Friday, September 16, 2011

The Nightlife

The first story The Nightlife

Trina stood on the street corner, her face and eyes painted to stand out among the sea of ‘working girls’ that lined hell’s version of skid row. The bright glare from the neon signs that blared out their gaudy promises of ‘Nude Girls’ and ‘Live Fun’, bounced off her blond tresses, bathing her hair in shades of rainbow hues. The scum of the city came here to play and Trina’s nose wrinkled in disgust at the offending odor of the drunk that stumbled into her, his hands grasping at her small breasts, trying to cop a free feel.

“Hands off!” Trina snarled, smacking the man away. The inebriated bum stumbled off, mumbling something about a dirty whore, strong words coming from a man who probably, from the smell about him, hadn’t bathed more than a couple of times this year. Considering the year would be over in just two days, that wasn’t saying a lot about his cleanliness.

Trina watched him go, her skin crawling from his touch. She hated this racket and the type of low life it exposed her to. She would have to talk to Max about moving to another part of town, maybe uptown, where the richer, upper class hung out, She wasn’t unskilled, she was sure they could make a better living there; certainly a cleaner living.

“Well, aren’t you a pretty young thing,” a voice behind her said. Trina turned to get a better look at the man, who smelled strongly of Old Spice. As she turned, the man’s voice faltered in the middle of asking her price. His eyes widened as the Trina sized him up as realization struck him, just how young a thing she was.

“You’re just a child,” he said, shock registering in his voice. Trina smiled because missing from his voice was the concern for her welfare and in his eyes, a mixture of uncertainty and lust.

“Take me into that alley over there,” Trina said, her voice low and seductive, “and I’ll show you just how much of a child I’m not.”

He looked around, uncertain and Trina almost laughed at his gaping mouth. She knew his type; he wore a business suit and a ring on his left finger. He probably lived on the other side of the city, working in the business district and had decided to come to Hooker Alley looking for a little fun. His wife probably had no idea he was a sleaze and he was looking for quick, discrete action that he couldn’t get at home. As Trina finished her analysis of the John she answered his unfinished question.

“Twenty-five to a hundred dollars, depending on what you’re asking.

“What?” The man sounded confused.

“Anything too kinky, rates are higher, depending on what you’re asking.” Trina knew his type, so she’d kept it low enough that he wouldn’t bolt, but high enough that he wouldn’t think her too low end. He had standards

“Too kinky?”

Man, he was thick. Trina let the gaudy faux fur she was wearing fall open to reveal a little more skin. “You know, like maybe you might want me to wear braids and suck a lollypop….that might fall just at the edge of kinky.”

The business man licked his lips, undecided. She couldn’t be more than 12 and somehow he thought she was younger. He had a daughter about her age, but she’d never talked like this girl. As his eyes roamed up and down the ‘child’s’ body, she bent over, her skirt hiking up a bit in the back. ‘Damn,’ he thought, he didn’t know anyone that young could be so seductive.

He looked around. No one seemed to be paying attention. He wondered for a moment if this was a police sting. He had a friend that had been busted once, picking up a prostitute that turned out to be a cop. The girl looked at him, smiling, her blond hair so much like his daughter’s. As though she could read his mind, her tongue flicked out, tracing her lips as she whispered to him, holding out her hand, “Please daddy.” Swallowing, he took one last look around, then taking her hand, followed her into the alley.

Trina smiled, feeling the man’s breath on her neck. They always fell for it, the sick pervs. She hated this life, but in a small way it was worth it. She’d taken only a quick peek into his mind, just enough to know what to say to push him across the line. She always felt contaminated after reading their thoughts, but having seen what he was thinking about his own daughter Trina knew she had to do him. Maybe that’s why Miloslav had chosen her; to save her from the life her own father had forced her into. She found it ironic though, that to survive, she fell back into this life. She wondered what Miloslav would think of that.

“It’s different,” she told herself, allowing the man to turn her towards him and pressing her against the brick wall. She began unbuttoning his pants and he moaned as her fingers brushed against his. Running his fingers through her hair he whispered, “Jenny.”

Repulsed, Trina decided she needed to finish this quickly. Normally she would draw it out, make him suffer for his thoughts, but the injustice that men like this continued to live angered her so much, she knew she couldn’t control herself enough to do him justice. And she was hungry.

Reaching up, she pulled his face towards hers. He leaned in, eager for her young mouth. Just before their lips would have touched, Trina pulled hers back in a snarl, revealing sharp fangs. Alarmed, he tried to pull back, but Trina kept a grip on the back of his head, her fingers pushing into the skull. Diving her head to the side she sank her teeth into his neck and greedily began to drink.

The man stiffened as she broke the skin and his blood began to spill into her mouth. He struggled, but he was no match for her strength, his frightened heart pumped the blood through the wound faster, weakening him even more. He died as she drained him, licking the gash in his neck to get every trace of blood that she could.

