Case #13 – Skovajsa: One Vampire at a Time


Ice Lounge.  I’d made it a whole three minutes before the time I’d texted Skovajsa to meet me.  He’d finally given me a curt text back:  OK.  It left me to wonder now that I had arrived after heroic driving efforts of Sergei: how the heck was Skovajsa going to make it here?

It was a hotel and the bar, on the second floor after a steep walk up stairs, was spacious but strangely cozy.  Maybe the dim lights.  The bar was at one end of the room and a white jacketed bartender was fussing over the marble top, setting garnish dishes to right.  There were low couches and floor lamps throughout the space and, even better, art deco screens here and there.  It worked to give the room an intimate feel.  But it would also prove to protect against lip readers and keep quiet conversations private.

I picked a couch and an easy chair against a far wall, behind a screen.  I turned off the light and used a napkin to partially unscrew the light.  It wouldn’t prevent the bruising that was showing on my face from being noticed but with all the shadow, it wouldn’t be glaring.  It didn’t make much sense to attempt to cover it up; Skovajsa would be able to smell the blood pooling under my skin.  If asked, I wouldn’t lie about what happened.  I’d have to act nonchalant.  And hope he didn’t pry.  Some vampires are better than others at sussing out lies or half-truths.  I have to hope Skovajsa has flunked that class.

Before a thought about Jesper fully forms, I put it in a mental box labeled “Do not open until Xmas” and place it high on the top shelf behind the really naughty porn and that box of German pistachio and milk chocolate.  I didn’t need to go there now.  I couldn’t.  Too much was at stake.  I thought about Dr. Kaga’s breathing techniques and got in touch with an old life.  Sometimes, when fear or doubt started to eat me up, I would go back into a past life, bring that version of myself forward for a little bit so I could remain aloof.  It was just another method of compartmentalizing, Dr Kaga told me.  But it had saved my life too many times.  And I sorely needed it now.  One thing at a time, one vampire at a time…

“I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

I startle awake.  Skovajsa stands looking down at me, wearing a heavy black trench coat that made no sense for the summer.  I avoid the urge to stand, grip the arm of the chair with the hand away from him and wave him towards the couch with the other.  “No, have a seat.”

As he settles himself on the couch, I took out my notebook, readying for notes.  When I looked up, Skovajsa was considering the couch.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Perhaps I should recline?”

“Um, up to you.  Whatever makes you comfortable.”  Please…no….dear lord….don’t…let…him….

He smiles and tosses his long legs over the top of the couch and lays back, folding his arms over his chest.   I take a measured breath, reasonably sure he doesn’t have the social skills to notice.  This is going to be interesting.

Several moments later, the adrenaline has worn off and I’m left stifling a yawn as Skovajsa continues to walk me through his own personal epic.

“After serving Vlad Dracul and Stefan Bathory to place Vlad back on the throne that was rightfully his, I was hand-chosen by Vlad to become one of his blood brothers….”

Blah blah blah.  Like I haven’t heard this sort of origin story before, like, 10 times.  Member of Vlad’s honor guard, his personal favorite, hand-chosen to be turned…if every vampire that claimed to be hand-chosen progeny of Vlad Dracul stood up at once, they’d fill a cemetery the size of Wrigley Field.  Ooh, then there’s the defender of Vlad part, fought off assassins, nearly killed protecting him….

“…when the infidels were done with me, I was broken and spent, near death…”

…Sheer luck that he didn’t succumb when the blood line was severed, wandered for years struggling to survive…

“…I don’t know how I survived, hunting on my hands and knees.  It was…”

…Horrific…

“…humiliating….”

My phone tings.  “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  I promised Nick I would keep it live, having logged myself into Messenger before the session started.  I thought I’d set my status to Busy.  But it isn’t Nick and it isn’t Messenger.  It is a text.  From Jesper.  And as I begin to read it, the strangest sensation washes over me, like he is right behind me…I understand from your assistant Nick you are unharmed.  I hope so.

Go ahead, Skovajsa, I’ll just jot some more notes.”  He is so into telling his epic, he simply settles back on the couch and continues.

Just behind me, hands on my shoulders, whispering into my ear:  I must explain to you about Morena…

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