Saturday, February 10, 2018


There's no music this time. Few people listen to it. I've just gotten up. It's raining . A winter rain is a sad, sad thing. The street glistens. Few souls are out. Our street is quiet to begin with. If I cant my head a certain way, I can see the wider street we feed into. Cars go by bearing they who labor on Saturday home, or bringing others into the city for an early dinner before a show. I will, perhaps, drink a hot vodka-tea before going out. Edith brews it for me. I think I'll haunt the museums tonight. I do so like my 'culture.' Will I feed? Well, it's my time to feed. I'll have my monthly meal and savor it. I am Jonathon... also known as Tomas... You know me.

Sarah, my consort stays in tonight. She paints miniatures now, tiny vaguely Persian things. They sell them in her bookshop. Philadelphia After Dark has a little display hung among the ticking assortment of vintage clocks mounted behind the oaken counter. I like that place... the cramped, narrow aisles.. the creaking wooden floors... the small, silk shaded pin-up lamps and sconces (some attached to the actual shelving) providing just enough light to facilitate browsing, while maintaining a proper atmosphere. The girl at the register (an old embossed, bronze affair from an 1890's occult apothecary down seven ancient steps on Sansom Street, a hidden byway set between the lofty towers) is a witch. Not a born-witch, but a witchy-woman, like our housekeeper, Edith. She came to town a few years ago, during an earlier paranormal dust up and stayed. We call her 'Morticia.' She lives in the back, passed a half-height door, in a small cozy studio. How would she escape in case of fire? Well, in the mundane world she wouldn't... but our world is far from mundane. I'll nod to her, through the partially opened curtains of the mullioned windows, as I pass by.

The museums are especially enticing. I like the dim, marble galleries. Sometimes I hear whispers coming from the still, white lips of polished effigies stretched upon their one time tombs. Is the spirit still in there, or do I hear but an echo? A tiny shadow scurries by, not a mouse, or a rat, for what would they eat in here? The galleries are so cold and organically empty. They might gnaw the backings of paintings, but how would they scale the stone veneered walls? Watchmen fall dead at their posts much to infrequently.... The tiny things are mere spiritual wisps.... particles of beings long gone. They say a few errant Van Gogh nightmares shelter here. They say a lot of things.

I am no longer in our townhouse. I am dressed in my usual trim black attire, save for the starched white shirt. My long dark hair flows poetically about my face.... ah, the bone structure... I have it in spades. I sublimate through the city till I reach this vast jewel box of ages past. The cellars are the real prize. Mussolini's tongue in an old green-glass bottle, floating in pungent alcohol..... preserved cadavers from the charnel houses of Parma, some in attitudes of prayer, others sealed in silent screams..... Vagabonds from the streets sneak in for the warmth, such as it is. They snuggle amongst the crates. Some stay but a night and leave. Others never leave and go mad. I pray for them, as they rake the skin from their flesh with long black nails. How they shrink from the Noggins (old, animated, yellowed skulls) that prowl the maze-like passageways and roll over the floors looking for food.... Yet, comes the daylight and everything shimmers back to 'normalcy,'... or so they tell me.

Tonight I search for a thief... Museums hold treasures, you know. There's a painting, a certain late medieval representation of Ezekiel Ascendant... the prophet translated to the heavenly state. I saw it displayed in Florence seven hundred years ago. A merchant of extreme wealth and renown, newly raised to the minor nobility, featured it at a reception. It was the birth of the Renaissance and Giotto was all the rage. We did not know it was the birth of the Renaissance. We knew it only as Thursday evening, even the vampires.... And now it's here in Philadelphia and this mortal means to take it... He's a contracted thief... bound to a certain old world potentate. A similar piece, The Torment of Saint Rusticus, went for eighty five million. This one should bring even more. I'm going to kill this thief. Please know he's more than a thief. He's killed too. Blew up a pleasure yacht just to get a certain hated 'enemy' on board, along with his wife, and three little children... plus the crew and a nineteen year old au pair too.... I'll tap on his shoulder just as he takes his prize. He'll flinch. It'll be quick. I'll drain him. He'll ignite with a 'cold' blue flame and disappear. Nothing else will burn. In the morning they'll find a greasy slick where that soul used to be and it will be done. Screw that 'old world potentate.

Now, let me tell you just how Saint Rusticus met his end. You see, he travelled toward the east to preach to the Tartars. At first the great chieftan found him to be a harmless dreamer, but when the holy man told him unless he bowed before the foreign god, his wives, his daughters, not to mention his sons and himself would burn in hell for all eternity, since they were all there for the banquet and heard the presentation. Now the great chieftan loved his sons and even a few of his wives and daughters. And his morals were of the first rank. Why when he sacked the City of The Silver Bells only every other soul was put to the sword. The rest were sold to a consortium of eastern slave jobbers and wholesaled to merchants from Novgorod to Tash Kent, even the young ones, who were used for archery practice. But that wasn't his fault. Such were the 'times.' Needless to say, the pronouncement of his western visitor hurt him greatly, torture being his only recourse. So they severed a horn from a certain breed of cattle known for straight, true, pointed head gear, hollowed it out, rubbed it with butter and unguents and inserted it into the body of the not yet saint Rusticus, via his anus, till the tip reached far into his innards... a quite troubling sensation, though not yet particularly tortuous (considering the age) nor  one hundred percent fatal. Then they trussed him up on a high, wooden armature so all in attendance could see. How he whimpered and prayed, as a cold wind tore passed his exposed body. The august assemblage, wrapped in quilted brocades and furs waited for what was to come, as blacksmiths carefully inserted a long, wrought iron pole (perhaps as wide as two fingers of a full grown warrior) up into the severed bull horn that occupied his innards.  The other end went into a specially made furnace ceremoniously assembled under the martyr's body. Once lit, it would reach temperatures more than twice that necessary to melt lead.... The honored invitees dined on snow goose and roasted yak and downed flagon after flagon of fermented mare's milk, as they waited for the heat to rise. Then, like a modern day thermometer, the pole began to glow red, even in the cold, raw wind.... When it approached the foreigner's fundament he gasped. All heard. Not an eye looked away. He trembled against his bonds. Steaming urine poured from his body. He went limp and whispered prayers, till he was cooked and seared from the inside out.

The banquet when on for a bit. Then they left him there for the ravens. His bones were carefully wrapped and sent back with a ceremonial guard, for he died bravely. Orthodox priests near Rostov were the first to hear his tale. They sent a missive to western Catholics in Hungary, who dispatched people to claim his bones. Thus was Saint Rusticus born.

Come back. I have so many stories.

<more next time>

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