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TALES OF THE BLACK PHOENIX:

VOLUME ONE

(THE BITTER PILL/PANTY MAN/LOOPY IN LOVE)


Contact info
Email: theallankemp@mail.com
Twitter: @theallankemp
Website: http://www.theallankemp.com/home.html



Cover art by Wild Women Designs

Inside art by Mickey Dubrow











Copyright © 2016 by Mickey Dubrow

ISBN-13: 978-0-9970352-2-3


First Edition
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.



WELCOME TO THE BLACK PHOENIX.


In a world ruled by the paranormal, there are still some places where everyone is welcome. One of those places is The Black Phoenix nightclub owned by wizard-werepanther Mutt Davidson in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Here wizards, witches, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and humans are welcome to come in to listen to the DJ’s music and enjoy the mood-altering substance of their choice. The only rule is that everyone is treated equally and no one is allowed to kill, eat, or enslave a fellow customer.

Tales of the Black Phoenix tells the stories of Mutt’s most memorable customers. Here are the first three tales collected in one volume. They include a wannabe vampire, a ghost from Mutt’s past, and a lovelorn werewolf. It’s not required, but we highly suggest you sip your favorite adult beverage and listen to acid trance music while reading this book.



THE BITTER PILL


CHAPTER ONE


There are two slang terms that incorporate the word pill. “Don’t be such a pill” means stop being an annoying person. A “bitter pill” is something unpleasant that must be accepted.

Both came to mind whenever I had to deal with Chad Blyth.

Chad was a pill but he was my liquor supplier so I needed to deal with him on a regular basis. As owner of The Black Phoenix nightclub, I discovered that customers enjoyed a glass of booze now and again.

Chad was in his early forties, tall, with an athlete’s body that had gone flabby. He kept his dirty blond hair trimmed and neat. “Loafer boy” was the term often used to describe his type and indeed he always wore shiny penny loafers no matter what the weather. Along with the shoes, he always wore pressed khaki pants that he was constantly hitching up.

He was part of the Fort Buckhead elite, but that was impressive only if you lived inside the fort’s 26-foot high concrete walls. Outside the fort, the only thing impressive about him was that he had access to bottled liquor that was made before the invasion, in a distillery instead of in somebody’s basement last week.

Atlanta was still on a barter system so you didn’t pay cash money for goods and services. You traded for whatever the other party wanted and what Chad wanted was connections.

“Listen carefully, Mutt. Connections equal power,” Chad told me. “I was the most connected person in Atlanta’s real estate industry. Fort Buckhead would never have been built if I hadn’t brokered the deals. Connections got me a big house, a beautiful wife, expensive cars, and the finest clothes. I ate in the best restaurants, did the best drugs, and socialized with all the people who mattered in this town.”

I traded my connections for booze. I hooked Chad up with the vampires at the Queen of Clubs and the werewolves at Dawgie Daddy’s. They were skeptical at first about dealing with a human but after Chad gave each of them a case of Chivas Regal, he became their liquor supplier and for a while everybody was happy.

Of course, Chad was still a pill. He was at The Black Phoenix almost every night of the week, hanging out with the paranormals and strutting around like a fucking peacock with a twelve-inch boner. This amused the vampires and the werewolves at first, but then he began to annoy them as much as he annoyed me.

One night, Dawgie Daddy pulled me aside after pretending to laugh at Chad’s lame jokes.

“Can’t I just force this fool to tell me where he’s getting his hooch and then eat him?” he asked.

“It’s a tempting idea,” I said. “But I’d rather you didn’t.”

Dawgie Daddy shrugged and refrained from ripping Chad’s head off.

Eventually, Chad figured out that among the paranormal, all the connections in the world didn’t mean jack-shit. He was still just a lowly human with no paranormal powers. To his paranormal customers, he was slightly higher than a slave. To someone as spoiled by power as Chad, this was more than he could bear.

“Mutt, you have to help me out,” Chad whined during another night of overindulgence at The Black Phoenix.

“What do you want now, Chad?” I said.

Chad was oblivious to my impatience with him and continued with his bellyaching.

“Make me one of your kind,” Chad said. “You’re a wizard and a werepanther. Transform me.”

“Transform you into what exactly?”

“Either one. It doesn’t matter.”

“I know it’s been hard on humans, but things are getting better. The paranormals are starting to understand that enslaving mankind was a bad idea. Trust me. Equal rights for humans is coming.”

Chad belched out a nasty alcohol cloud and waved his hand.

“Fuck that. I want to be part of the real power in Atlanta and the only way to do that is to have real powers. I need to be able to turn into a snarling beast, or fly, or cast spells, or some shit like that. I need to be like you, Mutt.”

There was a way to possibly give Chad some of my powers. I’d done it before when I gave my blood to another paranormal. I had no clue if it would work on a human, but even if I did, there was no fucking way I was going to give any of my powers to a pill like Chad.

