Bloodfellow - Book One - Separation Chap 15

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


For once, this might actually be about a developing alien/human interface relationship.



Or not.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - THE KING OF WANDS, THE PAGE AND QUEEN OF SWORDS

Submitted: October 28, 2018

Reads: 29

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Submitted: October 28, 2018

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THE KING OF WANDS, THE PAGE AND QUEEN OF SWORDS

5

 

An entire week had dined and departed and that white-haired cuddly-assed male had not called.  Carol-Beth poked a budding zit in the center of her brow, fuming.  Thirty years old and still pussing up like a teen-ager.  Why couldn't her skin dry out like everyone else her age?  From Clearasil to Clinique, that's the way it was supposed to be.

She leaned farther over her sink and practically went cross-eyed, trying to hone in on that renegade zit.  Her reflection in the mirror revealed a comically contorted face, tongue curling out of the side of her mouth like a red hook.  She gave up her attempt to force the pimple to a head, which pimple was now swollen and far more apparent than it had been before she started poking at it with her fingers.  She heard her mother's disembodied voice, lecturing from decades past, "Carol, leave it alone.  Stop bothering the blemish, you'll only make it worse."  She smiled at the recollection.  She had not yet made her weekly phone call to her mother, partly because she hoped to avoid yet another reproachful sermon about Carol's faltering career and the conspicuous absence of grandchildren in her mother's family tree.  "I feel as badly about it as you do," Carol would console, "but what do you expect me to do, rape some genetically approved male or petition a genius society for artificial insemination?"

Her mother was quite verbal on the grandchildren subject, and the duty of her daughter to produce with a certified genius, so as not to dilute the intellectually vivid Chaucer blood-line.  Discussions on the impossibility of controlling and strong arming genes to produce only cerebral giants were lost on Carol-Beth's mother.  She had absolute faith in blood.

Carol spun the taps and filled the sink with lukewarm water.  She scrubbed her face with oatmeal soap, rinsed, drained the sink and brushed her teeth with her ex-lover's fancy electric toothbrush.  Baring her teeth she grinned at her reflection like a monkey in a zoo grins and displays its gums.  Her russet curls were reinstated with the assistance of a curling iron and a spritz of Hard Forever hairspray.  A few minutes were spent applying the latest date paint, a brief pat of bronze blush and a coral lipstick that clashed with her hair.  Heaven forbid Carol-Beth Chaucer should be facially color coordinated.  To her mind such attention to perfection belonged to the dull and regimented sensibilities of the middle class.  And yet Carol was herself a child of socially correct and accredited arbiters of status, a lawyer and a commercial artist.  It would have caused severe damage to her carefully contrived self-image to reflect upon what indelible watermark her parent's bourgeois upbringing might have imprinted on her psyche.  Carol preferred to think of herself as a practicing bohemian.

With great artistic flair she daubed a little glitter powder over the whole creation and finally decided on a quick lining of brown kohl under the lower lashes.  This final effect would underline not just her eyes but her intentions, her inner mystique. When going downtown on a man hunt one must be deliriously foxy.  She wore her new contact lenses and a low-cut silk summer evening dress in day-glo green.  Her long legs encased in sheer off-black nylons peeked from the dress's side split.

She rooted around in her walk-in closet for her high heels, finally locating them in the bottom of her gym bag.  She slipped them on her feet and fled to her dresser for a quick dip into a bottle of cologne.  Giggling, she dribbled a bit down her cleavage for good luck

 

Perhaps this was to be her night, the night when her planets were in the right alignment or her chakras were in sync and the man of her dreams would make his divine appearance.  At thirty, Carol felt too close to the age where stuffing fifty dollar bills down the front of her dress might serve as a better lure than a splash of perfume.  The cash aphrodisiac was proven to be effective, more effective than pheromones probably.  Lately she had noticed a fine lace of wrinkles working outward from the eye corners and her laugh lines becoming more distinct.  She attributed this collagen betrayal to the years of religious sunbathing and the Irish ancestry which had produced her delicate creamy white skin.

Without her permission or even artistic control, something was happening to her face.  Carol wondered if one day it was all going to suddenly crack like a boiled marble, her precious dainty features broken by the fist of time.  When she was a kid she used to put new Barbie heads on the old doll bodies.  She liked to switch the heads to match the outfits, instead of the other way around. Unfortunately Carol-Beth could not pop off her own noggin and replace it with a fresh, unsullied retro Carol, circa ten years ago.  Some things are best left to the plastic surgeons.

She turned off her CD player, silencing Prince in mid-wail.  As she exited her bedroom she snatched a black-sequinned evening bag from the door handle. "If I don't reel in a big fish tonight," she muttered, "then all the men in Banesville are blind eunuchs."

And what happened to that guy, Wolf? (What a name: is that his name or occupation?) He had seemed all fired interested.  Probably needed to get home to his wifey pooh and twin sons. The same old, tired script.  Carol-Beth meets boy, boy falls in love, boy meets gal-anarchist from Wichita, Carol-Beth eats a gallon of Breyer's chocolate ice cream and reads three romance novels in a row in order to recover from being yet again dumped.

She teetered on her pumps down the long flight of steps leading ­to her front door, nearly snagging the dagger heels in the plush carpet.  Her long silver necklace jingled frantically, heavy with amulets, medals, crosses.

Her father had bought the townhouse for her so she would have some "security in her old age, ha ha ha."  A spacious three bedroom condo, with a finished basement, Carol's house resembled every other home in the neighborhood, all of which were built back from the main road in a labyrinthine arrangement of oblong courts and surrounded by the faintest fringe of standing pines.  Her own front yard supported an unruly cherry tree and an anemic juniper bush. Carol thought it too big by half, considering she hadn't any man nor babies to displace some of the lonely volume of the house.

She wondered if the place was haunted by her recurring wish-dreams.  Like maybe one day she'd open the broom closet and one of her pink cherub babies would come wafting out, airborne on iridescent cellophane wings.  Or perhaps streams of microscopic infants shuddered forth from her shower head as she bathed.

Sometime last week she had awakened sweat-drenched, almost delirious, the slick tail of a dream already receding back into the primordial sub-conscious murk from which it oozed.  She half-remembered a smarmy sex-scene, with herself as reluctant star.  Realizing she had come in her sleep Carol nearly wept.  It was her view that such things only happened to guys and seriously hard up old maids.  Despite her attempts to focus her attentions elsewhere, her body hungered for genuine intimacy.  The traitorous flesh and its desiderata, she had thought miserably.

And, motivated by the body's desiderata, Carol planned to drive over to the Fan Club and bar bitch with a few coworkers until Fate or flirtation brought her a man.

 

The Fan Club boasted a sports bar, replete with a three foot square television which duly attracted scores of males who huddled around it as if it were a football as they swilled numerous beers and became progressively more aggressive with each pass or passing beer.

Carol liked athletic men; invariably they had great bodies and were heavenly rough in bed, but at this point she would accept anyone reasonably presentable.  If he had a dick, wasn't sick or too oily slick Carol might very well bring him home.  She poked in her purse for her car keys and fished them out, humming.  Her father had bought a spiffy Honda Civic for her use: "Until she needed a wheelchair---ha ha ha."  The car was 'gorgeous, honey, gorgeous', as Carol described it to her friends.  Metal-flake blue, brand, spanking-ass new, and Carol loved it.  Daddy was a lawyer at Chaucer, Rimbaud and Mercantile, he could well afford to spoil his only daughter.  He regretted Carol-Beth's scholarly bent, entirely too much like his fatally serious wife, but he adored her, idiosyncracies and all.

She locked the door behind her and tugged at the doorknob.  It held fast against intruders, but was probably not effective protection from horny ectoplasms intent upon trespassing her dreams. (Now, why had she thought such a thing?)  The night air, dense and humid, brought a sheen to her skin as she settled herself inside the Honda, rolled down the front windows and started the engine.  

Her adjusted face was given a final appraisal in the rear view mirror and deemed acceptable. 

"Damn, it's hot," she fussed as she fanned herself with a playbill from the Houston Theater.  She was barely ten blocks away from downtown Banesville when the traffic snarled.  Carol strained over the steering wheel to see if she could determine what exciting road kill had generated this jam.  She punched on the air conditioning and then rolled both windows, leaning over the console as she did so; one green eye watching the traffic over the dashboard.  The pace had slowed to a snail walk, so she decided to take the long detour in order to avoid the coagulated thoroughfare and hung a left at Davenport Road.

