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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

The Complex 5

By Lydia Manx

Since Julia was sitting opposite of Jerry Cooper at the table, she saw who brought in the cold wind and got the waitress' attention. Her eyes tightened and he felt her energy stoke up at the possibility of danger. The waitress sighed and said, "Hey there, Tony, haven't seen you in like forever." She didn't seem happy to see him again. The Bru's Room was a nice sports bar. Jerry'd picked the spot since he knew that Tricia Sanborn, the now dead hacker, hadn't been working the place in a while and he was less likely to run into anybody that may have by chance seen him. He needed new identification for his new appearance since the ritual had turned back the clock rather noticeably. His fifty-something appearance of just a day or so ago was gone. He looked more as if he was in his twenties, like Julia.

Tony came around from behind Jerry and said, "Hey, yourself," obviously forgetting the name of the waitress, "Get me a bottle of Bud. I'm here to meet a friend of a friend."

Jerry stood up and turned, saying, "That would be me." He put a palm out and proceeded to meet a wall of pressure. Nothing that he couldn't have easily met and conquered, but he allowed the man to grip his palm tightly and squeeze. It seemed that the forger also fancied himself a weightlifter, as he was nearly as wide as he was tall. Muscles on muscles were shown off with a tight tank top and shorts that didn't leave much room for movement or 'personal growth.' Looking at him, Jerry doubted that his arms could even touch the sides of his body. The man's skin tone and aggressive stance also put the idea in his head that good old Tony was heavily into 'juicing,' as the newspapers were so fond of calling it. And by that he didn't mean tomato juice or apple juice, but the odd and highly illegal concoction of steroids used to maintain his muscle-bound shape and little need to have room in his shorts. Jerry kept that thought to himself.

"Ah, the ever-elusive Jeff." Like Tony even had a clue who or what he was.

Jerry smiled and said, "In the flesh. Tricia's spoken well of you." Nearly the truth -- Jerry remembered Tricia had referred to him as a bottom-feeding waste of flesh with the delusional thought that he was sexy. The peacock preened at the faint praise and dipped his head as if he was deserving of such homage.

A huge cheer rocked the bar as one of the teams scored. Everyone's eyes flew to the nearest TV -- even Julia's -- but Tony and Jerry locked eyes. Jerry's hand was still grasped within Tony's. Jerry cut to the chase and gave a vampiric-fueled squeeze. He didn't break the man's fingers but definitely felt the knuckles pop. Tony's eyes watered and he released his grip on Jerry's hand.

The waitress quickly dropped off the pitcher of draft beer and the bottle of Bud for Tony. She poured two frosty glasses that she set in front of Julia and Jerry while spinning away before Tony could touch her. It was obvious that Tony unnerved her. Tony took a long pull from his bottle and his eyes closed in pleasure. Jerry knew by the man's scent it wasn't the first beer of the night for Tony. There probably had a first six-pack, maybe a second -- but Jerry didn't care. He wanted to get their business done so he could head over to meet up with Ben Richland, and whomever the Vampire Council had sent that was supposed to meet with the vampire. The vamp was to tell Ben about the wildness in the West that was the next place the enforcer was supposed to visit. Time was starting to press in on Jerry and he wanted it all.

Another shriek from the crowd and Julia said, "Excuse me I need to use the restroom." She quickly fled the table and headed to the back of the bar where the signs indicated the restrooms were located.

Jerry knew she'd done the quick unneeded exit so he could begin to talk business with Tony without being observed. She'd picked up on the sheer arrogance of the forger, and his inability to take women seriously in any sort of negotiation other than the cost of 'services' from a hooker. Some things Jerry didn't need to explain to his fledgling.

"So what is it I can do for you?" The man finished his beer and indicated to the waitress he wanted another by condescendingly waving the empty bottle side to side in a wagging motion. She nodded and turned back to the bartender. Jerry'd yet to even take a sip from the frosty mug of the quickly warming beer.

"I think I was clear. And that little errand will cost how much?" Jerry was deliberately vague and didn't spell out what he wanted done on the off chance that someone was actively listening to them.

He didn't detect anyone focused on them, but there could be some electronic device hidden around the bar or on Tony. He mentally slipped into his thoughts and didn't detect any outright deceit. He did hear him thinking that the Tony-Man, which was how he thought of himself in his mind -- third person -- and with emphasis, planned on 'nailing' the waitress and that he also wanted to charge him twice as much as usual so he could buy some more drugs. Which was nothing short of what Jerry had expected, because he'd found that humans tended to be fairly predictable. He smiled; anyone seeing the smile that knew the old Jerry back in the bygone times when he had begun carving out the title "Master of the City" in Michigan would have paled and run rather than see what Jerry had in store for them. It wasn't a particularly warm and welcoming smile. Most humans would have thought a moment before replying, but Tony wasn't given an over-abundance of intellect to start with, and the addition of steroids into his shrunken brain didn't leave much room left to consider anything beyond the basics.

