Girls, Girls, Girls
“This is bullshit and you know it!” I shouted at Mickey, my boss at the shit hole strip club I’d been dancing in since I was eighteen years old.
Mickey didn’t seem at all concerned at the volume or ferocity of my comment. Instead, he waved his hand in front of his averted eyes as if trying to rid himself of an unpleasant aroma.
“You’re going to be so sorry you did this! Ninety percent of your shit customers are here to see me!” I insisted, but my tone sounded more desperate than angry now.
“Honey, the other girls have noticed your situation, and now the customers have, too. This ain’t the clientele for….” Mickey glanced at my slightly swelling belly, “that kind of thing.”
I felt my cheeks burning and I knew they’d be bright red.
“What?! What girls? Tell me who said something! There is no situation!” I said heatedly.
Mickey picked up the phone and dialed a number.
I had no idea who he was calling but I bravely sat in the rickety office chair waiting to find out my fate.
“Yeah, it’s me…..yup…..chuckle…..you did, man! You called it right!” Mickey laughed loudly but stopped when he glanced up at my face. “You better come get her.”
He placed the phone back on the receiver and went back to his paperwork.
I waited for a few minutes, quietly, expecting the bouncers to come in at any moment and drag me out front.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“So, that’s it then? Three years of dedicated service...” I started to say.
“Save it. It’s over, honey. Fix the situation and we can talk about you coming back, eh?” he said.
I felt my eyes filling with tears and the last thing I wanted was to start bawling on my way out of this hellhole letting all of these leering men and glaring dancers see my weakness.
“That won’t be necessary. If this is how I’ll be treated, I’ll find a new place to dance,” I said, then I stood and turned to walk out.
“Hold on!” Mickey said.
Finally! He’d seen the error of his ways and was going to apologize and take me back. Yes, my “situation” was sort of obvious, but I was sure I could cover it up enough to continue working.
“Erik is coming for you.” he said, not even looking up.
“You told Erik?” I said, mortified.
Mickey looked up and shook his head.
“Damn it!” I said.
I knew there was no point trying to leave before Erik arrived to “fetch” me, as he called it. He had eyes everywhere and it would only piss him off if he had to track me down.
Erik, my boyfriend of four years, was not a bad guy. Yes, he sold a few questionable substances to people. Yes, he had a tendency to beat people up if they screwed him over. And yes, his attitude towards me had definitely gone downhill lately. He was just so stressed out. Even in his worst moments, he never hit me too hard.
I knew all this would pass.
There was a knock at the door, and I stepped back as Erik walked in.
He didn’t look at me, but went right to Mickeys desk and dropped a fat envelope in front of the large, sweaty man.
“As we discussed.” Erik said.
Mickey nodded and took the envelope and slipped it into a drawer in the desk.
Now, Erik turned to me, unsmiling.
“Is there something you’d like to share with the class, Melissa?” he said.
I always hated this tone that he used. As if I was a child he needed to scold.
“I wanted it to be a surprise.” I said, forcing a smile.
This was a lie, of course. I had been planning to run with the baby I knew was coming and had hidden from Erik, it’s father.
His face softened. He knew I’d wanted a child since I was one myself. He knew I wanted to prove I could be the parent I didn’t have but needed so desperately. He would go easy now.
Then, he slapped me across my face so hard that I spun and fell face first on filthy cement floor.
I lay there, not moving, hoping that was the end of it and that Erik would drag me home to finish this ’discussion”.
But no such luck.
Erik moved to where I could see his ridiculously expensive sneakers and pulled his foot back.
I scrunched my eyes and tensed for the pain I knew was coming.
And there it was. Blossoming in the side of my head, catching fire, burning through my skull.
I knew better than to scream. He hated it when I screamed and it made things so much worse.
I waited for the next blow, but instead, Erik grabbed me by the arms and threw me over his shoulder.
I watched Mickeys sweaty, bald head get smaller as Erik carried me down the hall. I felt the cool, clean air of winter as Erik carried me outside to his car. I felt the warm leather of the back seat as he tossed me like a rag doll into the car.
Silence for a few seconds. I kept my eyes closed. Still quiet. Then...the drivers door opened and I heard Erik’s voice.
“She’s your problem now. Do what you want.” he said.
I opened my eyes and sat up quickly, suddenly aware that my perception was off.