Davenport veered westward into the less populated agricultural segment of Banesville.  The two lane asphalt was worn and pitted, and wound out ultimately into the Istersham Quarry.  Carol had no intention of traveling that far afield.  She was in no hurry, however, it was only nine o'clock.  As long as the air conditioner functioned, the car was comfortable and she was content just to drive and take pleasure in motion.  The oaks and willows along the road shoulder flung droopy shadows across the street which her headlights neatly speared when she switched on her high beams.  There was a faint chemical smell in the air, ammixed with the rising cow manure reek generated by a nearby farm, but the overall odor was that of heated summer air and dampness and wheat fields.  A red Chevy truck approached in the other direction, Carol heard a snippet of blaring country music as it sped by.  Other than that, she saw no other happy travelers with whom she had to share the country road.

She jacked up the sound on her radio and bounced in her seat to the rock music blaring from her speakers. She bobbed her head up and down, back and forth like a palsied old woman.

"Hey-a yeyah yay," the D.J. shouted.  "I'm in wham with the hot jam, slamming the sauce, I'm the big boss of Banesville Rayyy-dio. That was Trouper Maxx with 'Your tongue ain't tied enough for me.'  And now I wanna report a tie-up of our own in the central section, a big crunchola for a couple of Motorola.  Cars backed up for miles, folks, sittin' and a grinnin'.  Try to avoid the Hot Hub while the street cleaners and the fire department do their thing.  And now, Evermore lovin', Jam by Dom Workweed and the Enhancers."

 

"Ha!  Glad I took the long way around," Carol crowed.  "For once, just once, something in my sorry life goes right."

Her mother never accused her of being admirably organized, foresight not being in Carol's forte repertoire.  She had been a frenetic child, the points of her I.Q. amazing her teachers as if they grew out of her head in a blazing diadem.  She ran from one toy to the other, fascinated by the beckoning possibilities, intoxicated with choice.  Once she intuitively grasped the underlying principles of a game, it bored her utterly, and she abandoned it for some new challenge. She suffered from the common bane of the mentally gifted for whom the extraordinary quickly degrades into the banal.

As time went on she became ruthless in her search for the ultimate test of her intellect.At thirty years of age Carol-Beth Chaucer had evolved into a cynical, and contrary adult.  She could not claim to be insightful, however, as she failed to extract from her maze of disappointing relationships the real reason for her inability to catch a husband and bear his children -- said reason being that men found her prodigious intelligence, her armory of books, her panoply of talents and her eagerness to debate another's chosen philosophy threatening in extremis.

One ex-lover plainly announced to his best friend, "I would never marry a girl like Carol-Beth.  I mean she's a great lay and all that, but that weird head stuff she's into, and let's face it, she's just a little too smart for me.  I couldn't grab a slice on the side and get away with it.  My new girl-friend wouldn't catch on if I poked her best friend right in front of her.  And she was always so right about everything, you know?  Don't even bother getting in an argument with her, pal o'mine, you'll lose and wind up slinking home with your jock-strap jammed up your ass.  No thanks.

 

The road narrowed and dipped into a low point.  She felt a little creeped out, but she had the radio and the headlights.  Let there be light, let there be music.  Hallelujah.

What is that? In the middle of the goddamn road?

"Shit," she cursed.  "I'll have to swing around whatever it is."

As she got closer she flashed her high beams, high, low, high, low.  She realized it was a person waving their arms, trying to flag her down.

"Shit!" she repeated and slammed on the brakes.  "I'll be damned if I stop on a deserted back road and offer my ass up for bid.  Probably some drunk."

It wasn't a drunk.  It was a boy, a scrawny punk.

"Beautiful," Carol hissed under her breath, "maybe there's been another wreck.  I don't need this, Lord."

She pulled over to the shoulder after she had passed him, she hadn't hit the brakes in time.  He ran up to her window as Carol sat, frozen in her seat, unsure as to what she should do.  She decided to wait and see what he had to say from the relative safety of her vehicle.  There were plenty of dangerous juveniles roaming the streets of Banesville after dark and some of them were armed with more than a cherubic face.  Carol was not in the mood to be daring. The boy pressed his face up against the window pane, screaming something.

"What?" she mouthed.  "What's going on?"

"Help!" screamed the kid.  "Roll down your window."

She complied with his request, rolling it down about an inch so that she could hear him.

"Help me, please," the kid begged.  "Help me, lady, you gotta."

"What happened?" Carol asked.  "An accident?  Where?"

 

"The old quarry.  There's a guy drownin' in his car down there."

She rolled the window down another inch.  "What?  The quarry?  Are you conning me, kiddo?  Because if you are---" she paused and squinted at him meaningfully.

The kid appeared to have been in the water, he was drenched to the neck, his grey rag of a shirt damp and folded in pleats over his bird chest.  He exuded the odor of things green and dank and stagnant.  The top of his head looked like a reddish hair salad, with lots of oil.  He wore jeans shorts that sagged fashionably to the knees, the waistband somewhere between his navel and his crotch.

He patted the window with wet hands, smearing the glass.  "I swear to God! I swear to God!  There's a guy in a beetle, drownin' in the Quarry!  Drownin'!  I swear.  Lady, you gotta do something. I tried to reach him, but---I'm just a kid," he wailed, fingertips scrabbling at the door handle.  "Open up, let me in."

Carol bit the inside of her lip, thinking.  He was just a little guy.  What could he do to her, rape her kneecap?  Maybe they should drive over to the police department . . . but then they'd get jammed in all that downtown traffic mess...

The boy had run to the passenger side of her Honda and was jerking on the car door.  "Let me in!  He's dyin' while you're playin' around.  Help!  Help, pleeezzz."

Wonderful, thought Carol.  A soggy prepubescent waif, grunging up her new upholstery.  Grand.  Mega-Wawa.  She reached across the seat and unlocked the door.  He fumbled with the handle and finally managed to open it.

"Get in," she said redundantly, for he had already jumped aboard, dripping like a hound in the rain.  "Hey, watch that!  Man, you're a mess.  Did you climb into the Quarry?  You're nuts, you could have drowned yourself.  And what are you doing gallivanting around the quarry at nine o'clock at night anyway?"

The kid gallantly tried to sit on the edge of the seat, in order to avoid dripping on her stack of maps and glittery evening purse.  He hunched over, panting from running several miles already.  He began to shiver, his damp clothes chilled by the air conditioner.  "Drive," he ordered, pointing ahead and trying to keep his teeth from chattering.  "Hurry up!  He's probably dead by now, fuck it."

"What erudite elocution," Carol snorted, stomping the accelerator and flicking off the air.  "I'll turn the air conditioner off, but you must roll your window down, okay?  I'm dying in this heat, kid."

He obeyed.  The hot air felt good on his horripilated skin.  She looked like a nice lady.  She would help.  "Do you know the way to the Quarry?" he asked.

"Yes, of course, I'm Banesville born and bred.  You?"

He stuck his chin flush with the dashboard, watching the trees tear past and the stars overhead winking among the overhanging branches.  "Me, too.  Never been anywhere else."

She sped like a demon with an ass rash.  The quarry was only two miles away at most, but if there really was a man drowning in its waters then time was of the essence.

"My name's Carol-Beth Chaucer and I've never been anywhere else either," she introduced and took a turn so fast he was thrown against the door.  He grabbed the dangling seat belt strap and hung on for dear life.  Ayyy, he yelled as she veered around a dead raccoon, causing him to practically land in her silk lap.

"Put that seat belt on, you're not supposed to hang on it," Carol said.  "You ain't Tarzan and I sure as hell ain't Jane."

 

He shoved her maps and playbills and purse onto the floor and cinched the belt with a click.  "Okay," he announced in his squeaky kid voice.  "Now, hurry!  But don't kill us, Carol, please.  We won't do him any good ifin we're dead."

"Hmm. I hate to say this, but the poor fool's probably done for.  How'd he wind up floating his bug in the Quarry?"

"I dunno.  Watch that bump!  Slow down a little!"

"Slow down?  Speed up.  Make up your mind!  Where are your parents?  They are going to ground you until grad school, boy.  The quarry's dangerous.  You aren't even supposed to swim there anymore.  Those cliffs are quite high and nobody knows how deep or shallow the water is or what's underneath.  I heard there's a whole tractor down there.  A couple of college pukes shoved it in for a joke."

