In which I present the second chapter of my Inter-Novel “HIGHER BEING”!
Click here to get your read on and all that sexy fun.
HIGHER BEING: by Matt Cohen
Chapter 2: That time I met a vampire at a goth club
“I fucking hate goth clubs”; I said to no one in particular as I exited through a set of rusty graffiti covered metal doors and into the poorly lit and even more poorly swept smoking patio. I’m 23, it’s 2 am on a Friday night in February- and I, along with a couple of my friends have: for some odd reason, wound up at L.A’s biggest underground Goth Club- “Le’ Abattoir”. Classy.
Here’s my take on the “Goth” culture.
This is what the world would be like if we all lived inside the Matrix. And no; I don’t mean the “concept of the Matrix- I mean the movie. From 1996. A distant land where the epitome of cool was how much leather one could drape themselves in while still be mobile enough to dance like a Nazi on ecstasy. Most likely while on ecstasy. Now I’m certainly not one to judge anyone for life-style choices, as I spend most of my nights hanging with either the dead, the undead or the never should have-been. That didn’t happen yet though. I digress.
For people that cultivate a look that seems to be predicated on horror films and techo-rave nightmares, Goth’s are anything but intimidating- which I didn’t always realize. As a youngin’, I assumed the kid in my school who wore a cape and had fangs and loved The Cure was a dark dude. While I wasn’t scared of him per-say, I’d definitely make an effort to cross the hallway that much quicker if I noticed his top hat and cloak slinking around a corner. Don’t know why. I guess chalk it up to fear of different, which- is pretty much what high school is all about. Therein lies my current stance of Goth culture, though. It just seem’s very high school. And, this is coming from a guy who reads about 20 comic books a week and still watches television intended for pre-schoolers. Trends change over time. There’s a natural ebb and flow to these things. Hippies today don’t look like the hippies of the 60’s. Hip-Hop style was all about the street and being a gangsta’- whereas todays top rap starts sip top shelf champagne on private jets and look like Jean Paul Gautier dressed them before they left the house. But Goth’s… Goth’s all look like they stepped out of a time machine from the mid 90’s; freaky contact lenses, spikey vests and green hair. And again… I’m no one to judge.
But- I can’t help not being intimidated by these people. In fact- If anything, I’d say I kinda felt bad for them. The forefront idea behind the Goth “movement” is isolation; not belonging. Shunning society because society shuns them. Cool idea. However- dressing like an army of bad guys from the beginning of Demolition Man and dancing to un-danceable songs twenty years past their prime, a rebel does not make. This doesn’t come out of any kind of hatred or even dislike of the people themselves- I just wish I could walk up to them and put a consoling hand on their shoulder and say “Hey buddy- We’re not in high school anymore. You can be weird. Just… be YOUR kind of weird. Also… get a haircut”. The way too loud music is just not my thing at all and it’s too dark to make out what gender your dance-mate is. In the scheme of ideal way’s of spending my Friday night, going to a goth club ranks somewhere right between attending a religious function and repeatedly hitting myself in the chest with a meat tenderizer.
I know I probably sound like a judgmental dick, but fuck it; and no offense, but this is my story. I earned this. So bare with the infrequent rants and raves. I’m a man of discerning taste. Also- I get what’s coming to me in the end, so no worries.
There I was, smoking a cigarette and generally being miserable. My friend drove so I really had no escape, as we were somewhere in the out-skirts of Silverlake and frankly; I’m way too cheap for cabs. I leaned against a mural covered wall and puffed away, trying to both calm myself down and excite myself for the late night video game session I would soon indulge in. Also weed. I would indulge in that. A lot. In fact, I would’ve loved to indulge in it right then and there but Goth’s are notorious smokers and I was surrounded by both pierced revelers and not so pierced security guards. I really didn’t feel like getting caught and thrown out so I could wait by myself on the sidewalk for two hours, so- I wasn’t smoking weed that night. Much to my chagrin.
“Well you just look fucking thrilled to be alive”, a high pitched and slightly lispy voice said out of the darkness.
Ugh, was one of these things trying to engage me? Can’t he or she (it was pretty loud out there and I wasn’t really paying attention to anything but my own unhappiness) see that I want to smoke my cigarette in peace? I turned to source the unwanted interruption but couldn’t tell which leather jacketed twenty something it was that spoke to me.
“Lemme guess. You’re more of a rap guy”.
I scanned the nearby crowd again. Who the fuck was talking to me? I wasn’t that drunk. Also… I’m not really that huge into rap.”
