Saturday, September 1, 2012

TOMAS and CONRAD WALK THROUGH SOUTH PHILADELPHIA

Vampires know how to step soundlessly through the city. Shoes don't scrap on the sidewalk. Sneakers don't squeak. Even dogs don't hear anything? Is it magic? No, just skill. Oh, they possess a magic of sorts. Some, such as Papa, are quite powerful. But this is not that. 

Cheap window air conditioners rattle and hum from second floor windows. Car doors slam as young dandies return to mom's house after a night at the bars. In fact, cars are everywhere. They choke the old, narrow streets, meant for push-carts and coaches.  You should see it when it snows. Plows (except for a few specially made, scaled down models) can't navigate the constricted byways and the ice holds fast til the springtime.

For the most part, they're silent. Tomas stares straight ahead. Conrad looks down at his shoes. The 'young' Spaniard sports his usual slim black jeans and clean white tee shirt. Conrad wears pleated chinos, an alligator shirt (the classic green one) and boat shoes. They gotta take this boy shopping. Looks like a Jehovah Witness on a day off. Ain't nobody gonna take this fella for a vampire.

Most streets hold tiny row houses. Some are less than fourteen feet wide. But a few have been chopped into 'duplexes.' Creaky floors hide under cheap nylon carpets. Basic, white, army housing type appliances huddle in shoe box kitchens. Scuffed up, bonded leather living room sets provide comfort, of a sort, in hot front rooms. Some people stare at the television, a thirty two inch, generic, picked up at the big box store or maybe off the back of a truck. And they do not know what walks among them. 

Now don't get angry. Yeah, they got real gentrified thoroughfares down South Philly too. But this street ain't one of 'em.

Tomas sees a kid tryin' a fish something out the smashed window of a worn, old Lexus. Just looks at him and the kid pees right there on the spot. But at least he forgets about the Lexus. Conrad bends down to pick up a sticky quarter. Mortal habits die hard. 

And then they're there, lookin' up at the second floor apartment of the 'main course.' ...... You gonna come in  with me? I know I've done this before, but I still need somebody. I'm not ready to do it myself - whispers Conrad........ Tomas just nods. Then he steps up to the door, sublimates his hand through the steel, Lowes special and fiddles with the lock from the inside. Eight heartbeats later it swings open. But he's careful. He holds it and it don't bang against the wall...... After you - he says..... Conrad gives him a look, but he enters and they silently pad up the narrow, dark stairs. 

It's dark in there. Only light comes from the television, some luxury real estate show they run after SNL. Yeah, like the two shits they got livin' here are gonna buy some...... The thief lays sprawled on the couch, one a them worn, microscopically thin leather jobs like I said. He wearin' his Saturday night, off-from-work suit, namely a seven for eleven dollar Hanes tee shirt (not the good ones like Tomas wears) and a matching pair a slightly stained briefs. Some girl lay partly on top a him. She got on panties (how anybody gonna wear nylon panties on a hot night like this?) and a slightly irregular Banana Republic wife beater bought cheap at a drive-in-movie flea market over in Jersey. Not the nice part a Jersey. Philly got a whole lot a really nice Jersey suburbs. This from the flea market part. Funny thing is, right across the highway they got one a the biggest, fanciest, Rolls Royce-Bentley dealers in the whole, entire country. Guess it all depends where you turn off.

But Mister and 'almost' Missus Cheap Shit is sleepin'. Weed'll do that to you. Tomas smells it. Every once in a while a vampire might experiment with it, 'cause it ain't no human food item. But Conrad didn't know what it was. So Tomas pick up the baggie and shove it down his pocket...... Then he go over to the girl. Tap her on the cheek. She fidget. Give her a little slap. She open up her eye and look at him. I guess she figure she gonna be shot or something, or maybe stabbed. She don't say nothin', just stiffen up and gasp. He say - Gimme the shirt......She look at Conrad and say - Who's he?..... Tomas say - He my accountant. Now gimme the shirt. (but she don't ask 'bout Tomas 'cause he standin' in her face and he can be a very compelling figure). So she whip that sucker off over her head and give it to him. Half a heartbeat later he shove it down her throat. Then he pick her up and plop her in a chair. Smiles so she can see his teef. And she knows....she knows. She like all them vampire fellas on TV, but she never think it gonna go down like this........ Tomas say- Don't move, less you wanna go 'guhk' too..... Guhk an old vampire word. Means like die, or death. But I do not know where it comes from. So she just shake her head and sit there. Ass sqeak a little on the leather, but that's all right.

Thief guy still sleepin'. Tomas step over, lean down and clip off a little bit a earlobe with his teeth. Guy jump up. He don't know what happenin'. Tomas grab him 'round the neck and say - Where the money? Where the old man money, you bitch? (who he robbed most recently). Guy munble somethin'. Tomas loosen up a little. Blood runnin' down the guy's face. Nose all snotty and all, but he say - In a closet. In a bedroom. In a can. Don't kill me. Don't kill me. Don't kill me......... Tomas say - Oh, I ain't gonna kill you. He is........

Then Conrad come  'round. You can see he nervous, but he dedicated. That boy really wanna learn this business. So he lean in to rip open the throat. But thief guy start wigglin' and squirmin'. Pantie-girl make like she fixin' a say somethin', but Tomas just slap her around a little bit so she shut up. That what slappin' 'round mean in her world. It like sign language for 'shut up, bitch,'.....so she does.

But Conrad never did get the neck. Got hisself a malf full a nose. Bit it clear off. Guy look like Skeletor.  This mean Tomas gotta hold on real tight, 'cause he like a fish. He like a big, bloody fish. Tomas say - Now! Now! Now!........ And Conrad dive in. Slips on the floor (wit' the blood and all). Falls on the guy. Knocks over some pole lamp, but finally does manage to stick his teef in the guy's neck. Pantie-girl watchin' it all. She goin' - Wee! Wee! Wee!..... Just like a little pig. She can't say too much, 'cause she got that wife beater down her throat. And like fifteen heartbeats later it all done. Tomas say - Here, hold her....... So Conrad sit on her like to catch his breath. She go - Ooof! Then the Spaniard go in a bedroom to get the money. When he come out wit' the can, he stuff 'bout five hundred dollar bills down the front a her all-sweated-up nylon scanties and she don't move, 'cause she still all amazed by the blue fire and all what ate up the thief guy..... He say - Here, go buy youself some cotton....... Then he grab Conrad and they go runnin' down them stairs..... Too complicated to walk, with all that blood stickin' to 'em, so Tomas grab the chubby guy and sublimate right up into the air. Five minutes later BOOM they home. 

Next day old man get most all his money back. Edith bring it over, 'long wit' a big bucket a KFC. She say she find it on a bus. But he so happy, he don't even know what she sayin'.

An twelve hour later he give half to the brand new Revel Casino Hotel Resort and Spa (they like when you say the full, formal name) in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in exchange for a cheeseburger,  fries and a all-you-can-drink Coca-Cola.

Justice done..... Case closed.

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Oh, and now for some Hollywood gossip. You know the classic Marx Brothers' movie, the one where the people sing HOO-RAY FOR CAPTAIN SPAULDING (it became the theme for YOU BET YOUR LIFE)? Well, there was a vampire in that scene. He's singing and bouncing like the rest of them. But if you go to L.A. today, eighty years later, he's STILL there. Look for him in the lobby of a certain banana leafed hotel some evenings, just sipping his drink and reading the trades. But don't let on.....He don't like that.


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