Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 14

"A vampire?"  I almost laughed.  My lover just told me that he was a 175
year old vampire.

He continued telling his tale.  I shivered a little as Jefferson told his
story.  At first his head was down and he spoke in a sad tone of regret.
But as he went on, the story came to life as he told it.  He looked up but
not at me.  His eyes were unfocused, look back into the distant past.  He
told the story of his life in the early 1800s on the plantation in
Virginia.  He told of his father's dislike for him and his crush on the
man, Armand.  Jefferson took a sip of his water and I could see that his
hand was shaking.  He looked at me to see if I had accepted what he was
saying, but I tried to keep my face blank, waiting to hear the rest of the
story.

The tale continued as Jeff told of the engagement party, and his one kiss
with Armand.  He told of the man who bit him in the stable and transformed
him, and of his being nailed into the coffin.  Jeff stood and walked about
the room.  It was obvious his story had taken a lot out of him.  But I
couldn't believe it was true.  Yet how could he have so much rich detail.
"So your father killed you," I said, hoping to encourage him to go on.

"My father tried to kill me," he replied.  Jeff paced about the room.  The
story he told seemed to agitate him.  "But on some level he knew I wouldn't
die.  That is why he had the chains wrapped around my coffin.  He thought
to keep me in my grave forever."

"What happened?" I asked.  I still wasn't accepting this fantastic tale as
true, but it was a fascinating story.  I wanted to hear more.  Jeff told of
his long painful sleep and of being released by the grave robbers.  He told
of the girl he had saved by killing her assailant and drinking his blood.

"That was my first experience as a vampire.  That was twenty years ago."
Jeff finally sat back on the couch and looked at me expectantly.  I knew he
was waiting for a reaction, for me to say something.

"Well that was quite a story," I said.

"And you don't believe it," Jeff replied woodenly.  I started to shake my
head.  "I can see it in your eyes.  You must think I am a madman."

"Jeff," I said reaching out to him.

"Do you feel this?" the vampire said, taking my hand.  "Do you feel the
cold of my touch, not warm like your skin?  And I know you have seen my
eyes.  You've seen me in the dark.  You know they are different.  Here," he
said placing my hand to his wrist.  "No pulse.  You can put your ear to my
chest.  You won't hear a heartbeat."  He let go of my hand and stood to
pace the room again.  "You saw my refrigerator.  That wasn't tomato juice,
Frank."  I remembered the bottles of shiny red liquid.  It didn't look like
tomato juice.  It was darker and richer in color.  I could feel the cold
chill in my spine.

"Your heart rate has just increased," Jeff said.  "That's fear causing
that.  I can hear your heart and I can sense the fear.  Now you are
beginning to doubt your own senses and accept my story.  Please do.  Every
word I've told you is true.  You should be afraid.  I'm a killer, Frank."

"And George?"

"George?"

"George.  Did you kill him?"  I instantly felt guilty.  How could I accuse
the man I loved of murdering someone, crazy or not?

Jeff shook his head.  "I was with you all night, remember?"

"I'm sorry," I apologized.  "I still don't know that I believe this insane
story.  I know there is something different about you, but...a vampire?
Jeff, I just don't think..."

"You don't think it's possible, do you?"  He sat back down next to me.  "I
felt the same way.  Of course in my time people were much more gullible.
They believed in a wide variety of monsters.  That's what makes it so easy
to survive in this day and age.  No one believes we exist.  It's just too
easy to prey on individuals and the police chalk it up to crazy serial
killers.  The magical world doesn't exist...if you don't know where to
look."

"You kill people to live?"

"No.  I have killed people.  I'm not entirely innocent.  I have the
instincts of a predator.  But I don't want to be a monster.  I live
primarily on pig's blood.  You can get it from certain butcher shops and
other sources if you know how."

I shook my head in astonishment.  "Pig's blood?  Is that what I saw in your
refrigerator?"

"Yes."

"Then someone else killed George."

"Yes.  Apparently there is another vampire in the area.  I'm not the only
one in the world, you know."

"So this vampire secret is what kept us apart for so long?"  I was still
trying to wrap my brain around the whole concept.  To be honest I wasn't
sure I really believed him and I wasn't sure that he might not still be
George's murderer.

"I didn't know if I could be with you and not hurt you.  It's pretty hard
to resist those urges sometimes.  And when people are sexually intimate, it
kind of brings out the animal in us.  I was afraid if I got close to
you...I might..."  He hung his head in shame.

I reached over and wrapped my arms around my lover.  "But you didn't.  We
made love and you didn't hurt me."

