Bubblegum was trussed up pretty like a nicely glazed holiday ham. She was in her late teens, a good bleeder, and lay on the blood drinker’s bed.
The vampire eyed her closely, savoring the sight and smell of her. She was moaning softly, pulling oxygen in and waiting for her snacks. She was gyrating gently against her soft restraints.
Her eyes fluttered, dark lashes moist, her lips slightly chapped; the breath sweet. She was beautiful. The hep-lock plunged into a vein in the back of her hand was new and bank. You could see it pulsing.
Mary tapped out bubbles and shot the girl into another world.
“Oh, blessed lord,” she moaned. When the Plata hit her hardest, her mumbling ceased and the whites of her eyes glowed, the pupils hidden, staring at herself. She turned rigid, flushed. Bubblegum was rushing her little balls off.
The girl’s breathing quickened, her skin turning bright red with the swell of oxygen pounding her shores.
The vampire smiled, then. He showed clearly teeth that lengthened as the grin spread wicked across his pale cold face.
“Take her,” Mary told him. “She is all yours now.”
He bent to her. She was down for it, slick saucy and sweet.
For a moment, Pilate lost himself.
The blood was like sipping paradise.
Juan and Mary knew that Pilate was a vampire and they were smart enough to be afraid. Even still, they were dying to meet him. He had it all and they wanted in.
The couple sat in the bar sipping cocktails, just as they had done every evening for almost two weeks straight. They watched him appear. Just appear, man, right out of thin air over by the bartender.
The vampire handed the nigga a package which vanished beneath the bar top in an instant. It was exactly the same routine as the last three times. It wasn’t a pattern, exactly, not one that could be fingered, but they knew he would eventually show up because the dealer always did. He had to deliver his drugs. Juan and Mary knew if they were patient and waited long enough, Pilate would show.
The small, tightly wrapped package should be Plata if they knew their guy, which they did. The bartender handed the vampire an envelope; cash, most certainly.
Pilate peered inside the envelope, checked the denominations, gauging the thickness. He didn’t count it though. The vampire didn’t need to. No one in their right mind would be stupid enough to buttfuck the drug dealing vampire. Even so, he looked like he could use the help of a couple of down motherfuckers like Juan and Mary. You know, to help with the day to day. The young couple just needed a way in.
Pilate looked at the bartender, said something Juan couldn’t begin to hear across the distance of the bar and the slow, deep throb of the hard Thug Love gangsta shit blasting forth from the DJ’s station nearby. Whatever it was must’ve scared the god-fuck outta the dude, cuz he stepped back and put his hands up in surrender and fear. The bartender backed up a quick two-step as Pilate leaned in, his long tightly curling hair spilling in a wave, obscuring his face. The menace in the gesture and what he must have said was full and uncomfortable like a dildo on a church pew.
The bartender looked frightened bad, dropping his arms and folding his hands. He lowered his head, nodding in supplication, staring at his feet. His quaking Juan could see even from across the room. The nigga was a big dude, too, really more imposing than even the vampire. But the poor, scared fuck was not a vampire and the nigga threatening him was.
“My God,” Mary said, watching the scene with Juan, “You ever see that big fucker scared before?”
“Only now,” he replied. “It’s interesting though.”
“For sure,” she spoke, took a quick sip of her cocktail. “We sure are looking at the right dealer to hook up with, that’s clear.”
Juan nodded his agreement, noting how Pilate stood straight and then in one quick movement, turned to look right at him.
“Fuck,” spat Juan, his own fear bursting within. That nigga’s eyes were yellow and backlit. They looked like a night hunting panther’s, glowing as they were at Juan.
Then, just like that, he disappeared. Juan turned quick to Mary. She was still glancing that way. He opened his mouth to speak and saw the color vanish from her face. Her lips quivered and her eyes grew wide. She then backed up and Juan turned to see.
