*A work of fiction
I sat in the corner of the small coffee shop my back to the wall.
I learned the hard way to make sure nothing could sneak up on on you.
Though, the guy I was here to see was nothing like his reputation, and going and meeting him seemed like a much better idea than chasing for creatures though some farmer’s field.
I pretended to stare out the window, but mostly checked the patrons of the cafe. I wish there were a few more people. Usually, it was the opposite. If I was merely killing time, I’d want at most a few people working on their laptops and maybe some light conversation, but a busier shop and the noise tends keep one from getting noticed.
And though I could fit in just about anywhere, the man I was meeting tended to stick out.
I kept one headphone in with the sound turned nearly all the way down and my newspaper in front of me. Just another traveler passing through a small town.
Finally, I saw him coming down the street. He was taller than I remember but those broad shoulders were unmistakeable. And he was getting better about blending in. The last time I saw him he wore a trench coat and fedora and looked like a detective in a bad movie. Now, he wore jeans and a Carhartt jacket and looked like any other farm hand in town. And it was cool enough that the scarf hiding his face didn’t look out of place.
The bell on the coffee shop’s door jingled when he walked in. The big man nodded to the lady behind the counter and took the seat across from me.
“Jasper?” he asked.
“Frank,” I said as he sat.
“Oh, it’s been too long. I heard about you and Fin. That was bad business.”
“Yes, he refused to go back to Europe. I always kind of liked him.”
As much as you could like a vampire.
“Me too. He was better than the others. And that brother of his. I was glad to hear you dealt with him. He was making too much fuss. Making it hard on the ones trying to stay hidden.”
“Yes. Do you want some coffee?” the large man asked.
“Sure,” but when he went to get up I asked, “Are you sure you don’t want me to get it?”
He got up and took off his scarf and made his way to the counter.
He returned a few minutes later, “I hope you don’t mind I chose for you,” he said bringing the coffee back, “I like this blend. It really full bodied. And they roast their coffee in house. Makes all the difference. I wish I could get it on the farm. There the coffee might as well be rocket fuel. But I suppose they aren’t drinking it for the taste.”
He was talking but all I could do was stare at his face, “Frank forget about the coffee. What happened to you?” His scars were almost gone. Instead of the ragged patchwork appearance and poorly sewn scars he looked almost normal. There was some fine lines, enough that you noticed but nothing like they used to look.
“Oh this?” he said touching how own visage, “I was able to save up enough to get plastic surgery. I told them I was in an industrial accident.”
“The doctor didn’t have other questions?”
Like, that you’re over two hundred years old and all you body parts come from different people, I thought.
“I um, paid him enough not to ask questions,” he said.
“I’m sorry. I know I’m supposed to avoid underworld dealings but it’s made everything so much easier. I don’t have to hide all the time. I don’t have to live in the woods and avoid people. I wore this scarf just cause it’s cold out.”
“Do you feel cold?”
“No, but I wanted to look the part. Plus scarves are fun. Look,” he said showing the logo, “Look Gryffindor.”
“So how’s farming?”
“It’s great. I’m on this big old farm. There’s always work for big strong guys and they don’t ask any questions. People come and go all the time. And I like seeing the animals. I bought a little cabin back in the woods. I’ve been going fishing. I can’t believe it.”
I couldn’t either. Especially with some of the rumors that made they way back to me. The reason I was in town to begin with.
“Mary would be shocked to see you.”
“Oh yeah,” he said, “though I wish I hadn’t told her everything. It would be easier around Halloween.”
“I guess so.”
There was a slight lull.
“And no incidents?”
Frank was silent.
“I figured that’s why you’re hear. You don’t get a visit from Jasper Ford because it’s a social call.”
“Frank, I’ve heard some strange things going on, and the vampires are all gone from this area so it doesn’t leave many suspects.”
The big man looked worried, “That’s just it.”
“That’s why I called you. I think someone’s trying to frame me.”