He smiled at me.  "Yes.  I guess you bring out the best in me, my hidden
humanity."  Then his eyes seemed to focus on the past again.  "But it seems
that everyone I love is hurt.  It may not be by me, but it always ends the
same way."

"Come on," I said, standing up and taking his hand, pulling him up off the
couch.

"Where are we going?" the boy asked.

"To my bedroom."  Whatever he was, I knew I wanted to keep making love to
him.  When we finished, I wrapped my arms around my lover's cold body,
laying my head on his chest.  I listened, but I couldn't hear anything.
There was no sound of a heart beat.  As I tried to hear his heart,
everything grew fuzzy and I fell asleep.  It was some time later before I
woke.  I rolled over and felt Jeff lying beside me.  I kissed him and he
opened his eyes, smiling at me.  Then suddenly a look of concern crossed
his face.  "What time is it?" he asked.

I rolled over and looked at the bedside clock.  "It's 7:00 a.m.," I said
and smiled back.  The light of dawn was coming in the window around the
closed drapes, making the room seem brighter in a gloomy sort of way.

"Shit!"  It was the first time I had ever heard Jeff swear.

"What's wrong?"

"The sun rises at 7:05.  There is no way you can get me back home in time."

I didn't understand and just looked blankly at him.  Then slowly the fog in
my brain began to clear and I remembered his story from the night before.
"You can't just turn into a bat and fly back?"  He gave me a withering look
like I had just made the most tasteless joke, and perhaps I did.  "I'm
sorry, will you die if you don't sleep in your coffin?"

Jeff began to laugh, which brought a smile to my face as well.  Perhaps it
had all been an elaborate joke.  But he just shook his head.  "You've seen
way too many movies.  The bat thing, that's a myth, and I don't sleep in a
coffin.  But I do have to stay away from the sunlight.  I'll have to stay
here all day."

"Oh, that is a problem," I said in mock concern.  "The big bad vampire
trapped in my bedroom.  And me without a spare casket to offer him.  What
will we do?  Wait, I have an idea."  I rolled him over onto his back and
began kissing his chest.

Jeff laughed and grabbed me beneath my armpits, pulling him up on top of
him.  "Remember, I'm the vampire.  It's my job to suck."

"Well, how was it?" I asked some time later when we had finished.

"Not as satisfying as blood, but I could certainly get used to this bodily
fluid."  Jeff laughed again and rolled over on top of me, calling me his
'pet human.'

* * *

"Hurry up or you'll be late for call!" I said as he finished getting
dressed.

Jeff came out of the bathroom, toweling his hair dry.  "I'll be a little
late anyway," he said.

"It's 6:00.  We have time to get there."

"It's a 20 minute drive to the theatre from here, and the sun doesn't set
until 6:15.  I can't step out that door until then.  Your apartment faces
the west."

"Fine, then we'll be a bit late," I grumbled, going along with his crazy
story.

He dropped his towel and stepped to me in all his naked glory.  "Since
we're going to be late anyway, why don't we..."

"Jeff, don't you ever get tired?  We've been having sex practically all
day."

He laughed.  "I guess it's my vampire stamina.  But I am getting hungry.
Do you think you could do me a big favor?'

"Well if you want to open an artery, I'm not sure that's such a good idea,"
I answered nervously.

"You're right.  That is not a good idea.  Here are my keys," he pulled them
from his jeans pocket and handed them to me.  "During the show, could you
drive to my house and pick up a bottle from my refrigerator?  Wrap it in a
paper bag or something and sneak it back stage.  We can tell Buddy it's an
energy drink.  I'm beginning to feel very anxious.  I wouldn't want to have
any problems on stage with all those people.  You don't know what it does
to me when I stab Polonius through the curtain in Act 4 and that fake blood
starts coming out.  I always have to close my eyes.  Thanks God it doesn't
smelled real or I would definitely have a problem."

"I'll get it before the show even starts, while you are getting into
costume," I agreed.

We left for the theatre and managed to be only five minutes late for call,
thanks to my heavy foot on the accelerator.  Buddy seemed quite agitated
when we walked in, but it had nothing to do with Jeff's tardiness.  "There
are cops in the green room," he said.  "They want to talk to Jeff."  Before
we could think of what to do, Detective Stites and a uniformed officer came
walking across the stage.  Apparently they decided not to wait in the green
room.

"You're Jeff Smythe?" the detective said.

"Yes, sir," Jeff replied with a calm smile.

"Is there someplace we can talk in private?"

"How about the designer's office," I suggested.  It was a small office up a
flight of stairs over the scene shop.  I knew Leon wouldn't be there at
this time of night.  I led the cops and Jeff to the stairway, up to the
office and opened the door.  The detective and officer waited for Jeff to
enter, then came into the room and waited for me to leave.  I closed the
door behind me, wishing I could stay and listen.

