They took Annie to the Talk-to-God-Man, far toward the back of his cave, just above the narrow mine shaft. Jonathon went with her. Sarah stood right behind. Now, I don't know if the deep woods holy man is a Piney, or a Red Paint, or what. Could be he's mixed. Some claim Red Paint don't breed with other folks. Not 'cause they don't try, but because they can't. A biologist studying the Jersey Pine Barrens during the Great Depression called them the root stock of a new species. He took measurements. He made observations and codified behavior patterns and psychological reactions. Who knows? All I can tell you is they still like Blue Bonnet margarine and Hellman's mayonnaise. Make a real good sweet potato pie too. But this thing ain't about them. It's about Annie.
Talk-To-God-Man sets in an old, nylon webbed folding chair, like a soccer mom would a used circa nineteen sixty seven. Maybe a little league mom, considering the era. I don't know where they get 'em. but Piney folk sure got a lot a Sterno lamps, 'cause that's what they use to light this place. Come to think of it, the Mole-Folk livin' in them deep, never used extra Philadelphia subway tunnels use 'em too. Maybe they's all related? Lot a funny stuff in THE VAMPIRE WONDERLAND. I tell you that. I remember the first line. I remember what they had me type, all those seven hundred and sixty five thousand words ago... 'First of all, we must agree that what comes next is fiction.'..... Yeah, right. Still I ain't gonna tell you what to think. Not my place to do that. But, you know, gorillas were considered like African yetis up to less than two hundred years ago. Nobody seen 'em. Not up close. Live deep in the woods. Pack trains of traders gone from one African kingdom to another never saw 'em. Heard tales from the pygmies. Just like we hear tales from the Sherpa and all. Look, you make up your own mind. Now let me get back to Annie...
Old guy has wispy white hair. Got a clean, but tattle-tale gray ' I Won The Big One At Caesar's In Atlantic City' t-shirt. Got an old stack a People Magazine in there too. I don't know what he does with them. He says - Come here, child...... Annie looks at Jonathon. He mouths - It's all right.... and ushers her forward. Sarah nods in encouragement. The skinny, little girl with the stringy hair takes a few steps. She stops, hiccups and smiles. Yeah, vampires can hiccup. It's just a spasm of the diaphragm. And they got the same body parts as you and me. So shut up. Poor, little thing is nervous. That's all.
Holy man takes her by the arms. She comes closer. He smiles and says - What is it you want, child? Do you know what you want? You have to say it, if you do..... She sniffs and nods.... He goes - Well?... She goes - I don't wanna be no life-eater no more. I don't wanna be no vampire..... The Talk-To-God man says - Why?.... She shrugs. He chuckles and asks - What would you do, if you could take it off like a coat and throw it away?.... The little think whispers - A lot a stuff.... He goes - Like what?.... She stands there... Sarah goes - Tell him, baby..... Annie says - I want to go to school... and eat hot dogs... I wanna see zoo animals in the daytime. I wanna see what all they doin' when I'm sleepin.' ..... Do you like the blood? - he said...... I don't know - she whispered. Maybe I just got used to it? That's all. When I was little, before all this shit, excuse me, I used to take bites out a sticks a butter. But I stopped doin' that.... Do you remember your first mother? - he said.... I think so - she whispered. Then she trembled and cried.. Sarah cried too... Is there anything else you want to say? - he asked.... She nodded - I wanna tell jokes. I wanna be on TV. I wanna be on S.N.L.... Saturday Night Live, I think it is. Me and Edith watch it at home, back in Philly, when the other ones is still out. She says I'm Gilly..... The holy man goes - Are you?.... She smiles and shrugs..... Jonathon chuckles..... The holy man goes - Who's Gilly?
But he decides to take the next step. Prayers will be said. Petition will be made. This is the time of Jubilee and sometimes miracles happen. He'll wait with her in The Meadow. Some of the Pineys and Red Paints will wait with them. They're mortals. They can. Night will end. The sun will rise... And they will know.
Could be like, fifteen years from now, the eternal Lorne what's-his-name (what kind a magic he got?) will hear a new girl and maybe Annie will get her wish? That ain't gonna happen tonight. But we gettin' there. We tryin.'
Sometime, when I'm old and gray. And the world turns cold. I will get a thrill just thinking of you. And the way you look tonight...... That's just an old song. But if you had your druthers, which would you be?
The Sterno pops and sputters. Orange shadows leap and dance.
Remember, we only pretend this is fiction.
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