I’m a new vampire.
I have Phil and Charlie to thank for inducting me into the Fellowship of Fanged Friends
Think I’m nuts?
It was late, past midnight. I was at the Orion Bar in Center City. Very trendy, a drink will cost you ten bucks.
I was there to get drunk, piss my money away then throw myself in the Schuykill River. Reasons later. I was mulling over the optics of using the Market Street bridge when two guys sat next to me at the bar.
Pissed me off. I just wanted a little privacy while I got shit faced.
Sharp dressers, though, the whole grey/black thing, Italian blazers, slacks with knife edge creases, $500 shoes. Late 30’s, looking like they’d spent the day at their hi-tech startup, went to the gym, had their hair trimmed, the long on top, short on the sides look. Maybe looking to hook up with their feminine peers. Orion was the spot where the workaholic entrepreneurs let go.
Odd, they both looked really pale. Maybe side effects from some designer drug for the night.
“Give me a Big Red” The guy next to me placed his order.
Armand the bartender turned. His smile faded as he turned to take the request.
“Uh, sure Phil”
Phil gave me a sidelong glance. Like he was sizing me up for something. Go elsewhere, pal I thought. Creeped me out that he looked just like Robert Downey Jr.
“Make that two” the other guy called out.
“Right Charlie” Armand replied to the second guy, who could almost be George Clooney’s double.
The bartender poured a thick red liquid into two big Manhattan glasses. Then get this. He pulls out a small jar from the mini fridge, plucks a wriggling worm, cuts it in two, puts one half on top of each glass.
Phil and Charlie had a gleam in their eyes, mouths slightly open, anticipating like addicts at a needle party. They closed their eyes, savoring every sip and drop. Whatever was in there did the trick. Their pasty white skin had some color in it now. They were whispering to each other.
I motioned Armand over.
“What was that?” I slurred out in my best 6 martini diction, jerking my thumb in the direction of Phil and Charlie.
“Guys you don’t wanna know, Bill. They come in every Wednesday. Order their specialty. Knock a few back. Get amped up a bit, then head out.”
“Man, looks like you tapped a vein for them.” I laughed.
Armand wasn’t laughing. “Just shut up will you. I don’t want any trouble” He looked worried then went to the other end of the bar. Meanwhile Phil and Charlie started arguing.
“No, it’s my turn” Phil said to Charlie
“You had the last one” Charlie replied peevishly
“And he was a dud” Phil countered.
“And whose fault was that? Dragging street people into alleys, draining them dry, then complaining about the side effects of the crap in their bloodstream” Charlie lectured back.
“Look who’s talking. You tried to depopulate whole neighborhoods in London’s East End in the 1800s. I had to invent Jack the Ripper to divert the police.” Phil countered self-righteously
“You’re never going to let that go, are you Phil. I’ve been clean for 150 years. You’re still swilling anything with a heartbeat. Enough already.”
They sounded like an old married couple. I drained my Martini and motioned Armand for another. Then things changed direction.
“Tell you what, Phil. Just for tonight let’s set that crap aside. We’ll split this one.” Charlie offered.
Phil glanced at me again, appraisingly. A small red drop of his drink clung to the corner of his mouth. His tongue crept out an whisked it away. Phil resumed talking.
“He’s pretty far in the bag, Charlie.”
“True, but he’s drinking quality booze and seems otherwise healthy. I figure eight, maybe 10 pints in him” Charlie opined.
‘That would cut down on our bar tab. Your move, Phil”
Phil shifted on his bar stool. I was cradling my 7th martini, could sense him staring at me. I’d boxed light heavyweight on the Penn State Boxing Team. Still had some chops. They wanted to tangle, I’d deck at least one of them. I met his eyes at about the same time he put a cold clammy palm on my forearm.
Big, dark brown pupils with red flecks in them stared me down. Looked right through me, rummaging in my brain. His risk. Might end up joining me on the dive from the bridge. Meanwhile my forearm felt like a lump of barely thawed beef under his hand. Then suddenly he turned away.
