into the swamp and mated with the largest rodent she could find, producing this disfigured little asshole in the process. The rat, trembling from some kind of nervous tick, nodded. “Yea, yea, that’s him! That’s the guy I saw with Faust the night Fats died.”

Why you little tattle-telling, bastard!

Apparently having done his job, the leader of the gang tossed a few coins on the ground which the rat quickly scooped up and ran away with. I was quite disappointed. Seven was such a lucky number to kill, but I guess I’d just have to settle for six.

Slowly, the three men on each side of me got closer, smiling with every step that they took. “Now, now, gentlemen, there’s no need for violence here.” Oh the wicked lies I told while stalling for time. With every passing second, the shadows darkened and that was most definitely playing to my advantage.

Pointing his baseball bat just a few inches from my face, the leader snarled, “This is how it works, kid. You killed Fats, and now we kill you.”

Stalling just for a few more moments, I faked a smile. “Aw, you sure there’s not a way to avoid bloodshed here, boys?”

Shaking his head, the leader replied, “Afraid not.”

I shrugged my shoulders and nonchalantly said. “Okay, have it your way.” The trashcan in my left hand I hurled at the leader and I leaped after it. My timing was a little off but my boots smacked the trashcan about the same time the can smacked ole scar-face in the chin. That sent him flying down the alleyway and the fight was officially on.

The two thugs flanking where scar-face had been standing both tried to rush me at the same time. I jumped into the air and watched as they collided into each other and collapsed to the ground. While still in the air, I managed to plant my left foot against the wall and pushed off with all the force I could muster. I went hurling through the air like a cannonball, tackled one of the three standing thugs, and knocked him into the shadows. I quickly went to work on him with my fangs and claws.

As I carved him up and drank from him in the shadows, his screams filled the alleyway. When I appeared out of the darkness with a face covered in blood, the look on the remaining thugs’ faces was priceless. “Wh—what the fuck is he?” one of them screamed.

By this time, scar-face had regained his face, and boy was he looking pissed. He screamed, “I don’t care what he is! He’s surrounded! Finish him off!”

Apparently my appearance was enough to make even the bravest of his thugs think twice about it. I could smell their fear and while they hesitated, I just couldn’t resist taunting the lot of them. “The only thing I’m surrounded by is a bunch of dead men and cowards!”

Well, if his men wouldn’t attack, scar-face sure would. He charged at me, bringing the bat down from twelve o’clock to six. I sidestepped and gave him a little push as his momentum had him stumbling by me. Much to my amusement, he fell into a pile of garbage. As he lay there in God knows what, I openly laughed at him. Looking like he might blow a blood vessel, he screamed at his men, “Fucking kill him or I’ll skin you all alive myself!”

Blood-soaked face or not, that got his men into action. One swung low with a chain while a second went high with a lead pipe. Falling down to my knees, I avoided the lead pipe and caught the chain with my left hand. It wrapped around my wrist three times, giving me a good bit of leverage on it.

I pulled with all my might on the chain and monkey-flipped the thug into the wall. I kipped up to my feet and wrapped the chain around the throat of the thug with the lead pipe. Leaping up and over him, I kicked the other two thugs standing behind him in the chest, sending them flying as I lifted and choked the life out of the poor sap wrapped up in the chain.

Pulling on the chains, I flipped the thug I was chocking. He landed on his knees, already turning pale shade of blue. With a well placed kick to the side of his head, I heard his neck snap. I was having the best night in ages! For a Vampire, this was like being a kid on Christmas morning—so many presents to unwrap, so many necks to snap!

As I stood admiring my work, one of the thugs I had kicked managed to pick up the lead pipe and got behind me. He connected with a blow at the base of my neck, sending pain radiating up and down my spine. “Why you little…” I snatched him by the neck and tossed him into the wall. He landed with a terrible thud. I think the impact may have knocked him unconscious, but just to be safe I decided to leap up and drive my knee into his face. His head popped like a melon and blood splattered everywhere. I even managed to catch a little on the tip of my tongue. I have to admit, to be street scum, he was actually fairly tasty.

