Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 25

"Smith, where is your head?  You're supposed to be on the couch, not the
chair!" the director yelled.

"Sorry, sir," I replied and jumped over to the couch.  "And it's Smythe,
sir."

"Sir, you hear how he calls me," the man smiled as he looked at the short
black man sitting beside him and taking notes.  "That's how a man likes to
be treated.  I can't get mad at you when you call me sir, Smith."

"It's Smythe, sir," I said again.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever.  Now let's take it from Newbie's entrance."

"Neworth," the stage manager said, then added, "Sir."

"Shaddup.  And cue."

Russ Neworth entered through the door that was on the side of the make
believe room.  "Hey babe, how you feeling?" he asked as he walked over to
where I sat on the couch.  "Give me a kiss."  He leaned down and kissed me
on the lips.  "Holy shit!" he said as he stood back up.  "This guy's lips
are like ice cubes.  You expect me to kiss that."

"I expect you to shaddup and do what the script calls for," the director
growled.  "You're supposed to be lovers.  You can't just shake his hand."

"But he's supposed to be sick," the man argued back.  "Can't I wear a
surgical mask or something.  This guy gives me the creeps."  I just sat
quietly and listened to the argument.  I detested this actor, but I was
determined to do the job.

"Yeah, well you're no gift to mankind yourself," the woman playing my
sister quipped from her place on the sidelines.

"Smith, do you think you could warm up your lips a little?" the director
asked.

"No sir, I don't think so," I replied.

"Fine," the director said as if he hadn't heard the response.  "Take it
from the kiss."

"Shit," the actor said and then leaned down and kissed me on the lips.  We
continued on with the scene.  When Peter picked me up after the rehearsal
he said, "I'm taking you to your new apartment, sir.  Kelly and Tony both
said you would be okay with it, and we moved your stuff out of the hotel
this afternoon, sir.  I hope that's okay?"

"Peter, enough of the sir stuff," I said.  "Can't you treat me like any
ordinary human being?  I won't bite you."  I chuckled at my own joke.

Peter looked extremely nervous at that comment.  "Yes, sir... I mean yes."
But the unspoken 'sir' still hung in the air.  We pulled up to an apartment
high rise.  There was a covered drive thru under the building so I could
come and go in shadow.  Peter jumped out of the car and held the door for
me again.  In the lobby Peter introduced me to Willie, the building doorman
and concierge.  He was an older black man with greying hair, wearing a
tattered looking blue uniform.  He bowed to me and showed us to the
elevators.  We got in the elevator and Peter pushed the button for the
penthouse.  "Willie is really good at what he does, sir, I mean,
Mr. Smythe.  He's taken care of lots of special clients like you."

"Really?" I asked, wondering if that meant there were other vampires in the
building.  "How many special people live here?" I questioned.

"Well, the whole building is special," Peter answered.  "There's quite a
waiting list to get in, but apparently your office has some connections so
they were able to secure you this apartment."  The elevator doors opened
onto a small outer chamber with two doors.  "You're in penthouse A.
There's an older gentleman living in B, but I think he's in Europe right
now."

Peter opened the door and I stepped into an expansive living room.  It
seemed very modern with wide windows from floor to ceiling and an
incredible view of the evening city.  I looked at the windows.  "Um, I'm
not so sure..."

"Isn't it fantastic?" Tony said as he came into the room.  And wait till
you see the bedroom.  It has a similar view.  You can see the Statue of
Liberty."

"But, Tony, windows?  That will let in an awful lot of the sun."

"Oh their specially treated," Peter said quickly.  "They don't let in the
ultraviolet light, and that's what ... well, that's what you're allergic
to."

"I am?" I said in surprise.  This young man seemed to be awfully well
versed in vampire information.

"Yes, sir, I mean yes, Mr. Smythe.  The older gentleman across the hall has
the same condition, if you know what I mean."

"His name isn't Dracula, is it?" Tony quipped.

"No sir, it's Petrov," Peter answered in total seriousness.  "Vladimir
Petrov.  If you need anything at all, just push the intercom by the door
and Willie will be able to take care of it for you."  Peter dropped the key
by the door.  "I'll pick you up in the morning, Mr. Smythe."  He backed out
of the door.

"It's just Jefferson," I called after him and then sighed.

"Come have a cocktail at the bar after a hard day's work.  I'll make you a
bloody Mary," Tony laughed.  "Kelly said Willie told her they get their
blood from the same place as the Plaza Hotel, so it really might be Mary."

"That's not funny, Tony," I said as I sat on a stool at a bar on the side
of the room.  "Where is Kelly?"

"She went to get pizza for the two of us.  There's a little shop just
around the corner.  Willie recommended it, but they don't deliver.  Now,
here's your drink," he said and handed a glass of red liquid to me.  Then
he came around the side of the bar and pulled me off the stool to a
standing position.  "And now for the cock part of the cocktail."  Tony
dropped to his knees and began to unzip my jeans.

I pushed him back, shocked that he was so bold.

