Blood or Chocolate?
Chapter 1: Careful What You Wish For
I know that everyone has heard the saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.’ Well, when I was younger, I used to think that that was the dumbest proverb of all proverbs. I mean come on; how could getting what you wanted be bad? It’s what you wanted, right? But now I’ve learned (the hard way) that it wasn’t the wish that you had to be careful about; it was the manner in which your wish was granted that was the bitch. And boy was it ever. Needless to say I got my wish, and I wasn’t exactly too thrilled with the whole process. In fact, the majority of it downright sucked. Don’t worry, you’ll find out about that little bit o’ fun.
I am what’s called a clairvoyant. No, I’m not psychic. No, I’m not a fortune teller. No, I don’t know where Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried. That’s not how it works, exactly. At least with me. I get... impressions. Thoughts even. I’ll touch something or while I’m talking to someone I can suddenly see through them. I’ll know their intentions, what they’re feeling, their life, just... everything will flash across my mind. It’s like looking at the cover of a book and knowing all of the words in it from front to back. Sometimes I see images. Sometimes it’s sounds. Sometimes I can’t control it.
No, that wasn’t what I wished for. I’ve been this way as far back as I can remember.
My parents died when I was ten. We lived in this hick little town called Pike Creek in Texas, about two hours from San Antonio. It was a small town in the classical sense of the word: one church, one store, sheep grazed the highways and neighbors lived miles apart. I was sitting in the back seat of our car, crying my eyes out. I had gotten in trouble at school that day, but it wasn’t me. Some other kid set the teacher’s garbage can on fire, but of course they all blamed me. Because of my... ability, I knew some things about the other kids that they really didn’t like, and so I got picked on a lot. My twin sister, Hilde, did her best to kick everyone’s ass that said anything remotely negative about me, but she could only do so much.
Anyway, my parents and I were on our way to school for a parent-teacher conference for the little garbage can ‘incident,’ and I kept saying that something bad was going to happen if we went. Being parents (and thinking I was trying to get out of going), they tossed my ass into the stationwagon and ignored my hell raising all the way there and through the conference. It wasn’t until we were on our way home that the feeling of unease grew to the point where it was causing me physical pain.
Then it happened.
The road we were on was a two-way highway. I watched, in slow motion, as an U-Haul truck swerved out of its lane into ours, and hit us head-on at fifty-five miles an hour. I woke up a week later at our spit of a town’s hospital, with my sister on one side and my Uncle Howard on the other, to tell me that my parents were killed instantly and that they already had the funeral and were buried.
I never did cry about their deaths.
Life went on after that. Hilde and I moved in with our uncle since he was our neighbor (his house was ten miles from ours), grew up and moved back into our parents’ house on our eighteenth birthday. Neither of us have gone to college, content to live our lives as hard-working people. I worked at the only gas station for miles around, in the middle of nowhere, and spent my days watching TV in eyebrow-burning temperatures, or tinkering around with an old gray junker that has been abandoned at this gas station for more years than I’ve been on this earth. I was twenty-three, single, lonely, and gay, not to mention lonely, gay, and don’t forget single. It was impossible for me to find a suitable mate. It’s hard to go out with someone when you could ‘see’ that they only wanted to get you into their bed, or they were trying to be buddy-buddy with you so that they could get your sister into their bed. I really couldn’t blame them. I mean, Hilde was the hottest thing on two legs. As a result, many of my days were spent kicking someone’s ass for groping my sister. She worked as a barmaid for Howard a few miles from where I worked.
Life at this point wasn’t exceptional, but it was decent. I had a job, I loved my beautiful sister and she loved me, we had our own house, we made ends meet... life was real decent. Yeah. So of course I had to do something to screw it up.
It was a Wednesday night. I was at the gas station watching the black and white version of Frankenstein when I started to feel depressed. Again. That has been happening a lot to me lately. So I looked out the window and stared at the moon. Tonight it was in the shape of a crescent, but still bright and waxy. I studied the visible dark spots on what little of the moon there was, counted the stars in my little window of sky, and got depressed all over again. I didn’t want to be in this atom-sized town anymore. I wished something would happen to me. I wished for some adventure! I wished for some excitement! I wanted a big, strong, man’s man to barge into my life and sweep me off my feet to sex me all day long. That’s what I wished for above all else. Where the hell was a genie when you needed one?