And there Pilate was, standing right in front of Juan and Mary’s table. Speechless, they stared at the vampire and he right back. And then, without a single word, Pilate dissolved on the spot, gone without a trace. There was some displacement of air, a slight cold whoosh and that was it.
It was a few moments before Juan and Mary could breathe and the bartender, they could see, was even more fucked up by his encounter than they. From where they were perched, they could see the bartender shaking like he had wet hair in a meat locker. He turned to the racks of liquor behind him, ignoring customers coming up. He poured himself three big shots of top shelf tequila, slugging them one after the other. When finished, he pinched the bridge of his nose, shut tight his eyes, leaned on the ledge running below the bottles. He collected himself with a final big breath, straightened and went back to work.
“Wonder what he said,” Mary mused; shaking her lonely ice cubes at a passing barmaid and was ignored. “Just when I really need one, you bitch!” she yelled after and was still shunned.
Juan handed her his mostly full drink and she threw it back.
“Jesus, who knows what he said,” he muttered, thinking. “I mean, shit, baby, motherfucker didn’t say even a word to us and I feel like climbing into a hole and pulling the earth in after me.”
“Exactly,” she agreed. “Whatcha think, Papi? Should we just forget it?”
Juan wondered that very good point for a moment, then said: “He sure is scary, for real,” he told her, “but he’s our way in.” Mary nodded in agreement. “And once we are in,” Juan continued, “We won’t have to be afraid of anyone else, baby. Not in the whole of The Harbor.”
“We’d be the big-dick daddies, for sure.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, “If he doesn’t kill us first.”
“Still,” she said, “It’s clear he needs our help.”
Mary pushed Juan’s now empty glass away and reached into her purse. She pulled out and lit a thin, pre-rolled blunt of half tobacco and half homegrown Mary Jane.
“He really shouldn’t even be here,” Juan mused, “it’s not safe.”
Mary pulled hard on the blunt and nodded.
“Shorties or even the two of us should be flippin’ shit, not the top dog.”
“That’s for sure,” she said, handing Juan the blunt. “How are we gonna hook him, though?” she asked.
Juan smoked and thought. He knocked ash on the already very dirty bar floor. “I was thinking of an offering.” Mary looked at him closely. “A gift,” he said.
“I don’t know,” she responded, taking back the blunt. “I mean, just giving the motherfucker a sandwich won’t do it,” she countered, “He can hunt whomever he wants, true ?”
“Yeah, but he’s exposed and shouldn’t be.”
“Also true ,” Mary agreed. “Oh, shit, wait,” she said, looking back to the bar. “There’s our answer.”
Juan turned to where she was looking and saw a young comely Plata fiend. She moved slow and sexy through the crowd, touching many patrons, speaking slow with a naughty smile. On and on she went, looking for a daddy.
Juan smiled at Mary’s idea. They looked at each other.
“But if we gave him the gift that keeps giving….” trailed Juan.
“We will need some cheese for the trap, baby,” Mary added, gesturing toward the now recovered bartender. “And I know where we can get it.”
Juan sucked on the blunt again, held it in. He loosed out a big plume and handed it back to Mary.
“Go and scoop her up,” Juan told her. “Ply the little cooze with drinks and a few lines. She doesn’t look like she shoots up.”
“No she doesn’t,” Mary agreed, “At least not yet.”
“Yeah,” Juan nodded, seeing where she was going. “Now you’ll get to use some of your long dormant EMT training, get her set up for the long haul.”
“Think she’ll go for it?” Mary asked, watching her get rejected and looking more and more anxious.”
Juan stood to let Mary out of their booth. “Does it really matter?” he asked. “Little baby Bubblegum over there looks like she’d fuck herself with a pool cue for a taste of the Silver and we’re gonna keep her fucked up on Plata ‘round the motherfuckin’ clock.”
“And if she doesn’t go for it?” Mary insisted.
Juan smiled down at her. He said: “I think blood taken by force will taste just as good as blood given. Don’t you, my love?”
