Thursday, September 29, 2016


Sometimes Jonathon left the meetings at the British consulate and cruised around town in one of the plain, black, Cadillac limousines. The driver was an old 'familiar.' A mortal helper and facilitator. They called him Jo-Jo. Well, everybody called him Jo-Jo, even the people around his way who didn't know about him and the vampires. But he wasn't afraid of being spotted, because the windows were smoked. Nobody could see in.

Jonathon stared at the passing scene. A girl pretended to pick up after her little doggy, but she didn't. Two teens ran out of some bodega with purloined Slim Jims. A couple from the building with the seventeen million dollar condos stood talking to their celebrity, Center City, Jersey Shore developer friend. Jonathon knew them from late nights at the bar at The Happy Rooster. Everybody turns up there.

Former Roman Emperor turned vampire, or magical entity, or whatever he was (yeah, he was in the car too) said - I always enjoy Philadelphia, one of the first planned cities since Colonia and Londinium. The specially situated squares. The narrow, little 'mews' behind the main streets. Came over with the Marquis de Lafayette. What a place this was during the Revolution. We used to dine at The Old City Tavern..... I know. I went there too - said Jonathon. Used to sit in the back room with Franklin, reinventing the world.... Did he know you were a vampire? - asked the Roman... Of course he did. That bastard knows everything. You know, The Old City Tavern's still there. Oh, it burnt down, but they always expected it to burn down, with all the open hearth cooking and the smoking and all. That's why they had detailed plans and architectural drawings. Most buildings had them. Put it back just as it was..... I know - said the former ruler. I've been to the 'new' one too. Odd that we never met.... That was Franklin's doing. He likes keeping people apart. Makes him feel stronger...... They lapse into silence. Then the emperor says - How do you think this will all play out?..... You mean will we go to 'war?' - asked Jonathon. I don't know. Look, night-folk have these dramas all the time... And sometimes there's been violence - said the emperor. We had them in Rome. When I was on the throne, when I was still strictly mortal, we had The First Lamia Rebellion. The vampires fought the early Christians for control of the catacombs..... You know, there were Jewish catacombs too? - said Jonathon... I know - went the emperor. I read National Geographic. Just in case you've read any historical accounts, I did not want to do it, but the army made me..... Made you do what? - asked Jonathon.... The crucifixions, I mean. You can tell if you examine the nails. They're army nails. The heads are different. Mine bore little 'S.P.Q.R.' impressions. Emperors were more or less constitutional in nature. We, ostensibly, acted on behalf of the senate and populace of Rome. Army nails were plain - explained the emperor. They killed all of them, seven hundred Christians and three hundred vampires. Did it at night, because of the vampires, all along the Via Appiani.... Why'd they always use that road? - asked Jonathon.... It got the most traffic, people coming in and out of the city, the I-95 of the day. When the sun came up the vampires burst into flames. You know, those blue flames? People thought we burned them. Few knew they were actual vampires. Critics often called Christians 'vampires,' because they sapped the unity and civic strength of the capital. You know how propaganda is. Plus some who were superficially acquainted with the practices of the sect misinterpreted the act of communion and that didn't help. A lot of Christians and Jews fled the city after that. They were all 'slapped with the same paint brush.' Most went to Marseilles and from there up into Gaul, or west to Hispania. Just know that I didn't do it.

The driver took them up The Benjamin Franklin Parkway and around to a wooded area behind the huge Museum of Art. Night-folk were known to take victims there. It was all arranged. Jonathon knew where they were going. Teenage lovers and homeless people sheltered under the dense hedges and bushes. It started to rain. The former emperor, Marcus Aurelius said - I know you're curious about my true nature. Come watch me feed. Then you'll know.....

Jonathon didn't say a word, but he got out of the car and followed the Roman into the trees...

<more next time>


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