Deciding that it was unlikely I would get a customer (I hadn’t had one in three days), I went ahead and made up my mind to leave and hang out at the bar for a while. Once the place was locked up tight, I hopped into my black 1988 Mustang GT, fondly named Deathscythe, and headed to the bar. It was about a twenty minute drive, but listening to Jimi Hendrix at full blast made the ride bearable. As I pulled into my usual parking spot at Howard’s (that was the name of the bar) I could see my sister passing drinks out faster than you could say ‘Jack Daniels.’ Stepping inside, I was greeted with a winning smile by Hilde, a cheery ‘hello there!’ from Howard, and was bustled up to the bar by Sylvia Noventa, another one of Howard’s employees. She had blond hair, blue eyes, was cute, and she liked me. Too bad I didn’t swing that way.
“Here you go, Duo,” she said shyly as she passed me a beer.
“Thanks luv,” I said in a horrible British accent. She blushed prettily and scurried off to work.
“Stop that,” Howard admonished, smacking me on the forehead. “You’re distracting my employees.” He placed a bowl of peanuts on the counter.
“Sorry Howie.” I reached into my wallet and began to pull out some money when he shoved it back into my hand.
“Boy, you know your money’s no good here.”
“Okay,” I said, hands in the air. “Just don’t decide one day to put it all on a tab. I’ll have to sell my house to pay you back.”
“You know better than that boy,” he said, glancing over the rim of his sunglasses. “I’ll take care of my own until breath leaves this body.”
“Yeah, I know Howie.”
While he was wiping down the bar, I glanced around at the place. Tonight wasn’t packed by any means, but it sure was busy. The girls were handling it like pros though, refilling drinks and changing empty beer bottles for full ones before the customers had a chance to blink. Just looking around, I didn’t ‘see’ anything to be worried about. Sure, the guys’ thoughts strayed to sex with Hilde, Sylvia, or both, but that was typical of any guy. No harm was intended, or disrespect. This was a good crowd.
“Duo,” Hilde began as she glided by me, getting more drinks. “I wish you came earlier. I met the new neighbors tonight.”
“Really? Where do they live, not across the pet cemetery?”
“They sure do,” she said cheerfully. “I’m not exactly sure how many are living there. They were just checking out the area, but one of them did buy the house, and the others are staying there temporarily to find houses of their own. Isn’t that neat?!”
“Yeah. It’d be great to have new people around here. What do they look like?”
“Exotic,” she said, eyes turning inward. “I mean, they’re not like anyone I’ve ever seen before. People pass through here all the time, so it’s not like we don’t see folks from the big cities that are beautiful, but these people... they’re something else. Howie was completely drooling all over himself,” she added as an afterthought. “Those women had him around their fingers and they didn’t even know it.” We both laughed. “How long are you gonna stay?” she asked.
“Just ‘til I finish this beer, then I’m heading home.”
“Alright sweetie,” she said, kissing my cheek. “Don’t wait up.”
“You know I will,” I called back.
Howard came back just then, grumbling to himself like old men do. “So, who were these women you were drooling over?”
“What? That damn Hilde! She can never keep her mouth shut.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” I said, raising an eyebrow and taking a swig.
Before my uncle could answer, there was a shout of alarm from the kitchen, a lot of clattering, and then the sound of something spinning to a stop.
“Howie, what is it?”
“Long,” he said, and turned around to face the kitchen, hands on his hips. “Long, what the hell is going on back there?”
Over the counter a head and shoulders appeared. Long was this Chinese guy, probably eight hundred years old judging by the wrinkles on his face, four-foot-nine and about as friendly as a pissed off rattlesnake. Long has worked for my uncle for six years now, and all of us have yet to understand a damn word that man has said. He did not speak English, Howard did not speak Chinese. Don’t ask me how they communicated, I haven’t got a clue.
In answer to my uncle’s question, Long raised one heavily wrinkled middle finger, scowled (more) at us then went back to doing whatever he was doing. After I nearly laughed myself off my stool, I finished my beer and started to head off. “I’ll be waiting up for you too Howie. You know the drill.”
“Yes baby,” he said as saucily as a sixty-five-year-old man could, blowing me a raspberry. The entire bar laughed at that, and I headed outside, heart lighter than it had been all day.
As I was making my way to my car, I caught a glimpse of someone standing under a lamppost, seemingly staring into space. I did a double-take and was stopped cold at the sight. Whoever this was had nice, slim legs, encased in what was probably silk pants. They were blood red. He had a Chinese-style tunic on, blood red also with black swirls on it. The snaps keeping the tunic closed were also black, and he had black slippers on to match, without socks. His jet black hair was loose around his shoulders as he stared up at the moon, arms folded placidly behind his back.
