Hot, deserted, evil-ridden desert! What had possessed him to hole up in Texas?
Zandar swatted at the tribe of mosquitoes flocking around him, that were perhaps sensing his undead demeanor. Worse than the rats of England, he spontaneously decided. They were as thick as the stars in the wide open, blackened skies – their stingers probably laced with visions of West Nile Virus.
Zandar gazed at his western idiot savant, Lester, whom he’d transformed into his devoted servant. Lester, however, referred to his title as ‘helper’ which was heavily laced with a Texas twang, and twisted the word into 'heper’. He said it often, too, “I’m yore heper.”
Zandar ran the palm of his hand over his face, trying to erase the frustration that he felt. It was all he could do – not to bite the fang out of his ‘heper’.
Gathering in a deep breath of the hot, sweltering air smothering around them, Zandar questioned Lester, “Okay. Alright. Do you have any idea of when we’ll have the air-conditioning repaired?"
He watched Lester scratch the top of his sparsely-covered head, then he slowly drawled, “Nope.”
The craving to bite him and send him to instant death was almost too strong for Zandar to resist. However, beyond sane reasoning, he withheld the fangs for now, focusing on the paisley western shirt that his ‘heper’ was wearing rather than the strong visible veins that ran the length of Lester's neck.
“Yes. Yes! Why can’t you get the unit repaired?”
Lester went to scratch his head again, Zandar silently considering that a bad case of dandruff might be the culprit. He tried to focus on his servant as he spoke. "Cause, Boss, thar’s a big ole festibal goin’ on in Spring Creek.”
“Festibal,” Lester repeated. “You going deaf on me?”
“I didn’t understand what you were trying to say,” Zandar twisted out, wondering what had crawled up Lester’s butt and died.
“You know, a ‘par tay’….a….um….hullabaloo,” Lester felt inclined to enhance. One with lots of whiskey drinkin’, woman stealin’, cussin’ till dawn – ya know, the thangs that real men does.”
Zandar silently mocked, ‘And they called his kind heathen.’
“Don’t you ever listen?” Lester tossed out to him, his tone a bit mocking, causing Zandar to immediately hone into the cowboy’s eyes, his own revolving to a bright red, a tell-tale sign of resentment.
Innocently afflicted, Lester continued, “I tole ya once, already. The town of Medina is the closest in these here parts – and she’s one-hunernt miles away! Ain’t my fault that you wanted to move here, ya know? I’m just yore heper.”
Zandar’s eyes normalized as his thoughts scattered. Yes, he remembered Lester’s original advice to move east, to cooler summers and the Land of Enchantment. Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea, he decided in reflection.
“Better git yore **** in gear, Boss,” Lester suddenly interrupted his wild thoughts. He spit to one side, the release shrinking his left cheek at least two inches, then continued, “Moon’s goin’ down, sun’s comin’ up. If you don’t git inside that box of yore’s toot-sweet, yore goin’ turn into a crispy critter.”
Zandar snarled. Damn. Lester was correct again. Who did he think he was? He wasn’t the one in charge here!
Nonetheless, there wasn’t any time left for wandering thoughts, dead dreams or fragrant wishes that suddenly smelled like filthy vermin. Time to hit the hot box. Time to smother the day away. The temperatures probably reached well towards the hundred-century mark in that box during the daylight hours.
And why didn’t Texas have basements? No relief, no tangible avenues to cooler trails of temperatures!
Lester continued to grumble as they meandered towards the house. “I’ll try to thank of a idea or two – do some brainstormin’ to git ya some relief, k?”
That’s the last thing Zandar needed; Lester brainstorming. The idiot would brew up a tsunami or a hurricane at best! He remembered the last bright idea, which involved beautifying the ranch house. Zandar awoke to den that was full of mirrors.
Again he flinched, feeling as Lester had read his thoughts as he drawled, “We’re havin’ a stretch of bad luck cuz you broke them mirrors, boss. Told ya that ya shouldn't done that, but no. You didn’t listen to me. Never do, in fact.”
“Lester, just secure a repairman and get the unit repaired,” he told him, his tone terse. “Until moonrise,” he eased out, unwillingly climbing into his safe, but oh-so-hot box.
As the lid slipped into place, Zandar decided that he’d continue this topic with Lester when the night returned. The man had a nasty knack of bringing up debatable items at the last moment.....
Zandar awoke, gasping for air, yet taking in a mouthful of water at each attempt. It was all he could do to thrust the heavy lid from his box, then rise into a sitting position.
