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Feeling a little nostalgic today. The shelter in place in San Francisco is starting to wear on me, even though I have enjoyed the solace. It was a much needed break from the world for me, but now I am aching to travel again. So I am reposting a piece from my travels in one of my favorite places, New Orleans.
Day 4 — New Orleans, June 2015
This morning I took a city tour where I got to see St. Louis Cemetery number 3, Lake Ponchitran which was beautiful and City Park. These were all places I didn’t get to see last time I was here. After the tour I ate at Napoleon House built in 1797. Napoleon was supposed to escape exile here in the 1820s but of course that didn’t happen. On one of the ghost tours I went on they talked about how the ghost of Napolean often shows up at dinner parties there.
After lunch I headed back to the hotel to get in the pool. It was really hot today. I almost didn’t go to the bar tour I Had at 4pm but I’m glad I did, Joe our tour guide was excellent. He’s a local authority on cocktail and bar history he has even been on Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain on CNN. He told us a lot of great stories on the local places in NOLA.
The first bar he took us to was Tujagues established in 1856. It’s the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans. And its still a standing bar 200 years later. I had the best Pimms Cup there.
Joe next took us to Pirate’s Alley right next to St. Louis Cathedral. Their signature drink is 120 proof Absinthe from France by a company called Lucid. I had that the other day on another tour. Next we were onto the Court of Two Sisters a very popular restaurant and bar that has the only death mask of President Andrew Jackson in the world on the wall. One of their signature drinks, is the Golden Coconut which reminded me of a White Russian but seemed lighter. It felt like I was drinking a cloud. It was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had anywhere.
The last place we visited was Antoine’s where Joe got us access to some of the private dining rooms, like the room President Clinton dined in. Joe was the best tour guide, everybody knows him so we got easy access everywhere we went.
After the tour I walked into the Boutique Du Vampyre in the French Quarter. And met the owner Marita who is going give me a Tarot reading tomorrow. It is such a nice little shop with all things vampire.
“Look at it this way,” he said. “Dan could be an asset to us; after all he is Jon Okada’s grandson.
“We’ll see,” Jake said. “He fuckin choked out there ya know.”
“I know it was not a good first outing,” Elia said. “Please think on it, Tegan values your opinion on these matters.”
“Why would Tegan want him involved in this anyway? Hasn’t she spent the last thirty years protecting him from all of this shit?”
“Even Tegan has a superior,” Elia said as he put on his coat and headed off for the evening.
Jake tapped his cigarette against his tin lighter. He was almost conflicted. Dan froze, he probably saw the creature as human, he thought. He didn’t go off all half cocked like so many of the others that were brought to him.
He snapped back the tin lid and lit his cigarette. The first few drags usually calmed him. Jake always needed a smoke or two after a good kill. Tonight was different though. The disappointment of it swept over him giving him the chills. He needed another drag. He watched the smoke race out of his mouth.
“Bloody fucking Hell! How am I going to tell Tegan this?”
He was almost numb. The truth made his chest burn. Dan was not a born overzealous killer instead he was a man of reason….the right man for the job.
“I can’t kill it,” Dan said.
“It! I have a name,” the vampire said, “Don’t turn away from me, coward!”
The vampire tried to lunge forward but the vervain laced chains burned his skin and kept him against the cold brick wall.
Dan turned to Jake who of course was ready.
“I bet you’re delicious. What are you Japanese?” The vampire asked.
“Oh do shut up,” Jake said as drove the final stake through the monster’s heart.
The creature gasped and slowly turned to ash.
“Get your jaw off the ground, Mate. We’ve got more vamps to hunt,” Jake said.
“I … just…”
“Look I know you are a virgin, so don’t worry I won’t tell anyone you just stood there cock in hand and …nothing.”
“Fuck off.” Dan said as he walked back to the car.
“Oh I’m just fuckin with ya. You white collar boys sure are sensitive.”
Dan was not laughing. He had to get used to this, he thought. Jake was right, he froze. They look too human. He needed to focus and not forget what they did to his family.
“I have lighter fluid in the car,” she said.
Dan’s stomach hit the wet snow. She actually brought lighter fluid? Thank God, this never worked out between us he thought.
Meredith hurried back with matches as well. Dan swallowed hard as Meredith soaked Jim’s blood stained body in lighter fluid.
“Meredith this is insane? Stop.” She didn’t even look up at him her eyes seemed cold, gray, not her usual bright blue. He dropped the ax and reached into his pocket for his phone. Maybe Elia could talk some sense into her. As he began to dial he felt a pull on his left pant leg. He looked down and saw Jim Somers, with eyes wide open grasping at his leg.
“Mother Fucker!” Dan yelled. “He’s turned, kill him, kill him.”
Meredith picked up the ax and swung loping Jim’s head clean off. Dan jumped back and watched her throw a match on Jim’s body. He turned to ash within seconds.
