No 18 - Summer 2012
The Wrothschild Chronicles
Book one: Undying Love
Readers of Freddie in our last issue will be sorry to learn that Freddie's self-awareness unit was destroyed when the alligator it was resting in was caught by poachers and made into five Mulberry handbags.
But 800 miles north in New York City another story was unfolding...
Joachim Funk yawned with boredom and smugness; he was a one legged tramp who had a regular guaranteed food supply at a nearby monastery run by Franciscan monks. He had a bible and a magnifying glass on his lap as he lazily surveyed his outdoor vista of the New York City canal from his derelict cast-off sofa crawling with lice. He feared no rats, cockroaches or lice though they were his neighbours. He claimed to the hospitable Franciscans that he was the last of the true Jews and that Hitler's holocaust 4,000 miles away had preposterously slain with great brutality all of his blood kin in the Levi tribe. He spoke Yiddish, Aramaic, Hebrew, German, French and English, which proficiencies greatly impressed the Jesuits and Franciscans.
He patted his belly full of baked beans, fish fingers, french fries and beefburgers - it was dusk and storm clouds loomed further north in the Bronx, over the Harlem River. As the damp soft wind blew his black curls hither and thither, Joachim inwardly celebrated that he had never worked for a living – at neither manual nor clerical tasks. He had silently, nonchalantly and laconically admired the beatniks, the Haridi, the hippies, the situationists and the Stilyagin for their deep evasiveness and reluctance when it came to the question of toil (or travail as the drop-outs called it).
But he studied. Oh, how he studied! He had memorized with his photographic recall the entirety of the Encyclopaedia Americana - all thirty sleek and handsome volumes – in the world famous New York Public Library downtown near Central Park. He had decided 30 years ago to unswervingly read one volume a year.
But he wrote nothing. Not a bean. He never committed himself to ink, not even postcards or census forms. Instead of signing his name for his fortnightly statutory allowance from Medicare in Harlem, he merely penned a cross. And to the state's officials he always claimed to be a know-nothing, irrelevant and no opposition. To officialdom he was an ignorant hobo.
A drunken Puerto Rican sailor had cost him his leg when he was a mellow 49, but that's another horror story. Now he was 62 and high on strong pain-killers.
Four hundred yards away George Mazarin and Erzulie Lilith Donetz spied upon him, passing army-surplus binoculars to each other, from the roof of a deserted cinema. Not knowing that he was doomed, Joachim Funk thought of another solitary, lonesome but fulfilling day starting on the morrow. He planned to visit a physiotherapist in the United Nations building just off Broadway. A man who would charge him only one silver dollar a month for improving his sluggish blood circulation. Funk would be dead by midnight but he smiled his lazy cynical smile, not aware that he was insulting infinity and eternity – whose vengeance meant sometimes deploying vampire attackers.
Joachim reached under the cushions of the outdoor sofa for his slim sleeping bag. By November, he hoped, he would get an indoor shelter, care of Cafod or the Salvation Army.
He stretched out on the sofa, on the pedestrian walkway beneath the Blankendorp Bridge which was almost totally covered in colourful graffiti and murals. The canal, full of effluent, stank. But he was not allergic to it anymore.
He snored. He dreamed of swimming with two good legs in the New York sound. He never knew his killers. They took him in his sleep, one at the carotid and the other at the jugular. Ah! – the thrills and perils of the great roaming outdoor life!
They are only for the best,
Glee, happiness and zest!
the graffiti merrily announced on the huge blank north wall of Fort Harlem as Sergeant Starkey drove with Patrolman Manning to the gruesome scene which had been revealed at dawn by another tramp rooting in the rubbish bin only fifty yards along the towpath, up-canal from the blood-soaked sofa where Joachim Funk had drawn his last breath.
“You know, these tramps are not quite irrelevant nor innocent – they are living criticisms of family life, the work ethic, and public hygiene – and they won't collaborate as police informers ever,” said Manning in his American brogue.
“Rough sleepers and vampires – what an awful unnatural combination – do you believe there is a God of love?” asked Starkey with a slightly hysterical strain in his vocal chords.
* * *
“Sweeter than wine, blood divine,” said George Mazarin as he licked his lips at the memory of the night's primordial supper. “We should use the binoculars more often,” he added, whilst stroking Erzulie Lilith Donetz's arm in the rear diner at Yancy's restaurant near Battery Park. Despite the bloodshed of their escapade, they did not have a single spot of the precious red elixir staining their clothing or skin. Never having met them, Colonel Sandhurst, PH* was in the 85 Broad Street vestibule of Goldman Sachs merchant bankers at that moment: a man who would regret meeting them.
