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Year of the Ghoul by PythonPrincess

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Chapter 2- Voter Registration

Business had been brisk all evening at the voter registration table set up outside a prominent coffee shop at Santa Carla’s out door Downtown Mall, but it was beginning to slow. Most of the shops at the mall closed at 9 pm on weeknights, but this coffee shop was an exception.

The table was occupied by two temporary employees with a stack of voter registration sheets, a pile of clip boards, a box of pencils, and a slotted, locked box for the registrants to drop their completed sheets into when finished. One of the employees was a fellow in his mid twenties or early thirties that looked like his previous job involved holding up a cardboard sign at an intersection, begging for change. At least he managed to clean himself up some and look presentable as he passed out clipboards to perspective voters. The other employee was also male, had just passed legal drinking age, and was the bearer of multiple piercings. His skin was a shade paler than most, which made his hazel eyes stand out startlingly. A backwards baseball cap was perched over his curly, light brown hair.

“Hey, that guy I just registered said he’s in a band. Maybe I can jam with him sometime.”

The first temp smiled at the now completed card from the customer who had just left the table, folded it, and dropped it into the slotted box.

“That’s great, Jerry. The next one that comes up is mine,” Ryan answered, with an imperceptible roll of his eyes. Being the next greatest rock star was all Jerry knew how to talk about. Ryan doubted he even owned a guitar. Oh, wait. He’d said he did over one of the limited conversations they’d had while manning the registration table over the last week and a half. But he’d had to hock it. What a shame. Ryan thought that maybe when their employment gig was finished, he’d let Jerry rock on to the Stairway to Heaven with a quick chomp to the neck…to shut him up forever. Was twenty six cents a signature worth this punishment?

Ryan’s mental question was answered just a few brief seconds later when a young woman approached the table with a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. A smile crossed his lips. Jerry began to move registration papers towards the front of the table, and Ryan elbowed him sharply in the ribs.

“I just got finished telling you the next one is mine,” he hissed at him. His hazel eyes almost betrayed a hint of the feral amber that could come out at the most unexpected or inconvenient times. Jerry held his hands up in mock surrender.

“Chill. Just chill out. I’m making things more presentable is all…”

“Yeah, right,” Ryan grumbled.

“Hi, uh, I was just wondering what I need to register?” the girl asked, regarding the paperwork on the table with a slight air of confusion.

“We have everything you need here. All you have to do is fill out the form,” Ryan answered cheerfully, putting a form on a clipboard.

“Well, see, I just moved here not long ago. My license is from out of state. I don’t even have a utility bill yet, but I do have a rental agreement….”

“That’s fine. We just need to know what address you’re living at now, so you’ll get your voter confirmation card and your election materials at your current address. You’ll also know which poll to vote at when the big day comes.”

“Oh, that’s great.” The girl said. She pulled up one of the guest chairs and signed in on Ryan’s clipboard. He smiled triumphantly. Ka-ching; another twenty six cents.

“Do you have your picture ID with you? We need to verify that you are of legal voting age,” Ryan told her.

“Oh, yeah, sure.”

She looked more than happy to produce her driver’s license from her wallet and hand it to Ryan for his inspection. Her name, ‘Marin Elizabeth Morrow’ matched the name ‘Marin Morrow’ she’d hastily scribbled onto the sign in sheet, and she had turned 18 in July. He also noted that her license was one from the state of Colorado, and that her previous street address was in Denver.

“You’re a long way from home, Marin. What brings you this way?” Ryan asked casually as the girl poured over the registration sheet with her thickly lashed blue-green eyes.

She didn’t answer for a moment, but Ryan noticed that her hand stopped scribbling answers on the sheet.

“Oh, travel. And some research,” she finally said. Her answer was cryptic and vague. Ryan could tell she intended it to be that way.

“Travel’s cool. Been anywhere exciting? I’d like to climb Mt. Everest someday. And go on tours with my band,” Jerry interjected from his seat.

“Tours? You have a band?” Marin asked, her voice betraying a hint of disbelief.

“Uh, no. He would just like to. That’s Jerry for you. I’m Ryan.”

“Yeah, Ryan thinks he’s the next Tony Hawk,” Jerry sounded with a depreciating chuckle.

Ryan felt a dangerous flame building behind his eyes. That did it. Jerry was definitely toast.

Marin shook her head lightly. Her hair was a cascade of dark blonde curls that bounced down around her shoulders as her head moved. Ryan wanted to reach out and lightly tug on one. She’d make some pretty damn good fast food, even if she wasn’t much of a morsel. Her frame was fairly petite, and she barely hit his chin. But she had a nice set underneath her tight sweater, and her jeans hugged some excellent curves. Maybe she’d be good to stave off some other itches he’d been having first. Then she’d feed his other appetites. Then, she’d feed the fish.