This was not Erik’s car. Erik has a shiny red Mustang he won in drug deal gone bad. This seemed to be a Cadillac or something that size.
“Wait!!! Erik!!!” I screamed.
The man in the drivers seat turned around. He was not Erik.
“Hello. Please don’t scream when I’m driving, dear. I’m not as comfortable in a vehicle as some. I just never quite saw the need. Untill recently.”
He started the car.
I reached for the handle, but it wouldn’t open. I looked out the tinted window, frantically searching for Erik, but I didn’t see him anywhere. He had simply given me to this man.
I started to cry. I didn’t care that this rich man with his perverted ideas could hear me. I was carrying Erik’s child and he had handed me over to a stranger to do with as he pleased.
I was sobbing hysterically now. Hiccupping and snotting everywhere and making a horrible wailing sound.
“Please, stop.” the stranger said, as he pulled away from the strip club.
“Screw you, perv!” I yelled, but through my snot and stuffiness and drool it sounded more like ‘shoe poo’.
“Oh dear. Do you not speak English, dear?” the stranger said, almost worriedly.
This guy seemed very calm and collected for a guy who just picked up a girl and planned horrific torture in the near future.
I sniffled hard and swallowed.
“Oh, god.” the man said, in disgust.
I was angered by this. He seriously had me in his car taking me God knows where to do God knows what to me and he’s going to be judgie about my crying?
“I speak English just fine.” I said, as clearly as I could with a severely stuffy nose.
“Lovely!! It’s so much nicer when I can communicate with my friends.” the man said.
He had a slight accent. Not as if from another country, but maybe as if he’s watched one too many old Civil War era movies.
I snorted, “I’m not your friend, perv.”
The man laughed a little, but kept driving.
About this time, I started to feel very light headed, and the throbbing in my head reminded me that I had been kicked very hard in it.
“Where….” I started, but I felt myself losing consciousness.
The stranger looked back at me and his face changed from calm to shocked concern.
“God damn that man!” he said angrily.
He pulled over and got out, coming to the back seat and looking me over.
I was struggling to stay awake. I didn’t want this man to see I was damaged goods and dump me in some field to die.
He tenderly turned my face from side to side.
Then, he did the strangest thing. He stopped, held his finger to his mouth as if to keep me quiet, and he closed his eyes. He sat this way for a few seconds, then he frowned.
“You are with child.” he said.
I thought I heard him wrong. There’s no way he could tell that from looking at me. I was normally too thin. My early pregnancy had barely made me look healthy.
“What?” I asked him.
He didn’t answer me. Instead, he did something else completely insane.
He bit into his own wrist.
“Oh shit!” I said, suddenly feeling the need to get the hell away from him.
But he took my head and tilted it back, easily, even though I was struggling against him with every ounce of strength I could muster in my current battered condition.
“Don’t fight me, dear. This will not hurt. I need you to drink this.” the man said holding out his empty hand to me.
I was still trying to wriggle out of his hold when I realized the hand he held out was the same arm he had just bitten. It was dripping blood.
I fought harder, but now my head was throbbing painfully and my efforts were noticeably weaker.
The stranger sighed, then held my face in both hands and stared into my eyes.
I wanted to look away because this was creepy as hell but my eyes would not move from his.
“You will stop struggling and you will drink my blood without argument.” he said clearly.
Normally, when a man tells me what to do, I tell them to suck it and I walk away. That clearly was not going to happen in this situation. Whatever the man gave me, because he had to have somehow drugged me in that moment, it was strong and fast acting.
My whole demeanor changed.
I was relaxed and content suddenly and I gladly accepted the strangers bloody arm.
“Good girl,” he said as I started to suck the bloody cut, “It’s almost healed, but we can get you some more at home if needed.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant by ‘almost healed’ until I noticed the wound was no longer bleeding and I was licking healed flesh.
I shook my head a little trying to clear it because I knew that he could not have healed from the deep bite in his arm as quickly as he had.
“What did you give me?” I said, when he took his arm back.
“I told you, dear. You took it right from my veins.” he chuckled.
“Before that.” I said.
He looked confused.
“What did you give me to make me calm down?” I asked him, hoping to clarify.
I needed to know how badly this might effect my little bump. I had been so careful to stay away from most drugs since I had found out.
“Oh, that! No drugs at all. That was called ‘compulsion’. I simply told you what to do and you did it.” he said, holding up his empty hands as if to prove he had nothing to drug me with.
