5 Mar 2003
It suddenly occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to test run my chainsaw. The ceilings were low, the vamps were packed in densely and we had no other hope. I threw the stake to Sami and bent down to the bag. Sami uttered a scream of panic and then drove the stake into the bald vampire. It screamed and then seemed to implode. The others started to scream and Sami fell backwards over my crouching body and onto the floor. The vampires charged towards us just as I dragged the chainsaw from the bag and brandished it triumphantly over my head. Sami shouted something in French, which I did not understand, the leading vampire leapt into the air, I switched the saw on and ripped the starter cord, all at once. The beauty roared into life just as I arced it over my head and into the path of the descending vampire. The saw blade hit its head and did not stop. It felt like I was carving custard with a scalpel. Bits of the vampire fell all about me as I spliced the bastard in twain. Then both halves imploded. I looked at my saw and smiled, then turned my eyes to the approaching vamps to see who was next.
Christ, is that the time! I have to be in Oslo in three hours! Right, well, to cut a long story slightly shorter, I massacred the lot of them. The chainsaw worked brilliantly and Sami pulled himself together sufficiently to don the wooden gauntlets and implode a few more vampires himself, using Savate which he had learnt in the foreign legion. The whole point of the story was to explain the one legged vampire with the big gun who had threatened Sami’s continued existence on this earth and how I had dealt with that difficult bastard. That will have to be dealt with at a later date, if I remember. Nor have I mentioned a thing about my recent visit to Paris. God, I do go on. Fuck it. I am too tired, too drunk and too late. I must away.
Sami pulled his revolver from his ankle holster, pointed it at the head of the smiling bald man and pulled the trigger. The sound of the shot echoed in the basement and the man’s head snapped backwards, his glasses flying across the room. I dived towards the bag, unzipped it and thrust my hand inside. I looked up at the bald vampire that had not moved and was still smiling. Black liquid was leaking from his right eye socket where Sami’s first bullet had hit. My hand felt a stake and I pulled it out. The vampire stopped smiling and started to growl a deep guttural moan. I shouted:
“Tire, Sami, tirent le bâtard!”
Sami fired again into the left eyeball which exploded over the vampire’s face. The growling got louder and the vamp began to stand up, using the table as support. I got up from my knees clutching the stake ready to leap across the table and drive the wood through the tweed suit and into the black heart of our blinded enemy, but then I noticed that our table was being surrounded by others all growling and with their arms and fingers outstretched in our direction. I shouted to Sami who was still staring in disbelief at the two empty sockets of the vamp that was struggling to get to its feet. He looked at me, then at the others closing in, then back at me. It must have occurred to us both at this point that the SUB was the perfect den for the undead. Plenty of food that would hardly be missed, no sunlight, privacy and a place to take stock between meals. We could not see any of the regulars because they had all been eaten.
He took the apparatus from my hand and I noticed a slight rise in the corner of his mouth. Perhaps at this point I passed out again or perhaps this bald man had the fastest hands in the West but he seemed to have the needle full and sticking into his arm in seconds. I heard Sami express his puzzlement with a grunt and I was about to speak to our new friend when he started to draw his blood into the chamber. Blood? Since when is blood black? The hypodermic was full of a black liquid and, despite his sunglasses, I knew the man was looking and smiling right at me. Since when has blood been black? The man was not in a hurry to inject the mixture into himself, he was just looking at us and smiling inanely and licking his cracked lips. Either due to physiological reasons or this extremely strange situation that had the hairs on the back of my neck erect, I could feel my rush starting to abate. Something was not right and I saw Sami reach toward the ankle holster on his right leg. This spurred me into action.
“Monsieur, êtes-vous bien?”
“Monsieur, êtes-vous un vampire?”
“Mais oui, monsieur!”
Sami made a sound like he had swallowed his tongue. As he coughed and spluttered I tapped him on his foot with mine and as our eyes met I turned mine to the leather bag within which were the contents of The Trunk. He nodded.
“Bruce, lots of dead bodies. No blood. Maybe I am like a crazy man. I think only of Vampires.”
“It’s true. I suspect they are at work in these troubled times.”
“Yes. These are the worst of times for us and the best for them.”
“Was that not your Charlie Dickens.”
“You are right. Sami?”
“Oui, mon ami.”
