“Drink and live. Drink and know yer paw.”
Cletus Lee Boggs
Friday night, 11 September 2015, PM
Cletus: Cletus flicks the bottle with its exsanguinated heart into the bayou. He then casually leans down, and grabs a larger meat hook that dangles from massive chain connected to the boat’s chassis. He shoves the hook through the girl’s dead torso and secures it on her bones, before tossing her gory carcass into the water with a loud splash.
“Chum bait,” he explains. “Firs’ step’s done.”
Cletus then sits back down on the pilot’s seat, where he casually picks up his cigar-box slide guitar.
“Step two, we be waitin’ fer ’em.”
Micheal: Micheal can only stare as the Giovannini transforms the girl into bait, one hand gripping the side of the boat. His gaze follows her as she’s swallowed by the water. He looks back to Cletus.
“An’ when they come?”
Cletus: “Dat’s it, Micheal,” the Giovannini says approvingly, but without answering the Brujah’s query. “Ya jus be watchin’ da water, waitin’ fer ’em.”
His fingers, meanwhile, pluck a few eerie notes, their echoes filling the night’s shadows. His cottonmouth boots tap on the boat’s surface like a half-dead, if jaunty heartbeat.
Micheal: The Brujah goes back to watching the line and what lies at the end of it.
Cletus: As Cletus’ fingers finish their song, he sets down his guitar. He juts with his chin in the direction of a pile of moving algae.
“D’see ‘im? Scaly nigger be hidin’ in da muck.”
Micheal: He follows Cletus’ gaze.
“Just barely. So what now?”
Cletus: Cletus begins to shed his clothes like an engorged snake.
“Now’s da fun’s beginin’.”
Naked, he stands brazen under the bayou moon. He cracks his neck, then smiles wickedly.
“Time to go nigger-knockin’.”
Micheal: “All right then.”
He starts to pull off his own clothes. Once he’s stripped down, he carefully eases himself into the water.
“This should be good then. You got any tips fer taking ’em down?”
Cletus: Cletus flexes his muscles, vitae causing them to swell and pulse. He crouches low, eying the algae-hid gator.
“I done promised Bubba dat we’d bring ’im the Great Honky Gator fer his birthday, a mean-old albino bayou king.”
He claps a hand on Micheal’s shoulder, his own flesh quivering with nigh-feral excitement. “So til His Highness arrives, we got’s to drive off these nigger impostors, aight?”
Micheal: Micheal’s own muscles are tense, like a elastic that’s been twisted up one too many times. He nods. “Will do. Let’s fuck ’em up.”
He pushes his feet off the boat and glides towards the moving algae.
Cletus: Cletus smile gaps open into a maw that tastes the air. “Awww, hell yeah!”
He then leaps into the air, cannonballing into the black water.
GM: A massive set of scaled jaws, dripping swamp water from finger-sized fangs, abruptly snaps towards the girl’s bleeding corpse.
Micheal leaps right after the Giovannini. Evidently proving more tempting (or at least convenient) fare than the girl’s corpse, the alligator stretches its massive jaws wide and streaks towards the Brujah. He lands square in the animal’s mouth. The great jaws snap shut.
Cletus: Cletus breaks the water behind the gator, and slips a marble-hard arm around its black neck. His legs lock around the beast. He rides the grappled gator and cries, “Yeeehaw!”
GM: Clete’s bulging arms snap around the gator’s scaly neck like a steel construction claw. The animal bucks and thrashes its lengthy head, trying to throw the Giovannini off. A low hiss emanates from its gullet. Cletus can feel the thing’s throat muscles throb against his arms like a bushel of adam’s apples.
Micheal: Micheal flies up and down in the creature’s jaws as it tries to buck the Giovannini. The spasms send a sharp pain up his body, and his Beast howls in rage. He twists his shoulders and tries to shift the gator’s mouth open.
GM: The gator dives underwater, thrashing to throw off Cletus even as it attempts to rend apart the meal trapped in its jaws. It tucks in its legs and rolls rapidly, twisting and wrenching Micheal apart like a chew toy. A mere mortal would be dismembered chum.
The Beast screams in the savaged vampire’s ears.
Micheal: This time, the razor-sharp teeth dig in further, and he feels his bones snap, organs tear apart. There’s nothing he can do. The Beast takes over. It doesn’t want to die to this inferior predator. It has to escape, it has to fight, it has to KILL. He snarls, silent under the water.