Sensing someone watching him, he turned in my direction. Caught staring, I jumped. I could feel my cheeks burning as he stared at me. I guess he was thinking I was some sort of pervert. Even more embarrassed now, I raised my hand and gave him a sheepish wave. He continued to stare. I started to get real uncomfortable. He didn’t so much as blink yet. Then I heard a noise, and I saw coming out of the dark another young man, this one even taller than the black-haired one. He had what I believed was brown hair, draped over half of his face. He wore tight jeans and a green turtleneck. But the way he moved... he didn’t walk. Well, he was walking but he was gliding at the same time. His movements were fluid, like running water. He had me captivated.
He stopped beside the shorter man and looked at him, but the other guy didn’t so much as glance in his direction. After a minute, the tall one started to come towards me. Thinking I was about to become involved in a fight, I started to walk towards him, popping my knuckles, rolling my neck, and nudged my ‘talent’ to come out and play. Suddenly, I felt as if I had run face-first into a brick wall.
Stumbling backwards, I covered my eyes with my hands in order to get myself grounded. My breathing was coming out in harsh rasps, and I could feel myself shaking. The air had stilled. I opened my eyes and saw that the black-haired man was where I last saw him, and the brown-haired man was maybe four feet away from me. Confused, I looked him in his face to try and see his thoughts, but I was met with a green eye. A VERY green eye. It seemed to be glowing.
Before I was consciously aware of it, I was making my way back into the bar. Heading straight towards the back, past Howard and Long, I dug around in the office for one of Howard’s guns. A rifle. Good enough. I loaded it and went out the back, Howard hot on my heels with his shotgun.
“Who is it?” he asked.
“Two guys, one dressed in red with black hair, another dressed in jeans and green turtleneck, brown hair.”
“Got it.” I guess I wasn’t the only one not bullshitting tonight.
We went through the employee parking lot that was at the back of the bar, and came around to the front where the black-haired one would be under the lamppost. He wasn’t. Shit. We walked along the front where the brown-haired one was. He wasn’t there either. God damnit! I walked in front of the windows, trying to see if maybe they went inside after me, while Howard ran around to the back to see if they were there. We met up on the east side of the building.
“I didn’t see them Howie.”
“I didn’t see anything out of place, kiddo.”
“What happened? Did they threaten you? Or the girls?”
“No. In fact, they didn’t say a thing.”
“Then what the hell was this all about?”
“I don’t know Howard!”
“What do you mean ‘you don’t know?’ I got my hopes up that we were gonna shoot something! Or someone!”
“Well, something must have upset you to get one of my guns. I know you don’t like guns, so...” He made that encouraging gesture.
“I don’t know Howie. They were just... just...”
“Dangerous,” I finished, my eyes becoming unfocused. “They felt dangerous.”
“Felt? What do you mean... oh.”
I rubbed the back of my neck. “Yeah.”
“Well, your... feelings have yet to be proven wrong. I’m not about to start questioning them now.” Howard and I started to make our way into the bar through the back door. We put the guns away and headed back out front. Long gave us a funny look, but didn’t stop cooking to find out what the hell we were up to. The girls didn’t seem to notice Howard’s absence, so we played along as if nothing strange had occurred. On silent agreement, I stayed for the rest of the shift to make sure that the customers and girls were safe. I didn’t have to wait to long. Howard, irritated from earlier, got frustrated to the point where he kicked everyone out and closed the bar a few hours early. Once we all were home, Hilde and I went through our nightly routine and before long I was comfortably in my bed, staring at the dark ceiling, contemplating tonight and the strange feeling of being hit in the face like that.
That had never, ever, happened to me before.
When I try to use my... gift, it’s like I can see through people. They become transparent and I can visualize everything about their lives. When I touch objects, it’s the same thing. I can visualize things about that person’s life and personality. But tonight... I couldn’t tell you what happened. I have never been blocked like that before, and knowing how painful it was I was kind of... afraid to try again.
As I fell asleep, I couldn’t help but replay the whole incident in my mind’s eye. This time, I could see the black-haired man watching me curiously, and I could see that surrounding both him and the green-eyed man was a red, pulsating essence that I have never visualized around another person before.
Here's a pic of Duo's car. Scroll down the page to see the inside.