He flicked through a colour supplement documentary about the suicides and murders in that decade in the Big Apple. He winced and scowled at the pictures of New York youths at Bloody Angle showing off their new-fad T-shirts bearing such messages as Don’t Do It, Drag Me Straight To Hell and Goodbye Cruel World. He squirmed in his leather Chesterfield chaise-longue as he saw the T-shirt with the logo “The Colonel Did It,” an allusion to the board game Cluedo.
“Fact: 720 hobos murdered in Manhattan in the last decade and only 38 culpable persons brought to trial as a result,” ran the newspaper story. USA Today was a left-of-centre Protestant nationwide tabloid which complained daily about the state of the nation and specialized in embarrassing statistics to assail (usually local) government. Colonel Charles Sandhurst noted grimly but steadfastly that the murdered drifter hobos had all been drained of blood according to sleuths, journalists and social workers, all of whom were unanimous that this was a systematic concerted attack with military secrecy upon the morale of the destitute. All 38 defendants had been sent down pending psychiatric reports. None were genuine vampires - most were victimized wildcat strikers who were advocates of anti-union activities such as conspiracy to grand larceny. The city's Republicans obsessively persecuted all leftists and paid many grand to put them out of circulation, linking them adroitly to attacks upon other sectarians such as the Mensheviks of Boston and the Black Panthers of Harlem and Oakland. (The G.O.P. and trade union leaders were enjoying a convergence of elites.)
* * *
Charles Sandhurst ran an undercover U.S. Army intelligence unit of 400 soldiers in mufti, infiltrating the huge minority of dissidents and their favourite media such as The East Village Other, Nasty Tales, and City Lights, all of which condoned draft-dodging, drug-taking, work-shirking, promiscuity and minority uprisings supporting Mexican, Native American, Negro, Jewish and Eskimo rights. He guessed that satanism was a big cult philosophy ridiculing the Presbyterian and Catholic faiths, dismissing them merely as the flat earth society.
Sandhurst at last got into the deputy chief's office in the penthouse at Goldman Sachs, where he perfunctorily reported that another insurrection was planned by leftwingers on May 1st. He was bored and inattentive. Hell, he should retire, no more sleepless nights reading dossiers on leftist resentment and class murders. Banditry, nihilism, iconoclasm and savagery were old hat to him, despite them being fascinating forms of anomie and dysfunction to his employers the frigid rigid State Department now concealed inside Goldman Sachs. Blasé and jaded, he accepted a gratuitous tumbler of whisky.
Which socioeconomic class or caste did the two vampires belong to, or have affinity for? Neither carried much cash. But their common ancestor, Imhorst, was a descendant of Jacques Moy and indeed the extended kinship group held seventy shops as a combine in Bordeaux and Nantes. The Bay of Biscay (Viscaya) was the summer playground for the suspected million and a half blood-drinkers at large. They were “blessed” by the High Church of Haemophilia whose secret temples were lavish affairs in Atlantic France. Haemoglobin, their source of addiction, was now for sale even on the internet. This was for any geriatric vampires who were no longer fit and capable enough to overwhelm their victims. Like the trade in human embryos, about blood sales the State Department could do little to offset the turpidity of what was a protected commodity market: a black market nonetheless - a callous mercenary vice-ring.
* * *
Sandhurst's chief of staff, Hank Wortel, was fast asleep, dreaming of a brothel and fellatio in Kansas City, in the driver's seat of an abandoned rusty car on a vacant lot at Gramercy Park on the hillock overlooking U Thant Island in the East River. Stealthily, silently and sneakily, George and Erzulie, mistaking him for a tramp, killed him inside seconds by withdrawing the scarlet life force expertly from his arteries. They drank and gurgled deliriously with deep delight. The new gluttony was in power. His white shrunken corpse was gone over by D.N.A. forensics boffins in the hope of securing vital fresh data upon yet another baffling vampire murder. The news headlines screamed in fear, terror and panic.
Manhattan's free Americans, used to tranquillity and consumerism alone, now were tense and drawn; even children were haggard due to sleepless nights, haunted by trepidation. Their parents read them newspaper headlines, not fairy stories or nursery rhymes anymore. The “terror” was the most anxiety-provoking since David Berkowitz was at large as the Son of Sam in the 1970's.
Occultists wrote to the newspapers and rang up radio stations, many claiming that the Mafia or Ku Klux Klan – ideal bogeys – were culpable in these vampire slayings so ruthless, amoral and callous.
Whitley Strieber and Anne Rice, two intrepid vampirologists, left town fearing lynch mobs because of their lack of data and the unhappy idea that they might be targeted by vigilantes. “Look for fangs and talons,” both wrote in a joint statement to the New York Times. These two doyens were the city's only well-known experts on the subject of lycanthropy – yes, wolfmen were still the main suspects, mainly due to the excessive errors of U.S. popular culture. But Erzulie and George were escapologists and not lupine. They were high-IQ mutants still recognizably human. Their diet and their agility as well as their longevity set them as members of a race apart.