Fifteen minutes later the two police left and I rushed Jeff down to the
dressing room to help hurry him into his makeup and costume.  "What did
they want?" I asked as I grabbed a handful of bobby pins from the counter,
pinning his hair back and quickly applying the base and liner color for
him.

"Well it seems I am a prime suspect in the murder.  They have no way of
connecting me with it, but as I am the newcomer to the community, and I
didn't answer my door the other day when they came pounding, and I was gone
all of today so they think I have something to hide."

"You do, but what about my alibi for you?"

"They don't trust you much either."  He laughed a short chuckle.  Mary Jo
came in to fix Jeff's hair.  I helped by removing the pins and sticking
them back in my pocket.  As she began spraying and combing, I turned to
leave.  "Frank, you won't forget my energy drink..." Jeff said in a tight
voice.

"I'll go pick it up now," I replied.

"Do you need something with caffeine and sugar?" Mary Jo asked.

"It's a prescription thing," Jeff answered quickly.

I hurried to his house, and using the key, slipped inside, grabbed a bottle
from the fridge.  I carefully opened it and sniffed.  It smelled like
blood, the same tangy, metallic odor.  I dipped my finger in the red liquid
and tasted it, instantly gagging.  It really was blood.  If he wasn't a
vampire, he certainly was crazy, stocking his refrigerator with this.  I
rushed back toward the theatre.  On the way I made a quick pit stop at the
local Kwik Shop and bought a bottle of Mountain Dew.  The clerk thought me
crazy when I asked for a sack to put it in.  Back in the car, I switched
bottles so Jeff's 'energy drink' was hidden by the sack, then rushed back
to the theatre and backstage just as the curtain was about to go up.  "Hold
it for just a minute," he told Buddy and pulled Jeff aside, giving him his
package.  He thanked me, turned his back and quickly chugged the entire
bottle which made me want to throw up thinking about what he was really
drinking.  He stood for just a moment, breathing deeply, then handed the
bag back and nodded to me as he stepped back into character and got in
place for his entrance.  I gave Buddy a thumbs-up and he cued the flyman to
raise the curtain.

The show again went flawlessly.  They got their second standing ovation,
and I stood in the back of the house and applauded with the rest of the
audience.  I stepped out into the lobby and smiled as various audience
members came by to tell me congratulations.  Once the crowd was gone, the
house manager locked the front doors and I headed down the aisle to go
backstage.  Buddy was just locking everything and turning off lights.
"Leave the work lights on," I told him.  "I'll get them when we leave."  He
smiled and nodded before walking out the door.  I turned and there he
stood, leaning against the upstage wall in his jeans and t-shirt.  My human
heart skipped a beat.

"Do you know what night this is?" he asked as I walked to him.

"Yes it's Saturday.  There are a bunch of people going to Harry's.  You
want to join them?"

"Have you forgotten that tomorrow is Sunday and the matinee?"

I had completely forgotten it.  "Crap, that means you want to spend the
night here."

He laughed at my obvious disappointment.  "Not all night.  As long as you
have me back here by six or so, I'll be fine.  Meanwhile, we're going to
join your friends at Harry's as long as you agree to order food there.  You
haven't eaten anything but me all day.  I on the other hand, had a nice
cold bottle of type O before the first curtain."

We both laughed as we hugged.  "I didn't know pigs had blood types," I
said.

"I don't know either, but if I pretend it's human, it tastes better," he
replied and dipped me back to kiss my neck.

"Oh my!" a voice said and we both looked up to see Harriet standing by the
stage door.

"Sorry, we were just... just..." I stuttered as we both stood.

"I don't want to know what was going on here," she said sternly.  "You both
better leave and I don't want to see you back until 1:00 o'clock tomorrow."

"Yes, ma'am," Jeff replied and we quickly slipped past her and out the
door.

"That might be a problem," Jeff said as we climbed back into my car.  "I'll
have to be back before sunrise or I can't make it to the matinee."

"Don't be silly," I replied, starting the engine.  "She isn't going to
spend the night.  She won't know what time we get back here."

"We?"

"I'm not letting you spend the night and morning here all alone.  We're
lovers now, remember."  I looked over at Jeff but saw a slight crease of
concern on his forehead.  Maybe I was taking things a bit too fast for him,
but I never was one for casual sex.  After the last few days, I felt we had
made a stronger connection than just a quick fling.  We drove in silence to
Harry's and joined the crowd at their usual table in the back.  The smell
of the greasy food from the kitchen made my stomach growl and I took Jeff's
advice to order a burger and fries.  Jeff ordered a beer and left it sit in
front of him without really touching it, the same as the last time we were
there.

