***(Author’s Note: This is a preview of ChardPires. The full story will be available in March 2021. If you like Nantucket, vampires, action, and comedy, then read on).
The kayak rocked as Mark and his little brother Ross tried to keep balance. “We’re not supposed to be out on the water so late! Mom is going to be pissed,” said Ross in a nervous voice.
“Calm down scaredy-cat, we’ve never made it past that bluff before, we’re going to make it to the point this time,” replied Mark.
“Dad said we’re not supposed to go to the point!”
“Are you going to be a wimp your entire life?” said Mark as he maneuvered the kayak over a wave.
“I’m only eleven,” said Ross as he crossed his arms and pulled the strings tight on his Nantucket sailing club hooded sweatshirt.
“Shut up and help me paddle!”
Mark had failed in all of his previous attempts to reach the point. Parents watching, losing daylight, bad weather, and taking care of his brother had all conspired against him. But not today. He had determination and luck on his side.
The waves weren’t too choppy and more importantly, his parents didn’t come with them to the beach to keep a close watch. He would have the time to make his journey.
But mixed in with the thrill of reaching his forbidden goal was a chill of dread. The twilight of the sun was escaping – it would soon be dark -and he knew they would have trouble making it back at night. But he couldn’t show fear to his younger brother.
“Even Poseidon couldn’t stop us now. Just a little bit more!”
The boys continued to paddle. Ross had wanted to return ever since it was clear his brother wasn’t really taking him out just in the bay to watch the sunset. However, he continued to reluctantly paddle, hoping that making it to his brother’s goal would get him home faster.
As they rounded the bend they could see a big red buoy immediately in front of them. “Ha, Ha, we made it! We’re at the point,” said Mark.
“Great can we just go home now, this isn’t fun,” shot back Ross.
“Sure, just let me touch the buoy and I’ll get the baby back to his crib in no time.”
Mark positioned his paddle on the edge of the buoy and pulled them closer to the point marker. Just as he slapped his hand on the rusted steel, he felt a drop of water hit his forehead.
“Crap. Rain,” he thought. “I hope to god it’s light.”
Almost on cue, rain began pouring down and the last rays of the sun escaped the horizon. It was night.
“We are screwed! There’s no way we’re going to make it back in the rain. We’re done for!” cried Ross.
“We are not done for. We just have to hug the coast and ride the waves. It will take longer but we will make it back,” said Mark trying to reassure his little brother.
Mark paddled but between the rain, darkness, and waves, he knew they were in trouble. They were getting rocked by the waves and could easily be sucked out to sea at any moment. A piercing feeling of terror coursed through his body. His parents were right, he shouldn’t have done this, he was stupid, and he was going to get both him and his brother hurt. He prayed for a miracle. None came.
Mounting exhaustion and fear lead Mark to exclaim, “We shouldn’t try to make it back.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“It’s not safe and I’m too tired. This could get bad. Let’s go to shore. Even if we need to walk over wave walls at least we won’t drown. We can find a house and use their phone and call Mom and Dad.”
“They’ll kill you!”
“It’s either them or the water,” said Mark.
The boys used the rest of their strength to paddle towards the shore. They caught a breaking wave and rode it onto the beach. Mark dragged the kayak away from the water and surveyed their surroundings.
“I could be wrong but I think we might be by the private beaches off Eel Point. I remember that sign from a failed attempt to make the point earlier this summer.” The sign read private beach post 42.
“There’s a lot of mansions around here. Dad’s friends from the Westmore live on this road. Let’s just hope people are home, or it’s going to be a really long walk in the rain home.”
The boys walked up the beach and eventually saw a large house off the beach in the distance. As they got closer they could see porch lights on the large patio. They trudged towards the house.
“This sucks, I’m sorry, but at least we can get out of this rain and eventually get home. Let’s go around the front and ring the doorbell.”
As they walked up the side driveway past a black Range Rover, a spotlight from a motion light came on them, and they heard a voice.
“Who’s out there? You know this private property you shouldn’t be trespassing,” said a voice in a stern tone.
Mark and Ross stopped and looked up at a man in a raincoat standing on the patio in the darkness.
“Sir, we need your help. We got caught kayaking in the rain and had to come to shore. It’s just me and brother, he’s only eleven. We just need to use your phone to call our parents to have them come pick us up.”
“Oh is that so. You know it was pretty stupid of you to be out there at this time. And who are you calling sir? Do I sound that old? But fine, come up the stairs and use the phone. Don’t want you to end up going missing on my property,” said the voice.
As they got closer the saw the man had pale white skin and blonde long hair protruding from his raincoat. His face looked young, early to mid 20’s, but he gave off a look of someone much older. Mark walked up the stairs and Ross followed behind. As they neared the top of the staircase Ross said, “I don’t like this guy, I don’t think we should go.”
“You don’t need to like someone to use their phone,” said Mark. “Now just be quiet and let me do the talking.”
The man now stood in the doorway to his house waiting for the boys, motioning them to follow him inside. As they got inside, the man abruptly closed the door and it locked behind him. “Don’t worry I won’t bite. We already ate a big meal tonight. Had some Latin meat, I mean dish. My brothers are going to be home soon, to pick me up for the night, so let’s get this over with. Down the hallway in the parlor is the house phone.”
Mark and Ross walked down to the parlor. There was old leather furniture, a fireplace surrounded by bookcases, and a painting of a lady in what Ross imagined to be a 1700’s dress. The woman’s face seemed sad, like she was giving off a look of sorrow and defeat. “She must have tried kayaking to the point,” thought Mark.
Mark saw an old rotary phone sitting on a fancy wooden desk. He picked up the receiver and put it to his ear, he went to dial, but there was no tone.
Mark looked at the man who was now smiling and closing the door to the parlor. “This may not be the best time to tell you. But I haven’t had a phone line in here for over 20 years. Now tell me, did anyone know where you were kayaking tonight?!?”
A jeep flew past the bar’s entrance with a blonde girl standing up in the back screaming about being 21. It was ten o’clock and there was already a line down the street at the Chicken Box.
Paul, a 29-year-old bouncer, or door staff as management said, surveyed the familiar crowd. He thought to himself, “Lots of Chads tonight in their Vineyard Vines, some good looking girls, a few 40-year-old-creepy Chads, some locals, a few groups of people he highly doubted were of age, and lots of aggressive drunk people yelling. A normal Nantucket Friday night at the Box.”
