Oh, When your heart’s on fire
You must realize
Smoke gets in your eyes
2 a.m., Wednesday, August 15, 1945. Welfare Island, New York.
The party wakes up in the courtyard of the Blackwell House where they had been attending a party. None of them can remember anything that happened after arriving early in the evening. The house burns in the distance, surrounded by men dressed in civil defense uniforms wielding flame throwers. They catch the silhouette of one of these men approaching them, carrying a shotgun. He demands to know if they’re “Deniers,” and they respond that they are unfamiliar with the term. He explains that they have been embraced and turned into vampires and demands they follow him out of there. He indicates his armband and the symbol that marks him as a member of the Ordo Dracul and someone who can be trusted. Joseph Dante takes a moment to stop by his boss’ car. He sees that the tires have been slashed, but thankfully finds his shotgun untouched in the trunk.
Heading north toward the Queensboro Bridge, the group is stopped by a lone police officer headed toward the fire. Jasper hides behind a nearby bush and Dirk tries to approach carefully to talk the officer down. Olga turns around to notice that their traveling companion has disappeared. She catches sight of him moments before he drops down from a tree and knocks the officer out. He exposes the officer’s neck and demands the party start behaving like vampires. No one moves and he cuts the neck open. Dirk, standing closer than the rest of the group, can’t resist the draw of the blood and begins to feed. His body sweats a black smoke as the blood turns to cold air in his veins. The stranger licks the wounds closed and they fade into a very light scar.
Not wanting to be left with a dead cop on their hands, everyone agrees to drive the cop to the hospital emergency room in his squad car and leave the car in the parking lot. The stranger insists they take his car and make it somewhere they can hide for the day that is secure from the daylight. He also makes it imperative that within the next 24 hours they make an appearance before the Prince of New York at his study at the New York Public Library. Jasper offers the storeroom of the bar he sleeps in and everyone agrees it will be safest given the short notice they have. The stranger offers his keys and Norma mentions that she drives pretty well. He regards her with suspicion and Dante takes the keys, assuring everyone he’s a fantastic driver.
Taking the stairs to the bridge, they climb into the Chrysler Town & Country and head toward 21 Club on 52nd Street. Within seconds of heading down the road, they catch in the rear view mirror a rapidly approaching vehicle. Dante reaches for the gas to speed out of the way and accidentally hits the brakes instead. The approaching driver tries to swerve out of the way but plummets off the bridge instead. The rest of the ride is considerably less eventful . . .
3 a.m., Wednesday, August 15, 1945. 21 Club, Midtown Manhattan.
Arriving at the club, everyone piles out of the car and Dante parks a few blocks away. Jasper stops at the alley when he smells a bum burnt out on jack. It feels like years since the last time he took a hit and he chooses to live vicariously through the vagrant. Norma is drawn by her hunger and begins to feed as well, but is quickly repulsed by the low quality of the blood and the nausea caused by the heroin in it. Jasper slips into a hallucinatory flashback for expositionary purposes:
As if in a dream, Jasper is taken back to the Blackwell House. He has just shot up in the bathroom between sets and there is a knock on the door. He refuses to answer and the door is broken down by a large black man wearing dark sunglasses. He introduces himself as Tyrese and insists that Jasper return to the main floor for his next set. While helping him down the stairs, Tyrese slips a note in Jasper’s jacket pocket and requests that he come perform at Tyrese’s club some time.
Brought back to the present, Jasper finds the note in his pocket, it simply reads, “City Hall Station, IRT.”
Meanwhile, phone calls are made by some of the remaining characters. Dante calls Frank Castello at home and is admonished by one of his Capos for not being there when Frank was kicked out of the party. His presence is requested at breakfast that morning in Bayridge and Dante agrees to be there at 10 a.m. sharp.
Norma calls her aunt’s house and her son answers and demands that she come home right away. She says she has a lot of work to do today but she promises to be back the following night to tuck him in.
