Vampire "Unleashed" (Vampire "Untitled" Trilogy Book 3) (7 page)

Cornel’s feet rooted, there was no way he was getting into that van. “Where are we going?”

“On the drive in I saw a place called Topless Bar. I want to see some girls.”

Cornel took a half step and looked in through the side of the van. Behind the jump seats in the back were two chains suspended from the ceiling ending in manacles; wrist shackles welded to the interior.

“If you want girls then you don’t go to the Topless Bar, it’s for the tourists. There is a better place close by. We can walk.”

----- X -----

A petite girl walked around the pole wearing only a G-string and knee high white socks, her A-cup breasts and pigtails made her look like a child. A handful of men sipped overpriced drinks whilst hostesses sat beside them guzzling brandy with energy drink mixers, the most expensive thing on the menu. The men in the van had driven away. “I read that you’re a championship drinker,” he said. “I hope you don’t want to have a drinking competition?”

“No,” Cornel said.

“Good... I think you would win. If what I read is true.”

“Uh-huh? So you know a little about me. What do you know about Paul McGovern?”

“I know he killed Lorik and Erjon Gjokeja. I know I’m being paid to kill him… like you, detective, I’m conspiring to murder a man.”

“I don’t think reading about McGovern tells you who he is. If you met him now, he could kill you before you sat up straight. He is something uniquely dangerous and you can only pursue him if you’re prepared.”

“You make him sound like the bogeyman,” Miklos turned his attention back to the A-cup cutie on the stage. Cornel stared at the Albanian with a slowly festering distaste and shame. Shame at doing the same with Lucian Noica. Hadn’t the doctor tried to warn him of McGovern and he not wanted to listen? Miklos was behaving as he had.

“I want to remind you of something,” Cornel said against the music. “When Paul McGovern attacked Aldo and his brothers, he used a knife! He used a knife against three men with guns and he won. How do you think that was possible?”

“He is ruthless.” Miklos shrugged. “We can be ruthless too.”

“Ruthless? Jesus Christ. Those men were fighting for their lives and weren’t ruthless enough… Have you thought about how you stop someone you can’t even shoot? Can you imagine it?”

“Can you?” Miklos asked.

“I’ve seen it… it’s all I think about. For almost two years... it’s all I think about. Every single day.”

“So how do we do it? What’s the strategy?”

“You get ahead of him and pop him when he’s not looking. If he gets ahead of you or realises you’re there, you turn and run.”

“That sounds cowardly.”

“It will keep you alive.”

“I read that McGovern killed your agent in London… Bogdan.” Cornel nodded. “He was a, what? A soldier?” Again Cornel nodded. “How does he do it? McGovern, how does he do what he does?”

“He has an illness. He’s insane and violent but don’t confuse insanity with stupidity. This illness makes his nerves respond faster than normal. It makes his reflexes faster than normal. Bogdan told me that men like this react so fast to your own movements that it’s almost impossible to train a gun on them. I didn’t believe it until I saw it… Now I’m telling you and I can see that you don’t believe it either.”

Miklos nodded more with his eyes than his head. “In the case file it says he believes he is a vampire.”

“Forget vampires. This is not a legend, it’s not a fucking story… we’re talking about a man who has killed eight people. That’s eight people that we know about and probably a lot more that we don’t. One of them was a skilled soldier who knew exactly what McGovern was.”

“You survived.”

Cornel leaned forward across the table, putting himself into Miklos’ face. “He would have killed me if he had more time. He cut off my face. He wrecked my career, my prospects. My whole fucking life was ruined by this man. He should be rotting in prison, but instead, he’s invisible and living his life.” He spat the words with more venom than expected.

Miklos pushed his drink to the side and sat upright in the centre of the table with his arms spread to command the space. “You want to do this? Kill him? Do you want to kill him?”

“I’ve wanted it every day for two years. I want to finish it.”

Miklos scrutinised Cornel for a few seconds then took out his telephone. “I need to show you something. I need to be honest with you.” Somehow the pretence of what they were doing, two men shooting the breeze over drinks evaporated. “I know you have a thing for saving women… I’ve read this about you… It is a virtue and a weakness.”

“So what?”

