Thursday, April 25, 2013


The old man sat there and stared into the mirror watching the changes take place. Was he a vampire? Hardly... just a blood thief. But a very good one. And he smiled at the partial restoration of his jawline plus the new found suppleness of his skin. Yet this was just the beginning. The soft, baggy paunch was still there. And his liver spotted pate continued to resemble nothing so much as a large, speckled dinosaur egg in a sparse, wispy nest. But subsequent measures will take care of that.

He clapped his big, loose, flipper-like hands so the two Jamaicans would know he was ready to be tucked in. The women put down their Gator Aide, climbed off the sofa and hoisted him up from his chair and over onto the bed. Then they carefully powdered him like a baby (mustn't get too much on the sheets), while they rapidly spoke to each other in an island patois he did not understand. But Maxwell didn't care. In fact he hardly noticed. The powdering was the thing. Then they gave him a little tickle (He liked that part) snapped open a fresh, clean sheet and watched it float down to his body, before layering on two soft, cashmere blankets and tucking him in like a little papoose. In two to four hours they'd do it all again, since he always peed the bed. Lucky the linen closet was immense. New mattresses were delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays. The staff, after hopefully adequate sanitizing, took the old ones home. It's good to be rich. 

Jonathon, on the other hand, trembled in the corner of his cold, leaden cell. The long, skewer-like needles pulled back into the rough, metal surface. Blood-letting was over... for now. In a night or two he'd get it back. Then they'd steal it again and repeat the whole thing. Vampire crafting takes time.  How fortunate he couldn't see his cadaverous body. If you've ever seen statues of The Emaciated Buddha, you know. The dazed vampirino simply hugged his knees, rocked from side to side and groaned, sealed in a darkness as bleak as death.

Now out in the wide world some things had changed, while others had not. The streets were still safe. Dedicated vampire 'Jonathonites' saw to that. And most of the homeless were in hotels, bathed and dressed and fed. Vampire coffers are deep, you know. Sarah spent time at her old book shop. She avoided customers, hiding in the back and leafing through old classic novels. But when they left, she quietly came out and looked at the cozy nest that once was hers. The present owner, Phyllis, obviously knew she was a vampire. Night-folk were everywhere now. But they never spoke about that, preferring to spend the nighttime sipping coffee. Sarah sat snug in an old wing chair bought at a tag sale in her mortal days. Phyllis nested behind a big antique desk that served as a counter. Sarah thought about Jonathon and how they met, one late autumn night in the shop. She still felt him. So did Edith. But they hadn't found it yet. At times she cried. Phyllis didn't know what to do for vampire tears. Basically, she just held out a box of tissues and buried her face in a book.... Two friends in a warm, cozy shop, lit by small, silk shaded, pin-up lamps spread here and there among the tiny maze. 

But there was another world far below the streets. And the mole-folk know everything. They sneak through deepest tunnels and scurry through long forgotten cellars, collecting dust and secrets on their way. Sometimes they hear things. Water pipes conduct sound very well. And the current Silvia and Aura (Philadelphia mole-folk always have a Sylvia and Aura) picked up a bit of something in the dark and moldy ruins of a nineteenth century wig shop. Women's voices. Two of them. Down in a basement locker room. Changing clothes.... preparing to go off shift. Strange talk... Strange words, muffled by some dirt and floorboards up above their heads. If  people ever knew what lay beneath their sculleries, they'd never go to sleep. 

But Aura did know. She knew the cadence and followed the sounds. Creole talk it was... Jamaica talk, tinged with a bit of Guadaloupe. Third Step Mother sang those songs. Third Step Mother told those tales. And Aura has a spongy mind. She remembers everything.

So she hurried back to the mole-king and told him of a blood drenched old goat, secure in a warm, soft bed.

And the mole-king understood...
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