Deck of cards
Bohdan returned to the pit after his meeting with the warden. It was late afternoon and he was covered in Ashley’s dried blood. The other vampires kept a distance as they were warned by the warden to keep away from his prize. Bohdan had a love/hate relationship with his fame. He got what he wanted, but he wasn’t always happy about it. He liked his isolation, to a point. Like any social animal, he needed someone to interact with and Cara was the only person she could stand.
“How did your show go?” Cara asked. She met him at the front door of the miners building.
“The warden was happy, the governor was too from what I heard.”
“What did they make you do?”
“I had to rape and murder Ashley,” Bohdan replied.
“Ashley, remember her?”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, you killed her? Last I knew she was still back in Seneca with Isaac.”
“They charged her with accessory to murder, along with Isaac.”
“Ashley said they were transferring him here today. I haven’t seen him. If he gets the same welcome we got, he might be dead by now.”
“I can’t believe you killed Ashley, she was our friend.”
“Maybe your friend,” Bohdan replied.
“You knew her, we were a team!”
“We used each other to survive, that’s all. I still needed her to survive, unfortunately for her, she didn’t.”
“They made you do this in front of the governor?”
“Yes, and about two hundred spectators.”
“They charged admission, they made a killing as well.”
“I’m in shock,” Cara said.
“Get over it, I might be getting a trip to town because of it.”
“What do you mean?”
“The warden was so happy with the show I put on, he might let me go into town for a day.”
“Take me with you,” Cara said.
“I’ll have to ask, I don’t’ think it should be a problem. They will have plenty of guards watching.”
“You should get cleaned up, you’re a mess,” Cara said.
Bohdan looked at his clothes and wiped blood from his shirt. Some of the blood had dried, but most was still wet and dripping from his shirt tails.
“What was it like killing her?” Cara asked. She didn’t know if she wanted to hear the answer.
“Incredible, I thought she’d be too old to get me off, but it was like fucking a virgin,” Bohdan replied.
“I didn’t ask about raping her, I asked about killing her.”
“You want the details?”
Cara wanted to know some, but not the gruesome parts. “Yes, what was it like to kill her in front of a crowd?”
“They provided me with two knives. After I had raped her, I pinned her arms down with my knees and slit her from belly to her breastbone. I pulled her belly apart and cut in from the sides making an X. From there it was easy to pull out her bowels and lay them on the sand. Every Time I made a cut, the crowd yelled. It was fantastic. The best killing I’ve ever done.”
“You sound like you want to do it again,” Cara said.
“That would be more than I could ask for. I hope the warden is planning on it.”
“But you hate being in the spotlight, you said yourself you hated being a celebrity vampire.”
“There is a huge difference between being put on display and putting on a show. When I was raping her the crowd loved me. When I was tearing her apart, I was on fire. It was such a rush!”
“How are they going to find you young white women to kill? Sounds like they had to bring Ashley all the way from Kansas. You’ll end up killing slaves eventually.”
“I know, they brought in two black males for me to kill after Ashley. I left with a bad taste in my mouth.”
Cara shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. “You need a bath.”
“There are no baths in the pit, you know that.”
“I can get you a bucket of clean water from the well.”
“That’s fine,” Bohdan replied.
“Don’t say thanks, fucker,” Cara said. She turned and walked away to get the bucket. Bohdan never said anything nice to her, or appreciated how she looked after him.
“I’ll talk to the warden soon,” Bohdan said. “I’ll try to take you with me to town.” Normally Bohdan wouldn’t give a shit about Cara, but for some reason he felt guilty today and felt he should say something reassuring to her. He wasn’t sure she heard him, and made his way into the miner’s building, to the room he shared with Preacher Jack.
Preacher Jack lay on an old mattress looking out the window when Bohdan walked into the room. Noticing Bohdan, Preacher Jack said, “I heard you put on quite a show today.”
“I did what I had to,” Bohdan replied.
“We need to talk,” Preacher Jack said.
“About you and me, we both can’t be running this place. I think it’s time you go.”
“Go? Go where?”
“To the Mormons, or maybe you can get a private room next to the warden’s office.”
“You sound jealous.”
“Maybe I am, I ran this place for years and then you show up. The other miners don’t respect me anymore. All I hear is Bohdan this and Bohdan that. They act like you’re some sort of vampire god.”
“That’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything to bring that on.”
“Doesn’t matter, if you don’t go, they will get rid of me and I’m not going anywhere.”
“Maybe you should go live with the Mormons, ever think of that?” Bohdan asked.
“Fuck no, those are crazy bastards. They make us look like the sane ones. Do you know what those Mormons did before they came here?”
“I have no idea,” Bohdan replied.
