ALREADY READ? PROCEED THROUGH THE GATES.
HIGHER BEING by Matt Cohen
CHAPTER 3: That time I accidentally offended a werewolf.
The call from Nester came late, on a Thursday night. And when I say call… I mean text.
“YO U HOLDIN?-NESTOR”
And sure. I get it. Why would I answer that text, right? By this point I’ve had about a week to mentally digest the events that happened at Le’ Abattoir. Nestor. The fact that he almost ate my face off. All that fun. I’d done some serious soul searching and came away with one conclusion… I was intrigued.
Look… I didn’t exactly have a lot going for myself, life-wise at the time. I had ZERO friends and when I say zero, I mean it. Not even an acquaintance. Any attempts I made at having a social life were quickly squashed by my inability to relate to people my own age. I don’t have a Twitter. I have no clue what a Skrillex is. I still have a Hotmail account. There’s nothing about me that’s cool or interesting, and I am certainly not a guy you want to get trapped into a conversation with at a party.
“Do you like anime?”
Pretty much how it goes. My love-life was a love-stillbirth. I’m not the most unattractive man in the world. That being said… I have a tough time talking to women. It’s gotten a bit better of the past few years but back then- when it all started? My game consisted of making sure my romantic conquests had no idea I existed. I was good at it too.
Oh, and my “writing career”? I wrote a script and a half in two years. The half is decent.
I found myself home alone, yet again; debating on which dvr’ed public television documentary I was going to spend my evening with- when that text came in. At first, I had to remember who Nestor was. It didn’t take long. Nestor helped me out with that.
“ITZ ME! NESTOR! FROM THE GOTH CLUB- FANG GUY- CALL ME BCK”
Fang Guy. Which I guessed was a polite way of saying vampire. Yup. A fucking vampire. I figured it out pretty much as soon as his giant vampire fangs began to come out of his mouth. Weird semi-european sensibility? Check. Goth Club. Dead give-away. Re-tractable fangs. You’re a fucking vampire, dude. And one would think that would freak me out, or shake up my world-view or something but like I said; I wasn’t the happiest guy on the block. This was… different. It was exciting. More importantly; it wasn’t me smoking bongs and replaying Final Fantasy 9 for the sixth time. So yeah, vampire. I knew right away. A life-time of reading comic books and watching horror movies had pretty much made me a walking monster detector. Nestor was a Drac. Big deal. We all have our little problems.
Color me curious. I bit (no pun intended). I dialed his number and waited.
“Sweetie! Awesome response time”, he said from the other end of the phone-call.
“What can I do for you, Nestor?”, I asked.
“You can do about a half-ounce of whatever that miraculous stuff you were holding the other night was. Right? You did say you could help me out, right?” Nestor asked coyly.
I paused for a moment. What I said a minute ago about being okay with my new vampire friend’s nightly habits; I lied a little. Life hadn’t been so great for me, yeah; but this… this suddenly seemed like a colossally bad decision in a lifetime of pretty fucking bad decisions. A vampire wanted me to sell him a half-ounce. I thought about it, harder than anything I’ve ever thought about in my life.
“Ummmm. I can swing that”, I replied nonchalantly as humanly possible.
“Oh my god, you’re a fucking rockstar. I’ll text you the address. Come soon.”
I hung up the phone just in time to receive Nestor’s text.
“4234 Ackerman Drive, North Hollywood.”
I grabbed a bag of weed, a clean’ish hoodie- and I was on my way. To sell weed. To a vampire. In the fucking Valley…
Traffic was basically nonexistent that time of night, so getting to the other side of the hill took no time. In fact- I wish it did take me a little longer. It would’ve given me more time to think… to prepare. When it comes to selling drugs, I don’t care if the customer is human or not- you’ve got to go in with a game-plan. Small Talk? Sure, but keep it to that. The last thing in the world you want to do is get stuck in a conversation with some stoner about his or her “art”, the atrocities in Rwanda or their feelings on the current season of whatever shitty TV show they’re currently obsessing over. Indulging? NEVER. Rule number one of any good pot dealer is don’t smoke with the clients. You’re running a business, not running around town getting high with your buddies. You want to get in and out, no fuss- no mess. Sit down to smoke a bong and the next thing you know… you’ve smoked like 10 of them, and it’s 2am and you’re watching Streets Of Fire with an almost complete stranger. A final subject of note is price; meaning- have one. Don’t do “favors”. Don’t cut deals. I don’t care if you’re slinging to your own mother… she pays full price.