“What the fuck,” Dan said. “Lets get the hell out of here.”
They ran to Dan’s SUV. Meredith still had the bloody ax in her hand as she jumped in the front seat.
“Um you can put the ax in back,” Dan said.
She leaned back and dropped it on the back floor. She felt a buzz in her left pants pocket. She reached for her phone. Sheriff Keane’s name popped up.
“Oh my fucking God,” Dan said as he looked at the phone. “He knows, he knows we stole the body.”
“Calm down, he could have a lead on Sean.”
“Ya or that,” Dan said. “Put him on speaker.”
“Meredith I am sorry to call so late. I have some bad news.”
What could be worse than her missing brother and dead fiancée. Dan thought.
“Just tell me, things can’t get much worse.” she said.
“Someone stole two bodies from the morgue tonight and one of them was Jim’s,” Sheriff Keane said.
“Two bodies,” she asked. “Who was the other person?”
“Well we are supposed to keep it confidential but, I think you should know it was Lana Nordquist.”
“Sean’s ex fiancée!” Dan said.
Meredith handed Dan her phone and jumped out of the car.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
Meredith started vomiting on the side of the road.
“Dan is that you?” the sheriff asked.
“Yes Sheriff, Meredith needed some air.”
“Lana was killed in the same manner as Jim,” Sheriff Keane said. “We may have a serial killer on our hands.”
“I’ve gotta go,” Dan hung up on the Sheriff. He felt a dart in his chest. He recalled how much Sean hated Jim dating his sister and then he recalled how Lana ripped Sean’s heart out when he discovered she was only marrying him for his money. Suddenly Dan had the urge to vomit too. Meredith jumped back in the car.
“Dan, I think Sean was turned during the attack. I think he killed Jim and Lana.”
Dan opened his car door and puked all over the November snow.
Tegan entered the warehouse from Oak Road. Her old friend was seated at a black marble table.
“Well, any luck?” she asked.
“He’s at a loft on Essex Street.” The old man said.
Tegan’s stomach sank. Why would Ian be here unless he was involved?
“And what of Wilhelm?”
“He is cloaked.”
She let out a long sigh.
“Alright let’s wait until dark, then we will head over to confront Ian.” she said.
“Shall I call Dylan?” he said as he pushed up his glasses.
His brown eyes widened. She could see the familiar crinkle on his forehead whenever he was concerned.
“Don’t give me that look, Elia.”
Tegan entered the building from the alley where the streetlight was out. She could smell him. She rushed up the creaky wooden staircase. His scent grew stronger. It was apartment four. She stopped in front of it, planning her entrance. Should she frighten him, be nice, which play would get the fastest result? Violence of course. She kicked in the wood door and found him, hazel eyes wide, mouth agape holding two glasses of Champagne.
“Still like it rough, I see.” Ian said.
“Where is Wilhelm?” she asked. Trying not to smile at him.
He flashed his eyes at her.
“Really? This isn’t a social visit.”
“We have a problem. Wilhelm has been released.”
Ian took a sip of his bubbly.
“You mean your House has a problem. I doubt Wilhelm knows that I had any part in your sticky business.”
She felt a heat rise in her body. After all these centuries he was still the same selfish fucker.
“Maybe you released him,” she said. “I wonder what the Board would think about that?”
“Oh, hold on, I have no use for him. He wasn’t my pet.”
She turned to leave there was no point in spending one more second in his presence. Then she realized. The Champagne, he had two glasses.
“Were you expecting company?”
“No, well Sarah….”
“Of course, Sarah I almost forgot about your new …. pet.”
He saw her from across the street. Her blonde hair flowing in chaos all over her face. This would be easy. She shoved her yoga mat into the back seat and headed toward Spring Street toward the all-night cafe hidden by old oaks. It was in the trees he would appear. He chuckled to himself, he wanted her to be scared. He wanted her to beg for mercy.
He crept behind her as her tennis shoes glided along the cobble stone. She stopped and turned jamming her fist hard into his ball sack. He lounged forward, catching himself before his pale face hit the two hundred year old sidewalk. He had to catch his breath and take her but the fire in his balls slowed him. She stood over him and kicked him hard in the head. He rolled over into the moonlight. A bell ringing through his head as blood came out his nose. I can bleed? He thought. She got a glimpse of his face in the moonlight sneaking through the oaks.
“Oh my God!” she gasped. “How is this possible?”
He looked straight at her. Her blue eyes looked soft, as if they cared. There was no time to think, she had seen him. He summoned all he had to give, leapt to his feet and grabbed her by the neck, leaned in and bit.
A long slow breath eked out of her. The first drop hit his soul. This was what it was like to be alive. A surge of electricity rose up his spine. He almost ejaculated on himself. He couldn’t get enough, he drank and drank, each drop touching a part of him he had lost.