But not before Jerry would. Jerry was the shifty sort that just might be expected to walk off the job and forget about his last paycheck. It would simply mean more business for Ryan in the last couple of weeks of his stint as a voting registrar. This location was a hotbed of activity since it was conveniently located near the bus station. The mall was always busy, too. With such an important presidential election looming ahead, lots of people were making certain they were registered. For once, Ryan found he had some pocket money.

Marin went back to filling out her form, stopping occasionally to sip on her flavored coffee. Ryan could smell wafts of cinnamon coming from the cup. The Roman numerals of the illuminated clock face mounted at the down town bus depot was just visible from where he sat. It was quarter to 8. Soon, he and Jerry could close up their little kiosk and transport the materials back to the small office building at City Hall. Afterwards, Ryan could do in Jerry. Or not. It depended on what would be in store for the rest of the night.

“So, how long have you been in Santa Carla?” Ryan asked.

“Not long. Just a couple of weeks,” Marin replied. She signed her name with a little flourish at the bottom of her form and handed the clipboard back to Ryan with a smile.

“I’ve only lived here a little over a year myself. But it’s a great place. Maybe I could show you around…”

Marin smiled again, dazzling him with her even, bright teeth.

“I’d like that, but I’ll have to take a rain check for tonight. I have an appointment with my new landlord in half an hour to sign the lease agreement. In fact, I’d better get going,” she told him.

“Sure, any time in the later evening works for me….I finish up with this stint at 9. Is that okay with you?” Ryan asked.

Marin gave a casual nod. Then she selected a pencil from the box on the table and scribbled something on a piece of scratch paper she found in her purse.

“That’s my cell phone number. Give me a call some time.”

With a quick wave, Marin took off, leaving Ryan with her contact number and a silly grin on his face. He wiped it off as soon as Jerry nudged him back to his senses.

“It’s about time to start folding up,” he said.

“Right. You got it, dude,” Ryan answered with a hint of a predatory gleam in his eyes.

After they loaded up their cargo into the city issued van, Ryan took the driver’s seat. It was a pretty straightforward drive back to City Hall, but tonight, Ryan decided to take a detour along a stretch of nearly deserted coastal road.

“Where the hell are you going?” Jerry asked, raising his eyebrows in curiosity.

“Land’s End,” Ryan replied, pulling the van over to the shoulder of the road.

Jerry only had time to open his mouth and issue out a noise that sounded like the beginning of a protest before Ryan clamped his hands around his neck and squeezed him like a boa constrictor. Jerry’s eyes bugged in his head as the shock of what was happening started to hit home. Bu the real shock came when Ryan pulled him out of his seat and through the driver’s side door. Then, still holding him by his neck, he slammed him down on the ground, fell atop him, and bit into his warm, throbbing jugular. Jerry jerked violently and thrashed around for a few minutes. He tried to get up, and nearly succeeded in pulling Ryan’s fingers away from his throat in one last bid for freedom. But all strength quickly ebbed from his body as his blood was drawn from his veins. Soon, he fell limp against the ground.

“What a shame I’m getting stuck unloading all the registration forms tonight, you slacker,” Ryan chastised his dead partner as he deftly went through his pockets. The effort wasn’t a total waste. He was rewarded with half a pack of gum, two guitar picks, and fifty seven cents in change in one of Jerry’s front pockets. The other held his cell phone. One of his rear jeans pockets carried his wallet, while the other was empty. Ryan combed through the wallet and pulled out eight dollars and two rolled up joints.

“I’d call us even. Not bad for a night’s work,” he said with a satisfied smirk. Then, he pocketed the money, the joints, the gum, and the guitar picks; and stuffed the cell phone and the wallet back into the dead man’s pockets. Finally, he drug Jerry’s stiff around the other side of the van and dropped him over the edge of the cliff and into the ocean below where the tide would carry him out to sea.

Ryan was officially off for the night when the voter registration forms were unloaded back at the City Hall office and locked up, and the van was parked at the City Garage. It was after ten. He considered a future date with Marin. They’d be meeting up around this time. Would it be too late for her?

A mortifying thought shot through his mind as he flew back to the hideout. How the hell would he take her anywhere if he had no car or motorcycle to pick her up with? It wasn’t like he could just fly her around town!

The solution to his dilemma was floating down at the bottom of the sea where Ryan’s latest meal was now heading. What a shame there would be no salvation for that Harley Chopper he and David had filched from a group of bikers last summer. Unfortunately, it had attracted the attention of the Mayor when the biker the Harley belonged to had been reported missing. Ryan would have to come up with another solution to get himself a set of wheels.