Just as he got done evaluating the line, he heard a commotion at the door.
“Sorry Bro, I don’t think this ID is you, I can’t let you in,” said Jimmy, a young newish bouncer that was working the main door solo for his first time.
“Whattttt doooo you mean you can’t let me in?!?, this is my ID! I have a backup credit carrrrd…. I mean a credit card with the samme name,” replied the young redheaded man, with curly hair, wearing a pink button-up shirt.
The young man stepped to get closer to Jimmy, but Paul cut him off and stood in between them.
Ignoring the indignant young bro, Paul asked, “Jimmy, what’s the count? Are we still at capacity?”
“Yeah, it’s basically been one in one out, since 9:45,” replied Jimmy.
“Excuse me! Excuse me! I’m trying to get in and meet up with my bros,” proclaimed the red headed young man to Jimmy and Paul.
“What’s going on here?”
Jimmy passed the ID to Paul. Paul held it up, doing a quick scan. It was expired, the person in the picture had black hair, it said he was 6’ 4”, and worst of all for Paul, he was from Connecticut.
“Hey buddy, you trying to win the award for the second-worst fake id of the summer? I would give you the winner, but a pale irish kid did try to get in using a Jamaican’s passport, so he’s still in the le….”
“That’s fucking me! Let me in this bar, you’re just a fucking bouncer, stop taking your job so seriously,” said the redhead as he tried to slip Paul a $5 bill.
“Buddy you’re 5’ 9” on your best day, you have a fire crotch, and this ID is expired. Also, your bribe is insulting. Don’t you know my going rate starts at a Nantucket ten (a hundred dollar bill)? Now I’m going to have to ask you to move along so the next person can come in.”
“Whatever you fucking losers! Nice life! My Dad could buy this whole place and put it in our backyard!”
“Whoa, whoa, I was going to give your god awful ID back, but now that you’ve hurt Jimmy’s feelings, this thing’s going to the collection. Also, really a Dad line? Are you trying to fulfill every stereotype of a Chad from CT.,” said Paul.
The young man balled a fist and stood in front of Paul. Just then, Jimmy saw Paul’s whole demeanor change. His stare turned icy and he looked directly into the young man’s eyes and said, “Move it along now. I know where every blind spot for cameras in this parking lot is. If you want to play lax with the bros this summer without a broken arm, get the fuck out of here, now.”
The young man did an about-face, and started speed walking away towards the Stop n Shop across the street.
Jimmy stood there, mouth open, impressed. It reminded him of a lion straightening up to full size to remind a hyena exactly who is the king of the jungle. Paul said, “Get used to that, it will happen 5-10 a night, sometimes it will get worse. You got to remember it’s just a job and to not take it personal, basically everything Swayze said in Roadhouse. Also, don’t ever threaten violence either. Can get you in trouble.”
“But you just told that kid..”
“He was from Connecticut, that’s different,” said Paul, cutting off Jimmy. “I’m gonna go work the stage. Hold things down here and grab T-dog, Matty. or Darko if you run into any more trouble.”
Paul made his way into the busy bar. He did a quick glance for trouble but everything seemed in order. The place was packed but was playing to normal symphony of a Nantucket summer night; there was a group on the pool table teasing a girl about to make a shot, another group by the shuffleboard table zeroed into their game, two blonde girls shuffling by in sundresses laughing while clutching their drinks, the line around the horseshoe bar was almost three deep with girls, but mostly guys, with their credit cards outstretched hoping to be next chosen to order their vodka soda, and the smoking deck was filled with potential one night stands bumming cigarettes off each other.
Paul made his way to the stage and passed by his fellow bouncer Trevor, who he called T-Dog, and gave him a passing fist pump. Trevor was originally from Jamaica, but had long since lost the accent, until that is, he got mad and let the Jamacian Patois fly. He stood about 6’ 2”, but seemed much taller due to the size of the rest of his body. He was the strongest man Paul had ever met, but his strength was matched by his kind heart. He worked at the Boys & Girls Club and it seemed helping kids was his natural calling. He may have been nice, but was far from a chump and other bouncers had a healthy fear of him. He could break up brawls by himself and carry two grown men out of the bar at the same time, one on each hand. No one dared call him T-Dog besides Paul, but Paul made Trevor laugh.
Paul glided through different groups of revelers toward the stage. The U2 cover band was in the middle of a rendition of “Where the Hills Have No Name” and Paul looked across to his fellow bouncer Darko near the backstage entrance. Darko smiled and pretended to grab an imaginary pipe while singing and then pointed to his watch. Almost on cue, the lead singer came to the front of the stage, clutched the pipe hanging from the ceiling and let out a “Ohhhh ohhhh I go there with youuuu!!!!” Paul laughed. The singer had repeated the same move the last 6 summers when they played the Box. It had grown into an inside joke with the door staff and they eagerly awaited his pipegrab with gusto.
Near the stage, a group of frenzied girls came over to Mark and started to speak drunkenly and point towards a girl in a white “bachelorette” sash and the stage. The music was way too loud to make out anything they were saying, but he got the gist of it. He got the singer’s attention and they hoisted the girl up on the stage. The lead singer gave her the mic and she let out a shrieking “hillssss haveeee nooo nameeeeees.”
Just as she let out another wrong note, Paul saw Trevor bolt for the entrance. Paul motioned for Darko and they ran out the exit near them.
They were immediately greeted by a brawl in the middle of the street between two groups of young men. This being Nantucket, the ruffians were wearing bright colored shirts and boat shoes. With Izods and Polo flying everywhere, they stepped into break-up the preppy melee.
“Alright, break up da fight,” yelled Darko in his strong eastern European accent.
No one seemed to listen and he and Paul separated two men who were throwing wildly inaccurate punches at each other. Trevor had separated three people and were pushing them back towards the grass across the street. Jimmy grabbed the wrist of one of the remaining blonde fighters, who instinctively turned around and punched him square in the face. Jimmy dropped. The man hit Jimmy again while he was on the ground. He prepared for another blow, but heard a loud crack, and someone fell next to him.
He recovered to his feet and saw the guy who had hit him lying asleep on the street. Paul was next to him with Darko, holding the last two brawlers in full-nelsons dragging them down the street.