He bathed in the warm glow of it, but knew he had to leave, fast. He felt someone coming, someone stronger. He looked ahead and saw a thick fog, that chilled him from hundreds of feet away. It wasn’t a cold fog, but it was what would emerge from it that stirred him. He didn’t have time to move her body, he just ran off into the park across the street from him. He hid in the big oaks, hoping it would pass him. He was still high on her blood so his senses were heightened. He felt cold pins go up his spine. He turned around, the fog was right in front of him, he was surrounded in its thick gray mist. He felt a hand grab him by the neck and push him up against an old oak.
“Time to go where you belong,” a man’s voice said.
More from the Chapter, “A Special Kill”
Dan had a lump in his throat, for an hour. No amount of black coffee was helping. His hand shook as he dialed.
“Meredith. I don’t know how to tell you this, it’s Jim. The police found his body….drained of blood.” He let out a deep breath.
A wave of cool relief washed down through his head, into his chest.
“He’s dead! He’s dead, what a relief. It’s over, it’s finally over.” She blurted out. “We were having a hard time, that’s what I️ meant. Does the Sheriff have any leads on Sean?”
“No, they still haven’t found Sean. I’m coming over, you shouldn’t be alone right now..”
“No need to come over, I need to go shoe shopping.”
“AH Meredith,” Dan raised his voice. Did you hear me, Jim, your fiancée is dead!”
“Yes, I heard you, I guess I’m just in shock. What if he becomes a vampire? Where is his body, now?”
Dan’s stomach bounced. He hadn’t even thought of that. What if Jim turns?
“The coroner’s office. Sheriff Keane said there will be an autopsy.”
“He can turn Dan. We need to get the body and destroy it.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” he said. “Lets think about this.”
“There is nothing to think about. Meet me at the coroner’s office at 6 pm it should be closed by then. I have to go, shopping before the sun goes down.”
Dan had never decapitated a dead body before, but he was willing to try. Especially if it meant saving Jim from an undead existence of blood drinking and killing his friends.
His stomach was a fire pit. He put on his goggles which were slippery from the sweat on his face. He grabbed the ax, stood back to swing, then hesitated.
“What the fuck am I doing?” He said as he turned to Meredith.
“He can wake up any minute Dan,” she said. “You have to do it.”
“Wait didn’t it say in one of the journals that we can burn them?” He asked. “Are we even sure he’s going to become one?”
“I have lighter fluid in the car,” she said.
The vampire drank every drop Jim had to give, then dropped his body in the December snow. The electric liquid danced through his undead veins, giving him a brief euphoria topped off with a light buzz in his chest. Blood dripped down his porcelain face, he reached for the blood stained handkerchief in his coat pocket. He was ready to bolt when he realized who he had dropped in the snow. The buzz in his chest turned to fire, then to a ticklish laughter as he remembered how much he hated Jim Summers. He was told how to dispose of bodies, but not tonight. This was a special kill, one everyone should see.
Meredith strolled through the French Market looking for a sun hat. It was November and 78 degrees. She couldn’t stop thinking about the note she found next to her pillow this morning.
“Are you predator or are you prey? Decide!”
Her phone buzzed it was Jim again. I should have never told him, she thought.
“I need you to come home now, or I will fly out there and get you,” Jim said.
“You don’t understand, this is about my brother. I have a lead,” she said. “Oh I like that one,” she said to the lady seated at the table. It was brown weave with a sunflower.
“In New Orleans, that’s unlikely. I just don’t know if we can continue like this and who are you talking to?”
“What do you mean?” she asked even though she had heard this all before.
His insecurity blared through her phone.
She felt that ache in her throat that she often got when having this conversation with him.
“Are you seeing someone else?” he asked. “Is it Dan Okada?”
And there it was again. She was sleeping with any man she was friends with.
“No, Dan is like a brother to me. I have to go.”
She put her phone away, but Jim buzzed again. She just ignored it. He had no reason to doubt her, she had never cheated on him. She played by the rules of being the good socialite girlfriend and he fit her list of qualifications too. He was perfect on paper as her best friend Sylvia always said. Unfortunately that’s all he was. She prayed everyday, “God let me love him today.” But that prayer was never answered. Jim would not stop buzzing there was a voicemail and two angry texts.
As she turned and exited onto Ursuline Avenue she locked eyes with a stunning man grinning at her as if he was looking into her soul. She almost felt violated by his predatory eyes. She felt a jump in her stomach and turned away. The message from the morning ran across her mind.
“Are you predator or are you prey? Decide!”
She knew the answer. She was prey. But if she was to find her brother she had to be a predator. She turned back around and looked straight back at him. Her stomach ached, her face quivered. He dropped his smile and loosened his gaze. He nodded at her in approval as he stepped into the coffee shop across the street. How did he do that? He was so close how did he just appear across the street? Was he….a vampire?