Trina dropped his body. Pulling a wet wipe from her purse, she dabbed at her mouth, using a mirror to make sure she erased every trace of gore. She smiled at herself in the mirror, wondering why people thought vampires didn’t have reflections. She’d been 10 years old for 375 years now and that she had yet to figure out.

Shrugging, she dropped the mirror back in her purse, picked the John’s pocket and then hurried off to meet Max.

Max Tiegan perused the market, searching for just the right ingredients for his New Years feast. Than gen blossom and Chong Sheng Lotus were a bit difficult to find, especially this time of year when it was in such high demand. The problem was these herbs were so rare that very few places carried them, and those that did were usually sold out by Christmas. It was, just two days before the New Year and Max had yet to find the crucial components to the traditional meal, which was why how he had found himself searching for the items in the seediest looking section of China Town.

Last year he had found the two herbs that promised eternal youth and reversal of death in a small Cantonese health store, but when he returned this year he found only a burnt out shell where the building had once stood. He’d tried to ask a few of the passerby’s if the store had relocated, but as soon as he mentioned the stores name, they would move on, motioning for him to stay away.

“Excuse me ma’am,” he said, stopping a woman who was passing by. Her arms were loaded with groceries and she gave him a wary look. Max was young, 19 or early 20’s by appearances and not bad looking, but in New York it always paid to be cautious. “Do you know if the Cantonese Health Store has opened in another location?”

“Don’t know anything,” the woman said, turning and rushing away, her eyes suddenly filled with fear.

“Sir, the Cantonese Market…”

“It’s evil! Stay away. If you are looking for anything in there you must be evil too!”


This woman must have heard him asking the other pedestrians, because she started backing away from him the minute he approached him, making signs at him with her hands to ward off evil spirits. Then she turned and ran from him, as though being chased by the devil himself. In retrospect, she wasn’t far from the truth and Max had considered giving chase, just to demonstrate that you can’t outrun the devil. If it hadn’t been broad daylight he might have, but even in New York where a vampire could walk around, unnoticed by the living, one sucking the life out of an old lady might have been too obvious. Besides, he’d eaten during the night and wasn’t hungry for Asian.

As New Years Eve approached and he still hadn’t found the ingredients needed to make a successful meal, he’d begun to feel frustrated. Discouraged, he’d begun to think that he would have to do without, a disturbing idea, although not unheard of. There were ‘acceptable’ replacements, if the herbs couldn’t be found. Max had experienced a traditional New Year’s meal that did not have either of the traditional components…in fact, served by ‘vegetarian’ friends of his; it had lacked the main ingredient, being replaced with a young ham. The food had been good enough, though he had been sorely disappointed with the flavor.

Of course herbs that promoted resurrection from death and eternal life were purely symbolic since vampires were already immortal; however there were those that believed consuming certain factors as they entered the New Year would give them a more youthful appearance and renewed vigor. This was complete shit, but Max did enjoy the flavor. This would be Trina’s first feast and he wanted everything to be perfect. She’d already been deprived of so many joys; he wanted her first taste of this New Year to be memorable.

So here he was in China Town, shopping one of the outdoor markets. He’d never been to this section before and had in fact never traversed China Town at night. Night was when he usually did his hunting and, while he didn’t find Asian food objectionable, he didn’t particularly enjoy it. There was something in their blood that turned him off, which was silly since blood was blood. Still, it was always a strong taste and it made him feel woozy.

down the street, browsing the various produce stands and trinket shops that were set up along the side, he was delighted by the atmosphere. Colorful lanterns lit the streets and he smiled at some of the oddities, telling himself he would have to bring Trina back here to shop. There was one booth whose sign, when loosely translated, read ‘Dead Cat’. In other words, Curiosity Shop.

Despite all the interesting merchandise he still could not find the tight ingredients. Irritated and disappointed, Max turned to leave, ready to get home to Trina. He still had one more day to find the components. Perhaps tomorrow…he really wanted this New Years Feast to be special for her.

Max recalled Trina’s delight as he explained the tradition to her. The poor girl had lived for 375 years and until she had met him, had never known vampires could eat anything besides blood. She’d led a sheltered life living with her creator, Miloslav. Her world was underground, shadows and darkness, going out only to drink and avoiding the sun. That last one was understandable. While only a small population of vampires was so adversely affected by the sun, suffering burns and lesions, most did have difficulty with their eyes. However, with sunglasses, the majority of vampires could venture out into the daylight. Miloslav may have been one that was affected by the sun, but Max doubted it, since usually the affliction was passed onto their ‘offspring’. Trina was not inhibited by daylight, although when they first met, she had no idea.

