Blood Rule


Blood Rule

Bloodsucker by Andrew J. Müller

Mitchell sat down nervously in the high backed leather swivel chair, which squeaked and made farting noises as he lowered himself into its cool folds. Lawyers, he knew, liked their dark and dusty offices, full of the gravitas of history, the full weight of the law. But he had been in a number of lawyers’ offices now and this was the darkest and dingiest of the lot. Little motes of dust fluttered in the poor light from a small desk strip lamp, with one of those old fashioned green oblong lampshades on it which seemed to direct the weak light only onto the collection of papers and files heaped on the desk.

The desk itself was one which any lawyer would be proud of. Heavy and mahogany, with big spaces for drawers full of files, books and the other detritus of the legal world. On the desk was a big old-looking telephone, two piles of papers and a couple of unfiled loose-leaf volumes. Pride of place in the centre of the desk was a big square blotter which was discoloured and blotched with inks, red and black.

The nervous man looked around the darkened room. Shelves of books cluttered every available space, and filing cabinets stood in three of the four corners, stern, grey and functional, like everything about the law. The large window was covered with Venetian blinds, pulled shut so that barely anything of the natural light of day filtered into the room. Mitchell was starting to feel restless, the lawyer, a Mr. Kemp, had left him waiting for about ten minutes. So he stood up and went over to the window, tweaking open the blinds with one hand and peering out into the street.

The view was disappointing, considering he was on the 29th floor of a New York office building he had hoped for one of those dizzying views down into a street full of distant yellow cabs and scurrying traffic. Instead he looked out at the neighbouring building, which looked identical to this one. Dark, almost black stone, decorated in the mock gothic style of the earliest of New York’s high rise buildings, but grimy and unkempt, not like the show case buildings over in Manhattan.

"Ahem," an exaggerated clearing of the throat made Mitchell jump and the Venetian blind clattered back into position as he let go of it feeling somehow guilty.

A tall man was standing against the closed door of the office. He was quite unspectacular, owlish looking, with big thick rimmed glasses. Not surprising, Mitchell thought, considering the gloom in which the man habitually worked.

"Please, Mr Mitchell, sit back down." The voice was quiet and civil, but Mitchell knew better than not obeying it, so he walked back around the desk and sat in the leather chair, which creaked and farted again.

Kemp passed behind him and Mitchell felt the hairs on the back of his neck bristle. He’d never liked lawyers, but in his line of business he encountered them far too often.

"So, Mr Mitchell," Kemp said in that same quiet voice as he sat down in the chair behind the desk (which made no embarrassing noises Mitchell noted), "how can I be of service?" Kemp leant forward and steepled his thin fingers in front of him, leaning his elbows on the old blotter, his features looking distorted in the reflected light from the desk lamp.

"You know who I am, Mr Kemp?"

"I do. Walter Mitchell, Private Investigator. Specialising in messy and tawdry matrimonial matters." Was it his imagination, or was there a modicum of distaste in Kemp’s voice.

"Divorces? Sure, nothing wrong in that." Mitchell was not particularly proud of his line of work, but often got irritated with lawyers who insisted on calling divorce work ‘matrimonial’, as if ‘divorce’ was too easy a word to understand.

Mitchell strained to see the expression of Kemp’s face, but it was just too dark in there to see anything more than overall features. Kemp was fiddling with a fountain pen he had picked up off the desk, turning it in his fingers as if impatient to be getting rid of Mitchell. Mitchell, immediately irritated by this, silently vowed to use up as much of Kemp’s time as possible. Childish, yes, but satisfying.

"I presume you are here to use up some of my time enquiring about points of the law which you as a supposed ‘professional’ should already know?" The irritation in Kemp’s voice was becoming more and more noticeable now. He had almost spat the word ‘professional’ out across the desk at his guest.

"Mr Kemp, I’m not sure I like your tone." Mitchell leant forward too, so that the two mens’ faces were only a matter of inches apart. Neither of them raised their voice, but the animosity was obvious. Mitchell could smell Kemp’s breath which was rank and contaminated with tobacco. He’d read somewhere that kissing a smoker was like licking an ashtray. It wasn’t something he was about to experiment with at this moment.

"Mr Mitchell, I don’t like your profession and I’m not going to pretend I do. I have heard it said that lawyers are bloodsuckers who feed off people’s misery. Well, if that is true what does that make you? A parasite who can’t exist without the bloodsuckers? Not a very noble thing to be. Now sit down and tell me what petty information you want out of me - then pay my bill and get out of my sight." Kemp stood and walked behind Mitchell, who sat back into his seat but was determined not be unnerved by the sudden change of tack from calm to angry. He’d dealt with lawyers before - he knew their tricks.

Despite his disdain for Kemp he couldn’t stop feeling a little uneasy at not being able to see the man, the gloom of the room was obviously starting to get to him a little. How could the man possibly operate a successful practice out of such a dismal hole?

He jumped slightly when Kemp suddenly spoke softly right into his ear, the odious man placing an hand on Mitchell’s arm where it lay on the arm of the chair.

"Do you want to know what is the most amusing thing, Mr Mitchell?" said the silky voice, the breath zephyring across his ear and turning the hairs on his neck.

"The most amusing thing of all is that some of us really are bloodsuckers." Before Mitchell could turn he felt something clasp his neck, something wet and hard. For a few seconds he was wondering what on earth Kemp was doing and then he felt sharp points penetrating the flesh on his neck. Panic set in and he tried to bat the smaller man away, but he was being held firmly.

Mitchell vision began to blur as he felt the lawyer sucking eagerly on the wound in his neck, the already dark room began to get darker and slide from side to side.

Then Mitchell went limp in Kemp’s grip and his pulse stuttered and died. Kemp let him drop without a second thought and a new stain was added to that big blotter in the centre of the desk.

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