Everybody wants to know why I let them live.
They killed Marco. They killed Paul and Dwayne. They made a real mess of me. Forced me to play possum, run, and then spend a nasty long time healing.
It’s a complicated thing. The whole mess was complicated. None of it, from the beginning, was how I would have handled the situation in Santa Carla if that fucker Max hadn’t been pulling my strings. There would have been no outsiders comin’ into the hotel. Nobody would have dangled my girl in front of that horny idiot Michael. Hell, I wouldn’t have let him in in the first place if Max hadn’t demanded it. Who the Hell wants some mama’s boy on a second-hand crotch rocket cluttering up his crew? We already had a kid around, fer fuck’s sake. (That wasn’t my idea either.)
Anyway, Max wanted a new wife. He wanted to have everything he had walked away from when he had a fuckin’ pulse—wife, daughter, sons, even little kids around. He fixated on the damn redhead, and used us to try and draw her and her kids in. The endgame was supposed to be that he came in to rescue her and them from us. We couldn’t even avenge Marco or use anything resembling tactics. Nope. It was the old, “chase the assholes around the darkened house but don’t slaughter ‘em all” schtick. STUPID! They’d had hours to rig the place, and two hunters on board. Max didn’t care—he’d been invited in. Half the shit they did to us wouldn’t have worked on him. I think he’d decided that he wanted rid of us. Me. That he planned to “start over” with the fucking Emersons.
The bottom line is…yeah. My boys are dead because of Max. I had to run from Santa Carla because of Max. He used my boys and I like slaves, and the great big irony of all of it is…the Emersons were the ones that set me free.
Does that get them or those hunters off the hook?
Heh-heh-heh. Hell no. But the thing is, living as Max’s slave taught me a few things about biding one’s time. Waiting for the right opportunity for the right kind of revenge. And some things are worse than death.
What I found out while I was healing up is, my crew and the Emersons weren’t the only kids that Daddy dear tried to adopt. At the very end, when he decided we were too much trouble, he ended up with maybe four or five experiments-gone-wrong up and down ten miles of beach. And none of these noobs had or have much in the way of common sense. They made new vampires like they were trying to start a zombie apocalypse with fangs. In fact, it has gotten downright ridiculous over there in the last twenty years. And the Emersons and the Frog Brothers are just stupid-idealistic enough to keep fighting the good fight until they’re picked off one by one. Their lives must suck exquisitely by now from their attempts to stem the tide.
Oh, wait. Did I say Frog Brothers? I meant “Brother”. Seems that one of them sprouted fangs and started hunting his bro in the interim. Not a surprise that he’d kill and end up stuck that way—those boys were born bloodthirsty. But I’m sure the surviving one still wonders how that vampire blood got into his coffee thermos.
Or how it could taste so much like coffee.
I’ve only gone back to Santa Carla a few times—when the bitterness over my boys hits too hard and I start thinking about revenge again. But all I have to do really is look around at the current carnage…or check in on Star and Michael, still living in Gramps’s house. Like a couple of idiots with a death wish. Michael’s chasing vampires and alcoholism with equal fervor, usually with really messy results. And as for Miss Stake-In-The-Back Ex?
Star is twenty years older now. Three kids. Grey hairs. Her eyes are more sunken than mine from all the sleepless nights. Her hands shake. You tap the window once, and she jumps and stays skittish for minutes afterward. She’s terrified. Every night, sunset to sunup. Doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know I’m still around. Doesn’t matter that I haven’t laid a finger on her. She’s in Hell now—as scared of night and dark and open sky as a tiny little kid. And not just for herself.
Her boys are all in their teens.
And I know at least one of them is hangin’ with entirely the wrong crowd.