Okay, son. I bet you're wondering just what the !@#$ is going on, here. And I can't say I !@#$ing blame you.
On more than one level, I'm sure. But first things first. This'll make a lot more sense if you let me tell the story my way.
(That and I don't think I'm ready to talk about that other !@#$. Not just yet.)
So, yes, vampires are !@#$ing real. They drink blood. They're a little tougher and faster than we are. Usually a lot better looking, too. Turns out all those stories about them being pale as !@#$ are just stories they planted to throw us off the hunt.
They live forever, and look !@#$ good doing it, too, as long as they get a regular supply of Human juice. They miss a few meals, they start looking their !@#$ing age. They miss too many, they shrivel up and fall asleep.
Crosses and holy water and garlic don't do !@#$. That's just more stories they spread. You want to deal with a bloodsucker, you use fire. And sunlight makes them !@#$ing explode, but good luck getting them out into it.
All else fails, get a fresh, live piece of wood and cram it into what's left of their heart. Staking them interrupts their metabolic process, somehow. Puts them to sleep. Don't ask me how or why it !@#$ing works -- it's enough that it does, and that makes them a lot !@#$ing easier to handle.
And, yes, Ernest !@#$ing Hemingway's a vampire. He's been that way since at least 1961, when he faked his own suicide in order to join them. And he's been down there, !@#$ing around with them in Cuba since then.
Fifty years as a bloodsucker, living with vampires amongst the commies. I can't even !@#$ing imagine that. It'd be like drinking !@#$ straight out of an elephant's !@#$ for me. Big !@#$ elephant, at that.
Could explain a few things, too, come to think of it.
But then, Ernest always had a soft spot for Cuba. Winter homes, writing jags, big parties at his estate down there. !@#$, he was even buddies with !@#$ing Fidel until the !@#$hole decided to steal all the yankee property he could get his grubby commie hands on.
At least, that's the cover story.
Truth was, last time Ernest was in Havana, he was going downhill, fast. True, he did bang out a lot of writing at the time, but his health was for !@#$. One drink too many and his poor liver was probably going to explode out his !@#$ing navel and hitch a boat ride to Cancun.
That's probably when they went to talk to him. The vampires, that is.
Why Ernest? Well, !@#$. Why not? Back before he turned into a bloated, gray caricature of him younger self, he was one !@#$ of a man. Hemingway the definition of two-fisted, outlaw journalist, going all the way around the world to get a good !@#$ing story, and willing to fight, !@#$, and drink anything that got in his way until he found out what the !@#$ was going on and got it down on paper.
At least, he was that way, once. The War ruined it for him.
More specifically, we ruined it for him. Strategic Talents. He took one look at us, charging into battle after they dropped us behind the lines after D-Day, and saw the wrong thing. He should have seen the heights that humanity could rise to, with a little electro-chemical help and the right genome. Instead, he saw the end of ordinary Humanity, which he tried to be the best example of (personal conduct be !@#$ed, of course) but realized, watching us go, that there was only so far he could go as he was.
If he was the best mankind had to offer, his time was over and done with, and he had the !@#$ing photos to prove it.
No, he didn't turn on a !@#$ing dime. He didn't start drinking himself stupid and screwing anything with a pulse, and turning into some useless Irish !@#$er with a writing problem. He was all those things before the War (well, maybe not Irish). But what he saw started dragging things down, just a little.
And sometimes a little's all you !@#$ing need to start a !@#$ing avalanche.
But at the same time, he had his uses. Case in point, while he was in Batista's Cuba, during that period of unease that eventually turned into unrest, he was being very useful to us. More the CIA than the COMPANY, of course, but his information on everyday life, and what big moneyed and influential people were doing what, or whom, helped us connect some dots.
He was the one who let us know that the USSR's People's Protectors had moved in, after the Revolution. He was also the one telling us that if we killed Castro, someone else would just take his place, and maybe someone a !@#$ of a lot worse. But no one listened to him about that.
I don't think the Vampires knew about his role as a Spy for the American government. They were interested in him as a man. Their bloodline had grown stagnant and fetid, down there in the heat, and they thought having someone like him on board would be a breath of fresh air.
They didn't vamp him right then and there, of course. They were patient. They could wait. Plus, he was married and had all these society snoots up his !@#$ every day and night, and making him one of the undead would have been really !@#$ing suspicious.
Something the Vampires of Cuba would really rather not deal with. But more on their !@#$ another time, when I actually have time.
Bottom line, they offered Ernest Hemingway, an old sick man dying on his feet, the chance to be young, immortal, and more than human. And while he was still a loyal American citizen, there was no way he couldn't seriously consider that offer.
So what did he do? Play both sides of the deal.
He came to us and told us about what they offered. He offered to be our eyes and ears on their society, provided we'd sign off on the God!@#$ plan. The other Company didn't want anything to do with it, because that was officially too !@#$ing weird, even for them.
So The COMPANY got it, which is to say I got to deal with that !@#$. And me, I thought back to that tough fighter of a man and his ever-present camera, there behind enemy lines, and I said "Sure, Ernest. Just don't go native, or we'll have to !@#$ing kill you."
Well, guess what happened? He's a good eye on the ground for about ten years, and then nothing. Boom. Gone. We don't know if the vampires found out about him and left him for the Sun to find, or if he decided he didn't feel like playing anyone's game, anymore.
But then there were the dead girls, in Key West. I first noticed a pattern: attractive women, drained of blood and just left lying around for the police to find. No attempt to cover up the bitemarks, either.
Most vamps are more careful, unless they got the bite by accident and don't know what the !@#$ they're doing. And other vamps tend to move in and deal with careless eaters so they don't threaten them with exposure. So either the bloodsuckers in Key West are missing one really occasional feeder, or there's something else going on.
And then I realize, after a while, that there's another pattern. Four distinct facial and body types, over and over again. And it doesn't take me too long to have their images analyzed and realize that, what do you know, they all look like Ernest Hemingway's wives.
I figured that out a couple years ago, but I didn't do anything. I had a whole bunch of other plates to juggle at the time, and stopping Ernest Hemingway from chowing down on drunk tourists wasn't really my purview.
So I had some go-betweens talk to the vamps down in the Keys about their little problem, but never heard anything back. Turns out that was a useless !@#$ing gesture; the Keys vamps are !@#$ing terrified of Cuban vamps, so they not only let the !@#$er !@#$ where they all ate, but they actually cleared out of Key West entirely so he could play.
Now, that's something, right there. And that'll lead into another story or two I don't have !@#$ing time for, tonight.
And, well, after Outland, I decided that it was about time I made certain problems my problems, after all. So I came up with a general pattern, got a couple ringers ready to roll, and came down here to wait for him.
(And no, son, that's not all I've been doing down here, or doing since that whole !@#$ing thing happened. But one story at a time, okay? Jesus.)
Anyway, now I have an American writing icon turned Cuban vampire. Ho Ho Ho.
What do we do with him? Well, I got a sack of rats and a book of matches. I figure after last night's little feed-or-fry warmup, he'll be a little more likely to tell me what I need to know about certain things down in Cuba, and how I can get to them more efficiently than I currently can, with what little I have.
Yeah, rats. If warm human blood is the best beer you've ever had, and cold blood out of a bloodbank is that same beer, only a little stale, the blood of lower vermin is kind of like what the hip kids all call "irony beer," these days. You know, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Milwaukee's Best -- !@#$ like that.
Old Ernest's gonna be drinking a lot of Pabst if he !@#$ing knows what's good for him, tonight.
And on that note, son -- see you tomorrow.
(SPYGOD is listening to Vampires (Pet Shop Boys) and having an irony beer)