“So what are you doing here tonight?” Angeline could tell everything she needed to know of this man by the state of his shirt cuffs. He’d just come from work, though that could be told from the stale sweat under a fresh appliance of supermarket deodorant. Angeline buried her nose deep in her wine glass and inhaled as she listened to the man’s bated breath at her answer.
His cuffs were white but not pristine. A labourer wouldn’t have even bothered wearing a dress shirt, so frequently would the material be stained in the field. Just by the cuff link was a coffee stain turned creamy over continuous cleaning. Disappearing beneath his wrist were the smudges of an electric blue pen. He was an office worker in one of those high rises across the street. Angeline was certain she could pick out twenty of his coworkers from the rowdy crowd of the eccentric bar, all having loosened their ties and begun talking of the ‘big catch’ and the ‘rookie mistake’. It was so stereotypical she wanted to burst into roaring, maniacal laughter. But the man was still waiting for his answer and Angeline finished her wine and placed down the glass. It was a poor, poor substitute to what she really needed.
“I’m sorry, what did you way?”
“Oh, I asked what you’re doing here. You’re alone, right?” Eager for an unexpected fuck with the only woman whose face hadn’t been taken by gravity yet. He probably had sex with his dress shirt on, under the illusion it was sexy.
“Yes. I wasn’t supposed to be.”
“And what happened to them?”
“I killed them.”
“No, not this time.” He laughed. It didn’t sound uncertain. Angeline’s frown grew deeper. She poured the final half glass (and why was it always just half a glass left over) of the budget red wine into her waiting glass. Her heels were making blisters on her toes. Tonight she felt no need to play nicely.
“I got stood up tonight. I had a friend from Sweden coming to Brisbane.”
“She must be a good friend to come all the way here.”
“She didn’t come to see me.” The man had no response for that one. “I was here. She called and I answered. We were to meet here tonight but she obviously thought Brisbane was too quiet for her and happily fucked off on the first flight to Sydney. That’s what the text said anyway.”
“Ouch. Tough move via text.” His eyes crinkled in a way that seemed to show he was sympathetic. Still the greasy grin was wedged firmly in place. “I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t ask for your opinion on the matter.” Even speaking of the infamous vamp Agath was enough to make her blood grow hot. Agath was two-faced with both heads beautiful, the perfect circus freak if only her outside looked as her mind did. What Angeline remembered from their time together was sparse but precious; copious amounts of heroin on the train station steps, Manchester in the turbulent 1970’s, expensive shoes and beautiful, deranged eyes; watching punks knife one another at the haunting hour and finishing the job when the offender pussyfooted away in a mess of blubbering apologies. Agath was born fiendish. Her role as a vamp was merely an accessory to it. “She’s not wrong to assume that Brisbane is a shit-hole. I’m surprised she even bothered to stop.”
The man (who had a name but when it tended to be dull she forgot it) scoffed in a pantomime shock, slamming his beer glass upon the table and chuckling as it spilt. He reminded her of Punch & Judy.
“Brisbane, boring? No way! Brisbane is where everything is happening!”
“And by everything are you referring to business? Trades and whatnot?”
“Well yeah,” he admitted, “but these places as well. Proper old pubs and bars that have a really good vibe to them. And there’s this tapas place down the road. My god! The food!” Food was a greatly boring topic especially when one couldn’t eat it. Angeline watched the man speak of food and wondered. “The first thing you see when you go in is this gigantic mural of this old bear and you have to rub it’s belly to enter.” Even if she went to Agath and found her lounging in a Kings Cross back alley it wasn’t guaranteed Angeline wouldn’t harbour a cold shoulder for the abandonment. “And you sit on these little logs and the girls in pencil skirts struggle to get right down so they have to strip down.” She’d come to accept that, despite her attempts to change it, she was predictably human in that way. “All the waiters wear masks and you have to guess their name in order to, well, order.” Why go all the way to Sydney to feel shitty when she could feel shitty right here, talking to a man whose hand was clenching and loosening under the table at the sight of the slit in her dress? Sydney had Agath. Agath was the first vamp she’d heard from in ten years. Agath was the only vamp who’d bothered to keep her number. “Now try and tell me that’s not exciting!”
“Sure, that’s incredibly exciting.” Angeline finished the wine he bought for her and placed her bag upon her lap. “Incredibly exciting for a stupid person.” He didn’t have time to look angry or shocked. “Thanks for the wine but I have to go. There’s a plane I need to catch and a friend I need to kick the shit out of. Have fun with your little Brisbane and your stupid fuckin’ buddies over there and your wank in the shower tonight.” Angeline strode from the bar like she was an icon of war within the field, stamping over the bodies of the wounded in order to reach her victory. She stepped on a woman’s handbag and felt something crack. A man’s shoes obviously weren’t strong enough to protect his toes from her savage heel. The vamp of several centuries exited the crowded place half unnoticed, half despised. It had always been that way.