By Milton T. Burton © 2010
Liddy saw his fangs just as they retracted back up into his gums. Other than scaring the hell out of her, it was a moment of personal gratification. She'd always known that those absurdly short, blunt plastic teeth in the vampire movies couldn't possibly penetrate human skin. Liddy had been a biology major in college, and she knew how thick and tough human skin really was. But these fangs were about an inch long and narrow and needle-sharp like a rattlesnake's.
It was a short-lived victory, though. He seemed to know instantly what she'd seen, and he turned and smiled and riveted her with his eyes. "Come along and grow old with me," he said, his voice soft and silky. "The best is yet to be."
Her mouth fell open. She was talking to a vampire. Not something that happened ever day. At least not to biology majors. And certainly not in trendy bars on lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas. Except for a dark burgundy turtleneck under his suit coat, he was dressed all in black. Middle-aged and tall and slim, he had a ruddy face, and a cloud of wild silver hair that orbited around his head like a thundercloud. He noticed that her glass was empty, and motioned for the bartender to give her a refill of white wine.
"Relax," he said. "We only prey on criminals. Drug pushers and killers and the like. It's our code. Nor does everyone we feed on turn into one of us. The world would be full of us if it worked that way. No, you can only be made like me if you drink a little of my blood after I've drunk a little of yours. Then, when the next sunset comes, you will die, and a few minutes later you will rise transformed."
"Whaaa..." Liddy was speechless.
"Come," he said, holding out his hand.
She drained her glass and banged it down for another refill. "Why me?" she finally managed, her voice sounding small and tinny and little girl-like in her ears.
"I've been watching you here for months. You drop by two or three times a week after your work at the lab. And you are the most beautiful woman who ever comes in this place."
Liddy shook her head. A few people had told her she was pretty over the years, and she knew she had a cute figure, but beautiful? "No, I'm not," she whispered.
"You are to me, and no one else matters. So come with me, and we will fly the night together. The smells! The textures! The colors! You must see them to believe." He reached out and put his hand on her arm. "Be mine," he said.
Liddy dropped her glass and bolted from the room. As she went out the door she heard his laughing voice say above the din, "I'll get your check for you, Liddy, Dear.”
She never went back to that bar, and it was over a month before she stopped by for a drink anywhere after work. When she did, she picked a tavern several blocks away that was popular with the early-thirties crowd like herself. Suddenly, halfway through her second glass of wine, he was there beside her, a small snifter of brandy in his hand. Startled, she blurted out the first thing that popped into her mind. "You can drink?"
"It would be a poor life without a glass of brandy from time to time."
"Are you going to bite me?"
"Why me?" she asked.
"I've fallen in love with you.”
He nodded, his face calm and thoughtful. “You see, I'm very particular. I haven't had a companion in almost a century."
Exit time for Liddy! As she went through the door she once again heard his dark laughter ringing in her ears.
The next morning she took stock of the situation. Something had to be done. Raised Catholic, she hadn't been to church in ten years. She decided to go now. She went to confession first, and when she finished she was actually a bit ashamed of the paltry little collection of sins she'd been able to accumulate over the past decade. The priest hadn't seemed particularly impressed, either. After the midday Mass, she went behind the church to the little arcade run by the Sisters of Mercy and bought a pewter crucifix that was about three inches long. Still, when she slipped the thing in her pocket, she thought If this is living, why not try something different?
Weeks went by without her seeing him. Then one night when was beginning to think the whole thing was her imagination, he appeared once more at her elbow as she reached for her wine. “Please,” she said softly.
“You're terribly lonely, aren't you?” he asked.
For some reason she didn't understand, she told the truth with a nod and a whispered, “Yes.”
“There's no need to be. And you are drawn to the idea, aren't you?”
A little rebellion mounted within her. “And so what if I am? Haven't you ever been a attracted to something but known you didn't really want it?”
“But you do want it.”
She felt herself about to say, Yes, I do. Then she dropped her glass and fled once again.
She quit going to bars and didn't see him again for two months. Then one night after working three hours overtime, he was there beside her in the darkness as soon as she stepped from her car in front of her apartment.
"It's time, Liddy," he said.
"No! I'm not going with you!" She scrabbled around in her pocket for a moment, then held up her crucifix.
He looked at her almost sadly.
"Back!" she commanded and stepped boldly forward, holding the little cross out in front of her. "Back!"
He took a step toward her and gently took the little crucifix from her hand and examined it for a moment. Then he slipped it into his pocket and said, "Very nice workmanship. I'll keep it safe for you."
She looked into his eyes for a moment, then in a swoon that mixed terror with lust and longing, she melted into him. He swept her up off her feet and into his arms and smiled down at her.
"Why didn't it work?" she asked in a breathless voice.
"The crucifix, you mean?"
"We don't set much store by crucifixes."
"Who do you mean by 'we'? Vampires?"
He shook his head with an ironic smile and said, "No, Baptists."
Milton T. Burton was born and raised in East Texas. He has been variously, a college history teacher, a political consultant, and a cattleman. He has published two crime novels with St. Martin's Press, NY titled "The Rogues' Game" and "The Sweet and The Dead." His third book, "Nights of The Red Moon" is due to be released by St. Martin's in the fall of 2010.
February 03, 2010
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