Monday, November 9, 2015

A VAMPIRE'S SCHOLARLY RESEARCH INTO HIS OWN NATURE ... 11/9/15

I told Heidi. I wish I could have told another vampire, but I didn't know any other vampires. So I told my friend. I told my partner. I said - I saw my parents. They were 'in town' and I saw them..... Heidi went - Oh God. Did they see you? Do you want them to see you?.....

At first I just shrugged, but that was just a reflex. I knew. I wanted to see them, though I wasn't sure I wanted them to see me. Vampires can be quite insecure... What do I mean 'can be?' We ARE insecure. Afraid of being judged. Afraid of being discovered. Afraid of what happens when we really die.. Look, insecure isn't even the right word. New vampires, vampires like me are afraid of everything.

I'd go to the library, the big one, and wander around all night. You gotta remember. This was before computers and the internet and all. What did we have? Calculators were high tech. Pong was a big thing. Books... it was all in books. And the Dewey Decimal System I remembered.

There was an alley in the back. Sometimes homeless guys would sleep there.  They liked little streets around museums and libraries, because they emptied out at night. I don't know why they always made opera houses the place to haunt.... To active at night. Hundreds of people swarming all over the place... Lights... Carriages parked all around waiting for fares after the show. Not where I'd go... Not where I went...Nobody gave out blankets in those days. People had to scrounge around. Outside a fast food joint was best. Fast food people aren't rich. They share. That's how they are, but they're not rich.... a quarter or two... a few nickels. Sometimes they walk out with an extra sack of food AND money. When the manager, or the help gets after them, they run away. away. Fast food joints were everywhere. That wasn't a problem. See, they told me things. I knew how the watchman used to open a metal door around twelve forty five AM. That was their lunch hour. Gave each 'bum' a dollar or two. There were eight watchmen. The place is huge. Five stories above ground and three below. A neoclassical municipal palace. Cold, marble floors. Big, institutional light fixtures. Cathedral-like expanses three stories high with tiers and catwalks to the upper levels. Brown oak tables worthy of Camelot. Books must be worshipped, don't you know. That's how it was.

Well, after the watchmen dispensed their largesse, I'd slip in a folded piece of newspaper. The door would close, but not lock shut. Then I'd give them maybe fifteen minutes to go pee, or whatever they did and sneak in.

The northwest corner of the building was given to stacks, multiple, low ceilinged levels of rabbit warrens, lined with metal shelves, each and every surface crammed with books. Most were old and worn, retired volumes kept on hand for the occasional scholar. Some books were even older, but not so worn, rarely used ancient tales and treatises printed on fine, linen stock and hand bound in carefully tooled leather. A few date from just after the printing press. There were kept in locked cages made from heavy, wire mesh of a type used to corral small, weedy backyards in rougher, city neighborhoods.

They had little known tomes on spirits and magic. They had books written by ancient 'magicians' and alchemists. And all of them, throughout the stacks, both the venerable and not so venerable, bathed in a weak, amber gloom.

That's where I went. What else would you expect a curious, newborn vampire to do? Although I knew little of my own special, night-folk abilities, I was aware of certain, heightened 'normal' functions. My fingers were particularly sensitive. My hearing quite acute. And with a more or less heavyweight paper clip I was able to pick the locks and enter the enchanted sanctums where 'secret' knowledge was kept.

Did the watchmen ever see me? Well, their retinas may have recorded my presence, but their minds knew me not. 'Clouding' men's eyes is instinctive with us. It's not like an ability I had to discover. I wasn't even aware I was doing it. At least it was instinctive with me.

I spent whole evenings hidden in some deep corner, disturbed by none, save the ghosts (oh, the Main Library has enough of those), breathing in the truth about myself. I 'stole' one book. I still have it, always meaning to take it back, but I haven't done so yet. It tells of a life-eater (vampire) who watched over his mortal family and kept them safe and warm. It gave me hope. If my parents (or one of them) faced sickness, I'd help them.....

And the next night, I set out to do just that.

Please excuse the globular nature of my tale. Linear grids are so mundane...

And I am a vampire after all.....

<more next time>

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