Lester was sitting on a rattan chair nearby, engrossed in a recent publication of non-fiction entitled, “You’ve Got the Bull, But Who Has the Horns?” The minor disturbance of Zandar’s thrashing about sent a scowl surfacing over Lester’s red-toned face.
“Evening, Boss,” he drawled, seeming hesitant to lay down his reading material. He looked to be near the end and the book looked well-read. Obviously, Lester liked this one.
He continued, “Well? Like the ice?”
Zandar shook his head in confusion, certain that all the thrashing about had off-centered his widow’s peak. Glancing down, he suddenly realized amid his newly awaken dilemma that his box was full of water and floating ice chips.
“Packed you in ice shortly after ya went to beddy-bye,” Lester shared in a smug tone. “You slept like a dead man.”
“Lester, I am a dead man,” Zandar spat out, a killing mood hitting him.
“Let’s not get technical,” Lester whipped out, Zandar lifting his thick brows, unimpressed by his servant’s suddenly sassy tongue. “Got something more important to share with ya.”
Zandar was out of the box now, stripping from the wet clothes and into the dry ones that Lester had set out for him. His spirits lifted as Lester eased out, “Thank the unit will be repaired tonight. In fact, I’m expecting Orville any second now.”
Lester sighed disconnectedly, then impatiently explained, “The repairman, although in this day and age, the correct title should be repair person.”
Zandar stared at him a moment, then offered an acid-like smile as he drawled, “Yes, and how would I know these things without my heper?”
“Right,” Lester nodded, almost dislodging his too-tall Stetson in the process. Zandar didn’t mind the hat; it kept his servant’s hands from digging a hole as big as Dallas into his scalp.
“Ding, dong, ding.”
“Oh! Thar’s the repair person!” Lester spewed out, shoving Zandar briskly aside as he raced for the front door.
Zandar recovered swiftly, and had barely sealed off the door of the room containing his wet box as he heard the two men nearing him.
“Boss, meet Orville,” Lester introduced a bit haphazardly, jerking off his Stetson which unfortunately slung out of his hands, hitting Zandar smack dab in the face.
Several four letter words filled the room, Zandar recognizing his voice, then struggling to recover. He hadn’t been this frustrated since Lester had spooked their milk cows last Halloween with his ridiculous glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume.
When Zandar recovered, he gazed at Orville and attempted a civil greeting. The man was uglier than a fistful of wolf spiders! His teeth were jutted completely out of his mouth, just begging for someone to bash them back inside. They were brown, too, like Lester’s. Obviously, the men shared a similar habit.
Orville was supporting overalls that looked like they’d once been the bedding of the family dog. His head was topped off with a red hat that had the words, ‘Choo Choo’ tattooed across the bill, possibly a play on words for the habit he shared with Lester?
“Whut seems to be the problem?” Orville plied with difficulty. His face was gnarled, as if he smelled a wolf.
“Well, Orville, our unit is on the blink,” Zandar explained, leading the gang towards the thermostat in the hall. “It won’t click on.”
Zandar demonstrated, twisting the dial back and forth.
Zandar watched as Orville removed his red hat and went into a scratching routine, reminding him of Lester. Obviously, the men shared more than one habit.
“Yes? Any bright ideas?” Zandar quizzed, deciding that he was the most patient vampire in the world – if not in the Universe!
Zandar went ruler-straight, a bit of hope surfacing. However, he didn’t want to get too happy. Orville wasn’t the brightest light in the harbor. Wasn’t even a magnificent firefly’s butt.
“A breaker?” Zandar echoed, feeling a bit foolish.
“Yep, that’s a ten-four.” He reared back, his gut shooting forward, emphasizing the shiny belt buckle that was fashioned in the shape of a steer’s head. “Yep. You’ve throwed a breaker.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Lester ripped out, suddenly coming to life.
“You should be so lucky,” Zandar bit out before thinking.
Lester seemed undaunted, for he continued with, “Bet that thar breaker got throwed when I was testing out the new cattle prod the other day. Member, Boss? Coolin’ went away rite after that.”
Zandar looked very thoughtful, then slowly eased out, “Why yes, I do remember, Lester. Quite well.” And, "Thank you for frying my **** these last few days,” he had wanted to add, but didn’t – only because of Orville’s presence.
Ten minutes later, Orville had reset the thrown breaker and was out the door, one-hundred dollars richer. Lester went back to his book. And Zandar, well, Zandar spent the evening contemplating his move to the east, without his illustrious heper…