“Compulsion? Are you some sideshow freak who can read minds or something?” I asked.
He laughed loudly as he scooted out of the back seat. He continued to laugh as he shut the door and got back in the drivers seat and started the car.
I thought about trying to get away again, but immediately the thought went away.
I also noticed as we pulled off into traffic again, that I no longer felt pain in my head. I touched my face where Erik’s shoe had connected.
I was smooth and slightly tender.
“What is your name, dear?” the stranger asked me.
I should lie to him, I thought, but the thought immediately vanished.
“Melissa.” I told him.
I shook my head at my own lack of self preservation.
“That is a lovely name. I am Gideon.” he replied.
We rode in silence for a short time and I wondered again what he was planning on doing to me.
“There’s no need to worry. I’m not going to hurt you. At least, not in the ways that you’re thinking of.” he said with a slight smile.
“Why would you hurt me at all? You don’t seem like the type.” I said to him.
“You won’t mind the pain, I promise. It will be well worth it for you, I think.” Gideon said, winking at me in the rear view mirror.
I thought for a moment of the pain of the needle entering my skin when I would shoot up. It passed quickly and was always well worth it afterwards.
“I don’t understand. Are you giving me drugs?” I asked.
“No, no. Well, in a way, I suppose you could say, yes.” he said, “Melissa, I am a vampire. I need you to be my human helper and possibly my source of food at times. In return, I will keep you quite comfortable, provide for all your needs and allow you the use of my blood.”
I was sure now that he had given me some serious drugs and had more than likely taken a good dose of them himself.
“Vampire?” I said the word, still surprised at how insane it sounded.
“Yes. And I do realize that you will require extra to care for the child once it is born.” he said, smiling. “I do love children.”
“Vampire.” I said again, then I started laughing.
The laughing got worse and worse until I was gasping for air and tears were rolling down my cheeks.
Gideon seemed quite amused by this.
“You are lively, aren’t you.” he said.
That made me laugh even harder.
“Alright now. What is so funny about my being a vampire?” Gideon asked.
I calmed myself down enough to speak with only the occasional giggle.
“It’s ridiculous, that’s what. You’re a freak.” I said.
Gideon turned into a driveway with a big metal gate. He punched a code into a little keypad at the side of the driveway and the gate started to swing open.
As we waited, Gideon looked at me in the back seat and smiled.
I was about to tell him how incredibly creepy it was when something happened.
Gideon’s teeth began to change. They got longer, pointier. Especially the incisors which grew to needle points.
I gulped. I felt my heart begin to race. I was lightheaded.
Gideon turned back around in the seat and pulled the car down the long driveway.
The car stopped in front of a huge but very dilapidated house.
“Here we are.” he said, “Now, it isn’t much to see at this point, but once you begin helping out with the daytime tasks…..” he stopped suddenly.
I was staring at him, wide eyed.
“This is quite a shock.” he said.
I nodded, not knowing how else to respond in that moment.
“Melissa, I promise that you will not be treated badly here. You will not be required to do things you find unpleasant. Even if you cannot stomach the idea of providing me nourishment, I am not going to harm you. I will simply compel you to forget me and I will return you to your home.”
I thought about that for a second, because now I had no home. I never had anything of my own. I grew up in foster homes and orphanages. I had run away at seventeen to be with Erik. I lived in his apartment, and he took care of me until I was eighteen and could get a job myself.
Of course, then he had forced me to strip in order to entice new customers to his side and keep an eye on Mickey, who sold for Erik.
I made a decision.
“No,” I said firmly, “I will try this out and be the best food I can, BUT...”
Gideon perked up, clearly interested to hear my next words.
“BUT, if I hate it you won’t take me back to Erik. You’ll set me up in a place of my own, pay the rent for a few months so I can get on my feet…..and pay the hospital bills when the baby comes.” I said, smiling at my sudden brainstorm.
I would get away from Erik one way or another.
“I have no problem with that. To be quite honest, your Erik is not the kind of man who needs to be near an infant.” Gideon said, shaking his head. “Disgusting.”
I was still too hurt to agree with him. I still loved Erik. I was carrying his child. I would have to be strong enough to resist my desire to go back.
This was my first step.
I got out of the car and looked up at the spooky, dark house.
“Welcome to your new home, Melissa.” Gideon said.
Then, we headed inside.