“Yes I do, you fucking gorgeous creep,” she replied, biting her lower lip, nostrils flaring. Juan knew she was getting wet.
He bent down quick to give her a kiss.
“Go fetch,” he ordered.
Mary went to the bar. Bubblegum was leaning against some older dude, trying to laugh at his lame shit. Keeping half an eye on punkin’ pie there, Mary got the bartender’s attention.
“Two Crown rocks,” she told him, placing the empty glasses on the bar top and pulled out some cash. She laid money down for the drinks.
When the barman served up her drinks, Mary smiled sweetly, wrote on a bar napkin.
“My phone number,” she told him, loud enough to be heard by anyone giving a shit. She handed over the napkin to the bartender. He picked it up and looked at it closely. He saw the two bills folded inside. He looked up at her, Mary smiling sweetly.
“I see a 2 here at the end of your digits….that right?”
Mary nodded, “Uh huh.”
She straightened and waited for the barman to make change. She turned slightly, saw the girl losing interest. The old dude actually thought she wanted another drink. Bubblegum was getting increasingly anxious, no doubt her Plata high was wearing off and she was at the very beginning edges of panic. Mary could see she was ripe for plucking. Mary got her attention.
“What’s your favorite color?” she asked the girl. The bartender turned back and gave Mary her overly lumpy change and her cocktails.
“What’s that?” Bubblegum asked, turning full to her.
Mary smiled back at her while counting her change. It was all there: two fives, two singles and a small zip-locked baggie holding two grams of hydromorphone-methamphetamine hydrochloride. She let her new friend see the taut little yum-yum bag.
“I asked you, what’s your favorite color?” Mary repeated, “Silver, right?”
“Yeah, new best friend,” Bubblegum cooed, “Plata is my favorite color.”
“Well then.” Mary replied with a growing knowing smile, “Come with me and I will make all your dreams come true .”
Bubblegum immediately left the bar, following Mary without a moment’s hesitation.
Juan went back to the same dark shoddy bar, again. And, again, he went without Mary. She stayed away to tend to Bubblegum, keeping her stoned and happy. The girl still thought they both had a sex crush on her and they let that fantasy remain intact.
Juan needed to find Pilate, this time for a face-to-face meeting. Nobody knew the vampire, or where he cribbed or how to contact him. It didn’t matter, however. Juan wanted no one but his Mary and him in on this plan. The Harbor may be a post-industrialized ghetto shit hole, but they knew small town rules still applied. Everybody knew everybody’s business: who was zoomin’ who. It’s just like Mayberry, but with a much higher body count.
They could tell no one; trust no one. One word of what they were planning and niggas might kill them simply because they hadn’t thought of approaching the vampire Plata dealer first.
Once again, Juan made his way through the drunk and fucked-up bar crowd. He was nervous as all hell. He’d been drinking more than he should, smoking super-strong ghetto weed constantly. Finally, after almost two weeks of this nerve-wracking shit, Mary pleasantly surprised him with a handful of muscle relaxing pills which he doled out to himself; one at a time. It helped a great deal as he trolled the same sleezy, sticky, loser filled bar, night after fucking night, waiting for Pilate. He was worried the vampire wouldn’t show up and even more nervous that he would.
Juan did a perfunctory head check of the patrons, seeing no Pilate around, had to pee. With some growing dismay, he pushed back, deep into the bar, toward the toilets.
The restroom was filthy and crowded thick with men pissing. Trannies were sucking dick, their johns holding cash above their bobbing head as a promise. Drugs were being snorted, deals going down. Some nigga was desperate enough to tie his shit off in this horrid crapper in one of the door-less stalls, flicking up a vein, trying to feel for a bump to target his needle.
Juan went into one of these stalls. Some passed out fuck, pockets having already been turned out, slumped over to the side, head planted into the feces smeared wall. He considered trying to wake him or dragging him off the seat. Instead, it was most expedient to simply pull out his pecker and piss on the motherfucker. He wouldn’t care.
Juan was just shaking it and zipping up when he sensed someone behind him.
