Lazarus Grey...The Diner
It was one hell of a storm; the torrential rain pummelled the car from every direction, the windscreen wipers were losing the battle, and these dark country roads didn’t help. I’d have to pull over soon or risk crashing. I wouldn’t be driving in the middle of the night in an inundation of rain had it been anyone else who’d asked. Father Ryan hadn’t come over with any details on the phone, all he’d said was for me to get there as soon as I could.
I wasn’t sure, but his tone sounded urgent, like if I didn’t get there in a hurry something dire would happen. And well, in my kind of business if you get a gut feeling like that you act immediately. I had to slow, the car was almost moving at a snails pace; I’d certainly never known rain like this before. No good, I’d have to stop. Pulling the car to the side of the road I turned off the engine.
I took out a cigar from the glove box and lit it; grabbing my mobile phone I keyed in Father Ryan’s number. “Damn it!” the strength indicator light blinked a mocking red, no reception.
Taking a deep draw on my cigar I flipped on the radio, some nondescript country music crackled from the speakers, the rain so bad it was interfering with the signal. I smoked the cigar, threw the stub out the window, quickly rolling the window closed after as not to get too drenched. I relaxed and listened to the music with the rain pelting the metal of the car interfering I turned it up slightly, and relaxed. I closed my eyes as Patsy Cline’s Crazy began, and it brought back memories of when I first met Father Ryan…
It was seven years ago now, Jooles and I had stopped at a roadside diner. You know the type of joint, a greasy spoon, cheap food with as much beer as you could down by the jug full. Walls plastered with photos of country singers with a big stars and bars confederate flag surrounding a huge mirror back of the counter. We’d just finished eating; Jooles sipped a coffee while I swigged a tall beer, and intermittently puffed on my cigar. The owner slapped on the music, Roy Orbison and Only the Lonely I stubbed out my cigar on the side plate as there was no ashtray. Jooles cast me one of those disapproving looks of hers that makes her look so cute, and had been the first thing that had attracted me to her ten years ago.
Orbison finished; Dolly and Kenny came on the radio with Island in the Stream. Taking Jooles by the hand I helped her from her seat, slipped my arms round her waist, pulled her close, and we began to slow dance. A grey-haired priest was sitting alone in a booth at the far end, he smiled as we danced; the only other person there was the owner, who wasn’t paying any mind anyway. Jooles perfume, she’s worn my favourite fragrance, teased my nostrils as I held her close, burying my face in her neck as we swayed to the music.
I had my eyes closed, engrossed in the moment when she was forcibly torn from my arms. I saw her fly backwards, the look of utter shock in her eyes. I raced forward only to be knocked aside by a force I could not see; I crashed into the counter. Then he appeared, a man six feet plus, long straggly jet black hair, dressed completely in black, but the clothes looked as if they belonged in the sixteenth century. His skin, grey yet youthful, with defined features. I clambered to my feet as he held Jooles by her auburn hair. She struggled, I charged. The man just swiped his hand without effort, caught me full in the chest and sent me tumbling.
Jooles fought to get free, but she wasn’t strong enough. The owner had disappeared, and the priest was nowhere to be seen. To my horror the man or whatever it was leaned into Jooles neck; she screamed. The top of her cream dress grew red with her blood. I again ran and leapt at the thing, grabbed hold of his hair and yanked while punching as hard as I could into his side. My efforts had little effect, it was like slamming my fist into a solid wall, my knuckles split and bled.
I was crying like a helpless baby as I watched in agony as Jooles arms trembled, her beautiful bright green eyes rolled back as this bastard sucked out her life . I kept banging away hoping to force him to break his grip, but he was too strong. I heard Jooles gurgle, and that’s when a pair of hands grabbed me, pulled me away and pushed me roughly into one of the seats.
Next thing I see the priest, he mumbles something in a language foreign to me, I later learned he used Latin. The priest held a large cross of silver with its end tapered to a point, and then he buried it right up to the cross bar into the things back. Instantly Jooles dropped to the floor, her dress now crimson. Ignoring what was happening with the thing and the priest I dived to her side and held her. Her body was limp, her breathing almost nonexistent.
Jooles died in my arms that day, I wept until I could weep no more. The priest somehow had destroyed the thing, that bastard who’d defiled my Jooles body, who’d wrenched her from my life. I feel a hand on my shoulder.
“Come with me my son.”
I shrugged off the hand, not wanting to leave Jooles even though she had now left me. Next thing I know something strikes me to the back of my neck, and the last thing I hear before blacking out is the radio play Crazy.
I woke with a splitting headache, and a feeling of nausea, as I forced my heavy eyelids apart my blurred surrounding began to focus.
“Jooles,” I murmured.
I was greeted with silence. Once my vision had cleared I notice I was lying on a bed, well strapped to a bed actually. Thick leather cuffs secured my wrists and legs. I lifted my head to gain a better view of my surroundings. The room was dark, I couldn’t make out much, and only a couple of candles lit the area in a yellowish glow. The walls were stone, old stone, the furniture, what I could make out were draped in a sort of purple velvet, and there was a faint odour in the air that I couldn’t quite place. I struggled against the restraints, but to no avail.
“I’ll remove them if you will remain calm.” A voice came from the dark.
“Who are you, where’s Jooles?”
“Sorry son, she’s gone.”
“I know it’s hard my son, but there was little you or I could have done.”
Then it hits me, everything comes flooding back in a rush like a bulldozer slamming into me.
“I’ve had to keep you sedated for a while,” says the voice.
“This…this isn’t a hospital!”
“No. This is God’s house.”
I watch as the figure steps into the yellow light, it is the priest, the priest from the diner where…
“Sedated? How…how long and why? Oh my god, Jooles she’s…” I fight with the restraints in anger.
“I see it is not yet time. When you have rested enough we will begin your training.”
The priest said quietly as he pulled a syringe from a drawer.
“What?” was all I had time to say before he injected me and I began to fade back into unconsciousness, the last words I heard was the priest’s voice.
“You are destined for a new life, one chosen by our Lord, my son. Rest now.”
The radio crackled and squealed, dragging me back from my reminiscing. I switched it off, the rain had slowed somewhat, enough for me to continue on my journey to meet with Father Ryan. I started the car, turned out onto the road and drove into the darkness.
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