“His bro tried to hook up with my bros girl,” exclaimed one of the men being dragged off.
“I couldn’t care less about your OC 90210 bro beef. Just if I were you, I’d get the fuck out of here before the cops come,” said Paul.
Paul came back and walked up to Jimmy studying his face. An egg had already started forming under his eye.“Shit man, you’re going to want to put some ice on that eye before it swells up more.”
“I shouldn’t have let that happen. You guy’s handled yourselves and I got smashed.”
“Come on man, it’s practically your first night, don’t be so hard on yourself. Sadly, we have a lot of experience because we have been doing this forever. You did your job, you didn’t hesitate, shit happens, I’m sorry that happened to you. It’s not usually this wild, especially this early. There must be a Chad full moon out tonight or something. Go ask Ricky for some ice behind the bar and take a break out back, good job” said Paul.
“So I take it, you knocked that guy out for me?”
“Nah man, he just fell,” said Paul with a wink.
The two groups of fighters started dispersing. The blonde bro that had been knocked out had been woken up by a few friends. They had threatened to press charges but were told that their dad’s lawyer was no match for the videotape that would clearly show him attacking a worker on the ground.
As the last of them got into a cab, a police car appeared with its lights flashing. It pulled right up to the curb by the front of the bar. A young officer got out. He slowly scanned the area and said to Paul and Darko, “We received a report of a fight. And look who I find outside. Mr. O’Grady you beating up defenseless drunk men again?”
Paul’s icy stare returned and he gave the officer a look of pissed-off-disgust.
“I asked you a question. What happened here O’Grady?”
“Don’t you worry, all settled, drunk men had a bit too much to drink and they had a shoving match,” answered Darko.
“I didn’t ask the euro-trash, did I? Maybe if I was asking for pointers on sham marriages I would ask you a question, ” said the young officer. “So O’Grady, nothing to say to me still?”
Paul said nothing and starred in the opposite direction. The cop got right in his face. He took his time staring at Paul and formed a condescending grin.
“Soo still holding grudges are we? Still haven’t learned to take responsibility for your own actions and the shithole you’ve turned your life into? Saw Laura the other day, she has a kid now, not yours right, that’s got to hurt.”
Jimmy, who had stopped on his journey for ice with the arrival of flashing blue lights, could feel Paul being bated and felt the urge to rescue him from the situation.
Jimmy interrupted, “Officer One Punch, sir, really it was just a fight between rich summer kids. Look at my eye, I got the worst of it.”
“WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST CALL ME,” screamed the officer.
“Uh sir, just your name right? I heard someone at Cumbies say officer one punch after you left…I thought that was”
“That’s not my fucking name,” said the cop as he stormed towards Jimmy and pushed him.
Just then an older officer appeared and grabbed the fuming young cop.
“LaRunch! That’s enough! Go back to your cruiser and take off, I’ll handle this,” ordered the older officer.
“You’re lucky punks, new kid I’ll be seeing you, O’Grady fun as always,” said LaRunch as he slowly sauntered back to his car.
“Paul, any problem here, just a bar fight? Anyone injured? Anything we have to worry about?” asked the older cop.
“Nah George, nothing special, just a bunch of kids comparing trust funds got a little agitated. Be surprised if anything comes of it. We could do without your officers attacking our staff though, Jimmy you alright?” asked Paul.
“Im okay,” said Jimmy.
The older officer was Sergeant George Clarkson. He had grown up on Nantucket, played football in college, and then returned to the island to begin his career as an officer and raise his family. He was a fair man and had the respect of the Nantucket community.
“I’m not trying to get involved in the history of you and LaRunch, I know there’s bad blood there. But were all a little on edge. They still haven’t found those two kids that went out kayaking the other night. We’ve had those drownings, the bodies half eaten by the fish, those reports of vanishing tourists, and now rumors of missing people from our local community. We’re supposed to be on a destination island and it’s like we’re living in a nightmare.”
“I heard about the kids. That’s terrible, hopefully they’ll turn up safe, but locals, what locals?”
“I actually wanted to talk to you about that,” said George.
“Not sure what assistance a bouncer can give you,” said Paul.
“Cut the crap Paul, you’re more tuned into the different communities on this island than anyone. People will talk to you that I can’t get to say a word to me. This isn’t an official investigation, that’s why I’m sharing this with you, but I have my concerns. An older El Salvadorian lady came into the station the other night ranting and raving about her missing 20 year-old daughter and friend. She refused to file an official report because they were undocumented. I got her address and when I went to follow up today, it seemed like the whole family had moved out. The neighbors refused to talk to us. It seemed like they were scared. Have you heard of any major players coming to the island that could be behind this?”
“I’m not sure Nantucket would be the smartest place to start human smuggling, what would they do? Put them on the steamship? But no, I haven’t heard anything about anyone new. You sure it wasn’t any of those MS13 losers from a few summers ago?”
“No, they haven’t set foot back on the island. Thank God,” replied officer Clarkson.
“Then honestly, I’m sorry there’s nothing I can really add besides some kids nicknaming this ‘the summer of blood’ after they found those night swimmers’ bodies. I can keep my ears open and ask around, but I’m not sure what luck I’ll have,” said Paul.
“That’s all I’m asking,” said office Clarkson as he shook Paul’s hand and started to leave. “You would have made a fine cop here Paul.”
“Maybe in a different lifetime…” replied Paul.
Just as officer Clarkson opened his car door, Paul yelled,”Hey George, I think I’ve seen this movie before. You sure we’re not just dealing with a big shark, our own Jaws on ACK?”
George replied, “I wish it was that easy. I would just need to get a bigger boat.”
Officer Clarkson took off and Paul surveyed the line for the damage the fight might have done to scare off the crowd. It was still packed. The reputation of the Box was legendary and it would take an act of God for a slow night during the summer.
Darko was waiting for Paul at the entrance. “That guy is the biggest assehole on island,” said Darko, holding up his arms spread apart to emphasise how big. “Sorry what he said about Laura, he had no right.”
“Whatever, fuck him. He just wants us to be as miserable as he is. Who is he to call your beautiful 3 year marriage you paid good money for a sham, am I right? You gave that very large lady your Bulgarian heart and $5,000…allegedly.”
“You are right, it was love, and a green card,” said Darko.
Just then Paul noticed Jimmy still standing outside.
“Jimmy what the fuck man. Go get some ice on that thing,” barked Paul.