The kid wrinkled his nose.  "Aww.  I heard that, too.  I ain't ever seen any tractor and I swim there all the time.  My mother don't care what I do and my daddy's dead," he lied.  "Look, up ahead!  He's over by that side."

Carol squinted in the darkness as she wound the car up the steep gravel entrance road, ignoring the KEEP OUT! and NO SWIMMING! signs posted.  For safety purposes the county had installed huge floodlights at various vantage points along the walls.  Isterham quarry had not been in use for a decade, the limestone source was depleted and the gaping channels in the rock had filled from years of spring and autumn rains.  It was several hundred feet wide and thought to be a hundred feet deep in several places, no one knew for sure.  Carol followed the narrow path towards the area that the kid frantically indicated, to the west side of the chasm, its waters black and murky and forbidden.

"This way!  Over there!  See him?  See the car?"

Her eyes followed the line of his finger out and downward.  She tooled her car as close as possible to the particular cliff beneath which appeared a small car, yes---a volkswagen beetle bobbed, semi-submerged in the water.  She parked and switched off the engine, then she proceeded to bang her head on the steering wheel.

"Come on, lady.  What are you doin' that for?" The boy flung open his door, it protested with a loud creak shriek as he kicked it shut.

"I'm so stupid," Carol muttered to herself.  "How can I be of any use dressed like this? I'll cut such a dashing figure, careening down the cliff in my boff-me-please silk dress.  I'll get holes in my run-free stockings.  Snake bites.  Mosquitos.  Encephalitis.  Why is this happening to me?  I think I had better meditate before I commit myself to---"  Bowing her head she began to concentrate, seeking a connection with the Greater Wisdom.

"Hey!" the boy thundered, banging on her window again.  "Get out!  I need you to help me!"

Carol kept her eyes closed and counted to ten, breathing slowly and deeply through the mouth.  She tried to ignore the distraction of the boy's pounding on her door.

Hearing a taptaptap on her windshield she glanced up and saw that the brat had climbed onto the hood and was trying to get her attention by slapping her wipers against the window.  Snarling, she opened the door.

"All right, all right!  Quit the serenade already."

"Hurry up," he screamed from the hood.  His eyes were bright with fear and excitement.  "We got no time to pray."

 

"Look, kid.  I realize you are trying to save this person,  but I was just meditating and I realized that we should have driven to a police station instead or at least a telephone and called the fire department or something like that.  Suppose this poor man is dead? Or severely injured?  We can't do any thing for him!" 

She tried to smile as she helped him down from the hood, careful not to allow him to rub his damp, muddy clothes against her dress.  A silk dress, of all things.  A fortune to dry clean."I've got high heels on, bucko.  And let me tell you honestly, I can hardly walk in these babies much less rock climb. Not to mention I am wearing brand new contact lenses.  Can't put my head under water, you savvy?"

Turned to the side the boy hawked a glob of mucus and then gave her a disparaging look. "Well, good for you," he declared, "I'm going down there and pull the man out."  He stomped off down the path towards the least aggressively angled cliff.  Carol supposed he was going to try to maneuver his way down the rock wall in his sneakers.  Great.  She'd have to speed-ass back to town and have the rescue squad drag both of their cold, stiff carcasses out. 

She reached down and removed her heels, laying them behind her seat and then locked the car, then she tossed the keys under the front left wheel.  "Here we go," she drawled.  "Another exciting date with a man, in this case, a dead one."  She realized how fey that sounded, this was a serious situation.  Presumably her reality fix was having a tad problem maintaining."This is no joking matter," she told herself as she took off after the boy.  "This is real.  This is not Quantum Leap."

She stood on the rock ledge and peered down.  A cool wind unfurled from the pit, she shivered involuntarily. The height difference made her dizzy and she stepped back again. "Ohh," she moaned.  Most definitely not the time for a leap of any kind, quantum or otherwise. The emergency flood lamps illuminated the rock face clearly, causing the carved limestone to glow like a jagged screen.  The kid had expertly descended to a natural walkway, a space of approximately four feet in width that merged with an outcropping near the water's edge. ­He looked up at her from his stone promontory, arms akimbo.

"Get down here," he mouthed.

She held her breath, turned around and began to ease herself down the side of the wall. There were, she was grateful to discover, ample nooks and cracks in which to secure her fingers and toes while she descended, face to face with the rock.  "Oh hell," she swore as pain streaked up her leg, her black panty hose violated by brambles growing out of the broken stone. "Why am I doing this inane thing?" she asked pointlessly.  Her hair snared in another patch of briar, a salamander streaked past and she shrieked.  "Damn this shit!" Her calves burned and her arms ached from gripping the narrow ledges.  Sweat galloped over her body.  She tried to ignore these somatic distress signals and concentrate on her steady descent towards the kid, who encouraged her endeavors with a barrage of cussing.  An insect bit her under the arm, she yearned to scratch and dared not.  She dared not even look down, for fear of seeing the cavernous maw of the Quarry's abyss, black and thirsty, waiting for a fleshly tidbit to just . . . drop in.

"How'm I doing?" she panted.  "Am I close?"

"Yeah," squeaked the kid.  "A few more feet.  Hurry up!"

Finally, Carol felt the stone path blessedly horizontal beneath her stockinged feet.  She released her last hand hold and dropped.

"Whoa.  I can't believe I just did that," she said.

 

She bent over and brushed the brambles from her hair.  A smear of greasy dirt tracked her cheek.  Her left breast was perilously close to pouring out of her dress, prevented from doing so by one, very narrow, very stressed strip of material, the other broken strap hung over her back.  She pulled it forward and peered at it, making a face.

She had no safety pins on her, nor sewing kit.  Blowing a twist of hair out of her mouth, she sighed and looked at the kid, who appeared much the worse for wear.  When he turned and pointed at the car, his tennis shoes slurped with water.

Oh,  God.  The  car!  That's  why  they  were  here,  get focussed, Carol, concentrate.

As if they both suddenly remembered their mission, they ran towards the car, still  bobbing in a natural cove encircled by rock.  The roof remained visible, as well as the uppermost portion of the steering wheel.  Carol could just make out the shape of the man hunched sideways over the center console, his bare back and floating hands white as dead fish.  She could see nothing of his features; his entire face was underwater.

He's dead, she thought.  I've never seen a dead man.  I'll bet his body is all bloated up, soggy with fungus and I don't want this kid to see that.  She snatched him by his shirt and reeled him back from the edge.  "Don't," she said firmly.  "He can't be breathing water.  We humans are not amphibious creatures."

He whirled on her, furious, lips crimped in a snarl.  "We gotta try! I heard of kids trapped under the ice in wintertime that's got rescued and they lived!"

"Well, well," Carol struggled to explain.  "In those cases it was because the water temperature was low enough to keep those people alive, even though they weren't breathing.  When the human body is subjected to freezing temperatures it starts to shut down the less necessary parts in order to preserve life.  But the brain and vital organs are still functioning and it is still possible to resuscitate the person if they are rescued in time.  This is high summer, kiddo.  I'm very much afraid that this man is dead, honey."

"No, uh-uh," said the boy defiantly. "He's not.  He's special.  I know him.  I seen him do 'credible things.  Like Houdini."  He twisted free of her grasp and bolted for the water.

"Houdini?" Carol gasped as she watched him leap into the water, tennis shoes and all. "An escape artist? Is this some kind of stupid game?" 

"Come back," she called weakly.  Her hands flagged by her sides.  Of course the kid didn't listen to her words of caution.  Crossing her arms and tapping her foot in frustration Carol watched the boy floundering around in the filthy water like a beach hound.

"Marvelous," she said under her breath.  Carol realized she hadn't seen a VW bug in years, police will have to do a carbon dating on that baby.

The kid dog-paddled out to the car and held on by threading his arm through the outside door handle.  The car rolled with his weight and the lower half of his body disappeared underwater.

"Oh, no," Carol pleaded.  Without thinking, she plunged in after him, forgetting until she reached his side that, YMCA lessons not withstanding, she had never learned to swim very well.  The water was as cold as jade and as coldly green.  She fought wildly with her arms to avoid filling her mouth.  Thoughts of rampant pathogens swimming around in pestilential glory, just waiting to take up lease in her lungs, her veins, urged her to maintain buoyancy despite her fear.  Carol seized hold of the boy's arm as he kicked to the surface, yanking him back under water­.  He thrashed his way up again, surging through the surface with a harsh intake of air.  Carol let go and tread water, learning how to stay afloat by vital necessity, she feared losing her expensive new contact lenses.

