While there might not be a whole lot to do in a small town, usually even the tiniest burg has a watering hole, somewhere locals go for a drink. But what happens when the hangout is a gathering place for all sorts of supernaturals? Let's just say that "norms" aren't welcome — including you! But just because you aren't allowed through the door doesn't mean you can't get a gander at ghouls and ghosts. Today author Lexi George takes us Demon Hunting in a Dive Bar.
I grew up in a small LA (Lower Alabama) town on the Florida border, 35 minutes from Pensacola and an hour from Mobile. Right as you crossed the line from Alabama into Florida, were several dive bars. One of them even had a drive-thru window. For two dollars, you could hand the guy at the window an empty gallon plastic pickle jar or mayonnaise container (clean, preferably), and drive off with a gallon of draft beer. And they weren’t too particular about checking IDs, either. Does this give you any insight into my misspent youth?
My father was the local judge, and not much of a drinker. But, every now and then, he’d get a hankering for a bourbon and water, usually after a long, hot bout with the weeds and the yellow jackets in our yard. We didn’t have a liquor store in our town. Even if there’d been one, Daddy wouldn’t have gone there. Daddy was very circumspect, and didn’t want every Tom, Dick, and Harry knowing his business. Small towns breed large gossip.
But, once in a blue moon Daddy would get a notion to toodle into Florida incognito, wearing the pale green, one-piece button-up jumpsuit he donned to work in the yard, a ball cap pulled down low over his brow. To further his camouflage he drove my grandmother’s car, a tan, 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. He’d purchase a bottle of Jack Black and glide home the back way, secure in the knowledge that his reputation and privacy were intact thanks to his ninja disguise.
He didn’t take me into account. As a teenager, one of my favorite haunts was a burger joint not half a mile from the Alabama/Florida border with a clear view of the state line. That Belvedere was hard to miss, and so was my Daddy’s unmistakable gray head, with or without the ball cap. Ha!
When I came up with the storyline for my demon hunting series about supernatural goings-on in a small Southern town, a dive bar seemed a natural addition. But this joint doesn’t cater to humans. Beck’s is a bar for supernaturals located on the Devil River on the outskirts of Hannah, a lazy little backwater burg where nothing ever happens ... according to the norms. You know norms: they see what they want to see.
What, you’ve never been to a demonoid bar and you’re curious? Let’s take a stroll through Beck’s and meet the owner and a few of her customers.
The Bar Owner: Rebekah “Beck” Damian, a take-charge, tough-as-nails chick whose prickly exterior hides a tender heart. Beck grew up in the bar, and it’s all she’s ever known. Supernaturals are welcome at Beck’s, but no norms allowed.
Beck can mix a mean drink or wrassle an out-of-control shifter with one arm tied behind her back. But she can’t manage to get Conall Dalvahni, the grimly perfect leader of the demon hunters, out of her bar or out of her mind. Conall really pushes her buttons. Shrouded in shadow and menace, he comes into the bar night after night and sits at a corner table, watching her with eyes black as sin.
Beck has asked him to leave on more than one occasion, but demon hunters go where they want and do as they please. And that goes double for Conall.
Beck tries to pretend indifference, but she’s anything but. Hard for a girl not to be nervous when she’s got the baddest demon hunter of them all in her place ... and she happens to be half demon.
One other interesting tidbit about Beck: if a demon walks into her bar wearing a human suit, Beck extracts it and puts it inside the cinderblock bar for safekeeping. Beck’s half demon, but she hates the nasty little parasites. A demon killed her mother and her best friend.
The Demon Hunter: Conall, the captain of the Dalvahni, an immoral race of demon hunters charged with the sacred duty of hunting and returning rogue demons to The Pit. No good demon but a dead demon; that’s Conall’s motto. His business at Beck’s has nothing to do with the beauteous owner and everything to do with a troubling rumor the demons have discovered a weapon to defeat the Dalvahni.
Conall is determined to stop the demons before it is too late; that is the sole reason he lingers at Beck’s. Certainly, his attraction to the place has nothing to do with Rebekah, the sultry, long legged half demon spawn of his sworn enemy, and everything to do with duty. He will stay in this backwater tavern until he unravels the enemy’s plot, despite Rebekah’s obvious displeasure at his presence.
And so he sits, night after night, watching Rebekah bestow her winsome smiles on anyone and everyone but him. Her calculated disdain of him is annoying, but not nearly as infuriating as her reckless disregard for her own safety.
The Bouncer: Tobias Littleton, gruff, gray-haired shifter and part owner of the bar. Beck loves Toby like a father. Heck, he is her father. Beck’s own dad rejected her because of her “birth defect,” i.e., her demon blood, and Toby took her under his wing. Toby has a nose like a blood hound. He can smell a norm a mile away, an ability that comes in handy when you run a demonoid bar. Can’t have norms running around the place; they’ll see things they shouldn’t see, things that are hard to explain. Besides, the customers might eat them. Toby’s go-to form is a big, shaggy dog that resembles an Irish wolf hound. For obvious reasons, Toby isn’t fond of cats.
The Reluctant Zombie: Tommy Henderson hates his afterlife. He never wanted to be a zombie, but here he is; dead and knowing it, and trying his damndest not to eat anybody. Being a zombie sucks under the best of circumstances, but Tommy’s a vegetarian. He needs to find the Maker and get released before he falls to pieces or eats somebody’s brains. In the meantime, pass the dryer sheets and the Renuzits. Tommy’s a fastidious guy with an absolute horror of smelling bad.
The Piano Man: Junior Peterson, former heir to the considerable Peterson fortune, concert pianist before his untimely death, and all-round snappy dresser. Junior’s been haunting the Episcopal Church since his home was destroyed in a fire. He’s looking for new digs, and Beck’s seems to fit the bill. What better place for a ghostly piano player than a bar for supers? Now, if he can only convince Beck to let him place something with a little class. Merciful heavens, Beelzebubba’s caterwauling is enough to raise the dead. It certainly puts Junior in an ectoplasmic snit. Never heard of Beelzebubba? That’s the shifter band featured at the bar. Junior thinks he can do better. In fact, he knows he can. His music doesn’t sound like two cats fighting in a croaker sack.
The Feline Harbinger Of Doom: Wampus Kitty, a banshee disguised as a black kitten. When the Wampus Kitty screams, someone is going to die and be buried in three days. The Wampus Kitty has a way of clearing out a bar, which, in the event of a shifter fight, can be a good thing.
The White Trash: Earl Skinner, shifter, lowlife, lazy good-for-nothing and all-round creeper. Earl and his daddy, Charlie, have their eyes on Beck and her bar. They’re in bed with the demons. Now that they’ve had a little taste of power, nothing can stop them from getting what they want, not even the mighty captain of the demon hunters.
This concludes your tour of Beck’s. A word of caution: if you do find yourself there, don’t break the bar. You’ll let the demons out, and there’ll be hell to pay.
- Lexi George