The coke wasn’t bad, but nor was it good. The buff was probably a mix of benzedrine and novocaine, or some such shit. I’d assumed it was gonna be full of something completely benign, corn starch or glucose, so I’d snorted too much of it right off the bat.
I was jangled, physically and mentally. I needed something strong to drink to counteract the speed, but it was also gonna have to be sweet, or I was gonna throw it up pretty quickly. I found a pint glass, mixed myself a big-assed white Russian, and downed half of it in one gulp.
Brian had made himself a 151 and coke. Just seeing the 151 on the table
made me uneasy and a little bit queasy.
“It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” I said. ” But it’s damned pricey for bunk.”
“We’re a long way from Colombia up here.”
“If there’s any Colombian cocaine in that shit, I’m Pablo Fucking Escobar.”
“So,” Brian something or other said before belting out a foghorn sized belch that singed his monobrow, “you think you can get tourists to come here to hunt vampires?”
“Yeah. In the parlance of the tourism industry, what I’m proposing is known as a signature event. The concept… ”
“I’ve done the Running of the Bulls.
I know what a signature event is.”
“Were you drunk?”
“That’s a rhetorical question, right?”
“I have to do it before I die.”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to do it after you die, so, yes, you do.”
“Well, the Yukon Vampire Hunt will, one day, be as legendary as the running of the bulls.”
“Is that what you told ’em at the town haller tonight?”
“Actually, I referenced La Tomatina.”
“How’d that go over?”
“The old hag was not impressed.”
“Zelda the Felcher?”
“A friend of mine used to work at the pizza joint. They used to give her the special sauce every time she ordered.”
“Same thing, without the ass. They called it Peep Show Floor.”
“That should be a potato chip flavour.
“Husky cheese flavour would sell better around here.”
“She never found out?”
“She never complained.”
“She’s a nasty piece of trash.”
“Misery personified. Should have been Stalin’s bride. What about the rest of them? Who was there?”
“The place was packed. A couple guys who I’ve seen at the Pit seemed to like it.”
“Maybe. More likely they were laughing at you.”
“Not laughing at you for the idea. Laughing at you because you have no clue.”
“Tell me the rest of the idea first, and I’ll fill you in.”
“Okay. So, the vampires are coming here. There’s a portal nearby. When the clock strikes midnight, on December 21, they will come through the portal and ring the diner bell.
“We will all be gathered outside Diamond Tooth Gertie’s
“Someone, the biggest celeb we can get, preferably not a politician, will be giving a blood stirring speech from the balcony.”
“Maybe your friend, Gower. He’s an actor.” That would be Judge Gower, and he was no friend of mine.
“Fucker. I don’t think so,”
“Just an idea.”
“O Fortuna, from Carmina Burana, is playing, rising and falling along with the speech
“Suddenly, a shriek is heard. High pitched, female voice. The vampires have arrived! The town is blacked out. London during the blitz dark. Everyone has either a flashlight, or a torch.”
“You’re going to give torches to drunks?”
“Drunks can’t have torches. Drunks only get flashlights.”
“Less fun, but more prudent. Maybe lanterns. Keep the flames contained.”
“There are 13 vampires.”
“That’s all that’s left? Thirteen vampires?”
“That’s the first wave. If all goes well, they send for the rest.”
“Doesn’t matter. Not gonna happen. It’s just schtick. If a vampire finds you, before you find him, he slaps a sticker with a graphic of fangs on it,
on you. You are out of the hunt. You must report back to a first aid station for treatment.”
“First aid station?”
“If you find a vampire, you immobilize him by drinking a shot of garlic vodka
and breathing on him.”
“We make our own. It’s really good. The tourists will go home with cases of the stuff.
“There’s garlic everywhere. Giant frying pans sauteing pounds of garlic over open fires in 55 gallon drums all over town. All over the territory for a week leading up to the event.”
“That’s good marketing.”
“And cheap. When you capture a vampire, you bring him back to the theatre with you. When all the vampires have been captured, the hunt is over, and the interrogation begins.
“Oh, wait. I forgot the snowmen.”
“Yeah. They’re aiding the vampires. Or some of them are. We build hundreds of snowmen and place them all over town. If its eyes start blinking red,
it’s been taken over by the vampires. It’s spying for them. You have to decapitate it and bring its head back to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.”
