“Just hit the fecking thing,” Jack Jefferies had said. “But you have to break the bone. Skull’s the best spot. That’s all a man has to do and he’s golden.”
I looked down at the diabolical weapon in my grasp that Jack had been showing me how to use. It was a wooden stave with interlocking razors on one end. Then I looked at Jack and shrugged. “Okay,” I said, as if it was all just clean fun. Little did I know, that what I was entering into would haunt my childhood 120 years later…
I would get this pain as a kid in the 1970s. It would shoot up my throat to my tongue. It didn’t hurt all that much, though each time it came on a shock of white terror left me breathlessly screaming. I feared the unknown cause more than anything. Thankfully, the pain ceased to occur by the time I reached ten or eleven.
It was all but forgotten over time, until weeks ago the pain roused me from sleep. It was the same night Benny, “the cigar store Indian” had told me what I pretty much knew: I had lived past lives. In the dark, I had seen a long fingernail, pressed deep into my neck. I knew the pain all-too well. When I couldn’t move, I realized it was a dream, though my terror grew as the face of a devilish creature hovered close. It had pupils of orange-fire, skin as coarse as rough sandpaper, cheekbones that protruded like tiny fists, and lips that reminded me of blood-sated leeches. It opened its mouth to speak, and there came the low roar of a fire. From off in the distance, I heard Jack Jefferies’ voice:
“Blink and you’re back in the world of the dead.”
I blinked hard and woke. The first thing I remembered was how Jack Jefferies had taken me under his wing in the mid-1850s. In today’s terms, we could be described as demon hunters, though we were really just “tools.” We made a bloody mess of things when we fought the monsters. I had no clue who we truly worked for. I doubt even the men Jack answered to, knew the full truth. Yet the memories of that past life are cloudy at best. But with each day things are coming back to me.
One thing I wish Jack would have told me straight away was that you can’t kill a demon. At first, all we had to do was brand them with the stave; each time it was a different razor-shaped mark on the end of the weapon. From our perspective, all that did was get them real fu-kin’ angry. They were after us night after night. Good thing we were paid well, we did whatever dirty work we had to do, then hid away in the bars and in a rickety warehouse on Brooklyn’s Fulton Street, and proceeded to get regally soused for days and weeks on end.
It’s funny, but even now I’m sort of mad at Jack. He shouldn’t have lied to me in the beginning. If I knew the truth, I still probably would have gotten on with him and his business. But just hitting “the fecking thing!” with the stave wasn’t all a man had to do. That strike, branding the recipient, was just the first step. By the time I learned the rest, I was in too deep, just like Jack…
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Thirty-Seven
Brooklyn Bridge Park (Photos only)
DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge) in Brooklyn (Photos only)