EVENTUALLY PAT’S PEOPLE SHOWED, loaded the Walrus into an armored paddy wagon, and hauled the big fella away. The Walrus had stayed down the entire time. Pat really nailed him a good one. She always did pack a punch.
I waved to Pat and her officers as they drove away, feeling a real sense of accomplishment for it still being morning. Once the police vehicles disappeared over the hill in the distance, I went back into the house and slid into my trench coat. It was time to pay Abner Lemonzeo a visit. Then coffee, I needed my coffee.
I grabbed up a set of keys I had hanging on a peg by the door to the garage. The keys went to the rust-colored 1967 Scout parked on the other side of the door. Like me, it was old.
My place is about five minutes north of Eudora out past the Kansas River. This time of the year the ride from my home to the office is bordered by empty fields ready for winter. When the crops are up, you’d ride with a wall of corn to either side. Now, it’s just dirt all the way to the hills. I’ve long since learned to tune it all out.
Eudora, as I’ve said, is not what one would call a big town.
But it ain’t small neither.
I like to think of it as the little town that could.
Located between Kansas City and Lawrence on Kansas Highway 10, Eudora has always had the potential to be more than it was, and slowly but surely, the town has struggled to crawl its way out of the small town moniker. Eudora continues to grow, despite the bypass that has allowed those driving between Lawrence and Kansas City to do so without coming into town.
It ain’t nowhere near where I’m sure the city leaders want it to be, but it’s doing just fine in the grand scheme of things.
Main Street, between 10th and 7th, is Eudora’s downtown business district. Which, to be honest, ain’t much.
My office is there, of course. Plus we got a bank, a comic book store that used to be a bank, a coffee shop, a hardware store, two eateries—Mexican and Chinese—and then there’s the Pub.
The Pub is just that. It’s a dirty little hole in the wall located on the west side of the eight hundred block of Main. Right in the middle. And is owned by one Abner Lemonzeo.
Before I’d had him sent to prison, most of his illegal dealings had been conducted in the dark and smoke-filled confines of the tiny bar. Back then more money had passed through the Pub in a single day than had gone through both of Eudora’s banks in a week. The dank pit was once the cornerstone of all illegal activity in Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri. Big fish from Kansas City spent much of their time sitting in a booth in the back of the Pub—Abner’s booth—conducting business.
It was there that I expected to find him.
My office is across the street, and though it’s about three storefronts to the north, I can see the Pub’s front door from the window.
I parked the Scout there at the curb in front of my office and crossed over to the other side of Main on foot. The traffic was light and so I took my time.
I found Lemonzeo where I thought I would, in his booth in the back. With him sat two men in suits across the table, their backs to me. Abner hadn’t changed a bit. If anything, he looked harder. Prison will do that to a person, it pounds on you until you break, or you become the hammer.
He was dressed all in black: Suit jacket, tie, and shirt. I wanted to punch him in his face for that fact alone. But I kept my cool.
He still shaved his head, and he still sported that greasy little black mustache. I’d often imagine him twisting that mustache as he thought up his evil little schemes—like tying a woman to a set of railroad tracks.
Lemonzeo looked up as I approached the booth and surprise flashed across his face. It didn’t last long however, he covered himself quick enough. I wouldn’t have even noticed it had I not been looking for it. He smiled as if he’d been expecting me.
“Norman Oklahoma,” he said. “What brings you into my establishment?”
“Abner,” I said, giving him a small nod. I turned to the two men sitting across from him. “You’re in my seat.”
“Excuse me?” the first man said, his face was stone, a blank slate.
“You heard me, pal. Take a hike.”
Stone Face looked over to his partner who nodded. The two men were identical but for the hair. Stone Face had yellow hair that jutted up from his head in thick spikes. His partner, or more obviously his brother, had hair that was blacker than the dead of night. He looked more like a politician.
With permission requested and then granted, Stone Face slid languidly from the booth, stood, and looked down at me.