Cletus: Smelling the Brujah’s leaking vitae, Cletus snarls, his barrel-chest growing tight and hot like a cast-iron stove as his muscles—and Beast—tense. He swings one arm free and attempts to crack the reptile’s skull with an inhumanely strong punch.
GM: It’s hard to hear the impact through the water, but Cletus can feel it as the gator’s skull crunches apart under his fist. He follows it up with another, then sinks his fangs into the reptile’s scaly hide. He rips and tears. Head wounds bleed like crazy, and gators have giant heads. Red clouds the water, its heady scent egging on both vampires’ Beasts. The gator jerks and thrashes like an image on a flickering TV set, its great jaws schizophrenically snapping up and down. The Giovannini would feel a bulge against his pants if he were clothed, but he isn’t wearing clothes. Cletus smashes and rips at the creature’s cranium with fist and fang, scraping and pulling, until he reveals:
He’s got him a trophy.
The top of the gator’s head is torn off like a milk jug cap. Cletus triumphantly proffers the creature’s forcibly extracted brain. It feels slimy and squishy in his hands. The beast’s carcass slowly sinks to the bayou’s bottom as water fills its lungs.
Cletus: Cletus giggles under the blood-clouded water.
Micheal: Micheal shoves himself out of the jaw, and while scrambling may only apply to land movement, that’s the best word for what he tries to do. Once he’s a few feet away, he feels the panicked Beast subside, and he slows.
He looks down at the damage. The reptilian beast has left two deep gashes in his chest. Strings of muscle and other gristle float about in the current, and a soft cloud of vitae slowly leaks from him. No doubt his back is in the same state.
Cletus: Micheal’s movements break Cletus’ self-congratulatory moment. He allows himself to sink down to the bottom, raw reptile brain still clenched in his hand. He then kicks off the bayou’s bottom, his free arm powerfully pumping, drawing him to the surface, back to the boat, and atop its bloodied deck. He shakes off the water like a coon hound. “Sooooowee!!” Cletus exclaims, his excitement and satisfaction as naked as his muscled frame.
GM: Out of the water, several eggshell-like fragments of skull still wetly cling to the brain’s surface.
Micheal: Mike presses off the bottom and zooms up. He bursts through the surface and shakes his head, sending water droplets scattering. He starts to pull himself up into the boat, then pauses. He pitches his torso forward into the boat, and a stream of water drains from his mouth.
Cletus: Cletus offers a hand to help Micheal atop the deck, then playfully swats him on his rear. “Now dat’s livin’, rightchere!”
Micheal: Micheal grins, his fangs covered in red. “Goddamn… fucker got the jump on me,” he says, his voice a wet wheezing sound.
GM: The now-brainless gator, however, isn’t the only one of its kind to scent the bloody chum. Mike and Cletus can spot them among the bayou’s reeds. Unblinking reptilian eyes. The tips of scaled, dragon-like jaws. Cletus acquits himself well against the next gator to take the bait, grabbing its jaws between his hands and tearing them open like a petulant child breaking a nutcracker. Mike seizes another giant reptile, throat-punches it, grabs it by its jaws, flips it over, and tosses it back-first into the water while Cletus leaps onto its belly and tears it open like Christmas wrapping, spilling blood, guts, and scales everywhere. In the end, the Giovannini racks up two kills, while the Brujah claims one. The remaining alligators slink away from the superior predators. This chum isn’t worth it.
All but one.
He’s damn near big as a boat and white as a Klansman’s robe, with six legs instead of four. His wide, toothy jaws seem to almost leer at Cletus as he turns his saurian gaze upon the two vampire.
He propels himself through the water with deathly silence, leaving hardly a ripple to mark his passage.
Cletus: “The Great Honky…” Cletus breathes, almost reverentially.
GM: His milk-white jaws loom large, wide, and open before the two Kindred. His pink tongue is the only part of him that isn’t white.
Micheal: “Shiiiiiit,” he half-curses, half-whistles. Micheal practically planes towards the animal. His hands fly forward, stretching to grasp its scaly skin.
GM: The cunning gator waits until the last second to dive underwater as the Brujah barrels towards him. Mike’s outstretched hands go wide of the gator’s neck, though his naked form lands on the monster’s scaled back with a dull smack.
