I see her swing her arms. Can’t fault her aim, she connects dead center on my nose. I feel it crunch and shatter like some cheap three day old cannoli. For a scrawny little dame, she packs a mean punch. I’d known a few like her back in the day, back east when I used to run with the DeLucci crew, all velvet and Chanel on the outside and steel on the inside, a dame after my own heart.

I feel woozy, not necessarily from her punch, takes helluva lot more than one punch from a dame to knock me out. I think it is the stake through my heart that is kinda messing with me right now. That and the four others she got through my palms and legs.

I’m pinned to this mesa wall like some two bit messiah on his wooden cross. Lady knows her vampires, looks like she spent a lot of time planning this.

Guess I deserve this, for being stupid.

But then I was always a sucker for dames, if ya know what I mean.

#

(Two Hours Earlier)

I’m on a roll. I hit the lucky seven three times in just under an hour, must be my lucky day.

I see her across the floor, in a va va voom red dress, every inch the femme fatale.

I’ve had my dinner not so long ago, a tasty little dish in a slinky black dress. She tasted like smoked redheads usually do, two parts perfume, one part cheap menthol cigarettes with a seasoning of moonshine. I’d stuck my fangs deep in her throat and had drank my fill, sucking the life out of her and enjoying every bit of it. Her body I dumped back in a dark alley. Didn’t bother to find out the name, they are all the same in this town. Ya don’t try to remember the names of hookers and alleys. Just do your stuff and head on out into the night. Funny thing is they all look the same, been in one means ya been in all of ‘em.

Now that I was hungry no more, I got other itches to scratch. I straighten my tie and hit the strip.

The dealers out here know me. I mean not that I’m a bloodsucker, but the bona-fide high roller part. I get chips worth ten grand, no nickels and dimes for me. I do the roulette first, double my take in an hour and move on. I’m at the crap table when I first see her.

I sense her watchin’ me from where she sits. I sneak a peek and find her still staring at me. Eye contact is inevitable. Her kissers are as red as her dress and I let my eyes wander on down her cleavage right down to the low neck line.

Suddenly another need knocks at the door. I feel it grow like a drop of ink on starched white linen sheets, pretty soon she is all I can think of.

I walk over to her.

We chitchat for a while about meaningless things. I check my watch, still a good two hours before sunrise.

A couple of drinks and I find her willing. We take my car.

She drives.

I let her.

#

We go way out into the desert, under the starry sky, where there is nothin’ but the stars, Joshua trees and the two of us.

She stops the car and leans over to kiss me.

Her smell drives me mad. I can’t resist.

We go outside.

She leans back on the hood with all the subtlety of minx in heat.

I move in hungrily.

Strange! I usually feed once in a night! But right now I hunger for her.

I lean over as if to kiss her throat.

The fangs are out.

#

I’m falling. I never felt her stab me. She slid the stake in like a stiletto, one quick jab and she got it right in the ticker. I feel numb in my chest like someone just held me in a tub of ice water for an hour.

I find it difficult to breathe. I fall back gasping. If I wasn’t dead already, that would’ve done me in for sure.

She picks me up and sets me against the hood. She says something about her child. I think I fed on the little one.

Yeah! As if I remember! Water under the bridge, babe! Men gotta feed. No regrets there! I say as much. She spits in my face.

She pushes me off the hood and back against the wall of earth behind it. She drives the stake in deeper and pins me to the wall. She opens her purse and takes out a mallet and four more stakes. As I said before lady did her homework.

As she is hammering in the spikes in my palms and my feet, I say something about how her child tasted.

She snaps.

She punches me.

#

(Right now)

The lady in red is gone. Been pinned to the wall for a long time now, can’t tell how long. She took my watch, along with my car and wallet. Guess Ms. Righteous Vengeance is not above petty theft either. Ah! As I said before a dame after my own heart! Oh babe! Only if I’d known you back in the day, what times we might’ve had together!

The sun’s gonna come up any time now. I’m growing number by the minute. I’ve managed to free my right arm, but that’s it. I’m too weak to do anything else but wait. With some effort I manage to get the pack of luckies outta my jacket pocket. I put one in my mouth and fidget some more lookin’ for my lighter, guess in her hurry she did not notice the gold plated zippo in my jacket pocket. Well! Hallelujah and thank heavens for small favors.

I light the cigarette and draw a deep one. There are worse ways to go than this. The flame is still on. I hold it up and look at it.

Goddamn! Will the sun come up already!

the morning breeze is still cool, but I can feel it gettin’ warmer. The flame flickers and desperately tries to stay alive.

What’s the point! It’s as good as dead already. I decide to put it out of its misery and snap the lighter shut with a practiced flick of the wrist.

#

The sun comes up.

THE END

Author’s note
First published in 2006 in The Harrow. This was an attempt by me to write a hard boiled story with a horror-ish setting.