Do you mind if I smoke? There are precious few vices I can still indulge in and smoking happens to be one... Thank you, Doctor. What do you suppose Freud would say about this?
No, you don't think much of Freud anymore. Yet I remember when your type kept busts of him in these offices. Why you prostrated yourselves daily! Oh, I don't judge — not too harshly. Time lends a certain perspective to the immutable truths people embrace. Turns out they're quite mutable. Why, I remember when madness was nothing but an inconsistency of humors and these colonies would never challenge the dominance of continental kings and every red-blooded boy knew the best place for a quick rut was up the road at the local convent!
Forgive me, Doctor, I'm prone to rambling on and our time is limited...
As I said, I'm weary of my existence. No crisis of conscience, I assure you. I'm no serial killer — fortunately my appetite is not so great. Successful parasites after all do not kill their hosts. A few pints here and there are more than enough, and they keep the population down — my population. You see, my bite works a curious alchemy on my intended victim. Left alive and mostly healthy, they'll be quite averse to sunlight for several days — and a rare few even become quite fond of me. But should they die, should the veins run dry, then I'll shortly have another mouth to feed.
No, I do not kill regularly. Not only do I have no need, I have no wish to share. It's birth control, to put things bluntly. One too many vampires running around and the human herd starts to feel the strain... And some might begin to guess at the cause... And I can tell you from experience, such clever pajeros can be aggravating to say the least...
My need to prey on my former species does not concern me, dear Doctor. Nor the state of my eternal soul — which was quite blackened to begin with. I just can't feel... motivated anymore. I don't see the point in getting out of bed in the evening — Yes, bed. I don't sleep in a coffin like some histrionic agoraphobe! Perhaps we should cover this in detail?
As I said, I am quite strong, and I heal quite fast, and I am eternal as the mountains — barring any sharp pieces of wood. This all comes from one simple source — Blood. That all-giving, all-consuming font of life you've got thundering away inside you. Yes, I can hear it. And smell it and even see it. It's running all over you like Christmas lights! Blood is my drug of choice and really my only drug — aside from these cigarettes. Food and drink taste like so much ash and, as I lack blood in my own veins, no wonders of pharmacology work on me unless filtered through someone still breathing.
I also have the talent for striking people dumb with just my eyes — why I appear so evasive much of the time. Should I look you in the face too long, you'll forget everything I say. And should I leave someone alive, they’ll be only to eager to assist me, do my will, polish my boots — I suspect the same curious alchemy that alters the dead victims. They’ll even forget all about me in such a state if I but ask!
You might say I'm the perfection of stealth, that curious effect with the mirror extends to photos, videos, telephones. Nothing inanimate can see me — handy for sneaking about but I haven't seen my own face for a very long time.
However, I am not by any means allergic to crosses, or garlic, and my fingers are not — well, actually it seems my fingers are all the same length. Imagine that? I assume you've heard many more myths about those in my condition then I have time to dispel...
And I'm rare. In all my time and all my travels I've encountered only a handful of others like me. In fact I'd dare say there is only one of me for every million of you... Yes, it does sound lonely, doesn't it? That's partly why I'm here.
How old are you, Doctor? How do you occupy yourself away from this vocation of yours here? What do you do on the days when you have nothing worth doing? My point is simply you have yet to live a full lifetime and yet find yourself in want of things with which to occupy your brief existence.
I have lived several lifetimes. What more can I do with myself? I won't expire from old age — I won't age period and haven't for a long time. So what am I to do with myself? How many more nights can I wake up, go about my business, and retreat from the sun?
What's stopped me before from prematurely ending my existence is the logistics and... well it's hard to explain. Falling on a stake — while briefly unpleasant — shouldn't prove too difficult. I could do that whenever I like but... What am I leaving behind?
I know it seems a strange question. I have no living family — least that I know of — and I don't particularly want any. But to have my story end with me... I suppose that's why I'm being so forward with you tonight, Doctor. Maybe for the sake of my own ego, to know that someone should remember these experiences for me, these memories. I really think the world would be a sadder place without them.
I told you of my memories. No, I hinted at them — that vast ocean. I am so full of memories I have few faculties to commit to my nightly existence. Just the other week — maybe month — on the metro in this very city I sat across from an old woman who I swear I had sat across from on the train from St. Petersburg not a hundred years ago. The same woman, in every detail. The same lumpy coat, the same scuffed shoes, the same ugly hat. I nearly struck up a conversation in Russian, and this woman probably never left California in all her life! She'd think I was some communist agent risen from the past to corrupt her children and steal her pie or whatever you all fought about for so long. She would've had the police on me for sure!
