Friday, November 6, 2015

The Who - Happy Jack..SLUNDTRACK FOR A CAREFREE VAMPIRE... 11/6/15

So that's how it was. I took up with Heidi. In the beginning we slept in cheap hotels. Not too cheap. The place had to be clean. Mostly we stayed where salesmen stayed. If you tip the maids the leave you alone. Trick is to move around every three days. That way they don't catch on... to me being a vampire, I mean. But I had an idea... Why not make friends with the staff at one of these places? Give them money... jewelry... whatever I could get. We raced around the city in an old taxi cab. One of those big, old Checker Cabs. Like the Black Cabs of London, only they were yellow with narrow bands of checkerboard trim running under the windows. We had a driver... Maurice. Think he was from Jamaica. Oh, he spotted me right away. Knew I was a vampire first thing. Was he scared? No. Had all these charms. Said if I touched him my innards would be consumed by fat, white grubs. I said - How do you know?... He laughed and pulled out photographs. They were old and creased and ragged 'round the edges. One showed what looked like a partially decomposed body, naked from the waist down and scarred all over with little round black edged pits... I said - Did you do this?.. He said - No. The charms did... I said - What did he do to you? The man (I guessed) in the picture?... I do not tell you now - went Maurice. And we were off to hunt the little 'woods' behind the big art museum on The Parkway.... a clandestine 'jungle' of drugs and debauchery. Couples of all varieties vibrating in the bushes... Young kids high on whatever they could get. Imagine how it all smelled to a newborn vampire just getting used to his heightened senses. The air, space itself, was alive with 'colors.' That's how it was. I'd go for the druggies. They were easier. Who noticed another kid squeezing in with the group? And some of them got high alone. Heidi knew a few of them. But she didn't want to start anything. She didn't want to answer a lot of questions. So she stayed back in the cab. There was a little parking lot. Sometimes the cops came through... Sometimes they didn't. After a few weeks we learned who they were and paid them off too. Rich kids from the suburbs wear good watches, you know and they got wallets too. I learned how to take them to the brink of death. Some vampires can't do that. They lack control. Can't hold back. But I can. And when I couldn't, there were never any bodies... That 'cold' blue, all consuming flame, you know. Neighborhood rodents made quick work of any remaining grease. The perfect crime. Though from my vantage point, it wasn't so much a crime. It was just natural for me. That's just how vampires are. I didn't know any other organized bands... of vampires, I mean. I could smell them. I knew they were there. I knew the one you call 'Jonathon,' or 'Tomas.' I knew Baylah and Blackie and Minnie... a few others too. Did I know their names?... No. I knew their scent. I didn't follow them I never stalked them. Just knew they were there. Maurice, our driver claimed to know a few others too. But he was a liar. That photograph he had turned out to be a victim of some guy shot up in a coup... not in Jamaica... somewhere else.

We were crazy then. During the day, we holed up in hotel rooms. A few of the kids I knew had mothers and fathers who worked 'in town.' But I was never out and about when they were there. And my friends were sixteen years old too... hardly old enough to frequent Center City clubs and bars. Some might come in for a movie once in a while, usually matinees. I was safe. It was fun. We bought clothes in all the South Street boutiques. This was the height of that area... South Street.. South street, where all the hippies meet and all that.... We saw Pink Flamingos and The Rocky Horror Picture Show umpteen times. I had a Brad get-up. Heidi went as Janet. Did I like it? Sure, I liked it. It was great. Remember, I wanted to be an actor.

Soon we had a nice, little apartment three stories up in a great pre-war building on Locust Street. Tiny, little terrace and everything. I used to love sitting out there on cold winter nights. Nobody could see me all wrapped up in that dark gray blanket. I watched the street from my not too high, not too low perch. Saw all kinds of things. Mostly I liked the normal people in their expensive, soft, wool coats and discrete furs out for slow, quiet strolls at three or four o'clock in the morning.  You can tell when someone is trying to be quiet... light footfalls. The women even hold their handbags a certain way. If a stranger approached from the opposite direction they'd move up against a building and try to disappear. In the dark, that late sometimes you can. ... I'd see people silently throw things down into the sewer, or try the door on a car. did I see crimes?... Once I saw a murder, a strangulation. Fast and professional from the back. Even as a vampire I could not look away. It was like a movie. He took her life and just dropped her there, against the side of white, marble steps leading up to one of the townhouses across the street. Heidi said she was still there when the grocer made his delivery at seven thirty. The kid almost broke his leg...

We went to shows at the Forrest, the Shubert, the Walnut, the Erlanger, the Locust, the Society Hill, the Academy, the Arden... oh God, all of them. I even wrote reviews for Philadelphia Magazine and some of the, I guess today you'd call them 'hipster' Center City papers. You want to know my by-line? 'Boz.' the same as Dickens.. Oh, life was good.

Did I miss my family?

What do you think?

One day.. obviously not really day, more like late dusk. I saw my parents going into a specialist's office on Twenty Third Street. They must have come in town after work. Still dressed up. My father wore a suit. My mother wore a dress. They held hands and walked slow..

That's when it started.....

<more next time>


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