Jimmy went inside. Paul made his way over to the front of line. Matty had slid into take care of the bar entry once the fight broke out. That was the rule. No matter what happened outside, someone stayed behind to guard the bar and keep the machine running.
Matty looked at Paul with a wild smile. His facial expressions reminded Paul of a husky on a run; he always had a wide enthusiastic smile that seemed totally content in the moment but a hint of wanting more in his eyes. Matty was 24ish, a college graduate of Colgate and had come from major money. His family owned two properties on Hulbert ave and another out on Polpis, where he currently lived. He had gone to school for kicks and was continuing to enjoy himself living on the island, bouncing around in the trades and working nights at the Box to pass the time. Everyone liked Matty, especially the girls. He had a calm demeanor about him and he actually listened to people; he didn’t just pretend to listen until it was his turn to talk. Paul saw a lot of his younger self in Matty, but agreed Matty was much better looking than he ever was, much calmer, and did not have the darkness lurking beneath him.
“Hey Chad, what’s the count at,” asked Paul in a joking tone.
Matty slid his hand through his dark black hair, took the cover from two girls who he just checked their IDs, and replied, “Man Paul, you’re a bigger Chad than I’ll ever be. You summered here, dress preppier than me, and weren’t born on island, but try to play yourself off like an islander. Only thing different between us is that my great grandfather created the patent on a ball bearing used universally in cars, so I get to drive cooler cars. And Paul, you wouldn’t hold it against a man for the family he’s born into, would you?”
“That’s why I like you Matty, you little punk, you give me shit right back, and for the record, wearing a polo and khaki shorts is not dressing preppy, it’s just looking nice.”
“Sure whatever old man,” joked Matty as he let in two more patrons.
Paul noticed the bartender Ricky trying to get his attention. He started flashing the number 4 with his hand and Paul caught the signal. They were here.
He made his way over to the exit where 4 very fancy dressed men waited for him outside next to a brand new 2004 Range Rover.
“Hey boys, how are we doing tonight,” said Paul.
“Just fine, you don’t mind parking the Range for us again, sorry we just wanted to get in, we were running late from trying to catch dinner, but now I think we might just eat after,” replied the shortest of the group.
“No problem at all, may I recommend Stubby’s or Tacos Tacos for a late night bite,” said Paul as he was handed a wad of $2,000 in 100’s. Paul led the boys in the bar to a reserved table near the left center of the stage. He had been approached by them earlier in the summer and thought at first it was a joke. They asked how much it would cost to skip the line, have a table reserved, and unlimited vodka sodas brought to their table. Paul pulled $2,000 out of the air and they agreed immediately. He thought it was hot air, as he had been asked that question before, only for the same person to dispute their $120 bar tab at the end of the night.
The next week when they actually arrived with the $2,000 cash, Paul was shocked. He scrambled to get them a table and have Darko run them drinks. Now it was a well oiled machine. They arrived at the exit, were brought to their table, Ricky had drinks waiting, and they kept them coming. They rarely ran up bigger than a $300 tab, so it was a $1700 profit, split between Paul (who got a 25% finder’s fee), the bar, bartenders, and the other bouncers. Everyone was happy.
These were the type of rich people Paul liked: the stupid wealthy. They didn’t have to remind people who their father was, how much money they had, because they had nothing to prove. They had always had money and always would. It made no sense to them to yell for extra attention. They paid not to be bothered. They were what all Chads should aspire to.
Paul went to park the Range Rover. He saw some women’s clothes in the backseat and a Nantucket sailing club sweatshirt; he guessed it was laundry day or a conquest had left their garments behind. He parked the car headed back towards the bar.
He had been dealing with the four guys, who he assumed were brothers, for almost two months but did not know much about them. They would call him usually when they were arriving or just show up like they had that night. Sometimes they had another two guys with them. They did a lot of stoic standing by their table and seemed particularly interested in foreign girls. They often left with a group of girls but never the same girls twice.
They looked like they were in their twenties. They all had bright blonde hair, the type of blonde that’s usually only found on the really rich well-bred or girls who pay to have it colored. Two of them had long hair kept in pony tails. One kept his long hair straight back and the shortest one, the most talkative, had hair like his stature. Their very pale skin told Paul they weren’t making much of Nantucket’s beautiful beaches. Paul thought they were most likely cokeheads after the smaller one had asked him for a “connect” which he politely said he could not help them with. He imagined they spent all night partying and sleeping during the day; they would never know the working man’s pleasure of going to work the next morning with a massive hangover.
Paul kept an eye out to make sure the four brothers were content: don’t want to scare away the golden goose. The band continued to run through U2’s greatest hits. Two cute irish girls that had been in a few times came over and started poking Paul in a playful manner. As he pretended to poke back, a sloshed couple making out fell into them, smashing the girls’ drinks to the ground.
Paul took them over to the bar and ordered them two sex on the beach drinks, on the house of course. They joked about him being their hero and one scribbled down her number for Paul on a napkin and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Still having no problem in that department huh,” said a woman with curly brown hair standing by the bar.
Just hearing the voice made Paul’s heart drop and he felt a jolt of the flight response go through his body. He wanted to run, but instead he turned around.
“Laura, I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Well you know how much of a U2 freak Kelsey is, she dragged me out. Hope you don’t mind.”
“No not at all, it’s a free country, a free island, you can do what you want,” said Paul.
“Well you look good, I heard your back down working at that boat? How’s that going?”
“It’s a living, you have a problem with where I choose to work?” said Paul.
“No, I remember how much you liked that job when we first met.”
“Yeah, when we first met, aka I’m working a job I had at 16, I get it, you think I’m a loser, thanks.”
“No, no, that’s not what I meant at all, Paul, you’re so talented, you have the potential to be anything you want.”
“That’s the problem with endless potential, it makes it so hard to choose just one thing. I gotta go make my rounds, nice seeing you.”
She grabbed his arm. “Paul wait, you didn’t quit the softball team because me and Ben joined right? I don’t want things to be weird between us. It’s a small island.”
“No, I just don’t like softball anymore,” said Paul in an unconvincing tone.
“Paul come on, I’d still like to be frien..”
“Friends sorry, some of us can’t move on as fast as you, but if you’re done, really I need to go.”