The Great Honky abruptly rolls over, tossing Mike into the drink with a splash. The great white jaws snap towards him, even ripping off a chunk of his hair—but not before the inhumanly quick Brujah seems to almost teleport behind the suddenly confused creature. A low hiss escapes its throat.
Cletus: So distracted, the beast doesn’t heed the Giovannini glide up, and sucker punch its gut, causing the mutant behemoth to momentarily rise out of the air and puke half-digested portions of its last meal.
GM: Still hacking and coughing bile, the enraged monster turns its baleful gaze upon Cletus. The great jaws open and snap down like a giant mantrap. Fangs the length of butter knives pierce the Giovannini’s shoulders, chest and legs, making a pincushion out of his undead flesh.
Cletus can feel it before it happens. The energy built up in the beast, almost like the way sprinters tense before bounding off into a race. He knows what comes next. The death roll. Six legs tuck in as the alligator explodes into a fully body twist. The pressure is incredible as the fangs sink even deeper, noisily shredding flesh and crunching bone alike. Alligators don’t actually chew. They just swallow.
Micheal: “Shit, I got ya, hang on,” Micheal cries out as he speeds towards the pair. A fist slams into the gator’s side.
GM: The gator’s tail angrily swats as Mike’s balled fist rams into his flank, but the Great Honky appears too engrossed with his new meal to pay overly much mind to the Brujah. The monster lazily drifts through the water, Cletus’ vitae trailing in thick red clouds.
Cletus: Cletus screams, the capillaries in his eyes bursting, causing his butane irises to burn in a weeping sea of blood. His fangs flex like feral animals trying to leap from his gums. He roars and attempts to punch out, straight through the beast’s bullfrog throat-pouch. Vitae swarms into his muscles, bleeds out his eyes and mouth. For a brief moment, Micheal gains a very clear, very terrifying image of what the Giovannini would look like as a wight.
GM: The Great Honky seems to almost grin at Cletus as he bites down harder, tucking in his six legs for another death roll. The monster crushes the Giovannini between his mighty jaws. Perforates him with his fangs. But it’s like a trash compactor trying to crush a tank. The great jaws close together, rapidly at first. Then slower. Then they pause. The monster strains. Cletus strains back. With a roar as savage as any bayou beast’s, the Giovannini grasps the great jaws, straining to pull them apart the few inches he needs to escape.
His muscles bulge. The beast hisses. But Cletus will not be denied. He forces the alligator’s mouth open not several inches, but his entire extended reach, nearly seven feet. He half-flips, half-swims out, plants his feet on either side of the jaws and slams them together hard enough to make the monster’s teeth crack.
The giant alligator strains and thrashes like the catfish Clete wrangled from streams when he was a boy.
Holding the gator captive between his legs, Clete pumps his inhumanly strong arms, propelling himself towards the water’s surface like a torpedo. He grabs the boat with both hands, then impossibly launches himself out of the water, the startled alligator still caught between his legs. They look like they’re flying as they soar into the air. It’s physically impossible.
So is how he’s also carrying the entire boat.
He lets go of the alligator, then brings the boat down like a massive club. The alligator smashes through it like a baseball through a glass window. Wood chunks fly everywhere as the falling beast roars and thrashes, though even more splinters embed themselves in its scaly hide. Cletus seizes a piece of soon-to-be driftwood as the alligator hits the water with a splash. Cletus lands atop its back, wraps one arm around its throat to stay on, and proceeds to stab the Great Honky halfway to the afterlife. Up and down goes the sharp chunk of wood. Scales fly and blood sprays everywhere like a fine mist. The gator bellows and twists, straining to throw the Giovannini off its back, but it merely prolongs the inevitable. The Great Honky emits one final desperate roar of defiance, then goes limp like a spent toy. The dying animal slowly begins to sink.
Micheal: Micheal whoops. “Fuck, you got ’im!”
Cletus: Cletus does not initially respond. At least not with any semblance of sanity. Covered in gore, both his own and the gator’s, Cletus just treads for a moment in the water, his keg-sized chest heaving. His bloodburst eyes remain unfocused, as if staring into some sanguine abyss that contains horrors to cause even Cletus pause.
His fanged mouth snarls, twitches, and then slackens. Red drool, splinters, and swamp water slide from his mouth.
Then, he laughs.