“Are you armed?”
“I have two revolvers.”
“Do you have a pencil.”
“I have a pen. O. I see. No, I am not armed. Merde.”
“Do not worry. I am.”
“Ah Bruce, you are a Vampire Hunter, non?!”
“Quietly Sami. There are strangers.”
I was looking at the bald man in glasses opposite me. At some point, which I did not notice, he had definitely stopped smiling. Because of his shades I could not tell what his eyes were saying, or where they were looking. He did not look particularly happy. My mind was still immersed in the absolute stability of the heroin. I was happy. Perhaps this tweeded chap needed some. Maybe he had taken offense when I did not offer him a hit. You must remember this was the sixties when promiscuous sex and drugs were shared by all with all. Aids was not a problem we even suspected back then. I looked sideways to Sami who was also staring at our companion. He had a quizzical look on his heavyset face. I took action. I leant across the low table separating us with the works in my outstretched hand and asked:
“Vous aiment un coup?”
Sami sat down to my right with only a cursory glance to his right at the bald man in the tweed suit. I pulled the plunger out and watched as my blood swirled into the chamber, mixing with the heroin, getting to know it, and then I pushed the plunger down and my head snapped back as the china white flooded my system. I just had time to swing my arm and hand in the direction of Sami before my eyes closed with a ferocity that suggested that might never open again. I felt Sami loosen my fingers and take the syringe.
Sami, Sami, Sami, Constable Sami L’Actose. He had met me at the airport when I landed from Ecuador. I guessed that the authorities over there had informed their equals in Paris that Bruce Campbell was on his way. Sami and his squad had been sent to meet and great me and warn me to behave. I saw them a mile off as I sauntered towards the exit where they were waiting. Sami was clearly uncomfortable with this detail and he was shuffling his feet and twirling his dark moustache in impatience. He told me afterwards that the day before he had unknowingly arrested the Mayor’s daughter for soliciting and this was his penance. I stopped in front of him so he could say his piece, which he did and then I said mine. It could have been the start of a bad relationship but it was immediately clear that we were going to get on. Which we did. Hence his nearly unconscious prostrate body on the cushions beside me right now. Great minds think alike and ours had led us to the SUB. I started dreaming of rolling green fields and daisies and blue tits singing in ancient oak trees.
I gave myself a mental kick in the arse. This was no time to be gouching out. There were vampires about, who knows where, and I had undertaken to sort a few of them out at the very least. My head stopped lolling on my chest, I wiped the drool from the corner of my mouth and opened my eyes. Sami had his face on the floor by my feet. I bent down and softly shook him out of his stupor. It took a moment or two but he grabbed his wits and sat up and leaned close.
As I opened the glasses case in which I carried my syringe, solution, filter and spoon I watched this man in sunglasses who was sitting opposite me and smiling. He was wearing a tweed suit reminiscent of one that my father used to wear on high days on our country estate in Shropshire. Crumbling the fine white powder into the spoon I noticed that this man’s feet were bare and his toenails long and dirty. I poured the solution onto the powder and saw that his smiling lips were cracked and sore. As I struck my lighter aflame and heated the underside of the spoon I decided that he was no stranger than anyone else down here and that I should concentrate on jacking myself up. The powder and liquid bubbled and spat alittle as I stroked the spoon with the flame. The heroin was as pure as I could obtain it and dissolved in a matter of moments. I balanced the spoon on my folded knee, put down the lighter and picked up the hypo and filter and carefully pulled the solution, through the wadding and into the chamber. It was the work of a blink of an eye to rip off my belt and tighten it around the bicep of my left arm. Despite the need for serenity when in the same city as even a single vampire, I could not help my heart beat quicken as I poked the needle into an engorged vein. Just as I was about the shoot up, a tap on my shoulder.
“Allo, allo, allo.”
“Ah, Constable L’Actose. How the devil are you?”
“Okay. I am on official bisnis. I suspect dark rumblings in Gay Paris Bruce. I am looking for Antonio. Or maybe Freida.”
“So was I Sami, so was I. There is noone here. Come sit down. Share your fears. I suspect they are the same as mine.”
“Très bon, très bon. Is that in your hand, how you say, junk?”
“Why certainly Bruce. How kind you are!”
