I know, I know, It’s so CHEAP how I do these excerpts instead of writing a post when I’m tired. But I don’t want you guys to forget about me. And you seem to be enjoying this story. So. More Day Brothers for you. The story is beginning to come together, so hold on to the seat of your pants, or whatever it is you do when a story comes together.
If you missed the earlier parts, here they are:
Woo! When I do the next one, I can use a V! Excitement!
“I don’t know if this is such a great idea,” Derek said, as they frantically piled the dirty dishes in the sink. “I mean, he’s a giant, and he’s got pointed teeth. Does that sound like one of the good guys, to you?”
“Of course it doesn’t. I’m not stupid, Der.”
“And the house is filthy.”
“Well, we can’t help that. As long as Dad’s around, it’s never going to be clean and we might as well not bother. Besides, Mom said to do this. And Mother,” he added gloomily, “always knows best.”
“Course she does,” Derek agreed. “It’s hard not to, when you’ve seen it all play out. But she doesn’t always mean what we think she meant, you know? Remember Alston Street?”
“Ugh,” said Deacon, finding a stash of forks in the living room with week-old mashed potatoes still clinging to the tines. “We really need to get working and clean this place for real, at some point. And yes, Derek. I remember Alston Street. But we still did exactly what Mom said, and it still worked out. Sort of.”
“I almost lost a finger.”
“Well, that’s what you get when an unquiet spirit’s throwing knives. She never said it would be easy.”
“She never does,” Derek said gloomily.
There was a thunderous rapping on the door.
“That’s him,” said Derek, shoving a dirty dish towel into the overflowing trash can. “He’s about knocked the door off.”
They left the filthy kitchen for the unswept and unmopped foyer. A vase of yellow roses, left over from Madame Day’s passing, sat calcifying on the side table, still whole under a layer of dust.
“Hmm,” their visitor said, as they both moved back to accommodate his bulk. “I take it your business doesn’t do well enough to account for maid service.”
“Yes,” Deacon said. “Well. We’ll take some tea on the porch.”
Derek led the large man back out onto the porch, and would, Deacon fervently prayed, let him have the sturdiest of the old rocking chairs. Deacon made tea in Mama Day’s old kettle and poured it into the only three clean mugs he could find. After a moment’s thought, he grabbed a box of crackers from the pantry and emptied it onto a plate.
The cabinet door, which he had left open, abruptly slammed shut. Deacon’s sixth sense began to tingle unpleasantly.
“Shit,” said Deacon.
The doors of all the cabinets began slamming shut unaided, in an odd synchronized flow of noise. One of the clean mugs lifted itself up and slammed abruptly back to the table, sloshing steaming tea all over Deacon and the newspapers piled beside him.
“Dammit, Dad,” Deacon ground out. “We have a client in the house. Stop it.”
The mug lifted up again. This time, it slammed down so hard it shattered.
“Dad,” Deacon said.
Neither Day brother knew how they knew the old house’s poltergeist was their long departed father. Maybe it was the slamming sounds he made on the staircase late at night, reminiscent of their father’s heavy tread. Maybe it was the way he had found the old box of seventies Playboys up in the attic and dumped them all over the sunroom floor.
Maybe it was the scent that lingered after his apparitions–a combination of sweat, English Leather, and drain cleaner. It was their father’s scent, a smell Deacon associated with childhood Christmases and going to the fair. With childhood.
It was not, however, something he liked associating with mischievous ectoplasmic manifestations in his own home. Especially not ones that made more of a mess than he did.
Deacon and Derek’s father had died fifteen years ago. A heart attack at night, sudden and unexpected. He’d been fairly young–only forty eight–and Deacon imagined he’d left a lot of things unsaid and undone.
Whatever he’d left unsaid and undone, however, he’d seemed perfectly fine with–at least, until Mama Day passed away. Deacon supposed he, much like his sons, had been willing to wait until the afterlife to venture forward, when the coast should’ve been clear.
The sugar bag hovered above the table.
“Don’t,” Deacon said. “Jesus. Please don’t–”
The sugar bag upended itself.
“Dammit, Dad.” He went for the broom and the dustpan.
When he came back, a single word had been traced in the sugar with an invisible finger.
“Huh,” said Deacon. He’d never tried communicating with it before, other than yelling when things started slamming and getting spilled. Mom had always said there was no reasoning with poltergeists, and there had never been any reasoning with Donald Day, anyway.
Maybe it was time to try.
“The man out front,” Deacon said slowly. “Is he what’s dangerous?”
There was silence in the wrecked kitchen. Deacon’s sixth sense, cultivated since toddlerhood, informed him something was waiting, gathering its strength.
Slowly, a shaky line appeared under the word DANGER.
“Should we help him? C’mon, Dad. Give me something I can use here.”
But there was no answer. The spirit, Deacon’s sixth sense informed him, was gone.
Sighing, Deacon swept up the sugar and deposited it, after some consideration of the overflowing trash recepticle, in the sink. He ran the water until it was gone, gone, gone.
He went back outside, balancing the plate of crackers on top of the two remaining mugs of tea.
To his surprise, his svelte brother and the overtattooed giant seemed to be having a pleasant conversation, sitting side by side in their rocking chairs. The giant had his phone in his hand, and was showing Derek something on it.
“Ah,” Derek said, when he saw Deacon. “There you are! Took you long enough. Pass me one of those mugs, and take a look at this. Ivan, d’you need cream or sugar?”
Ivan. Of course the seven foot tall bald man was named Ivan.
