Chapter XXXIV: Darkness without, darkness withinI stepped out of the taxi in a fairly run-down looking part of Hollywood. A late-night store's lights blazed in the cool night air, attracting a horde of stoners and gangsters, each group loitering with suspicious glances at the others. Out of the crowd strode a tall man, well-built, with an imperial air. I could sense it. Vampire.
Isaac? 'I see. Where do I go to meet him?' Wouldn't do to upset the locals...
'How can I refuse an invite like that?' The man lifted his sunglasses, glaring at me with thinly-veiled aggression. 'I'm kidding, I'm kidding. On my way.'
I lifted a placating hand, and the man moved on. I headed in the opposite direction, towards the jewlers he mentioned.
The streets were littered, chewing gum so deeply embedded in the tarmac it may as well have been a thin veneer. I walked down the quiet street, glancing at the signs. To my left was the Luckee Star motel. I reminded myself to stop by their after visitng Issac.
The main door being locked, I walked down the side alley, coming to an ornately crafted and decorated door. Hardly an afficiando myself, I could tell that the owner of this piece of work was, and made sure everyone else knew it. I knocked politely, wondering how long the formalities would take before I could hunt down the Nosferatu.
'Come in', came a deep and vibrant voice. I opened the door, and made a quick survey of my surroundings.
The room could only be described as elegant. A stylised motif tile floor echoed dramatically under my feet, the furniture shone with the sheen of carefully varnished oak. The room oozed flair, style. I looked at the man, who appeared to be in his late forties, yet was probably much older. Dressed as he was, he looked as if he would be more at home on a yacht surrounded by bikini-clad supermodels than sitting in this office, but given our particular complaint, that was out of the question. Either way, the man was without doubt a Toreador. He stepped forward, offering a hand with a seemingly genuine smile.
For all the question's transparency, I could feel a subtle probing here, a testing of the politics of my particular situation. I cut across the niceties.
'Actually, one of your boys caught me as I left my cab, said you were the man to introduce myself to. So, here I am.'
'I see. Seems this new existence of mine is nothing but a very long dance. What purpose is that exactly?'
'Cut to the chase Abrams, what "understanding" are you intending to reach here?'
Here we go, I thought with a sigh. How did anyone in this fucking city get anything done without me here?
'What do you want from me?'
I ran my finger along the surface of the desk, admiring the expert carving. It wouldn't be a bad thing, having a desk like this...supposing I had somewhere to put it.
'You want me to track him down, right?'
'I think I can just about handle that, Isaac', I responded with a grin. 'But if you keep talking to me like my IQ is lower than your shoe size, I'm afraid we're going to have words. Back in a few.' The man's good-natured chuckle followed me out of the door, which I closed almost reverently. How could someone afford a door like that anyway?
Leaving the alley, I looked up at an impressive looking oriental building behind a high wall and locked gate.
The building was imposing, theatrical, and yet completely deserted. Shrugging, I dismissed it for now, walking back towards the Luckee Star. Walking past a restaurant, I stopped in my tracks, my jaw dropping slightly.
'Oh shit!', I cursed, looking at the leather clad woman leaving the doors. It was Samantha. A close friend before my life...took an alternate course. She looked up from her purse, straight at me. I groaned as she gave a shocked yell, halfway between horror and delight, and ran up to me. That inner voice, cruel, merciless, laughed.
I looked at her in confusion, feigning surprise and irritation.
'Excuse me? Who are you?' The woman paused, looking at me strangely.
I held up a hand, waiting for her to stop talking. I hit her hard with my presence, my ability to persuade people working harder than it ever had before.
'Listen, you really have the wrong person. My name is Mike, I moved here from the East Coast about a week ago. I'm sorry, but I can't help you.'
'I'm sorry. Like I said, I only moved here a week ago. You have the wrong guy.'
Her face fell, the corners of her mouth turning downwards, her eyes darkening. My friend. Samantha. How I wanted to reach out in that moment, hold her, tell her things were ok, that this was my life now. Was that growing feeling loneliness? The desire to have another to trust? To make her like me, have someone to share this with...
'It happens. Good luck looking for your friend, ok?'
She gave me a sad smile, turning to walk down the street. I watched her leave, my hand falteringly raising, her name on my lips. It took every ounce of self restraint then not to call her back. I sighed, closing my eyes, my shoulders slumping.