I'm not mad — I think. I can still see where my mind ends and the world begins... On a good night. But everything is just too familiar — like this office. Do you know how many offices like this I've stood in, with doctors such as yourself? Neither do I. It all runs together. Maybe I am mad. That can't be good for anyone...
The little joys in life are too familiar. I've been going to the same club for a year now, a small place just east of here. Quiet, dim, and the only place in this whole damned city where a man can smoke in peace. That's not my only reason, no, I admit I've become a regular because of the entertainment — an entertainer to be more specific. She sings every Tuesday, old songs you'd think she was too young to know. I fight the urge every time not to sit closer — drawing attention to myself is not the wisest course, ever.
But how she draws me... I could almost say "I've never felt this before," if it weren't such a grotesque lie. I felt the same in a Caribbean tavern long ago, watching a mestizo girl sing older songs. Smoking was no sin there — neither was drinking, gambling, whoring — I'd spent an hour at cards there already with a stinking drunk Scotsman. And I do mean stinking — just thinking of how humans used to smell is enough to curl my hair even now. Not that I was seriously bothered then — amazing what can pass for normal at the right time and right place. But now with a little perspective, I'd rather retreat to the north pole and starve myself into an old man.
And then she came on, this waif with brown skin and tangled hair and a voice to make angels weep. Oh, you would never recognize her songs — Hell, I've not heard them since and damned if I've forgotten the rhythms. She sang some in French, some in English, some in Spanish with a horrible accent that I couldn't care less about. I'd swear that girl grew into the young lady I saw here, in this city just the other night, right down to that skin. Something about mestizos... I can feel the warmth of the sun in them. A warmth which otherwise now exists only in memory for me, but through them... I almost feel alive again. I feel my dead heart thud and my useless lungs fill with their sweet scent. A dangerous trap to fall into though. I know that girl did not grow up because she will never grow up. I followed her back to her own hovel that very night and...
Excuse me, Doctor, but some things I would very much like to forget — at least at present. The young lady in this city, however, is not one of them. I'd long since learned my lesson and contented myself with just watching and listening, enjoying what she could bring to one night which otherwise progressed like any other. "Yes I've learned my lesson," I repeated to myself every time, slinking away at the end of the night. Age brings wisdom and all... Unless you start to believe such nonsense yourself, "I won't make the same mistakes this time," you say to yourself which naturally and stupidly leads to "This time will be different..."
Which led to me hiding in the shadows as the club closed, waiting for this latest little singer. This time would surely be different because I knew what not to do — therefore I naturally knew what to do. As she left, I stepped forward to introduce myself.
"Excuse me," I said, "I saw your act in there and just wanted to say how excellent it was. You have a lovely voice."
She turned, startled and rigid. Had I come out of the shadows too fast? "Um, thank you," she said.
"Can I give you a ride home? My car is just around the corner." A lie of course. I've never owned a car nor properly learned how to drive one.
"N-no thank you, I was going to take a cab." She seemed to inch away from me. Damn but I'm not that monstrous am I? At least not outwardly so?
"Oh... Then may I buy you a cup of coffee?" Why did she have to be so difficult? If she would only give me a few minutes, let me present my case, what I had to offer — what no one else could ever hope to offer —
When some heavy voice from behind me said, "We're closed buddy. Time to move on."
One of the bouncers, and a thick one. His shaved head seemed to emphasize his mass. "I know, I'm just talking to the lady here," I gestured to her, expecting a curt nod or some signal to say, "It's alright, go back to whatever you big idiots do."
She gave some signal, something that made his eyes darken and a wide hand clamp down on my shoulder. "C'mon buddy, go sleep it off —"
Now I'll be the first to admit I have a temper — and I'll be the first to admit I hate to be manhandled — but I was not particularly harsh with him. I calmly reached up, took his wrist in my hand and squeezed. He dropped to his knees and started to mewl like a baby at the first crack. "Please, I'd like to finish my conversation with the lady." Releasing him, I turned back and felt something wet immediately douse my face. In the instant it took to realize what she'd done, the mace burned all the way to the back of my eyes.
"Gah! Te puta!" The nerve! Who did she think she was?! To just mace me like some common rapist! Why I was so beside myself with rage I couldn't give a final kick to that idiot of a bouncer, still whimpering over his dainty wrist.
The pain vanished as quickly as it came, my vision cleared, and she was running like mad down the street. I considered running her down out of spite, cut off that sweet rhythm of her heart I could feel all through the pavement. At the very least it would justify her behavior. It certainly wouldn't be the first time —
I didn't, that's the key Doctor. Honor demanded of me and I told it to get stuffed. Why brutalize this simple girl like so many others before, for all the same reasons? Why had I even spoken to her to begin with? Falling back into the sea of my memories, what really made her any different — not what drew me to her but what lead me to expect this all wouldn't end the same as before?
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