All About Spike - Print Version
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SUMMARY: South America, 1998, the chaos demon's POV.
Spoilers for "Fool for Love". Written July-December 2002. PG13. 7600
With thanks to my diligent and gifted betas, Coquette and Lara
I think that I am the only person he ever told the story to. Maybe
he told it to a golfing buddy during one of his trips to Miami, but I
doubt it. He was a private kind of man for the most part, and even
after a few years in our town there weren't many who'd call him a
friend. It wasn't because he was unamiable or impolite, because he was
amiable and he was polite. It was his manner, I guess, the calm
dignity with which he wore those pale suits. And there was the
question of money as well. We all knew that he was very rich, that
he'd gotten out of Argentina just before the whole country went
bust. Which was why we never really understood why he chose to live in
some backwater town in Florida, where he whiled away his days fishing
and reading and learning how to paint.
My mother worked for him. This was after my father had died, and it
was good money and she had no qualms about working for a demon if it
was at triple the rate she could make helping out at school. She
cooked and cleaned for him, and did certain amounts of shopping,
although there were quite a number of goods he had to get shipped in
special: books, mostly, and crates of cognac. At first she didn't want
any of us kids to meet him---she didn't know how to treat a demon who
actually owned property as if that was a normal thing for a demon to
do---but his gentlemanly ways put her at ease. By the time summer
vacation arrived, it seemed quite regular for me to cycle by the
house, say hi to mom, and then settle into a hammock to read for a
while in the afternoons. Sometimes Mr C.D. would be out on the
verandah with me, his oils out, trying to paint the view of the
lake. He never seemed to get it just right.
"The trees don't really look like that," I noted one time.
"I know," he said. "I think I'm trying to paint the trees of Buenos
"That where you're from?"
He nodded, his great antlers swaying as he did so.
"Then how come you don't have much of an accent?"
"Because I'm very good at speaking English."
"That makes sense," I said, after thinking about it. "Did you like
"It is," he said, solemnly, "the most beautiful and gracious city
"Then why are you here?"
He put his paintbrush down and looked over at me. He did one of
those smiles where the lips move but the eyes don't. "I quarrelled
with my family."
"Oh," I said. "That's no good. How come?"
"Over a woman," he said, mixing a little of his paint. "A vampire,
"There really are vampires?"
"Just as there really are chaos demons."
"Didn't they like her?"
He considered this for a moment, and turned his head to speak, but
just then my mom came out of the house. "I'm going off to the store
for a while," she said, "and then to pick up the dry cleaning. Is
there anything else I should add to the list?"
"Those liqueur chocolates," suggested Mr C.D.
"I'll have a look." She gave me a sharp glance. "You'll keep out of
Mr C.D.'s way, won't you." And then she disappeared back into the
house. A couple of minutes later we heard the sound of her car leaving
the front drive.
I was having a hard time concentrating on my book. I was leaving
little sweat marks over all the pages and the lake frogs were making
too much of a noise anyhow.
"Was she pretty?"
"Yes," he said, steadily, putting small dabs of paint on the
canvas. "She had long dark hair, a complexion like moonlight and
little cherry lips."
"She sounds like Snow White."
"She was, in point of fact, almost entirely unlike Snow White."
"No dwarves. Also, Snow White is very girlish. You may someday
learn that girlishness is not precisely what one wants from a
woman. It can be becoming, but only if there is sufficient strength of
character underneath. I dated many demure and girlish women as a young
and even middle-aged man. None had what I sought."
"What was that?"
"Passion," he said simply. "They lacked passion."
He cursed then as a drop of slime hit the canvas: he reached for a
cloth and dabbed at the painting before thoroughly wiping down his
"But this vampire had it?" I asked. " 'Passion'?" even though just
saying the word felt strange to me.
"You're not going to drop the subject, are you?"
"Nope," I said. I don't know why I was pestering him like this,
except that it was too humid to think and I had never heard him say so
many sentences altogether before and I liked the sound of his voice.
"Then if perhaps we could come to an agreement?"
I looked at him dubiously from the hammock.
"I tell you the story and then you never mention it again. Will
that satisfy your curiosity?"
I pretended to think about it. "Sure."
"Fetch us some lemonade then and I'll put away my paints and I'll
tell you the story of the Hotel Lavear. Of Carlos (that is I) and
Drusilla (that is she) and of the insidious gangster. Oh, and also my
cousin Emilio, I suppose."
And so, ten minutes later, he was settled in the wicker chair with
a glass of lemonade in his hand. He began.
