CATCHING A RIDE TO LOVECRAFT
By: Andrew A. Dunn
Getting to Providence from Florida was going to be a problem. Leon didn’t want to go. He didn’t care too much for being called Leon either – lately he’d insisted on the full Juan Ponce de Leon. He’d been such a grouch and he definitely didn’t want to go to Rhode Island. Problem was, Leon had the bigger of the two vehicles.
So, order up another mojito but tell the bartender to hold all the fancy crap and just put in rum and soda like that. No wait, hold the rum and coke too and just make it with straight bourbon. Best mojito anyone could ever have in the town where Juan Ponce de Leon once discovered the Fountain of Youth.
Leon called it a night and went to sleep it off in a Ford Granada with Jersey plates out in the parking lot, piled high with all the stuff one of Earth’s greatest explorers could hoard over the centuries.
In a way, it was sad to see the turn things had taken for Leon. It didn’t help that Florida had paved over the fountain and then issued permits so somebody could build a car wash on top of it. Come to think of it, Leon’s Granada could use a good wash. That might cheer him up. How much would that cost? Five, ten bucks, maybe?
Eight and some change was all that was left on the bar beside the mojito.
Prester John wanted to go to Providence too. “Which Prester John, the church one or the comic book one?” It seemed fair to ask. “I gave it all up,” John’s voice rose. “Oh yes,” his sermon went, “I once sailed the south Pacific and fought the Fomorians back in my navy days.” After all those years running the boilers and firing the big guns, the navy dropped Prester off in Newport, Rhode Island. “I gave it all up,” John said again. He had a habit of repeating himself when he’d been drinking.
Prester John promised a place to crash if he could catch a ride back up to Providence. He said he knew people up there that could come up with a room off Eastern Avenue or something for a few days. He had his own scores to settle. Anyway, eight and some change wasn’t enough for another mojito.
Long necks were going for three bucks until closing, so a long neck it was. Not just any though. A long neck full of courage. The pole dancer had walked in during Prester’s sermon and it took a heavy dose of courage to talk to a girl like the pole dancer.
The bottle of courage went down bitter and didn’t set well with the desperation all those mojitos were supposed to be covering up. “Do you come here often?” should have come across as cheesy and endearing. Instead, the pole dancer took it as an invitation to give up the Cliff Notes version of her life story.
Nope. She wasn’t a boricua – Elena Dorado was just her stage name. Her real name was Melissa. Really! Melissa from Michigan, born and raised. No silly! You can’t get my last name. “By the way,” Elena Dorado Melissa from Michigan giggled with a whisper, “I’m a natural blonde.”
“Why Florida though?” an innocent question.
“What about you, why Florida?” Elena Dorado Melissa from Michigan snapped back. Was she asking, in that sassy seductive way pole dancers ask when they want to extract dead presidents from customers? Or was she asking in that hey I’ve told you enough about me way, so “What about you, why Florida?” she asked a second time.
Why Florida, indeed. There were so many things that could be said. There was the single-wide trailer outside town colored sun bleached and rust sitting on cinder blocks that Elena Melissa would be going to soon enough. There was the pickup truck, one of the small sporty kinds with a crate in back that had to get to Providence. She’d follow the truck out to the single-wide. “Things were a little slow in Providence so we came down here to try and pick up some gigs”, she’d never buy it. She didn’t seem like the kind of girl that would fall for the bass player from some no name punk rock band.
“My life…it’s much ado about nothing,” succinct with a too cool for school smirk thrown in at the end. Elena Dorado Melissa from Michigan smirked back. She pulled her hair back off one shoulder the way pretty girls do when they want to appear even prettier than they already are. And she continued her life’s story.
Elena Melissa didn’t need to know how hard life had been in that forlorn Carpathian village. That being an outcast among outcasts was no way to live a life, even if Juan Ponce de Leon once cupped his hands and allowed a drink from the fountain he’d just discovered. As precious as those waters were all those lifetimes ago, another Carpathian miscreant promised an even better method to preserve one’s existence immortal.
She’d wince and then struggle as teeth broke through her skin – the pain had been intense when the Carpathian lad’s fangs had penetrated, before the boy helped himself to the lifeblood that night so long ago. Later, she’d learn how invigorating it felt to consume. To feed. The way it had felt when two Carpathian outcasts devoured Leon’s lifeblood in a Florida glade after Leon had shared with them his most deeply held misgivings about the fountain of youth.
For all the drawbacks to their method, the fountain was now buried under a car wash. And they were still around. As Melissa told her life’s story, she had no idea her tale would soon join their never ending one.
What a perfect specimen she was for immortality too. Her jugular vein pulsed ever so easily against the soft tan of her neck. The wonders surging through her supple form were palpable. Melissa would wince and struggle, and then relish a different fountain of youth discovered in a single-wide trailer outside of Apopka.
After than, with any luck Melissa’s Corolla would have enough left in it to get everybody up to Providence – the truck and Granada were on their last legs. And there was the crate. Leon was certain the skittering thing inside that had waddled up from the swamps was Cthulhu. Prester John disagreed. Only Lovecraft himself would know for sure.