Drinking Buddy

clear shot glass with brown liquid
Image from Unsplash taken by Phil Cruz

This is the fourth in a series of short stories and you can find the full story here

“It’s not fair,” Alex slurred to his new friend at the bar. “I should get a medal.”

Jack watched the slim lad with amusement. “So you tried to rescue a woman from a vampire and she fought back.” He caught the barman’s eye. “Can I have another glass of the house red and…” He glanced at Alex’s empty glass. “Add a rum and coke to the tab as well.”

“He’s had enough,” the barman said flatly. “And he’s going to throw up all over the toilets any minute if you don’t get him out of here.”

“I’ll take him home, Pete,” Jack said. “Come on, mate, let’s get you out of here.”

“I should have had a medal,” Alex repeated bitterly. He focussed on Jack. “Do you believe in vampires?”

Jack paid the barman, adding a generous tip, and helped Alex out of his seat. “Yep, I believe in them. And I believe in werewolves too.”

They walked out into the brisk night air and Alex swayed a little. “I think I had a bit too much to drink,” he confided to Jack.

“It’s okay, it sounds like you needed it,” Jack said. “Where do you live? I’ll get you home.”

“You’re a good pal,” Alex said. “I’ve got a room out in Acomb.” He looked doubtfully at Jack. “You’re not a vampire, are you?”

Jack shook his head. “Definitely not,” he said. “Come on, it’s going to rain soon.”

Jack steered Alex past the Railway Museum and the Holgate Windmill towards his bedsit. “So you saw a vampire feeding? What did it look like?”

“He wasn’t feeding from the neck,” Alex said with a shudder. “But he was intent, you know, like the films. And he was dark, like Italian or Greek or something.” He swayed slightly. “I think I’ve had too much to drink.”

“I’ll make you a coffee when you get in,” Jack said. “Was he young or old?”

Alex shivered. “He looked late twenties but he felt about a thousand. Hang on, I’m feeling a bit queasy…”

Jack waited patiently as Alex emptied his stomach into the nearest litter bin. “We need to get you home, mate, and get you into bed.”

Alex managed a grin. “Yeah, propped on my side with a bucket next to me.” He shook his head. “It’s the shock. I mean, I had the pictures from the second hand camera, but to see it right in front of me…” He stared into the darkness.

“What do you mean, pictures?” Jack asked.

“I got a second hand camera from this bloke,” Alex said. “He comes into work sometimes and I thought I’d have a go at being a blogger. So I got this camera cheap because he didn’t have the charger.” He shrugged. “That was easy enough to pick up. But the memory card still had a load of pictures on it.” Alex shuddered. “It was pictures of vampires. I kept trying to tell myself that it was photoshop, but they were still on the memory card.”

“That must have been a shock,” Jack said.

“I got a priest to bless the camera, but he said that I shouldn’t interfere. What sort of priest says that? He said that no crime had been committed.” Alex looked around him. “I live down here.”

Jack turned down the road with him. “And you still have the pictures?”

Alex nodded. “On the memory card, on the cloud, backed up on usb sticks, the lot. I can show you them, if you like?”

“Perhaps tomorrow,” Jack said. “You need to get some sleep. But I could meet up with you later.”

Alex tried to think. “You’re not going to set me up or anything are you?”

“I believe in vampires, and I’d love to see what you’ve got. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one caught on film,” Jack said, skirting over the honesty of his intentions. “Listen, why don’t I meet you at home tomorrow evening? I’d love to see the pictures.”

Alex reluctantly agreed, the warning bells at the back of his mind muffled by the fog of alcohol. “I’ll see you then. And I’m making a website for it. Perhaps you could help with that.”

Jack left Alex, safely tucked in bed, propped on his side with a bucket next to him, and whistled as he walked back towards the Minster. York was an ancient place. It had been a thriving settlement when the Romans arrived all those centuries ago, a trading hub where the rivers met. Of course there were vampires here, and a thriving pack of werewolves, and all sorts of non-normal characters. The supernatural roots of this city went deep. Some were just keeping their heads down and living their lives. Others were by their nature less well intentioned. He’d been a nature spirit with an instinct for mischief when the first settlers came down to barter for the fine flints of Derbyshire with amber from across the plains and marshes to the north. He grinned and waved a hand at a shuttered shop, casually setting off the alarms that would wake the street. He knew all the vampires in York, at least, all those who reported to the Prince, and they were, to his mind, a dull and insipid bunch. He’d recognised the description of his old friend, enemy and sparring partner from Alex’s description and inwardly chuckled.

Alex was the least heroic vampire hunter Jack had ever met, and the vampires in York were so pathetically moral that it was unbearable. Watching them chase each other through York would be the best entertainment he had found for years. Jack wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but whatever he decided, it would be fun.

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