"I met her first in the bar of the Hotel Lavear. You must
understand that this hotel is the finest of many fine hotels in Buenos
Aires. Princes and presidents have stayed there, as have the greatest
actresses and singers. The walls are lined with rare woods and rich
draperies and the air is always scented with coffee and fresh flowers.
"Now, for some years, the bar of the Hotel Lavear had felt more
like home to me than my apartment did, for what place can call itself
a home if it is empty? So on many an evening, after a long day running
my businesses, I would retire to the Lavear to sip an armagnac and to
listen to the voices of the people around me. And it was on such a
night, that I first saw her.
"Imagine if you can, the sound of laughter echoing from chandeliers
and a mix of voices---Argentine, Spanish, American and German. It is
well after midnight on a spring night in October (we are south of the
equator, you remember) and the other people in the room are in their
evening wear. They sip cocktails. The women who glance at you have
unseasonal tans, fashionable gowns and pretty, understated jewelry of
pearl and gold. You have dated a hundred women like them, at the
insistence of your cousin, Emilio, but none has ever truly
appealed. You are beginning to despair, sitting there in the corner,
of ever finding love. You are getting later and later on in years and
you must marry soon if you ever hope to spawn an heir. You are
starting to think that you should marry someone, anyone, that perhaps
marriage comes first and love later. But you know in your heart that
this is not true.
"And then the crowds part for a moment and you see her at the door,
pale and sorrowful, her lips parted. She is wearing a dress of the
simplest cut and her long hair floats down past her shoulders. She
looks out-of-place, ethereal, like a vision from another time. She
gazes out across the room and for a moment your eyes meet; but then
someone walks in front of you and by the time you reach the other side
of the room, she is gone.
"You can barely sleep that night, for thinking of her, what her
name might be, and her nationality. You wonder at her sorrowful look
and try to guess at its cause. All the following day you cannot
concentrate on anything but her. So, as dusk falls, you return to the
"But what can you do? You cannot ask the receptionist for her
name. You can barely describe her without sounding like a fool. You
know nothing of her, except that last night she stood in the doorway
of the bar. Perhaps she was a tourist, just passing through. Perhaps
she is not staying at the Lavear. For all you know, she is already on
a plane to anywhere in the world but Buenos Aires and you will never,
ever see her again.
"This is all true, but you do what you can anyway. You wait in the
bar of the Hotel Lavear, hoping against hope that she will return."
He stopped then and took a long sip of lemonade, his head turned
towards the lake.
"And did she?" I asked, because he seemed so lost in thought.
"Oh yes," he said, smiling, "yes, she did. Not to the bar, but I
saw her in the foyer, some hours after sunset. She was standing there,
running her hand over the edge of a large vase and humming softly. She
remembered me from the previous night; she even knew my name. And she
told me hers, which was Drusilla.
"And so, with that much introduction, we went for a stroll along
the boulevards. The streets were crowded, bustling as they always were
at that time of night, the sidewalk cafés thronged, the air
thick with conversation and loud music. 'Drusilla,' I said, savoring
the syllables, 'may I ask if you are staying at the Hotel Lavear?'
"She nodded. 'It's for my treat,' she told me, 'the best hotel in
Buenos Aires.' And although the meaning seemed pleasant, a shadow
passed over her face.
"'I hope you stay longer,' I said. 'This is a fine and gracious
"'It's so busy,' she said. 'Everyone up and about at night.'
"'We are famous for it.'
"'A lovely city for vampires.'
"'Is that what you are?' I asked her. 'I wasn't quite sure. I
"'A chaos demon,' she said. 'I know all about you.'
"'Do you indeed?' I said, laughing.
"'You feel all alone, even when you should be happy.'
"I looked at her in some surprise. Could she know me so well at a
glance? 'And how do you know that?' I asked in wonderment.
"She leaned towards me. 'It's in your eyes.'
"'Am I so transparent?'
"'Oh, everyone's like windowglass to me,' she said. And then she
leaned in further and I leaned in further and we kissed, softly and
sweetly amid the crowd. I was amazed.
"But then she pulled back sharply, looked over her shoulder, and
seized my hand. 'We should go this way,' she said, pulling me down one
of the darker streets. She noticed my hesitation. 'So we can see the
sky,' she said.
"It took us quite some time to find a street where we could make
out the night sky. There was a café nearby with a quiet
courtyard, and as my feet were a little sore (for I had spent much of
the day pacing), I suggested we find ourselves somewhere to sit. The
café was not the most salubrious of places, but it had a
certain quaint charm, built as it was next to an old church. And there
was a wooden bench, nestled under some jacarandas, where we might sit.