The ‘SUB’ was a subterranean blues bar, lit by small gas lamps that offered so little light that all they really did was draw your attention to all the dark. There was a constant cloud of smoke at head height and the only way to escape it was to sit down on the cushions and mats that littered the whole floor. There was a bar in the corner but waitresses flitted about you at all times so service was never far away. There was always a three-piece band in another corner who provided the musical atmosphere of funky despair. I sank to my haunches briefly to purvey the clientele with my eyes peeled for the familiar faces of the knowledgable miscreants who would be able to help. I could see none. In fact, as I circled around the adjoining rooms, I could not see a single face that I recognised. This would be very strange normally but considering the circumstances outside it was perhaps not so surprising. They regulars, who came here to get off their heads on opium, heroin, laudanum, cocaine or whatever they fancied, although they lived unhealthy lives, were still no fools. With most of the regulars, like with myself, a lifestyle orbiting their drug habits was a chosen path rather than an inevitability of temptation and a lack of self-control. It seemed as if they had all stayed in whatever pit they called their home. So, who were all these people? In the face of my original plan being stumped, I decided to find out. To be honest, with all the opiate in the air, I fancied a quick hit myself. I dropped my bag next to the wall and sat cross-legged on the cushion beside it. As I reached into my inside coat pocket for my works I acknowlgded the bald man sitting opposite me.
A minute’s walk from my front door took me to the top of the white stone steps of the Montmatre Cathedral. I could see noone about in the gathering dusk of the evening but I knew where I would find those who would be most able to point me in the direction of suspicious happenings and bloody neck wounds. Normally vampires prefer to keep a low profile and to just nibble at the edges of society, pluck off those specimens that will not be missed. I knew that they would much rather taste the blood of the young and healthy, like I would prefer to sample a vintage Chateau Neuf du Pape than grape juice, but if they drew too much attention to themselves then it would be a species war which they could never win. There are simply not enough of them and they are all loath to create more of themselves with whom they would have to share our blood. Vampires are the biggest snobs I have ever encountered. This period of social distemper was ideal for them. It was like a period of plenty, a time when they could walk unnoticed amidst the living who were so occupied with upheaval that they would not recognise the greatest threat until it bit them in the neck. It was a time for harvesting.
I reached the bottom of the steps and walked around the bottom to the side door underneath and to one side, hidden in the shadow of the steps. I think the door is still there today though it is probably still just as hard to see if you don’t know what you are looking for. It has no discernable outline and no handle. There is a crack in the stone where you place you mouth and whisper the correct words and then the door opens inwards and you say “Bon soir” to the large and leathery doorman who waves you in. He raised his eyebrow at the bag over my shoulder but said nothing. If he were to stop every suspicious character that entered this hideaway he would have no rest. He would also live longer this way, as the frequent visitors to ‘SUB’ were all deviants and violent criminals of one sort or another who would sooner rip your hand off than shake it. I knew of the dive as I too used to be a deviant and I have always liked to travel in the highest and the lowest social circles.
I had come across The Trunk in my early years as I traveled the high and low roads of Eastern Europe. It had belonged to a Pennsylvanian Lord who had lost it to my trickery in a game of poker. It was made of silver and the contents inside made mostly of fine Bavarian pine. There were all kinds of instruments that were designed to bring harm to those that roamed the earth in a state of death. They ranged from the standard two-foot pin-sharp stake to a jointed wooden gauntlet with four mini stakes protruding from the knuckles. Although I imagine they had once looked new, fresh and wholesome in their woodiness, now they were dark and stained and gave off a slight aroma of doom. There was essence of garlic, a small vat of holy water and all the weapons could be combined with each other to create crosses. It was all devilishly well designed by someone who must have had a strong reason to hope that it all worked. To this menagerie of material I had added just one weapon of my own design. It was a petrol powered chainsaw but instead of a metal blade I had constructed one made of serrated hard wood with one hundred and twenty teeth. The lubricant that I used to keep the wood from igniting was a special jelly that I had developed with a Patagonian priest, consisting in large parts of holy water. Up until this point in the late sixties I had not yet had the opportunity to mark its full effect of the flesh of the dead.