Heading to the hidden storage room of the bar, the party finds Tony Spaghettio, the owner, in rapturous embrace in Jasper’s bed. As they get closer, they see blood on the mouths of both Tony and his female companion. She hastily rises, dresses and formally introduces herself without missing a beat. She is , kindred like them, and she would appreciate Dirk dropping by her fortune telling parlor in Italian Harlem once he’s settled in a little bit. She likes a man with money. With that she saunters off into the night. Tony explains that he is Julia’s ghoul and manages the club as an Elysium, or place of peace, for the vampires of the city. Drinking blood is forbidden there, so he asks their discretion in regards to the night’s events.
Dante explains that he needs to see his boss in the morning and Tony tries to dissuade him. They eventually put together a plan to drive in the truck the club uses for deliveries and load Dante in through the freight entrance of Castello’s favorite restaurant spot. While Dante and Tony head off for Bayridge, the rest of the party settles in for the night.
Dirk takes a few minutes once everyone is asleep to look through the space. He finds a case with a magnetic lid filled with army issue carbine rifles. A newspaper from several months ago indicates that the City Hall Station on the IRT line has been permanently closed down. He gives a quick call to the Defense Department to request some research on the history of the Ordo Dracul.
Only Jasper dreams during the day. He is haunted by visions of the death of Rod and Wilma and catches a glimpse of the man who burned their house down.
9 a.m., Wednesday, August 15, 1945. Bayridge.
Dante arrives at Castello’s favorite restaurant and sneaks into the walk-in freezer before the staff starts arriving. An unlucky busboy heads into freezer to pick up some bacon and Dante makes a quick snack of him, being careful to not drain him completely and to close the wound. He meets with Frank, keeping well out of the sunlight at the front of the restaurant. They reach the conclusion that Dante may have been drugged at the party, since they were shadowing a trafficker by the name of Tyrese. Dante promises to keep an eye out for him and make an effort to shut down the local heroin trade.
9 p.m., Wednesday, August 15, 1945. New York Public Library.
When evening comes, the party wakes and makes their way to the library. Olga and Simon stop along the way to feed on a sailor, accidentally draining him of all blood and taking his life. They are welcomed into Prince Wycoff’s presence by a tall, thin man wearing long gloves who does not introduce himself. The Prince welcomes everyone and tries to interrogate them as to their memories from the party, as their embrace was not authorized. He says that if they can successfully close up Tyrese’s heroin ring, they will be welcome to stay in New York and he may be able to arrange a feeding area for them. When they ask about removing the curse of vampirism, he explains that the Ordo Dracul seek to transcend the curse and he would be happy to teach them the ways of the Dragon should they prove themselves loyal.
The coterie leaves the library and starts planning their next steps when a gunshot rings out and narrowly misses Jasper’s head. Dirk finds himself blessed with supernatural speed as he takes off in the direction of the unidentified assailant. He sees him head down to the IND line subway station. He makes it through the turnstile just in time to see the shooter jump down to the platform as a train approaches. Thinking quickly, Dante boards the last car as the train begins to depart, and just as it has almost cleared the station, pulls the emergency brake. The train screeches to a halt and the rest of the group drops to the track level to see the shooter crawling underneath the train trying to escape. Dante follows along and grabs him before he can get away.
A few quick threats from Dante and the shooter reveals his plot. Tyrese is managing a shipment at Pier 51 and wanted the newly embraced vampires taken out if they went to the Prince and ratted on him. They proceed to rat on him to the Prince who asks them to make it to the pier that night. He will have Sheriff Vallon escort them there. Norma explains that she has a son to tuck in and Prince Wycoff grants her leave, but warns her that she will have to leave behind the mortal world before long . . .
11 p.m., Wednesday, August 15, 1945. Pier 52 and Norma’s sister Maude’s house.
While Norma travels home to Queens to check on her son, Johnny, the rest of the group drives to Pier 52 to tackle Tyrese and his gang. While Dante and Olga stay in the car as driver and shotgun, respectively, Simon and Jasper approach the front of the warehouse and Dirk takes a position on a building overlooking the opposite side.