After glancing at the wine list, I ordered myself a beer, but my
companion said that she required nothing.
"How then can I describe the enchantment of that evening, with its
mild weather, clear sky and caressing breeze? There was the deep low
sound of distant traffic and snatches of laughter upon the wind. Above
us rustled the jacaranda's feathery leaves and the courtyard was
strewn with their full, purple flowers. But what delighted me most was
the sound of her voice, its lilting cadence and accent. Spanish was
surely not her native language, and she often made quite inexplicable
mistakes in usage, yet she was eloquent even with her simplicity of
vocabulary and expression.
"At last we let our lips meet and it seemed the most natural thing
in the world, to embrace her. Our kisses grew deep and soon we became
enflamed with passion. We threw caution to the wind and cared not if
someone else should step out from the café.
"But we were interrupted. A pair of hands seized my Drusilla roughly
by the shoulders and off our seat. A stranger had entered the
courtyard. He had badly-dyed hair and was dressed like a gangster."
"What was his name?" I asked.
Mr C.D. squinted at me. "Spike," he said, "a suitably ridiculous
name for a suitably ridiculous person. But I did not learn his name
for some time, so I will refer to him as 'the gangster'. There are no
other gangsters in this story so you will not get confused."
"So this man, this 'Spike' said, with a voice as quiet and deadly
as ice, 'Drusilla.' And then he began a sort of angry tirade,
conducted at length in extremely colloquial English. I did not take
much of it in, as I was, ah, rearranging my clothing. But I heard
enough to make me think that he and Drusilla were somehow attached.
"Naturally, I was astonished. In great confusion, I exchanged a
handful of words with the gangster and then fled to the café
proper, to sit dejected and forlorn in an alcove. I ordered a whisky,
one rough enough to bring tears to my eyes. Why would someone as
lovely as Drusilla associate herself with such a man?
"At length, I found the courage to return to the courtyard and
demand a further explanation. But when I stepped out, I found that the
man had gone. My darling was all alone, sitting on our bench, sobbing
as though her heart were shattered. All my questions evaporated at the
sight of her in such distress.
"So I offered her my help. I told her that I would take care of her
as long as she wished, that I would protect her from this gangster if
need be, that she could stay elsewhere if she did not wish to return
to the Lavear. And she said, yes, she would go with me, but that first
we needed to collect her things."
"Weren't you scared?" I asked him.
"Weren't you scared of her? She's a vampire."
"So?" And it's true, he was like six foot tall and six foot broad
and he had those mean-looking antlers.
"She might drink your blood."
"No," said Mr C.D., patiently. "Vampires do not drink demon blood."
"Do they drink human blood?"
His glance skittered away from me. "Yes. But they don't, they don't
have to kill people when they do so. And they can drink the
blood of other mammals."
"But not yours."
"I'm not a mammal," he pointed out. "May I continue or must we
further discuss physiology?"
"And so we returned to the Hotel Lavear.
"Their room in the hotel, well, if you are ever seeking to take
your love on a honeymoon, you could do no better than the Lavear. The
room was filled with antique furniture and objets d'art. But by
the time I saw it, pieces of chair and shards of mirror were scattered
across the floor, and the place smelt rankly of cigarette smoke and
too much perfume. Through the doorway to the bathroom I could see that
a dozen long-stemmed roses had been thrust head first into the toilet.
"I stood amid this devastation as my charge pulled a battered black
valise from a wardrobe. Her belongings were pitifully few: she had
only a handful of dresses, a hairbrush and a doll."
Mr C.D. put down his glass then and leaned forward. "And if you
wonder what passion looks like in a woman, well, I saw the first signs
of it then. Before we left the room, she seized a lighter and a bottle
of very inferior bourbon from a bedside table and poured the liquor
all over the dark clothing remaining in the closet. Then she set it
"Gosh," I said.
"Passionate, you see? But I had to wonder what this gangster had
done to make her so angry."
I snorted. "I bet he was pissed about his clothes."
Mr C.D. frowned. "I don't think you're supposed to know that sort
"I bet he was mightily annoyed," I amended.
"He was," Mr C.D. said. "He arrived just as we were leaving. We
heard him shouting even as we fled down the fire escape." His brow
furrowed. "Actually, he did sound extremely distressed."
"But I had to think of Drusilla. I took her home.
