Serving The Crusaders
By: Darnell Cureton
Prosecutor Mateo Jordan sealed the envelope that contained a summons for Amy Sweet, owner of Sweets Bakery as he ate the last honey glazed doughnut purchased from the two year old patisserie. Sweets Bakery is also the secret headquarters of the Twilight Crusaders, hunters of the paranormal… and killers of his brother Franklin, a vampire like himself. Mateo gives the summons and a photo of Amy to Lionel, a process server working in the court system. One night, when Lionel was cruising bars for a hookup, he received an unexpected bite to the neck. Since then, he has worked exclusively for the vampire prosecutor, doing all his bidding.
“Ensure Amy is served today, without delay, or pound for pound, your flesh will pay,” said the succubus, giving the muscular middle aged man a suggestive look and a nod. Lionel remembered the last time his flesh had to pay ‘pound for pound.’ He couldn’t sit down for a week. It was just his luck getting bit by a queer vampire.
The Covid-19 restrictions for the state were lifted, but Sweets Bakery continued the obsolete mandate. The eatery still utilized personal tables for two with clear plastic barriers separating diners. Take out patrons stood on doughnut shaped floor signs placed 6 feet apart, marking proper social distancing while standing in line. Maisey, a black homeless woman Amy took under her wing, desired consumers to be safe when they entered the establishment. After sharing a zeppole with a customer, and getting sick with Covid as a result, she decided to continue using the scanners. Maisey also provided disposable masks and gloves, whether customers wanted them or not. Standing 6 foot 1 and big as a house, everybody took gloves and a mask without question, waiting patiently as Maisey scanned their foreheads.
“98.7 Fahrenheit, ok. Come on in. 97.5, yeah, you good bro, go on in.” Maisey scanned a woman next in line.
“Whoa, 100 degrees! You can’t roll up in here sporting no high temp. Did’ya think about other peeps before you came stepping`` up in here?” Maisey chastised.
“But I… I tested negative. I got the second booster just 3 days ago,” the woman tactfully explained with a half-smile. “Maybe the scanner is broke…”
“No maybe, no broke. If ya scan a low temp, you get a seat and a treat, scan a high temp… you get the Grub Hub menu and a Jedi Mind Trick. Amy, come do your thing!” Maisey called out. Amy hurried over to the woman and used her newly discovered ability to control people with her voice.
“Hi ma’am. I noticed you have a high temperature. Take a Grub Hub menu, call in your order from home, then come back in two weeks,” Amy said in a soothing calm voice.
The woman stood in a zombie-like trance. She took a menu from Amy and recited her words. “I have a high temperature. I’ll take a Grub Hub menu, call in my order from home, then come back in two weeks,” she said as she turned and shambled out of the bakery.
A seated customer pulled out his phone to record the interaction, but the woman walked away like she was drunk before he could capture the moment. Putting the phone back in his pocket, he took a sip of the bakery’s tasty mocha latte, disappointed he missed a YouTube short.
“Well, well. Look at this. The temperature scanner IS stuck on 100,” Maisey admitted sheepishly. “It was a false positive. Guess the lady was okay. Damn scanner.” She sighed.
Carrie, the bakery’s newest employee, was fascinated by Amy’s mind control. She consoled Maisey with empathy.
“Well, no real harm was done Maisey. She’ll be back in two weeks. I bet with no memory of what happened, thanks to Amy. It’s amazing how her voice works,” she said, interest growing in supernatural abilities.
“Yeah, so far it works,” Maisey said, “but if it fails, we’ll use your telekinetic power as backup. Everybody is still talking about your school prom night,” Maisey said as Carrie lowered her head.
“My bad. I wish people would forget that incident. The blood is gone, and they built the school back,” Carrie replied, lips pursed.
