Vampire Politics As Usual
A techno-remix of Sweet Dreams echoed overhead. I lit my cigarette. The bittersweet menthol drag filled eased its way down. It didn’t matter that the nicotine had no affect on me. I remembered how it felt. That was all I needed. I exhaled. The vapors caught the multicolored strobe lights. Vinchenzo walked through the haze.
“Grump.” He bowed his head. “May I ask you to put out the cigarette?”
“You may.” I took another drag.
The vampire after my Primus seat stood a whole foot and a half taller than me. He glared down his nose, but like a good politician he squared his shoulders and gestured me toward the back room.
He led me past men with glazed looks plastered on their faces. Nude woman in clear high heels dry-humped their laps. No one made eye contact. Scantly clad women gyrated on poles. Everyone was a million miles away.
Vinchenzo opened the door to his office. He stepped aside. I walked in first. Inside, his daughter Olivia, his son Romeo, and his adopted son Michael were on a red leather couch. I took the leather office chair in front of the desk. Vinchenzo went to the high-backed matching seat behind the desk. I was sandwiched between the Caravellies. I sucked in another drag, nice and slow, and wished I had back up.
“So, what can I help you with, Vinnie?” Cigarette trapped between my lips. I folded my hands on my belly and crossed my legs, ankle on my knee.
Romeo did a horrible job of holding back a laugh. It coughed out. His father gave him ‘the look’. The leather creaked under him.
“You’ve heard about the new hospital breaking ground?”
“Yeah. What about it?”
He leaned an elbow onto the big oak desk. “I want you to stop it. They want to build in my territory, without my permission and your sheriff is backing those Sunderland assholes.”
“They’ve already broken ground. The building is going up. You should have spoken up during the community meetings. There is nothing I can do. Now would be the time to get on the ground floor. If you know what I mean.” I rubbed my thumb and first two fingers together.
“I’m not in the hospital business.”
“More like putting people in the hospital.” Romeo muttered.
“Romeo, go check on the bar.” Vinchenzo never took his eyes off of me when he ordered his son out of the room. Without questioning it, he left. I doubted he wanted to be there in the first place.
The big man sat back in his chair. He rocked. “You owe me.”
“I know.” I removed my cigarette from my mouth. The ash fell to my button down shirt. It had yellowed from age.
About a decade ago, Vinchenzo had contracted a necromancer to steal rebel leader Lucian’s soul. He did it for me. It wasn’t cheap. What we didn’t know was that my sheriff was romantically involved with Lucian’s spy and she set his soul free. A beautiful plan shot to shit for a booty call. In the end it fell back to me, Raphe was, no is, my sheriff –my friend.
“I get it. It’s hard being Primus post-revolution. You have a bigger territory now. Congrats by the way. All of Ohio. That’s huge. Ohio is what? The size of France?”
“Yes, roughly.” Olivia said.
Vinchenzo opened his arms wide. “That is a big deal. And here I come complaining about a tiny bit where a hospital will sit. We need hospitals. Right? If humans don’t live well then we don’t have a proper diet.”
I lit a new cigarette.
“Here is my proposition.”
“Fire Meisha. Hire Michael.”
I inhaled and exhaled slowly.
“Here me out. You need a lieutenant who knows how to manage the day to day. Meisha is good with her hoodoo voodoo and training fledgling vampires, but she is not a politician. She follows orders. You need a man who can make decisions in your name. Some one who knows you well enough to make a stand when you’re across state. Let’s face it, Grump, you can’t be everywhere at once and with Meisha as your lieutenant we damn near became another Cleveland or Chicago. Sure, she’s your friend, but is she your right hand man?”
My cigarette was three fourths of the way gone. I hadn’t realized I was smoking that hard or fast. He made terrifyingly valid points. Damn it.
“Okay, Vinnie, because I owe you this is what I’ll do, but then we’re even, I’ll publicly announce Michael as a lieutenant of the Northeast Region. I’ll keep Meisha on for the rest until he is up to speed. Then we’ll see how things go. Deal?”
That placed Michael in charge over our most populated areas and Vinchenzo knew it. “There is still the matter of Raphe. He’s weak.”
“Let’s worry about instating one of your kids into office at a time.”
He nodded. “Deal.”
I put my cigarette out on his desk.