"It is a terrible thing to see suffering, suffering of any
sort. But when someone you might love is in deep pain, pain of a sort
that you barely comprehend, let alone know how to ameliorate---that is
worse than terrible, that is the torture of one's spirit. I took
Drusilla home, but even in the taxi she was shaking. I had to
half-carry her into the elevator and then across the threshold of my
home. She collapsed onto a rug in the lounge and would neither be
moved nor consoled. She lay there weeping, while I offered her a bath,
food, a bed, and my condolences, but she was too wretched to even
speak. At length, I gave her no more suggestions, but just sat with
her on the floor, my arm around her, offering what little comfort I
"And I wondered, again and again, what could have brought her to
this pass. I had no doubt that the gangster was the source of her woe,
but how, I could not think. What hold did he have over her, that she
was reduced to this?
"Sometime late the next morning, my darling's sobs finally
stilled. I carried her into the guest room and laid her carefully on
the bed. I pulled the shutters tight on the window (for what you have
heard about vampires and sunlight is true) and looked through her
valise, but I found that in her hurry she had packed neither underwear
nor sleepwear. So I merely loosened her clothing a little and pulled
off her shoes, so that she would lie more comfortably under the
quilt. And then I made a certain number of phone calls.
"Of course, they were already concerned for me at my work---I had
two dozen messages waiting on my voice mail. I had to telephone my
cousin Emilio, and ask him to oversee my office for a few days. And
then I had other things to arrange: heavy curtains on the windows,
better security for my apartment, underclothing for Drusilla, regular
deliveries of fresh blood. I do not think I got to sleep until the
"She was quieter that night, but no less upset. She huddled on her
bed, clutching at her doll, whispering old nursery rhymes. Or she
watched cartoons upon the television, the brightly-coloured animals
doing violence upon the screen. I tried to engage her in conversation,
but she was still mostly incoherent with grief and I decided not to
press her. She took a little warmed blood from a spoon.
"My cousin Emilio came by the following day, to brief me on events
at my office and to inquire after the mysterious young woman who was
so distracting me from my work. She was sleeping then, albeit
fitfully, curled up on a sofa. I remember that my cousin gave her a
"'She is certainly beautiful,' he said, once we had retired
to my study. 'What do you know of her?'
"'Only her name and her nationality. She is English.'
"'But her family? Her connections? Her resources?'
"'I do not know what she has,' I told him. 'She may have none at
all---I have not asked her. She has been quite mad with grief these
past few days and her Spanish does not always make sense when she is
"Emilio toyed with his cigar. He said, slowly, 'I think that what
you are doing is very kind, Carlos, but she clearly needs to be with
her people. Find out who they are we will send her back to them.'
"'You don't approve.'
"He shrugged. 'She is a vampire, and vampires are still wild. Our
position here is too precarious, Carlos. You should marry into one of
the human clans. Now that I know what you like I can find you someone
"I bristled. 'Do you not trust my judgment?'
"'Oh, in most things,' he said. 'In business---always. But
sometimes I have to remind you that life is not always as it is for us
in the finer parts of Buenos Aires. I just don't want to see you
marrying some gold-digger.'
"'She has asked me for nothing.'
"'Perhaps so. Perhaps it is all for the best. I wish you luck
"Mr C.D.," I said then, interrupting, "what does your cousin mean?"
"What do you mean, what does he mean?"
"When he says that vampires are still wild."
Mr C.D. looked grumpy then and bared his teeth. "It was an unkind
thing that he said. There are stories---fabrications---that we demons
are all unruly, uncivilised brutes, that we---I don't know---slaver
across the countryside devouring virgins. And there used to be a grain
of truth to these observations, but so long ago, it's ridiculous. It
has been many centuries since anyone in my family has worshiped Janus,
for example, although that is why we chaos demons are named so,
because Janus is a god of chaos. Usually, these sorts of rumours are
put about by jealous humans for some political advantage and several
times in the history of Argentina, my family has suffered because of
this. But Emilio said these things because his true objection to
Drusilla was not one he wished to raise, for he knew that, while he
valued wealth and breeding above all else, I valued a woman's spirit
"And Drusilla was spirited. Her weeping was succeeded by a few
days in which I struggled to prevent her from destroying the
furniture. My grandmother's quilt was, alas, quite lost. For a time I
worried that Drusilla might never recover her senses, that whatever
strain she had been under had perhaps truly broken her.
