Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Santino The Great!
Crime waits for no one as evidenced by the slew of bodies being left around the city. Victim number thirteen had been tossed on my desk that morning. The crime scene was similar to the others; throats ripped out mercilessly and not a single bit of evidence to go on. The district coroner, Joe Mazzilli, reported that he was positive the wounds were inflicted by another human, yet not one bit of DNA was left behind. We were all baffled and had been working non-stop for weeks to solve the murders. Rumors had started circulating and people were staying in their homes, afraid of being next. I couldn’t blame them. We just needed a fucking break in this case.
My wife had been on me that morning, saying I was working too many hours and it had begun to show. I couldn’t seem to gather any coherent thought, so I was thankful when she called to remind me it was my Birthday and demanded I take the evening off to hit the Comedy Club on the upper eastside of Manhattan near the river.
“I have two tickets for tonight to see Santino the Great. You’ll be there Jeff, no excuses. You need a break from this case. Everything will still be there even if you are gone for a few hours. Besides, you’re thirty-five today. Life’s passing us by and I don’t want to wait until retirement to enjoy it.” This was her way of telling me she worried I wouldn’t make it to retirement age.
“I’ll be home by five to get cleaned up, we should have plenty of time to make the seven o’clock show. And you don’t have to say it, Amy, I promise, I’ll be there. Love ya.”
“You better and I love you too.” She hung up, I went back to reviewing reports trying to find something that would help break this case.
Engrossed in my reading, I hadn’t realized how much time had passed since I talked to Amy. It was four thirty. “Oh shit!” I exclaimed, closing my files, shoving them into my drawer and locking it. I grabbed the coat of the back of my chair and tore ass out of the station house.
I hurried through the door of our Rego Park home at ten after five to face Amy staring at me with THAT look. “I’m not that late, babe. I’ll be ready in a few.” Her answer was a raised eyebrow. I approached her and wrapped my arms around her, leaning in to kiss her. “You look hot tonight, babe. You sure you want to go out?” I asked. She laughed, lightly smacked me on the arm and ordered me to get upstairs and dressed. At the top of the landing, my two boys came running out of their room where they had been engaged in combat between Transformers and the Sith. “Daddy!!” They cried in unison and jumped on me for hugs. “I love you boys, but Daddy’s got to go get dressed before Mommy turns into Darth Mom and cuts me down with her light saber.” The boys giggled as I kissed each one on the head, put them down and went into the bedroom.
Forty minutes later we were waving goodbye to our sitter, one of our neighbor’s daughters and heading out the door. We opted to take the car for our commute from Queens into the city. The sixteen-mile drive took fifty-five minutes, but at least we didn’t have to share our car with the array of drunks and addicts that usually occupy the F Train on a Saturday Night.
I parked the car in a lot on East 91st and we walked to the club two blocks south on Second Avenue. We were a few minutes early. I couldn’t help but flash Amy a grin, my way of expressing my success of actually being on time for a change. A line of forty stretched from the door to the end of the block. After about a five minute wait, the door opened and the line filed into the club. It was a sold out performance for Santino The Great, a hypnotist from Europe, who owned and performed in the club for years. He had a huge local following that kept coming back for more and more. I was surprised by the turn out in light of the recent murders, but here they were, waiting in line to get their dose of brainless entertainment.
Amy and I shared drinks at our table for two directly in front of the small, elevated stage while Santino performed his pre-dinner act. He was a dark man with stature, six three or four with his long, black hair tied back in a pony tail. He dazzled us with his slight of hand of coins, cards and objects from the audience. He even made a marvelous display of levitating a spoon from a table.
After forty-five minutes of performance, Santino announced that after dinner he would conduct an example of hypnosis that would astound us. He requested a volunteer. Amy raised her hand and told Santino that today was my birthday and that it would make a wonderful gift if he chose me. Santino agreed, told us to enjoy dinner and that the show would commence in an hour.
Dinner was surprisingly good and the hour passed quickly. As bus boys cleared tables and drinks were served, the spotlight on the stage flashed on, illuminated Santino as he made a commanding entrance. From a cloud of smoke, he rose straight up from the floor as if rising on a board until he was stranding erect. The cloud vanished. There was no board. There were no wires. There was just Santino the Great.