It’s quiet at first. A mere chuckle. But it builds, rolling out with a manic intensity like heat lightning veining black clouds. The redneck abomination throws back his head up, squeezing his fists so hard that his nails break the skin, and still he continues to cackle.
Micheal: Micheal finds himself caught up in it. He hears his own laughter begin, wet with blood as it is. The hunt, the kill. His lips pull back. “We fucking got ’im!”
Cletus: The veneer of sanity eventually slides back over the Giovannini like a snake’s second eyelids. His crooked smile looks like it was carved with a hacksaw. Those eyes and smile affix on the Brujah’s, and his wicked mirth dances in the twin blow-torches of his eyes. “Hell yeah, now dat’s shittin’ in high cotton, ma boy!”
Recalling his promise to his kin, Clete dives down after the dying gator-king. Down in the murky depths of the Bayou Bonfacou, the Giovannini bites his own wrist, tearing open his necrotic veins, and shoves the vitae-seeping limb into the beast’s maw.
“Drink, Great Honky,” he says with bayou-flooded lungs. “Drink and live. Drink and know yer paw.”
GM: It is well that Cletus sticks his muscled arm so far down the gator’s gullet, for his blood initially flows out like mist in the water. The Great Honky remains nonresponsive, but Cletus sees only a few trickles of red spill out from its mighty jaws. The Giovannini’s tainted blood is in the beast to stay.
Cletus: So sparing the beast’s life, if damning it from death’s quiet dignity, Cletus then hauls the 20-foot, 1-ton gator up from the bottom and hefts it to the shore. He looks over the creature’s ravaged body, as well as his own.
“Sheeeeit,” he curses lightly. “I done overdid it.”
He looks back at Micheal. “Ya any good at stitchin’?”
Micheal: “I might’ve patched someone up before. Gator might be different though, let me have a look,” he says, crouching down and looking over the creature.
Cletus: Clete steps aside. “I been had some hooks and fishin’ line on ma boat…” He trails off, looking at what remains of his fanboat.
GM: Scattered chunks of driftwood float through the bayou.
Cletus: “Sheeeiiit,” Cletus repeats.
Micheal: “Yeah, that’ll do for now.” The Brujah takes the available supplies and starts stitching away, knitting together the worst of the injuries the Kindred have inflicted upon the beast.
GM: This is the first time Micheal has ever worked on an alligator, but Cletus’ vitae has already started the job. The problem areas are also fairly easy to identify: the chunks of wood embedded in its hide, which Micheal carefully extracts. After stitching up the creature’s remaining wounds, the Brujah is fairly confident the Great Honky will make it back to Slidell in one piece.
Cletus: Cletus watches Micheal’s work with open admiration and appreciation. “Damn, son, yer finer than frog-hair split four ways!”
Micheal: “You been fighting as long as I have, ya learn to put ’em together as much as pull ’em apart,” he remarks, rising and looking over his handiwork. “Not the best, but it’ll do fer now, least until we pull into shore.”
Cletus: In reply, the Giovannini congenially thump the Brujah on the back, only to wince, then stare at his own gaping wounds.
“Sonufabitch, Trixie’s gonna have a cat-hollerin’ hissy fit if I show up to the BBQ like dis.”
He closes his eyes, and lets his dead heart pump ‘fresh’ unlife into his ravaged frame. He picks a few gator teeth from his skin and goes to put them in his… and only then seems to remember he is stark naked, with both of their clothes sunk with the boat.
Micheal: Micheal looks down at his own gaping wounds… and nakedness. “Got that right. We ain’t exactly fit fer much right now.”
Cletus: “Gimmie a Slidell second, and we’ll be right as rain.” He dives into the bayou water, and fishes for the waterproof ham radio he had on the boat.
GM: The task would be slow going for any mortal, but requiring neither clear sight nor oxygen for his lungs, Cletus eventually recovers the electronic device.
Cletus: Resurfacing, he shakes off the water from himself and the radio. He then sits down on the bayou’s bank, beside Micheal and the monstrous gator. Cletus turn a few knobs and kicks on the radio. A few moments later, and he’s chatting with one of his kin.
“Yeah, dat’s right, Floyd, bring the Jolly Green jus’ like we’d done talked ’bout. Also, tell Audrey-Mae to pack a pair of fresh duds.”
Micheal: “Fer both of us.”
