Crimson Vodka

            You’d think that the combination of blood and oil would turn out to be a disgusting beverage, but you would be surprised. It’s actually the secret recipe responsible for my success as a bar owner. It was, by a large margin, my best selling drink. People came to “Jeff’s Bar” from miles around, hoping to taste my famous “Crimson Vodka”.

            My bar wasn’t much. It was kind of like the bar from the TV show Cheers, except nothing interesting ever happened there and all the customers were boring fat drunkards. It’s a good thing they were such losers, too, because if they weren’t, I would probably have gotten sued.

            When the ingredients were discovered by the public, I was ruined. I did, however, have one persistent customer who became addicted and wanted more. His name was Darnell Sullivan, and he was absolutely relentless. Even after I closed up shop, Darnell stalked me – followed me to my apartment and was always a few feet behind me wherever I went, asking me to make him my “Crimson Vodka”. It got to be very annoying, not to mention creepy. He had a large, unkempt, black beard. He was nearly bald, but the greasy black hair he did have was several feet long. He wore an old, red, leather jacket that was much too small for him. He wore torn up jean shorts, and dirty, gray Moon Boots.

            I would have gone to the police, but Darnell was one of the few customers I’d had who wasn’t a complete idiot. It turned out that he was aware of the legal ramifications of what I had done, and he knew how to prosecute me if he wanted to do so. Given his physical appearance, this might have come as a bit of a surprise, but Darnell had been a rather successful lawyer in years past. His fall from grace had been caused principally by the mental disorder that came into play late in his life.

            Eventually, I broke down and agreed to make the drink for him, but I no longer had the resources I needed to do so. Darnell agreed to let me use some of the blood he’d collected. His apartment contained hundreds of glass jars full of blood, or so he told me.
But there was still the problem of oil. I tried to call in a favor from an old customer who worked at an oil rig, but he was still bitter about the drink contents. So I was forced to call the only other person I knew could help me – my dad.

            My dad was not a warm guy, and the two of us hadn’t spoken in six years, not since I told him that I was going to open a bar. Apparently, this wasn’t up to the lofty expectations that he had for me. He had wanted me to get into the family business – professional wrestling.

            I thought it was weird that Dad never stopped acting out his “D Smash” wrestling persona. He acted the same way towards the family that he did to his rivals in the ring. It was very off-putting and really strained our relationship. Dinner conversation frequently went something like this…

            “Dad, could you pass me the mashed potatoes?”

            “Get your own stinkin’ potatoes, pip squeak. You’re lucky I don’t come over there and lock you in the triangle choke.”

            As you can imagine, that got old after ten or twelve years. But, at this point, I had nowhere else to turn. Dad had made a great deal of money wrestling, and I was hoping he would help me get out of this jam.



            “Hello, D Smash speaking. Who is this?”

            I was petrified. Hearing my dad’s voice for the first time in six years was more jarring than I’d anticipated.

            “Hello? Is this a prank?”

            “No Dad, it’s me, Jeff.”

            “Oh… what do you want?”

            “I need your help.”

            “Oh, great. What is it this time? Get yourself in jail? Shot in the gut and bleeding to death? God, get a backbone.”

            “I…need some money. I need to buy some oil”

            “No way, you’ll just waste it on cocaine and expensive paintings like the last time I gave you money. I should reach through this phone and hit you with a piledriver, is that what you want?”

            He hung up before I could respond. It’s worth noting that these accusations were totally false, and he had never lent me any money. I think he had lost a few brain cells in the ring.
I looked out my window, and saw two hands and a face pressed against it, wide eyed and staring at me. It was Darnell. How could I tell him? I decided to just come out with it and hope he would understand. I walked out of my apartment and approached him. He stood completely still, staring directly at my face, ravenous.

            “Look, Darnell… I don’t know how to get the oil. I just got off the phone with my last resource, and I am drawing a blank. I’m sorry.”

            What I said didn’t seem to register with him. He just stood there, staring at me. He took a few steps forward, never letting go of my eyes. He was starting to get awkwardly close, and all the while he kept that straight, deadpan face. I had no idea what he was going to do, but I wasn’t anticipating anything good. Once he was a few inches away from my face, he tilted his head a little to the left, his gaze still locked on my eyes.

            “I’m sorry to hear that, Jeff.” He spoke softly and with a sinister grin appearing on his face. “I guess you never understood the appeal of your drink, and I don’t imagine you ever will. Unless…”

            “Wait, wait. I can get you the drink. Just give me a few more days.”

            “I’ll be back in two days. I don’t want to have to hurt you.”