“Why are you asking me?” I said. “You have connections with the vampires and the werewolves. Ask them.”

My partner, Pinky, was tending bar. Chad motioned for Pinky to refill his glass with Chivas Regal. He really loved that shit. Pinky complied and Chad downed the amber liquid in a single gulp.

“I tried,” Chad said. “They laughed in my face. You’re my only hope, Mutt.”

“Sorry, Chad. My powers are non-transferable. I can’t pass them along like some kind of STD.”

That should have been the end of the discussion, but Chad wouldn’t let it go. Every damned night, he begged and pleaded with me to help him find a way to become a paranormal. I did my best to avoid him but he always managed to corner me. I was beginning to think Dawgie Daddy was right and I should kill the fool and to hell with his pristine supply of distilled spirits.

Chad was on my last nerve with his constant bitching when Pinky ambled over, rested an elbow on the bar, and gave Chad a sweet smile.

“I might be able to help,” he said.

Pinky was a mountain of a man and even bigger when he transformed into a werewolf. Chad had to lean back on his barstool to he could look up at Pinky’s face.

“What do you mean?” Chad said.

“I know somebody who might be willing to provide the transformation you desire.”

Chad’s eyes grew wide.

“You mean it? You’re not shitting me, are ya?”

“Oh honey, I am not shitting you. But before I go any further, I want you to really think about what you’re asking for. You’re not just talking about changing who you are, but what you are. Forever. You’ll never be able to live among humans again. Fort Buckhead will never allow you inside their walls again. You’ll have to say goodbye to your big house, your expensive cars, and your beautiful wife.”

“I know that,” Chad said impatiently. “I’ve already considered the consequences and it’s worth the sacrifice.”

“Really?” I said. “You’d leave your wife?”

“I didn’t become as powerful as I am without making tough decisions. I’m ready.”

“Since your mind is made up,” Pinky said, “I’d say it’s time for you to go to church.”

Chad squinted at Pinky.

“Church? I don’t understand.”

“In the Old Fourth Ward, there’s a church that looks like all the other churches, but it’s not. The Eternal Night Bible Church is presided over by the vampire Bishop Willie Walker, Jr.”

“I didn’t think vampires attended church.”

“They don’t, but Bishop Walker was a living man of God before he became an undead man of God. If you go to his house of worship seeking his spiritual guidance, then he just might look kindly on you and invite you to become a member of his congregation.”

“If I do what to what?”

Pinky spoke loudly and slowly so that even Chad could understand.

“If you can convince Bishop Walker to let you join his church, then he will turn you into a vampire.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because the church only accepts vampires.”

Chad smiled and nodded his head, but then the smile disappeared.

“I don’t know, Pinky. I wouldn’t know how to approach this guy Walker.”

Pinky poured a round of drinks.

“Don’t worry,” Pinky said. “Mutt and I will go with you. He knows us.”

“We’re going?” I asked. “You sure about that?”

Pinky held up his glass in salute before he downed his drink.

“Oh honey,” he said. “We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”


CHAPTER TWO


Bishop Willie Walker Jr. believed that Jesus was a vampire. Bishop Walker preached what he believed from the pulpit of Eternal Night Bible Church.

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.’ Brothers and sisters, we are not damned creatures of the night. We are the Lord’s chosen ones. We are the true children of Christ!”

Was Jesus a vampire? I didn’t know. Ed would know. He was an Earth Spirit so he’d been around since the beginning, but he’d never mentioned Jesus, which was surprising since he loved to gossip about historical figures. Did you know that Genghis Khan was a chronic masturbator?

Walker was a short, stocky, dark-skinned black man who favored white suits. He was a powerful preacher, floating back and forth over the red-carpeted stage while literally thumping his bible with his open hand. With each thump, a sprinkling of dust fell from the ceiling.

Walker’s women, Donetta, Sybil, Melva, and Lottie, sat in a row of tall-backed chairs behind him. They were like a tribe of Amazon women: tall, voluptuous, and stunningly beautiful. They were dressed in their Sunday best dresses. Their church hats, known as “crowns,” were flamboyant and elegant in equal measure.

Eternal Night Bible Church was a simple red brick church building with red, yellow, and purple stained-glass windows. In the sanctuary, fake stonework covered the back wall and along the front of the stage. The place smelled like an old lady’s flowery perfume mixed with decaying wood.

Pinky, Chad, and I watched Walker’s sermon from the last pew. We could have sat closer. There were only about thirty vampires sprinkled about in a nave built for two hundred. This didn’t seem to bother Walker. He preached as if the church was packed to the rafters.

“When Jesus walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he feared no evil,” Walker said, followed by another heavy thump on his bible. “He had no reason to be afraid, because he carried Death in one mighty fist and Eternal Life in the other.”

Thump.