That balmy evening in May knocked on my bedroom window and dared me to come out and experience what she had to offer. I packed the weapons into a large leather bag, slung it over my shoulder and decided to sample the wickedness in the air and the state of affairs about the Montemarte. The streets were deserted. I knew that, what had started as a relatively small disturbance (some chaps were not too happy that damsels were being brought into their dormitories) and had spread even to the citadel of French learning, Sorbonne, with my help, was burgeoning into a full on student revolt. The time was right for it. The backend of the sixties with Vietnam and disillusion in the minds of the youth, spreading to as far away as Mexico and Japan, had materialised into mass discontent throughout the students of Paris. I also knew that ten million French workers were striking in collusion with the distempered youths. To add to the fever of distability, the economic machinery of France had ground to a standstill. The booming post war economy was crippled. There was no mail, no banking, no transportation and dwindling food. The students were fighting with the police on the streets and the President had fled to Germany. As I closed my front door it occurred to me that the only people that would be enjoying this situation and with plenty to eat were the vampires. I smiled to myself. They had it coming.
So, there I was one day, addressing my class with long words and deep meanings when it became apparent to my absynthe soaked self that I had only half of my normal number of students in front of me. Where were my star students? Then again, where were my half-arsed students? As I took time to take my first inventory of my audience it became clear that the fairground was in town and that one of the rides was excessively generous in the G Force zone. Everyone had neck supports on. I was perturbed for a moment but then I remembered that we were all in Paris and almost anything can happen here. It was only as Jean-Pierre asked my opinion on how to best cook garlic bread, at the culmination of my class, that I had the opportunity to ask exactly which ride was so akin to a rocket taking off. He looked non-plussed at me for a second as the resonances of my question sunk into his thick French skull:
“Ah non monsieur. Il est en raison des vampires.”
“Oui? No shit?”
“Oui professeur, pas de merde.”
So, vampiric feet were apparently afoot in Paris. I was only slightly perturbed. A man would have to be a fool to think that we were alone on this earth and this mother’s son had never been classified such. Therefore, after I had run home like a lunatic on speed I took the precautions that I deemed necessary in such a circumstance. In a foreign land with foreign bodies wanting a bit of my body, I decided it was time, once more, to open The Trunk.
Yes. Certainly. So I showered, shaved, plucked, rubbed, styled, splashed, dressed and jumped into the Jenson and hightailed it to Waterloo where I leapt onto a departing train to Gay Paris. I thought of taking the helicopter but landing in Paris is frequently difficult and always illegal. Not that the gendarmes are too opposed to the odd backhander. Furthermore, after those dark and twisted days during the riots in the late sixties, when army tanks, crimson and black bloods filled the streets of the Eastern Quarter, I know that I can always call on Chef Inspecteur L’Actose to aid me. That big fat moustached, sorbet-swilling Parisian has owed me for a quite some time. Incidentally Sami, if you are reading this, you still do. Mais oui, mon ami, ne vous rappelez-vous pas le vampire avec seulement une jambe et un pistolet tres grand?
Let me explain. In 1968 I was resident Professeur de Philisophie at the University. I had left my quite jungle abode in Ecuador to take up the post as I had reached the point in my correspondence with one of Mata Hari’s illegitimate daughters that immediate physical exploration was necessary. That being so I had accepted the post and moved my belongings to an old chapel in the Montemarte district. I had been there a few brief weeks when the lectures that I had been giving in Free Thought and Seizure of the Moment (or Carpeing of the Diem) had helped to trigger the unstoppable wave of youth resistance against the particularly austere French government of the day. Yes, that is right. The riots were all my fault. I stand unabashed against the historical backdrop of the era and wave my flag proudly. Such insurgence was inevitable amongst the hot-blooded young children of De Gaulle. I simply hastened the tsunami.
Bruce here although only just. I have had quite a beginning to the week. I saw things that I was not expecting to see. Then again, in my life, I have seen many things that I have not expected to have had to see. For example, when Sewer Guy in New York tells you that:
“Sure, it’s safe to go down there. Those giant alligators are just stories, y’know, one of those city myth things.”
“What, you mean urban legends?”
“Sure, dat’s right.”
“So it’s safe for me to go down here?”
“Sure. No problem.”
You shouldn’t necessarily believe him. That’s all I’ll say on the matter other than I’ve always found it in my best interests to carry an over-sized Bowie knife on my person. You have been warned.