Just then Lionel walked in the bakery carrying his messenger pouch. Maisey eyed the newcomer then gestured for him to allow her to take a scan. She slapped the scanner a few times before placing it next to his forehead. It read 97.6. Maisey didn’t know this man but felt he was a threat, even though he passed the scan test. After living on the streets for many years, she trusted her instincts. Lionel looked around the bakery, then locked eyes on Amy. He walked towards her slowly without menace.
“Amy Sweet? You’re the owner of this wonderful place?”
“Why yes, yes I am,” said Amy smiling behind her mask. “What can I do for you?” she inquired. Lionel opened the pouch, pulled out a sealed letter, jabbing her with it like a weapon.
“Amy Sweet, you have been served.” Turning towards the door, he blurted out: “Have a nice day.” Amy’s jaw dropped as she scrutinized the legal document. Eyes wide, she continued reading.
“Hey… muscle man? What’d you give my boss? Today ain’t Valentine’s day,” Maisey said defensively.
“See you all in court,” Lionel shouted, briefly looking back at Maisey but focused on getting the hell out of the bakery. His job was done. He had delivered the summons for his master. As he tried to open the door, it pulled from his grasp and slammed shut. Knives, forks, and spoons flew through the air in his direction. He ducked as utensils lodge in the door frame where he was standing. The man sipping the mocha latte had his phone out again, recording this time, hoping to get 5K likes on his ‘I’m A Paranormal Creep’ channel.
“Hey…how, who did that?” Lionel asked bewildered, looking from Maisey to Amy.
“ I did it,” Carrie spoke up, sounding like OJ Simpson. “You have to answer to Maisey before you can go anywhere,” warned the telekinetic teen.
“Yo, prom girl, you just couldn’t resist mind controlling kitchen ware, right?” Maisey pointed out to the young blond freckled faced girl smiling from ear to ear.
“I’m just the messenger. I don’t want any trouble with you guys,” Lionel whined. “I was ordered to give Amy a summons,” he jabbered with his back to the door, fumbling blindly for the door handle.
“Amy, you gonna handle this guy, or I’m I?” declared Maisey, approaching Lionel in a boxing stance, ready to fight.
“Tune him up Maisey!” Carrie encouraged, levitating a bat towards Maisey’s hands.
“Thanks for the assistance Carrie,” Maisey acknowledged. Nodding her approval of the telekinetic teen’s powers, she grabbed the floating bat and practiced half swings while glaring at Lionel. Amy stepped in front of Maisey while adjusting a safety mask, her favorite one with the crispy doughnut image on it. She approached the muscle man before Maisey got to him.
“What’s your name honey?” Amy asked using her soothing manipulative voice through the mask.
“Lionel. Lionel Breekmen,” he said as his eyes glassed over and arms fell to his waist.
“What’s this all about Lionel? Why is a prosecutor bringing charges against me?” Amy asked.
“It’s because of the Twilight Crusaders. He knows about the secret headquarters here in the bakery and the support they give you. Prosecutor Mateo Jordan wants you and all the Crusaders to pay for killing his vampire brother, Franklin Jordan.”
“Who was Franklin Jordan? And did he say a real life vampire?” Carrie prodded, waiting for an answer.
“Yes, he was a vampire, and the prosecutor’s brother. It makes sense now,” Amy recalled. “I remember the renovations about 2 years ago. I turned a massage parlor into this bakery. A vampire showed up at my grand opening. That’s when I met deceased grandma Sullivan in a host body, her vampire hunter granddaughter Sallie Ann, and her Golden Lab Yum-Yum. With their help, along with Maisey, we put that blood sucker down. Then we eventually became the Twilight Crusaders, hunters of the paranormal,” she explained to Carrie.
“Don’t let him go!” Maisey urged. “Maybe we can get more information out of him.”
“Lionel it would be nice if you stayed with us in the break room for a while,” Amy suggested in a soothing voice.
“It would be nice if I stayed in the break room with you for a while,” Lionel repeated.
“With your pants off,” Carrie added.
“With my pants off Lionel repeated.”