I checked Chad’s reaction to Walker’s sermon. His eyes were wide and his skin was pale. I could smell his sweaty fear.

“You can back out,” I said. “Say the word and we’ll slip out the back door.”

Chad swallowed. “No. I’m staying.”

“Your funeral.”

It was a bad choice of words, but not altogether inappropriate.

After the service, Walker stood outside at the door and said good night to the attendees. Most flew away after shaking Walker’s hand and sharing a few words. I assumed they were on their way to find a nice neck to bite. There was a quarter moon in the spring night sky. It had been a warm day, but now it was pleasantly cool.

We stood at the end of the line. When we reached Walker, he grabbed Pinky’s hand and shook it vigorously.

“Pinky,” Walker said. “What brings you to my humble church? You’re too dedicated a sinner to have come for salvation.”

“It’s true,” Pinky said. “I’m not looking to be saved yet. I told my friend here about what a great preacher you were and he begged me to bring him so he could see for himself.”

Before Pinky could introduce Chad, he stepped forward and held out his hand.

“Chad Blyth. It’s an honor to meet you, Bishop Walker. I’ve been fortunate to witness some of Atlanta’s finest preachers in action, but you sir are one of the most inspiring messengers of Christ I’ve ever seen.”

Walker hesitated before taking Chad’s hand. They shook and when Chad tried to pull back his hand, Walker held onto it.

“This is a human,” Walker said. “Why did you bring a human to my church?”

“He wanted to meet you,” Pinky said.

“Do you think I’m too old and feeble to feed myself?”

“Let me remind you that we’re inside the perimeter,” I said. “Chad’s not on the menu.”

Walker reminded me of how fast vampires can move. He wrapped his arm around Chad’s waist and shot straight up into the night sky with him. They quickly disappeared from sight, leaving Pinky and me staring at the moon like a couple of idiots.

“I should have seen that coming,” I said.


CHAPTER THREE


I elbowed Pinky in the ribs.

“This was your fucking idea,” I said. “Now what do we do?”

“Once Bishop Walker is done draining every drop of blood from Chad’s sorry ass, we collect his corpse, and return it to his beautiful wife,” Pinky said. “Do you think Chad’s wife is really as beautiful as he claims she is? I think its bullshit.”

“Pinky! I can’t let Walker kill Chad. I’m supposed to be protecting humans.”

“Well, damn Mutt. There ain’t much we can do about it now. You saw how fast Walker was flying. They could be over Macon by now.”

I looked up at the quarter moon as if it had an answer. All modesty aside, I was a very powerful wizard, but I still sucked when it came to flying. I became disoriented once I got a few hundred feet up and tended to go in circles. There was no way I’d be able to fly after Walker and Chad.

Walker’s four women sauntered over to us, their plump hips swinging easily. Walker had turned them when they were at the peak of their health and attractiveness. Their skin was at its smoothest, their breasts were at their firmest, their hair was at its shiniest, their legs were at their sturdiest, and their asses were at their fullest. They were going to be stopping men in their tracks until the end of time.

“Why did you insult Willie like that?” Lottie said, putting her hand on her hip while giving us the stink eye. “He has enough on his mind without you two coming here and upsetting him even more.”

If Walker had been a pimp, Lottie would have been his bottom bitch. She was the leader of Walker’s women.

“Honestly, it wasn’t our intention to insult Bishop Walker,” I said. “We have nothing but respect for him.”

“Absolutely,” Pinky chimed in. “We were telling our buddy, Chad, about how amazing Bishop Walker was and Chad just had to see for himself. We should have known Bishop Walker would think Chad was an offering, so this is our bad.”

Donetta stepped forward.

“It’s okay,” she said. “The thing is, Willie recently turned two hundred and he thinks he’s slipping. You saw how empty the pews were tonight. For the last fifty years, our congregation has been shrinking and Willie blames himself. He can’t accept the bitter truth that fewer and fewer vampires believe in Christ the First Vampire.”

“I know that’s right,” Lottie said.

In unison, Sybil and Melva said, “Amen.”

There wasn’t anything we could do now. The damage had been done and as far as we knew, Walker had already separated Chad from his blood supply and let his lifeless body plummet to the ground. I was about to suggest to Pinky that we call it a night when Walker landed in front of us with a still living and breathing Chad. The two acted like old buddies, smiling and laughing together.

“You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about,” Walker said. “Come see me next week and we’ll discuss your proposal in more detail.”

“I look forward to it, sir,” Chad said, hitching up his pants.

“Well then, me and my ladies will be leaving now. Good evening, gentlemen.”

Walker took off with his four women following him closely. Once they were out of sight, I turned to Chad. He had a big shit-eating grin on his face.

“How the fuck did you keep Walker from killing you?” I demanded.

“I noticed how empty his pews were and I made some suggestions on how he could fill them,” Chad said smugly.