“I hope you all enjoyed dinner and are ready to be astounded!” Santino bellowed from the stage. The entire audience clapped, cheered and whistled, ready for him to make good on his promise to amaze and astound.
“My volunteer, please,” Santino said in a commanding voice.
Amy gave me a nudge. Beaming, I rose from the table and climbed the platform stairs to the stage for my fifteen minutes. I stood next to Santino, he shook my hand warmly and said, “What is you name?”
“Jeff,” I replied, feeling a bit nervous in front of all the people.
“Happy Birthday, Jeff,” Santino remarked.
“Thank you,” I said.
“Now Jeff, before we begin, I’d like to know something,” Santino stated inquisitively, “are you a fan of the movies and if so, what is your favorite type?”
“I’m a huge horror film fan,” I said. “Not slasher films, but the classic Dracula and vampire movies. Even the silent ones. Also, movies like The Shining, where the story matters. It’s not just gore for the sake of gore.”
“I see. Do you have a favorite?” Santino asked. “One that stands out in your mind.”
“Shadow of the Vampire is high on my list,” I said. “And the original silent version from the nineteen twenties.”
“Yes, I rather like that one myself,” Santino said. He faced the audience. I saw Amy riveted on Santino. “How about it, folks, would you like to see Jeff become a vampire right before your eyes?”
The reaction to Santino’s question was a resounding yes, with cheers led by my lovely wife Amy, who could whistle with the best of them.
“May I have quiet then, please,” Santino shouted above the crowd. He waved his arms and slowly the room fell silent. “I’ll require two chairs from the audience, please.”
Quickly, two men from the audience carried chairs to the stage.
“Face them about three feet apart,” Santino instructed.
Chairs in place, Santino turned to me.
“Please, Jeff, sit in the chair and relax,” Santino offered.
I sat and glanced at Amy. Her eyes were locked onto Me. Her hands partially covered her mouth in anticipation. I winked at her and grinned.
Santino faced his audience. “I’ll need complete silence from the audience for this to work. Hypnotism is something that requires complete concentration from the subject and the hypnotist alike for the session to be successful.” The crowd grew silent.
Santino faced me, sat in the chair opposite me and removed a pencil from his jacket pocket. “A standard number two pencil,” he said. He held the pencil by the point in his left hand exhibiting it to the audience in a dramatic flair, then held it in front of me. “Do you see the eraser, Jeff?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Good, good,” Santino commented. “Now look closely at the eraser. In fact, I want you to concentrate very hard on the eraser and nothing else. Do not look at me, the floor, your wife, just at the eraser. Can you do that, Jeff?”
“Yes,” I said, with holding sarcasm at the idiotic way he was addressing me.
“Good,” Santino said. “Now while you concentrate on the eraser, I want you to listen to my voice. Do you hear how soothing my voice sounds to you, Jeff?”
“Yes, I do,” I responded, staring at the pencil eraser.
“You’re starting to feel very relaxed, aren’t you, Jeff?” Santino asked in a soothing voice.
“Yes, I am,” I said, feeling a wave of relaxation wash over me.
“The stress and troubles of life are fading away, aren’t they, Jeff?” Santino continued.
“Yes, they are,” I said. The mortgage, the kids, car payments, college funds and murder cases all seemed so very far away at that moment.
“In fact, your body feels more relaxed than at any time in your life,” Santino stated, “and your mind is at total peace.”
“Yes, it is,” I droned.
“All that matters, all that you see is the eraser before you,” Santino said.
“Yes,” I said, feeling my vision narrow to a field that included just the eraser and nothing else.
“Now keep listening to my voice, Jeff,” he said. “Do you hear how soothing my voice sounds to you? How sleepy it makes you feel?”
“Yes,” I answered back, my voice sluggish. My eyelids were suddenly made of lead and I had to fight to keep them open.
“Don’t resist that feeling, Jeff,” Santino encouraged. “Embrace it. Welcome it. Allow it to put you at complete rest and peace.”
I felt completely relaxed and at peace for the first time in my life as a warm sensation wrapped itself around me like a blanket on a cold morning. I never wanted to leave this place.
“Your eyes are closing now, Jeff,” Santino said. “They are heavy and you want to sleep.”