“I also know you had emotional problems. Your job of saving women got too much. I know this.” Miklos toyed with the telephone, holding back for a moment. “I know about you, Cornel. I know that you were in Albania assigned to Europol. I know you were tasked with building up an understanding of organisations and networks… And I know ‘this’ is what gave you post-traumatic stress.” He turned the telephone around to show an image of dead girls in the boot of a car.

Cornel felt a rush of gravity pulling him forward. His hands locked onto the table top, his tongue swelled in his throat to stop his breathing. The girls were gutted, their ribcages opened to remove the organs, the white bones of their ribs cleanly butchered to remove hearts and lungs. The image on the phone was small, Cornel’s mind filled in the details. He saw the chipped nail polish, the tattoo of a flower on an ankle, the lightly tinged blue skin colour. Most of all he smelled the scene as though it was right under his nose. Meat and car upholstery, that oily garage smell mixed with decay. The eyes of the girls were removed, their corneas harvested. Young girls butchered for their organs.

Cornel tipped his head back and took in a breath of air. He couldn’t form a coherent thought.

“What would you do?” Miklos said, looking more and more like a talking skeleton. “If I told you I was the one who did this?”

“You?” Cornel choked.

Was this for real? Was this man confessing?

Miklos looked like the Angel of Death. His slicked black hair, his bony cheeks and jaw. He swiped the phone screen to show a girl in a micro skirt wearing fine stockings topped in pink bows. “This is one of those girls before I cut her. You see?”

Cornel gripped the table, his face coated in sweat.

“So tell me, Detective. If I told you I was the man who killed her, do you still want to work with me?”

Miklos swiped the screen again. A typical amateur porn picture of an unshaven, muscled man fucking a girl on a sofa, her mascara smeared with tears. “You see how we fuck them first? We sell them like this and make money. But when a girl gets to be worthless and we can no longer rent them for sex or sell them on, then we take the pieces people want. You can rent the pussy of a girl like this for ten Euros, but you can sell her kidneys for sixty thousand… It’s business. This is how business works when the business is women’s bodies... and I ask you again, Detective. Do you want to work with me?”

Cornel felt as though his entire life had just flushed away. Then he felt the press of his gun in the small of his back. He had a gun. The bastard was gloating over killing girls. Instant restitution was a second away.

Miklos waved at one of the hostesses, a short girl in white bridal lingerie. “Hi,” he said, dissolving his death face back to something personable. “Do you speak English?”

“Yes,” she said, turning on a bubbly personality.

“You are very beautiful. My friend here needs more drink. He likes whisky, get him big whisky the best you have… make it very big.”

The hostess walked to the bar. Miklos pursed his lips and sucked air through his teeth. “Look at that ass,” he said. “Like I said, the business of women’s bodies. I think I am going to have this one. How about you? You want a girl too?”

Cornel was staring at the centre of the table. The gun was in the back of his trousers. He could reach it, aim, pull the trigger. He could just shoot the fucker.

The hostess returned with the drink. “Thank you. Wow. You are so beautiful... beautiful young woman. I was thinking perhaps we can go to a room together.”

The hostess flirted back, “I would love it, handsome.”

Miklos laughed. “Oh my God, you are wonderful. But before that…” Miklos opened his wallet showing thousands of Euros, he passed the hostess three fifties, more than enough. “I’m trying to get my friend here to have a good time, but he is feeling sad. Do you think you can make him happy?”

“No. I’m fine!” Cornel suddenly felt sober. He held up his palm to decisively say ‘Stop!’

“Oh, come Detective. This one is beautiful. Look at her.” Miklos whispered in her ear to which the hostess pulled down her bra to reveal her breasts to Cornel. She gave a little shimmy as she leaned forward. “Wow. You see that, Detective?”

“I said no.”

“Ah, well. His loss is my gain, because I can spend time with you, my princess, my queen.” Miklos shuffled out of the booth to leave with the hostess. Before fully exiting he leaned back and whispered, “I’m going to do bad things to this girl.”

Miklos and the prostitute slipped away to a private room. The moment Cornel was alone a dam burst in his mind. Tears flooded in his eyes. Emotion overwhelmed. What the hell? Why was he doing this? Why torment him? Why dredge up the past? Why try to make him relapse into PTSD? What the fuck was this guy’s problem? Brazen as fuck he sits there showing death pictures from a police file, claiming responsibility, claiming to be a murderer.