“You’re either the slickest son of a bitch that ever lived,” Pinky said, “or the luckiest.”


CHAPTER FOUR


For the next three months, I didn’t see much of Chad. He stopped hanging out at The Black Phoenix. The only time he came by was to drop off an order of booze and when he did, he was always in a hurry.

“Can’t stay, Mutt. I have to get back to the church,” Chad said. “Bishop Walker is expecting me.”

“Hold on a minute,” I said. “You shorted my order again. You were supposed to bring four cases of Tequila. There’s only two cases here.”

We were in the alley behind the club, hauling boxes out of Chad’s van. A rat ran across Chad’s penny loafers and he almost dropped the box he was carrying.

“Damn, Mutt, you’ve got a shit ton of rats in this alley,” Chad said. “You should do something about them.”

“Never mind about the fucking rats. Where’s my Tequila?”

“Sorry about that. I’ve been a bit scattered-brained since hooking up with Bishop Walker. Can you hold on until my next delivery? I’ll bring six cases then. I promise.”

“Only if you include the three cases of Bourbon you forgot from the last delivery that you promised to bring me today.”

Chad gawked at the cases of booze that he’d brought in.

“Oh shit! I thought sure I loaded the extra Bourbon. I can’t believe I spaced out on that too.”

I crossed my arms across my chest.

“I’m starting to regret introducing you to Walker. Just what the hell are you two doing that’s causing you to fuck up my booze orders?”

Chad’s face brightened and he hitched up his pants.

“Oh man, Bishop Walker and I have been doing some amazing things at Eternal Night Bible Church. You should come down and see for yourself. In fact, I insist you come down tonight. You won’t believe your eyes.”

So, I went to Eternal Night Bible Church that night. The first thing I noticed as I approached the church was the armor-plated bus in the parking lot and the Fort Buckhead guards in their blue uniforms standing in front of it.

I knew one of the guards. I waved at him and he motioned me to come over.

“Hey, Jefferson,” I said. “I never thought I’d see you guys in this neighborhood.”

“Neither did I,” he said.

“So why the hell are you here?”

“I wish I knew. Whatever is going on inside the church is on a need-to-know basis and me and my men don’t have clearance to that information.”

Now I was really curious to see what the hell was going on inside.

I sat on the last pew again, but only because there was no place else to sit. The place was packed with an army of middle-aged Fort Buckhead women. They looked like they had dressed for the opera and ended up in church instead. The room smelled of lavender perfume and wrinkle cream.

Bishop Walker gave another of his Jesus is our holy vampire savior sermons. He was always an energetic preacher, but tonight he was more amped up than I’d ever seen him before. His four women were seated behind him as usual, only now Chad was seated with them in a fifth chair. His blond hair and lightly-tanned skin stood out next to the voluptuous black women. He wore a suit jacket and a dark red tie that hung like an extended tongue down the middle of his shirt along with his usual khaki pants and penny loafers.

At the end of the sermon, Walker instructed everyone to come up one at a time to the stage for a special blessing. The way the Fort Buckhead women quickly got in a single file line, it was obvious that they had done this before. The rest of the congregation lined up behind them. I recognized many of the new members from the vampire community. Apparently, Walker and Chad had found a way to spread Walker’s gospel to parts of Atlanta it had never been in before.

As each Fort Buckhead, middle-aged woman came on stage, Walker would look directly into her eyes.

“May the good Lord Jesus the Vampire fill you with his spirit, share with you his blood, and grant you everlasting peace and good will,” Walker said as the woman’s eyes glazed over.

Walker then had the woman stand in front of the stage. Soon all the Fort Buckhead women were standing at attention in front of the stage, waiting for Walker’s next command. That son of a bitch Walker had turned them all into knockers.

A knocker is a vampire’s mind slave. The word “knocker” comes from an old vampire movie. A vampire turns a human into a knocker by staring into their eyes. The vampire has to hold the human’s attention for a certain amount of time for the spell to take effect. In this case, about as long as it takes to recite a blessing.

Seeing the Fort Buckhead knockers standing together, I noticed that they were wearing identical white scarves around their necks.

Chad left the stage and re-appeared on the main floor, pushing rolling clothing racks with empty hangers. He set them up next to the knockers. Sybil and Melva left the stage and returned shortly with folded sheets of plastic. They floated up and spread the sheets over the rows of pews.

Walker stood in the center of the stage and smiled at the knockers.

“It is time for us to come together and share the glory of Christ the Vampire King,” he announced.

The knockers took off their scarves, revealing the puncture wounds on their necks. They each chose a hanger and put their scarf on it. Then, they disrobed and carefully hung their fine clothes on their hangers. They filled the clothing racks.

Sure, there was plenty of wrinkled skin and drooping breasts on display, but for the most part they looked fantastic naked because these were the type of women who fought a never-ending war against aging armed with constant diet, exercise, and age-defying beauty regimens.