At home, Norma finds Johnny pulling up the linoleum tiles in the kitchen with a hammer. He confronts her for being away so much and she promises that she’ll be home every day going forward. She’ll have to work at night, and will need to sleep most of the day to keep her schedule going smoothly.
As Simon and Jasper near the front of the warehouse, they notice that the guards posted there wear blindfolds, though they seem to be alert. Jasper scent grows strong and permeates the air ahead of him, and the guards seem uneasy. One of them nervously advances and gets a load of buckshot in his chest from Simon, he staggers back and then begins chasing after Simon and Jasper, wielding a knife. Hearing the roar of gunfire, Dante starts up the car and comes tearing onto the scene, hoping to take out one of the guards. Olga tries to fire from the passenger seat, but Dante’s erratic driving makes it too difficult.
On the other side of the building, one of the guards at the truck load-out zone heads into the building to investigate and Dirk takes a second one down swiftly with his scoped rifle.
Norma interrogates Johnny about how he spends his summer days and he says that he spends it with his friends at the ice cream parlor. Norma knows he is lying, but chooses to remain in denial. Johnny running numbers for the mob keeps the rest of them off of her back.
Dante narrowly misses the guard he drives after, and screeches the car to a halt to try and make a second round of it going in reverse. As the car stops, Olga gets out, knowing that she’ll have a better chance of hitting her target if she’s not in a moving vehicle. One of the guards stabs Simon, and gets taken out with a shot from Jasper’s shotgun.
The guards on the other side of the warehouse begin chasing toward Dirk’s position, though none of them are armed with guns. Dirk takes them out one by one and only two remain by the time they reach his building.
Norma’s sister Maude shows up in her nightgown and demands an explanation for Norma’s absence the past couple of days. She explains that Johnny has been a little devil and needs a more active presence from his parents. Maybe if her husband hadn’t deserted them Johnny would have a better role-model. His mother is clearly not providing the guidance he needs.
Back at the pier, Simon chases the escaping guard into the warehouse and takes him out with a second blast from his shotgun. As Simon reloads, Jasper and Olga enter the building stealthily. Olga tries to find a manager’s liquor cabinet and some high-proof alcohol they can destroy the illicit goods with. Jasper heads through the door into the foreman’s office and finds himself face to face with Tyrese.
Tyrese offers a partnership in exchange for his freedom. Jasper will be included in the supply chain of heroin, he can be introduced to other Carthians, and they can work together to help usher in a new age in New York. Jasper explains that he’s not really the decision maker of the group and Tyrese asks to be taken to whoever can make a decision on everyone’s behalf.
Norma sends Johnny to bed and gets in a heated argument with Maude. She demands to be allowed to raise her son as she sees fit and confirms that she’ll be a more active presence in his life now that she plans to be in the house all day every day. Maude, exhausted, returns to bed, and Norma slinks down to the floor, despairing how she’s going to balance her new existence with her family obligations. Dejected, she tugs on the loosened lino, the floor coming apart like her life.
Jasper retreats back to Simon for guidance. Simon quickly explains that their job right now is to kill Tyrese and earn the respect of the prince, and Simon, Jasper, and Olga all open fire on Tyrese who go down in a single hell-fire of shot. Jasper, desperate for a meal, feeds on Tyrese and drains his essence.
Olga succeeds in finding some high-proof liquor and the group finds Tyrese’s shipments. They burn the goods, but not before Jasper can grab three kilos of horse for his personal stash. Simon and Dante work together to crack a safe and find 10 grand inside, which they divide up among those present.
While heading back to their car, they are met by Sheriff Vallon who demands a full report. Jasper tells him everything, including about the money they’ve smuggled out. Vallon requests the contraband be turned into him, and Olga and Jasper turn over their shares. Vallon tells Simon and Dante that they can consider the money their payment for the operation, but won’t be able to count on anything else from Prince Wycoff.