Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A VAMPIRE RECOGNISES OLD WORDS ..Earliest surviving film and sound recording 1888 ..2/25/16

I once saw Marcus Garvey lead a parade of The Negro Improvement Association down South Street, which was then on the southern edge of Center City, thus the name. It was a nighttime, torch-lit procession with brass bands and drum corps. As far as I can remember, this was either in the late nineteenth, or early twentieth century.

Most of the white people along the route viewed it as a purely theatrical affair meant to highlight the brass bands and percussionists. Black people saw it as something else. And I knew how they felt, for I, a noble vampire, had to stay in the shadows too. It was only Baylah and I back then. We were the only true, nobles, in town. There were a few who came and went. We didn't bother with them. I had a little trinity house in a district of Center City now called 'Old City.' If you've ever been to The Betsy Ross House you know what it was like. Google that place, if you haven't.

I hid in a crypt in the basement, like a little root cellar. Union veterans looking for work dug it. Old lady who kept house for me told them is WAS gonna be a root cellar. That didn't just mean like a big potato bin back then. People put 'canned' food in them too. You know 'canned' often meant tightly sealed jars.  So they made it about eight feet deep by eight feet long and eight feet wide. The floor was covered in smooth slate tiles, as were the walls. I crept down through a stout trap door and locked it from the inside, good and tight. Did I make my bed on the cold, hard floor? No, I slept in a nest of quilts and feather beds and rather liked that place.

We had a neighbor, a woman from the land of the Turks, a woman of the Ottoman Empire. I suppose she was of their creed, although she was discrete in matters of faith and we never spoke of it. But I'm sure she practiced for I'd see her lights on during the dark hours before the dawn during Holy Month, when Muslims make the daylight fast.  As you know, my mortal years, all eighteen of them, were spent in Al Andalus during the days of The Caliphate of Cordoba, so I am quite aware of such things.

One morning, as I returned to my bower, she was out in the small side garden next to her house snipping off shoots from a tea plant. I nodded. She nodded back. But as I passed, she whispered something in an obscure dialect spoken on the western shores of the Caspian Sea. From my Byzantine days I recognized it as the word for what I am. I smiled and chuckled. She said - Please don't be alarmed. My father was a mystic. We traveled to many places. He met all types of holy men and scholars. I'd look down through the grill from the ladies' quarters, quiet as a dove and listen. My father didn't know I was there, or perhaps he pretended not to know. But there were three vampires in that place, whether local or transient, I never knew, neither did the men, though they spoke of them often. I think they were like you,, a reverent sort, not given to excess... well, you know what I mean.....

You're very wise - I said... She sighed and added - I have to be.... Then she said - My woman, my housekeeper is ill. Can you help her? I know what your 'people' can accomplish..... I nodded.....

We'd meet before dawn, always in the narrow, little side garden. It was dark back there. As a believing female, she'd never have me in the house. I'd pass her tiny vials of my blood. After a bit, her woman was well and I'd begun to remember quite a lot of that obscure Caspian language....

The children in that high school class near Boston spoke that way, but they had no understanding of the words.

Odd how things work.

Maybe I was meant to hear them?

<more next time>


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