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This is a chapter from a story that’s been rolling around in my head for a couple of years. I actually finished it, then realized that I’d ripped off somebody else’s premise, so it went back in the “do someday” bin.

While I’ve been working on the second Minivandian’s book, it’s been whispering in my ear to get at least a little attention.  Not sure how this is going to turn out yet, but I’ll probably do it as a short story while I’m doing research for the second Via Serica book.

Let me know what y’all think.

Warning, this one has a bit of strong language.


I took the elevator down to street level rather than take the stairs.  I knew that Sid or one of his flunkies was watching me through one of the myriad cameras he had bolted to the inside and outside of the building.  Taking the ancient elevator down would give me a moment to think without giving them anything to put on the blooper reel later.  

That much money meant that either someone really cared about these kids, or someone figured that I wouldn’t be around to collect the second half of the fee.  Hell, it might just be both.  They definitely knew that waving that kind of cash around would get someone to bite. I was feeling a tug at my bottom lip as the hook got set nice and tight.

When I walked out of the elevator and across the lobby to the front doors, the locks buzzed open for me.  Sid might be a paranoid, but he was a polite paranoid.  Of course, he owed me.  I was the one that pulled him out of the sewer after the thing that poisoned him and gave him his rictus decided that Sid wasn’t worth dying over. I never told him that I went down there because he owed me money on a handshake deal, and I wasn’t going to let him die without paying.

Hitting the sidewalk, I looked up at the sky.  The moonless night was still dark, with no hint of pink on the eastern horizon.  I’m not superstitious, but unless I can’t help it I prefer to do this kind of work in the daytime. Only a few of the bad things in the world are either afraid of the sun or downright hurt by it, but being able to see what was in front of me without the aid of a flashlight just felt better.  Since it was only a few minutes across the bridge this time of day, I had a chance to get a bite to eat and look over the case file before heading over.

The air had the consistency of frothy soup, which is pretty normal for the bottom of the Ohio valley in the middle of a summer night.  It was almost four in the morning, and the temperature and humidity were both somewhere in the 80’s.  Ah, Louisville, you never fail to make me yearn for the luxury of such garden spots as Greenland, or maybe Point Barrow.

A scan of my surroundings showed that the junkies were, for the most part, right where I had left them: stationary and nodding off.  The exception to this was up on his feet, across the street from Sid’s building, and waving his arms at a small figure wearing a hoodie.  The yellow glare of the streetlight above him threw his shadow across the sidewalk and the face of the woman he was haranguing.

“Baby, I got whatever you need!” he was saying in a loud, high voice, his hands and head punctuating his words in jerks and slashes.  “I got weed, smack, coke, meth, whatever!  All you gotta do is be a little bit friendly, and Jaquan will let you have a taste for free!”

“I don’t know, baby.  What you lookin’ for?” asked the woman in the hoodie.  Her voice had a sort of squeaky timber to it, and her accent was one hundred percent street.  As she spoke, she put her hand to the zipper of her hoodie and pulled it down a couple of inches.  The skin of her throat and upper chest glistened in the lamplight.  When I saw her radiant smile, I swore under my breath.

“Hey!” I said as I stepped from behind my truck.  He didn’t seem to notice, but the target of his attentions moved her head a little to get a look at me.  Yep, it was her.

“Hey!  Stereotype! Leave her be!” I said again, this time a little louder and a lot deeper.  Almost unconsciously, I pulled my overshirt back behind my holster as I stepped into the pool of light in the middle of the street.

Jaquan the junkie and wanna-be unlicensed pharmacist turned his head to the side when he heard me coming. “Fuck you!” he bellowed, turning around with his hands out to his sides.  A more religious man would have thought he had his hands out as if he were being crucified, and that probably wasn’t far from what was going to happen if things got out of hand.  To me, he looked like a fool that wasn’t aware of the danger he had all around him.

“Man, who the fuck you think you are?” he bellowed as he took a step at me.  When my face came completely out of the dark, he stopped dead and dropped his hands.  “Aw, shit, man, I didn’t know it was you!  I was just trying to do a little business here.  I didn’t know she was yours.” he said as he started backing away from both the woman and me.

“She isn’t mine, but she sure as shit ain’t yours, neither.  Get your skinny ass off my street before I decide to throw it in the river.  You hear me, Jaquan?” I said in a quiet, forceful voice as I stopped just inside the cone of the streetlight’s glare.

“No problem, Boogieman!  I got shit to do over on Liberty anyway.” he said, turning and starting to shamble away as quickly as his legs would take him.

“Sid tells me that he sees you around here again, I’m gonna beat your ass and then take you to your grandma’s house!  Now get the fuck out of here!” I growled.

Jaquan the Junkie turned the next corner to the rhythm of his brethren’s cackles in the doorways behind me.  I turned to the petite figure he had been ‘doing business’ with.  As she faced me, her delicate features came into focus.  She had big, soft brown eyes, an unlined brow, and full lips.  Her skin was the color of rich chocolate, and a few curls of her dark hair poked out under the hood of her jacket.  Her eyes twinkled as I approached her.

“Sarah, that’s hunting over bait.  You know Sid doesn’t like things like that happening around his place,” I said softly.  There was no need to talk any louder with Sarah, since she could have heard me whispering a block away.

“Marty Shelby, as I live and breathe.” she said in a cultured bluegrass accent, a smile coming to her face.  She’d replaced the squeaky tone she used with Jaquan with an easy purr that I’d known all my life.

I hate being called ‘Marty,’ and Sarah knew it.  Hell, there were probably only a few people alive who knew my name in the first place, and even Sid knew better than to call me ‘Marty’.  Only my grandmother and my parents had ever gotten away with calling me ‘Marty’, and they’d been in the ground for years.  Of course, Sarah had once remarked that she’d been owned by one of my great-something grandfathers, and she’d helped raise me, so I guess she was family.

“Luring in junkies so you can have a bite to eat is beneath you, lady.”

“A girl’s got to have a little fun, now doesn’t she?  I just needed something that was still warm and didn’t come out of a plastic bag,” she said, the smile transforming into a smirk.  

People like Sarah reject the title “vampire”, but they pretty much fit old Bram Stoker’s description.  They’re undying, at least not from old age, and they have a need to supplement their diet, every so often, with living, human blood.  Never seen her hypnotize anyone or turn herself into a bat, but she knew a few tricks.  She ought to.  Sarah had been at it since before the Civil War.  Matter of fact, she’s in every photograph or story about my family as far back as we can find.

Yep, there’s always been an Aunt Sarah.  

“You owe me breakfast,” she said pointedly, striding toward the passenger door of the truck.

“Come on,” I replied, opening my door, “I need a cup of coffee, anyway.”


  1. Ok i’ll bite. Started as Spenser and went all Dark Shadows on us. Yeah, I like it.


    • It’s the second chapter of something that rumbles around in the old brain pan. I need to do the rewrite and get it out.


  2. Well this ain’t right,wheres everybody else? Busy watching the Dem convention?


    • I think you overestimate my reader base. It’s a good thing I’m not doing this to feed my family.


  3. Matt Wennerlund

     /  July 28, 2016

    Sounds like a good story to me as well.


  4. ARRognlie

     /  July 31, 2016

    Sounds like an interesting start. More, please.


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