It is over. Billy has been restored. The spirit rests within the simian shell of what was Jamba. He sits in a specimen display habitat deep within Doctor Franklin's menagerie beneath the Anti-Enchantment Bureau. And the entity is a liar. His powers were never so vast, nor his age so long. Perhaps he understands not human speech? But he quietly stares out through strange, orangutan eyes. Sometimes he shambles around his space. He sits on an upper ledge. He moves to a lower ledge. Occasionally he moans. I don't know how much of the ape remains. I don't know if he's gone, or dead, or merely suspended in the dark. Thank you, Doctor Franklin. You always come through for us.
Billy is upstairs in his chamber. He rests under sedation. A therapist will be here tomorrow to teach him to move within his body. I ask him where he was, but get no answer. I don't think he knows.
Edith prowls around the house throwing 'hoo-doos.' She says they keep away unwelcome spirits. Maybe they will. Odd how even night-folk grow complacent. We think we know this city... and we do. But everything is everywhere and Philadelphia is just as vulnerable as anywhere else.
The snow melts. It was warm today. I didn't see the daylight, but feel the echo of it in the air. Sarah and I will go out. We will attend to the sick and cull a victim... one for her and one for me. Right now I sit in my 'chapel' room. It's a music room too. My 78rpm collection is legendary. Caruso arias... pre-war Cantorials from Vienna... from Budapest... from Warsaw... old Philadelphia Orchestra recordings. There's a bell canto recording from the early nineteen twenties. If anyone asks, it's officially an unidentified counter tenor. But trained ears know different. The timbre unique... Like a counter tenor, yet with subtle variations. I know what it is and I'll tell you, because who'd believe you anyway? His name is Bartolo, a castrato born at least two hundred and fifty years ago. But the 'unusual alteration' was not the only thing to befall him. During the First Empire... during Napoleon's reign, they sent him down to entertain the troops in Iberia... the 'Peninsular Campaign' you know. While there, he caught the eye of a strange gentleman in the back. Common soldiers rarely heard him sing. His voice was for the officer corps and other well born gentlemen down from London. Sometimes various, local grandees would attend too, such as the strange hidalgo in the back. No one knew it, but that nobleman was a vampire. Obviously, I was not the only Spaniard to go down that road. Three nights later, The Great Bartolo was a new born vampirino. He was maybe forty four when it happened, but still possessed of a very boyish charm. Castrato are like that. And he still sang with the clear, pure voice of his mortal days. Still records to his day. I believe he lives in Switzerland.
Sarah will be down soon and we'll leave. We have a list. Not a long one. Three or four names. Sick people. Poor people. We visit them. One gets a vial of blood. Another gets a discrete, little envelope of diamonds. After that we feed. It's our time, you know. Once a month and all that....(he thinks) 'And all that'... After four years of this 'blog' thing, how well you know.
I do my job and I watch the world... 'Cull the wicked. Help the worthy live.' Sometimes I pass people on the street and I recognize them form, say thirty years, or thirty five years ago.... maybe a young mother and father who used to push their little one for a brisk, pre-beddy-bye evening stroll. I'd say - How's the little one?'... They'd beam. The little one would gurgle..... And now the mother is sixty three and the father, if he's around, I don't see anymore. They live so fast. I've seen so many go. You don't know what it's like. People I remember from Restoration England have been dead more than three hundred years...... (he puts on a recording.... the same one we have, as a video, up above..... we hope you listen to it too)
We pass through the window of this upstairs room and pan over the late night city. Steam rises through vents in manhole covers. Taxis roll by. Frightened, solitary pedestrians silently glide home, or to other places. Loud, laughing frat boys exit clubs looking for fights. Waitresses pour coffee in all night cafes for people who tell tales.
Sarah comes down. She and Jonathon bundle up, exit the townhouse and take their place in the late night parade.
Edith watches them go. Then she throws another hoo-doo and runs upstairs to check on Billy.
A Sunday night in March.
<more next time>
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