She looked saddened and Paul felt bad but more that he just needed to escape. He turned to see the two irish girls now talking to 4 brothers. He went out to the smoking deck and saw the local weirdo doing magic tricks to impress girls. He went over to the corner and made a phone call.
Robert felt his phone vibrating and searched for it underneath the wrappers surrounding the bong on his table. O’Grady was calling him.
He answered, “O’Grady you mother fucker, aren’t you supposed to be saving lives right now at the Box.”
“I’m having a hell of a night, had a run in with officer McLoser-face and Laura stopped in. What are you guys doing?”
“Wow, you had a double whammy, that sucks dude. Me and Holdwill are just hitting the bong watching Princess Bride. Why you got something in mind”
“I need a fucking night. You down to get wild?”
“Does a bear screw chickens in the wind?”
“I have no idea if they do, ” replied Paul.
“Doesn’t matter; I’ll call Bad Marge, let’s get fucked up,” said Robert.
“Sounds good, but come quick, we don’t have much time, I want to hit a few places before they close”
“Roger that summer kid, just be ready to go when we come get your bitch ass. No pussying out like you usually do, ” said Robert.
“You don’t have to worry about that tonight. I need to clear my head and no better way than getting messed up with you asseholes. Also, I’m buying.”
Robert hung up his phone and turned to his roommate,“Yo you want go to grab Paul at the Box and then head downtown for some drinks.”
Robert’s roommate Brian Holdwill was now clearing their bong. He finished and replied, “Not really dude, fuck downtown, especially in the summer. We’re just getting to the good part of the movie too, they’re about to storm the castle. Montoya’s finally going to get that douche that killed his father.”
“Yeah, but I guess he had a run in with One Punch and Laura,” replied Robert.
“Damn man, in the same night? That sucks. Yeah let’s take him out, he needs a drink or ten. Get on the horn with Bad Marge.”
“Yeah, I just hope we get the cool Paul tonight.”
“We can only hope,” said Brian.
I coulddddn’t belieeeveeee the neeewsss todayyyyyyy – sang the lead singer to the rocked Box crowd.
Paul went behind the bar and grabbed Ricky. He handed him a wad of cash and said, “Hey man, here’s the money from the rich kids. I took my cut, I need to get out of here.”
“Laura? I didn’t know what to say when she walked in. Looks good though, especially after having a kid.”
“Yeahhhhh, thanks man. Just if Tom asks, cover for me, say I uhhhh left.”
“You got it man, get out of here,” said Ricky as he handed 5 mixed drinks to the group of buzzed partiers in front of him.
Paul informed Trevor and Darko he was taking off. He went out back and checked on Jimmy. He told him it’s not just enough to ice it. Tomorrow mix in some heated towels and massage the bruise every half hour. It will heal faster. Jimmy laughed about Paul having so much experience with black eyes.
He took off his Box shirt and changed into his street clothes. He hustled out to the back lot. A couple was leaning against a car making out. They stumbled and almost fell, the girl laughed and pulled the boy closer. Paul looked at them and felt a sad tinge of semi-happy nostalgia. Happy people were still having those moments, but a tad sad that he knew his days of innocent fun were pretty much over. He had played the game of love and lost.
He looked up at the night sky. Nantucket has beautiful stars and Paul liked to stare at them when he tried to think. He muttered to himself, “What the fuck am I even doing with my life? Thery’re all right, I’m a fucking loser. God if you’re out there, I could use a sign.”
As he pondered these existential thoughts, he saw the lights of a minivan-cab pulling into the dirt parking lot.
A door slid open and Robert yelled, “Hey summer kid, get in pussy, let’s get drunk.”
Paul jumped in and said hi to Bad Marge as he crawled into the back. When the boys were going through the summers of their formative years they had met Bad Marge on the Strip. The Strip is where the fast food restaurants are located and where teenagers on island tend to start their nights. Bad Marge drove her cab into the wee hours of the morning and took shit from no man. She had driven them to all of their high school and college years’ parties. They had formed a bond with her and she had gotten them out more pinches then they could remember. She even went out with the boys every Thanksgiving eve for the one night of the year that she let loose. She only had three rules: she went by ‘Bad Marge’, not Marge, they had to call her for a ride if they were going out, and no puking in the cab. Robert had broken rule 3 a few times.
Robert handed Paul a nip of Mcgillicuddys and Brian let out a toast as they all clinked plastic, “To our wives, our girlfriends, and the women we love, may they never meet!”
“Reaaalll nicee boys, hahaha,” said Bad Marge letting out a belly laugh. “Where does your adventure take us tonight?”
“Bad Marge if you could take us to Gazebo, that would be great. Then meet us outside the Crown at 12:30, I want to make the last call at Faregrounds.”
Bad Marge rolled down the cobblestones of old Nantucket and parked at the end of Straight Wharf. “Alright boys, see you at the Crown in a little while. Have fun, wear raincoats, haha,” laughed Bad Marge as the boys jumped out and she drove off into the night.
The boys walked the short distance to the Gazebo bar. The Gazebo was not one of those bars that was a play on words. It’s a literal wooden gazebo with a small bar inside. It also had the best mudslides on the island. Robert walked past the line to the doorman and they pounded fists. One of the few perks of living on the island year-round and surviving the lonely winters was if people liked you, you didn’t have to wait in many lines.
They found an open table next to the bar. The bartender Erika came over and wiped the area in front of them and smiled. “My favorite idiots. How are we doing tonight boys? Paul I thought you worked Friday nights?”
“Ah yeah, I just didn’t have it in me tonight, needed to let off some steam so I ditched out a bit early and called up the guys. Doing pretty good though, how’s it been in here tonight?” responded Paul.
“You know the typical summer crowd. Had a few jerks in here earlier. This kid in a pink polo tried reaching behind the bar to steal beer,” added Erika.
“No shit was he blonde, kind of stereotypical douche face with a big chin?”
“Yeah how’d you know?”
“His crew tried coming in the Box tonight, didn’t even make it in. He ended up punching Jimmy in the face.”
“Not Jimmy! The new kid? He’s so sweet! Tell him to come down for a mudslide on the house.”
Robert interrupted, “Speaking of mudslides, Erika if you don’t mind, can we please order three of your three finest mudslides, start a tab, Paul is buying!”
“You got it.”
