by Starsky Hutch 76, adapted from Pulp Fiction, screenplay by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary
When Carlos Ramirez and Franko Morelli awoke, they found themselves tied up in two separate chairs. The pawnshop owner had taken a fire extinguisher and sprayed both men until they were wide awake and wet as otters. The two prisoners first looked up at their captor, then around the room. The basement of the pawnshop had been converted into a dungeon. After taking in their predicament, they looked at each other, all traces of hostility gone, replaced by a terror they both shared at what they’d gotten themselves into.
The pawnshop owner stood in front of them, fire extinguisher in one hand, shotgun in the other, and Franko’s .45 sticking in his belt. “Nobody kills anybody in my place of business except me or Zed.” He gestured over his shoulder to a dark maple coffin behind him. “That’s Zed.”
The lid of the coffin rose up, and a gaunt figure appeared. Zed was an even more intense version of the pawnshop owner, if such a thing were possible. The two were obviously brothers, though what the pawnshop owner aspired to be, Zed really was. Zed stepped out of the coffin and into the room, standing in front of the two captives. He inspected them for a long time, and then said, “You couldn’t wait for me, Maynard?”
“I did,” the pawnshop owner said defensively.
“Then why are they all beat up?” Zed said. “I don’t need you to tenderize my food for me, OK?”
“They did that to each other. They were fighting when they came in. This one was going to shoot that one,” the pawnshop owner, Maynard, said.
“You were going to shoot him?” Zed said, bemused. Carlos made no reply.
“Who’re you going to drain first?” the Goth pawnshop owner said eagerly.
“I am not sure yet,” Zed replied. Then, with his little finger, Zed did a silent “Eenie, meany, miney, moe…” just his mouth mouthed the words, and his finger went back and forth between the two.
Carlos and Franko were terrified. They both remembered when New York City was overrun by vampires in the spring of ’86; this Zed must have been one of those that escaped and survived. (*) The pawnshop owner looked back and forth at the victims excitedly as Zed continued his silent singsong with his finger moving left to right, then stopped, zeroing in on Franko.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Sandman: Crimson Tide.]
Zed stood up. “Want to do it here?”
“Naw, drag big boy to Russell’s old room,” the pawnshop owner said.
Zed grabbed Franko’s chair and dragged him into Russell’s old room. Russell, no doubt, was some other poor bastard that had the misfortune of stumbling into the Full Moon Pawnshop. Only Maynard and Zed knew whatever happened to Russell, because his old room, a back room in the back of the back room, was empty. As Franko was dragged away, he locked eyes with Carlos before he disappeared behind the door of Russell’s old room.
The pawnshop owner disappeared into Russell’s old room. There must have been a stereo in there, because suddenly the sounds of the Goth band Bauhaus filled the air.
From behind the door, the song Stigmata played. “Whoa, this one’s got a bit of fight left in him!” the pawnshop owner said.
Carlos could hear them beating on Franko.
“You want to fight?” Zed laughed. “You want to fight? Good, I like to fight!”
Carlos paused, listening to the voices. Then, in a panic, hurriedly struggled to get free. The ropes were on too tight, and he couldn’t break loose.
In the back room, he heard, “That’s it… that’s the stuff. That hits the spot… that’s good. Stay still… stay still! Maynard, dammit, get over here and hold him!”
Carlos stopped struggling and lifted up on his arms. Then, quite easily, the padded chair back slid up and off as if it were never connected by a bolt. Carlos removed his gag, then silently made his way through the red curtains.
Carlos snuck to the front door. On the counter was a big set of keys with a large Z connected to the ring. Grabbing them, he was about to go out when he stopped and listened to the vampire and the vampire wannabe slapping Franko around some more.
His Catholic upbringing got the better of him, and Carlos decided that for the life of him, he couldn’t leave anybody in a situation like that. So he began rooting around the pawnshop for a weapon to bash those abominations’ heads in with.
He picked up a big, destructive-looking hammer, and then discarded it. Not destructive enough. He picked up a chainsaw, thinking about it for a moment and then put it back. Next, a large Louisville slugger he tried on for size. But then he spotted what he’d been looking for: a crossbow and a bunch of wooden tent stakes.
Carlos took the crossbow off the wall and quietly snuck down the stairs leading to the dungeon. Music still poured from behind the closed door that lead to Russell’s old room. He pushed open the door. It swung open silently, revealing the vampire and his assistant. Zed was bent over Franko, who lay on a long wooden table. Maynard watched. Both had their backs to Carlos.
Maynard the pawnshop owner grinned obliviously as Carlos came up behind him with the crossbow. Miserable, bleeding from his neck, and looking like a rag doll, Franko opened his watery eyes to see Carlos coming up behind Maynard. His eyes widened.
“Hey, freak,” Carlos said.
Maynard turned and saw Carlos holding the crossbow. With a quick flick of his finger, a stake fired out and plunged itself into Maynard’s chest. Carlos moved past him, now locked on Zed.