“That’s great. But the snow here is dry. Not so good for snowmen.”
“I’m sure there’s a simple solution. I think it’s called water.”
“Right. This is totally staged. Mirth First interrogators… ”
“Does Mirth First exist?”
“Sure. You’re the president.”
“The interrogators ask the vampires why they are so evil. The script will have to be written, but the upshot is, in the end, the vampires say they never got any hugs when they were children. No one loved them. The lack of love in their lives was like a beacon for the vampires, who swooped down on them.”
“And the lesson is to love your kids, hug them, or the ‘vampires’ will get them.”
“Yeah. In this case the vampires are a metaphor for the cold and dark of winter. We fight winter with love. Light overcomes darkness. Some kind of artsy fartsy shit like that. When all this is revealed and understood, people line up and hug the vampires, who have to drink a Bloody Mary, and everyone does the Happy Vampire Dance.
“But one vampire escapes. He makes his way to the airport, where he catches flights back to Transylvania.
“Every airport he touches down in, he is filmed going through customs very sheepishly. That’s how the story ends for the media. One lone vampire heading back to Transylvania.”
“Where he and the rest of the vampires will plot another attack for the following year.”
“How does the vampire…?”
“Welding goggles and a burqa.”
“Muslim vampires? Dangerous.”
“Whatever. All the restaurants in town offer dishes that are filled with garlic. Vampire films are screened at the theatre. A vampire themed play is staged there as well. The play is written and performed by Yukon artists. Vampire storytelling, vampire puppet shows. Etc. Etc.”
I explained the rest of the idea – the hockey tournament, 10 day carnival, the marketing of it, where the seed money comes from etc.
“It’s brilliant,” said Brian something or other.
“I think so.”
“But these fuckin’ hillbillies will never go for it.”
“Yeah, I got that feeling tonight. Why?”
“You’re not one of us. One of them.”
“You not sure if you’re one of them?”
“I kinda am, I kinda ain’t. I’ve been here long enough to be one of them, a Sourdough, but I don’t beat my chest and get all jingoistic about the Yukon. I like the place but I wouldn’t fight, kill and die to defend it like a lot of them claim they would.
“But you’re a dead-on Cheechacko. Gotta be here a year to become a Sourdough. That’s the code. You’re an Outsider. No one knows you. No one trusts you. And you’re a weirdo. You’re not gonna fit in with any of the tribes, even if you stay a year.”
“I thought that’s why people come here. Because they don’t fit in anywhere else.”
“It’s true. But once you get here you have to fit in.”
“Well, what the fuck am I supposed to do? Wait a year before I pitch ideas, ideas that could be good for everyone? That’s fuckin’ stupid.”
“Stupid is as stupid does, Buddha.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
Brian thought about it. I could see him trying to come up with something before finally admitting, “Fucked if I know. But look, you gotta be here a year, or you’re not one of them. Us. You should have gotten someone else, a Sourdough, to introduce the idea. Even then, the idea is more than their small minds can handle. Even the smarter ones can be small-minded.”
“A few million bucks should be enough to buy me a temporary Sourdough status.”
“You don’t have a couple million bucks. And even if you did, you couldn’t buy status with it. They’ll be happy to take your money, but you don’t get to say what goes down.”
“What if I got married?”
“You found a girl?”
“There are girls here?”
“That could work. If you knocked her up, they’d have to let you in. But only if the girl is a bona fide Sourdough. Summer girls don’t count.”
“What if a summer girl gets knocked up, up here? Does she instantly become a Sourdough by virtue of pregnancy?”
“On who knocked her up. If it was a Cheechako, maybe, but probably not. Not until the kid is born. If the father is a Sourdough, she’s in.”
“Even if the Sourdough father doesn’t want her, or the kid?”
“Even if he raped her. We take care of our own.”
“That’s some fucked up shit, dude.”
“It is and it isn’t. It is what it is. And don’t all me dude. Don’t call anyone dude up here.”
“So, what the fuck am I supposed to do?”
“Only one thing to do, Buddha,” Bran laughed, walking to the fridge. “Have another beer,”
he smiled, handing me a cold one. “And go to your room and cook some of this shit.”