Ryan swooped into the hideout just as Paul was sparking up his pre work joint, and Marko was on his way out to start his shift at the bar. David looked like he’d already been somewhere and come back already. Perhaps he’d been on a kill…but he was oddly unsoiled, and his hair was still slightly damp. With David, one never knew of all his comings and goings, and it was best not to ask. The same was true with Dwayne, who was sorting tools in the corner of the room. Laddie and Alex were engaged in some quiet snuggle time that Ryan didn’t particularly care to intrude upon. It looked like Laddie would be going to work in a little while, too, but Alex was dressed as if she had the night off.

“So, how did Voter Registration go?” Paul asked, passing Ryan the hooter.

“Groovy. I offed my partner. He was annoying the piss out of me. Here, have some guitar picks.”

“Hey, right on, bud! I could always use some more of those!” Paul crowed happily, placing the picks in his stash.

“You offed your partner? Great…so how are you going to explain his absence?” Alex asked, tearing herself away from her liplock with Laddie.

Ryan shrugged.

“I won’t. The guy was a bum. If anyone asks, I’ll just say he didn’t show up for work. No skin off my hide.”

“Suit yourself. Just make sure that every kill you make is gotten rid of completely, especially now that Erickson is running for office. All our activities will be scrutinized carefully,” David warned him.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I didn’t even kill him in the van so there wouldn’t be any forensic evidence in case Erickson suspects anything and fingers me. But I doubt he will. Jerry’s not the sort of guy that would be missed,” Ryan said. Then he gave a deep sigh.

“I guess getting a bike any time soon would be out of the question,” he mused.

David quirked an eyebrow and blew out a mouthful of smoke from the joint that had just been passed his way.

“What brought this up out of the blue?” he asked.

Ryan sighed deeply. He’d been around long enough to remember how David had reacted when Paul had been hanging out with Lana not so long ago. He’d been pretty new when Marko had revealed an interest in a mortal girl named Jade awhile back, and that had ended rather tragically, but if Ryan’s memory served him right, there had been some underlying tensions between Marko and David over Jade, too.

He had only just met Marin, and he hadn’t even had a chance to go out with her yet. Frankly, Ryan didn’t David giving him any ‘tude over it.

“It’s a girl, isn’t it? You’re trying to impress a girl, aren’t you?” David asked.

Somehow, David had managed to pull the issue up without Ryan even saying anything about it.

“Uh, a girl? What would make you say that?” Ryan asked.

“It’s not what you said. It’s what you didn’t say. I didn’t fall off the stupid bus last night.”

Ryan let out another deep sigh.

“Well, to be honest, I can’t say it’s a girl…yet. I’ve only had just one conversation with her, and really, I haven’t even decided if she’s going to be anything more than an appetizer or an occasional y’know…That is I mean…if she’s even interested in me….,” he stammered, “But I have no chance in hell getting anywhere with her if a skateboard is my only means of transportation.”

“Dude has a point,” Paul interjected, “Nothing will put a guy on the ‘unfuckable list’ like not having a decent set of wheels.”

“That’s what’s great about being what we are. Mortal rules don’t apply. We get what we want,” David argued with a smirk.

“Oh, right. So I just walk up to Marin and flash my fangs. That will surely get me some tail. Right…she’ll turn tail and run!” Ryan laughed.

David shook his head, but he chucked at his youngest Childes’ humor.

“It shouldn’t be hard to get you a bike. We’ll have to make a clandestine trip to a dealership at least a few towns over; maybe as far away as Sacramento. We’ll boost you a bike, and Dwayne can file the vin number from it. Then, we’ll get a license plate from somewhere else. Whatever we do, none of this can come from local sources. At least you’re working, so if Erickson sees you cruising around town on a new bike, you can justify how you were able to afford it. You can bet we’re being watched, so you just watch your step with this girl,” David warned.

Ryan nodded his understanding. Paul whistled and grinned wolfishly.

“So, is she hot?” he asked.

“Oh, definitely,” Ryan answered.

“Tall? Stacked? Blonde? Brunette? Do you know her blood type?” Paul pressed.

“You may be my biological father, but you’re a pig!” Alex cried, interrupting the conversation from across the room. Despite her indignation, she had a half smile on her face.

“I am what I am, and I’m proud of it, girl!” Paul returned.

“To answer your questions, she’s not tall, but she is stacked, her hair is a nice shade of gold…and I don’t know her blood type yet, but I aim to find out,” Ryan said.

“Well, you’re right about one thing,” Alex said sagely, “If you want a snowball’s chance in hell with her, your skateboard isn’t going to cut it. You definitely need a set of wheels. Otherwise, you’ll come off like a slacker.”

“You may be my biological daughter…but you’re a snob!” Paul laughed.

“I am what I am, and I’m proud of it, man!” Alex volleyed.
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