Scar-face had apparently seen enough, because when I turned to face him, I saw he had pulled a pistol. I watched him taking aim and just as he fired, I grabbed the nearest living member of his gang and threw him into the path of the projectile. The poor sap took it right through the heart and fell to the ground, clutching at his chest. As for me, I propped up against the alleyway wall and smiled at scar-face. “Looks like you’re running out of men, good sir.”

The chap who had first brought the lead pipe had seen enough. He was running down the alleyway to escape, but I couldn’t be having that. I was having far too much fun to just let him walk away. Darting in and out of the shadows, I was on top of the runner within moments. I snatched him up by the throat, flicked my wrist, and snapped his neck while scar-face looked on in disbelief.

Discarding the corpse to the ground, I slowly strolled back towards scar-face. “Well, now you are out of men. So let’s see how tough you are by yourself.”

I somehow knew scar-face was either going to be too stubborn or dumb to run away, and I was right. I had called him out, and he was going to go down swinging or die trying. He started swinging for the fences with his bat. The first I ducked beneath. The second I sidestepped and countered with a kick to his leg. I watched his knee buckle and smiled. I just love playing with wounded prey.

I’ll give the guy credit, he kept coming even though he had to know he was beaten. He swung wildly out of desperation and I ran right by him, letting my talons slice through his soft mortal flesh. Twice more he tried to connect, each time I dodged and dug my claws a little deeper into his open wounds until my hands were both a solid shade of dark crimson.

He was almost done. He could barely walk by the time he tried for that one last homerun shot with the bat. This time I didn’t even try to dodge it. I simply threw my hand in the way and caught the bat a few inches from my face. As scar-face’s jaw dropped, I smiled, saying, “Man, tonight is just not your night is it?” I pulled him down and had my fangs buried into his neck in no time. I almost had him drained dry when I heard someone making their way out the back of the soup-kitchen. It was, of course, Faust.

“I heard noises and wondered if you were… sweet Mary Mother of God! What the fuck happened out here?” he asked, as I stood there in the middle of six corpses, completely covered in blood.

Very calmly I replied, “Had a little trouble. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Thanks for checking up on me though.”

Faust just stood there in shock. He looked back and forth between me and the destruction in the alleyway. He just couldn’t seem to wrap his mind around the fact that little ole me had done all of this. Suddenly he screamed out, “Well for the love of God! Help me move these bodies!”

Back Alley Brawl

I could tell Sadie was starting to get sleepy. She positioned herself so that she had her head laying in my lap. Gazing up at me, she asked, “So what happened when you went back two days later?”

“Well, before we went back, some of Fats’ gang decided to pay us a little visit down at the soup-kitchen. I was tossing some trash out in the back alley when I heard the rattling of chains and the smashing of baseball bats up against the dumpsters. By my count, there were at least seven of them, and from the look on their faces, my guess was that they hadn’t come looking for a hot meal.”

Faust’s Army

“Yes, my dear, working a soup-kitchen. It was Faust’s little way of keeping all the bums and beggars on the street on his payroll. Several days a week he would fix up some kind of Cajun gumbo or stew or some other concoction and feed anyone who needed a meal. Why do you think those bums rushed into that bar and started that fight? You’d be amazed what starving people will do for a hot meal. They’d spy, steal, or even risk their lives for you. I have to admit, Faust had a good system worked out. There were so many homeless people in New Orleans, by feeding them, he had himself a small army at his command.”

Nawlins, it was a rough town

“Well, that night Faust took me to meet who was apparently going to be my new ‘boss.’ We went to the bad part of town. No, let me rephrase that, we went to one of the many bad parts of town. Don’t let Anne Rice or anyone else romanticize old New Orleans to you. That place was about as bad as it got. People getting Shanghaied, theft, murder, fucking Voodoo queens on every other street corner, it was ridiculous. I’m an immortal and it was the only city where I felt the need to stay on my toes. You just never knew what kind of cluster-fuck of fuckery you were going to walk into in that town.

Public Access

The first station had to be some kind of public access channel. The video footage had all the quality of a bunch of high school students with a camcorder and a tripod. The set was incredibly simple and bare, nothing but a wood podium in front of a white wall. The man on the channel was screaming at the top of his lungs how I was going to Hell.

Well, no shit, Sherlock! With four centuries of murder and looting behind me, where else would I go? I figure at this point, it’s go big, or go home.