I’m only discussing these rules, because I was about to break all of them.
I got off the freeway and my navigation led me to a small, tree lined residential street. Typical valley; More brown than green. Strip-Malls as far as the eye can see. A seemingly inordinate amount of all night supermarkets. Real fun stuff. I drove down Ackerman Drive looking for the address Nestor had provided for me, and it didn’t take long until I spotted it.
If you had to take a guess as to what type of house a vampire calls home, I’d bet you’d say Castle. Or… fortress. Or abandoned sewer tunnel or something. What you wouldn’t say is an immaculately landscaped, pretty damn adorable craftsman’s cottage. This thing looked like it was straight out of a fairy tale- and from the beginning of one at that. A sensible mid-sized sedan was parked in the driveway; lights visible through the curtains. This was my spot, and oddly- as I parked my car and started walking towards the house, I felt oddly excited. Terrified a tiny bit, sure… but pretty fucking excited. I can’t tell you the last time I felt that way. It felt… good.
I approached the front door (complete with clever “Hi, I’m Mat!” doormat) and took a deep breathe in. It was go time. I was gonna stick to the plan, sell the vampire some weed and go home with my fleshly throat bits intact. Easy squeezy. I knocked on the door and waited. A loud television playing some sort of reality show blared from inside. After a moment, the volume decreased and I heard footsteps heading towards the door.
The door slowly creaked open to reveal Nestor. In a t-shirt and pajama pants. A stained t-shirt. Was I at the right house? Lestat was suddenly looking pretty shitty. Nestor smiled when he saw me.
“You beautiful bastard, you. I take it you didn’t hit too much traffic?”, Nestor chimed as he motioned for me to enter.
“Nah, It was fine-“, I trailed off as I caught my first glimpse of Nestor’s house.
“Definitely not what I expected” is the first thing to come to mind. “Downright quaint” was my second thought. My third… “What the fuck?”.
Nestor’s house was… nice. And not like “Oh wow- you’ve got a lifesize Predator statue in your living room! Nice!”. It was… classy and tasteful. Warm, even. These are words I’d never thought would describe an immortal blood sucking creatures domicile. But fuck… this place could easily be featured in an issue of Better Home and Digest (if they still in fact publish it… some of my references are a bit dated). Artwork draped the walls while a deep dark “some kind of fancy wood” floor off-set the delicateness of countless crown moldings and sconces. Look, I’m not interior designer but this place was pretty fucking sweet.
“This place is pretty fucking sweet”, I said on auto-pilot.
Nestor smiled again, and motioned that I should sit down on the rich leather couch; which had so many pillows on it that I thought I wouldn’t even fit. That’s right. Pillows. This vampire loved pillows. I moved cautiously into the living room (which of course, had a roaring flame going in a crazy nice stone fireplace) and sat down on the couch, immediately embraced by the best pillows in the history of pillowdom. I pulled the bag of weed from my jacket pocket and plopped it on the coffee table; which was really nice too, but you get the idea by this point. Nestor seemed almost offended. He rolled his eyes at me and joined me on the couch.
“Really? You in a big rush or something” he asked in catty tone.
“Pardon me?”, I begged.
“You’re just gonna sit down and throw a big bag of weed on my table. No hello? No, “Hi Nestor, how has your week been? Lovely house you got here”. You’re like a pot selling robot. Calm down. Relax. Do you have anywhere to be?”
Remember rule number one?
“Nah… I can hang.”
Nestor’s dinosaur smile returned. He patted me on the knee. It’s not that I wasn’t comfortable, because clearly- Pillow Town. And I wasn’t really worried about the whole vampire thing either. Things were just going a little too normally. I pictured this guy living in a big derelict mansion somewhere, only emerging to feed on unsuspecting goths. I expected gargoyles and candelabras and blood. What I got was… homey, if anything.
“Can I get you a lemonade or a cocktail or something?”
Fuck it. If this was reality, I decided to go along for the ride.
“Uh sure. Thanks, man. And really nice place.”, I said.
“Thanks a-million. It’s been a lot of work, but then again- I’ve got nothing but time”, he giggled as he walked into the kitchen. I could hear glass clinking. “The neighborhood isn’t anything to brag about, but it’s quiet… and we like it.”
