Last summer I thought my idea for a book about Amish Vampires was pure genius. After some thought Robert Kroese agreed. (Yeah, I’m name dropping, but when a popular author who writes cool books calls your idea genius it’s hard to keep it quiet.)
A few other authors kinda yawned in a “been there, done that” way since the Amish-Vampire concept is an old joke around the ACFW circles. Plus, it’s already “been done.”
Yes, there is an Amish Vampire book out there. But it’s not my Amish Vampires. My Amish Vampire book is a murder mystery with a flapper detective and the ghost of Mark Twain.
But alas, I wrote 13 pages of the Amish Vampire flapper detective ghost of Mark Twain book and got intimidated. My concept was quirky humor with more than a dash of serious spiritual implications and I wasn’t sure I was a strong enough writer to pull it off.
I’m not deleting those files yet, because it will be a fantastic story, someday.
In the mean time, enjoy the intro scene!
A tall, thin, gypsy with a droopy black mustache and inky black eyes picked at his mandolin on the stage. He watched me as he played.
The room pulsed with the sound of the band’s slow jazz and with bodies moving together on the dance floor. Waiters in white tie tuxedos and tails carried steel coffee pots of gin around the room, topping off the drinks we carried in coffee mugs. I let the passing penguin refill my own drink with his hooch. I toyed with the mug, watching the liquid swish side to side as I swayed to the song.
A florid faced man in a grey suit stood next to me. He had wandering hands so I inched my way closer to the gypsy and his band. The man with the hands didn’t have sufficient interest in my person to follow. That, or he saw my fiance and his glowering looks approaching. I saw my Reggie, and turned away.
Tonight we were at Reggie’s favorite club, The Wicked Tap, known for its gypsy band and for never getting raided. I had discovered, over the last few months, that Reggie at his club was a very different man from Reggie in the parlor of the Wix family of Washington Square. I think the strength of the drink that passed around under the innocent lid of the coffee pot was behind the change.
Whatever the cause, I had begun to find our wedding date to be uncomfortably close. My mother and I had discussed the problem at length, but in the end, my step-father liked Reggie and reminded me that I had liked Reggie enough to say yes to his proposal just last month.
I tapped my toe on the parquet floor and watched the black leather of my t-strap go up and down on the wood.
Reggie finally made it to my side with his own mug of whiskey. He kissed me right above the ear. “Dance?” He led me with his arm on my back out to the dance floor. With our cups in our hands we attempted to dance and talk.
“There’s a bet going on.” Reggie leaned in close but his voice was loud.
I didn’t want to hear about the bet. One issue had all of New York in a state of panic. As a city we were transfixed by the killings at the Sing-Sing prison.
Reggie pulled me a little closer, my chest bumping his. I turned my head and held my mug away from him so it wouldn’t spill. “Do you want to know the odds?” His words slurred together.
I did not want to know the odds. Reggie curled his lip up in an imitation of a smile, “Odds are on the Slayer to wipe out murders row.” Reggie leaned close, his breath like a poisonous gas of hooch and cigarettes. “But I disagree. I put my money on political prisoners.”
I pulled away from Reggie, but he grabbed my wrist and yanked me back. My shoes skidded on the waxed dance floor. “Think I’ll make my money back?”
I refused to answer, and twisted my wrist in his grip.
“Cat got your tongue?” He laughed like a pig, snorting. He pulled me across the dance floor and into a small dark room in the back of the club. Acrid blue smoke filled the room like fog. Five men leaned over a bar in the back corner and argued.
“Listen to them, sweet Sadie.” Reggie carried me to the group of men. He held me next to him, still gripping my wrist. I turned my wrist in his hand and pushed against his thumb to break his grasp.
“How much will I make tomorrow if the Sing-Sing Slayer kills a red?” Reggie shouted to the man behind the counter.
The bookie coughed into his fist, “Come on Reggie,” he said with a frown and a nod in my direction. He tipped his green visor up and gave me a weak smile.
“Tell Miss Sadie here what I win if a commie dies.” Reggie was shouting despite the closeness of the room. He jerked my arm up over my head so that I slammed into his side. I looked away from the bookie. I didn’t want his sympathy.
“Get her outa here.” An older man at the bar said. “This ain’t no place for broads.” He gave me a sad smile and took a long pull on his cigarette.
Reggie dropped my wrist and gripped me by the side with his big hands. He held me against him. I leaned close and whispered, “Come on baby, let’s go.” I needed to get him a coffee and put him to bed.
“Tell her, tell her how rich I’ll be if the commie dies. Then I’ll get her pretty face outa here.” He gripped me hard.
I tried to get a deep breath but between his steel fingers and the smoke I couldn’t do it. I did not want to hear the numbers.
“Ten grand.” The bookie looked down at his paper. “Happy now?” He turned his back on me and Reggie.
Reggie pushed me away at arms length and laughed, “We’ll be rich, baby! If a commie bites it, we’ll be rich!”
I reached for the edge of the bar, but my fingers grip the varnished wood. The cup, in my other hand, seemed to rise and fall. I felt the cold whisky hit my chest and then—nothing.