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You Should Know Your Customers.

by Louis M. Serra

Victor, The Hammer, Barker was not the kind of guy you want to owe money to. Whether you owed him a dollar or twenty thousand dollars, it was all the same to him, pay up or pay the price.

When it came time to collect, Victor would be more than happy to show the poor schlep that owed him, why he was called, The Hammer. The Hammer never asked twice for his money. Either his victim had it or he would wear the markings of a claw hammer all over his head and face. Victor made sure the face carried the most marks. This way no one looked forward to missing a payment.

The Hammer was on his way to collect from a new client when he came across an old man begging for coins. The old man stood in Victors path.

Move, old man. The Hammer snarled as he pushed the old man aside. Scram or wind up in the graveyard. He was walking away when the old man said something to make him stop dead.

Thats what I was about to say to you, Hammer.

Dumbfounded, Victor Barker stood there in silence. He couldnt believe an old man could talk to him, like that. He stared at the old man, bent over in obvious constant pain of being older than dirt. He shook his head and decided to ignore him. As he turned and walked away, the old beggar repeated himself. Go to the graveyard.

Reaching the point of no return with the old man, The Hammer spun around to silence him, but he was gone. Satisfied he was alone again, he started out to collect from his next victim when he saw something he didnt appreciate.

It was the local police car coming his way. Although he wasnt currently wanted for anything, he felt uncomfortable. He turned right, headed across the street and into the park. He waited for them to pass and then stepped out toward the street again. Three steps, then four when he realized that he wasnt at the park. He had entered through the back gate of the cemetery. He didnt recognize it until he started back out. Thinking to himself how the old man told him to come here, he laughed at the coincidence. As he began walking away, a voice from behind him called out. Dont you want your money?

As he spun around to the direction of the voice, he thought, there are too many surprises tonight. He reached into his pocket for his trusty friend, the hammer. The voice spoke, No need to arm yourself, Victor. Im here only for the debt.

The Hammer relaxed his grip on his tool of persuasion and strained his eyes to see who was standing on the dark side of a large oak tree. The lampposts light caused the trees shadow, creating the dark spot the figure stood in. He challenged the figure.

Who are you? Do I know you? Come out from there. How do you know me? Who…? The figure cut him off.

One question at a time, please. I am Harmon. I owe you money. Here, let me step out into the moonlight. The figure slowly stepped into the light.

Hammer breathed a sigh of relief when he saw who it was.

Harmon? What the hell is wrong with you? You could have given me a heart attack, popping up like this. Why are we meeting here? Did you tell the old man…?

Once again, Harmon stopped him from going on and on with questions.

Lets just say that after tonight you wont have to worry about me or the old man. I think you have come far enough in your endeavors to be rewarded with the ultimate prize.

Victor Barkers feelings changed from uneasiness to smugness when he heard how he was going to be rewarded for his vicious way of life. Just how do I get what I deserve?

Very easily, my friend. All you need to do now is place yourself into my hands and reap the rewards of eternity.

The Hammer was beside himself. What do I do?

Harmon looked around for anyone coming through the cemetery as a short cut to the other section of city streets. Satisfied that they were alone, he asked The Hammer to join him by the tree.

The two men stood there silently for a moment when Harmon finally asked The Hammer if he had any questions about his reward.

Before The Hammer could say anything, Harmon reached out and grabbed the man by the throat. He held the throat tight as the man began to gurgle and make sounds of slowly choking to death.

Harmon smiled a cruel smile as Victor Barker was gasping his last gasps. Harmon finally spoke. You fool. You stupid human, fool. How long did you think you could keep up your life-style? Did you not know that someday you would be found out? We live off of fools like you. Your sacrifice to our living is what you humans call the piece-de resistance. We live among you and take our choosing for food. You look as though you dont know whats going on. You forgot about our last meeting? Remember, I said that we would conclude our business soon. I just wanted to get an old friend started in your line of work first. Whats that youre saying through your gurgling? What old… ? Oh, the old man you met on the street tonight. You see, he wont be doing it for the money. No, no. He will be doing it for me. You might say he works for me. He is going to make all kinds of friends for me. You see, Victor, with me being a vampire, I need fresh blood constantly. You, my friend, were keeping people off the street at night. Thats not good for my kind of business. Good-bye, Victor.

Copyright Louis M. Serra 2011

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