The guy was big, easily a full head taller than I was. Guys like him think they can intimidate others into getting their way, and with most people they might succeed.
I ain’t most people.
“Breath mint,” I said. “Look into it.”
The guy didn’t smile, didn’t grimace, didn’t even blink.
“Vampires, Abner?” I said, my eyes never moving from the fella in front of me. “You ain’t back a full week and you’re already leaping into bed with these monsters?”
Abner chose not to respond.
The moment Stone Face had stood I’d known what he was. Vampires have a way of moving that’s unlike us normal folk. It’s subtle, and most people don’t notice it, but it’s obvious to those of us who know what to look for. But it ain’t just the way he moved that clued me in; it was the smell that rolled off of him. The smell of blood. This vampire recently fed. Again, it’s subtle, but unmistakable.
Almost casually, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, Stone Face reached into his jacket. I had a Peacemaker in hand and pointed at his head before he could pull whatever it was he had been going for.
I thumbed back the hammer.
“Come now, Norman,” Lemonzeo said. “This isn’t necessary.”
“I think it is,” I said, and squeezed the trigger.
The gun crashed and Stone Face flew backwards, landing with a dull thud a few feet away. His body lay there on the floor in an unnatural way. But though he was down, he wasn’t out, despite the point blank .45 caliber slug to the head. He was up in an instant, crouched on all fours and hissing.
It wasn’t a pleasant sight. Part of his head was gone; in fact it painted most of the back wall and floor. But I could already see that the skull was mending itself, rounding off to cover the hole the bullet had made. The brain matter and other gooey things found inside a vampire’s head were mending as well. Soon he’d be fully healed.
“Okay, Biter,” I said, pulling the other Peacemaker, “let’s do this.”
He leaped, and I fired, hammering him back to the ground. I continued to fire, keeping the creature nailed to the floor. I could see his partner moving out of the corner of my eye and without even so much as a look in his direction, my arm slid his way and I shot him down too.
Contrary to what the movies and books tell us, vampires aren’t affected by sunlight and aren’t all that easy to kill, relatively speaking. A stake to the heart won’t do it. Drive a pointy wooden stick into their chest and the only thing you’re gonna accomplish is to piss the thing off. Hold up a clove of garlic in front of their face and they’ll probably eat it. And a crucifix, yeah . . . you might as well come at them with one of those orange sections of toy race car track from all the good it will do you.
The only way to put a biter down for good is to fill it full of silver.
Being who I am, I have a well-stocked munitions cabinet full of silver bullets. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to bring any with me. This meant I’d have to rely on what I had on hand. Regular bullets would break the skin, make them bleed, and hurt like hell, but in the end I was just buying time.
“Enough!” Lemonzeo yelled, still seated in the booth.
The two biters froze. Blood oozed from the various holes I’d put in them, but only for a moment or two before they closed up. Too bad they couldn’t say the same for the holes I’d put in their suits. That thought alone made me smile.
“I have business to conduct, Norman. Did you want anything in particular or did you just stop by to shoot at my customers?”
“I had a nice talk with your pet walrus, Abner,” I said, reloading, leaving the spent shells to roll about on the Pub floor. “So I thought I’d just swing by and welcome you back. Shooting up your guest’s expensive suits was just one of those happy accidents you hear about all the time.” I gave the biters a wink.
“Well, that was neighborly of you, Norman. Tell me, did you leave the Walrus alive?”
“Oh, he’s alive. He ain’t happy, but he’s breathing.”
“Are we done here?” Lemonzeo asked.
I looked from him to the two vampires, they weren’t happy neither. I was just pissing everyone off this morning. I’d pay for it later, but it would be worth it. My only regret was that I hadn’t been packing silver.
“As long as you’re free and doing business with the likes of these two, we ain’t done, Abner,” I said and turned to leave. But as I reached the door I turned back. “Oh, I almost forgot. Send someone to kill me again; you better hope they do the job right. Otherwise I’m gonna return the favor, and I don’t miss.”
With that, I left.