Walker and his church members didn’t bother with the clothing racks. They stripped down and left their clothes in heaps at their feet. Walker had a raging hard-on.

Floating down into the middle of the knockers, Walker chose a slim brunette with big fake boobs and gray pubic hair. He had her get on her knees and he stood in front of her with his erect dick bobbing in her face.

“And the Lord said, ‘This is my body which is given to you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ Open wide, my child.”

The knocker opened her mouth and Walker shoved his dick in until his balls pressed against her chin. This apparently was the signal for the orgy to begin.

Here is a paranormal fun fact. Vampires can’t come but they love to fuck. Call it ironic copulation.

The knockers sucked dicks and licked pussies. They engaged in straight sex, anal sex, and double penetration. They gave hand jobs and tit jobs. For their part, the vampires did all manner of dirty things to the knockers. It had been months since I’d witnessed this much sexual deviancy and debauchery in a house of worship.

Chad slid into the pew with me.

“You can join in if you like, Mutt,” he said. “Bishop Walker won’t mind.”

I didn’t budge. “That’s okay,” I said. “I’d rather sit this one out.”

“That’s funny. I never figured you for a prude.”

“I’ve been in my fair share of orgies, but they were always with willing partners. These women are doing this against their will. The vampires are raping them.”

“Oh, come on. Listen to them. They’re having the best sex in their lives.”

Moans, grunts, and ecstatic screams echoed through the church as the knockers came like drunk teenagers on prom night. Still it didn’t matter. They weren’t in control of their minds.

I felt sick to my stomach.

“Check out Lottie,” Chad said.

I looked at where he pointed. Lottie sat on the edge of the stage with her legs stretched out as she tugged the ears of a knocker that was eating her out. Her body was a lush mountain covered in smooth dark chocolate skin. Her eyes were half slits and her tongue slithered around her full lips.

“Sweet Vampire Jesus,” she cooed. “That’s the spot. Tease that button, girl, tease it good. Now pinch my nipples. Pinch ‘em hard.”

The knocker reached up and squeezed Lottie’s nipples on her huge floppy tits. Lottie moaned and pulled the knocker’s face tighter into her crotch.

Lottie noticed us watching her and smiled at us. She pointed at the knocker’s head and then pointed at Chad. As if the implication wasn’t obvious enough, she blew Chad a kiss. I quickly located Walker in the orgy to see if he had seen her do it, but he was busy fucking a knocker while sucking on another knocker’s tits.

“Are you fucking Lottie?” I asked.

“No,” Chad said indignantly. “She’s just teasing me. We’ve been working closely together and have become close friends.”

I wanted to stop the orgy, but there were too many damn vampires. If I fought them in these close quarters, I’d end up hurting or possibly killing some of the Fort Buckhead women.

“I don’t get it. This is what you and Bishop Walker came up with?” I said. “You supply vampires with knockers? Any vampire can get a knocker.”

“This is just to loosen everyone up,” Chad said. “We haven’t even gotten to the main part of the service.”

An hour later, I saw what Chad meant. The knockers were near exhaustion. Walker scooped up the knocker he was screwing and carried her into the air and hovered over the pews. The other vampires chose a knocker and did the same. Once they were all floating over the nave, they sank their teeth into the necks of the knockers.

Female ejaculate, sweat, and blood dripped off the knockers as the vampires fed on them. Now I understood what the plastic sheets were for, to protect the pews and to make clean up easier.

“Remember,” Walker called out. “Not too much. Just enough to curb our hunger, but not enough to hurt these blessed women.”

Walker was not only raping the Fort Buckhead women, he was using them as fang hags.

After the feeding, Chad brought out tubs of water and towels. The vampires washed the knockers and toweled them dry. Walker instructed the knockers to put their clothes back on while the vampires dressed. The clothing racks, wash tubs, wet towels, and plastic sheets were put away.

The knockers were lined up again. Walker went to them one by one and as he wrapped a white scarf around their necks, he released his hold on their minds. The knockers became the Fort Buckhead society women again. They hugged Walker and thanked him for the service. I watched them closely as they left the church. They seemed relaxed and serenely happy.

I followed the women outside as they got into their bus. I grabbed the arm of the slim brunette with big fake boobs that Bishop Walker had sodomized and pulled her aside.

“You need to know what’s happening to you and your friends after the Bishop blesses you,” I said. “He’s doing things to you against your will.”

The brunette stared at me with contempt and struggled against my grip.

“Unhand me at once,” she said. “I will not listen to any of your lies about Bishop Walker. He is a great man of God.”

“I’m trying to help you, lady.”

“I assure you that I am not in need of your assistance.”

Jefferson joined us. “Is this man bothering you, Mrs. Beacham?”

“Yes, he attacked me. Arrest him!”

Jefferson put his hand on my shoulder, but not in a threatening way. “Please, Mutt, release Mrs. Beacham’s arm.”