 

"Hold onto the door!" the boy shouted.  He spouted a stream of water and shook it out of his ears.  Carol inched her way over to the car, which still rocked and creaked, the drowned man's arms and back appearing and submerging with the ebb and flow of the current generated by their combined kicking.

Although the air was seasonally hot and humid, the water drew its temperature from its bleak depths.  Carol's jaws clacked and her flesh erupted in goosebumps.  She had never been so revolted. The dark, the cold, the primordial fear of propinquent death, all these dreads coalesced into a dead fist in her gut. Her limbs were leaden with fatigue. For a moment, she thought she might submit to the tempting draw of the deep and gravity's insistent call to come on down, come on down.

The boy's shrill voice broke her trance.  "Move out of the way!" he shrieked, lifting one arm out of the murk and pointing to the hood.  "Climb up on the top, I gotta open the door to pull him out!"

They bobbed with the rocking motion of the VW. Carol felt something brush against her leg and she screamed and thrashed violently.  The car sunk a little further into the water."There's something down there!" she shrieked.  "It slithered past my leg, oh, gross!  Kid, we have got to get out of this slimy, disgusting---"  She clung to the door handle, whimpering.

"Move!" ordered the kid, giving her a decisive push.  As he yelled their elbows touched and they both drew back in horror.

"That was me, dummy!" he squeaked.  "Now, move!  Hurry up!"

 Using her arms and some aggressive scissor kicking, Carol pistoned until she gained the momentum to propel herself onto the car.  Her fingers scrabbled across the semi-submerged front window, hunting something of which to grab hold.  Thoroughly soaked, her dress spiralled like a folded umbrella around her slim body and her hair parted in damp coils.  She shivered with cold and trepidation.  Ashamed of her falsetto outburst, she was nevertheless thankful that she could still experience fear.  The poor schmuck inside the car was never going to feel anything again.  Not shame, not elation, nor torpor, nor epiphany.

She cupped her hands and peered through the six inch wide portion of windshield still visible above the water and thought she saw longish hair wreathing the body like Hamlet's drowned Ophelia.  Vine tendrils undulated inside the car and a caustic gasoline stench permeated the air.  She knelt on the hood, her upper body splayed over the window, arms stretched across the roof. 

"Can you open the door by yourself?" she hollered.

"I dunno," he called back.  He pressed the door lock with both thumbs and reared backwards, using his spread legs on either side of door for balance like a water skier.  Only his head and hands were visible as he jerked on the door handle.  Carol cautiously shifted her weight to the opposite side in an attempt to counter-balance the effects of his vigorous yanking.  She smiled at his choice expletive's as the door declined to budge, his grunts for breath highly audible.

Inside the car the water slapped the walls and windows. The corpse danced in time with the boy's energetic actions, its knuckles rapping against the dash board as it floated back and forth across the front seat.  Carol tried not to look at the dead man's gruesome water ballet, but her eyes were lured again and again to the sight of that spread fan of ivory hair seemingly pressed into the water's skin like a fossil fern in stone.  Something familiar . . . 

 

The door suddenly ground on its hinges and creaked outward, water eagerly flooding the car's interior with a exultant whooosh. The boy lost his footing for a moment, recovered, then quickly wedged his body between the door and the metal jamb.  His tiny fingers clung to the metal stripping along the roof's edge.  The VW was sinking with the weight of the invading water, back end descending faster due to the weight of the engine.

"We're all going to drown!" Carol shouted.  Wouldn't this be a fitting end to her spinster existence, an ornament on the quarry lake floor, flesh picked to bits by fish grown monstrous by hellknowswhat illegally disposed toxins and rusty tractor remains.  In a muddy sediment bed with two males and a vintage Volkswagen.  Every American gal should be so fortunate.

The volkswagen burbled into the murk, anxious to be settling into its final parking space.

"Get me out of here," Carol howled.  She climbed to the top of the roof and squatted in a dwindling circle of visible metal.  A crow cawed overhead.  Floodlights affixed to the quarry walls washed the scene in an unreal cinematic glow.

"Hold the door open so I don't get locked inside," the boy panted, "I'm gonna dive down  and try to pull  him out." 

"You're nuts," Carol cried. "Any minute we're going under! Can't you see? You destroyed the internal air pressure that kept the car buoyant!  Please, you've got to forget this!  This man is dead, we can't do a thing to help him!  No one knows I'm here!  No one will come looking for us.  I'm going to drown if you don't help me get back to ground."  She was frantic, terror sanding her voice to a croak.  "Get me off this thing!"

"I'll be back for you in a sec.  Hold the door, god damn it.  He's my friend, I can't just leave him."

"What?" 

She received no reply, the boy already gone under with a noisy gulp for air and a sibilant splash. Flipping onto her stomach she held the door open, feet extended, her body draped sideways over the domed roof.  Leaning on her forearms she managed to keep her face and torso above water, from a distance she resembled a red-headed mermaid surfacing for air.

Her eyes shut tightly, Carol-Beth prayed to any deity who happened to be tuned in at the moment. Hopefully the gods indulged in a little heavenly channel surfing, on the prowl for the most pitiful and worthy sufferer to assist.

And how had she come to be chosen Diva Dumb Ass in yet another comi-tragic farce?  Of course, it had seemed a genuine emergency at first, but after she became certain the guy in the car was bona fide gonzo the appropriate line of action would have been to call the cops, the ambulance . . . anything except jump into the noxious quarry, the mossy green color of which could only be attributed to algae and other assorted fur-coats worn by the fungoid high society.  Furthermore, this water smelled deadly.  She sneezed to clear her nostrils of the pungent reek of gasoline. A soda can drifted past as she floated on her sinking desert island.

And she had thought Volkswagens so non-threatening, so cute.

The high humidity conducted the swampy ambiance to new heights of foul.  The water sloshed around her.  Carol-Beth realized the car was now completely underwater.  She tried not to think of her outstretched feet, defenseless and available to any flesh-eating quarry life forms.  She still held the door ajar easily, although she was forced to dangle her hindquarters farther over the submerged roof in order to maintain her equilibrium.

 

Her legs dropped abruptly as the door swung outward. Something bumped against her knees before she scuttled back on top of the VW.  With great relief Carol noted that the car had stopped sinking.  She wondered if perhaps the water was not excessively deep in the cove and the bug's tires had found bottom.  Reversing her position on the roof she caught sight of the boy and the semi-naked corpse as they emerged.  The boy led with a respectable side stroke; he dragged the body behind him, its limbs jerking like a puppet in synch with the boy's pauses for breath.

Carol witnessed his efforts with respect and not a little admiration.  The little twerp! Where did he acquire the nerve to accomplish an underwater rescue, especially unaided and at night?  She blanched to think what his friend's body must look like and hoped the child would not be horribly traumatized for the rest of his life.  She sure as hell knew she would be.

The boy reached a grassy knoll and then flung himself face down onto the ground with a loud cry.  He rested only a moment before staggering to his feet and, using both hands, pulled the corpse ashore.

Carol watched the man's broad back rise up out of the water, then his buttocks, clad only in a pair of silvery trunks, and finally his legs, a twist of vine dangling from one white foot.  Once the body cleared the fringes of the water the boy collapsed beside it, chest heaving, breath whistling in and out of his nostrils as he succumbed to tears of frustration and sorrow.  His piteous crying rent Carol's heart. 

Oh God, she thought.  This is awful.  The poor kid.  He's done it to himself, so what can I do?  I must learn to be more assertive with people for their own good.  I might have avoided this whole nasty scenario.  We've got to get back to my car and drive to the police station.  The man's relatives will have to be properly notified.  This kid ought to receive a medal or something.

Her thoughts rambled incoherently until the boy raised his eyes and called to her.  He shook his head at her awkward pose, hunkered on the immersed VW.  Wiping his tears with the heels of his palms, he waved, then waded back into the water.  Apparently he had shed his heavy tennis shoes while swimming, for he was now barefoot.

"I'm coming," he yelled, his shout reverberating around the steep limestone walls.

The dead man lay inert by the rough stone path.  The deceased look properly dead, Carol observed; nothing, not even the inanimate limestone could lie so still.  It was as if genesis and photosynthesis and all the powerful processors of creation just did a blip right over him.  A cool breeze plunged through the abyss, lifting the drying tips of the dead man's hair in a brief salute.Carol watched the boy swim towards her using his modified dog paddle and her heart twinged with affection for the little junior cock.  When he reached her side, he tread water and felt around for the car's sunken roof.  Carol stood shakily and offered a hand.  Her suspicion about the depth of the water had proved accurate.  The VW seemed to be stable, resting on the quarry's floor. 