Norman, we are gonna need towels….

Not that you could tell from the overcast sky, but it was nearing dawn. Personally, I could have gone another day or two without rest, but Sadie looked to be at the point of exhaustion. Apparently her little nap in the car wasn’t enough to recharge her batteries. I thought it was best to call it a night and let the storms roll through before heading on. Sadie took one look at our stop and immediately started giggling. She called the place a “No-tell Motel.”

“A what?” I asked, having never heard the expression.

“You know! A No-tell Motel! The kind of place that you sneak off with a hooker to smoke a li’l crack cocaine and get you a little tail, all at the affordable price of just twenty nine ninety five! Whatcha wanna bet they have hourly rates in this place?”

It was certainly no Alabama Star, but if offered up all the amenities we were looking for: a nice soft bed and a good hot shower. It wasn’t a palace, but it would have to do. Although I have to admit I had second thoughts when I saw it clearly posted on a sign “Yes! We do offer hourly rates!”

The place wasn’t very much to look at. It was a single story establishment laid out in an “L” design. The office was a separate building resembling a large guard shack. Every window and door of the office had security bars on them. The place was a small fortress. It didn’t make me feel very at ease about my choice of rest stops but it was either here or sleeping in the car.

I entered the heavily fortified shack and was greeted by a man with little sense and fewer teeth. I was asked for how many hours I would like to rent the room and when I said for the entire day, the man looked absolutely shocked.

I signed the register and checked us in as Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Watson. Exchanging a minimal fee I was give the key to room twenty-three, down at the end of the building. As I headed back to the car, the man give me a tip of his hat and said, “You ‘newlyweds’ have fun now, y’here?” before letting out a hearty laugh. The only thing that could have possibly made him creepier would have been the sound of banjos softly being strummed in the background as he spoke. I don’t know if the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family had any Alabama cousins, but I strongly suspected I had found one. I made a mental note to barricade the door to our room before exiting the office and walked back to the car.

Sliding into the driver’s seat, I tossed Sadie the door key. She proudly held it up and jingled the key. “Honey, we’re home!”

Sadie was the first out the car, bursting out like a rocket with Magic hot on her heels. She fumbled with the key for a moment, but finally the door swung open. Sadie took one step inside and froze dead in her tracks. “Oh… my… fucking… God!” It looks like the 1970s vomited whatever was left of itself up in here! Is this the carpet from The Shining? I swear to God, if there are a pair of creepy twins in the bathroom I am sooooo out of here!”

I have to admit. Sadie was right. The hotel room looked like something out of a 70s drive-in movie. The patterns on the carpet zigged and zagged wildly and made you feel like you were walking through a carnival fun-house. The colors, bright and vivid reds and oranges mixed with brown and blacks, were enough to give a blind man a headache. Alas, it was a mess, but for the next few hours it would be our “home sweet home.”

Sadie turned to me, smiling playfully. “I think I’m going to sleep in the car.”

I caught her by the arm as she tried to walk out and gave her a little tug back into the room. “Come on, Sadie! It’s definitely… intense, but that doesn’t mean it won’t serve its purpose.”

Sadie giggled. “It’s so sad! This room will actually look better with the lights off.” She snickered and plunged onto the first of two beds. She landed with a thud, barely bouncing at all. She grimaced and started laughing through the pain. “Oh dear sweet God! That actually hurt!”

Sadie assured me she was fine, though her stooped over walk suggested otherwise, and headed for the bathroom. She finally straightened up and swayed her hips playfully as she went. “I call dibs on the shower!” she screamed, hopping and skipping the last few steps before slamming the door behind her. Even with the door shut, I could hear her giggling.

She shouted out, “Nicholas, sweetie!” If I’ve learned anything in four centuries of living, it’s the fact that if a woman calls you ‘sweetie,’ there is more than likely a favor about to be asked of you.

“Would you bring my bags in from the car?” And there it was—not that I minded doing it, but there it was. Just as I was headed out the door, I heard her add, “And if you see Norman Bates out there, tell him we’re going to need more towels!”

Just to tease her, I replied, “Yes, mother!”

As I shut the door behind me, I heard her scream, “That shit’s not even remotely funny, Nicholas!” Personally, I had to disagree. I was laughing all the way to the car.