Mrs. Beacham was shocked that Jefferson treated me with respect instead of doing as she commanded. I didn’t want him to get into any trouble, so I let go. She harrumphed and then climbed onto the bus.

“Sorry, Jefferson,” I said. “I wasn’t trying to start any trouble.”

“It’s cool. This whole situation is weird.”

He got on the bus and they headed back for Fort Buckhead. Chad joined me in the parking lot.

“Why were you harassing Mrs. Beacham?” he asked.

“She should know she’s being sexually abused,” I said.

“But she isn’t. She and the rest of the women know all about it. When we first started, the women joined in on their own free will. Afterwards, they felt guilty about cheating on their husbands, but they still wanted the sex so we came up with this solution.”

I ran my fingers through my hair.

“That is so completely fucked up.”

“It’s a win-win situation,” he said. “Eternal Night Bible Church has doubled its membership. The church members get Bishop Walker’s spiritual guidance and a little something extra.”

“What do the Fort Buckhead women get?”

“They leave convinced they’ve experienced a spiritual journey that left them rejuvenated. They swear they feel younger after attending a service.”

“I suppose a good orgasm would do that.”

Chad glared at me as he hitched up his pants.

“I asked you to come tonight because I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished here. That doesn’t mean I need your approval. I used my connections to meet the needs of two groups of people that normally wouldn’t have shit to do with each other. Frankly, I think you’re jealous, Mutt.”

I took a cigarette case from my pocket, opened it, and took out a joint. I lit the joint and sucked the sweet marijuana smoke down into my lungs. I held the smoke for a moment before exhaling. Chad put his hand out for me to pass the joint to him, but I held on to it. After an awkward moment, he put his hand back down.

“Have you asked Bishop Walker to turn you?” I said.

Chad hitched up his pants.

“He wants to, thinks I’d make a great full-time member of the church, but he doesn’t feel the time is right yet. He thinks we need to establish a more solid connection with Fort Buckhead and to do that I need to still be part of their world.”

“That sounds reasonable.”

“Oh, I agree completely. I have no trouble waiting.”

I didn’t need any of my paranormal abilities to know that Chad was lying. If I had learned nothing else about him, it was that he hated to wait.

I took another toke and this time I did pass the joint to Chad. He sucked on it as fiercely as the vampires sucked the blood of the Ford Buckhead women.


CHAPTER FIVE


With each delivery, Chad brought fewer and fewer cases of booze. I went by Dawgie Daddy’s and discovered that he was having the same problem.

“What the fuck is going on?” Dawgie Daddy said. “He keeps making promises, but then he short changes me every fucking time. Now can I kill him and eat him?”

“At this point, I don’t care what you do to him,” I said. “I just feel stupid.”

“Why’s that?”

“I should have known this would happen. The only thing Chad wanted as payment was connections. Once Pinky and I introduced him to Bishop Walker and Eternal Night Bible Church, he got the connection he wanted and he didn’t need us anymore.”

Dawgie Daddy rubbed his massive stomach.

“The mother fucker is slowly cutting us off because we don’t mean shit to him. Well, fuck. Now I really want to eat his sorry ass. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.”

Dawgie Daddy never got a chance to eat Chad’s sorry ass because he stopped making deliveries. I tried calling him but I always got his voicemail and he never returned my calls. I went to the church to confront him.

There was no way I could sit through another Eternal Night Bible Church orgy so I waited outside and smoked cigarettes with Jefferson and the other Fort Buckhead until the service ended. Bishop Walker and his four women came out first. Walker stood by the door so he could say goodbye to each woman and vampire who attended. Lottie strolled over to me.

“Don’t tell me that you of all people are ready to accept Jesus the Vampire Christ as your personal lord and savior?” she asked.

“Not yet,” I said. “I’m looking for Chad. Is he inside?”

“Sorry, but Chad’s not here. He’s on a special mission for Bishop Walker. He hasn’t been by the church in days.”

“I need to talk to him as soon as possible.”

“I’ll let him know you came by and to call you right away.”

I moved in close to Lottie. She smelled like dead roses.

“That’s not good enough,” I said. “He has to call me tonight.”

She crossed her arms over her ample breasts.

“Are we going to have a problem here?” she asked.

I looked behind me. The other three women were gathered close behind me. Their arms were crossed over their breasts as well. I came here for booze and that wasn’t worth a fight. I backed away from Lottie.

“Let Chad know I’m waiting for him.”

“Consider it done.”


CHAPTER SIX


The demand for bottled liquor suddenly exploded just as the supply began to run out. Customers raved about how much better it was than homegrown and they brought their friends to the club for a taste of the good stuff. I had Pinky keep the empty bottles. I washed them out and refilled them with enchanted homegrown spirits. It wasn’t as good as the real thing, but the spell I put on them made people think it was. This worked on humans and werewolves, but wizards and witches could tell when magic had been added. It was just a matter of time before they spread the bad news to everyone else.

