The sneery little speaker waved a cigarette before its black eyes, squinting at Edward past both the smoke and the suffocating pan-stick that had staled on its skin like rendered fat. Electric blue lashes sagged from its livid grey lids; a towering headpiece featuring a plastic cornucopia of waxy fruit and flowers pitched dangerously sideways on its narrow skull, two enormous raspberries wobbling furiously and threatening to tear free from its despondent earlobes. A gold-plated pendant misspelled Siobhan around its neck. The creature sat coiled in its chair, as wizened and parasitic as a pea crab while the Black Moth, that seedy, dismal nightclub suffering its interminable tenure, enclosed them like some moribund cavity.
“Ahm tellin ye...” it continued, waving a crooked finger in Edward’s face. “Ye aint fuckin lived shit til ye sucked everythin outta somewern while theya screamin lahk a fuckin baby on a burnin fuckin train...” The vampyre's voice dropped again as though gurgling down a drain. “Kint believe yew all never tried it, what with ye hackin up everythin that don’t fuckin move fast enough fer th’ price of a fuckin rahde home... surpris'd ye didn’t shank ye dink skank of a mammy when she were durn squittin ye out.” It snorted to itself. “Heh heh heh... ye prob’ly did. An ye still think killin’s all bout the fuckin ‘muneration. Me, ah don’t git paid til ah bust th’ skin, an th’ juice come sprayin out swith-lahk, amain an fuckin endlong... an they squirmin an fuckin twitchin lahk ye got em plugged in where it don't shine... ah tell yeh, that shit raght there'll keep ye young.” It trailed off, staring away into some private vista and sucking saliva down its throat before rousing itself once more, putting up a hand to steady its headgear. “Ye kin tell that cocksuckin brother a yers ahm gonna shoot his ass an whatever skank he’s conjugatin at the tahme... he kin bitch about meh terminatin ye lease til kingdom come raght in a hoe's lap. Ah jest bout hed the fuckin sight a him, an kint say ahm messin mahself at th’ prospect a yew neither.”
The club’s interior was rendered entirely in varying degrees and densities of black, from its puckered walls to the smeary laminate bar and the filth-obscured floor that sucked at the soles of patrons' shoes. It held a malodorous, almost articulate murk in which whey-hued faces bobbed like body parts in an oilslick, thin or bloated, loathsome and mantis-like, ringed by the failing, thewless slaves that attended them like souls already subject to infernal dominion. The candle on the table between Edward and his dreadful companion struggled as though for want of oxygen.
“Now there’s talk down at mah project bout spook-sniffin assholes greasin round, wonderin where yew all lit out to.” It crammed a wrinkled cigarette into the overflowing tray and placed another between its scant vermillion lips. “Never fuckin stop talkin, do ye Ed?” Edward consulted his phone while the creature sat back against the vinyl. “Heard ye gittin Opal t’ hose th’ hot shit off ye merc cheques. That old cottonmouth bitch aint blood t’ no wern ah know... fuckin looks on us lahk we aint fit t’ pinch wern out, an ye go t’her? That aint fuckin raght...”
Behind them on a tiny, black-wreathed stage, the blasphemous simalcrum of some vintage starlet, complete with turret cleavage and improbable cerise bouffant, began to lisp a Cole Porter number into the microphone, aping such broken elements of burlesque and fluttering allure as they were able to recall. Bar girls lolled behind the counter, wasted charms spilling from their strapped-up leather as they led a slow clap and the performer slid the microphone inside its skirt. Edward's host pulled a bitter face and waved toward the bewigged savant.
“Fuckin open mike nights... ah aint nev'r gonna learn." Siobhan complained. “If ye aint got nothin fer meh, quit scarin’ off mah payin customers.” Its companion pulled an envelope from the pocket of his jacket.
"Nationalidy?” it muttered, inserting a fingernail into an ear and extracting a pinkish clot as it scowled at the photographs provided.
“EU, no preference.”
“What’s so fuckin wrong w' bein Nahgerian, jest like everybody else?”
A stifled groan issued from under the table and a young man's head appeared alongside the vampyre's elbow, red-eyed and barely conscious. The latter glanced down and exclaimed to itself, delivering a round of savage blows to the youth's face to suppress the unscheduled interruption. Edward reached across the table for the envelope, which his host snatched up, glaring alternately at the pictures and their owner.
“Shippin out ye own kahnd on the fuckin down-low... labourin for that wall-eye'd cunt Opal... ye g..."
“If you can't do the work I’ll take it to Pink Fred.”
The judicious mention of a rival’s name provoked the desired effect.
“Ah kin fuckin git em...”
“I want them tomorrow.”
The tower of lucite fruit lurched forward again.
“Ye sure is in some kahnda swivet fer em, aint ye?” it hissed shrewdly; Edward pushed a roll of currency across the table and stood up while it weighed the bundle in its spidery hand. “All a this raght when we got a fuckin avalanche a refya-gees washin up this side a th’ fuckin main, crahin’ their fuckin eyes out an wantin’ papers too... an here ah am, shiftin fer a fuckin snakeface lahk ah weren’t raised no fuckin better.”
He stepped over the vampyre’s unconscious victim on his way toward the door.
C O N T I N U E D N E X T W E E K
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