A Bird On The Wire

May 27 – Character Study – Fill In the Blanks


Boredom. It curled around Vachon like the tendrils of a vine, numbing the senses. The people who filled the warehouse-turned-nightclub, aptly named Blood Ties, were mostly spectators, seekers of adventure, who conned themselves into thinking they were living on the edge. Some flirted more closely with disaster than they could imagine but willingly gave themselves over to their own need to walk that line, placing themselves in the hands of those who would care not if their feeding brought the demise of the former.

Vachon had seen it so many times through the ages, though more so in the late decades of the last century, that it became a grotesque caricature of Lore, little meager vignettes acted out, sometimes as a spectacle on the main stage, but more often in the dark back rooms where the seeker actually paid to meet their Reaper.

Just before midnight, Vachon left the club, wandering the lonely streets on the West Side that were within a block of the piers which berthed the ocean liners and other ships sailing into New York harbor. There must have been something to the saying, ‘the good old days’ because he found himself reminiscing about Urs, and Screed, even Nick, Janette and La Croix, his time spent in the smaller city of Toronto. And Tracy. All gone.

Maybe six months was long enough to give a place before moving on. It wasn’t as if hadn’t done that after a day’s visit, where he would find himself moving on. But the one thing that the City That Never Sleeps afforded was anonymity; the ability to fade into the woodwork, to become one of faceless millions. Sometimes, that felt good. Aimlessness, currently, did not.

Vachon was a shape shifter, often taking the form of a crow or a wolf, depending on the area, or the circumstances. As he had on Urs’s last night, sitting behind the large chimney, watching his beautiful daughter waiting for the killing orb to float above the horizon, triggering memories of Angel, his Master, his Mayan Princess, he felt his own flesh begin to sear when light filled the sky. It was more reflex than anything that Vachon had morphed into The Crow and dove down into the darkness as far down as the basement of the church in which he lived that morning.

Now, taking wing, not that he needed to change form, he flew above the city, the light sparkling like the jewels which graced the night sky. His flight took him down the West Side Highway, crossing Manhattan Island near Battery Park and he glided across the East Estuary to a borough of the city called Brooklyn. Landing on a roof above a street where people drifted down darkened alleys, Vachon watch a group of women he knew were ‘of the night’ who sold their bodies for money. Urs came to mind again. Flying down to get a closer look, he saw two in what he would have called a stand off: hands on hips, sneering, one at the other, hissing out threats. The one who was solo, was lying, he knew. She was playing a part, though he didn’t know for what reason yet. If he had to guess, and near to five hundred years of life – regardless of its quality – gave a person the ability to pick up nuances in body language and speech patterns, that lone pigeon was on a different kind of job, was probably setting the stage for a sting operation. She was too classy to be a common whore. In the dark, just out of the glow from the streetlight, Vachon watched, no longer bored.

Perched above the hookers, Vachon watched intently through the eyes of The Crow as the scene played out below in the street. It seemed to him that it was almost predictable that the lone pigeon would be sought out, taken. Did the guy in the car know?

The conversation, heard by Vachon, as the beast which resided inside easily picked up the words spoken by his pigeon and a voice which spoke to her from inside her head, bickered briefly, urged him to take flight again as the car pulled away from the curb, the woman now sitting shotgun next to the john.

Everything about her said cop to him, though he knew nobody else would see that or even sense it. Vachon knew exactly why he was following the car, though he would never admit it, if there was anyone still alive from that time to chide him for his actions. But he also heard trepidation in her voice, and that made her one of the innocents, which in turn made her his responsibility.

Vachon would have blamed The Inca for his change of heart, having been forced to face up to his responsibilities, to fulfill his destiny as passed on to them by their Mistress of Darkness when they were both made into Creatures Of The Night. But that would have been a lie. Right or wrong, the decisions he made throughout the centuries were often based squarely upon that foundation and Vachon could pretend all he wanted that it was otherwise, but the truth was the truth. Too much had transpired for him to remain uninvolved.