Pinky and I were restocking the bar with enchanted booze when Bishop Walker sat down at the bar. He looked terrible. The corners of his mouth hung down. His suit was rumpled like he’d worn it in his coffin and hadn’t bothered to change.

“Bishop Walker. How nice to see you,” Pinky said. “Can I get you a warm glass of Drunkard’s Blood? It comes from certified alcoholics who were drunk on their ass when their blood was extracted. I’ve never tried it myself, but our vampire customers swear that it delivers a pleasant buzz.”

Walker’s eyes darted back and forth.

“No thank you,” he said. “I came to see Mutt.”

“What can I do for you, Bishop?” I said.

“Is there someplace we can speak privately?

“Sure. We can use my office.”

My office was on the second floor. I took the chair behind my desk and Walker sat on the leather sofa. He rested his palms on his knees and stared at the floor.

“I’d like to talk to you about Chad Blyth.”

“Yeah, we’ve been wondering about him. He’s a hard man to find.”

Walker raised his head.

“Chad has become an essential part of Eternal Night Bible Church. At this juncture, I’m not sure how we would get along without him. He’s a wonderful man, a truly blessed man, but sometimes he can be a bit impatient.”

“Yeah, he can be a pill.”

“A pill?”

“It means something unpleasant. Think of when a human has to take a pill to treat an illness. If he hates taking pills then he’s not going to enjoy the experience.”

Walker thought this over and slowly nodded his head.

“Yes. Sometimes Chad is a pill. He keeps asking me when I am going to turn him into a vampire. I told him I want to, but to be patient. I will do it when the good Lord tells me that the time is right.”

“I admire you, Bishop. Not many vampires would tolerate a human badgering them.”

“I don’t see Chad as a human anymore. I consider him family.”

“Sounds like you’re ready to grant Chad’s wish.”

“I was planning on doing it tonight, but I was troubled by doubts. That’s why I came to you. You’ve been around Chad. If I give him what he seeks do you think that will satisfy him or will he find something else to complain about?”

I saw no reason not to be completely honest with Walker. Certainly, deep down, he must have known that there was no way in hell that Chad would ever be completely happy. His type was always looking for the next connection.

“Chad will always be a pill,” I said. “It’s who he is.”

Little did I know that at that moment, I had sealed Chad’s fate. I’d like to think that if I had known, I would have lied to Walker. Or at the very least, had used a better choice of words.


CHAPTER SEVEN


A week after Bishop Walker came to see me, Chad Blyth showed up at The Black Phoenix. I didn’t notice him come in. I was DJing on stage at the time. I had the dance floor shaking and quaking to its foundation. When he complimented me on my performance after the show, I didn’t recognize him until I looked down at his penny loafers.

The flab was gone. The muscles in his arms and legs strained his dress shirt and khakis. He had a dandy Van Dyke mustache and beard. His hair hung to just above his shoulders.

“Where the fuck have you been?” I demanded. “I’ve been trying to reach you for weeks.”

“I’m really sorry, Mutt, but my life is about to change in a big way and I had to prepare.”

“Is that why you look like you should be on the cover of a romance novel?” I said.

“Lottie warned me that however you are when you’re turned is how you’ll be for eternity,” Chad said. “I made sure I got in the best shape possible and looking good.”

“Sounds like you expect to be turned soon.”

“Tonight.”

“Tonight? No shit?”

Chad put his arm around my shoulder as if we were friends. I resisted the urge to break his arm considering the way he stopped deliveries without a word of explanation.

“I haven’t touched a drop of liquor since getting in shape but since I won’t be able to digest alcohol when I’m undead, I wanted to have one last drink with you.”

“Speaking of liquor, when can I expect the next delivery?”

“We can talk about that later. First, let’s have that drink together. If it weren’t for you, I’d never had made the connection that’s going to put me in with the paranormals of Atlanta.”

Chad led me to a booth along the back wall. Lottie was in the booth with a half empty glass of Drunkard’s Blood on the table in front of her. She gave me a wide toothy smile as Chad slid in next to her. I sat across from them.

Timothy, The Black Phoenix’s only waiter, sauntered over to take our order.

“Two empty glasses and a refill for the lady,” Chad said.

Timothy peered at me. I shrugged and he strolled away. Once he was gone, Lottie took a bottle of Chivas Regal out of her large purse and handed it to Chad.

“I figured we have some of the good stuff,” Chad said.

Timothy delivered the Drunkard’s Blood and the empty glasses. Chad filled his glass and mine with whiskey. He held his up.

“To immortality,” he said.

We clinked glasses and he drank his down in one gulp. He immediately refilled his glass. I sipped mine and put the glass on the table.

“So, Bishop Walker finally agreed to turn you,” I said.