GM: “We’ll get it done lickety-split, Paw!” comes am enthusiastic affirmative over the radio.
Cletus: “Oh, and tell Cooter to put a few more ribs on the barbie. I’m so hungry I could be eatin’ da north-end of a south-bound goat.”
GM: “We’ll git ya ‘nough long pig ta feed an army on Thanksgivin’, Paw!” Floyd replies with an audible grin.
Cletus: “Dat’s ma, boy, Floyd,” he says with naked paternal pride. He then signs off, clicking around till he finds some good music to whittle away the time before their ‘ride’ arrives.
Cletus: Resting his head against the gator’s massive rump like a leathery pillow, Clete stares up to the cold, black heavens.
“Gaudy, dat was might damned fine.”
After a bit of whatever passes as sociopathic reflection in Cletus’ brain, he turns to Micheal. “What’s yer beef wit’ Matheson?” In the relative stillness, mosquitoes settle on the gore-strewn bayou’s surface, whining with insectile glee at the copious feast.
Micheal: “Well,” he says, absently pulling marsh slime out of his hair. “One of his recent victims was an Anarch. That, and she’s a childe to someone… close to me. She’s going after him, I’m gonna stick by her. Plus the bigger problem, of why Matheson was allowed to do that in the first place. But that’s all New Orleans shit, politics thicker than this bog here.”
Cletus: Cletus nods. “Yessir, things simpler here in Slidell.”
Micheal: “Guessing yer reason is simpler then too.”
Cletus: Cletus spits out a gator tooth that got lodged in his innards. “Y’all’s Camarilla politics ’bout as useful to me as a screen door on a submarine. But dat Matheson?” Clete’s face snarls. “He done trespassed ma home, then had da gumption to lay his blue-suckin’ fangs on me. So I done shoved a fireaxe right up his shithole, head-first, till I done fisted him bloody.”
Cletus smiles, his face one of psychopathic serenity.
Micheal: “Yer shitting me. Well. Goddamn. You may have a better reason than me.”
Cletus: He then lightly fingers his throat. “But I plans to see ’im burn.”
Micheal: “Well, here’s hoping we do.” He pulls a reed out of his chest wound.
Cletus: “My ma used to always say, ‘Hope in yer left hand, shit in yer right, and see which one fills up first’.” He rolls over to face the Brujah. “So be tellin’ me, Micheal. What’s yer game?”
Micheal: Micheal raises his brow. “Game fer what exactly?”
Cletus: “Game fer makin’ sure Matheson don’t slip his date wit da BBQ. Preston’s already run me da numbers, but da four-eyed pencil pusher also told me ye haint got guts, either.” He sweeps a grand wave over the slaughter scene. “But dat’s what happens when ya start lettin’ the crazies give ya the gospel truth.” He arches a brow and smiles. “So what is da gospel truth, Misser Kelly?”
Micheal: He nods. Although somehow he can’t be sure who is more crazy at the moment.
“It’s easy fer her to say, sitting up there in her bloody tower. I been tracking down his victims, see if they know or remember anything.”
Cletus: Clete nods. “And after ruffling those feathers, what’s next?” He chuckles expectantly.
Micheal: “Get enough of ‘em to testify, it’ll be hard fer Vidal to give that sonnuvabitch a pass.”
Cletus: “And how’s y’all, I mean, how’s we gonna make dat happen?” His lips smile. “Ya see, Bubba Jesus, bless his heart, but if brains were leather, he couldn’t make a saddle fer a junebug. But, soowee, dat boy could play the grid-iron.” He knocks on his head, in emphasis.
“But ya been had to lay out da play. He been had to see it, all ‘em circles and x’s. He’d then recite ’em all da time, draw ’em out every damned time he went to the pisser, tracing all ’em crosses and lines and arrows in his yeller-tinkle. But when game-time done came? Sooooieeeee, Bubba Jesus was done ready. Haint nobody get past ’im. Nobody.”
Micheal: Micheal sits, absently bobbing his head at the Giovannini’s story.
Cletus: “They called ‘im ’Pancake Jesus’ for all the pancake tackles he did. His ma and paw started painting X’s on his helmet, one fer every concussion he gave another feller, but they done ran out o’ room.”
Cletus laughs nostalgically. He then turns back, his gaze focused and present.
“So read me da play, coach, and I promise to make ma helmet run red wit all da paint we need.”
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