The pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts) are avoiding me. Like I care. I don’t! It’s a good thing.
My lady friend(who has tuned me and my blog off of late, I’m just saying…) says it’s because of what I’m writing about in my past life. Num and nuts told her that once you have demon blood in you, it leaves it’s mark. You are forever evil. Even from one life to the next. So they are diverting their batty gazes and not stepping on my tail, because I’m evil. Whoop–de–do.
I don’t care. I really don’t.
The steady breeze ballooned the sails, and then the dark and calm waters began to slip by. I rolled up an old saddle blanket and placed it on the boxed seat in the oyster sloop’s stern. I sat down and manned the rudder and looked back. The wooden pier was lightless. A cloudy haze hung over the shoreline. Having just run a good half mile on the warm spring night, my shirt was wet with sweat. As more and more water separated the sloop from Brooklyn, I began to feel relieved. I no longer had to worry about being shot in the back.
I turned starboard to the countless sailing ships docked on the Manhattan side of the East River. They were gloomy, and all the rigging seemed tangled together. Most of the berths were taken and only a few lights glowed near the river. It was impossible to see a single person. On the port side was Governors Island. The brick fort there was quiet as were the gaslit, tree-lined streets.
The sea air was cool in my nostrils. The starry night sky seemed to be made up of millions of specs of dust and light. I dropped my gaze to find a small tear in the jib, where the wind whistled through.
I was near certain someone or something was watching me. But then again, a small boat at night would attract attention. Thieving and murderous gang members were known to troll NYC waterways after dark. I guess I fell into that lot, but all I wanted was to get away from Brooklyn for the night.
What was going to happen to me…
A short while ago, I had been forced into a blood initiation with Black Sullivan and Toren the Bloody. Afterwards, those two had disappeared. And rather than face my companions outside Black’s saloon, I also fled the scene. I needed to explain what had happened. Jack Jefferies was a thinking man and would see I was no more evil than he. But Gabe the gorilla liked to strike first. I would need a weapon at the ready in his presence until the matter was sorted.
In a few days, I would find Jack and he would see that I was my old self, and that there was no evil in me. I would not deny the demon blood I had ingested, but would tell of how in the past, I had triumphed over evil and now was no different. My constitution was strong. My body had rejected the evil fluids.
I gazed over the small waves of the bay, which dimly reflected the starlight. I piloted somewhat whimsically around the harbor, though steered clear of other vessels. An hour or two could have passed.
My eyes opened wide. I remembered the bottles of gin I had stashed months ago inside a chest affixed to the bow. Gin was certainly worth stirring for.
I made my way to find the bottles. Below my knees was the roof of the small cabin. I was lightheaded and leaned in toward the mainsail and fingered the boom as I moved. In the bow, I kneeled and opened the chest and fished around, finding two full bottles. I cradled them and gazed across the waters, scanning the darkened landscapes. Staten Island was dead ahead; Manhattan and Brooklyn were astern. Staten Island’s wilderness and distance from Brooklyn might provide a safe haven for now, I thought.
The gin was warm in my mouth, soothed my gullet, and opened my nostrils. I took a clean whiff of the salty air. There was an ever present fishy smell from the wooden boat. Yet I detected a foreign scent. It was that of flowery perfume, much like a woman would wear or…
“Dan Tucker, where are you little fool?” I called out. I banged my fist on the roof of the cabin and envisioned my arrival at the landing, then saw myself raising the sails and shoving off from the pier. I hadn’t been paying close attention, yet was still amazed old Dan could have slipped by me so easily. “I know you’re on board, Dan.”
The chest I had just rummaged through opened. Out climbed old Dan in his plaid taffeta vest. The light outlined his crooked nose and danced in his crazy eyes.
“What do you want with me?” I asked.
“I’m here to help you,” old Dan quacked. “We can only hope it is still possible.”
“What is it you’re hiding?” I said and pointed with my chin. A cloth was rolled up in his right hand, pressed against his thigh.
He unrolled the cloth to reveal a small knife.
“You think you’re going to kill me?” I said.
“No, but if the evil takes to you, then I shall kill the evil.”
“And me with it!”
“I’m fine,” I said. “Fit as a fiddle.”
“If so, you don’t have to worry.”
“You’re a loon. I should throw you overboard.”
“This very evening you asked us to save your soul if Black and Toren cast evil upon it.”
“I saw their blood pass to you.”
“I spit it out. I’m fine.”
“We shall see.”
“Is there a test?”
“If sunrise comes and you are asleep and can’t be woken up, then evil has taken root in your soul,” old Dan said.
“What are you going to do?”
“I’ll kill you proper.”
“Kill me proper,” I said, knowing part of the process included dismemberment. It was one of the ways to kill a demon, though I was told it didn’t always work. “I have to stay awake past sunrise. That’s easy enough.” I sipped the gin and stared at old Dan.
We played rummy for a few hours, and then poker until the first light of dawn. I lost count of the hundreds of dollars old Dan owed me. He put away the cards as we both craned our necks and watched the dark blue sky slowly turned purple and light blue.
“How do you feel?” old Dan asked.
“I wish I had more gin,” I yawned, having finished the two bottles of gin with some help from old Dan.
The first rays of sun stretched overhead, streaking the sky with red and orange.
“Does that hurt your eyes?”
“I’m fine. I want more gin.”
“Sure. Let us head back to Brooklyn,” he said.
“Told you I would pass the test.”
Clouds seemed to abruptly pass before the sun as the green water turned back to black. I put my hand over my mouth and yawned. I tried to set my eyes on Brooklyn. I yawned again, overcome by drowsiness. Sleep came like a punch to the face…
Black Is The Night – (Black Is The Night – The film version)
Forever Evil – (Forever Evil – The film version)