Away from the lights and bustle of the casinos, he sits in a dimly lit dive bar. The sea breeze in front of him has formed a puddle at the bottom of the glass, soaking through the coaster and into the counter. The varnish worn from the bar top, he knows the water is going to seep in, warp the wood. (He used to know all about that: about bar tops, drinks, coasters, condensation.) Now he feels as warped as the wood. The shiny polish has worn off to reveal the buckled grain underneath.
He can’t get drunk so the drink is for show. It won’t erase the memory that keeps replaying in his mind. Some nights it flashes over and over like a movie, a cigarette burn in the corner, a tear and bubble in the film the moment the body stumbles back. (He has to think of it as a body now, the only way he keeps some sanity.)
Some nights the movie goes off the reels, clicking in his mind like the sound of the hammer as it pulled back. The clickety-clack a slow motion death march as his mind’s eye relives the horror, the heavy feel of his finger on the trigger. The gunshot rings in his ears and dies down to a low buzz that follows him through his day. It is always there, constantly buzzing, a tiny fly in both his ears to remind him of his deed. (He won’t tell anyone but he thinks it might be Lindsey’s soul. Sometimes the buzzing sounds like L.A. Song. It forms a tune and he knows music better than he knows himself.)
He decided to run rather than stick around to watch the consequences of his role in this plot. Vegas had too many bad memories. Atlantic City was like that succubus that used to come into Caritas. (Gina was her name.) Beautiful to look at but she would part her lips and it was crows screeching out of her mouth, flying in to pierce the eardrums of anyone in a close radius. Monte Carlo was rich, glitzy, glamorous, the perfect faraway escape to try to forget. He could walk the streets; with their constant parade of tourists who saw the green guy and kept going. They had seen stranger.
Every night he got on stage and for a brief moment he could lose himself. His mind clicked off, his hands stopped shaking, the buzzing was silenced, and it was like he could erase that night. He was back on stage at his bar, singing his songs, before he ever met the vampire with a soul, the beautiful seer, the ex-watcher, the street thug, and the crazy physicist. Life was so much simpler before them. Lost in the lyrics, the melody, for a 90 minute set, he was entertainer, not murderer. (Though like so many things in the casino, it was an illusion.)
Then it was over and the blood was back on his hands.