I got up off the couch to walk around the room a bit; taking things in. I saw framed photographs of Nestor that seemed to cover the breadth of photography. I even think I spied a daguerrotype hung in a corner. I went to Nestor’s bookshelf. If you ever want to know anything about a person, or a vampire- check out what they read. Nestor’s collection was eclectic and impressive. He’s obviously no- dummy. And this house? Dude is a man of taste. Before Nestor came back into the living room, clutching an ice cold glass of freshly squeezed lemonade, I had already made up my mind; I like this guy. And I’m not usually one for liking people.
Nester met me at the bookshelf, drink in hand. “You a big reader-…. Oh my. Oh my god. I just realized I don’t know your name! I saved in you in my phone as “Cute weed kid”!”
“I’m Abe. Nice to actually meet you.” I said pleasantly, as I extended my hand.
“Charmed. And now Abe… Shall we get down to business?” Nestor asked as he led me back to the couch, eyeing the bag of weed sitting on the table.
We both sat and Nestor motioned towards the pot, as if asking “May I?”. I nodded and he scooped up the weed and cracked open the bag. Nestor stuck in face into the weed and took a deep, strong sniff. He sighed happily as he brought his face out of the bag. “Amazing”, he said. “I wonder, does it smoke as heavenly as it smells?”
Rule Number 2. See ya.
“I guess theres only one way to find out” I said, as I was already removing a pack of rolling papers from my wallet. I don’t know if it was the lighting, the lemonade or some kind of vampire voo-doo, but for some reason I had a strong urge to smoke a joint with this guy. Like I said earlier, it’s never a good idea to linger; but any fear had subsided and I started to feel really comfortable in there. Nestor didn’t complain as I rolled us a fat joint to smoke.
“So how’d you get into growing the stuff?”, he asked?
“Im from New York originally, and pot isn’t quite as readily available as it is out here. It’s also insanely expensive. For a stoner teenager to maintain a healthy habit, he’s either gotta be selling the stuff- or come from a rich family. My family is rich, but they’re also cheap… so I figured I’d sell the stuff” I said, still rolling the join between my fingers. “And honestly- I don’t want to sound cocky or anything… but my shit is like a thousand times better than anything you can get at a dispensary. It’s organic and clean.”
“I can’t wait to try it. Oh, and how much is it gonna run me for the half?” Nestor questioned.
“I usually charge like Four hundy and ounce- so two. But, I can break you a first time deal- say, one fifty?”
“Perfect”, Nestor smiled.
Rule Number three? Get the fuck out of here.
I finished rolling the doob and pulled out a lighter to spark it when Nestor stopped me. “Why don’t we smoke out on the patio? It’s such a nice night out. Full-Moon and all that jazz”, Nestor said. He motioned towards the patio door and the two of us walked outside into the night air. And it was a really nice night; moon looking as bloated and full as possible. I think I smelled Jasmine. He led us to a rocking bench and we sat, silently. I lit the joint, took a deep pull and passed it to Nestor. If my hit could be described as “Aggressive”, Nestor’s was a thing of pure grace and subtlety- as if he was sipping a fine wine.
“You approve?” I asked
Nestor passed the joint and smirked. “I think me and you are gonna be fast friends, Abraham”.
As I took a pull of the joint, I looked around Nestor’s backyard- which of course was immaculate. Lush trees and flowers everywhere. And… oddly enough, a pile of bones. In my newly stoned state, I forgot about manners and wandered over to the bone pile, smoking away. Nestor’s eyes followed. I leaned down to examine the skeletal detritus. These were big fucking bones. Like- horse bones? Pig? I wasn’t sure. I took another drag off my joint and passed it to Nestor, who seemed amused by my sudden curiosity.
“What do you have a dog? Like a Puggle or something? I asked, now high as a kite.
Nestor giggled and a new voice rang out in the otherwise silent night.
“A fucking Puggle? Hey Nes, tell your new friend over here to be polite or I’m going to show him how bad my bite actually is”, this mystery man said.
Startled, I turned to see a man standing by the open patio door. By man, I mean eight foot tall bi-pedal wolf covered in downy fur. Bones. Check. Full Moon? Oh yeah.
This was Tank; Nestor’s roommate and best friend.
And… the first Were-Wolf I ever met.
STAY TUNED FOR CHAPTER 4: That time I went to Disneyland with a Mummy.