Jet is a delinquent from a wealthy Manhattan family. His favorite teacher at his exclusive school dies and is replaced by a mysterious German man. He tries to find out more about Heinrich while gri...
Jet flicked his cigarette at the ashtray, turned around, and smiled at Albert who was hunched over a scotch at the bar. Albert had ordered it for appearance's sake. Jet didn’t bother to talk to Albert or sit beside the scowling German. He didn’t want to trip off another argument, especially since he was able to draw Albert out of the Needle.
Instead, Jet kept his eyes on the dance floor as the music pounded. Jet was glad when a slightly older guy came up and asked if he could buy him a drink. Jet gave Albert a raised eyebrow; Albert shrugged and continued to play with the ice cubes in his drink.
“Is that your boyfriend?” the guy shouted over the techno music as they drifted away from Albert.
“No, just an annoying relative from Germany. Don’t worry about him,” Jet shouted back as their drinks were served. He felt his pulse thud painfully in his neck as he remembered the last time he was at a club with Joe, Frances, and Helen.
He would have never had the guts to let a guy hit on him with Joe around. Joe would probably have been understanding, but Jet had never felt like taking that chance. Plus, if word would have ever gotten back to his parents, his father would have beaten him within an inch of his life. Now there was freedom to do as he pleased without worries. He could chose to be with any girl or guy he wanted; it was an exhilarating power trip.
There was some minor chit-chat before Jet pulled the guy over toward a dark alcove. It wasn’t long before Jet and his unknown pick-up were making out. This person was anonymous and it tripped off the same thrill that he had gotten with Van Bogart’s encounters. Jet repressed a flutter of panic before moving his lips to the man’s throat. Warm metallic, taste was the only thing in his consciousness.
The man moaned and hugged Jet closer to him as they slumped against the alcove wall. Jet removed his mouth from the man’s throat and took a step back. Jet watched him sink to the floor in a daze.
“Looks like you got carried away. They’ll just think he drank too much.”
Jet swirled to see Albert, leaning against the entrance to the alcove. There was something in the man’s bright, blue eyes Jet hadn’t seen before. He was confused until Albert closed the space between them and wrapped his arms around Jet’s narrow waist.
“You have some on your chin.” Albert then slowly placed a kiss on the corner of Jet’s mouth. Jet couldn’t help but moan and throw his hands behind him for support against the wall. Albert’s lips grew more insistent along his jaw line. Albert finally pressed a kiss against Jet's lips that made his head spin.
Jet suddenly pushed Albert back slightly. “What the hell is happening? I thought you were into women?”
“This is the second time I’ve watched you. Both times I though I was just craving human blood again. It just hit me that I keep thinking back to that moment I took your life. I want your blood again, but it’s a very large taboo among our kind. I’m never to have you again, and it’s maddening.”
“Who’s going to know? Besides, I know what it’s like to want what you’re not supposed to have. That and... you’re such a turn on right. The naughty school teacher and the wayward student? It's too good to not play out.”
A pall came to Albert’s face over the lustful expression. He shook his head and said, “I don’t want you use you because I’m lonely.”
“That’s the best reason to get together. You don’t have to live like some monk to honor her.”
“I know and I haven’t been entirely. It’s mainly the ghoul, Venus, that helped me escape that’s bothering me right now. I used her and treated her very badly. I don’t want to do the same to you.”
“Come on. Let’s just think about us tonight.” Jet bit his bottom lip in hope until Albert took his hand and pulled him towards the doorway. Jet couldn't help but smile when they hit the snowy, dark night.
Jet slid over the bed closer to Albert; he rested his head on Albert’s outstretched arm while they both struggled to catch their breath. Faint pinkish sweat covered both of them. He drew the sheets over them and threw his arm across Albert’s stomach.
Jet couldn’t repress the self-satisfied curl to his lips as he enjoyed his dizzy, sated feeling from the blood-letting and love-making. Albert drew him closer and then started chuckling out of nowhere.