A cold hand dropped solidly on to his shoulder. It was strong. The talons growing out of the split fingertips dimpled Juan’s coat, punctured the cloth, and pressed into his flesh. Juan was surprised at how much it hurt. He sucked it up though and stood tall.
“You got balls hunting me,” the vampire told him. Pilate squeezed a little more and made Juan hurt a lot. “But do you have the heart?”
“I’m not after you, we mean you no harm.”
“What do you want then?”
“We wanted to meet you,” Juan told him.
“You and the girl you were with?”
“That’s right. I was hoping to speak with you.”
“And you are?” the vampire asked with a bit more pressure. It was getting bad, the pain, but Juan knew a test when he felt one. Juan told him their names and intentions. “Services?” he asked, “What services?”
“Whatever you need, you know, help,” said Juan, arm going numb, fingertips tingling unpleasantly.
“You two want to help me sell drugs?”
“Yes, exactly,” Juan replied
“And what, exactly,” Pilate mockingly replied, “makes you think I won’t kill your uninvited ass where you stand?”
“Because we would not dare to seek you out empty handed, Sire,” Juan told the vampire.
“Stop the ass-licking sire shit, I don’t like it,” Pilate warned, “And it will not help to keep you, or your Mary alive.”
“What shall we call you then?”
“Nothing yet,” he said. “What do you have for me?”
“We have an offering.”
“Offering? What kind of offering?”
“Blood,” Juan stated,” “A continuous stream of it.”
The vampire smiled then. “Yes,” he replied, “That might do.”
“I can take you to Mary, where she is being kept for you. And then we can bring her to where you stay.”
“And this token of your esteem is in hopes that you and Mary can work for me, with me? Is that right?”
“Yes, exactly,” Juan agreed. “We can be of great value and help. We can assist and protect you.”
“What do you hope to gain and I expect the truth from you,” Pilate advised with one more, tiny squeeze, “Your life, where you stand, depends on it.”
Juan did not have to think, Mary and his motivations had never changed. “We want in,” he said simply, “And you are the way.”
The vampire was silent as he removed his painfully frigid grip from Juan’s shoulder, blood seeping now from the talon punctures. Juan could feel him moving close to whisper in his ear.
“Well now, seeing as you two now work for me,” the vampire said, “I guess you should call me Pilate.”
Pilate’s main lair was in an abandoned church at the very end of a lane of old houses. All crosses and signs of Jesus Christ had been long removed, the church itself still seemingly empty.
The grounds surrounding the church were littered with trash, the grass long dead, weeds proliferating everywhere. An ancient and twisted oak tree stood sentinel and it alone hinted at any life on the forlorn property.
The old church may have looked completely desolate, but it was not. Inside, the vampire was being shown his gift.
Bubblegum was brought into the church via the back. She didn’t fight them a bit as she was led down the stairs to an old bomb shelter Pilate used as his bedchamber. He had a bank vault door installed, some time in the past, so he could lock himself inside.
He had no family, friends or associates to lookout for him. He had no familiars or anyone to help him with his work or to keep him protected and safe.
His almost complete lack of social graces attested to his lonely life.
But his new employees, Pilate’s new friends, were here now and they did not come to him empty handed. They had brought such a gift.
The pressurized intravenous line ran from the metal IV stand next to the girl’s bed, to the jugular vein in her pretty neck. A 3-way stop-cock kept Bubblegum’s precious blood from squirting all over Pilate’s bedchamber. Heparin and saline filled the taut IV bag and kept the blood from clotting and dying. The teenaged girl had an oxygen mask on her face, a big green metal tank standing tall in the corner.
For a vampire, it was the best kind of breakfast in bed.
Juan and Mary stood nearby, excited and happy. Pilate went to Bubblegum and knelt at her side. They watched their new boss and benefactor. They had done it, they were in.
They smiled and held hands as Pilate opened the stop-cock and began to feed, making everyone’s dreams come true .