Erika moved across the bar to start the concocations in the blender. Paul and Robert started elbowing Brian in the ribs and pointing at Erika. Brian had a long time crush on her, but couldn’t bring himself to ask her out. Everytime he got close, he got flustered and the words would just not come to him. Paul joked it was like in South Park when Stan tried to talk to Wendy but ended up puking every time. Brian had also made the mistake of saying one time to his friends that Erika had the ideal bone structure in a girl he liked. They said that was a comment of a serial killer and now they would tease Brian and say, “Hey look at the bone structure on that girl!”
Erika was a slender 26 year-old transplant from Ohio. Like many before her, she came to the island just for a summer but never left. The beach, the people, the waves, pulled people in and they never left. She was smart, independent, and fun to be around like many that chose to make the island their home.
Erika returned with the mudslides. Robert smiled and said, “Brian was just saying how much he liked your earrings, are they new?”
“Oh, Brian you’re so sweet. Yeah I got them at the new shop on Main street, near the Hub.”
Brian smiled wide eyed but did not utter a sound. A long awkward pause ensued.
“Uh well guys, I’m going to go take care of the other guests. Just holler if you need a refill.” Erika left and took orders from an older couple at the other side of the bar
“Wow smooth as ever my man,” said Paul as he slapped Brian on the back.
“Shut up. We can’t all have your weird mojo that attracts girls even though you’re one of the strangest cats I’ve ever met.”
“I am not weird,” said Paul. “I’m unique and there’s a big difference. Especially with women.” They said cheers and began to suck down their frosty mudslides. Some things in life are overrated but not a mudslide from the Gazebo. The chocolate syrup is perfectly dispersed throughout the cup with the perfect combination of Bailey’s, Kahlua, and vodka.
After a long suck, Brian turned to Paul. “So One Punch gave you a hard time again tonight? The balls on that guy. Think he would learn his lesson after getting an island wide nickname after messing with you.”
“Yeah, unfortunately I think his hard on for me will never die. I just wish he would leave me alone. I guess betraying me and ruining my life wasn’t enough.”
Robert said, “Man, I know you guys were friends or whatever in college. But he screwed you over so hard and continues to be obsessed with you. I think he may be in love with you!”
“Love, what the hell are you talking about?”
“Man it makes perfect sense, he had a secret thing for you all these years, that you never returned, and that’s why he can’t leave you alone. Got you kicked out of becoming a cop because he didn’t want you out there risking your life. Wanted to keep you safe, allllllll for himself.”
“Ahh, I just think he’s a Connecticut douchebag to the core,” said Paul. “I saw glimpses of it in college. He would take things really out of context, you’d tell him something in confidence, and he’d let it slip to your girlfriend or the person you didn’t want knowing. I thought he would grow out of it but I was naive, young, and dumb. I like to think the best of people, but after dealing with him, I will never trust anyone from CT again.”
“Hell yeah,” said Robert as he slammed down his mudslide. Holding up three fingers he said, “Erika three more mudslides when you get a chance and 4 shots of Jameson, obviously one for you!”
The boys slammed down the shots with Erika. After a slow slurp of his mudslide Paul said, “Hey Clarkson stopped by tonight too. You guys have heard of anything weird going on lately. Think there’s any truth to this cursed ‘summer of blood’? He said an El Salvadorian family vanished. I know you have a few Salvadorian guys on your crew at work, you hear anything.”
“There’s something going on. They seemed spooked. I invited a few of them over for drinks and they declined. And it’s not just them, a few of the Jamcains have seemed on edge too. A guy on the crew, Fitroy, told me to get inside before the sun goes down. Those night swimmers getting chewed up, now those kids kayaking missing, I think I may have had one of them as a camper at sailing camp! It’s sickening. I remember a few drownings growing up, but this summer has been meeessssed upppp,” said Brian.
“Could be bloodsuckers behind this,” said Robert. “I was at the VFW having drinks on Wednesday. Smithy was in there talking about “how they had returned” and wanted to round up a few guys to take them down. Said he was the last living member of the Nantucket Vampire Defense, the NVD. Said they date back to whaling days. Makes sense why Fitzroy wouldn’t want to be out at night. ”
“Smithy, the raving town drunk is the last remaining member of a Nantucket Vampire fighting squad? Didn’t he also say he found proof of alien life out at Tom Nevers?”
“Smithy may be a raging drunk, but his family dates back to the whaling days and he is a skilled craftsman. He came into our class and gave a demonstration on weaving Nantucket lightship baskets in third grade,” said Brian.
“Oh yeah, damn I forgot about that. Didn’t he go on speal about how we should raid Martha’s Vineyard for their resources? Looking back, he was probably hammered during that talk, but whatever, damn good weaver. See the type of culture you missed out not growing up here summer kid,” said Robert to Paul.
“Yeah, I really missed out,” said Paul pondering vampires on Nantucket. He imagined Count Dracula in a cape walking up and down Main street on the cobblestones, waiting outside the Club Car until he was invited in.
They finished their drinks, left a healthy tip for Erika, and headed down the back alley towards their next bar. Robert started to joke about monsters on Nantucket and started walking like Frankstein down the street.
They said hello to their friend working the door at the Rose and Crown bar and headed in. The Crown was the downtown competition for the Box, but both bars’ staff were friends and took care of each other when they visited one another’s establishments. The Crown is divided into a stage with a dance floor on the left and a long horseshoe bar on the right side. There was a live band playing a cover of “Blinded By the Light” as the boys posted up at the bar.
Robert started to pretend to dance with the bartender who was filling up a drink behind the bar. She reciprocated and gave Robert a phantom twirl and laughed.
Brian took Paul aside. “Hey I heard you ran into Laura tonight too, do you want to talk about that?”
“No, not really. Although, she asked if I quit the softball team because her and that Ben guy joined, can you believe that? I said no, but duh! Ya think! You think I want to be on a team with my ex girlfriend of 3 years and her baby daddy. But I don’t want to talk about her anymore, let’s just drink.”
“Well we can certainly do that,” said Brian.
The boys took another shot and had another round of drinks. Robert said now with a buzz in his voice, “You think any of the people in here are the vampires Smithy was talking about?”
“Probably any girl that talks to you is,” joked Brian.
“That’d be just my luck. I finally find true love and she’s undead haha,” said Robert.
“Who are you kidding, that wouldn’t stop you,” added Paul.