The wind ruffled his feathers as he followed the car, an apt metaphor for the need to follow suit right now. Destiny would have it’s way and Vachon left the desire to fly the coop behind as he settled into what he knew he must do.

Watching them walk into a building, the black bird came to light on a chain link fence which surrounded a playground next to the apartment house. Cocking his head, he listened as the couple made their way upstairs. A door opened then closed and the man asked if she wanted a drink. Identifying the window of the room they were in, which looked out on the world, Vachon flew over and landed on the ledge. Sure enough, she was a cop, trying to talk her way out of having to put the john down if her partner didn’t show up.

Somewhere close by, a bolt of lightning struck followed by a clap of thunder which rumbled overhead. Lights went out throwing the neighborhood into a semi darkness and Vachon morphed into himself, heading down to the front door of the building, entered and flew up to the second floor. Inside the darkness seemed complete and while she stood there, her gun pointed at the man, the beast inside the man Vachon was, emerged, a low guttural growl like that of an angry dog mingled with the second clap of thunder as another bolt of lightning briefly lit up the world. He was on the man in a second, snapping his neck, the body dropping to the floor and Vachon retreated from the room, his work done, and waited, hovering at ceiling level of the darkened corridor.

Her voice drifted out to him. “Who’s here? Show yourself,” she demanded. Somewhere below them Vachon could hear someone running down on the first floor, crashing into an old trash can he remembered seeing near the entrance. It was enough of a noise to bring her out of the apartment into the hallway. She headed toward the staircase and stopped. Nobody was in sight and she turned on her heel at the moment Vachon descended to the floor and they collided.

“Whoa, little lady,” he said, catching her from toppling over. “Just came out to check  what’s going on. You hear that crash?” She was really pretty beneath all the makeup she had on and her scent washed over him as her blood pulsed through her veins. It had been a long time since he’d been this close to a woman who wasn’t, like himself, a creature of the night.

While the centuries saw little change in most vampire communities, Toronto had afforded Vachon a more civilized lifestyle. The blood he drank was procured from slaughter houses and blood banks. Feeding off the living was for the lesser clans and even while he evaded his responsibility, he also never brought harm to the innocent. Still, her bouquet was intoxicating and the beast stirred.

She withdrew from his helping hands, straightening her clothing out. Not a hooker, Vachon thought. Though he supposed even a lady of the night would feel creeped out when seeing the result of his attack on the john. The vibe was just all wrong. He saw the confusion in her expression at his words, even after she’d sorted it out in her mind.

Vachon saw the guy come up behind her, felt the connection between them and watched as they exchanged a few words and then she turned back, a smile on her face. “Excuse us, please?” Vachon stepped out of the way as she turned back to her partner and dragged him inside the apartment, closing the door behind them.

Standing quietly outside, he heard her exasperation at the situation she found herself in. After another few moments, Vachon heard her mention a bar and headed outside to wait and watch where she went. At this point, he had to see it through.

When he saw which bar she was heading toward he zipped by her, sight unseen, sliding onto a barstool and ordering a drink even before she reached the door. It wasn’t crowded and Vachon sat quietly, pretending to nurse his drink as she dropped onto a stool two down from him. She ordered and Vachon watched her in the mirror behind the bar. She gulped down the first, and ordered a second drink then glanced around, her gaze finally settling on Vachon. Turning his head after a moment, he met her gaze and smiled, lifting his own drink up, as patrons so often do. “To better nights,” he said. He didn’t actually acknowledge that he had seen her not more than fifteen minutes prior in the darkened hallway of an old, decaying apartment building. It was just a saying one stranger might say to another, as if his own night could have been better.

Vachon could feel the nervous energy wafting off her even as a wisp of a smile touched her lips. She raised her glass in a mutual toast then looked away and downed her drink. In a second he was seated next to her, the scent of her blood washing over him once more. His mind filled with the memory of words he’d spoken once to someone: Every woman has her own scent, her own flavor. The blood is who you are!

