DIE ONCE MORE, excerpt #5: Jules in New York

“I walk incessantly. I know the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan, my two chosen boroughs, well enough by now to have an accurate street map in my head. I sign up for three four-hour shifts per day. Although that first day was an exception, and New York’s numa are staying suspiciously out of sight, there are enough cases of suffering street people, suicide attempts, domestic violence, and near-fatal accidents to keep me on a continual high from the life force I absorb from these saves.

‘Dude, this isn’t a contest,’ Faust says as I trim my hair in my studio mirror. ‘You don’t get bonus points if you save more humans than anyone else.’

He has been an impeccable welcome rep. He got me moved into my room at the Warehouse and had it furnished with what I asked for. (I didn’t really care, but he pushed me for details until it ended up looking pretty much exactly like my room in Paris . . . besides the floor-to-ceiling windows with an enviable view of the East River.) He got me weather-appropriate clothes, made sure the armory had what I needed (sending off for some antique swords so I would ‘feel at home’), and introduced me to our kindred artists—of whom there are many. Seems like every revenant artist in America wants to be here.

Faust even gamely accompanied me to my first Midnight Drawing Group meeting at the Warehouse. But after Gina, one of our bardia sisters recruited to pose when our human model didn’t show up, perched atop the stool and dropped her robe, Faust’s jaw dropped too. Her response was, ‘Draw or scram, Faust.’ He hasn’t been back since. His third-generation Italian-American upbringing and his stint in the tough-guy New York fire department never prepared him for people like the artists I hang out with.

It was Gina, drawing next to me one night, who first pointed out that the girl I was sketching looked nothing like the model posing for us on the stool. I didn’t respond—what could I say? Since then no one else has mentioned the fact that every woman I draw is the same. The position matches that of our model, the shadows and light are exactly what they are in our studio, but it is always Kate’s face, always her body. My pencil has its own will, and my fingers are its slaves.”

DIE ONCE MORE releases February 3. You can get it here: (Amazon/B&N).

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