On any other day, any normal day at least, Blackie would have to wait a half hour or more just to get a seat at the breakfast counter. The Half Shell Diner was the most popular place in town, but not because the summer tourists liked it. Most, in fact, had no clue the diner even existed, for the locals kept its existence a secret as much as possible. Being located behind a gas station helped. No one complained, the food was worth the wait.
The dead man hanging upside down from the yard arm in front of the gas station changed all that.
Blackie, like the crowd of Half Shell regulars, was speechless as the volunteer fire department arrived to bring down the body. Soon enough, the ladder was being raised and a fire fighter scaled up the rungs, reaching the dead man hanging.
A man yelled “That’s old man Scribbs. A fitting death if you ask me!” Many onlookers agreed. The mob was starting to become unsettled. Blackie was getting worried. He was used to dealing with angry sportsmen trying to hide illegally caught fish, but mob mentality was not something he was accustomed to.
The Sherriff arrived and, seeing Blackie, asked the crowd to “make a hole” so the Ranger could get a look. Blackie really only wanted a sausage omelet with a side of hashed browns, not a close up view of a dead body.
“That’s Scribbs alright,” Blackie said. He had first met the old man during deer hunting season, when hunters complained someone had fenced off access to federal land teeming with deer. Scribbs owned the adjacent acreage and did not want anyone trespassing through his fields. On more than one occasion, Blackie had to mediate between Scribbs and hunters who had “accidentally” found a break in the fence line.
The body’s ashen gray complexion was startling. The Sherriff took out a camera and started taking photographs. He was most interested in a series of puncture wounds about the neck and wrists.
“Looks like he was bit all up by a bunch of dogs,” said the law man.
Again, the unsettling din of the crowd started to escalate. Now murmurings of vampirism had surfaced. This was the last thing Blackie needed. He hadn’t even had a cup of coffee yet.
Too damn close to the goats, he thought.
After the morbid affair was over, Blackie was able to snag a choice seat at the breakfast counter. The crowd thinned, the angst over Scribbs subsided and the pungent smell of hot, black coffee filled his nostrils. Trish had, as he expected, left the day before, so now was as good a time as any to start over. And Blackie Sherwood knew no better way to start over than a steaming cup of coffee.
Blackie raised the ceramic mug up to his lips and was about to take his first sip when a woman sat next to him. She stared directly at him, as if expecting him to drop everything and pay attention. She was pretty enough, but after experiencing the final demise of his marriage, Blackie was not interested in anything with strings attached.
“I’m sorry. Can I help you?”
She kept staring at him, saying nothing.
“Look, I’m sorry about the dead guy, that is – if you knew him. Or what? Do you want this chair? Is that it? You need this chair? You can have it. I’ll get my chow to go,” Blackie said. He motioned to the short order cook, Trixie, that his food was “walkin’.”
As he stood up, the woman latched onto his arm, preventing him from standing all the way up.
“You have seen the evil, Blackie Sherwood, son of Grace. You have seen the evil. Come to the lighthouse, Blackie Sherwood. You must save us.”
Blackie looked at her with such skepticism, he started to feel guilty. Evil? What is she talking about? And my mother’s name wasn’t Grace. It was Angela. Who is this woman?
Taking another sip of coffee, Blackie turned to face the woman. He had decided to pass on helping out. With only a few days left on the payroll, he needed to clear out his things from the office, then start working on a resume. Blackie would have to move quickly to find new employment. He only had a pittance saved; in fact, the only reason Trish didn’t take his money when she left was because the balance was too low. She felt embarrassed to ask for it at the teller window.
The only problem now was – the woman was gone.
- Blood Lust – Episode 1 (djlutz.wordpress.com)