(Note. As always, since this story is drawn from "Bridget's Nights" it takes place while she still was undead. For my changes to the vampire mythos as they apply to her, see Chapter One of the original story above. Once again, Bridget feels herself to be human, regardless of the fact her heart doesn't beat. In fact, she always has told me she gets more flack about being in the CIA than she does because she's a vampire. The movie reference in the alley behind the bar is, of course, to "Underworld". Bridget has always enjoyed movies, TV Shows and books about vampires. She claims that it's because they always get things so wrong. Personally I think she just likes seeing guys in long leather coats and women in skin-tight vinyl and leather.)
(1997 - New York City)
Two heavy set men moved along the deck of the barge floating serenely in the East River. A third man kept a lookout from the lumber pile near the rickety gangway that precariously linked the old barge to the dock.
"Hurry it will ya'? I mean, damn, it's not like she's that big."
"Yeah, but she sure is a squirmer."
The first man snickered. "I hear she squirms a lot with the right person. Too bad we won't get a chance to find out."
"Knock it off you guys," hissed the lookout. "Just pick the damn broad up and carry her to the edge if that's what it takes. Even with her new overshoes you can do it."
There was a grunt. "Gimme a hand." The two men lifted a slight struggling figure and moved slowly to the barge's side.
"What the hell's with all the chain wrapped around her? This is just a woman and a little one to boot.""
"You weren't there when we caught her. She threw Big Stan across the room and damn near shoved Tiny's head through the wall. It took six of us to hold her and the chain seemed like a damn good idea. Good thing all Feds ain't this strong."
"Oh well, won't matter in a moment." The two men set their burden down. The figure teetered alarmingly on the edge of the splintered wood deck. The first man pulled a strip of heavy tape from the woman's mouth.
"Any last words doll?" He grinned.
"Sure. What time is it?"
Caught off guard by the unexpected request, the first man looked at his watch.
"Its 3 AM."
Okay. So why don't you kiss my ass then you ugly over-grown..." the rest of the words were cut off when the man pushed the woman backwards. Bottom heavy because of the tub of cement her feet were encased in, she rocked back and forth twice before toppling into the murky water.
The two men had stepped back to avoid the expected splash as the woman hit the water. They both leaned over the edge and waited. In short order an explosion of air bubbles came and then the water grew placid again.
"Damn, they usually hold their breath longer than that." observed the second man.
"Probably was still cussing me." replied the first one.
"If you two are done, let's get out of here." commanded the watcher. The three dark shapes walked down the gangway and disappeared into the night. A short time later a car engine started and then faded away into the distance.
"Well, this is another fine mess you got me into, Robert!" were my thoughts as I hit the water and sank to the bottom of the river. I KNEW I should have stuck to the spy business. But when the Deputy Director of Operations for the Agency and one of the most senior Deputy Directors of the Bureau are both asking for help, well, just the sight of the two of them in agreement over anything was nearly enough to persuade me without hearing anything about the case. I mean, do you have any idea how long its been since the upper leadership of those two organizations agreed on the time of day, much less the need for inter-service cooperation?
But it was Robert who convinced me. Special Agent Robert A. (for Alan) Dale, whom I have known since the early 19th Century. The man just exudes the concept of Duty with a capital "D". A few words from him and I signed on. He always could convince me to do pretty much anything. Not THAT kind of anything. Well, come to think of it, yeah, that kind of thing too. But he had been the first to show me that a vampire could be legitimate, an actual respected member of a government organization. It was working for him during the Napoleonic War that had led me to the Union Secret Service and eventually to the CIA.
I had been tracking a large shipment of arms headed towards the United States. This wasn't your everyday run-of-the-mill AK's and MAC-10's. This was serious stuff. I'm talking C-4 in large quantities, RPG's, AT-4's, Claymores. Stuff you use to fight a war.
I had picked up the first hint of this in Berlin and the trail led me, to my surprise and pleasure, to Budapest. I caught the first night flight into the city and started following my leads down the back streets. Partly I was nosing about, but partly I was simply happy to be there for the first time in a couple of generations. The city was so different from what I remembered it being during the Turkish occupation and yet in some ways it was exactly the same. It was still vibrant, exciting, a place where East mingled with the West, North with South. Its personality had survived wars, revolutions, conquering hordes and massive bombing raids. I loved it here.
I had wandered the city's underside, which was as rough and as uncontrolled as it had been when I first visited here going on four hundred years previously. I had been back here before, the last time being between the First and Second World Wars, but I always remembered my first visit here.
I had been picking up more and more bits and scraps of information dealing with this arms shipment. I couldn't pin down where it was coming from or what the intended final destination was, beyond that it WAS the US and the probable entry point was going to be the Port of New York. I need to sit down and organize everything so I headed back to the place I was staying.
Here was one thing that never ceased to amaze me. While the building that had stood here back in the early 17th Century was long gone, the site remained a seedy, low-class dive with rooms to let on a short or long term basis, no questions asked. Just my kind of place. I could sit in the back of the smoke-filled bar room and hear all sorts of things. If I squinted my eyes I could almost see Susanna bringing me my drink, with Yusef watching her from the corner of his eye.
I sighed. Dust for three hundred plus years I knew. For a moment I let my thoughts linger in the dark corners of my mind. How many lovers, bed-friends, buddies and people I simply knew had gone over the years? Too many. When you care, immortality isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I shook myself out of my mood. We all have issues, even vampires. You deal with them. Some vampires, the longer they lived the more they smothered their humanity, distancing themselves, becoming arrogant, feeling they are superior to humans in every respect, except perhaps for their tans. Some live simply for pleasure. I've spent time in that group myself. Of course I still enjoy a good roll in the hay. There are a few who attempt to live pretty much as they did before they were turned. Then there are the ones who, like me hopefully, turn their attention to actually DOING something beside holing up in abandoned buildings and crumbling castles and pouncing on stray travelers.
I had started for the stairs and the room I was renting on the second floor. I changed my mind and headed for the bar. A few crumpled bills slid across the counter and I settled myself in a corner booth with a glass and a bottle of what claimed to be Irish whiskey. The first sip convinced me that it actually was dry cleaning fluid but it tasted enough like alcohol to be acceptable.
I sat there nursing my dark mood for perhaps an hour. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a familiar face. A face that had no business being here. A face that was studiously paying me no attention at all, so carefully in fact that it was obvious to me that he was looking for me.
Gunnery Sergeant Don Viscotti of the Marine Embassy Guard Detachment was the type of guy who would stand out in a crowd of other Marines. Here, in this dingy, smoke filled dive, he might as well have been wearing a sign reading "US Marine". He was tall, well muscled and still the "lean, mean fighting machine" of myth and legend. Heck, his close-cropped hair alone would give him away.
I knew that not all Marines, even those who came up through Force Recon, were always "Charge straight at the machine gun on the beach" types when it came to subtlety. But he was good. Our eyes met for only an instant in the dusty mirror that hung over the bar. Thank goodness the idea that vampires don't cast a reflection is a myth. I slipped out of the booth and casually strolled down the corridor that led to the alleged "Rest Rooms". He followed me.
I was wondering how we were going to get close when he surprised me. He threw his arms around me and pulled me into an embrace that would have half crushed me if I had been human. It certainly must have made it appear to any observer just why he had tagged along after me.
It took a minute, or two, or perhaps three for him to whisper why he had sought me out. After all, a couple embracing that close should be kissing. So we did. He was quite a kisser. I enjoyed it enough that the first time he tried to break it I refused to release the hold my tongue had on his. Finally though, I let him come up for air.
.... There is more of this story ...