She looked back at him, fully expecting he was still two bar stools down, and Vachon watched her physically react, a burst of laughter to cover the shock; her hand suddenly pressing against the top she wore. “Geeze! I am jumpy tonight! I’m sorry. I guess I need more liquid courage than I anticipated!”

He wasn’t feeling in any way mean spirited, though he couldn’t help grinning at her reaction. She ordered another drink and looked back at Vachon asking him what brought him there, voicing the opinion that he must be having a ‘pretty shitty’ evening himself.

He shrugged. It was, in fact, mind numbingly boring with the exception of the last part. “Pretty much like every night.” In his mind he added, for the last five centuries. He thought about what brought him to that hole-in-the-wall establishment. Telling her she did, would likely not sit well with her. Cop or not, an intimation of being stalked, he knew, didn’t go over big with the mortal population. “What brings me here? I’m usually where I’m supposed to be.” A mix between puzzlement and caution filled her expression. “You know, no matter where you go, there you are?” Vachon laughed. He studied her for a moment, wondering for yet another time what she’d look like without all that make up, without the clothes of the trade. “Courage?” he repeated. “For what?”

“You have your secrets, I have mine,” she said in response to his query about why she needed more ‘liquid courage.’ That was an understatement. The thing was, people, especially those who’d seen the ugly underbelly of the world, like she did, more often than most, still didn’t know the half of the kind of secrets that existed beyond the fringe. He wondered what she’d do given the opportunity to see his secret. What would be her first reaction? Tracy had fainted, but then her first encounter wasn’t a one on one situation. She’d watched two monsters fighting it out, flying about the room. She’d come up close and personal with both, Vachon recalled. The Inca had threatened her, full blown out, eyes glowing in the dark of the church and fangs descended, lifting her off her feet as he growled his question, in Spanish. Even after near to five hundred years, controlling the beast once it was in the driver’s seat was hard. Vachon pulled his mind away from the thoughts.

After ordering another drink, she looked back at him. “You here alone?” she asked. Studying her face, their eyes locked, Vachon answered with a single, slow nod of his head. Drawing in a breath, drinking her in, her bouquet was like a fine wine. “You shouldn’t be!” she commented. “The women in this joint can be leaches looking for their sex partner for the night!” He saw her pause, raising her eyebrow. “Unless, of course, that’s what ya came for yourself?”

Life should be so easy he thought. Hunger stirred in him. It was the kill, he knew. “I’m thinking more about dinner, actually.” She’d already looked away, staring down into her drink, her mind gnawing on something. His response drew her back to him, her expression one more closely aligned with disgust than with disbelief. “Not here,” Vachon added. “Across the river. Manhattan has better fare.” He paused for a moment. “That where you’re headed?” Somehow he knew that question only added to her exasperation, but she had asked, after all.

She grinned half-heartedly. “Nah, I’m goin home after this. Don’t think I could eat a bite after everything I’ve seen tonight.” Finishing her drink, she slammed the glass back onto the bar and looked over at Vachon. “It’s been real. I gotta go…”

Where her mind moved, it seemed her body wasn’t willing to cooperate. She wavered as she stood, reaching out to steady herself, her hand coming to rest on his shoulder on the black biker’s jacket he was wearing. Sitting back down, she rested her head on her free hand. “Wow, guess I’m not goin’ anywhere for a while.”

Vachon watched, waiting for her to get it all out. Both hands now cradling her head she muttered, “This fucking sucks.” It was like watching one of those old skits he’d seen on television, watching a tipsy character, like a spinning top, in uncontrolled motion, finally coming to rest, though there was always a question of where that just might be.

It’d been so long since alcohol had touched his lips, Vachon could not recall if the intoxication was akin to being sated after feeding. Before he got too far into that thought, the woman looked back at him. “You can go now. I’ll nurse myself a bit more here before heading home.”

