A Journey with Jasper
Chapter 3 is up! Jasper runs into an unpleasant reminder of his past.
3. Chapter 3
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2347 Review this Chapter
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Summary: The vacation continues but Jasper runs into an unpleasant reminder of his former life.
A Journey with Jasper
The shopping was going well for Alice so far and I had convinced her that I could safely sit and wait for her in a secluded spot. I chose an area of the Riverwalk where few tourists bothered to come; close to the former Ursuline Academy. I remembered the location as being the first school for girls in San Antonio, a handy thing to know for a young man way back when. It now housed the Southwest Craft Center and Alice had found a very nice hand-blown glass vase for Esme. Ever so often Alice would return to where I was sitting bearing more shopping bags. As she approached this time however, I could tell something was wrong.
"Jasper, I saw something," her worried eyes looked at me, "or rather someone."
"Alice, it's okay, just relax first." I took both her hands in mine and pulled her down onto the bench next to me. I sent a wave of calm and then let her continue.
"A man; tall, dark hair, one of us," she went on quickly, her words streaming into one another. "Someone you knew before; we're going to run into him."
I held my own emotions in check. There were a lot of vampires I had known before in this part of the country but not many were still alive, I thought to myself.
"What else, Alice? Any trouble?"
"Not trouble for us," she hesitated, "but someone else was afraid. A human, I think."
"Well, that wouldn't be surprising, considering most vampires aren't vegetarians like us," I answered quietly.
"Nothing else is very clear. I was focusing on you and your immediate future and that is what I saw." She still looked concerned.
"Alice, don't worry --- you just saw one, right?
"Yes, just one."
"So, he's outnumbered, right?" I smiled reassuringly. "We'll handle it."
I put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. She still didn't feel completely calm. I tried a change of subject, "Now, more importantly, did you find something to go dancing in?"
We had decided to try out the clubs on the Riverwalk that night. We hit the usual tourist spots beginning with the more refined; live jazz at The Landing. The locations got progressively more rowdy as the evening advanced. We hit Dick's Last Resort and enjoyed the dueling pianos at Howl at the Moon. Alice thought the pack back in Forks would like that place. After Alice had danced on top of the bar at Coyote Ugly someone suggested we try out Club Rive for late night dancing. Alice, of course, thought this was an excellent idea. I was just glad that she didn't seem too worried about her earlier vision. And I lived to make Alice happy.
The place was packed. There were four different areas providing the music of your choice and Alice picked the live music venue featuring an alternative rock band. The room itself was awash in human emotions. I had to focus to screen them out. The noise level was not really a problem though. I could always zero in on Alice's voice and she could do the same with mine. She was having a great time and I was glad. I was also optimistically beginning to think that Alice's vision had been a bit off. I should have known better; never bet against Alice.
I saw him. I also felt his emotions in distinct sharpness. He had to be the one Alice had envisioned and I did know him unfortunately. He had gone by the name of Gomez. A long time ago; longer than I cared to remember.
His eyes were already intent on my own and his dark smile and eager emotions meant only one thing --- he expected me to approach him like an old friend.
I quickly bent down to Alice and whispered closely in her ear, "Keep dancing, I'll be right over there. It's all right." I motioned toward the table where the man and a young woman sat.
As I approached them I was hit with the sensation emanating from the woman at the table: fear. She was really just a girl, probably no older than twenty, with long blondish-brown hair and huge brown eyes. Once I got closer I took in the rest of her situation; her forearm was pinned to the table top by Gomez's pale hand. I was reminded of a mouse caught under the paw of a cat; he would play with his prey before consuming it. Her eyes were wild with a dazed look. Nothing was making sense to her at this moment. I'd seen that same response before and I felt revolted; with Gomez and with myself for those memories.
I glanced at the girl's wrist, a silver charm bracelet reflected in the neon lights. The initial charms---M, I, C, H, --- shown, the other letters were crushed into her skin against the table top. A bruise was forming.
I stared hard into Gomez's eyes. "Let her go," I said below human voice level but with as much force as I could.
"Ahh…I was just playing." He grinned at the girl who involuntarily shuddered. She was breathing so rapidly she looked about to pass out.
I continued to stare hard into his eyes and I bent down and placed my hands menacingly on the table top. I gripped my hands hard, causing the muscles of my forearms to stand out.
Gomez took it all in as quickly as I had but continued to smile. "Hey, no harm done, old friend." He released the girl's arm in a quick motion. She fell against the back of her chair and would have landed on the floor if I had not caught her by the shoulders.
"Leave us," I growled at her. She stumbled but quickly shot away from the table and melted into the crowd. I looked around. If she went to the club's security or called the police…I didn't want to deal with a scene in a public place.
"Don't worry; the bouncers are friends of mine. And besides, she was drunk, who'd believe her?" He laughed and continued like nothing had happened.
"Well, let's start over, here," he paused. "Jasper Whitlock, well, I'll be damned…" He stood up and reached out for a handshake.
"We're already damned, Gomez," I replied dryly as I unwillingly reached out to shake his hand.
"This is where I'd offer to buy some Coronas but I guess we don't get to enjoy that vice anymore." Gomez looked at me with a falsely sorrowful look and sat back down.