My lids closed and it was funny, because I was sound asleep and heard every word Santino spoke to me.
“Can you hear me, Jeff?” Santino said.
“Yes,” I said.
“How do you feel, Jeff?”
“Except that your nose itches,” Santino interjected. “A terrible itch that you must scratch immediately.”
I felt my nose burn with one of those mystery itches that never seem to be quelled and I scratched it rigorously with my left hand.
“And your right ear is clogged,” Santino said, a hint of amusement in his voice.
The finger of my right hand went up to my ear and poked around as if the ear was filled with water, I started shaking my head sideways to get whatever was caught in there loose.
“Okay, Jeff, relax. Everything is fine now.”
“Now listen to me carefully, Jeff,” Santino said. “I am going to suggest to you that you have a secret, a very dark side of your personality. That in fact, when the sun goes down and darkness emerges, you will become the vampire that possesses your soul. A fire rages through you, a thirst fills your veins and only blood can satisfy that thirst. You become that vampire you always wanted to be. But only when you hear the words Car Keys. Do you understand, Jeff?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I am going to suggest that you awaken now, Jeff,” Santino said. “I’m going to count to three and snap my fingers and you will wake up and feel totally refreshed. One, two, three.”
My eyes opened. I looked at Santino. The eraser was gone. He smiled at me.
“How do you feel, Jeff?” Santino asked
“Good,” I said. “Really, really good.”
“Excellent! Now I’m going to say the words…”
The front door of the club was abruptly thrown open and two firemen rushed in.
“Sorry to interrupt the show, folks,” A fireman said. “But, there is a gas leak right outside in the street and we have to ask everybody to please vacate the premises immediately. Don’t panic, don’t rush, but please exit the building.”
There was obvious disappointed in the crowd as everyone makes sounds of disapproval. “Sorry, folks, but we must do as the firefighters ask,” Santino said.
I left the stage, took Amy’s hand and along with the crowd, left the club. We crossed the street and stood on the sidewalk while a crew from the gas company went down an open manhole to investigate the leak. Several fire engines and ambulances were parked nearby just in case. Police kept the street crowd at bay.
“Well, that’s that,” Amy said.
“Should I call the sitter and tell her we’ll be home early?” I inquired.
“Might as well,” Amy said. “I’m sorry, hon.”
“So what happened in there?” I said. “I don’t remember much at all after going on stage.”
“I’ll tell you all about it in the car,” Amy said.
I took my wife’s hand and we started walking toward the parking lot on East 91st Street. As we neared the lot, I reached into my pocket for my cell phone to call the sitter and didn’t realize my keys fell from the pocket to the sidewalk. I dialed our number and spoke briefly to the sitter. When I hung up, Amy held the keys out to me.
“Dropped the car keys, hon,” Amy said.
There was a pause in my mind. Everything went blank for a moment, then there was a burst of energy that shot through my brain with the speed of a high resolution camera shutter snapping open.My vision cleared.
I looked at Amy. She smiled at me.
“Your car keys,” she said and dangled the keys.
A fire ran through my brain. The blood in my veins ran hot. I stood staring at Amy.
“What’s the matter, honey?” Amy asked, a look of concern crossing her beautiful face.
I noticed for the first time the elegance of Amy’s neck. How the vein on the left side stood out and pulsated with each beat of her heart. I thirsted with a hunger I’d never felt before.
“I want you,” I rasped in a voice not my own.
“Sweetie, want until we get home,” Amy giggled.
“No,” I said. “Now.”
“What?” Amy said, looking at me.
“I want you now,” I said.
“What are you…?” Amy didn’t get all her words out before I rushed forward and grabbed her.
“What is the matter with you?” Amy said, trying to push me away.
I leered at her, my teeth exposed.
Amy felt the car keys still in her hand. “Oh, no,” she said and tried to turn and run.
I pulled her jerked her closer and brought my teeth closer to her neck. She tried to wiggle away, but I held fast. A sinister laugh came from my throat and she paused.
“Jeff, this isn’t funny. You’re scaring me!” She protested. “You’re not a…”
I sunk my teeth into Amy’s neck and bit down hard.
