A handsome kid. His family were beautiful. Too beautiful. He’d heard about the uncanny valley. A sensation people get when they looked at computer-generated faces that approximate realistic human features, though imperfectly, causing a deep sense of revulsion because the slight imperfection signals there is something amiss. That’s exactly what Nick’s type inspired. The feeling that something was very wrong. But it was a split-second thing, like a flash frame, and then you were subdued by the charm and the smile of the vampires.
“Time to go.”
For a moment Rodrigo doubted Nick was going to come, but then the boy whirled away from the girl and walked to his side, removing his sunglasses, his eyes very mean and deep. Christ, it was the eyes that did it for him. Rodrigo wasn’t scared of vampires. He’d been working for them for years and they—barring a couple of species—looked pretty similar to humans, at least most of the time and for the most part. And the feeling, the nagging feeling of danger that came with them, he’d grown used to that. But the eyes, it was the eyes that bothered him with boys like Nick, the eyes he could never get used to. They were very large, their pupils dilating until it seemed like the vampire had just returned from a visit to the optometrist. It was a small detail, to be sure, something most people might not catch, but boy did those eyes with those dilated pupils give Rodrigo a bad feeling.
He swallowed his dismay, as he always did, pushed it down and away. “What do you think you are doing?” Rodrigo asked.
“Nothing,” Nick said.
“You can’t hunt here.”
Not with sanitation crews sweeping the city. Bribes could buy almost anything back north, but this was not the North. This was good old Mexico City, which had fallen to the Spaniards but would not yield to vampires. Rodrigo had no time to bury a corpse for this spoiled kid. And if Nick didn’t mean to drink and kill, if he meant to drink and gain control of a human—that nasty trick the Necros loved to play—well, that wasn’t going to happen either. It was too fucking risky.
“Who said anything about hunting?”
“Don’t bullshit me, pretty boy,” Rodrigo said.
The neon banana sign blinked from yellow to green and then back to yellow. Nick flashed him a smile that was all teeth.
“What if I was hunting? These people are nobody.”
“Nobody can still call the cops. If you’re hungry we’ll head back to the apartment and open one of those blood packs,” Rodrigo reminded the kid.
“Drinking that blood is like drinking piss.”
“Nothing I can do about it.”
“We should be hunting that bitch down,” Nick said as he fiddled with his sunglasses, thought it over, and put them on again.
“I might do that if you hadn’t left the apartment without an escort. It’s Mexico City.”
“I don’t need an escort. Give me a cigarette,” Nick said, snapping his fingers.
Damn twat, Rodrigo thought, but he took out his cigarettes. Gauloises. He never smoked anything else. Lighter, American-style cigarettes were for pansies. You either smoked dark or went home. Rodrigo smoked dark, and he smoked a lot.
He took out two cigarettes and struck a match, lighting both and handing one to Nick. Nick took a puff, gave the line of young people one last look, and shrugged.
“Fine, let’s head back to the apartment,” Nick said.
They had to walk several blocks, back in the direction of Parque Espa?a. They stopped at a liquor store because Nick wanted booze. Nick’s kind—Necros, though jokers called them “Necros nacos,” the trashy vampires—drank like it was going out of fashion. Something to do with endophenotypes, but Rodrigo was no biologist.
True to his heritage, Nick put half a dozen bottles of vodka into a green shopping basket. He also wanted absinthe. Not just any absinthe. Czech absinthe, using the original formula, with authentic wormwood. They did not have any and Nick looked like he was going to pitch a fit. Rodrigo convinced him to take two bottles of whiskey and said he’d find him absinthe later.
When they walked into the apartment they found La Bola eating fried chicken and playing video games. He sucked his fingers and waved at them.
“Where are Colima and Nacho?” Rodrigo asked as soon as he closed the door.