I could breathe again. What the hell just happened? Then Phil made an announcement.
“Get this. He lost his job, his fiancée dumped him, his parents died in a car crash and left everything to The Dung Beetle Trust, and he’s been diagnosed with a non-operable fatal brain tumor. He wants to kill himself.”
“Pisser” Charlie was clearly awash in empathy.
“You have options” Phil got off his stool and stood next to me, smirking,
“Oh, you guys can cure cancer. Great, where do I sign?”
I figured I’d play along. I’ll be dead in a few hours. Who cared?
Charlie cared enough to hoist himself off his stool and stand next to Phil. He and Phil exchanged glances, nodded slightly then grinned at me.
They both had incisors that would leave holes in the hood of my car. Didn’t look like the cheesy fake plastic ones. They both couldn’t be victims of the same bizarre genetic mutation or subjects of some horrific military experiment in dental restoration. Phil and Charlie were the real deal.
They effortlessly hoisted me up off my stool, Phil bracing me on the left, Charlie on the right with a grip of iron. The buzzed dance crowd parted as the vampire schooner made its way to the door. Just two buds helping out their drunk friend who was going to be their blood nightcap.
Outside, the night was cloudy, humid. It was 3am. The streets were deserted. We went down a dark alley past a dumpster. The clouds parted. A full moon washed Phil’s face, his Robert Downey look disappearing behind a grotesque, lascivious smile. His incisors gleamed wetly then sank into my neck.
It didn’t hurt, just a smooth penetration, an effortless parting of the flesh. Phil was a real surgeon. All I felt was my warm blood pumping out on my neck, then quickly siphoned away with a light sucking sound, making its way down Phil’s throat.
“My turn” Charlie announced, and repeated Phil’s act on the right side of my neck.
Then a low rumbling growl suddenly cut the fang fest short. I was fading but could see the mother of all wolves silhouetted at the end of the alley. I just had to stop coming in town if it was going to be like this all the time.
The wolf made an impossibly fast leap and caught Phil’s head in its jaws on the fly. It twisted its body, ripping Phil’s head clean off as it landed and turned to Charlie. But Charlie was gone. I felt a rush of wind, saw a brief blur and then it was just me and Wally the Wolf.
Then moon went back behind the clouds. Canine snarling shifted to a whine, then grunts and moans. Armand the bartender stood naked where the wolf had just crouched with Phil’s head in its mouth. He glanced at the clouds, thick again, then walked over to me.
“Let me see” Armand ran his fingertips over my neck, assessing the twin pairs of fang marks that had quickly closed, staunching the blood.
“I know, I know. I’m a werewolf. Pain in the ass, talk about it later. You’re screwed, Bill. Double bite. You’re a vampire now.”
Well I didn’t have to worry about the tumor anymore. But my job prospects and romantic life had just taken a serious hit and my finances were still in the toilet.
One question lingered though.
Armand quickly cut me off.
“They were bad for business, Bill. You’re the 8th paying customer I lost in 2 weeks. Had to draw a line.” Armand put Phil’s head in a sack and walked to a door on the side of the Orion club that faced the alley. Then he stopped and turned.
“I’d get home before the sun comes up unless you like extra crispy. Meet me back here tomorrow night. I need a bouncer. And I’ll introduce you to your sponsor?”
“All new vampires get one, Bill. Teach you the ropes. Good guy, Activus Blivius. Been tapping veins since Caeser was a pup.”
With that he went back inside.
I never found out the fate of Phil’s head. But the bouncer gig pays well. And all the Big Reds I can drink. Activus got me on my feet financially, introduced me to a better class of vampires. Phil and Charlie were apparently toothy trash.
So I’m good. Dead like I originally planned, but still around to party instead of floating down the Schuykill River.
Blood is thicker than water. And that’s my story.
Come closer would you? My, that’s a very nice carotid artery you have. You look like you could use some fresh air. Can we talk outside?