Suddenly… a hand grabbed my shoulder; and not the aforementioned consoling type. I spun around defensively and saw… him. In front of me was a man in what I could only guess to be his early 40’s- dressed in a long flowing black cloak; the same black as his long and thick mane of hair. He too smoked a cigarette, but mine did not have an ornate holder like him; nor did I exhale my smoke in strange plumes of oddly shaped smoke. In a sea of people I rolled my eyes at, this dude got my attention. Something was off.
“Sorry, did I spook you?”, he asked playfully.
“Nah, I’m good man. Just had a few to drink”, I responded in a tone which I prayed read as “Please leave me the fuck alone right now weird european looking guy”
“This really doesn’t look like your scene. Lemme guess, your friends dragged you here and now you’re trapped here amongt us heathens.”
All I wanted in the world was for this guy to leave me alone. Why he chose me, I had no idea but his intense stare and the fact that his hand was still on my shoulder did nothing to ease my already tensed nerves. “Nailed it. Hopefully taking off soon”.
“Yeah, you don’t like to dance- do you? Too much… Too much. I can read people. That’s what I do. Life-Long student of the beast known as human; and you my friend, are not a night-club kind of fella. You’d rather be home right now with some Muppet Movie Dvd thing and a beer or five. Am I wrong?”
I said, “You’re not wrong… guy.”- still hoping he’d catch my very cold drift and wander over to some other poor shmuck. This guy was staring. Hard; and I started to feel more and more like bed and bong was now just a distant dream- my reality being an involuntary conversation with this guy.
He extended his pale, ringed hand. “Nester”, he chimed. “An absolute pleasure to meet you”. I shook his hand and tried to think of an excuse to leave. “Look, I actually think my friends are probably waiting for me by now. I should get going, Nester. Have a nice night, man.” I said glibly. Nester was still all smiles, his cigarette and mine now smoked down to the butt. One of us had to make a move to leave or this was going to get extremely awkward.
Nester looked towards the door leading into the club. He shook his head with dismay. “It’ll take you twenty minutes to get through the crowd in there. Is this your first time at Le’ Abbatoir? On second thought, you don’t seem like you’d make a repeat visit. If you go up the stairs around the corner, it’ll take you right back to the front lobby of the club.”
Nester looked around the corner and back at me. He said, “You know what- I’m gonna grab another drink anyway. Here- follow me.” Nester took me by the arm and before I could protest or make a scene or react in a way that is a natural human response to an odd stranger pulling them into a dark alleyway, I followed.
In the years since, I have often laid awake at night and wondered why it was I went with Nester. Now with a bit more information into the nature of my friend, I understand it wasn’t entirely up to me. That being said-… I didn’t fight it. In my defense, we were at an incredibly crowded night club with security everywhere, so the risk of anything “untoward” was probably minimal. However, I didn’t trust him and I certainly didn’t want to go anywhere with him; but you couldn’t tell my brain that. It happened quicker then I’ve ever experienced time to work in my life. It’s as if the universe began to float. One second I was trying to ditch out and find my friends and the next… well I don’t even really know what happened. The next thing I knew, I was alone with Nester in a dark alleyway; which I quickly realized wasn’t the “short-cut” back into the club he’d made it out to be.
We rounded a corner and headed down into a narrow and trash strewn alley behind the club. The noise of smokers faded as we walked further and further. My fairly muted protests were shushed by Nester- as he’d repeat “Shh… Just a little further”. We walked about 50 feet into this alleyway, when I had a realization. Finally, I snapped to it. I knew EXACTLY what was going on. I stopped dead in my tracks and tried to assume my most “non threatening but at the same time pretty damn threatening” voice.
“Ummm.. Wait, dude. I don’t know what you think… and no offense. But I’m not gay.
Nester stopped in his tracks, turned to me and smiled as wide as a human being has ever smiled.
“That’s okay, sweetie. I’m not human.”
With the force of what I can only imagine to be a freight train, Nester grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me down onto the concrete. I’m talking instant stars. My brain couldn’t even register the trauma before Nester was kneeling down over my completely unresponsive body; his face contorted into one of pure hunger and darkness and centuries of predation. All sound left the world. All color drained from my sight. Here I was, unable to move; a thing from the darkest, deepest reaches of terror poised on top of me- glaring. Gnashing. It’s as if my brain decided that instead of making choices, it’d rather just kick back and watch the movie that was my imminent death (and possibly consumption). Paralyzed with fear is an understatement. I was paralyzed with life. Or rather, the ever more certain end of mine.