"It's prolly only about five foot deep here," he said, availing himself of her proffered hand and climbing aboard.  Water flooded from his tee shirt as he tugged it free of his jeans.  Pinching his nostrils, he blew hard and shook his body like a wet hound.  "I don't reckon you were ever in any real worry.  If, when I pull you, we both start sinkin', just hold your breath and make circles with your arms like this---"  He demonstrated the treading action.  "Kick your legs back 'n' forth, lean forward a little bit and you'll be swimming.  You can do it, I saw you doin' it, anyway, when you thought I drownded."

She had to laugh.  He was so commanding, a sopping wet Napoleon in blue jeans.  She gave his shoulders a grateful squeeze. "You're a brave little dude.  I'm sure I'm safe with you."  She grew suddenly serious.  "Listen, I don't even know your name to thank you.  And don't you get too upset about your buddy there, I know it wasn't your fault. He'd be proud to know you cared enough to flag me down and come to his aid."  Her voice caught and she began to weep.  "Heck, I'm so tired, so freaked by all this.  And you.  You're---"

 

"I know.  I'm just a kid."  He said it without pity for himself.  His lips were tight and blue with cold, his expression contracted to a dense design in the center of his face, like color in a pansy.  "I'm older than you think.  My friend will be all right, don't you fret.  He ain't like the rest of us."

That may be, Carol-Beth thought, because all the rest of us are alive.  But she didn't say that out loud, for fear of destroying his survival denial.  The next step would be getting her ass back on terra firma and driving the both of them to the police station on Gather Avenue.  For all his macho act, the kid was clearly frightened and tired.  Now it was her chance to do something for him by driving him safely home to his mother.

"Let's go," she said. "Stay next to me in case I need your help."

He nodded in sober agreement.  He thought she probably would need his help.  Women were always gettin' all wild and shit over the silliest stuff.  This one especially.  She'd probably start meditating and sink like a stone.

They eased themselves into the man-made lake and swam for the shore, Carol in front where he could keep an eye on her.  She didn't do too awful bad for a female, he decided.  Using a sort of  breast stroke to avoid putting her face into the water, Carol sine-waved to the edge of the Quarry.  The surrounding area remained unearthly quiet save for the dollops of sound generated by their kicking and the occasional  clatter of rock fragments tumbling down the walls into the water.  Her body rejoiced at being able to finally move and work the cramps from her muscles, though her teeth still clacked uncontrollably.  When she reached the shoreline her jaws were aching.

Deliberately avoiding the portion of earth where the drowned man lay, she choose instead to crawl over a outcropping of jagged rock.  The boy clambered up and over another prominent jut of stone and earth, hairy with cattails and ran to his friend's side.

"Wake up," urged the kid excitedly, nudging the corpse's arm.  Carol groaned and coughed up mucus and water.  She sat curled in a tight ball, shivering.  Much chillier down here, she thought.  The sheer walls absorbed most of the sun's daily heat.  If they did not leave soon, she feared they would die from exposure. When she heard him addressing the corpse she moaned and buried her face in her hands.

Okay, thought Carol.  This shit has got to cease, like, right now.

She stood up, wrung out her dress and tugged at her hair to squeeze out the excess water.  The boy continued to encourage the dead man to rise up and walk.  Carol thought she had seen it all.  Now a pint-sized rug rat trying to do a Lazarus act.  It was all just too damn much.  She was freezing, wet, and fucking late, too late to rendezvous with her man-mad buds from work.

"Come on, Wolf, get up!" the boy demanded.  He took hold of a strand of the man's long hair and pulled it, hard.

"Stop that, damn it!" Carol shouted. "Are you nutzoid, or what?  Can't you plainly observe that he is . . . what did you just call him?"  She did not hear what she thought she heard, an audio hallucination brought on by all this bad karma running over her dogma, or something.

The boy did not look up.  He did not stop yanking on the dead man's hair.  "His name is Wolf," he hollered, "and he's gonna get up or else."

No, it couldn't be true.  Was she on God's shit list?  Had she been waiting all freaking week for a dead guy to call her?  She ran over to see for herself, cursing as she stepped barefoot on the hard gravel path.  Pushing the boy aside roughly Carol rolled the man onto his back.

She let out a gasp of horror.

 

It was him.  The Andy Warhol white-headed dude with the standard-issue flirt routine and the prime, grade A, head of the herd gorgeous ass.  Dead.  Drowned in Isterham Quarry like any tanked up hop-head from the bad track side. 

"You can't be dead!" she exploded. She knelt down and pounded on Wolf's bare chest, hoping to restore his breathing.  She couldn't remember any first aid treatment for drowning, but she prayed this would do some good.

"Leave him alone!  Your gonna hurt him and then you're gonna get it!" shouted her hero, pulling at her elbow.

"Says you," Carol retorted.  "This dude is dead!  He doesn't feel a damn thing!"  She pummeled his chest with her fists, furious beyond expression that yet another man had escaped her.  Especially this man.  Something about him had licked at her memory all week, and now he was dead!

The boy tried to push her off his friend's body, but his wet hands slipped, slick from quarry slime and he fell crosswise over Carol's lap.  Wolf lay motionless, his lips parted in a rictus grin, as though he were enjoying this sample of absurd theater since it was being presented in honor of his recent demise.  His long hair was snarled and clotted with leaves, twigs, dead insects.

Carol grabbed the kid and threw him off of her lap. "Oww!" he yelled, springing immediately to his feet and tackling her.  They scuffled over the body, shouting.

"What are you doing?  This man is dead.  I'm really sorry, but he's dead!  He's dead!  He's dead!" Carol cried and then burst into tears.

"Don't you say that!  Don't you ever say that!" the boy hollered back.  "He's my vampire pal, and vampires can't drown."

Carol stared at the boy.  For sure she didn't hear that right.  Water in her ears.  Had to be.  Only explanation.  "Now, look here, bud," she scolded.  "That's nuts.  Vampires don't exist.  Some friend you are, calling your buddy a vampire."

"He is a vampire," the kid insisted.  He bent over and lifted Wolf's upper lip.  "What do ya call that?" he asked, flicking the tip of one of Wolf's incisors with his index finger.

Carol leaned over and took a look inside the dead man's mouth.  All right, she conceded to herself, the man had pointed canines---could be a problem if he got too frisky in bed and started biting . . .

Realizing how ridiculous that sounded Carol began to laugh, shrilly, loudly, maniacally.  Ridiculous of course because this poor sot was deader than driftwood and besides that everybody knew that there were no vampires.  She giggled again, long, loopy chortles until she hiccuped suddenly and began to cry, all the while stroking Wolf's cold, wet chest as if her fingers could imbue a resurrecting force into his lifeless body.

"Get off him," ordered the boy, back in command.  The lady's cowardly yellow stripe was showing.  She had looked a weeny bit like his Mama just then, her eyes zig-zagging around like pin balls in her head.

"O.K. I'm off, I'm off," Carol sniffled and sank down by the man's right arm.  She patted it absently.  "I'm so sorry," she murmured. 

"No problema," said the dead man hoarsely, and he then began to cough up gouts of frothy pink fluid that arced over his chin and splattered his chest and the ground.  He sat up and bent forward, gasping and wheezing as Carol broke all records for female yodeling on the face of the jolly green earth.

 

"Oh, no! Oh, NO!" she screamed while Wolf gave her an injured pout and commenced to spew forth another veritable fountain before turning on his side to rest, aspirating with considerable effort.

The boy danced around and around and around, his wet feet slapping the stone walk and sounding very like applause.  "See? I told you!" he rejoiced.  "I told you he was alive!  I told ya!  I told ya!"  He capered over the rocks and the bushes and the cattails, joyous.

 

Carol-Beth threw her arms over her head, shut her eyes and began to recite her mantra very aggressively.  Dead men tell no tales.  That might be interpreted to mean that dead men do not talk.  Cannot talk.  No hablo.  Sprechen zee zip.  Therefore she could not possibly have heard anything emanating from the mouth of the drowned Wolf.

