Friday, November 13, 2015

BECOMING A VAMPIRE COMPLICATES FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS... 11/12/15

We couldn't drive up in our special taxi cab.  No one rode cabs around my way. Cabs were strictly for emergencies, like if somebody was dying in the hospital and there wasn't any other way.  And they only used the bus to get to the elevated train stop, which rattled them along to the subway, Center City and work. Everybody in my old neighborhood drove cars and parking spots were at a premium. The houses were mostly either 'rows' or 'twins.' Some blocks had old singles from before World War 2, but only some. And all the houses, whatever their type had neat, little 'lawns' punctuated by rose bushes, azaleas and red leafed Chinese Maple trees. Red brick too... Almost all red brick. Some stone trim down toward the basement windows... slate roofs and that was it. Actually, very cozy in its heyday, what with oak lined streets, snug little patios and a few walkable commercial streets people would kill for today. This all started in the late forties. My parents came up just before my birth in fifty five... maybe fifty three... fifty three and a half... something like that. People called it 'the semi suburbs.'... A quiet refuge from the teeming city, though still within municipal limits.

I liked it. I used to like it. There was a neighborhood movie house maybe four blocks away with great Saturday matinees, like The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad, or The Nutty Professor (the Jerry Lewis version). Bright 'luncheonettes' that also served dinner plus waffles and ice cream after. Conventional families... Decent cars... Big P.T.A.'s.

And now I'm a vampire. Remember, this was nineteen seventy one. Nixon was in The White House. They were still sending space ships to the moon. And dads put on little, vaguely 'alpine' looking hats with small feathers on the side when they went to work. All the kids my age were taking their S.A.T.'s and beginning to write away to colleges. Almost everybody went to college. It was just what was done. And I knew how to tap into a vein and drink blood, plus all that stuff I read in those old books at the library. Quite the iconoclast.... and a nervous iconoclast too.  My parents were sick, or at least one of them was. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew something was going on.

Please don't think I just showed up. I wanted to, but too much has happened and there was no way it could play out that way. First I wrote a letter. Then I mailed a photograph of myself taken in a pinball arcade. You know those old booths that took a strip of four black and white pictures? Had to be black and white. I was afraid color shots might highlight to much of the vampire traits and I didn't want to shock them. Look, the average person might not notice that much of a difference. But I could see it and it bothered me...

Finally I called them on the phone. My mother picked up. She was real scared. She said - Who are you?! Who is this!? ... She was crying. My father grabbed the phone. He said - Who the hell are you, you God damned son of a bitch. I'll kill you, you God damned bastard!!

I could tell that they knew my voice. But they wouldn't let themselves believe.... I was crying too. I told them about my fifth birthday party. I described the clown and all the Flintstones decorations and the shiny, green pedal car I got and the whiny kid from across the street who sprained his ankle. I talked about all the old family pictures my mom had in three big albums..... (sigh) They knew it was me. But they were afraid. What if it wasn't?... Well, maybe they were right?

My dad said - Come to the house. Just come to the house...... My mom yelled - Where is he?! What happened?! Come now. Tell him to come now!! Get a cab!  Just get a cab! We'll pay for it!

I said I couldn't. I just refused. I had to. And they got very quiet. They didn't know what was wrong. But they knew something was wrong. From an abducted kid I became a runaway. I could tell how their minds worked. I hated for them to think that, but what could I do?

I told them I knew about the doctor. I told them I saw. My mom said - And you didn't come over?.... I didn't answer. She cried. My dad took the phone. He said - What's this all about? What are you talking about?... I said - When do you go back to that doctor?... He said - Wednesday, for some tests..... I said - Stay over in a hotel. I'll arrange it.... He went - 'Arrange it?' How will you arrange it? You're sixteen years old.... I didn't say anything. He went - Danny, are you OK?... I said - What time's your appointment?... He said - Four thirty..... I told him I'd meet them outside about five thirty. If they got done earlier, they could sit in the waiting room. He agreed. I said that I loved them. He mumbled something similar. We hung up and that was it.

Wednesday would come soon enough...

<more next time>

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