Marianne met him at the Sixteenth and Locust Street subway entrance. Figured a stop on the Patco Line would be a little safer. Gets a better clientele and all. Well, it used to. They don't come in town much anymore, unless they're real rich and got like bitches to guard their bodies. And then they roll in on jacked up Humvees. Some convoy. Some got shot up weeks ago when all this started and they dead, stinkin' corpses in a back alley, so who cares?
They all in black. Tomas and Marianne, I mean. He like that look, 'cause it brings out his lean, hard coolness and all. Some people get time before they turn vampire so they can lose weight and buff up a little. Ugly vampires make folks sick and they don't like gettin' barfed on, specially since they fussy 'bout their clothes.
Tomas don't say much. He just look at everything. Most of the stores all smashed up. Maybe a dollar store here and there still open, 'cause you gotta be real dumb to waste time in there, 'less you queer for Off-Brand deodorant and Cartoon Jesus coloring books. Warlords run like general merchandise places... some new merchandise... some used merchandise... stuff what got boosted from rich folks houses... shoes... hot dogs... brassieres... fruit from Chile. Warlords got everything.
Still a mayor, but he like Queen Elizabeth, 'cept without no pocketbook. Don't do nothin'. He jus' a play mayor. Put out Doritos and soda for warlords' meetings and all. Sometime they let him talk. Sometime they don't. I think he gonna get shot, or maybe pushed out a window. That why he stay downstairs.
Some toilets work. Some don't. Every warlord got his plumbers. Got vampires too. Most only got one, like for an enforcer. Some got two. You might say - How warlord gonna control no vampire?... But these smart warlords. Got that drug. Got dart guns. Vampire collapse. Get collared. That's it. Not like a dog collar or no electric thing. These collars lead. Night-folk krypton. Vampire can't pass through lead. Can't sublimate. If he do his head fall off. But job real cushy, so they don't care.
Bein' a 'free' vampire, dangerous. They get you, they take you to the Lead House. That the old Eastern State Penitentiary... huge, old dungeon-like jail house. Folks been screamin' in there for two hundred years. Used to have' Terror Behind The Walls' Halloween time ... Fake ghosts... real ghosts (actually documented). Werewolves all fake, 'cause real ones too crazy.
Marianne take Tomas to see Roland and Celeste and Albion. They the other elferinos and elferinas (pubescent vampires). Got hidey-holes in Laurel Hill Cemetery. You never gonna find 'em in there. Dark lanes... old trees... lots a bushes... crypts Morticia Addams would love. It like the QUEEN a cemeteries.
All Philly talkin' 'bout what some warlord did. His warlady mush up with kid what brings the pizza. Pizza kid incinerated in genuine brick oven. Made his daddy slide him in and light it up. Warlady got zipped in body bag with gallon jug of purebred Venezuelan bedbugs. They the 'spensive kind. Not that Venezuela got more bedbugs than anywhere's else. They jus' got fancy ones. Took her two days to die, 'cause a the little brass air holes they put in.
Tomas tear up a little bit when he hear all this. Marianne say - You wanna stay mortal? Might be safer....
He jus' shake his head...
I Mister Never You Mind, the old Cajun-Creole disembodied spirit. Been narratin' this here thing for long, long time.... Dead folk gotta keep busy too, you know...
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