The drowned Wolf began making some decidedly non-speech like noises.  He was on his hands and knees barfing up copious amounts of brackish water while the boy helpfully pounded him on the back.  Carol hated the sound of regurgitation, it almost stimulated her own gorge to revolt.  She pressed her hands over her ears.  As far as she knew, dead men do not throw up either.

Wolf dropped to his knees and sat up, coughing.  He had not yet become fully conscious, his biological back-up system busily voiding his system of a substance deemed unacceptable by his lungs.  His chest burned and his sinus passages felt like they could glow in the dark.

His next realization was that he was in an acute stage of starvation, his stomach spasmed most painfully.  The pain devoured the last of his dormancy hebetude and gathered his senses in violent focus.  He swiveled his head to the right, where he heard a human voice and smelled wonderful human blood and beheld the same ruffian who had stolen the heart Wolf had purloined from the mailbox.  And now he would have to kill him, a pity.

The boy seemed thrilled to see him for some reason, he had that daffy expression Wolf commonly associated with what passes for genuine human affection.

"Hi!" squealed the boy. "How ya feelin'?  I rescued you, me and that lady there. She's just not feelin' too great herself right now.  How'd you come to be in the quarry, Mr. Wolf? Were you drivin' around playin' on the trails and got lost and fell in?  Is that what happened?  Say, I been lookin' everywhere for you.  You're lucky I happened to be swimmin' here and saw you floatin' in the bug.  You mighta drownded ifin you'd a stayed there much longer.  So how're ya feelin'?  I never figured you'd want to drive a car around and shit, seein' as you can---"

"Silence!" Wolf roared.  He was in no mood for the boy's effervescent chatter.  "To whom did you refer when you mentioned a lady?" Perhaps he could feast from her veins and spare the child.  After all, the boy meant well, even if he had not done Wolf a service by liberating him from his watery bed.  If Wolf could not die, he hoped to force himself into dormancy, in which state he could not harm anyone and Abaddon would be unable to find him.

The boy pointed at Carol-Beth, who remained in a tight little fetal ball, her lips moving silently as she mentally counted petals, slowly dropping from a single imaginary chrysanthemum, her mind as far removed from this scene of impossibles as she was able to accomplish.

A petite woman, Wolf noticed.  Easy to overpower.  He looked at her greedily, saliva now flooding his mouth instead of the filthy water.  Ah, but the boy, what of him?  Wolf looked back at Cott, thinking: I cannot allow him to watch me feed.

 

"Thank you for your valiant rescue on my behalf," said the vampire as he squeezed Cott's shoulder.  "I wish to be alone with this woman so that I may thank her also.  I am truly fine now, I assure you.  How did you get here?"

"I waved the lady down, she agreed to come and help.  I was really worried about you---"The lad stopped talking abruptly.  He didn't like the tenseness in Wolf's face, the dark flicker like a snake's tongue between his teeth, the rapid tide of his breathing.  Wolf's body hair was drying in the night heat and stood out from his skin like stiff fur.  There was something feral and unfriendly in his friend's demeanor. A word caught in his throat, he remembered Wolf's vulgar attachment to the hunk of heart meat, he remembered what Wolf was.

"Go back to the car," Wolf said evenly. He gave the boy a brief nod of acknowledgement.  Yes, you know what I am.  Leave me to my hungers.

Cott put out his lower lip and hooked his thumbs through his empty belt loops. "You're gonna suck her blood, aren't cha?" he said reproachfully.  "You can't do that, she saved your life.  That ain't the way to thank somebody."

 Wolf jerked him up by the front of his shirt until they were eye to eye, hunger to human. The boys legs bicycled in the air.

"I did not ask either of you to save me," Wolf growled.  "I wanted to die.  But now that you two have awakened the vampire, do not reproach him for his teeth."  He set the boy down and waved him away.  "Now, I recommend you navigate your way back to her car where I will come for you in a little while.  Be grateful I did not attack you, I am hungry enough to be blind in my  decisions.  I---"

 He got no further with his warning, for a great din arose in Isterham Quarry.  Carol-Beth was reeled in from her meditation vacation by the sound of what must have been a thousand bull frogs belching out a Gregorian chant, or was it a grid of hawks crying attracted by the county's wealth of flying insects?  The buzzing, the cawing, the shhirr-lop of the fish churning in the water.  What on earth? she thought.  What on earth?

Cott's mouth dropped open as he scanned the skies darkening overhead, black with birds.  Like that Alfred Hitchcock movie!  Squadrons of birds wheeling in the air and shrieking,  They dipped and darted into a dark weave of feathered excitement as bats dilated outward from the trees.  "Ho-ly shit!" he said.

Carol stood and pointed at the pond, "Look at that!" she exclaimed.  "Look at the fish! What the hell's going on here?"

They ran to the water's edge.  The lake was churning with fish, as if the water boiled with life, the cattails nearby vibrated in the breeze like antennae.  The catalyst that initiated these proceedings was, naturally, or rather, unnaturally, Wolf's adverse appearance in nature's midst.  The lusty din was outsized, seeming to gorge the confines of the quarry, a sound merger with its own mass, weight and volume, pressing in on them from all sides.  Carol-Beth and Cott stood mesmerized by this sex-convention, not understanding its nature or its cause.

"Do you see what I see?" she asked the boy, who was scratching his head and staring at a pair of frogs amorously courting his toes.

"I'm seein' and I'm hearin'," he replied.  "What I am is ain't believin'."

They looked at each other.  Then they turned to look at Wolf, who had sunk to his knees again and clapped his hands over his ears.  "SILENCE!" he bellowed. 

Carol stepped over to him and put her hands over his, pulling his face into her thighs.  "It's okay," she said gently.

 

He was alive!  How in all of mystery could this be?  Her fingers were puckered with cold and she no longer felt entirely melded with her physical self, not that she ever felt soundly united in body, mind and spirit.  Very strange things had been happening to her in the last several weeks.

Wolf met her eyes and recognized her at once.  In a way, she was the impetus for his latest suicide attempt.  He had succumbed to his transient madness after killing that insipid psychologist, although he had enjoyed siphoning every reachable drop of blood within Dr. Brennen's lecherous carcass.  Most especially because the doctor had not been entirely off the mark with some of his assessments.  Wolf had not felt enriched by coached self-scrutiny or the humiliating act of catharsis.  The doctor deserved Death, and when Dr. Brennen's shriveled soul decreased and prepared to depart for its destiny Wolf had spit in its eye.

"Do you remember me?" Carol asked.  "I met you on Main Street last week.  Listen, I can't believe you had your face in the water all that time and you're still alive. This is truly weird.  We've got to get you to a doctor."

"No, no doctor," said Wolf, trying to make a difficult decision as his gut and his heart competed for first serve.  He was starving, if he did not feed soon he would savage out, not knowing who he killed, not caring.  He thought her so beautiful, though, her tanned breasts swelling over the top of her green dress, the silvery filaments of water coursing along her legs---the quarry creatures' passion dance reminding him of what he deeply desired to share with her again.  But he was hungry, the steady pulse in her wrists so near his face exuded the exciting fragrance of life!  He heard the boy Cott approach and say warningly, "Don't do it, Wolf.  Don't kill her."

Carol gasped. "Boy, that's crazy!  The poor dude just about drowned and you're telling him . . . say, what the hell's with you two anyway?  I thought you guys were buds."

Cott and Wolf exchanged glances.

I must feed, Wolf's look said.

Not here bud, Cott's look replied.

"I have not much time," Wolf said aloud to the boy, who hovered behind Carol.

"What?" Carol asked.  "Wolf, you must be in shock, it's terribly cold in that water, we ought to know, huh, kid?"  She reached out, parted Wolf's hair and smoothed it behind his head before lifting the hem of her dress and wiping a smear of mud from his cheek.  "Come on, we're getting you to the hospital.  I don't know how you've managed to survive this awful accident, but I ain't shittin' on a miracle as my grandma used to say."  Come to think of it, this guy Wolf looked to be in shock, he was dead white, lips bloodless, cheeks drawn.

"No, signorina.  I cannot go to a hospital.  Leave me in peace, please.  I am recovering quickly."  He coughed.  "You are too gracious.  I thank you with all my heart, my lady, but I must be on my way."  Wolf watched Cott watch him, shaking his head and begging Wolf with his eyes.

Don't do it, I won't respect you anymore.

Fuck your respect, I need blood.