Chad downed his second drink and scowled.

“No. He refused to do it.”

I felt a twinge of guilt. Had I talked Walker into turning Chad down?

“Really?” I said. “Just flat out said he wouldn’t do it?”

“He didn’t come out and say it. He was going to turn me last week, but changed his mind at the last minute. Said he wanted to pray on it some more before making a final decision. He’s stalling until he gets the nerve to admit that he’s never going to do it.”

I was about to ask Chad how he was going to become a vampire if Bishop Walker wasn’t going to do it and then it dawned on me. There was an intimacy between Chad and Lottie that was more than mere friendship.

“Lottie’s going to do it, isn’t she?” I said.

Lottie took a sip of blood and licked her lips.

“Bishop Walker is a great man, but he’s stuck in the past,” she said. “Chad and I have a vision for the future and the only way we can achieve that vision is for Chad to join the creatures of the night.”

“You think you can kick Walker out of his own church?”

Chad waved his hands dismissively.

“We would never do that,” he said. “We have too much love and respect for Bishop Walker. Lottie and I are starting our own church.”

“What about the Fort Buckhead women?”

“They’re free to attend either church, but I think they’ll come to our services.”

I drank the rest of my Chivas Regal. Damn, that stuff was smooth. No wonder Chad loved it so much.

“What are you going to do if Walker decides he doesn’t want the competition?”

Lottie leaned forward and rested her breasts on the table.

“I’ve known Bishop Walker for over a hundred years,” she said. “He’ll be upset at first, but then he’ll learn to accept that Chad and I have moved on without him. Besides, once I turn Chad, Bishop Walker won’t be able to stop us.”

My interest in their soap opera started to wane. If they wanted to screw each other over, that was their business. I poured myself another glass of Chivas and held it up for a toast.

“Best of luck to both of you,” I said.

We drank together.

Chad reached into his pocket and pulled out a key ring with a single key and a folded piece of paper. He handed them to me.

“I won’t be needing these anymore so I want you to have them,” he said. “It’s the directions to the warehouse where I keep my cases of alcohol and the key to get in.”

I ran my thumb along the grooves in the key. “Fuck me!” I said. “Is this for real?”

“It’s all yours my friend.”

Chad had another glass of Chivas before he and Lottie slid out of the booth. He left the bottle on the table. I put it behind the bar.


CHAPTER EIGHT


“That fucking asshole son of a bitch!”

Pinky sat on a stack of wood pallets while I stomped in circles. We had driven all day to Chad’s secret warehouse on the northern edge of the perimeter only to find that it was almost empty. There were maybe a dozen cases of booze scattered about on the concrete floor.

“Most of these boxes are only half full,” I shouted.

“I am well aware of that fact,” Pinky said. “Remember, we found out together.”

I kneeled next to a box, pulled out two bottles, and held them up for Pinky to see.

“It’s not even the same stuff. Here’s a bottle of Bourbon and a bottle of Rum. They’re just random bottles of whatever.”

“I am aware of that fact too.”

Pinky stood, picked a random box, and pulled out a bottle of Vodka. He opened it and drank half the bottle before handing it to me. I drank the other half. The clear liquid burned as it traveled down my throat. I threw the empty bottle against the wall. The sound of it smashing into a million pieces was almost satisfying.

“Chad screwed us,” I said. “The fucking asshole bastard screwed us.”

“This explains why he kept shortchanging his deliveries,” Pinky said. “He didn’t want us to find out that he was running out of stock.”

I took a bottle of Bourbon out of a box and opened it. I took a small sip and then handed the bottle to Pinky.

“No wonder Chad was so desperate to become a vampire,” I said. “Without the booze, he had no connection to the paranormal community. He was about to lose the only power he had and he needed to replace it.”

Pinky took a sip and put the cap back on the bottle. He put the bottle back in the box.

“He’s pretty damn annoying as a human,” Pinky said. “I wonder how annoying he’ll be as a vampire?”


CHAPTER NINE


I don’t remember how many days had passed since going to the warehouse that Timothy noticed the dead rats in the alley. Being the only business downtown meant the rats had nowhere else to go for garbage other than my dumpster. A pack of Mexican werewolves took it upon themselves to start a garbage service and I paid them to empty my dumpster once a week. But that meant there were days when the rats in my alley feasted on Black Phoenix refuse.

Timothy had just come in from emptying the garbage cans when he mentioned the rats.

“We got a predator living in the alley,” he said. “It’s killing the rats.”

“Don’t you mean it’s eating the rats?” I said.

“No. The rats are just dead.”

That didn’t make sense. If an animal was feeding on the rats, then it would devour them. Not just kill them and leave their nasty hairy corpses lying around.

I went into the alley. Clouds covered the moon making it a very dark night. The only illumination came from the weak-ass bulb over the back door, but thanks to my panther senses I didn’t need much light.


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