Jet propped up on his elbow as his face grew hot. He glared down at the German man and asked, “What the hell is so funny?”
“It’s not you. I had a very good friend named Becker. I was just trying to imagine what he would say about this whole situation.” Jet gave Albert a baffled look. “He was someone I met at Auschwitz. I think he is having a very good laugh at me from the afterlife right at this moment.”
Jet smirked and settled back into Albert’s arms. “It’s still kind of unreal hearing you talk about that place. Was it really that horrible?”
Albert held Jet tighter. “It was a more horrible than you could ever imagine. It was an abomination spat up from hell. The eight months I spent there seemed like a grinding eternity, another life. You have to put aside what makes you a human and play these elaborate games. It makes a permanent mark on your soul. There is no erasing that kind of atrocity exhibition from a mind.”
Jet was silent. There was nothing he could say to comfort Albert even though he desperately wanted to. The fact that he couldn’t offer any peace to Albert created a gnawing sensation in the pit of Jet’s stomach. It was the realization that he could easily lose Albert to the pursuit of revenge. It made Jet Jet fidgety, he felt the need to protected himself.
Jet slowly sat up, untangling himself from Albert’s arms while the man gave him a baffled look. “Um... I’ll let you get some sleep.”
“Where are you going? After everything we just did, I think I tolerate you in bed.”
“But...” Jet’s hand went to the plain gold band dangling from the chain around Albert’s neck.
Albert cupped Jet’s chin and turned his head so their eyes met. “No. We’ll worry about it tomorrow. I need you with me tonight.” Jet slowly drifted back into Albert’s arms; he pushed his worry aside and relaxed again.
“Please, just promise you won’t leave New York without me.”
“I can only promise I’ll do what I believe is in your best interest.” Albert gently ran his fingertips down Jet’s arm. It wasn’t long before Jet drifted off into a deep sleep.
Jet woke and noticed he was alone in Albert’s bed. He pulled on his jeans and slipped out into the dark, silent apartment. The front door was propped open; Jet saw the Count and Albert talking out in the main hallway.
He overheard Albert say, “Things have changed. I just can’t go to Peru right now. Maybe late February.”
“Your heart isn’t as obstinate as I had thought. It’s Jet, isn’t it?”
“I haven’t given up finding Issimo. I just need another month to make sure Jet’s settled into this life.”
“As you wish.”
Jet turned and tip-toed back to Albert’s bed. He quickly snuggled under two blankets. A wave of relief washed over him. Jet figured he had a month to convince Albert to stay with him; he felt confident it could happen. After all, he never would have thought Albert would have opened up this much. Jet figured he would just have to be more persistent.
“Let’s see what we have... Jet Stoller... Senior... starting today on January third.... and this is your schedule. Just let your teachers see it and we’ll try to get you some books tomorrow along with your id card. Also, have your parents fill this out.”
“I just have a guardian. I moved from Vermont because my parents died last month in a car accident,” Jet said, readjusting his backpack over his shoulder.
“Oh, my!” The heavy-set woman gave Jet a pitying look. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Well, have your guardian sign those forms.”
“No problem.” Jet took the papers off the counter and left to the hallways. Things were radically different from Saint Ann’s. The atmosphere had an oppressive feel. The students were dressed any way they pleased and the hallways were packed and noisy.
Jet pushed his dark, orange tinted glasses up on his nose and passed through a set of metal detectors. He noticed security guards as he walked into his classroom. Half the students gave him curious glances or glares; the rest ignored him.
He picked a desk, crossed his arms, and set his face into a frown. He frowned even more as the students continued to socialize when the teacher came in the classroom and tried to lecture to the apathetic teenagers. Jet got out paper and pencil; he did his best of focus in spite of the din.
“Boy, I really miss Saint Ann’s.” Jet tossed his backpack aside and flopped on the sofa beside Albert.
“Was that your first time at a public school?”
“Yeah. It’s pretty depressing. The teachers are either worn out or don’t care. The books suck and it feels like you're in jail. I hate it. It makes me even more certain that I’ve made the right choice to get into social work.”