"But then, one night I was lying in bed (for we chaos demons are
diurnal, unlike the vampire, who are nocturnal, although it has to be
said that in Buenos Aires these differences are very slight) when I
head a soft tap on the door.
"It was Drusilla, clad only in a black silk robe. She stood
silhouetted in the doorway and began to speak, in her soft, soft
Spanish. She said, 'He's gone,' and I said, 'Forever', and when she
came to stand next to the bed, her eyes were teary with a relief and
gratitude that she seemed barely able to comprehend. I stood up and
took hold of her, whispering her name. And then she kissed me fiercely
and kissed me again, until I overbalanced and fell upon the bed.
"After that, we were more formally lovers. We spent long hours
together expressing our needs, with the shutters closed tight so that
we knew not whether it was night or day. I ignored my work; I
disregarded my telephone messages; I spent my every waking minute
ensuring her pleasure and comfort. I think I was of some use in this
regard, for she did seem a little better. She slept soundly when she
slept, she drank greater quantities of blood when she drank, and she
spent all of the intervening moments in tenderness and desire.
"It is true that we spoke little during that time---we did not
communicate with words---but it was clear to me that she had no-one,
no-one at least in the city of Buenos Aires, and that she was entirely
alone. I was glad to be there for her.
"One morning---I think it was morning---I stepped out of my room to
fetch some fresh blood and perhaps a sandwich from the kitchen. I
found Emilio sitting on a chair, waiting for me. The apartment manager
had let him in when he had pointed out that I hadn't been picking up
my mail. I probably looked a little disreputable, with my congealed
antlers and unshaven chin. Fortunately, I had at least wrapped myself
in a dressing gown after getting out of bed.
"'Is this about work?' I asked him as I rooted through the
fridge. 'Is there something urgent that requires my attention?'
"'You haven't been returning my calls,' he said. 'I became
"'Be reassured then, that I am in the very best of health.'
"He smirked. 'So I see. Do you know when you might be able to
stagger back to the office? We do need your hands there.'
"'I have no idea,' I said. 'And what does it matter? I haven't had
a real holiday for years.'
"'Perhaps that is why your absence has been so conspicuous. I
realise that it is an exaggeration to say that the entire economy of
Argentina relies upon you, but you are an anchor. Also, you know our
share prices will go down should word reach the brokers that you
are---,' he gestured with his hands, 'otherwise occupied.'
"I ran a hand over my face. 'Well, I will see if I cannot return
sooner rather than later.'
"'And Carlos---I don't suppose you have found out anything more
about your new inamorata?'
"'Nothing you'd wish to know.'
"'She cannot have just sprung out of nowhere, Carlos. She must have
"'Get out,' I said. 'Emilio, this is none of your concern.'
"He stood then, picking up his jacket. He said, 'We will see. But
Carlos, my cousin, my friend---be careful of your heart.'
"It was true that I had perhaps been shirking my responsibilities
for too long. I thought about this while I showered. Now that Drusilla
was a little better, I should try to return to my work a little. I
could engage a maid to see to her day-to-day needs and would try to
encourage her outside interests. We had, in fact, not ventured out of
the building in the weeks since we had fled the Hotel Lavear.
"So that night I took her to the opera, because I knew she enjoyed
music, especially song. We had a box overlooking the stage. I remember
that she showed interest in the scenery and dances, but that it was
perhaps an overlong outing for someone who had been confined indoors
for some weeks. Several times during the evening she left our box to
stretch her legs. I offered to go with her, but she, attentive to my
absorption, bade me remain in my seat.
"She returned to our box shortly before the last act. I was pleased
to see a flush upon her cheeks and even her hands seemed warm in
mine. She looked happier and more alive than I had ever seen her.
"Afterwards, I took her for a walk down to the tiny clubs and bars
into which I had not ventured since my youth: cramped, smoky holes
filled with lurid lights and music. She seemed happy; I thought she
had never looked more beautiful.
"I still did not know what she truly thought of me, whether she
loved me or not, but I knew that she needed me, and that no woman had
ever asked so much of me before.