"I'm thinking for the both of you ..." here he looked around casually, then said an amount nearly the price of a small car. Jerry laughed, and stood up dropping two twenties on the table, "That should cover the wings and beer. You have a good life."

Tony looked shocked. Jerry bit back a smile as the waitress dropped off another beer and called out, "Don't you want to wait for your wings?"

Standing up quickly, nearly knocking over his new bottle, Tony called out, "Hey, I was just kidding, man. Damn, can't you take a joke? Sit down. Drink your beer and have some food." He sat down quickly when Jerry spun back and flashed a glance into his face.

"Let's not kid each other any more. Are we clear?" Just then Julia came back looking exactly the same. There weren't any screams from the back of the building so Jerry took that to mean Julia was able to keep from draining any humans, or at least getting caught. Jerry felt a flutter of pride at his fledgling's behavior in public. A large crowd of drunken fools could make or break a freshly made vamp.

She smiled at him and said, "Are we leaving?" She casually joined him still standing next to the table.

Tony talked over Jerry saying, "No, no -- I think Jeff here misheard me."

Jerry had to admire the idiot's attempt to throw him under the bus. It wasn't going to fly, but at least it was something beyond the usual bullshit. The human had survived this long through sheer nerve, from everything that Jerry could detect. It wasn't like he was overly graced with intelligence, but his cunning was rather impressive.

Tony's eyes darted around and he mumbled a dollar amount that fell within the range that Jerry'd expected -- and it wouldn't buy a small car. Jerry and Julia sat down and handed over the small CVS plastic bag that housed the pictures in the photo folder nestled carefully within the bag. Jerry had put the agreed-upon amount of money inside behind the two sets of headshots. Jerry had written the names to be used along with approximate ages on the folder flap. Tricia told him long ago how Tony worked, and said that if left up to Tony he would pick stupid names and always had the wrong birth years.

Tony's eyes were tight as he peered inside the folder and he smiled as he quickly counted the bills. He didn't say anything more but slid the closed folder under his hands back inside the plastic CVS bag. His lack of a jacket meant he'd have to walk around Deerfield Beach holding the packet. That amused Jerry, because the idea of the man holding the small bag, swaggering along the sidewalks trying to look tough was quite the picture. A huge lightning strike lit the interior of the bar and the lights flickered. A small gasp from the crowd laced with fear fed Jerry. The rains returned with a vengeance, and a few of the patrons who'd been drinking outside came inside, filling the space with wet drunk humans.

Julia's nostrils flared slightly as the wave of humanity pressed in on them both. She smiled over at Jerry and said, "Lovely weather we're having isn't it?"

He laughed as Tony looked at them both like they'd lost their minds. Jerry took a second to pluck a stray thought from the bruiser's mind. He wanted to fuck Julia after seeing her smile. And not in the normal human fashion, but brutally with biting and scratching. Part of Jerry thought of how Julia would respond to a human in her current state, and he was more than a bit assured that the fool would be dead before his dick was even out of his pants much less ready to play. But another male taking his fledgling wasn't even something Jerry could tolerate, so he simply pushed into Tony's mind the rather brutal vision of what Julia could do to him. It wasn't fiction but fact, not that it mattered. The thought of Julia ripping off his small penis and swallowing it whole while bathing in his blood was enough to make Tony pale.

"Yeah, great storm. So I'll see you tomorrow night then?" Tony was nearly stammering in his haste to flee.

"Certainly. Have a nice night." Jerry was kind as the man nearly ran for the door, naturally not paying for his drinks.

The waitress showed up with their wings and looked at the empty bottle and said, "Damn, he skipped again?"

"No, we'll pay for his drinks. Can you please package our dinner to go? We have to make another appointment." Jerry quickly explained. The waitress was relieved to see Tony was gone and smiled and said that it would be no problem.

Once they'd paid their check, they headed out into the humid air. It wasn't much past eight, and the storm had abated a bit, letting them get back to the car without being bothered. Looking at the Bru's Room to-go bag Julia seemed confused.

"I'm not in the least hungry for that. Why did you bring it?" she asked while getting in the car.

"Because for us to leave the food on the table, utterly untouched, would have made a lasting impression to anyone mildly curious as to our being there meeting with Tony. Paying for the food and taking it caused the waitress to simply dismiss us." Jerry explained while negotiating traffic back over the bridge.

A look of disgust raced over her face as she said, "It smells wrong."

That was true enough for vampires. The human foods weren't in the least desirable to vampires and as Julia became more vamp than human she started to take on the characteristics and thoughts of vampires. Jerry saw it as a good learning lesson.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-01-02
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