“I’m sure you can take care of yourself,” Vachon said to her. “But considering how the night and the drink have combined to, let’s say, throw you off balance, if you have a car, least I can do is drive you home. Make sure you get there safely.” She started to decline with a shake of her head. “You said yourself what the women here are like, so that means the men probably aren’t any pickier and… well, I’d hate to see your night turn out any worse.”

She stared at him for a minute, probably trying to determine what to do. Vachon knew her head was pounding as he heard the very clear staccato beat of her heart, like a drum from a Shamanic journey. “Just a ride. Nothing more. Consider me your designated driver.” he suggested. “Legally, you shouldn’t be driving in that condition.” He grinned, stood and held out his hand.

She was going to resist and that wouldn’t do. She was in no shape to drive, but he also wanted her to talk some about what she’d seen in the apartment. He couldn’t really come right out and ask. The drive home and what ever time they might spend together once there, would accomplish several things: She’d be protected. He would learn if she actually saw anything at all, other than the aftermath. He also would more likely become imprinted in her mind, which he wanted for reasons he wouldn’t bother delving into with himself. Call it guilt. His track record wasn’t the best. Somewhere in the last several decades, Javier Vachon had found the path his Sire desired he walk when she brought him across. Four Hundred plus years too late, but still, he was taking out the bad guys and protecting the innocents.

The ride to her house, after she agreed to let him drive, was quiet with her tilting her head toward the window to let the air wash over her face. “What’s your name?” Vachon asked after a while, as he saw her breathing in more slowly, cringing less. “Mine’s Vachon” he said, pronouncing it the French way so it sounded like Vashon. Her’s was Fiona.

At her apartment, after opening the car door for her, she made it clear that she could get the rest of the way inside by herself. Vachon considered pushing the issue, but the chances of her connecting him to the killing back in the tenement were almost non existent. She had been a nice distraction during the night, and while he wouldn’t have minded getting to know her better, he knew she wasn’t in any condition to be social.

Vachon didn’t think it likely that either of them would probably venture into that bar again, but he just nodded at her suggestion they might meet up again there. Handing the car keys back to her, he waited until she was inside before flying up to the roof of the building, making short shrift of the door lock and heading down to the top floor. The elevator stopped at 5. Morphing back into the crow, he circled the building watching for the darkened windows of her apartment to light up. He could see her through the open drapes leaning against the closed front door, kicking off her shoes and dropping her coat and bag. She would be fine, he knew and took off for the river.

Manhattan, a sparkling sea of lights reflected in the East River, called him back. Walking through the crowds, he realized his mind kept wandering back to her, seeing her in the apartment, then in the hall, with her partner, probably, and finally in the bar. He felt her hand on his shoulder, heard her blood clearly, the beating of her heart, savored the scent of her. She would taste delicious, sweet and he could imagine bringing her back to his new haunt. He might drink from her wrist, or that lovely neck, or more intimately, from her inner thigh.

Heading for the west side highway, down to where the streets from The Village filtered out to the River Front, Vachon entered a bar he frequented; a place owned by, and opened for Night Creatures, like himself, where a particularly willing group of goth kids came to offer themselves up to the endless possibilities. None ever remembered being taken into a back room, being fed upon and staggering back out to the main part of the club, mingling on a euphoric high of their own having experienced only what those who felt a Vampires fangs sinking deep into their flesh ever knew. But their memory was only of being part of something so erotic that they only recalled it being a sexual moment.

It had been a very long time since Vachon could remember being aroused enough by a mortal that he needed to find satisfaction. All the patrons were younger than he really wanted but he found one who resembled her the most and she was more than willing to go into the back with him. His hunger raged inside like a storm, and he ravaged the young woman, listening to her moan as he fed, feeling her body begging with its own needs.

As he walked outside into the night, the only image in his head was still Fiona. Staring up at the night sky, he wondered how soon their next meeting would be.