"We settled into a new routine. I spent my day at the office,
correcting (it seemed) a thousand and one small decisions that Emilio
and my subordinates had made in my absence. In the evenings, after
Drusilla had woken, we would perhaps go out to the theatre or simply
spend the night together at home. Then, in the early hours, I would
retire to bed while Drusilla stayed up. Sometimes she went on moonlit
walks without me. I worried a little that she might meet with trouble
(for it was during those days that all those poor
piqueteros went missing) but I trusted that she would stay
close by. Besides, none of the murders had occurred in the good parts of
"Drusilla seemed to have largely recovered by then. She was
dressing now in the evenings, rather than spending all her waking
hours in her nightgowns. She took an interest in her surroundings,
drinking her dinner out on the balcony and watching the passersby
keenly. Often, my home was filled with the sound of her singing the
sweet songs of her English girlhood. But there was still a melancholy
air about her and the maid complained that her mistress was sometimes
too quick to anger. Also, every time I tried to ask my love about the
gangster, her lower lip trembled and I could only desist.
"She had one peculiar habit that I never understood. Every night,
after dinner, while I indulged in a drink, she would take a pack of
cards to the balcony table. These were not an ordinary set of cards,
but were akin to a Tarot set, I think. She would shuffle, deal them
out in some pattern and then carefully turn them over, one by one. I
tried to tell her that such things were mere superstition, that if
they ever worked then the stock exchange at least would cease to
exist, but she always disregarded me. Usually, she would just purse
her lips and put the cards away, just as carefully.
"But one night in November, she performed her little ritual but did
not complete it. She turned over a central card and then sat still. So
long did she stare at it that I got up from my chair to look at it
from over her shoulder. It was the King of Cups. I could make no sense
of this, nor would she explain.
"After that, she never played with the cards again. Instead, she
propped the King of Cups card up on her bedside table. She developed
an expectant air and, for the first time, she began to ask me for
"I had already given her several, of course, because she had
brought so little from the Lavear, but now it became a
mania. Argentina's finest couturiers were brought to our home to
outfit her. She also asked for jewelry, shoes, and cosmetics, even
new clothing for her doll. She asked me, over and over again, how she
looked in various ensembles (for, recollect that vampires cannot see
themselves in the mirror). I told her she looked exquisite in
everything (and nothing) but she always seemed dissatisfied with such
"One night we went to an exhibition opening. My Drusilla was
dressed to the nines in scarlet velvet and lace. We happened to meet
up with one of my younger nephews, who rather fancied himself as a
sculptor. You could see his jaw drop as he saw my companion. 'My God!'
he said. 'She is stunning! Where did you find such a jewel?'
"'At the Lavear, of course,' I told him.
"'She's too young for you,' he said, rudely. 'You should give her
"'I do not think so,' I said.
"'You should at least marry her. Then she can be my aunt. I can
tell people, I have the most beautiful aunt in the world.'
"I remember examining the backs of my hands. I said, 'The subject
has not yet been broached.'
"In actual fact, I had been considering it. I thought I might ask
her over Christmas, when I intended to take her away on a surprise
holiday. I had been trying to subtly determine whether she would
prefer London, Paris or Vienna. I had already chartered the plane.
"'You will keep me informed,' my nephew said. 'Do you think she
would sit for me? I could sculpt her.' And after some more desultory
conversation, he left the exhibition, no doubt to tell everyone in our
family what had transpired.
"Some days after that I noticed that my Drusilla was waiting for
something. She spent an inordinate amount of time looking out of
north-facing windows, as if willing herself to see beyond the
horizon. I would laugh and ask if she were looking for the pole star
(which is not in fact visible from the skies of Buenos Aires). I
thought that she had guessed I had a surprise trip planned for the
pair of us, and that she was eagerly looking forward to Europe.
"In the meantime, I was kept busy at work. The Argentine economy
was showing some signs of weakness at that point in time, but I was
able to guide the various businesses, conglomerates and banks that we
owned safely through those troubled waters. I felt certain that I
should be able to leave for a week or two without anything running
aground. I was looking forward to escaping the stifling summer heat of
Buenos Aires, in the company of my beloved Drusilla.
"Then, one morning, as I was leaving my office to get some lunch,
an aide called me to one side. Someone was waiting for me out in the
plaza---it was urgent. I was a little annoyed at the delay, but my aide
was extremely insistent, so I let myself be guided out onto the
"A demon sat in the middle of the plaza, leaning back on a bright
metal chair near the fountain. He was wearing a white suit and
mirrored sunglasses which dazzled in the noonday sun. A heat haze
shimmered over the concrete and the reflections from the cascading
fountain were almost blinding. Sunlight glinted off his antlerslime.
"It was Emilio.
"'Carlos,' he said, gesturing to another steel chair, 'take a seat.'
"'I have an appointment,' I said.
"'It has been cancelled. A cousin is going in your stead. Please,
please take a seat.' I remained standing. 'No? Very well. Then our
discussion will be brief. This is about Drusilla.'
