Blood Money

I was feared, once.  By many.  In certain circles.  People of a certain ilk.  Those scabby lowdown individuals who get themselves into trouble.  Financial, legal, moral trouble.  They're pursued by it, from birth sometimes.  Abandoned, kept by the state, fostered over and over by kind people they spit on because they don't know how else to show their gratitude.  Drug-taking, drug-dealing, stealing, killing, borrowing, lending, never the boss, always answering to someone else.  I was the bogeyman.  I was the one hiding under the bed with maggoty eyes and a swivelling head.  My needle point sharp as a cat's claw and thicker than piano wire.

I had a boss of my own, of course.  Who was at the top of the pyramid?  It certainly wasn't me, though I was higher than most.  I still had to answer to those on the next level up, and at the very top?  The one we all answered to?  It's still money, or God, depending on your faith.  I did it for money just the same as those I killed for it.

There are simple rules.  There will always be rules.  Rules are needed for stability, for a working business, economy and society.  Those who break the rules will be punished.  A disrespected contract demands a suitable payment.  Sometimes it is a life, sometimes it is nothing more than a small vial of blood.  It always depends on the debt.

My name had been whispered around vicious circles for many years now.  I was the best, the most feared, envied, a schoolboy fantasy.  Those who were not capable of criminal deeds sketched me into their notebooks and their dreams, heared my footfalls as I strode toward them all black leather and impossible statistics, a waist they'd wrap their fingers around and breasts to asphyxiate them.  I was not a reality for them.  I was merely a comic book hero.  To the others, the ones who paid my bills, I was all too real.  And although there were a select few who had nothing left but a fantasy of the prick of the bloodgirl's needle, to most I instilled the kind of fear that prevents, aswell as punishes, a certain kind of crime.

It is inevitable that in a business like mine, you will reach the point where you think you have seen everything.  I thought so, a few times.  Such as when I paid a visit to a client under the age of eighteen for the first time.  Of course, age does not bend the rules in this game, but I was still a little shocked.  One might even say distressed, back then.  Then there was the first AIDs victim, paying for a crime he had committed many years earlier, when he was still well enough to flee.  He begged me to take his blood, all of it.  But I took only what I had been told and left him unconscious.  It is surprising how many will beg to be killed, drained completely, as though I am an angel of mercy.  There are those with wives and jobs, those you catch in bed with another who hold out their arms, their blue veins, take what you need, just don't tell my wife.  And then there are single mothers with babies in their arms and wide-eyed children watching in fear as their mother is held down, her skin turning blue and then black in the pincers' grip, and her face turning white as she slumps to the floor.  I enclose the needle in its silver container, strip off my gloves and stride away with the cold-box of blood.  To deliver.  To await my next order.

How could I have known the world would stop turning as simply as that?  That in a moment, such a small measure of change could take place, a rolling snowball of the end of all this, of me?  One minute I was running ahead, ambitious, materialistic, feared, the best.  The next I was, am, practically one of them.  The moment of change is a pinpoint.  I know it exactly.  I have wished, dreamed, of going back and changing my history but alas, it can never happen.  The day, that minute, that girl, that moment of... what was it?  A memory?  I saw something in her eyes, I could have been looking in a mirror.  She must have been 14 at most, sitting in that armchair whose foamy innards spilled from several holes and slits in the black leather.  Looking small, like Alice in Wonderland.  Small and bruised, yellowing on her arms as she held them out.  In the background the mother's wailing distracted me.  Wringing bird hands and her small skeleton in the doorframe overshadowed by her brutish husband and his fat hands like mallets.  It was obvious,
Rachel Kendall