(drawings by Shane Wheatley)
Now Charles Sandhurst had been given a strong incentive. He had decided summarily not to resign after all. He would find Wortel's killer or killers. He popped a couple of prozac quaaludes and surveyed his mental contents for salient evidence. He'd be damned before he'd give up, he thought angrily.
He trawled the internet for over a week at his bachelor duplex in Union City, way north of these almost military atrocities. What had the police got to? – any relevant dossier data could defeat this dark enemy. Still he had not surmised the obvious link between ragged clothing, tramp stench, outdoor living and the victimization process.
Then the vampires struck again – two tramps, both drunk on metholated spirits, had been found bloodless in Murray Hill Park, another district of Manhattan. Again no witnesses, no other motive except bloodshift, and no opportunity except: other tramps???
Sandhurst had all of Manhattan's and Long Island's rough sleepers pulled in for interrogation, D.N.A. testing, photographing and finger-printing. The hullabaloo in the police cells of the city was terrific and militant. There were many scuffles and violent protests in the 17th century Tombs prison. But none of the criminological procedures about the 7,000 tramps elicited any truly useful information about the “V-murders.”
“Shiva and Kali and Jack the Ripper have sent us to New York City via Biarritz to punish the insouciant tramps of the New England Medicare dependency system,” George Mazarin reminded Erzulie Lilith Donetz, “and we have not failed them. Indeed, we are honoured. I can feel it in my heart and brain.” said George now tumescent and passionately fondling Erzulie's erect nipples. “Cock fun,” she said, just as lascivious as himself. It was pure incest, since they both shared the same mother, Dinah Columbine.
Colonel Sandhurst had a dream which was a lucid exposé as if sent by an archangel of celestial intelligence. It was metaphysical, transcendental and supernatural. He dreamed that he was in a cheap 2-star hotel in Spanish Harlem, witnessing the sexual orgy, which lasted twelve hours, between two vampires – who had nothing but tenderness for each other but who couldn't conceal their fangs.
He awoke with a start. An invisible but forceful presence was in the room. Its breathing was just barely audible. Sandhurst had ceased believing in an omnipotent God of Love in Vietnam when he was once completely surrounded by the shattered gore of his entire platoon of comrades. The divinity of mercy even now – was this his presence in Sandhurst's hotel room? – was less than helpful. Had he transmitted the revelatory dream??
Colonel Sandhurst frenetically and with some awe soiled himself and stormed into the hotel's lavatory to clean himself up. Teleportation and its dangers frightened him witless. Charles Sandhurst had read the major opus of Harry Price, ghostfinder, a classic of the 1930's about occult crime. He wanted a technological heat-detector like Dr Price's to detect ghosts and other lost souls in the Coldworld. Which cheap flophouse was the dream about?
Through the dream-windows a red neon light across the street had shone its lurid glory. Within hours, conversation with police urban geography specialists revealed this as Rossi's Restaurant of 98th Street and Tenth Avenue.
Sandhurst decided to storm the building, but forgot the necessary silver bullets and wooden stakes, the clover and crucifixes, the holy water and the incantations. He took a hundred militiamen under his command to storm Foster's Hotel opposite Rossi's – each man carried two detective specials - .36's.
The two vampires laughed merrily with their perfect health and perfect nutrition and perfect immorality. On the sofa of their parlour on the middle floor of Foster's they kissed incestuously, passionately, earnestly, and confessed their eternal love. They were suddenly aware of a great clamorous noise from the other end of the corridor as Colonel Sandhurst's highly paid killers shouted loudly to hide their fears.
The vampires' suite door flew off its hinges and a hail of bullets aimed at them caused George and Erzulie to arch their eyebrows at the temerity and chutzpah of those pesky humans.
The bullets, dead on target, merely disappeared without harm into their extraterrestrial bodies, and the first twenty shootists simply screamed and fled in horror at this miracle transgressing the stanchion laws of physics and biology.
But the stampede in the floor's narrow corridor caused some to be crushed to death. The smell of diarrhoea was pervasive and supreme. The military police unit, terrified to insanity, prematurely aged in seconds and started shooting each other with angry mutual disgust. Their intended targets (the two sacred vampires) were superhuman and supernatural.
The seventy sole survivors of this friendly fire ran right out of the cheap pension and, even forsaking their vehicles, left 98th Street on foot, some gibbering and some foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs. Sandhurst himself lay dead as the strange aliens stepped over him on their own charmed way out.
Serene and full of absolutely spontaneous gaiety, hand-in-hand, George and Erzulie, smiling from their hearts at each other, walked gratefully westwards towards New Jersey in search of truly “fresh” adventures, their consciences clear. And both lived happily ever after.
* He had won the purple heart in 1947 as an airborne ranger at Hue in Vietnam for counter-attacking and killing 72 Viet Cong who had wounded both himself and the pilot of the helicopter gunship.
Page(s) 14-15 and 20
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The