19 November 2010

"Vampires of New York"

By Curtis C. Chen

The thin girl in the silver bikini unwrapped her wrist slowly, as if she were doing a striptease. She must have been new. Max hadn't seen her in the club before, and he spent a lot of time in the club.

"I don't need the show, honey," Max said. "I'm just here for a drink."

The girl stopped and shrugged. "Whatever you say." She yanked the rest of the bandage off unceremoniously and held her wrist valve over Max's goblet, releasing a steady trickle of dark red liquid.

"You a vegetarian?" he asked. There was a faint grassy aroma to the girl's blood.

"I thought you just wanted to drink."

There goes your tip, thought Max.

The girl pulled a new bandage out of the dispenser attached to the table. She put a thumb over her valve to stop the flow, then wrapped the bandage around her wrist and turned away. She didn't even offer to let Max lick the blood off her thumb.

"Kids these days," he muttered.

"Talking to yourself again?" said a voice behind him. "Not going senile, are you?"

"You should be so lucky," Max said.

Josef walked around the table and sat down. "I swear, these chairs get less comfortable every time."

"Maybe you're losing weight."

"Don't you start with me. My doctor keeps telling me I can't drink positive. You believe that? I say he can tell me what to do when he's a hundred and twenty years old." He turned to flag down a waitress.

"Why do you keep dragging yourself to that free clinic?" Max asked. "Why don't you join a health plan like a normal person?"

Josef scowled. "Max. How can you ask me that? We both lived in the ghettos, we both went to the camps, how can you even ask me that?"

"It's not the same, Josef."

"It's never the same," Josef said. "They always find some new way to kill us."

Max shook his head. "Things are different, Josef. This is America."

Josef snorted. A blond waitress stopped next to him, and he smiled up at her. "Hey, sweetheart, what's on tap today?"

"A-positive, A-negative, B-pos, B-neg, O-neg," the waitress recited, chewing gum and clearly bored. "Soup of the day is beef and barley."

Josef grumbled. "Nothing AB? What's her name, the brunette with the curls?"

"Called in sick," the waitress said. "I can get you a plasma mixer."

Josef made a face. "Please don't. A-positive, make sure she's an omnivore. I can't stand that grassy vegetarian aftertaste. I want a girl who enjoys a good hamburger once in a while, you understand?"

The waitress nodded. "Stacy. I'll send her right over." She dropped a napkin on the table, then sashayed off toward the bar.

"Oh, look at that," Josef said, ogling the waitress' backside. "I tell you, Max, it's a damn shame we didn't get turned when we were younger. The things I'd do if I still had a twenty-nine-year-old body..."

"Please," Max said. "You'll ruin my appetite."


Photo: Bloody Moon by Steve Jurvetson, August, 2007