Chapter THIRTEEN

 

Before dusk descended the next night, Evra went around to the block of apartments to keep watch on the fat man. I stayed home, in order to follow Mr. Crepsley. If the vampire headed for the apartments, I'd join Evra. If he went anywhere else, we'd discuss the situation and decide whether Evra should desert his post or stay.

The vampire rose promptly as the sun went down. He was looking more cheerful tonight, though he still wouldn't have appeared out of place in a funeral parlor.

"Where is Evra?" he asked, diving into the meal I had prepared.

"Shopping," I said.

"By himself?" Mr. Crepsley paused. For a moment

I thought he was suspicious, but he was just looking for the salt.

"I think he's buying Christmas presents," I said.

"I thought Evra was above such absurdities. What is the date, anyway?"

"The twentieth of December," I answered.

"And Christmas is the twenty-fifth?"

"Yes," I said.

Mr. Crepsley rubbed his scar thoughtfully. "My business here may have come to an end by then," he said.

"Oh?" I tried not to sound curious or excited.

"I had planned to move on as soon as possible, but if you wish to remain here for Christmas, we can. I understand the staff are hosting some kind of celebration?"

"Yes," I said.

"You would like to attend?"

"Yes." I forced a smile. "Evra and me are buying presents for each other. We're going to eat dinner with the rest of the guests and eat cookies and stuff ourselves with turkey. You can come, too, if you want." I tried to make it sound like I wanted him there.

He smiled and shook his head. "Such follies do not appeal to me," he said.

"Suit yourself," I replied.

As soon as he left, I started after him. He led me straight to the slaughterhouse, which surprised me. Maybe it wasn't the fat man he was interested in: perhaps there was something - or somebody - else there that he had his eye on.

I discussed it with Evra over the phone.

"It's weird," he agreed. "Maybe he wants to catch him when he's entering or leaving work."

"Maybe," I said uncertainly. Something seemed odd about it. The vampire wasn't behaving as I had expected him to.

Evra stayed where he was, to follow the fat man. I chose a safe spot to hide, next to a warm pipe that kept some of the cold out. My view of the slaughterhouse wasn't as good as it had been last night, but I had a clear sight of Mr. Crepsley, which was what mattered.

The fat man arrived at the scheduled time, Evra soon after him. I moved to the edge of the roof when I saw them, ready to leap down and intervene if Mr. Crepsley made his move. But the vampire remained stationary.

And that was it for the night. Mr. Crepsley sat on his ledge; Evra and me crouched on ours; the workers kept the slaughterhouse up and running. At three in the morning, the fat man reappeared and went home.

Once again Mr. Crepsley followed, and once again we followed Mr. Crepsley. This time the vampire didn't go up to the landing, but that was the only change in the routine.

The next night, the exact same thing happened.

"What's he up to?" Evra asked. The cold was getting to him and he was complaining about cramps in his legs. I had told him he could leave, but he was determined to stick it out.

"I don't know," I said. "Maybe he's waiting for a special time to act. Maybe the moon has to be in a certain position or something."

"I thought werewolves were the only monsters affected by the moon," Evra said, half-jokingly.

"I thought so, too," I said. "But I'm not sure. There's so much Mr. Crepsley hasn't told me about being a full vampire. You could fill a book with all the stuff I know nothing about."

"What are we going to do if he attacks?" Evra asked. "Do you think we stand a chance against him in a fight?"

"Not a fair fight," I said. "But in a dirty one..." I pulled out a long, rusty butcher's knife, let Evra's eyes focus on it, then slipped it back beneath my shirt.

"Where did you get that?" Evra gasped.

"I came exploring around the slaughterhouse to-day, to familiarize myself with the layout, and found this knife lying in a bin out back. I guess it was too rusty to be of any use."

"That's what you're going to use?" Evra asked quietly.

I nodded. "I'll slit his throat," I whispered. "I'll wait for him to make his move, then..." I clenched my jaw shut.

"You think you can do it? He's really fast. If you miss your first chance, you probably won't get a second."

"He won't be expecting me," I said. "I can do it." I faced Evra. "I know we agreed to do this together, but I want to go after him by myself when the time comes."

"No way!" Evra hissed.

"I have to," I said. "You can't move as quietly or as quickly as me. If you come, you'll be in the way. Besides," I added, "if things go badly and I fail, you'll still be around to take another shot at him. Wait for day and get him while he's sleeping."

"Maybe that's the best solution," Evra said. "Maybe we should both wait. The main reason we're here is to confirm he's the killer. If he is, and we get proof, why don't we wait and -?

"No," I said softly. "I won't let him murder that man."

"You know nothing about him," Evra said. "Remember what I said: that the six dead people may have been killed because they were evil? Maybe this guy's rotten."

"I don't care," I said stubbornly. "I only agreed to go along with Mr. Crepsley because he convinced me he wasn't bad, that he didn't kill people. If he is a killer, I'm guilty, too, for believing him and helping him all this time. I could do nothing to stop the first six murders - but if I can prevent number seven, I will."

"Okay," Evra sighed. "Have it your own way."

"You won't interfere?"

"No," he promised.

"Even if I run into trouble and look like I need help?"

He hesitated before nodding. "All right. Not even then."

"You're a good friend, Evra," I said, clasping his hands.

"Think so?" He smiled bitterly. "Wait until you mess up with Mr. Crepsley and end up trapped, screaming for help, only for me to ignore you. We'll see what kind of a friend you think I am then!"

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