"'I have nothing to say about her.'
"'Ah, but we do. We have plenty. We want you to drop her.'
"'This is ridiculous, Emilio. You know I won't.'
"'Only because you do not know what she is.'
"'And you do?'
"He gave a little nod. 'We hired detectives.'
"'To what end?' I cried, angrily. 'What's past is past; it is of no
"'I am not speaking of the past,' Emilio said, 'but of the present.'
"I stared at him then. He asked, 'Do you know where she goes at
night, Carlos? Do you know what she does?'
"'She goes for short walks,' I said, 'when I am sleeping. She is
nocturnal, Emilio. She cannot walk abroad during the day.'
"My cousin sat forward in his chair and raised the planes of his
sunglasses towards me. 'She goes for long walks, Carlos. She
takes her time. And she kills, Carlos, she kills the beggars on the
streets and the little lost children. She drinks their blood. She is
wild, Carlos, just as I warned you.'
"I said, 'You insult my intelligence and you insult Drusilla. You
cannot have proof.'
"He leaned back again and nodded. 'True. We sent people to follow
her, but she evaded them. And all but one of them are now dead. She is
cunning, your Drusilla, she is---'
"'I cannot believe this!'
"'But you must. We made inquiries overseas. This Drusilla and her
paramour are well-known. They are vicious, violent creatures. They
have been slaughtering their way across the Americas. In Rio---'
"'You cannot know this!' I said.
"'But we do, Carlos, and it grieves me, it wounds us deeply that you
have been so deceived. But every demon in Buenos Aires except you
knows this Drusilla to be a killer---'
"'Lies,' I said. 'Slander. It is my nephews who have spread this
rumour, they are anxious that I not have an heir.'
"'And you must also know that it is said that she takes as many
lovers as she can, three, four a night, anything---human or demon, man
or woman, alive or dead---'
"I slapped him then, hitting him hard enough for his head to snap
back. When he looked at me again, he was rubbing his jaw. 'And if you
stay with this woman, if you persist in your blindness, we will cut
you off. We cannot have such a liability associated with our name. Our
position here is not secure: you are valuable to us, yes, but such a
scandal would destroy all that we have achieved. People would go back
to believing that there is no such thing as a respectable demon if
this reaches the unsympathetic quarters of the Press. We cannot have
that. You must renounce her.'
"'And if I refuse?'
"'Then you will be ostracised. You will be disowned. We will remove
you from your positions in the companies we own. We will tie you up in
legal disputes until you haven't a peso. We will make it clear that we
want nothing, nothing to do with you, that all of decent
demonkind is appalled. We will cast you out.'
"I watched him as he stood up. He said, before he left for his
waiting car, 'You have twenty-four hours to renounce her.'
"Naturally, I believed nothing that he had said of Drusilla;
however, I had to take his threat more seriously. I returned to my
office to see what I could do to safeguard Drusilla and myself
financially. It was complicated work, with many legal ramifications,
but by late in the evening I had already secured a moderate set of
holdings purely in my name. I ensured that the assets were all
overseas, in case Emilio managed to run some local political
interference. The holdings would be enough to keep us in moderate
comfort for years, should my clan's animosity not blow over.
"And it never once occurred to me to choose my family over my
"When at last I returned to my apartment, I was weary from work and
stress. I longed to be held in Drusilla's comforting embrace. I
remember leaning against the wall of the elevator as it rose. I
thought it smelled of her perfume and of cigarette smoke.
"I saw nothing untoward as I approached my apartment. The carpeted
corridor was quiet and scented with pine air freshener. But when I put
my hand on the door, I realised it was ever-so-slightly ajar, and my
heart started pounding.
"Inside, my apartment was a disaster. The balcony windows were
flung open and the curtains moved in the breeze. Clothes of various
sorts---mostly female underwear---were strewn about the room. Imported
French furniture---all antiques---had been smashed. There was broken
glass on the tiles and blood stains on the carpet and I could not tell
whether the blood was from the fridge or elsewhere.
"I ran to our room, fearing the worst, but she was not there. Yet
her wardrobe had been ransacked and her doll was gone and the bed was
broken. Through my panicking mind spun the thought that Emilio was
somehow responsible for all this, that while I had been sabotaging his
plan in my office, he had sent people to take my Drusilla away. I
stepped through the debris, punching his number into my phone. I
shouted something incoherent. Emilio responded, sounding confused,
which just made me angrier. But then I noticed something upon the
"The piano itself was in very bad shape. At some point, rope had
been tied to each of its four legs and somebody had pulled, so that
each and every leg had snapped and had been flung across the room. The
bulk of the piano now lay beached upon the floor. It was covered in
all manner of strange stains and scars, but one in particular caught
my attention. It was circular, with a diameter of a couple of inches,
and it smelled of cheap alcohol. Touching a drop to my tongue, I
instantly recognised it: inferior bourbon.