“I take it plain,” Ivan said. The man’s voice, though deep, was strangely mild, strangely cultured. “Thank you, Mr. Day.”
“Just call me Deacon,” Deacon said. “It gets confusing, otherwise.”
“Ah. Yes.” The man fiddled with his phone. ‘At any rate, Mr…Deacon. My organization and I have been in pursuit of an item wrongfully stolen from us for quite some time. We tracked it down, a few days ago, to a small independently run convenience store downtown. We sent one of our best young men to claim it. This is the video his spotter sent me of what happened.”
Deacon watched the video. He blinked, watched it again.
It made no more sense the second time around than it had the first. A middleaged woman, cheeks obviously over-rouged even in the grainy video, got out of her car in a faceless dim alley. She was carrying a lockbox under one arm. A young man–Ivan’s ‘best young man’, he assumed–approached her, holding a firearm that looked like it belonged in a dystopian science fiction flick. He gestured at her, yelled something. The woman, surprised, dropped the lockbox.
And that was where it got weird.
A door behind the woman’s car opened. The woman whirled, stared, just as though there were something in the empty doorway. She yelled something.
And then, like a cherry on the chocolate sundae of weirdness he was observing, the young man began to float a few feet in the air. He shook, dropped his weapon. Looked like he was about to beg for something.
And, promptly, imploded.
It was the only word Deacon could think of. Something blurred, violent, and too quick to see clearly happened, and then the young man started shrinking, like a sponge ball crammed into something entirely too small to hold it. His features underwent several physically impossible transitions, mouth twisted in agony, until they were at last obscured by a fine fountain of red.
In the end, there was nothing left of him but dust.
“Jesus,” Deacon whispered. “What the fuck was that?”
“Language, Mr. Day,” said the seven foot monster currently stuffed into one of his rocking chairs.
Deacon kept watching, fascinated. The woman, with shaking hands, lit a cigarette. She was talking to someone, someone it looked like she trusted.
Talking to someone who wasn’t, for all practical intents and purposes, there.
Deacon watched it one more time. On the third try, it sunk in.
“Vampires,” he breathed. “Holy…heck. You guys found a vampire.”
“You sound very surprised.”
“I am. Vampires’re tough to catch in the wild, and they generally don’t like to be found, which makes it even tougher than it is already.” Deacon paused the video at a spot where the young man was dangling in the air, feet limp, staring with eye-popped terror at something none of his observers could see. “They’re not as evil as their reputation, maybe, but they’ll fight hard to protect their privacy. I don’t mean to question your credentials, Ivan. But whatever group you’re a part of, are you sure you’re ready to mess with vampires?”
Ivan pointed to something on the screen. His finger was about as wide as the phone itself, so it was hard to make out precisely what he was pointing at.
“Erm,” said Deacon. “You might have to…narrow things down for me.”
Sighing, Ivan plucked a pen from his jacket pocket and pointed with that. It wasn’t the young man, and it wasn’t his weird gun, glinting forgotten from under a dumpster.
It was the lockbox.
“There’s something in there,” Ivan said slowly, locking eyes with each Day brother in turn. “Something extremely dangerous. I’ll admit, my dear friends, that we aren’t precisely a charitable organization–I’ll admit that my employers are far from charitable men. But the thing in this box must not find its way out into the population. Charity or no, my employers recognize full well when they are part of an ecosystem, and do not wish it to change.”
The giant’s eyes were utterly sincere. It was frightening, Deacon reflected, what fear in the eyes of a seven foot tall man could mean.
“Unfortunately,” Ivan continued, “it would be…somewhat difficult…for our men to approach this vampire, given the nature of our employment. But you, perhaps, could do it. And the vampire is not, we think, a full vampire–we think he is a fledgling, one not yet born into the full ways of the undead. We do not particularly care if he lives or dies. We only want the box.”
“Have you considered just asking him?” Derek asked. He didn’t look any happier about this than Deacon felt.
“That is,” Ivan began. Deacon got the distinct sense he wanted to finish with the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, but was far too polite. “Impossible.”
“Of course,” Derek said. “You can’t ever just ask for something.”
“The thing in the box,” Deacon said slowly, ignoring his brother. “I suppose we can’t know what it is, then?”
The giant’s smile was surprisingly gentle, for a smile full of pointed teeth. “No,” he said. “It’s better, we think, if the world never knows.”
Deacon looked down at Ivan’s phone again. He had frozen the video in such a way that the young man seemed suspended in midair by a cloud of pure violence, energy and dust and gore.
He then looked up. He looked at the porch with its peeling paint, the weathered old rockers, the front door bowed half out of its lintel, its cracked panes of Victorian glass. He looked at his brother, whose sweater could use some darning and whose jeans were developing holes. Whose coffee mug was chipped, and from a thrift store and said ‘#1 GRANDPA’ in patchy block caps.
Well, they were used to danger.
“What,” he asked, “is in it for us, if we do this?”
Ivan seemed to have been expecting this question–he smiled slightly, waved for momentary patience, walked back out to the driveway at the side of the house, where Deacon assumed he had parked.
He returned with a black leather briefcase, of the variety Deacon usually associated with drug deals in nineties action movies. He balanced it on the porch railing and popped the locks.
He lifted the lid.
“Holy shit,” Derek said softly.
Inside, packed in neat little wrappers, were row after row of hundred dollar bills, from one end of the case to the next.
“Once we’ve discussed terms,” Ivan said, “would you like a ten percent advance?”