My brain seemed to pick the most inopportune moment to suddenly rage back to life, as my panicked senses flooded and overwhelmed me. Nester look at me, or rather- looked me up and down. I tried to mutter out a cry of help but my body was still catching up to my severely skittish mind. Nester stretched his neck and sighed. A brief moment of respite in what was a hurricane of violence. Nester looked at my frightened eyes and smiled. Wide. Wider. Wider. Until… his lower jaw seemed to unhinge, making way for a newly protruding row of sharp fangs, adoring the top of his hellish maw.
Great. This Goth was a vampire. Perfect.
Nester started sniffing the air madly, like a wild dog who is on the trail of a fresh kill. Finally, I found my voice. “W-…W… Why me?”, I bleated out sheepishly. Nester gave me a concerned look, almost as if he was disappointed.
“Oh, no no no. Don’t. Sweetie… don’t make this all personal. I was hungry, you were alone- and no offense… kind of a dick. So- better luck next time?”
With a flash, Nester was on top of me; fangs descending further and further the closer who got to my pulsating neck. I’ve never given birth, never been to war. I’d led a fairly domesticated life up to that point and didn’t truly know what “Problems” were. I was suburban, at best and at worst- another thoughtless upper middle class denizen of the social media age. I never hurt people but I didn’t do fuck-all to help them either. I was semi selfish, semi scared and semi-alive. All that being said, when a strange vampire is about to sink his teeth into your fleshy throat parts- you start to appreciate the little things in life. Friends, family… Weed.
At the very last moment of my life, when a vampire was inches from draining my blood, when all hope was lost- a funny thing happened.
Nester became confused.
“What is that smell?”, he asked.
“f.f.f.-fear?”, I tried to emote.
Nester looks annoyed. He leaned back a bit, fangs descending correspondingly in his mouth. “No… that smell. Oh my god, that smells absolutely amazing!”, he sang.
I frantically searched my mind for what he could be referring to. If it wasn’t the scent of a animal facing it’s own death, and I wasn’t wearing any cologne or anything… What could he be talking about? And then it hit me.
“What kind of pot?”, Nester asked intrigued, still sitting on my life-less body.
“W-w.- what?”, I managed to choke out confusingly.
“What kind of weed is it?
“I-… It’s home-grown. I grow it myself… sir.”
Nester’s eyes lit up. He leaned back even further, giving me some much needed breathing room; as breathing was an activity I hadn’t engaged in much in the last few moments. “Lemme see.”, he said. I wasn’t going to say no. I motioned with my chin to my coat pocket. Nester reached his hands in and pulled out a chunk of weed, wrapped in the cellophane from a pack of cigarettes. Nester examined the weed like it was the worlds finest object de’ art. He gently caressed the bag in his hands, before gingerly removing a nug of weed to examine further.
Nester held the pot up to his nose, as I prayed for ANYONE to break up this tête-à-tête. Security, a homeless guy, someone looking for a place to pee. How could we be so alone with so many people so few feet away? Nester held the nug to his nostril and sniffed in like a fine wine. A smile came across his face and his eyes went somewhere distant and dreamy and happy. He came back to reality and looked me dead in the eyes, which was easy as he was still pinning me to the concrete below.
“You grew this?”, he asked.
“And you can grow more of it?”, Nester questioned.
“Yeah. Like… as much I want I guess”.
Nester considered this, put the bag of weed into his pocket and helped me up to my feet. He brushed the dirt of my coat and gave me a playful little tap on the chin. He shook his head and giggled.
“You looking to get rid of any of this stuff?, Nester asked- eyes wide and hopeful.
When a vampire; who moments ago was about to chomp down on your vital bits, asks you if you can sell him weed. You say yes. Wanna sell the weed? Great. Don’t wanna sell it? Tough fucking luck. You say yes. Every time. And if you’re lucky, that’s when things get interesting.
“Sure… man.”, I responded; as cool as someone with a pair of freshly piss stained underwear can be.
Nester reached into his cloak pocket, and I felt a moment of fear again. Maybe he was just fucking with me. Maybe he likes to play with his food. Maybe. Nester removes something and reaches towards me. I open my palm, not knowing what was coming but knowing I had to take it.
Nester puts his cellphone into my waiting hand.
“Gimme your number dude. We should talk”.
And that is how I got my first customer, in the business of selling weed to monsters. It’s also how I got my best friend, but that all comes later.
First… I get my feet wet.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK WITH Chapter 3: That time I accidentally offended a werewolf”