Amy screamed as I drew blood. Thick, rich and sweet, Amy’s blood was the taste of the sweetest wine of the sweetest grapes .I drank.
“Oh my God!Help!” Amy screamed. “Somebody, please help me!”
I pushed Amy down to the sidewalk and held her pinned under my weight as I drank my fill of her sweet, sweet blood.
“Please!” Amy screamed, punching at me with her fists. “Jeff, stop! Please!”
I grabbed her throat to squeeze every last drop of her precious fluid. I suckled on the gaping wound of Amy’s neck until she slowly slumped and went still in my arms.
“What the fuck?” A man’s voice cried from behind me.
I jumped up and turned around with Amy’s blood still fresh in my mouth and on my lips. I looked at the man and woman who stumbled upon vampire and victim in the night.
“Holy fucking shit,” the man shouted.
“Call 911,” the woman screamed.
I showed my teeth, sharp and red with Amy’s life giving blood. I wasn’t full. The thirst in me was still strong. I moved toward the couple.
“Fuck that!” the man exclaimed, “Run!”. He turned to dash away.
I leapt over him, took his head in my hands, twisted, and broke his neck, he fell dead to the pavement. His scent didn’t appeal to me, it was the woman I wanted. I needed more blood, fresh blood. The hunger for it burned through me. I turned to her, she was paralyzed with fear. I could smell it oozing from her, it excited me. I grabbed her and sank my teeth into the soft flesh of her throat, the warm sweetness ran into my mouth.
“There!” Someone shouted. “It’s the murderer! Right there!”
“Police, freeze!” came the next shout.
I released the woman, she fell to the sidewalk in a heap. I turned towards the shouts, a pair of uniformed police officers with weapons drawn were closing in quickly.
“Hold it right there, Buddy!” one of them yelled, his weapon fixed on me.
I looked him in the eye, “Don’t worry, I’m a police officer,” I stated, holding my hands up.
“Yeah sure, Pal and I’m the Quen of fucking England. Now get on the ground.”
I threw my head back, laughing, “Well your Majesty,” I stated as I bowed towards him, “I’d love to stick around for this party, but well, you guys don’t seem like much fun at all.” I turned and ran down the street hooking a left down an alley way. I felt that I could change shape and fly, but of course, I couldn’t. Not yet, anyway. I needed more blood, more blood would increase my powers, I knew.
I reached a parking lot, jumped the six-foot high fence in one bound, landed inside, and ran into the shadows. The police took the long way in, entering through the gateway and by the time they were in, I was up and over the opposite gate running along 1st Avenue by the river. I ran through two open buildings, down a flight of long stairs to the East River Walkway.
“Where the fuck did he go!” a police officer yelled from the street.
“He’s on foot, for Christ’s sake,” another police officer yelled. “Find him!”
But they wouldn’t, couldn’t really, they were no match for me. Having lost the tail, I walked along the dark walkway with the thirst in my belly and the heat in my veins. I needed blood.
Ahead of me, I heard a noise. A female moaned softly from behind a tree. I slowed my pace and made a silent approach – Grinning – “Tsk, tsk, what’s going on here?” I said, leaning on the tree they were using to hide their lascivious activities. My shadow danced across the naked back of the male, who turned to me, “Dude! What the fuck? You some kind of a perv or somethin’?” He shouted, jumping off his mount.
My right hand shot out, encircled his neck and crushed his windpipe. He died instantly in my grip. I released him and he fell over, exposing the girl beneath him. She was lovely in a white summer sundress that was hiked up to her waist.
“M-m-mister,” She sputtered, I grinned. She was afraid, of course. Petrified at witnessing the death of her boyfriend, but she didn’t want to die. No one wants to die. “I’ll make you feel good, Mister.” She said, eyes wide, hiking her skirt up further.
“Take it off,” I said. “I won’t hurt you, just let me look.”
She stared at me from the ground.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“M-m-mena,” she stammered, wiping at the tears that fell sown her cheeks.
“Well, Mena, take off that dress and stand up,” I said.
Slowly, Mena rose from the ground. I could see grass stains on the back of her dress as she removed it.