“Half of them were trapped in a mountain pass and ate the other half. And that was before they were turned into vampires. They’re a bunch of fucking cannibals.”
“What did you expect them to do? Starve to death?” Bohdan asked.
“I would have, you’d never catch me eating another person.”
“I ate a woman’s heart today, part of it at least,” Bohdan said.
“You’re not human anymore, that’s normal.”
“You’re splitting hairs. I suggest you pack your shit and leave.”
“I’m not going anywhere asshole. I have five guys that are willing to kick your ass out of here the second I tell them. I’m giving you a courtesy notice now. You have until the end of the day to be gone.”
Bohdan stepped in closer to Preacher Jack and looked down on him. “Where are your friends now?”
Preacher Jack looked up at Bohdan and saw the intimidation in his eyes. “Don’t even try it, if I come up dead, they’ll come after you.”
“If you’re dead, they will join me,” Bohdan replied. And Preacher Jack knew it. “You have an hour to get the fuck out,” Bohdan said.
Preacher Jack stood up and faced Bohdan. He was beyond pissed. “You may be a vampire, but so am I. Don’t think for a second I’m backing down and letting you run me out of here. I’m just as strong as you, maybe stronger. I was a miner, I know hard work. I have no fucking idea what rock you crawled out from under.”
Bohdan glared at Preacher Jack, he was still high from the last killing and he had a short fuse. The only thing holding him back was the thought that some Preacher Jack’s friends may actually come after him if he killed him. Alone, Bohdan had a fighting chance, against a group, he was fucked. “Let’s let the group decide,” Bohdan said.
“What? Some contest?” Preacher Jack asked.
“Yes, and the loser has to leave.”
“You spend all your time up in the cage, why do you want to run this house anyway?”
“I won’t always live in the cage,” Bohdan replied.
“Fine, how do you propose we do this?’
“We call a meeting, let them decide how our fate. Maybe put it up for a vote.”
“A vote? I’d rather fight for my spot.”
“Why? You know you’d lose,” Bohdan replied with a grin. “You’re not as popular around here as you make it out to be. Maybe the miners want a celebrity to run the house. That would give them more power and credibility.”
That was exactly what Preacher Jack was worried about. That the miners would see Bohdan as powerful due to his celebrity and the attention the administration and fans admonished upon him. Compared with Bohdan’s notoriety, Preacher Jack was doomed to be kicked out of the clan.
“What kind of contest do you propose then?” Bohdan asked.
“A contest is what you said first, don’t act like I’m trying to manipulate anything,” Preacher Jack said.
“Give me your idea and I’ll decide if I agree.”
Preacher Jack thought for a moment. He needed something he could win easily. “Poker,” he replied.
“Poker? Do you have cards down here?”
“I can get a deck from the guards,” Preacher Jack replied.
Bohdan wasn’t good at cards. He didn’t even know how to play poker, but he didn’t want to come off as ignorant. He also didn’t want to live with the Mormons. “Blackjack,” Bohdan replied.
“Blackjack is for pussies. It’s all luck of the draw,” Preacher Jack said.
“So is poker,” Bohdan replied.
“Poker requires skill. I can bluff my way into a win every time. You can’t bluff your way into a blackjack.”
“Touché’, but that’s the game I choose, take it or leave it.”
Preacher Jack hesitated because he had no choice but to give in. “Fine, Blackjack it is.”
“Get the cards and we’ll play. How soon can you get a deck?”
“I’ll need something to trade,” Preacher Jack replied.
“What’s worth a deck of cards down here?”
“Heroin, cocaine if we have it,” Preacher Jack replied.
“Where do you get heroin down here?’ Bohdan asked.
“The tourists toss it down to their family members. They pretend to be throwing rocks at us, but they hide packets of drugs wrapped around the rocks instead. Sometimes the guards bring it in.”
“Why would the guards do that?”
“They like to fuck the female inmates, they trade drugs for sex,” Preacher Jack replied.
“Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Oh fuck yeah, they lost a guard two weeks before you showed up. He was killed and tossed under the shit house. The rats had him down to bone before they found him. Guess he pissed off the wrong bitch.”
“Anyway, I don’t have any heroin to trade for cards so ask around or get the fuck out. I’ll give you until tomorrow to find a deck.”
“And what if I don’t?”
“I have connections now, I’ll have the warden kick your sorry ass out of here,” Bohdan said. He hoped his idle threat would be taken seriously as he had no real connection to the warden other than the warden using him to make money. But it sounded good and gave Bohdan the edge he needed at this time.
“Fine, I’ll have a deck by tomorrow. But you’re not sleeping in my room tonight, you’re sleeping in the hall.”