Anyway, having recovered from the two days of exercising with that olive skinned beauty Sophia and then the half marathon yesterday, that to my surprise I managed to complete (without performance enhancing supplements or any kind of vehicle) I decided that I might take a short holiday to recover my faculties. Bearing in mind that, if I am convinced by Nurse Sally’s translation of Dr. Rasheed’s diagnosis, I had only ten days to live, I thought that I might like to spend the weekend traipsing around my old haunts in Paris. In particular Montemarte, to remember some of the happiest times that I can remember. I find it paradoxical that when I am having some of the greatest times possible I am also in the least likely state of mind to remember any of them. This has been made clear to me time and time again over countless years. Rather than detracting from the experience, I find this realisation to accentuate it. As I am submerged in a most halyconic time I am always, at least mildly, aware that it is a one-time deal so I’d best damn well enjoy it. There will be no retrospective visitation rights permitted to me and my brain. This is it, enjoy it while it lasts, it will never be quite the same again. And so I do. Good God Bruce, would you please stop digressing. You have to be in Oslo by eight in the morning. Would you please get on with it.
2 Mar 2003
Sophia left me a small and intricately carved wooden box made of teak and which has the look of an object that has been around for quite sometime. She whispered something Mexican into my ear as she pressed it into my palm by the departure gate. As switched on as ever she forgot that I still do not speak a word of her native tongue. Or it occurs to me now, as I sit in front of the fire with a glass of fine red wine not far from my grasp and ponder the box in my hand, that perhaps I was not meant to comprehend what she said. My pleasure-gorged mind is suddenly swimming with romantic and cataclysmic possibilities. Perhaps she whispered a spell that had been passed down in her family for generations, which her grandmother had taught her mother and which Sophia learnt at her knee as well and now used it for some arcane purpose and in the box was the tooth of a pterodactyl. Perhaps, akin to an witch-doctor in the heights of a rhythmical and funky-root enhanced trance who sees the future, Sophia had seen mine as she topped the breathtaking heights of sexual ecstasy and then gave me a charm that would protect Her Guy against whatever evil she knew he would have to face. Maybe, as she saw the custom officials at the airport she suddenly remembered her stash box and the fact that it was still half full of that seriously mind bending cocaine, heroin and pcp mix, which she immediately laid on me and swore jealously into my ear that I’d best enjoy it. Christ, thinking about it, I hope it is drugs. I said I’d run that half marathon tomorrow, sponsored by the whole village to raise money for the new clock face of the church, and in my present state they’d be lucky to get sufficient cash for a digital wristwatch.
"Bruce Campbell, stricken by a heart attack ten yards from the start line leaves entire fortune to Donkey Sanctuary and raises ten pence for church clock.”
With plenty of speedballs I’m pretty sure I could make the ten miles. Especially if I was driving.
Sophia jetted out this morning. Or maybe it was this afternoon. I’m not sure. About all I am sure about is that I am exhausted. Or to be more specific, knackered. My body is wracked with pains and its energy levels deeply depleted. I am sexually exhausted. The body might be wasted, but the mind is aglow, suffused in the sweetest memory of time well spent and the achievement of minor miracles. Like, how on earth could she do that when I was busy doing that? And surely this diagram is for fun and noone should seriously contemplate that it could ever be performed and WHOA! There you go. Such things do not happen everyday but as my dear old mother was frequently heard to mumble, “It’s quality not quantity, my love.” And so it most certainly is.
About all I managed today was to cancel my appointment with Balthazar (who readily understood) and to read a little. I’ve found this wonderful new columnist in the local paper who writes with the wit and ease of a Master Wordsmith and whose words appear so well arranged that I begrudge her the fact that there are so few of them. Again though, I hear mother’s words resonate inside my cranium. Her piece today was on the sanctity of human respect for one another and the frequent lack of it. Being as I am, amongst other things, an international arms dealer, people are often surprised to learn that I am a strong believer in such an egalitarian principle but I most certainly am. I have no desire to see members of my fellow species suffer needlessly and through the unthinking actions of others. That is why I only stock the most effective weapons. For example, my explosives are guaranteed to kill cleanly, leaving noone maimed and with a long walk home with only one foot. I am, to the arms dealing world, the Harrods of Hurt, the Da Vinci of Death etc. etc. I do what I can.