Just then, the door opened and Kelly walked in catching Tony on his knees
and me zipping up my fly.  "Oh my gosh," she cried as she realized what she
thought was going on.  "Tony, really!"  Tony just turned and smiled.

"Just having an appetizer, Aunt Kelly."

"No we weren't," I replied.  Kelly quickly ran to the kitchen while Tony
just laughed and stood, to follow his aunt into the kitchen area.

* * *

A few weeks later, Tony was on his way back to Auburn and it was just Kelly
and me living in the apartment.  I came home one evening, depressed.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"The out of town tryout for our play has been canceled."

"Why?" Kelly asked in astonishment.

"Well something about bookings and so on.  And the theater is ready now, so
they are moving our set in and we open downtown next week."

"That's great," Kelly congratulated me.  "Meanwhile I've got a surprise for
you."

"What?" I asked.

"We've been invited to dinner.  The two of us need to spruce up a bit.  We
are going to be dinner guests of Mr. Petrov.  He's back from Europe and I
met him this afternoon.  He's very charming and eager to meet you.  He said
he will invite two of the ladies who live downstairs to join us.  He says
they are witches too."

"Witches?  Well you'll have something to discuss, trading recipes for toad
stew and so forth," I joked.

"Yes, well I'm sure Petrov is a vampire, so I guess you two can trade
recipes as well," she replied smugly.  "Now come on and get dressed.  This
man is very old world.  I'm sure we would not be appropriate coming to
dinner in jeans."  In no time at all we were ready.  Kelly grabbed a bottle
of wine from behind the bar as a gift and we walked out the door, across
the short hall and knocked on Penthouse B.

A thin man with white hair in a black coat and bow tie answered the door.
"Mr. Petrov?" I said holding out my hand.

The man bowed to us, ignoring my extended hand, and in a heavy accent said,
"I am Boris, Mr. Petrov's manservant.  Please follow me."

The two of us made our way into the apartment.  It was decorated much
darker than mine, with heavy velvet drapes covering all of the windows.
The lighting was dim, the room mainly lit by candlelight.  A man stood in
the center of the room, dressed in a dark coat with a white shirt and white
tie.  "Welcome, my young friends," he said with a slavic accent.  "Welcome
to my humble home.  Please come in and make yourselves comfortable."  He
gestured to high backed wooden chairs that sat in a conversational
grouping.  Why do old world vampires like uncomfortable furniture?  Boris
took the wine from Kelly and quickly disappeared.

We noticed that the two other guests were already present and seated on a
small and uncomfortable looking love seat.  The two women could be
identical twins, both wearing matching caftans and scarves tied around
their hair.  Their hairdos, matched as well, very thick and curly and
shocking red orange in color.  Kelly thought they both resembled an avante
garde version of Lucille Ball.  Their bangle bracelets clanked as they
offered their hands to us.  Soon everyone was seated in the severe chairs.

"Your young friend here tells me your name is Jeffrey Smythe?" our host
asked as he looked appraisingly at me.

"Actually, sir, it's Jefferson, Jefferson Wesley Smythe."

The man's eyes widened in surprise.  "Jefferson Smythe?" he repeated.  "And
your father's name?"

"Jefferson Wesley Smythe the second," I replied uncomfortably.

"Remarkable," the man said.  "I knew him."

A smile flitted across my face.  "He passed on several years ago."  I
glanced over at Kelly, remembering she had been the one who was
instrumental in his death.

"Yes," the older vampire replied.  "I had an unfortunate bit of business
with him many years ago."  It became quiet enough to hear several pins
drop.  I felt an unaccustomed warmth creep up into my face.  "You bear no
resemblance to the man," our host continued on.  "He was very large with
receding grey hair and a rather bulbous nose."

I was visibly shaken as this was an exact description of my father.  "May I
ask," I said, and then felt my voice give out.  I cleared my throat and
tried again.  "May I ask what business you had with him?"

The man smiled a rather sneering smile.  "We quarreled over a matter of
policy.  He had apparently opened a night club and his minions were making
a bit of a spectacle of themselves.  I had to ask him to curb their
appetites before they endangered our kind.  He disagreed and I had to put
him in his place."

I nodded my head, trying to imagine it.  "That certainly sounds like my
father.  He was the one who had me... who actually hired someone who made
me what I am."

The older vampire laughed a cruel bark.  "This is not the first time I have
heard such a story.  He made a bargain to eliminate his heir, and then
found himself caught up by the one with whom he had bargained."  He paused
for a moment, then looking up to catch his manservant's eye, stood.  "But
come, we shall to dinner.  I trust we can speak of more pleasant topics."

At the dinner table, Boris served each of us in turn.  The women had plates
of vegetables and green salads.  Kelly had steak and new potatoes, and a
tall glass of a thick red liquid was placed before me and our host. Kelly
seemed quite busy in conversation with the twins, leaving me to talk
exclusively with Mr. Petrov.  "Are you the same Jefferson Smythe who was
heir to Count Pinsky?" the man asked me.

"Yes I am," I replied.  "Other than you, he is the only other one of our
kind who I found to be a decent human being.  Well maybe human being isn't
the right term."