Carrie squealed with delight. “ I found some leather chaps I’m going to put on him. Might as well make good use of the left over massage parlor stuff. How long will he stay in a trance?” Carrie asked.
“I don’t know. I believe everyone is different,” suggested Amy.
“Come on cowboy. Let’s play dress up,” Carrie snickered, leading Lionel to the break room.
Maisey watched as Lionel stumbled about, his pants coming undone with Carrie’s help.
“Um...how much do we know about this prom queen? You really gotta watch the quiet ones,” Maisey affirmed.
In her peripheral vision Maisey saw a man recording everything with a phone cam. Seeing Amy had everything under control, Maisey grabbed the mocha latte man from behind and placed him in a sleeper choke hold.
“I… cant… breathe!” he gagged trying to get away from the vise grip Maisey had on him.
Carrie snatched the phone from his flailing hands and erased the footage filmed.
“I warned you last week when you followed a customer in the lady’s room,” Maisey scolded. She tightened her grip, further limiting his oxygen.
“Elf…following an elf,” he managed to blurt, just before he passed out.
“Female elf, Thank you much,” Maisey taunted. “Ain’t no man following ANY female in the lady’s room on my watch!” Maisey declared, letting mocha latte man fall to the floor. She made a show of wiping her hands clean to the onlookers.
Customers observing Maisey handle mocha latte man like a rag doll erased their video and pictures without saying a word.
Amy noticed the ambiguity on their faces, so she used her voice to tell everyone to forget the talk of vampires, extra sensory perception, flying knives and her version of Jedi mind control. Amy told everyone to go home as she closed the bakery for the day. It was time to schedule a meeting with the Twilight Crusaders later that night.
Amy felt part of the team as the Twilight Crusaders gathered together once again in her bakery headquarters basement.
Maisey, 6 foot 1 showed up dressed in a pink and yellow sweat suit with a Chanel signature arranged in crystal diamonds. Orange Dior fur boots with matching fur hat, and a hip-hop14 karat gold chain pendant necklace with garlic cloves to ward off evil. She looked more like Missy Elliot on Grammy night than a Twilight Crusader, but everybody knew better not to challenge her on it.
Sallie Ann Sullivan, a young blond, blue eyed vampire hunter wore a white fleece fitted shirt with tight fitting black breeches and boots. She carried a small magical purse that concealed a gun, garlic, and various potions to fight evil. Her young streamline figure and riding apparel looked like Emma Peel from the Avengers without John Steed. By her side was her guardian Yum-Yum, a Golden Labrador Retriever trained for hunting vampires, and was fond of chocolate chip cookies, the kind Amy made especially for dogs. Deceased grandma Sullivan 1945 – 2014 (rest in peace) appearing in spirit form, sat at the team table in possession of the dead body of a young exotic dancer. The Asian beauty was clothed in a short Johnny gown that barely covered her body.
“Amy, start this meeting,” Grandma Sullivan spoke up, using the corpse. “I’ve got to get this dead dancer back at Bells Funeral Home in a couple of hours. I promised the night mortician I’d give him a red light special while I have possession of her body.”
“That’s a moral sacrilege of the body, mind and spirit!” Maisey retorted.
“What can I say? He’s an Only Fan,” Grandma Sullivan replied.
“Ok, ok everyone. Let’s get down to business” Amy said, taking charge of the meeting.
“This prosecutor has a personal grudge against all of us for killing his blood sucking brother. We need a top notch defense team to prove we were defending humans while trying to make an honest living making doughnuts. Lionel, the process server told me prosecutor Jordan will charge we used the bakery for illegal activities.”
“Illegal activities? Like what, cannabis cannoli’s or brownie edibles?” Carrie asked sarcastically.
“This place was a massage parlor before it was a bakery.” Amy affirmed. Prosecutor Jordan will tell the court that I paid for the bakery by giving customers coffee, cookies, and happy endings.” Hearing the word cookies Yum-Yum stood up wagging his tail, snout drooling. Amy tossed the Labrador some cookie dog treats, patting his head.