“That probably is true, I could deal with a few bites, haha,” said Robert. The band had now started to play a cover of Rusted Root’s “Send Me on My Way”. “Oh snap this my jam, let’s hit the dance floor!”
He motioned for them to make their way to the dance floor. Paul said he did not feel much like dancing. Robert reminded him of his promise to be the old cool Paul, told him to not waste a good buzz, and stop pouting so much and see where the night takes him. Paul reluctantly agreed and felt lucky that he had friends that went the extra mile to cheer him up.
They made their way to the dance floor. Robert joke-danced up to a group of girls and one made a curtsy towards him. He extended his hand as if to take her to a ball and they began to dance. Paul and Brian stood with her friends and did a bit of group dancing. A few drinks at the bar and songs later, they had found out the girls were visiting their friend from college, Kacey, who now worked full time doing conservation work on the island. They had been on island for a week and half and their vacation was winding down. Kacey had work early in the morning so she was not with the girls on their night out.
Paul had taken a liking to the girl he was dancing with. She was tan, athletic looking, and had an hourglass shaped body covered by her bright blue tight dress. She had a certain spunk that Paul found irresistible. He learned her name was Leslie, she was 25, and a full-time nurse in St. Louis.
She asked him about his profession and he said something vague about working down at the docks and working at the Box. She gave a startled look when she heard the Box.
Paul asked, “You have a bad experience at the Box?”
“To say the least,” replied Leslie.
“I’m sorry to hear that. Was a Chad rude to you and your friends? Guys can be real jerks sometimes, especially when they get some liquid confidence.”
“What’s a Chad?”
“Oh sorry, that’s just Nantucket slang for preppy-rich-kid-jerks. You know the guys with trust funds that walk up to the bar with the credit card from Daddy saying ‘Vodka, Soda, Close it!”
“You have something against rich people? My family has two houses in the Hamptons,” replied Leslie while she shot a fiery glance at Paul.
“Oh, no, one of my closet buddies Matty is loaded, great guy. Labels are stupid, you know it’s all just how you treat people that matters,” said Paul sheepishly backtracking.
“I’m just screwing with you! You should have seen your face. Two houses in the Hamptons? My family watches Rams games and drinks Budweiser.”
“Rams, huh, sorry about what the Pats did to the greatest show on turf a few years ago in the Super Bowl.”
“You guys got lucky! Tom Brady is overrated. Mark my words he will come back down to earth soon and be done in the next few years. No way he has a long NFL career. You should have stuck with Drew Bledsoe!”
“Oh is that so…but ok let’s leave our NFL teams for a moment. What happened to you at the Box? That’s my work and home away from home, I don’t like beautiful people, even Rams fans to say they had a bad experience there. Everyone deserves their own wild, free, fun night at the Box.”
“The Box itself was lovely. But we had a run in with what did you call them…Chads? Four guys started buying us drinks and they were not bad looking, yeah know, but we were just trying to have a girls night. They kept insisting we came back to their house for some after party. They got really cold when we said we weren’t interested and basically told us to leave their table. That’s fine, whatever guys on the prowl, I get it. But my friend Kacey, she doesn’t live too far from the Box down on Monomoy I think they call it. So we’re walking home and the same guys show up in a big black car and start following us home slowly. It made us really uncomfortable so I went to tell them off and they opened the door and started to get out. I was so scared. Just then a cop randomly came by and they took off.”
“Holy shit that’s terrible, did you talk to the cop?”
“No we just hurried home and all decided to start carrying pepper spray. So don’t get any ideas tonight because I will blind you where you stand.”
“Oh no, the only person I will be following home tonight is my own self respect after I lose it striking out with you.”
“Don’t sell yourself so short, just yet. My vacation is almost over and I still need my wild Nantucket vacation moment,” said Leslie, giving Paul a flirtatious smile and grabbing his wrist and leading him out to the dance floor.
The band was now playing a cover of “Jungle Love” from Morris Day and the Time. Paul gave a twirl to Leslie and she spun smiling and fell back into his arms. The lead singer sang out, “You got a pretty carrrrr I think I want to drive it, I ain’t playing baby!” Paul pointed at Leslie and they danced in sync to the funk of the band. Robert was swaying with the rest of the group in a circle. He had procured dark sunglasses and was screaming out ‘Oh ee oh ee oh!’ with the band. Brian was doing a two step and a version of the sprinkler dance, moving his arm up and down like he was watering a lawn.
The lead singer finished the song and Robert announced to the group, “Hey Bad Marge is outside, you still want to go to Faregrounds for the last call and see Axel?”
“Oh what’s Faregrounds like?” asked Leslie.
“It’s a great laid back sports bar. Best wings on the island. It will probably be dead right now but our friend Axel bartends there, great guy, wicked funny. You’d love him.”
“So leave an awesome bar with a live band to go to a dead bar?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” replied Paul with a laugh.
Leslie huddled up with her friends. She returned and said, “My friends are going to go get some food and head home.”
“Oh well, it was very nice meeting you tonight, have a safe trip back to St. Louis,” said Paul.
She pushed him against the wooden plank and kissed him. “I said my friends are going to go get some food. You want to go have a nightcap at your place?”
“I am certainly open to that. Let me tell the guys I’m not coming with them. But not to totally kill the mood, but there’s something I need to ask you that’s been bothering me. Were those creepy guys from the Box you had a run in with blonde with real pale skin by any chance? And was the car a Range Rover?”
“Yeah, how’d you guess?!?”
“Shit I need to make a phone call.”
Trevor felt his phone vibrating in his pocket. Paul O’Grady was on the other line. “Shit what does this crazy white boy want now,” thought Trevor as he stepped outside the Box to answer the call.
“Paul, you left us, what’s the problem my man, worried about us so soon?”
Paul said, “Nah man, but I heard some weird stuff about our four friends that have been lining our pockets lately. Are they still there?”
“What type of weird stuff? No, they left earlier.”
“Just that they might be trouble. Did they leave with anyone?”
“Yeah with those two irish girls I believe. The ones I saw you buying a drink for earlier. Do we need to call the cops?”
“No, hopefully it’s not that serious. I have one of their numbers I will check in with her and make sure they are alright.”
“Of course you have one of their numbers Paul.”
“Who the fook is this calling me,” said Morgan in her Irish accent as she saw her phone ringing with a 508 number. “Why hello, can I help you,” said Morgan answering her phone.
