Long fingers glide over the piano keys, plucking out long notes in a never-ending sonata that seems to both fill the chamber yet fall into the background for those having conversations over their two hundred-dollar meals. Xavier didn’t care if they listened to his music; he didn’t play for them. He played for the sake of playing, and to ease his own raging spirit with the calming melodies he would pull from the piano.
Dressed in a pinstriped suit with shaggy white hair, Xavier didn’t look the part of an entertainer for the upper crust of society. He had an earring hanging from one ear that looked as if it were a tooth while his left eyebrow bore two piercings. A latticework of tribal tattoos crawled up the right side of his neck, traveling down his arm and chest beneath the suit jacket; all in all, he looked like someone that would work for one of the syndicates rather than as a glorified lounge performer. But he loved what he did, and he was paid handsomely, so he continued playing his own pieces that he spent his free time composing.
Ending his song with a final crack of his fingers on keys, Xavier looked up and smiled at the woman leaning against his piano, her gossamer dress practically see through in certain areas. Her face, marred by a scowl that didn’t seem to fade away from her stony exterior, was looking around the room at all the people chatting amicably amongst themselves.
“Anyone worth going after?” Xavier asked the woman as softly he pulled out the sheet music for his next set.
“There’s a young woman with an overweight man near the back, probably a hooker. She would be perfect.” The woman said with a scowl. “Though I can’t imagine she would provide you nearly enough inspiration.”
“The man she’s with should provide ample inspiration once I’m through with him,” Xavier said, fingers moving to the new song with practiced ease. “Go and listen in on when they plan to leave, and what car they’re driving. I’ll handle the rest.”
The woman nodded curtly before vanishing in the blink of an eye. Xavier didn’t seem surprised, as he knew she would vanish in such a way. She always did, seeing as she was a spirit. He listened to the crowd of people in the club murmuring, their ceaseless chatter picking at his brain. To end his suffering, he began playing the next set, much to the pleasure of the listeners. Xavier didn’t watch them, though; he just chose to lose himself in the music.
As the club closed, Xavier took a few extra minutes to wipe down the shining black piano, using a light wax to bring out the luster of the instrument. Ears perking up as he heard the all too familiar footsteps approach, he looked up to see the woman standing next to him, her arms crossed. She gave Xavier a dirty look before heaving a sigh.
“They’re waiting for some friends to call them to tell them where to meet up to party some more,” she said with a flat tone, arms crossed over her chest. “The hooker is drunk off her ass while the man has taken several lines of coke throughout the night.”
“So, his senses are sharper than ever,” Xavier said, mostly to himself. “Good. You may go now.”
“Thank you,” the woman said before vanishing from sight. A sharply-dressed man with a pencil thin mustache walked up from where the woman had been standing, an envelope in hand.
“Xavier, lovely performance as always,” the man said, offering the envelope, several hundred-dollar bills showing from the opened slit.
Xavier took it and stuffed it into his jacket without comment. “Will you need me anymore this week?”
The man nodded. “Friday and Saturday as always. That alright with you?”
Xavier shrugged. “Should be. I might even have a new piece to debut by then.”
“Oh, excellent! Wherever do you find the time?” The man asked, leaning in as if sharing a secret with Xavier.
Xavier merely shook his head. “You make the time and force the inspiration to come flowing out. Not too hard if you’re truly dedicated to the art.”
The man nodded slowly, smiling at Xavier. “You really are one of a kind my friend, you really are.”
“I know,” Xavier replied somewhat sadly, before turning and walking off across the dance floor and into the sea of seats, hands in his jacket. He reached the front of the club and slipped outside in the cold night air, hoping nobody would notice his lack of warm breath.
Looking for his target wasn’t difficult, as he could smell, even in the alcohol drenched alleyway, the cocaine roiling off a tubby gangster. Dangling on his arm was a far-too-skinny blonde in skimpy clothing, giggling incoherently. Xavier tried not to sneer at her but found it difficult. He found people with drug dependencies too… discomforting to deal with. Looking around the alley, there were a few men milling around, smoking cigarettes while huddled up in jackets, standing in a circle to chat.
This won’t do, he thought to himself, closing his eyes and pulling from the darkness within.
Suddenly a crash from down the alley made everyone jump in place, the smoking men reaching for their sidearms. Xavier smiled as he knew that the men would want to investigate, seeing as the club was something of a secret; this would give him plenty of time to do what he needed to do.
Walking slowly up behind the tubby man and the hooker, Xavier breathed in the scent of the night. Cold and wet from a recent rainstorm, it carried the scents of the men and women who had been in the club. The debauched odor of alcohol and arousal permeated the air though the sickly-sweet scent of a coked-out drug fiend and his drunken squeeze toy were far more prevalent as he approached the two, close enough to hear the conversation happening between the two.
“… and I say you need to shut up if you know what’s good for you!” The man said, glaring at his date.
She didn’t take this well. “I’ll have you know I happen to know about you Dupont, you, and your nasty little habits!”
“You best keep your mouth shut girl,” Dupont said, moving as if to strike the girl.
He really didn’t need to as Xavier surged forward, slapping the hooker across the back of the head hard enough to knock her out. Dupont jumped back from the sudden movement, but several arms snaked around his waist and throat, one hand covering his mouth as he tried to cry out for help. Xavier looked over at the man, being held partially aloft by three of his spirits, all women that he’d drained within the last year, slithering from the shadows to grapple him into submission.
Opening his mouth, Xavier allowed a line of drool to drip down from his serrated teeth as he moved closer to Dupont, pushing him back into the darkness of a side alley. Using one hand to grip his fat head, Xavier leaned in and bit into his neck, allowing the blood to flow freely from the wound, spraying the back of his throat as Xavier listened to the song of the man’s life. The notes unraveling themselves within his mind as he continued to twist and shred the man’s neck, sucking blood, fat from torn muscle, and ruined veins until he had consumed several pounds of flesh and enough blood until the song was no longer coming from Dupont. It was now ringing clearly in Xavier’s body.
Pulling back, Xavier pulled a handkerchief from his pocket, wiping away the gore from his face as he watched the man spasm and die in the hands of his spiritual slaves. Looking at each of them, Xavier nodded once, signaling them to vanish with the body, dumping it in the sewers where it wouldn’t be found for years.
Turning to look at the drunken whore, who was still struggling with the world of consciousness and sleep, Xavier stepped into the shadows and slipped away to his flat across town, appearing in the darkened room of his foyer in half an instant. With fresh blood pumping through his veins, he could hear the piano wailing for him to come and compose, to tinker with notes and fiddle with bars until he had his newest piece complete.
Walking into his living room where his piano sat, he pulled the bench out and took a seat slowly. Picking up a pen from the ridge of the piano, he marked the ever-present papers that made up his musical notes.
“Let’s see… with that one this will be Sonata Number Seventeen.” Xavier said, thinking of all the men and women to fuel his artistic ability, and what they would say to the immortality he granted them in the form of his music.
As his fingers danced across the ivory keys, Xavier closed his eyes and allowed himself to get lost in the music, the sound surging through his ears as his heart pounded with the stolen blood of a killer, infused with the narcotic and alcoholic demons that so many musicians turned to for inspiration. A small smile formed at the edge of Xavier’s mouth; guess he couldn’t be so disgusted by addicts after all, seeing as he was one.