Maynard stood trembling in shock, a wooden stake jutting from his chest. He had always wanted to live as a vampire. Now he would die as one. He fell to his knees and then slumped the rest of the way to the floor.
Zed disengaged from Franko in a hurry, and his eyes went from Carlos’ crossbow to Franko’s .45 automatic, which lay within reach. Carlos’ eyes followed Zed’s. “You want that gun, Zed? Pick it up.”
Zed’s hand inched toward the weapon. As slow as he was moving, Carlos wondered if he wasn’t toying with him. Vampires were supposed to be fast, though Zed didn’t seem to be an especially old or powerful one.
Carlos gripped the crossbow tighter. Zed studied Carlos. Carlos looked hard at Zed.
Suddenly, a voice from behind Carlos said, “Step aside, Carlos.”
Carlos stepped aside, revealing Franko Morelli standing behind him, holding Maynard’s pump-action shotgun.
Zed was blasted in the knee. Down he went, screaming in agony. Another blast took out the other knee. Franko, looking down at the whimpering vampire, ejected the used shotgun shell.
Carlos lowered the crossbow and hung back, staring at the vampire. “I thought they healed fast.”
“Not when you scratch little crosses on the shells,” Franko said, holding a rag to where the clumsy vampire had bitten him and left a gash.
“So what now?” Carlos said after a long pause.
“What now?” Franko said. “Well, let me tell you what now. I’m gonna call a couple wise guys who’ll go to work on Zed, here, with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. Hear me talking, you ungodly freak of nature?!” he said, accenting his words by pumping the shotgun and delivering another blast to Zed’s hand. “I ain’t through with you by a damn sight. I’m gonna git Medieval on your ass.”
“I meant what now, between me and you?”
“Oh, that what now? Well, let me tell ya what now between me an’ you. There is no me and you. Not anymore. As far as Harley’s concerned, I never saw ya.”
“So we’re cool?” Carlos asked.
“Yeah, kid, we’re cool,” Franko said. “One thing I ask… two things I ask: don’t tell nobody about this. This is between me and you and mister soon-to-be-living-the-rest-of-his-undead-life-in-agonizing-pain. It ain’t anybody else’s business. Two: leave town. Tonight. Right now. And when you’re gone, stay gone. You’ve lost your Gotham City privileges. Deal?”
“Deal.” Carlos nodded.
The two men shook hands. “Go on, now. Get outta here,” Franko said.
Carlos left Russell’s old room through the red curtains. Franko walked over to a phone, dialing a number. “Hello, Arranger, it’s Franko. Got a bit of a situation.”
Still shaking in his boots, Carlos exited the pawnshop. He looked ahead and saw, parked in front of the establishment, the pawnshop owner’s big chrome chopper. He climbed aboard, taking out the keys and starting up the huge motorcycle. It rumbled to life, making sounds like a rocket fighting for orbit. He twisted the accelerator handle and sped off.
Carlos rode up to the hotel on the large motorcycle. He hopped off and ran inside the motel room. Fabian was standing in front of a mirror wearing a Frankie Says Relax T-shirt, singing along with music coming from a boombox. She turned and let out a squeak when she saw him. “Carlos, I was so worried!”
“Honey, grab your radio and your purse and let’s go!” Carlos said.
“But what about all our bags?” Fabian said.
“Forget the bags,” Carlos said. “We’ll miss our train if we don’t split now.”
“Is everything well? Are we in danger?” Fabian asked.
“We’re cool. In fact, we’re super-cool. But we gots to go. I’ll wait for you outside.”
Carlos ran out and hopped back on the bike. Fabian exited the motel room with the boombox and a large purse. When she saw Carlos on the chopper, she stopped dead. “Where did you get this motorcycle?”
“It’s a chopper, baby. Hop on,” he said, kickstarting the bike.
Fabian slowly approached the two-wheel demon. “What happened to my Honda?”
“Sorry, baby. I crashed the Honda,” Carlos said.
“You’re hurt?” Fabian said, looking at him in the light.
“I might’ve broken my nose; no biggie. Hop on.” She didn’t move. Carlos looked at her. “Honey, we got to hit the road!”
Fabian started to cry, and Carlos quickly realized that this was not the way to get her on the bike. He turned off the engine and reached out, taking her hand. “I’m sorry, baby-love,” he said.
“You were gone so long, I started to think dreadful thoughts,” she cried.
“I’m sorry I worried you, sweetie. Everything’s fine. Hey, how was breakfast?” he asked.
“It was good,” she sniffed.
“Did you get the blueberry pancakes?”
“No, they didn’t have blueberry pancakes. I had to get buttermilk. Are you sure you’re OK?” she asked.
“Baby-love, from the moment I left you, this has been without a doubt the single weirdest day of my entire life. Climb on, and I’ll tell ya about it.”
Fabian did climb on, and Carlos started the motorcycle. “Carlos, whose motorcycle is this?”
“It’s a chopper,” Carlos answered.
“Whose chopper is this?” she asked.
“Who’s Zed?” Fabian asked.
“Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.” And with that, the two lovebirds peeled away.