“Excellent. Did you feel uncomfortable moving around during the daylight?”
“Some, but I’ll get used to it.”
“Joe and the others got back okay. They seemed well rested, but still somber. They got angry when I gave them all homework on their first day back.”
Jet snickered. “On second thought, I may like public school just fine. I have no homework tonight so I thought I would go out for a bite.”
Albert’s face puckered. “Must you make juvenile jokes like that?”
Jet snuggled closer and loosened Albert’s tie. “Aw come on join me.”
“I really shouldn’t, but I want to spend time with you right now while we have it.”
“What do you mean by that? Are you planning to go anywhere? I notice the Count has been pretty busy lately.” Jet’s eyes narrowed.
“Let's enjoy our time together.” Suddenly Albert grabbed Jet's hands and yanked him off the sofa as he stood. “Let’s get out of here and enjoy the night.”
“Fine!” Jet went along after suppressing some aggravation.
Jet set down his pencil, notebook paper, and the Calculus- One and Several Variables with Analytical Geometry by Salas and Hille. He sneered at the book from 1978 and shook his head in disgust. Albert walked in and shut the door, interrupting Jet’s irritation. Jet just about greeted Albert, but was concerned to see the troubled look.
“What’s wrong, Al?”
“There is some news I have to tell you.” Albert walked over and took a seat beside him. “I have something for your birthday.”
“Save it. It’s only two more days.” Panic flared up in Jet’s stomach.
“I have to give it to you now. Here.”
Jet opened the thick envelope Albert handed to him. He saw the lease for Albert’s apartment along with a bank ledger. Both were signed over to ‘Jet Andrew Stoller.’ Jet set them on the coffee table.
“So this means you’re leaving without me? After you promised?”
“I promised to do what I think is best for you. Things are beyond my control.”
“You planned this all along! You never meant to stay with me!”
“That’s not entirely true. I was thinking about it, but something happened this afternoon that changed my mind.”
“So you’re going down to South America to chase after Issimo? After all this time? What the hell are you thinking, you selfish bastard!”
“It’s beyond my control,” Albert answered simply. He got up and walked to his bedroom.
“Is that all you have to say to me?”
“Damn it! You owe me a fucking explanation!”
Albert packed a small suitcase. He avoided looking Jet in the eye. Jet clenched his hands into fists. “It’s your wife! You can’t let her go after all this time because you’re too afraid to live again. She certainly is a convenient excuse for you to run away from me!”
Albert didn’t answer, but his jaw clenched. The German man slammed the suitcase and turned to leave. “Wait! What about Saint Ann’s?”
“I told Gilmore I needed to go back to Berlin because my father is dying. I’ll call him in a few days and tell him I’m not coming back. It won’t be suspicious that way.”
“Then take me with you!”
“No. You have to stay here because there are things beyond my control.”
“Stop saying that! You’re being so fucking condescending! I’m not some dumb kid you can screw and toss away. You told me to make my own choices and then you decide to treat me like my parents! You can’t do that! Take me with you!”
Jet’s fists ached as they trembled. Albert’s face turned red, the man’s eyes narrowed. “It’s beyond my control.”
With that Albert turned and grabbed the door knob. “I promise to come back for you one day.”
“If you walk out of that door, don’t bother. I never want to see you again,” Jet said softly, his stomach churning.
Albert took a deep breath, he hesitated for half a minute, and then yanked the door open. He didn’t give Jet a second glance after he walked out. Albert shut the door. Jet grabbed a lamp on the coffee table and hurled it at the door. After it smashed, Jet sank to his knees and fought back his bitter tears.
“Hello, Harold,” Jet greeted the ghoul at the front door of the Needle. Jet had now gotten to know the ghoul that had denied him entrance during the daylight hours to the Needle a few months.
“Hello, Mr. Stoller. Good day at school?” Harold pulled opened the tinted glass door. Jet regretted his choice in an assumed name, but he was stuck with it.