"It looks like you have your own vices to keep you entertained," I replied humorlessly.
Gomez then turned to look with an appreciative gaze at Alice who was still dancing on the edge of the dance floor. "Well, we all have to have something and I can see you're doing very well these days, Whitlock. Then again, you always did have a way with the ladies," he winked. "Muyguapa…what is it with you and small, dark haired gals?" His eyes did not leave Alice.
I could feel a new emotion rolling off of Gomez: lust, pure and simple. He reluctantly returned his eyes to my own. "So I guess I don't warrant an introduction to your friend?" I gave no answer to that but met his eyes with an even gaze.
"No, I guess not." He chuckled low in his throat. "So, what are you doing back here?"
"Just passing through. A little vacation." I paused, "And what about you? I thought you would have stayed down in Mexico."
"I was but now I'm here," he said more somberly. "The living's a little easier in this town. And I've got a job to do. You'd be proud of me, actually."
"Oh? I find that hard to believe, especially after what I just saw." Gomez was not exactly a poster boy for positive vampire role models. Not the way I remembered him.
"Oh, that was nothing. I was just bored; they're just too easy for the picking, no challenge at all." He paused to glance around the room. "Actually I help clean up things around here."
"Really? And who gave you that job?"
"Oh, I have my supporters. We have mutual interests at times. There's been a bit of gang activity, especially on the west side. The people in charge sometimes need me and my skills." He smiled darkly, like he was enjoying some private joke.
"Sounds pretty complicated. Keep me out of it, okay? I left all that behind a long time ago."
He laughed and then looked at me teasingly. "But aren't you going to ask me about Maria?"
"I wasn't planning on it. But go ahead; you're going to tell me anyway, aren't you?"
He grinned. "She's down in Matamoras. Doing well the way I hear it."
"Well, I have other interests now, Gomez. I don't want to think about Maria. I don't need to think about Maria."
"Hey, I understand." He stared off in the direction of where Alice was. "I'm not sure Maria doesn't need to think of you, though. Are you sure you don't want me to forward any message?"
"I'm sure," I said forcefully. "Like I said, all that was a long time ago, Gomez. It needs to stay in the past."
"Sure, sure. My lips are sealed." He grinned widely, his unusually white teeth glinting in the flashing lights. "Well, I hear you were up north, being all civilized and all."
I studied him closely, "listening" to his emotions. "How did you hear that?" I asked with a tight voice.
His smile reminded me of a snake, cold even for a vampire. He was feeling smug; he knew more than he was letting on. "Hey…word gets around, you know? There's folks around these parts still keep'n an eye on you."
His head suddenly turned toward a gap in the crowd where two young men were standing. Their eyes glanced furtively around the dim room. They somehow looked out of place among the reveling tourists that made up the majority of the crowd. "You know, I think I may need to step out, old friend," he said quickly. "It's been good talking to you. Maybe I'll make my way up to see you sometime; see if all that talk is for real."
He moved quickly towards the door and the two men followed him. I hoped he wouldn't decide to come looking for me. I doubted he would bother. Gomez's goals had always been straightforward. Straight for his own benefit; no one else's.
Alice had been stealing glances at me every few seconds and now that she saw Gomez was gone she joined me. "Do you want to go?" She looked up at me searchingly.
"I think that would be best. I don't really relish another conversation with that…" I had wanted to say monster but that was what I had been too. I couldn't say the word.
I waited to give Alice an explanation of who Gomez was. I wanted to put some physical distance as well as a mental distance from the memories he had brought back to me. Alice didn't ask any questions. She knew I would tell her when I was ready. She was probably "looking ahead" for just that information.
The Riverwalk was quiet now as we walked back to the hotel. The restaurants and shops were closed for the night and there was an eerie calmness that helped to relax me and my thoughts. I held Alice's hand and without looking at her I began.
"I first ran into Gomez in the late 1860's. I was with…Maria…and a group of newborns near Monterrey. He was with an opposing group. We were stronger than they were but he and few others made a getaway. In later years I kept running into him, each time he seemed to be with a different group. Apparently, he managed to shift his allegiances quite easily and he had a talent for running when he needed to. It's not surprising that he's selling his services to the highest bidder now.
"What's he doing?" Alice asked in a whisper.
"I didn't ask for details but it sounds like he's a hit man. It would be the perfect occupation for him."
Back at the hotel later that night Alice convinced me there were other things to focus on. I was grateful for her diversions. As I lay with Alice's head on my chest I thought how fortunate I was to have her. I had worried that the memories here in this part of the world would be too much for me to handle but with her with me those memories seemed to fade back into that distant past. Previously I had thought about visiting Galveston, to show her the place where my life had changed forever but I had been afraid. Now though, maybe it was possible. I felt stronger now. I could face those demons as long as she was by my side. And putting some distance between me and Gomez was an added attraction.
Alice stirred gently, murmuring into the smooth skin of my chest. "Oh Jazz, you're taking me to the beach…."
I smiled as my lips touched the top of her head. That was my Alice.
Author's Note: Muy guapa is Spanish for "very cute". All locations mentioned are real (no advertising intended!); check them out if you're ever in San Antonio. Just watch out for Gomez…