 

Wolf took a deep breath and stood up, bringing Carol up with him.  Her odor compelled. He wanted to taste her skin, lick her wrists, make love to her, drink her heart's blood, stuff her remains like a hunter's prize kill.  She'd be his treasure for all eternity then, no other man would want her.  Wolf realized his thoughts made no sense.  His hunger was taking command, before long he would be shark-vicious, a killing machine spared any inhibiting thoughts of remorse. Carol had taken his hands, trying to warm them with hers.  She was saying something, her words unintelligible in the quarry's obstreperous chorus.  Each of her teeth appeared to glisten, her eyes seemed abnormally blue and wet, rolling with surreal slowness in their sockets as she spoke.  So enchanting, the throb of the carotid artery in her neck.  It winked like a cursor, calling his lips.  His arms encircled her waist as he drew her to his chest.  Stop it, stop it, she was saying, but there was a smile curving through her words, she'd forgive him anything, anything, anything, since she had nearly lost him and now he was here, whole and hellish as ever.  The pestiferous streetsnipe danced around their fused bodies, shouting.

Submit to me, Wolf whispered.  Enter my rapture ceremony.  If you care for me, do this for me.  If you truly want to save me, give unto me.  Have faith in mystery, and grant me your radiant blood, my one requirement.

Carol swooned, her head lolling onto his shoulder.  Wolf bared his teeth and lowered them to her neck, his heart breaking and his stomach howling.  His mouth hovered a quarter of an inch over her skin.  His eyes fluttered in anticipation,  and then he saw Cott watching him with all the world's pain transferred to his face, tears flooding down his cheeks.

And if he hurt Cott, was Wolf not then equal with Abaddon or the boy's mother, yet another ruthless, condemned demon tasting another being's pain and calling it pleasure?

"Damn it," Wolf relented and straightened, releasing Carol in the process.  She clung  to one of his arms, unsure as to where she was, or how she might have come to be there.

Cott dashed to her side, grabbed a handful of dress and shook it vigorously.  "Carol-lady, wake up!  Wake up!"

She emerged from her stupor, still leaning on Wolf for support.  Had she passed out, or what?  Suddenly she remembered.  They were all in the bottom of the dreadful quarry.  Wolf had been dredged up out of the green cesspool and probably needed medical attention.  In fact, they all were going to expire from hypothermia if she didn't get them back to the Honda and safely into Banesville Medical.  For sure as shit, that volkswagen wasn't going to get them anywhere.  She began to chat gaily while Wolf glared over his shoulder at Cott, who returned a baleful, smile of triumph.

A pox on your testicles, you juvenile jackanapes.

The hell with you, Mr. Weirdo Wolf.  I knew you couldn't do it.

We shall see about that, youngblood.  The night also, is young.

 

They managed to scale the crumbling, sloping limestone Quarry walls, despite their cramping muscles, despite the rancor shuttling back and forth between Cott and Wolf.  Carol encouraged them with not-too-subtle pushes from behind, oblivious to Wolf's whispered threats to shove Cott back down the cliff at the earliest opportunity.

They poured into her waiting Honda, shivering.  Carol switched on the ignition, and revved the engine.  "We've got to have, got to have some warmth, I mean now," she said, and flicked on the heat.  Wolf sat in the front seat beside her, and Cott, not trusting Wolf's thin veneer of self-control, wedged himself in the narrow space between them.

"If you must take me to the Hospital, I shall visit my friend Dr. Dozzi," Wolf announced. As Carol looked over her left shoulder to back up the car, Wolf pushed Cott backwards onto the rear seat.

"Hey," Cott hissed.  Carol jerked the shift into drive and Cott flew forward again just as Wolf lunged to bite her.  Cott and Wolf cracked heads and howled in unison.

 

"Fuck it, Wolf.  You're bad.  Why don't you just leave and go suck the blood outta somebody else?" Cott whined, rubbing his forehead.

"Excuse me, young  man?" Carol said in shocked disbelief.  "Wolf has just been through an awful experience.  He might have died!"

"Pity he didn't if this is the way he rewards ya," Cott mumbled under his breath.

"Pardon?" Carol said, driving down the contorted gravel path at high speed.  The car jostled the two passengers around like popcorn on the stove.  She remembered the boy said his friend was a vampire, and now this esoteric reference to blood-sucking.  Maybe they were members of a creepy cult.  Glorious.  She decided after this was all over she was going to tell Wolf she was engaged to a dentist, or an astrologer, or something.

"He's gonna take a bite outta you, lady, you'd better watch him," Cott warned as Wolf's teeth took another pass at Carol's throat when she made the right turn back onto Davenport Road.  He missed again as she jammed on the brakes suddenly and whirled on them both.  Wolf's head almost hit the dash board.  He felt no great attachment to motor vehicles the way humans did, cars made him nervous.  The vampire had never investigated the art of driving, as he had more fuel-efficient modes of transportation available to him.

"All right, you guys," Carol said, her voice rising with every word.  "I had other plans this evening that did not involve either of you.  This is serious biz, boys.  I am cold, freaked and half-naked here, in case you failed to notice---"

"I noticed," Wolf interjected.

"That is wonderful, sir Wolf.  Now listen up.  I am none too pleased with the way this night is digressing, if you catch my drift.  I don't know what's happening here with this vampire shit, but I don't want to hear anymore about it."

The vampire hung his head, chagrined.  Cott sat back in his seat and quietly secured his seat belt.  "Why don't you split, Wolf?" he suggested.  "You know you can't control yourself."

Wolf turned around in his seat and wrinkled his aquiline nose disdainfully.

"I shall survive until I see my friend Doctor Dozzi," he declared.  To Carol he said, "Drive on, and forgive our rude debate in your presence."

"Boy, aren't you the ass kisser," the boy taunted.  "Do either of you grown ups have a cig I can bum?"

"What does your Doctor Dozzi do?" Carol asked, ignoring Cott's invitation to argument.

"He is the resident medical examiner at Banesville Hospital."

Carol tore along Davenport about sixty-five miles per hour, headed back to Banesville. "Medical Examiner?  You mean he does autopsies and stuff like that?"

Wolf appraised her tanned arms as she drove, his eyes following the line from her small wrists to her exposed shoulder and then diving into the inviting swell between her breasts.  She glanced over at him, expecting an answer and caught his visual perambulations.  She stared ahead again with a huff, and stomped harder on the accelerator.

"Like what you see?" she asked nastily.

"Ah, very much."  He reached to touch her face.

She batted his hand away.  "Keep your lewd eyes to yourself."

"My eyes are not lewd, Carol-Beth.  It is my thoughts that are lubricious."

Carol exhaled forcibly.  "You animal.  I waited all week for you to call me.  Why didn't you tell me you had a date with Jacques Cousteau and the under quarry world of rusty VW's?"

Wolf threw back his head and laughed aloud.

 

"Well damn it, how did you end up back there?  You're foreign, aren't you?  You don't know what you're doing on those back roads."

"I am Italian, Carol."

"I should've known from the lubricious eyes."

He laughed again until his stomach growled.  "Ah, Jupiter!" he cried and doubled over.

Cott leaned forward, listening. "Drive as fast as you can," he urged Carol.  Wolf needs a little help, um, getting something to eat, like, as soon as possible."

"Want me to stop at McDonald's?" Carol asked, concerned.

Wolf rested his head on his knees.  "Hell forbid," he said thickly.  "Just hasten to the Hospital.  I cannot guarantee my good manners much longer."

"You'd better," came the voice from the back.

The pain in his stomach had claws.  He was so thirsty he imagined he could taste Carol's blood coursing down his throat.  How long he had lain dormant?  "What day is it?" he groaned.

"Friday night, don't you remember?"  Carol lay her hand on his bare back. "You must be delirious from the cold.  Where are your clothes?  You didn't go riding with just those shorts on, did you?"  She rubbed his shoulders and stroked his hair.  "You're damn lucky you didn't die down there," she mused.

 Friday night.  He had laid in the car for three days.  How had that interfering brat found him?  Well, sooner or later it would have happened.  The car did not sink as he had planned.  Next time he would use a big, heavy Impala.  How was he to know that VW's float?

Carol put the heater on high and concentrated on her driving.  They were about fifteen minutes from Banesville Hospital by her estimation.  She still couldn't quite believe all this was happening.  Her instinctive reaction to Wolf had been to put many, many miles between them and here she was, rescuing him from Isterham Quarry and practically forcing him to go to the emergency room. But then again, she also found his slightly dangerous mystique erotic.  And his silver boxer shorts.  Especially the silver boxer shorts.  And the ruby eyes.  And the accent.  And the fact that he wanted her and he wasn't ashamed to let her know it.