What in the hell?

He called Cornel a championship drunk? How could he know that? He said he’d been reading about him but how could he know about his drinking? He knew about the PTSD and that must mean he had access to either his medical records or his employment files? Jesus, that was years ago. They had to have been going through his history and that meant... His job had been to track the traffickers and Miklos knew this. His job had been to build up pictures of their networks and Miklos knew this. They must know that one of his tasks had been to unravel the Gjokeja network. He had spent years in that role, picking through their financial dealings, scrutinising the paper trail. He was their enemy and they would know that. They knew everything. They had it all. Police case folders. Personal background. Medical records.

An alarm sounded, a constant ringing like an old telephone bell. A hulk of a man in a black suit ran towards the private rooms. The music cut out, all that could be heard was the dringggggg of the bell. Then a woman screamed. Sounds of a fight. Commotion. The bell was ringing. A panic alarm.

Miklos.

Cornel rushed to the corridor. Instinctively his hand went under his jacket for the handle of his pistol. He saw the bouncer just inside a room, he was so huge he filled the entire door frame, but he was motionless and had his palms raised ahead of his chest in surrender.

Miklos was in there pointing a gun.

The hostess was on her knees, blood from her nose was smeared across her face. Miklos held her hair with one hand and pointed the gun with the other. “Hello, Detective,” he said.

“Miklos… put the gun down.”

“And if I don’t?”

Cornel said nothing. Miklos pressed the girl forward onto her chest. He kept the gun and his gaze on the bouncer at all times. Once the girl was fully prostrate and laid flat he stomped on the back of her head, smashing her teeth into the floor. It was violence for the sake of violence. She shrieked and jerked her head back, blood gushed from her mouth as she grabbed her hands to her face. Miklos jabbed the gun forward at arm’s length towards the bouncer who backed away slowly, not provoking, stepping out of the room and into the corridor. The girl began to wail and sob.

“Miklos… we’ve got to go, the police will be coming.”

“You are the police?”

“Miklos, please… Remember why you’re here.”

“Do you want to work with me, Detective?” Miklos stared across his gun into the face of the bouncer. The girl with the broken teeth’s wail escalated to sobbing screams. The Albanian walked out of the room and backed out of the corridor, keeping the bouncer under the barrel as he moved towards the exit. “Are you coming, Detective? Are you with me?”

Working on autopilot, Cornel followed like a sheep to the front door of the club. A flurry of snowflakes blew around them as they stepped from the door. He held the door for Miklos who continued to point the gun until he was outside. The door fell closed.

A gust of wind blew snowflakes in a twister around the Albanian who tucked the gun in his pocket. His expression dissolved from grinning maniac to neutral. “Where do I get a taxi?” he asked.

Cornel stared at him open mouthed. “You’re crazy… You know that?”

“I’m going to take a cab. You can go home and pack a bag. Tomorrow we’ll go to Switzerland.”

“I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re fucking insane.”

“No. I’m not.” For the second time, Miklos’ face assumed the proportions of the Angel of Death.

“You just smashed a girl’s face into the floor and pulled a gun out in a…”

“To see what you would do!” Miklos interrupted. “I told you I was a murderer and presented you evidence admissible in court. I beat a woman. I pulled out a gun. I showed you pictures of something your medical files suggest would tip you over the edge… And you didn’t lift a finger to stop me. Congratulations, Detective Latis, you passed. Now go home, pack a bag and get some sleep, or get drunk, whichever. Tomorrow I’ll collect you and we’ll go to Switzerland to interrogate your lawyer. If you don’t like that, call the police and have me arrested. It’s your choice, Detective.... So decide what you really want… and I’ll see you in the morning.”

----- X -----

“Ciprian, it’s Cornel.”

“Mmm. Buna, Cornel.” The voice was sleepy. “What time is it.”

“It’s after one, listen, the Albanians are in Brasov.” There was the sound of activity, the click of a light switch. “Are you listening?”

“I am… What do you need?”

Cornel made a huge sigh. “Listen. I’ve just met with these guys and they’re animals. You need to make Lupescu take the Popescu girl into protective custody. I’ve called him but he’s not answering.”

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