“There was a stabbing at lunch. Other than that, everything went well.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, sir. You do have some mail at the front desk. Also, the Count has requested you visit him at your next convenience.”
Jet nodded. He went to the front lobby where two large envelopes rested on the counter. He picked up the first one and was pleased to see it was his acceptance letter to college; the same one Cathy had graduated from. He then looked at the post mark of the next one: Lima, Peru. The handwriting was Albert’s.
Jet jogged over to his apartment and locked himself in before he ripped open the letter. He hadn’t heard a word from Albert in a month. In that time anger had dulled into a hollow ache. He gave a sad smile to see the letter written in the German language.
I’m staying at Madeline’s dig sight and am safe. You were right, I do owe you an explanation. I wanted to do the right thing for the both of us. I know now that I did.
Yes, I’m here to rid the world of Issimo. You are right about that. You were also right to believe I’m doing it for Hilda’s memory. I’m also doing it to rid the world of a great evil that’s been festering for decades, one that could endanger every human life in Europe. A new Holocaust could emerge and that must take priority over everything.
I knew then that Issimo had to be stopped. The day I left I found out that Issimo had been slowly creating ghouls out of influential politicians and wealthy businessmen. One of them was your Uncle Giovanni.
We can never live our lives in peace until he’s dead. I will never be free until Issimo is gone, not in my mind or my heart. It’s just something you have to accept. I do promise I will come back for you. I don’t know how long it will take, but I will keep you informed.
Jet stood up and took the letter with him as he walked down the hallways towards Count Saint-Germain’s apartment. Roger let him into a sitting parlor and the Count joined him shortly.
“I’m glad to see you, Jet,” the older vampire greeted in Romanian.
“I got a letter from Albert today. Did you know about all this?” Jet asked back in the same language.
“Yes. I told him he should finish it and leave you here.”
The man held up a hand. “Please understand, you are a part of our sect. You are still weak and in need of protection. Issimo could use you to harm us and that can’t be allowed. The day Albert left he had found out that Scar had come back to New York to kidnap you on Issimo's behalf. Albert was incensed that Issimo would take you and use you as a pawn. He killed Scar and decided the best way to protect you was to go after Issimo and end it.”
Jet smacked a fist into his palm and glared. “I just can't let Albert face all that danger alone. I hate this! I need to do something!”
“Get stronger,” the Count said with a smile as he held up an envelope. Jet gave it a curious glance as his wrath at Albert drained, leaving sorrow. “Inside are tickets to tonight’s opera. I’m taking you with me so I can introduce you to some very powerful people. You have a personalty that’s very strong and can put people off or attract them to your cause. You need to develop that and create a network of people you can rely on.”
“Oh. Kind of the same thing my parents did.”
“Yes, only this can be used for good. Imagine if all that money your mother raised really went to those abused women and children.”
“I know. It would have really added up.”
“Also, all of my books. You’ve only scratched the surface. You need to gain more knowledge and develop the protean skills I know that are within your grasp. Albert can never use it because of his aversion to being a vampire, but you have no such qualms. Take your time to study and hone your skills.”
Jet gave the Count a lopsided smile. “I’m not a very patient person.”
“Contemplate this, your goal of helping the abused is vital to Albert. He needs to know he is fighting to protected something noble. That would be your dreams. The man has none of his own right now. When he’s finished with his necessary revenge, he’ll realize how empty he is and he will need to be filled again. Don’t deny him that or he will turn into the type of monster all of us vampires truly fear becoming.”
All Jet could do was nod as his face flushed. Saint-Germain gave him a warm grin and said, “I used to have a worse tempter than you, my young friend. Tranquility is something you can master like I have.”
Jet burst out laughing. “I doubt it, but I think I can try. For Albert’s sake.”
“I hoped you would say that. Please go get dressed in your finest clothes and dredge up all those things your parents taught you that you never wanted to learn. You’ll be surprised at all the good you can do with some well-placed words.”
To be continued.