            There was no telling what Darnell might do. His split personality disorder made his behavior unpredictable and dangerous. He wasn’t the same person I had met in my humble bar six years earlier. The old Darnell made occasional appearances, but for all intents and purposes, a new persona had taken over his body. Soon after this new personality started to appear, he began taking potent prescription drugs to help him cope. At one point, one of his doctors refused to give him a refill for one of these more powerful medications, and Darnell stabbed him. After this event, rumors spread all over Boston; some people spoke of Darnell robbing blood banks, others spoke of him taking people hostage and killing them one by one. While these stories were likely false, Darnell’s condition did have a drastic effect on his mind, and I certainly didn’t feel safe around him anymore. I couldn’t very well fight him off, as I was short, heavyset, and to be honest, I was a bit of a coward. I decided to talk to Dad in person.

            He only lived thirty minutes from my house. My mother had passed away about ten years earlier, and he lived alone. His only companion was his maid.

            When I arrived at his house, I sat in the car for ten minutes before I could summon up enough courage to get out and walk to the door. Finally I rang the doorbell, and he answered wearing tights, a mask, and a cape.

            “What the hell do you want?” he asked.

            “I really need to get that oil, Dad.”

            “What on earth did you get yourself into this time, punk?”

            “There’s this guy who has threatened me if I don’t give him oil.”

            He flexed his arms and puffed out his chest, and bellowed, “I can take anybody. Just let me know where to find this guy, and I’ll knock his lights out.”

            I was speechless for a moment, but when I regained my composure I informed my father of Darnell’s past transgressions.

            “Doesn’t scare me.” my father barked.

            I didn’t have any options, so I decided to take what I could get. This was probably the best chance I was going to get to escape Darnell. Dad and I spent the next two days training for his big fight.

            Dad’s training regimen was much different than those that professional athletes use today. He insisted on riding a penny-farthing bicycle around the neighborhood. He slept on a piece of sheet metal, and he ate nothing but raw meat. He spent hours a day juggling lit torches.

            Strangely Darnell left us alone. I hoped that he had decided to leave me be, but I knew this probably wasn’t the case. He was just waiting, giving me time to get the ingredients of the drink together for our “appointment.”

            When the day finally came, we both waited in my apartment for Darnell’s arrival. He arrived late in the evening and was displeased when I told him of my failure to acquire the oil. He sneered, exposing his plastic “fangs”. This was really the only physical characteristic that differentiated his personalities from one another. The one that appeared to us on that night was the same one that had been threatening me over the past week. This “vampire” personality had surfaced after the contents of Crimson Vodka were revealed. I told myself it was a coincidence, but I had a hard time convincing myself of that.

            “I guess it’s time for you to join us on the other side,” he said.

            D Smash then jumped out of my closet with his hands on his hips, ready for battle. “You’ll have to get past me first” he said.

            Darnell looked my dad up and down with a look of disgust, but D Smash slugged Darnell in the face before he could say a word. Darnell stumbled back but stayed on his feet. Then he turned to D Smash and sprung at him, mouth wide open. He bit D Smash in the neck, and D Smash staggered to the left, clutching his neck. Dad took his hand off his neck and looked at the blood that now covered his palm. Then he looked at me, his eyes rolled back into his head, and he collapsed in a heap on the floor.

            Then Darnell turned his attention to me. I knew that Dad had fainted due to his fear of blood, but I was surprised that Darnell’s fake teeth could draw that much blood, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting bit, fake teeth or not. I backed up several steps, as he walked forward several steps. He stopped suddenly, and his eyes widened. His lip began to quiver, and he began to cry. He ran towards me, and grabbed me in what could only be described as a hug. “I’m so sorry.” He said.

            When he finally let go and moved away, I could see a change in his eyes. The old Darnell was back. The teeth had even vanished. He must have removed them during the hug. “You have to kill me.” He said.

            “What?”

            “He’ll be back soon, you have to kill me before he comes back. Where are your wooden stakes?”

            “I don’t have any wooden stakes.”

            “We’ve got to get wooden stakes.”

            “What if I kill you before he comes back? Wouldn’t you die of normal causes?”

            His eyes lit up. I wanted to somehow get him incapacitated so I could get him out of the house. I certainly had no intention of killing him, but there was no way I could convince him that the vampire was all in his mind. While I was trying to think of a way to do this, I saw Darnell pointing to something behind me. I turned around, but I was too late.

            I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder, and I turned to see Dad, flexing and displaying his blood covered teeth with pride, just before I passed out.
           

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