"Yes," the man smiled.  "Most of our kind are only interested in the thirst
and what they can get out of the world.  I regret that you have been
'thrown to the wolves,' as they say."  He laughed at his own joke.  "But
our life is not really a bad one.  We have all of the future to look
forward to, and the past to draw upon.  Your father may have been an evil
man, and he may have been an even worse vampire, but he gave you a gift
while he thought you were being punished.  Were it not for him, you would
be long dead and molding in your grave, rather than about to open in a
Broadway play."  I smiled a rueful smile.  "But let me warn you," the man
continued in a serious tone.  "Enjoy yourself now, but prepare for the time
when you must disappear.  You cannot allow the humans to find out what you
are.  Those insane murderers, the Van Helsings would be down on you in a
moment.  Humans must never suspect that we exist.  And of course, you must
be on guard against others of our kind who would wish you harm.  But you
have inherited Pinsky's foundation and you can use that to your advantage."
My host picked up his glass as if to toast me and took a sip.

After dinner we all retired to the living room and spent time listening to
the tales the twins told of their encounters with people in their occult
store on Fifth Avenue.  It was a pleasant evening and everyone enjoyed
themselves.  After a time, I indicated that my friend and I should leave.
I had rehearsal in the morning and must be up early.  We all departed
pleasantly.

Once we were back home, Kelly noticed I was quiet and moody.  "What's
wrong, honey?" she asked.

"I just have a lot on my mind," I replied.  I kept thinking of what
Mr. Petrov had said about others wanting only to think about the thirst and
what they could get out of the world.  They would be jealous of me and not
want to see me succeed.  I also worried about the Van Helsing organization
about which I had been warned before.  I wondered if I should withdraw from
the play and disappear, not wanting to draw any attention to myself, or to
my all too human 'family' with their inherent frailties.

* * *

In a week I was sitting at my makeup station in my dressing room backstage.
A young man was showing me how to apply the pancake and liner I needed to
make myself appear a bit less funereal on stage.  It was opening night.
The man helping me confessed that he wasn't supposed to do such things, but
felt sorry for me.  He could tell a newcomer, and wanted to do what he
could the help out.  He then helped me into my costume and disappeared down
the hall as I finished getting dressed.  The stage manager rapped on the
door to call places and I took a deep breath and walked out and down the
stairs to take my place backstage and await my entrance.

"Break a leg," Patty, the woman playing my sister, said as she slipped past
me and onto the stage to await the curtain.

I thought if I wanted to break a leg, it would be one of them on the other
actor.  Russ was in place, sitting in a chair backstage, looking totally
bored.  He had been unpleasant to me from the first day of rehearsal and I
had no reason to believe he would be any different.  At one point the
director even called Actor's Equity to get an arbitrator to come in and
speak to him, to try and convince him to be a bit more professional.  But
it seemed to make little impression.

The lights came up, the curtain rose and the show began.  I waited for the
appropriate cue line, then stepped to the door and knocked.  The actress
opened it and I stepped through and into the bright lights.  The show ran
like clockwork, getting the appropriate laughs in spots and ending with the
poignant closing that left few dry eyes in the house.  The curtain dropped
and I stepped up to wait for the curtain to rise again on the curtain call.
I smiled at the audience and noticed most of the people standing as they
applauded our performance.  I also noted that the applause seemed to lower
in intensity as Russ stepped on to the stage to join me and Patty in our
final bow.  As the curtain dropped again, Patty gave me a big hug and kiss.
"Honey, I think we have a hit," she said.  "Let's go upstairs.  It won't be
long before there will be a crowd at your dressing room."  I turned to
congratulate Russ, but the man had disappeared as quickly as possible.

As I took off the makeup, Kelly burst into the dressing room.  "My gosh,
you were great!" she exclaimed as she hugged me.

"Thanks," I said and looked over her shoulder.  "Where's Tony?" I asked.  I
knew he had flown in this afternoon just to see my Broadway debut.  As had
brought Harriet the former president of the board from my days at the
Auburn Community Theater.

"Oh, I think he stopped to talk to someone by the stairs," she said and
continued to hug me as Harriet burst into the dressing room looking every
bit the old dowager she had turned into.

"I didn't know you would be so good, but I should have.  You were great as
our Hamlet."  The other woman said, then gave me a curious look.  "My god
you haven't aged a day in the 20 years since you did that show.

"Isn't it amazing what they can do with makeup," Kelly said quickly.

"Well let me get dressed in my real clothes and we'll see who else felt
that way.  You're all invited to the opening night party held by the
producers.  I don't know where it is, but Patty said we could ride with
her."

A minute later we slipped out of the dressing room and I led the way to the
spiral stairway back to the stage floor.  I glanced over the edge of the
steps and saw Tony speaking to my co-actor Russ in the wings.  I wondered
what they would have to talk about that would deter Tony's coming to my
dressing room.  I hoped Tony wasn't arguing with the guy.  I certainly
didn't want to waste energy on trying to smooth things over with my fellow
actor.

 

 

 

 

 

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