When the bar closed at 2:00 we drove by my apartment so I could pack a
quick overnight bag and then drove to Jeff's place and picked up a change
of clothes for him.  Of course he made time for sex again.  By six in the
morning we were driving into the predawn and back to the theatre.  I parked
in the back lot in hopes that Harriet wouldn't spot my car, and we slipped
into the backstage door.  I could barely keep my eyes open as we walked
across the stage to the stairway and downstairs.  Jeff started to lead us
toward the green room, but I stopped him.  "I have a better idea," I
suggested, and led the way to the prop and costume storage area underneath
the house, the seating area of the auditorium.  We walked back through the
aisles piled high with old pieces of furniture and props.  On the last
aisle, I said "Here's what I was looking for."  It was a double bed that we
used in the Neil Simon's play "Plaza Suite."  I knew that a few other
people had used it as a rendezvous for romance, and I had actually walked
in on a couple of stage hands screwing a costume girl there once.  For Jeff
and me it was a perfect place to crash for the night.  We both stretched
out and kissed each other, but I was too tired to do more and was almost
asleep when we heard a sound from above.  It almost sounded like someone
walking in the house.

"Do you want me to go investigate?" Jeff whispered.

"No.  If it's Harriet, I don't want us to get in trouble."

"What if it's someone else?"

"Who else would it be?" I asked.  "Maybe it's a theatre ghost.  You know
just about every theatre building is haunted."  Jeff chuckled at the
thought.  "What, you don't believe in ghosts?"

"No," he shook his head.

"You expect me to believe in vampires, but you don't believe in ghosts."  I
was astounded.  We heard the sound again and lay back quietly to listen.
All too soon we had fallen asleep.

* * *

Jeff woke me with a gentle nudge.  "What time is it?" I asked as I sat up.

"I don't know, but I've heard more sounds upstairs, so I think there are a
number of people coming in.  It must be getting close to time when we need
to be up and about.  I'm sorry I didn't think to get you any breakfast."

"Well come on.  Let's try and make ourselves look presentable."

"We could take a shower together in the men's dressing room," Jeff
suggested.

"Not if there are other actors here already."  We slipped back down the
aisles of furniture and turned off the lights before opening the door to
the under-house storage area.

I peeked out and didn't see anyone, so I stepped out with Jeff following.
"Bet I know what you two were doing," Kelly said as she walked by with a
grin.  I just smiled innocently, then turned and gave Jeff a quick kiss
before heading upstairs to my office.

The house was very full.  A number of senior center busses brought in lots
of little old blue haired ladies and they all seemed to enjoy the play.
The final curtain descended and in a moment it raised for curtain call.  I
immediately knew something was wrong.  The balance was off.  There appeared
to be more people on stage right than on stage left.  That could only mean
someone didn't make it out onto the stage for curtain call.  It was only a
minor annoyance on my part.  But then just as the applause began to peak,
before the curtain descended I saw a startled look on Jeff's face.  His
head whipped around and he looked off stage as if someone had called to
him.  Even as the curtain began to descend, I saw him break out of the line
and begin to move toward the wings.

What could have happened, I wondered, and tried to fight my way through the
crowd of audience members coming up the aisles.  It was like a salmon
swimming upstream.  By the time I was able to break free of the crowd I saw
Buddy running out into the house.  "Frank!" he yelled when he spotted me.
"Come quick!"

I hurried backstage with him and noticed the crowd of actors and
technicians milling about.  A couple of our regulars were trying to keep
people back from the stairs leading to the designer's office.  "Up there,"
Buddy said.  I ran up the stairs, two at a time and turned the corner.  The
door was open and there on the floor was Steve, one of the minor actors in
the show.  He had played a grave digger and a guard and doubled in a couple
of other small bit parts.  He was on the floor, his neck torn open and
blood smeared around on the floor and on his costume.  He was obviously
dead.

"Oh my God!" I breathed.

"What is it?  Let me through!" Harriet screamed as she forced her way
through the growing crowd at the bottom of the stairs.  She came around the
corner and stood beside me looking at Steve's body.  "Well this is just
great," she said in an annoyed voice.  Then she turned and I could see the
tears in her eyes.  "Did anyone see anything?" she asked.

"I...I saw....I saw Jeff," Buddy said timidly.

"Jeff?" I asked, my voice shaking.

"He ran offstage and up the stairs.  I went after him to see what was going
on, and he was kneeling there by the body.  Then he just kind of growled
and pushed past me and ran.

"Where is he now?" Harriet demanded.  No one seemed to know.  No one had
seen him since.

 

 

 

 

 

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