This is part 3 of the Jeremy Hunted Story I started a few weeks back. Summary: Jeremy Bates, the Vampire and his friend, Andrew Fletcher, have a new lodger, Frank the semenary student.
Catch up by reading:
Frank stumbled downstairs blearily, blinking his crusted eyes. He’d managed to sleep off the jetlag, after retiring to bed at 5pm and waking up at 7am. He felt thoroughly refreshed if somewhat rumpled and dehydrated. He was now ravenously hungry and bent on exploring his new city. A big hearty breakfast and several cups of coffee would be just the thing to start this day’s adventure.
He felt a little turned around, since his surroundings were still unfamiliar. He thrilled slightly at the remembrance that this would be his home for the next three months, but it changed to an awkward knot in his stomach when he remembered who his landlords were. Try as he might, a cohabiting gay couple was a bit much for his conservative upbringing—worse now that he was in seminary. It was mostly conjecture at this point, but there was no doubting that both men shared a close bond, to the point of constantly occupying each other’s personal space and giving one another pointed looks. He had also heard them talking about “a secret,” which meant they didn’t want anyone finding out about it.
Frank tried to keep an open mind about it, but forcing his mind to stay open was like trying to hold a mousetrap ajar with a his pinkie finger: painful and doomed to failure. He knew he was going to say something stupid and end up getting kicked out, or worse: it would get awkward. To Frank awkwardness was a worse fate than being homeless in a far-away country.
As he padded down the steps in his slippers, he heard low voices having another hushed argument. Frank swallowed another uneasy knot. There’d been a fair bit of hushed argument since his arrival yesterday, mostly regarding his taking lodgings here. In so far as he deduced, the big muscly one, Mr. Fletcher, was not keen on him staying here. The pale weird one, Mr. Bates, kept trying to talk Fletcher around to the idea, but so far no agreement had been reached. Frank couldn’t really blame them. A Catholic priest in the making wasn’t really the most welcome guest among their sort. Fletcher was probably afraid he’d start proselytizing at any moment. What they didn’t know was that Frances Tercero was, in all likelyhood, the least confrontational Italian-American on the face of the planet.
The moment Frank stepped into the hard-tiled dining room, the whispers stopped. He saw Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Bates staring at him with frozen nervous smiles gracing their faces. A prickling silence buzzed in the air pierced here and there by the hoot of turtle doves and the pneumatic hiss of a garbage truck. The fixed grins on his landlords’ faces faded into embarrassed cheerfulness, and Frank noticed what he thought was out of place. Instead of looking like they’d just woken up, Bates and Fletcher looked like they had only just come back from someplace. Fletcher’s leather jacket was slung over a chair and Bates’s linen coat was likewise tossed aside. Both men were sporting heavily rumpled clothes smelling of cigarette smoke, car exhaust and fried food. Wrinkles looked deeper, under-eye shadows looked darker, and their faces were shiny with sweat and oil.
“Late night?” asked Frank for lack of anything better to day.
“Uh, Yeah,” said Mr. Bates, cagily.
“Some nights we’re forced to work late,” said Fletcher rubbing his shaved head.
“What is it you do, Mr. Fletch—”
“Just call me Andrew. I know you Yank—er—Americans like to use first names. I don’t like bein’ called Fletcher much anyhow. And call him Jeremy,” Andrew added, pointing to Mr. Bates. Bates looked about to object at this but instead gave Frank another nervous smile and shrugged.
“Uh, okay. And you can call me Frank.”
“Gotcher,” said Andrew, stifling a yawn of pure fatigue.
“Have you settled in alright upstairs?” asked Jeremy.
“Oh, yes everything’s fine…Erm… It’s a very nice room… uh…”
Frank didn’t know how to broach the subject of food when his stomach loudly made his queries for him. Jeremy jumped to his feet (not without some effort and a large yawn).
“Oh, you’ll be wanting your breakfast!” he cried, stumbling to the kitchen.
Just then Frank caught sight of Andrew making a bid for his attention with waving arms. Frank glanced questioningly at hamfisted lug whose eyes were wide and staring; Andrew was shaking his head and mouthing, “NO! NO!”
“Uh! That’s alright! I was going to get breakfast on my sightseeing trip,” Frank said hurriedly. He winced at the thought of giving up an opportunity of free food but Andrew had seemed in dead earnest.
“You sure?” asked Jeremy popping his head back around the kitchen doorway. Andrew’s arms immediately dropped to his side while he adopted an innocent expression.
“Dead sure,” gulped Frank. “I’ll be fine. I was wondering though if one of you could help me with this map of the subway.”
“Where are you trying to get to?” asked Andrew.
“The British Museum, I think. Is that a good place for ancient artifacts?” asked Frank, digging the London pocket guide out from his back pocket.
Andrew stared blankly at Frank. “Dunno.”
“You idiot! What do you mean you don't know? It has only one of the most comprehensive collections of ancient artifacts in the world!” snapped Jeremy returning from the kitchen.
“I never been!” said Andrew shrugging. “Lived in Barnesly, din’ I?”
“You moved down here when you were nine. I’m sure you had school outings to the museum when you were a boy.”
“We went to a few museums,” conceded Andrew with a shrug. “Which is the one with all the mummies?”
“The British Museum,” said Jeremy rolling his eyes.
“Look! We went to near an hundred museums or other! You can’t expect me to keep ‘em all straight!”
“Well Frank, there’s your answer. If you want to know about the history of London, Andrew’s pretty much a dry well… Frank?”
Jeremy turned to regard Frank who had remained oddly silent. The seminarian was holding his chest and gasping for breath. A blueish cast was spreading over his lips and across his face as his eyes searched the room madly.
“FRANK!” shouted Andrew leaping from his chair and helping Frank into a vacant one. “Jer, call 999! He’s having a heart-attack.”
“It will be too late. It’s a blood clot,” said Jeremy in a low serious voice.
“It is?” asked Andrew.
“Yes. I can see it. It’s blocking his lung, there,” said Jeremy pointing to the left side of Frank’s chest. “It came from his leg; there’s another on its way up.”
“What do we do?" asked Andrew, agast.
Jeremy frowned and shuddered. “… Maybe… Maybe I can get it if I… I said I’d never do this…”
“Jer, you’ve got to, he’s going all blue!” pleaded Andrew.
“You call 999 then, and I’ll see to it,” said Jeremy quietly as Frank began to lose his balance and topple out of his chair. Jeremy raised a hand to steady him. Through the haze induced by lack of oxygen, Frank still had enough sense to register how strong Jeremy’s grip was.
Jeremy sighed a long ragged sigh with the crippling weight of anxiety in it. He then rolled up Frank’s pant leg until the white skin of his thin calf was exposed.
“Have you called them?” shouted Jeremy.
“Just finished, yeah, they’re on the way,” said Andrew.
“Good. Keep an eye on me then. If I lose control, you know what to do,” said Jeremy fixing Andrew with a dark stare.
Andrew swallowed and nodded, walking to his leather jacket and pulling out a magnum .44 revolver.
"Ready," he said putting his finger to the trigger.
(continued next week)