"I dropped the phone then, leaving Emilio to talk to the floor, and
ran out of my apartment and down many flights of emergency
stairs. Once outside, I hailed a cab, and asked to be taken to the
"Delicate lights of blue and white hung from the Lavear. Out in the
front courtyard, around a large fir tree, laughing patrons milled with
champagne glasses in their hands and tinsel in their hair. I pushed
past, into the foyer where I had first spoken to my Drusilla. It was
full of people out for the Christmas ball, and the foyer was a swirl
of silks and satins, a miasma of perfumes and aftershaves and wine. I
was tall enough to see over most of the patrons, but I could not see
Drusilla. I pressed onwards, using my antlers sparingly, into the
bar. This too was crowded to overflowing, the conversation too loud
and the press of bodies too warm. I moved through the throng, looking
out for my love, drawn from one side of the room to the other by a
flash of pale skin or the swirl of a woman's unfettered hair. Alas,
Drusilla was nowhere to be found.
"As I retreated to the foyer, a pair of clocks loudly chimed the
hour of midnight and all of a sudden the crowd began to roll
inexorably towards the ballroom. Caught in the flow, I allowed myself
to move forward through the wide double doors and on into the rococo
splendor of the main hall. Here tables were laden with food, trays of
aperitifs circulated with the waiters, and the air thrummed with
music. There were already several dozen pairs of dancers out on the
floor, but my eye was caught by only one neat step and only one
"They would have been conspicuous at any such event: she, in her
antiquated finery, he in that appalling and foul-smelling old
coat. Her ivory complexion and his grisly pallor contrasted with the
smooth tanned faces of the others. But it was something else, some
aspect of themselves that ran far deeper, that truly divided them so
clearly from the others. And, as I realised what it was, I found
myself sagging, reaching for support from a marble column. I alone
stood still while the crowd swam about me.
"It was in the way that they danced---the fluid anticipation of each
other's moves. It was in the way that they looked at each other---
the calm certainty of the gaze. The way they held one another, the way
they pressed their bodies together, the way their lips would meet
suddenly at the crescendo. This told me what I could not have known
before, what I had not allowed myself to realise, what I would never
have otherwise understood.
"This gangster, this cheap thug and ne'er-do-well, with his
parakeet profile and his scuffed boots and his gutter manners, could
offer my sweet Drusilla something that I, with my proud name and
prouder heritage, my influence and my resources, my taste and
breeding, could never have given her.
"It was with horror and a deep wrenching of my heart that I
realised this, but it could not be denied. I stumbled out of the room,
not caring whom I walked into, out once again through the foyer and
into the street. But there was no respite for my pain in the hot night
"Somehow---I know longer recall how---I got home to my
half-demolished apartment. In the ruins, I gathered myself a suitcase
or two of my belongings. I wrote a short note to my cousin, Emilio,
and then returned to my office to put a few more things in order. In
the morning, I took the first plane out of Buenos Aires, one to
Miami. Since then---well, I have been here.
"And I have never again set foot in the Hotel Lavear."
Mr C.D. fell silent then, his large hands resting on his knees. The
sun was setting now and his outline was an indistinct blur on the
twilit porch. We had long since finished the lemonade. I didn't know
what to say, so I said nothing, only slapped at the mosquitoes that
had come to bite me but which left him mysteriously enough alone. A
quarter-hour later, we heard the rumble of my mom's car coming back up
the road from town. Soon a square of yellow light broke out into the
night as she switched on the light in the kitchen. She called for me;
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It is sometimes assumed that Spike and Drusilla
split up in Brazil, because of Spike's comment in "Lover's Walk" that
Dru was "just different" once they got there. However, the scene shown
in "Fool for Love" features a large neon sign reading "cerveza" which
is Spanish for beer. The language of Brazil is Portuguese, in which the
word for beer is "cerveja". So, unless we assume that the bar is a
rare Spanish-theme pub in Rio, it seems that the break-up could have
occurred anywhere in South America except Brazil. Thus, I have
taken the liberty of choosing Buenos Aires, the Paris of the South, as
my tale's setting.