"Say, Wolf," she said.  "Won't you need a ride home after your doctor friend has a look at you?  Where do you live?  Do you own a home in Banesville?"

Wolf repressed with great difficulty his ardent wish to bury his teeth in her neck.  He was faint with starvation, his tongue felt like styrofoam.  How the hell was he going to keep from attacking her?  She had asked him a question.  Ah, yes, concerning his accommodations.

"I, ah, I have a room under lease," he said at last.

"Where?" Carol probed.  "I mean, how the heck will you get home?  I'm not trying to be nosy Nanna, I'm honestly concerned."

"Holy Roma---" he began, and paused, allowing a hitch of agony in the center of his chest to dissipate.  His mouth filled with saliva and he swallowed frantically.  Damn them both, he ought to kill them and scrawl fini on this entire complex charade.  He could be ensconced in a new habitat before their bodies cooled.  It was time to advance to his next adventure.  Oklahoma City had such an intriguing name, perhaps a tour of the Western United States was in order.  Cactus, mesas, painted deserts.  Vistas he had never visited, waiting to be painted in blood.  He needed to hone in on his priorities.  Carol and Cott were merely two flesh vessels for the imperial blood he craved so desperately.  A vapid woman and a pick-pocket!  Removing them from the world would upset no significant machinations of nature, nor violate any sacred balance in the earth.

"Wolf, I asked you if you were okay.  You're not about to croak on me, now are you?"

 

"A vivid choice of expression.  How very . . . plebeian.  No, I shall remain as durable as ever, thanks to both of you.  I was not, incidently, driving the quarry labyrinth for entertainment. I had intended to end my life, or, at least immobilize myself for a while."

Carol almost drove the car off of the road.  "What?  You what?"  A suicidal depressive cult member!  Carol-Beth Chaucer you sure know how to pick 'em!  "You can't be serious.  Tell me you're not serious.  Jesus H. Christ."

Cott stuck his face through the gap between the bucket seats.  "Is that true?" he asked Wolf.  "Man, that's terrible sad.  Why'd you want to do that?"

"You need to see a shrink," Carol lectured.  "I'm going to ask for one when we get to the Hospital."

"No, I  thank you," Wolf declined.  "I have had one recently."

"Oh, my god.  I feel so awful for you.  Look, I don't know you at all and this is a helluva way to make our acquaintances---"

Indeed, Wolf thought. The truth was he was mortally embarrassed to have been dragged from the quarry by the very woman he desired.  It was just his luck.

"But truly," Carol went on. "I think you need help of a professional nature.  Have you any family in town?"

"I have you, my love," he smiled impishly at her and hooked his thumb towards the back seat, "and I have him.  What more family might a man desire?"

Despite her misgivings Carol smiled back at him.  "You are quite the silver-tongued devil, aren't you?  Loquacious as all get out."

They visually caressed each other and Carol felt that traitor heat, like a man's silver tongue licking her loins.

I shall infect you, my beloved, Wolf thought impulsively.  It was the ancient voice of his nature, he hardly recognized it as his own.  I shall saturate your very veins with my pernicious scintilla, you shall be my addict, your life dedicated to my faith.

"My tongue is not silver, however my pantaloons---"

"Charming," said Carol.  "Too charming, you are."  She chuckled.  "It's so strange. I really feel as though I know you.  Deja know you vu, seen you somewhere, before we met on Main Street."  Her brow wrinkled as she concentrated.  In the distance she could see the traffic light at the intersection of Gerwaith and Davenport Road. "We'll be there in a minute.  I'll bet the emergency personnel are about to meet the challenge of their lives.  You know, you should consider selling your story to one of those vulgar scandal papers.  Modern day Rip Van Winkle emerges from watery grave in '69 VW.  Claims he took a wrong turn and slept in the quarry bottom 25 years.  Those damn gossip presses pay more than legitimate newspapers for a story."

She glanced at him to get his reaction but his face had gone still as he stared straight ahead through the window at the brightly lit streets of what locals referred to as the Main Bane. He had snatched up one of her many playbills from the car floor and shielded his face.

"Oh, the light hurts your eyes?" she asked.

"No pigment, much pain," Wolf mumbled.  It was not beneath his dignity to use her sympathetic nature to his advantage.  He gave her a weak grin, hoping he looked deserving of pity.

"I'm sorry, doll," Carol said quickly.  "How do you get around during the day?"

"I only go out at night," Wolf replied in a strangled voice.  He fanned himself with the playbill and breathed in tight, shallow puffs.  "Please hasten, I beg you."

 

Cott reached over the back of Wolf's seat and touched him gently on the upper arm. "You done good," he said.  He remembered his Daddy used to say that, on the rare occasions when Cott was well-behaved.

"You have no notion of my torment," Wolf retorted.  "You have stretched my appetite on the rack and that is risky, my boy, very, very risky."

Carol turned into the emergency entrance road, steering her Honda into the parking area designated for ambulances.  She started to comment on Wolf's peculiar statement, but he had already jerked the car door open and was dashing towards the double doors of the emergency room before she could say a word.  Cott was caboosed on Wolf's ass.  They both failed to shut the doors behind them and she was left to lock up the car as she cursed the world's burden of rude, ungracious males.

Just wait until emergency gets a load of those two, she thought with malicious glee.  Wolf looks like the albino creature from the Black Lagoon and that boy!  A wise-mouthed, mud-dripping--- "Oh no!" she squealed, "look at my upholstery! My beautiful Honda!  Grrrr---somebody is going to have to pay for this."

Carol stormed after them, her fluorescent green dress plastered to her shapely body.  Her high heels clicked loudly down the hospital hall.  Heads swiveled to admire her and she attracted numerous amused glances, to which she was oblivious.  She approached the first white garbed person she encountered, assuming him to be a doctor, or, at least an orderly.

"Dr. Dozzi," she said, "please, where is his office?"

The gentleman she had stopped raised his thin eyebrows and scrutinized her appearance. His expression asked a question.  Carol did an impatient tap-dance with her heels.  This caused her rounded posterior to sway agreeably under her dress and she drew more appreciative stares and one low whistle from an old geezer in a wheelchair, as his nurse rolled him past, his oxygen tank in his lap.

"I know I look a bit disheveled," Carol said.  "I've been in a sort of...accident.  I need to locate Dr. Dozzi.  Have you any idea where I might find him?"  She fumbled with her torn strap, trying to make herself presentable.

The man pointed down the hall.  "Dr. Dozzi is a medical examiner, young lady.  I hardly think he is the doctor you need to see under the---"

His further commentary was wasted, for she had taken off, her agreeable ass gyrating in tempo with her clacking heels.  Her russet curls bobbed as she darted through oncoming clots of the sick, the dying and the grossly over-charged. 

She found Dr. Carli Dozzi's office and knocked nervously on the door.  When no answer was forthcoming she opened it and peered in, startling a blonde nurse who was shuffling a pile of reports and chewing gum with vigorous relish. 

"Excuse me.  Doctor Dozzi?" Carol asked.

"He's in the lab.  Help you?"  Her gum cracked between the words.

"Where's the lab?  I'm in a hurry, I really need to see him."

The receptionist popped a gum bubble and put her hands on her hips.  "It's midnight," she said in a upper register whine.  "Usually he's not even here this late.  He's doin' a post mort--you can't disturb him when he's workin'.  I'm tellin' you, you don't wanna go in there.  You're not even supposed to be here, anyway.  You look awful, you fall in the lake or what?"

"Sort of," Carol said. "Honey, I'm sorry to barge in, but this is very important.  Some friends of mine are with him---"

 

The blonde chuckled and scratched her nose. "Your friends are dead, or what? Dr. Dozzi's the Hospital's medical examiner.  He's got no business with the living, babe."

Carol threw up her hands and grimaced.  "Come on,  just tell me where I can find the lab!  I won't keep him long, I'm worried about my friends, that's all.  One of them was in a car accident."

"If Dr. Dozzi's got your friend, your friend is dead, babe.  You'd best sit down.  Did emergency send you up here without tellin' ya?  You poor thing.  What's the matter?  You think I'm jokin' with you?"

"Tell me where the path lab is...please," Carol begged wearily.  "My friends walked in here on their own power.  Nobody's dead.  At least, not yet."


© Copyright 2018 RexMundi555'.-. All rights reserved.

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