Only moments had passed since I reached the beach, having jumped over the side of a ghost ship and swam to save what was left of my life.
I collapsed in the wet sand and focused on the sky with some trepidation. Burning bright colors began to quickly replace shades of dark blue and purple. The sunrise was minutes away. Birds sang triumphantly. Though it took a moment to hear that just below the sound of the breeze were cries, shrieks, and muttering voices. They came from far off, including the ever-expanding Atlantic, lapping at my feet. The exclamations were from my brothers and sisters of the night, who despised daylight.
The voices began to grow quiet. Rays of sunlight beamed directly over the eastern waters. I was in a lousy state as I fought off a growing drowsiness. I wanted to brave the morning light.
I lifted my head and leaned on my elbows. The beach was flat and stretched in both directions. The sand gave way to high grass and trees dappled with black birds. A few small hotels overlooked the shoreline. Scattered across the water were boats of all sizes. Some had sails raised, while others steamed by, sending up plumes of smoke. Five miles or so across the water was New Jersey. Far off to the west were the green hills of Staten Island. It seemed to connect Brooklyn with NJ.
Overwhelmed by an unusual need to sleep, I tensed as the full sun broke away from the horizon. Its rays did not burn, though stung my eyes. My next breath filled my lungs as any other breath. My muscles eased. Warmth penetrated my wet clothes. There was no denying how the infusion of demon blood had changed me. At such an hour in the past, I might have favored the touch of a woman, but now I longed for the furor and fists of a man. All, so I could return the violence. Maybe that was fleeting, I hoped.
The belief slowly came to me that I was not a slave to the night as legend would have it. The almost painful desire for sleep seemed the only detriment to living during the day. I could control the violent emotions, I believed. Then in the night, the glorious night, I would thrive.
I decided not to run from Jack Jefferies and his demon killers. I had been one of them. I was still one of them. And leaving New York was out of the question. It was why I had hours ago risked “my life” and jumped off the ghost ship. Though for a moment, fearing Jack’s wrath, I did imagine trying to run off. The people outside of New York were very different. It would be difficult to become one of them (as to become a New Yorker, one just had “to be”). Even the poorest southerners had airs of aristocracy, while those from the northern states believed far too deeply in their moral superiority, as if they were the only ones endowed by our Creator. And then there were the shadows, as many a half-man like myself chose to live. If I tried such a life in New York, Jack and his men would forever search me out. I would never be able to have a moment with both eyes closed.
But I was forever different, more different than any man would want to be. But was I evil to the bone… That was for Jack to decide.
Right off the beach, I found a surplus of fine stores in the resort town of Rockaway. It was a bright and sunny June day. All the establishments were open for business. Thankfully, I could satiate my most immediate needs, as my pockets were stuffed with money. I bought a new suit, good leather shoes, and had a bath and a shave. I caught sight of myself in the barber’s mirror. I looked liked a fine drunkard. My face was dark red and scarred from many a fight. But my bloodshot eyes set me apart. Having faced both real and demonic killers, what I had seen on their face, I now saw in my eyes. It was a nefarious light. I feared it would never leave.
I headed into Clarke’s House of Refreshments. It was a two-story home that served as a six penny eatery. Overly sluggish, but clean and well-dressed, I went inside to find a bustling crowd of early summer revelers. I had a breakfast of coffee, cheese, rashers and bread. A fat man was selling cigars at one of the tables. I acquired one, which had a rich odor, then went out for a smoke and also to bask in the sun. The light still stung, but did not alter my condition. One-half hour later, I returned to the eating house for a tin of beer. I had three beers, then devoured a succulent lunch of lamb chops, potatoes, beans, and apple pie.
Afterwards, instead of taking a ferry, as I had had enough exposure to the sea the previous night, I hired a coach for the trek across Queens into Brooklyn, to our firehouse in Brooklyn Heights. I was headed to see Jack. Let him decide my fate. Because if he thought I should die, then so be it. Better dead, than living as a beast of nocturnal burden.
The coach bumped and skipped along the journey over cobbled and dirt roads. The driver was drinking whiskey. I could smell it, as easily as the gas he expelled. He muttered to himself often, while chewing on a fowl-smelling, unlit cigar. I would have slept, if not for the constant desire to pounce on the man. I gazed out the window and tried to set my violent energy upon other things. But the rage was hard to quell. It seemed there was only one cure. To kill a man…
Black Is The Night – (Black Is The Night – The film version)
Forever Evil – (Forever Evil – The film version)