“Now, come here, Mena,” I said looking her up and down. Ah, to be young again. “Don’t be afraid, Mena. It’s all going to be okay.” I reached a hand out to her, she placed one of hers in it and I pulled her towards me gently. “Oh Mena, Mena, Mena, are you ready for me?” I asked. She shook as she stepped towards me. “That’s right, Mena. Come to me.”
The thirst in me pinnacled. My very flesh was on fire. I grabbed a handful of her long blond hair pulling her head back. Leaning down I tore into her exposed flesh, feasting, trying to quench the thirst the burned in me.
“There!” an officer shouted. “On the walkway.”
I looked over Mena’s shoulder at the dozen police officers that were rushing to the walkway. With a final sip, I released Mena and took off running.
Shots rang out behind me. Bullets struck me in the back and legs. I ignored the minor annoyance and continued running until there was enough distance between the police, and me, then jumped the guardrail of the walkway, landing securely twenty feet below.
“How the fuck?” An officer above shouted.
I raced across the street and darted west toward Second Avenue. I was growing stronger, could feel he energy building inside me, but I needed more.
A car was stopped at the intersection for a red light. One of the little min cars from Europe. A man, a college student looking type was behind the wheel. His was the only car at the light. I stepped in front of it and looked at him. He rolled down his window, “what the fuck, man?” he yelled. “Get the fuck out of the way, I’ll run your ass over, fucker!”
“Open the door,” I said.
He paused, shook his head then pushed a button, the door lock popped. I walked to the side of the car and got in.
“Drive me to Rego Park, Queens,” I said. “Do you know where that is?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Take the Triborough bridge, it’s faster,” I told him
The light turned green and he stepped on the gas. The mini car was a stick shift and we drove to the bridge in 2nd gear as the speed limit is thirty miles an hour and we didn’t need the police pulling us over for speeding.
The ride to and across the bridge was torture. My insides were on fire, my thirst great, the desire for the blood was consuming me. We crossed the bridge into Queens.
“Take Queens Boulevard,” I said. “Go fast, but don’t speed.”
I told him to stop when we reached my home. The lights shining through the front widows from the living room. I knew what was waiting for me, and I wanted it. I rushed up the front walk and opened the door. Stupid sitter, leaving the door unlocked, doesn’t she know there is a murderer loose in the city?
“Boys,” I announced as I entered my home. “Daddy’s home.”
I stepped into the living room. On the floor lay the body of the sitter. I felt a moment of anger, I wanted her. That bitch! I kicked at her prone corpse, “No tip for you tonight, missy.”
A deep laughter rose from the sofa catching my attention. Santino sat in all his glory between my two sons. The boys were sleeping, or in a trance. Santino’s yellow eyes flashed with delight.
I approached the sofa. Santino smiled, his long, razor sharp fangs predominant in his mouth. “I’ve waited a long time for you to come along,” he said. “Centuries, in fact.”
I fell to my knees, a servant before his master. “There is one task you must complete, Jeffery, to become whole, to walk in eternity with us.” He pushed my youngest towards me. “You must drink of your own flesh, otherwise you die,” he grinned.
The front and back doors of the house slammed open simultaneously as a S.W.A.T. team started running. “There is no time, Jeffery. Decide now!” Santino exclaimed. I was frozen, could I eat my children? I took my youngest child’s head in my hands, looking at his throbbing vein. The hunger pained me throughout; the only way to make it stop was to…
Several men in full riot armor rushed into the room, guns drawn. “Freeze! Don’t move,” one of them shouted. I brought my eyes back to the sofa, Santino was gone. I looked around me, noticing the blood from the sitter staining the carpet, pooling around her body. I looked down at the child in hands, I was confused. “Hands up! Hands up now!” another shout. I was frozen.
Hands grabbed at me, pulling me up. “I’m a vampire!” I shouted. “You can’t beat me, you can’t kill me. I will suck every last drop of blood out of every one of you fuckers!” I protested as handcuffs were roughly put around my wrists, my arms pinned behind me. Two burly men escorted me outside to put me in the back of a squad car. I could see some of my associates from the station staring on in disbelief. “Man, I knew he was working too hard. This shit gets to you after a while, but damn, none of us saw this coming,” one of them said to another. “Fuck, this is not going to look good for the force. Cop goes crazy, goes on homicidal rage. I never thought Jeff would be one to break. Poor fucker.”