“That’s some frag-a-na-gle- bull,” Maisey snapped. “Sweets Bakery was paid in full by me,” she vouched. “I was homeless and grateful Amy gave me the job of cleaning poop behind a Tasmanian Devil in the enchanted forest. His poop turned out to be gold turds worth millions. After the bakery was paid for, I funded our secret headquarters and paranormal phone connection here in the basement. That prosecutor is a lying low life neck biter. I want you all to know I have enough gold turds to fund our defense team, so he can take his happy endings somewhere else,” Maisey ranted, literally getting off a paranormal pedestal used for stock piling magic supplies overhead.
“Cool Maisey!” Carrie said. “I didn’t know you made a fortune from a gig in the enchanted forest!”
“Yeah, I don’t talk about it much. Black women have come too far to be talking bout taking a job cleaning poop.”
Grandma Sullivan shook her head incredulously. “Whatever…let’s celebrate getting our defense dream team,” she cheered, twerking the dead exotic dancer’s bottom to “Pop That Coochie,” the rap song by 2 Live Crew. Carrie turned the volume up on her iPhone, joining Grandma Sullivan dancing on the floor. With each suggestive gyration, the short Johnny gown held together by a string failed to keep the dead girl modest.
“Grandma!” young Sallie Ann protested. “At your age you should be setting an example for me!”
“Sallie Ann, you are over 21. Let an old lady in a young dead body have some fun. Maisey, you still play that ukulele?” asked Grandma Sullivan.
“I have a small band that plays my theme song when I walk into a room on occasion, but I still play. I had the wood gold plated. That instrument bought me food and water when times were tough.”
Carrie wanted to ask how much food it actually brought in as she observed Maisey’s huge body but didn’t want to be put in a sleeper choke hold. They celebrated their court strategy as Maisey played hip hop and rap songs on the ukulele. Confidence was high they would win the case when it came to trial.
Lionel, hearing music and laughter in the basement came out of the trance Amy had him under. He felt his legs, noticing he was wearing chaps. “Where are my pants?” He ran his hand through his boxer shorts. It came back with a white powder on the fingers. “Sugar… between my cheeks?” He found his messenger pouch, wallet, and mobile phone next to a tray of panna cottas. He put his personal belongings in the messenger pouch. His pants were nowhere in sight. “Damn,” he swore. Grabbing a chocolate panna cotta, He took a big bite. It tasted like heaven. Sweets Bakery did have the best pastries in town. He wiped his mouth with his hands while looking for the lobby. To avoid further embarrassment, he tip toed to the exit door and headed out.
“I need a drink,” he thought as he walked into the first bar he saw. Sitting at the counter he called out to the bar tender. “3 whiskeys straight up, and a house draft too,” he demanded.
Somehow Amy Sweet got him to spill his guts about prosecutor Jordan’s strategy. He didn’t want to think want would happen to him when the truth came out. Jordan’s words ‘Pound for pound’ was stuck in his head.
After throwing back the 2nd shot, Lionel noticed everyone in the bar staring at him. Was it the chaps? The liquid courage he drank gave him the strength to stare back. That’s when he noticed there were no women in the establishment. “What kind of bar is this?” he wondered. A big husky man wearing sandals, spandex and a tight tee sat next to him. The tee had ‘Welcome to Paddles. Bar for Bears’ written on it. Gulping, Lionel dropped the last shot in his glass of beer. A foam head reached the top of the glass as he took a sip, keeping the glass close to his lips like a cross. Paddles tee shirt man smiled, putting his hand on Lionel’s chaps.
“Hey mate. You look like you want to play with us. Mmm. You smell nice, like them honey buns in the bakery down the street. I used to work there when it was a massage parlor. You want a happy ending?” he suggested, as his spandex revealed his excitement.
“Oh damn,” Lionel sighed as he ordered 3 more whiskeys.