This exchange happens after we've already met Andrew and Jeremy in part 1. For those of you just jumping in, the only thing you need know is that Jeremy is a vampire and Andrew is his mortal best friend. Together they hunt and kill other vampires.
Frances “Frank” Timothy Tercero climbed shakily out of the black taxi and stood in front of 23 Girton Rd NW11 8AG. The cab had driven past it three times while they had looked for the house number, and after some arguing and calculations using the other houses, they eventually realized that it must have been here. Frank gripped his suitcases and gulped at the towering hedges that were trimmed to a tidy and forbidding 10 feet. A small “Rooms To Let” sign was stuck in it, drowning in tiny green leaves. Upon inspection, Frank found a low metal gate peeking out from a portal cut in the privet wall. It opened silently and he peered into the gloom. A large ash tree caressed the red-tile roof of a handsome half-timber house and blocked the few rays of sunlight that were brave enough to climb over the hedge. Sure enough a pair of brass numbers glinted in the dim green light. This was number 23.
“Crap,” he muttered. Steeling his courage, and taking a deep breath, Frank marched resolutely up the walk towards the glassed in boot room. He marveled further at the gloomy front yard. Instead of a lawn there was a sea of ground ivy that strayed onto the flagstone walkway and caught at his trouser legs. A sun catcher made of lead and stained yellow glass twirled idly in an unfelt breeze. Frank wondered what on earth the sun catcher was meant to catch, seeing as there wasn’t a speck of light. He glanced up at the windows and smiled at the old-fashioned diamond shapes of the leaded panes.
“Just like something out of Shakespeare’s time,” he said to himself with a grin. Frank had very little imagination, but he had a highly developed romantic mind. He’d never read a lot of novels as a kid or watched cartoons. He’d preferred to read books about history and famous people of centuries past. While his generation was watching “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Thunder Cats”, he was pouring over books about the Roman Empire and the Ancient Greece. He’d read about the lives of Lincoln, Jefferson, Bonaparte, Charlemagne and Caesar.
And he read about England. It was a fascinating country to him —it was like all the world’s history had been crammed into an island the size of Louisiana. All his life he’d wanted to visit it. And now that Father Brennan was making him take an enforced sabbatical from Seminary it seemed a good place to find himself. He winced at the memory of that meeting, and with a heavy heart, rang the doorbell.
He waited a while, and no one came. He decided he must not have pushed the button hard enough and tried again, pushing firmly on the button. This time the brittle rubber button became stuck to his thumb and came away from the post, pulling the plastic casing with it. Some wires that looked thoroughly dead and rotten trailed back to the doorpost. Uncertain what to do next, Frank looked around to see if he could spot anyone at the windows, but all he could see were heavy curtains.
Leaning on the glass door it gave way immediately and he wandered into the boot room, twiddling his fingers in anxiety. He approached the heavy white door featuring a brass knocker shaped like the head of Hermes. Frank knocked firmly and the sound bounced off the glass panes. His eyelids suddenly drooped as he unleashed a head-splitting yawn. Checking his cellphone, he noted that back in Baltimore it was 6am, while over here, it was around lunchtime.
He was shaken out of his tiredness when he heard hissing whispers on the other side of the door. It sounded like two people having a heated argument they didn’t want overheard. With a sudden hiss of “shut-it!” the door popped open and two men stood grinning on the threshold. Both of their grins seemed rather forced.
Frank pushed up his spectacles to get a better look at them. They both looked like men in their mid-thirties but their similarities ended there. One looked like a quiet gentleman with eccentric taste in clothing; he wore an overlarge shirt tucked into high-waisted trousers that were held up by very old-fashioned two-button suspenders. He was pale and very thin, almost sickly looking, like some of the chemo patients Frank had worked with — except for a mop of snowy shoulder-length hair. His grin revealed very white teeth with long canines. Frank wasn’t normally put off by these. He was a quarter Italian and all his Mediterranean cousins sported long canines. But in this pale man’s face they were a little eerie.
The other man was his complete antithesis. While the former looked like a slight breeze would knock him over, this one looked like he could punch through a commercial bus. He was tall, muscular and covered in tattoos and piercings. Unlike his friend, he was more moderately dressed in black jeans and a worn t-shirt advertising the band, “Zombie Cromwell” His head was shaved but his face sported a jet-black goatee broken here and there by scar tissue. His grin revealed a mouth full of yellow chipped teeth.
The silence dragged on, long and awkward, until the pale one broke it.
“Can I help you?” he asked suddenly. He looked uncertain.
“Oh, right!” spluttered Frank in embarrassment. “I’m Frank Tercero, we spoke on the phone.” He extended a hand in greeting, and pale man shook it with a firmer grip than Frank would have supposed.
“Frank, right! I’m Jeremy Bates and this is my friend, Andrew Fletcher. Come on in and we’ll get you sorted. Did you have a good flight?”
Frank nodded and relaxed a little. But couldn’t help noticing how Andrew kept staring at him with an expression of disapproval.
“Andrew, get his bags, will you?” Jeremy said. “Bring ‘em to the William Morris room.”
“The Willie-what now?” asked Andrew.
“The room with the green wallpaper,” explained Jeremy before Andrew had even finished. Frank watched the exchange with curiosity.
“I must say, you’re a lot younger than I expected for a priest,” said Jeremy. “Did you just get ordained then?”
“Uh, no, I’m not ordained,” mumbled Frank. “I haven’t been accepted for candidacy yet.”
“Oh, that explains why you don’t have your little collar-thing on,” said Andrew coming up behind them. He was carrying the two heavy suitcases like they were lunchboxes and when he threw them on the bed there was an ominous creak from the springs. Frank was about to explain that pre-candidate seminarians who did wear Roman collars didn’t wear them on sabbatical, when Jeremy’s head whipped around and gave Andrew a pointed look. He charged into the hall dragging Andrew’s bulk with him.
“Excuse us a moment,” said Jeremy, closing the door.
Frank looked at the door in bewilderment and immediately heard hushed arguing again, like he’d heard on the landing, only this time he could hear every word.
“Don’t’ just throw his luggage on the bed, Andrew. Ask him where he wants ‘em!” hissed Jeremy.
“I’m not a bloody bell-hop, Jer,” came Andrew’s voice through the door.
“He’s a guest!” Jeremy snapped back.
“So am I!”
“Well, he’s a paying guest, so he trumps you on that much.”
“You never asked me to pay!”
“I would never think of asking you to pay, but I think you’d have the common decency to show a little politeness now and then, especially for my tenants!”
“I was being polite! That was me bein’ polite!”
“Argh! You’re so difficult, sometimes,” moaned Jeremy.
“Yeah well you didn’t even ask me if I wanted him to stay, now din’ ya!”
“It’s my house!”
“And you invite a priest here?? You don’t care if he pokes around and discovers our secret!”
There were footsteps as the whispering retreated to a further location and became inaudible.
Frank stared at the door non-plussed. He shoved the suitcases on the floor and kicking off his shoes climbed into the bed, fully dressed.
“Oh great,” he muttered. “I’ve landed in a gay love-nest by mistake. No wonder that big fella’s not pleased to see me.”
He had little time to reflect or pray on it before sleep overcame him entirely.