“Hey, this is Paul from the Box. Just making sure everything is okay with you guys?”
“Oh our hero from earlier! Paul haven’t you heard of waiting a few days to call a girl! Not near 1 o’clock in the morning the same night for a booty call. Not a very gentleman move, but yas’ we’re fine. Lovely actually, at a very nice house on Cliff Rd. We all might go swimming with phosphorescents, great craic!”
“Ok I was just making sure everything was alright. Sorry for bothering you,” said Paul as he hung up the phone.
Morgan looked over at her friend Sarah. She was kissing Bryce, the boy she had originally had her eye on. That had happened a few times on their visit to the States. But there were 3 other brothers, plenty of fish in the sea, and she was more in the mood to have fun than kiss a boy.
“Any of you cunts have a Bulmers? Oh shit, I mean Magners in this country,” said Morgan to the three brothers, who were sitting around the kitchen table.
The shortest brother, Taylor, produced a large bag of white powder from his pants. “Sorry, fresh out of Magners, but I do have some nose beers if you would like to partake in some skiing.”
Cocaine wasn’t really Morgan’s thing. It reminded her of nights she would like to forget at Coppers in Dublin. However, their motto for their USA trip was: you only live once.
“Sure beam me up Scotty, let’s see how much ya’ like how we Irish talk once you got us on the nose candy!”
They were soon snorting lines up their noses and doing shots of Jagermeister. Taylor apologized for the quality of cocaine. He explained that they were having trouble finding a good connect on island.
“The last stuff we got was so junk that I wanted to kill the dealer,” said Taylor.
“What do you mean almost? There’s a reason we had latin meat that night,” said Jonanthan, one of the brothers with a ponytail, laughing as he finished sniffing up a line.
“You yanks are very strange with your sense of humor,” said Morgan as she felt the drug waking up her senses and giving a feeling of alertness.
After an hour of talking nonsense and making plans they would never fall through on, Morgan announced, “Alrite let’s go, enough of this shit. Take us to the glowy fish you promised us, the phosphorescents!”
“It’s still early in the night for that, what yeah think Bryce?” said Mike, the brother with the longest hair, and who seemed to be making the decisions for the group.
“Man I could go for a night swim now, we didn’t get to eat earlier, and you want to save that young meat we got still to tenderize,” said Bryce.
Sarah, who was in Bryce’s arms, gave a weird look and was taken aback, “What does meat have to do with a night swim?”
“Oh nothing, I just don’t want to eat now and get a cramp swimming. Sorry, some more of that weird Yank humor,” said Bryce.
They finished another line and headed out to walk to the beach. Taylor made a short phone call to tell someone else they were going night swimming and off they went.
It was a full moon and the August warm wind was inviting them down to the beach. They made their ways over the sand dunes and onto the shore. The beach was empty and the dark night sky was blanketed with stars
“Alright let’s go see them fishies,” said Morgan as she threw her sandals and headed into the water.
Bryce and Sarah headed in behind her. The other brothers declined to swim and said they would wait by the shore.
Morgan decided to swim left to give her friend some privacy. The warm water felt incredible as she dove under and did a brief swim out to deeper water. She began to splash the water to try and see the little water lights. She thought they might have been pulling her leg but to her surprise, bright green lights began to appear in the water like fireflies. They vanished, she splashed again, they appeared. Every time she disturbed the water, more little green lights: beautiful.
They had been told Nantucket was a magical place, but this was the first time Morgan felt it. She wanted to experience this moment with her best friend.
“Sarah and Brycey baby stop snoggering for a second, I want to play with the little lights with you.”
Morgan swam toward her friend who was in the arms of her new man. He was leaning down towards her with his head tilted in a kissing stance. “Sarah hun, aren’t these lights brilliant!”
Sarah did not answer. Morgan swam closer and grabbed her friend’s hand. The hand felt limp.
“Sarah! Are you alright dear!”
Bryce now turned towards her in the water. His forehead protruded and his face had taken on an animal like shape. There was something all over his mouth, redlike.
“Sorry I told you I was famished. But the phosphorescents sure are lovely aren’t they?”
Bryce took Sarah’s body and moved it back and forth in the water. She made no movement and mixed in with the glowing lights was blood.
Morgan screamed, “What have you done to my friend! You fucking psycho!”
Bryce laughed and Morgan frantically started to swim towards the shore. This could not be real she thought, this was just a bad dream, my friend’s fine. She did not wake up.
As she got to the shore, she saw Taylor standing there with his brothers. His face had taken on horrific transformation as well. “You know the best thing about doing coke with someone before sucking them dry? You get the coke back mixed in with the blood, it’s a great high,” howled Taylor.
Morgan took off on a sprint down the beach. The soft sand was slowing her down and she kept looking back to see if they were following her. Lactic acid quickly began to build up and she slowed down to a crawling pace. She scurried up to hide in the dunes as she prayed for a savior.
Just then a jeep cherokee appeared on the sand road heading up to the beach. Morgan sprinted for it running out in front of the jeep waving her arms. The driver stopped.
“You need to get me out of here. These monsters, they killed my friend! We need the police!”
The driver leaned out the window. “What the hell?!? Get in!”
Morgan dove in the backseat. The car turned around quickly in the sand and took off speeding.
There were two men in the front seat of the car. They asked her what had happened and she could not believe what was coming out of her mouth: rich kids turning into monsters, her friend’s bloody body, this is a nightmare.
“Don’t worry you are safe with us. We won’t let anything happen to you.”
The car had started traveling up a dirt road that seemed familiar to Morgan. “Where are we going, we need to get the police!”
“Don’t you worry, we’re just going to my house to be safe, we can call the police there.”
The car continued up the road.
The driver’s friend asked, “Is this your first time on the island?”
“Yes, but I don’t know why the hell that matters right now.”
The car had stopped and parked next to a black SUV. Morgan looked at it and came to the sudden realization that it was the same car she had been in earlier in the night. She looked out the window and she was back at the brothers’ house.
The man now transformed said, “I’m just asking if it was your first time on island because it’s definitely your last.” A few screams and it became silent.
*** So concludes Part 1 of ChadPires – A Nantucket Vampire Story. The completed story will be published and available for purchase by March 2021. If you like epic vampire fights, whaling history, Nantucket, and comedy, make sure you grab a copy.
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