Max remembered finding her earlier that year, frightened and shielding her eyes from the sun. She was screaming, believing she was about to be turned to dust. The humans that happened to be out in the early dawn were beginning to become alarmed, a few dialing their cell phones, seeking help for the crazed child.

Max had been stunned himself. He’d never seen a vampire as young as Trina. It was traditionally taboo to change someone that young, since it meant trapping them in a child’s body for all eternity. Being immortal was hard enough without adding eternal childhood to it.

“It is okay, it is okay,” Max called out to the spectators. “She is my sister; I’ll take care of her.”

“The sun,” the girl sobbed, “Miloslav, where is he? I don’t know how to get home.”

“What’s wrong with her?” The woman that asked this looked like she might question Max’s authority to take the girl away.

“She’s been ill,” Max explained. “She sleepwalks and she got out sometime in the night. My parents will be relieved that she’s been found.” Max said this as he picked the child up and started to push his way through the crowd.

The woman blocked his way. “Maybe I should call someone. If she was able to get out of the house, she may need better care.”

Thinking franticly Max said, “We locked the door, but it must have been missed last night. It won’t happen again. Now please, if you don’t mind, I’d like to get my sister home. My parents are worried sick.

The young girl, still screaming about the sun and how she was going to turn to dust, had thrown her arms around Max’s neck, sobbing uncontrollably. ‘Stop it!” Max projected his thoughts into the child’s head, hoping she wasn’t so distraught that she couldn’t listen. Her sobs slowed a bit, but didn’t stop. ‘If you want to get out of here, you need to calm yourself.’ Trying to calm her hysterics, the young vampire looked around, thoroughly amazed that she hadn’t turned to dust. Looking at her arm, she touched it, making sure she wasn’t seeing things. Then she noticed the crowd of humans that had surrounded them.

‘I’m your brother, you were sleepwalking but now you are okay. My name is Max.’

“Max, what are we doing outside?” The girl was a pro. They made their way through the crowd and Max thought that would be the last he’d see of that woman. He was wrong. Turned out she was a social worker. She’d been making their life hell ever since, starting with following them back to his place. Now she was always stopping by, looking for their parents, wanting to know why Trina wasn’t in school. Max was considering killing her.

Distracted by his thoughts, Max nearly tripped over the proprietor of one of the vending booths. The man had walked out of the shadows, stepping directly into his path.

“You have not visited my shop.” The man sounded as though her were scolding Max. Max glanced over to where the vendor was pointing and was surprised to see that there was indeed a small stand. A sign, barely visible in the shadows, boasted ‘rare herbs and spices’. While the stand was in an out of the way corner of the market and not very well lit, Max was astonished he’d not noticed it since vampire eyes were much keener than humans.

“Come, come,” the man said, gesturing for Max to follow.

“How did you know I was looking for herbs,” Max asked, suspicious of the elderly merchant.

“I been watching you. You looking for than gen blossom and chong sheng lotus.”

Max was skeptical, giving the man a dubious look. He was always aware of his surroundings, but until the man stepped in front of him, he hadn’t seen him. That was enough to make the vampire distrustful. “And do you carry either of these?”


“Two days before the New Year, you have two of the hardest to find ingredients in all of New York?”

“I knew you looking for them.”

“You knew…how did you know?” Max was beginning to feel apprehensive, ready to bolt from the market if things looked like they might go bad. Vampires were not without enemies.

“I dreamed it. Now, wait a moment, I will package them for you. Be $25 dollars each.”

“Twenty-Five Dollars,” Max exclaimed, “that’s nearly double what I paid last year.”

“Last year, Cantonese Health Store had a ready supply. You waited till two days before New Years to come looking.”

“How do you know about the Cantonese store?”

“I know lot of things. Some I tell you, some I keep secret. It has to be.”

Reluctantly, Max reached into his pocket and pulled out the bills to pay the man. Unlike some vampires, Max wasn’t rich. He liked to keep things clean and lived by a code. He only fed off the scum of the earth. Picking their pockets provided some income, but not the kind he could get if he went after more profitable humans, which he considered too risky. He hadn’t lived as long as he had by getting reckless. There was one more component of the meal he needed to find. More than likely he would have to acquire that himself.

Having paid the merchant, Max reached for the bag, ready to leave this strange man but before he could finish picking it up, the old vendor wrapped his hand around Max’s wrist.

“You will need another ingredient for the feast?” The man phrased it as a question, but the way he said it indicated he knew just what Max was looking for.

“What do you know about my meal plans?” Max bared his fangs as he asked.

The man chuckled. “I know that a vampire has only one need for these particular herbs and to enjoy them you will need a certain ‘delicacy’.” As he said this, the man nodded his head a little further into the shadows. Following his gaze, Max sucked in his breath at the sign, nearly invisible within the shadowy darkness


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