Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 29

"Can we lose the Southern accent?" the second unit director asked as they
set up the next shot.

"I'll do my best, sir," Jeff replied.

"There!  Do you see what you said?  You said, 'Ahll do muh best, sur.'  The
word is 'I'll' not 'Ahll.'"

"Yes sir," Jeff replied.  This was a lot harder than the stage work he had
done.  It seemed like everything he did was criticized and changed by
someone.  There were too many bosses.  The second unit director wasn't
nearly as nice to work with as the main director who was still finishing up
a few things in Europe.

"What are you worried for?" one of the sound men asked the director.
"They're just going to loop him anyway."

"What does that mean?" Jeff asked.

"It means they will take your voice out and put in someone else's voice if
you can't get it right," the second unit director said in a nasty tone.

Jeff was getting tired of this annoying little man.  "Well, maybe you
should just find someone else's face and body as well," he said and turned
to head back to his trailer.

"Where are you going?" the man yelled at his retreating back.  "We aren't
finished with you yet!"

"I think he's finished with you," the sound man said as he watched Jeff
walk away.

Later that evening he was sitting in the apartment that Peter had found for
him.  Terry came in with some small boxes of food.  "I got Chinese, do you
mind?"  Jeff shook his head and leaned back in the chair.  He never
realized that this kind of work could be so draining.  Now he wondered what
Peter would say when he called.  "So you just walked off the set?" Terry
asked.  "Wow, that takes balls for someone who has never done a picture
before."

"I just don't want to deal with that little man again," Jeff told him.  "He
really is irritating and if I get too upset, I may lose control."

Terry looked surprised.  "I've never seen you lose control.  You're always
so uptight.  You mean you would really go vampire shit on them and start
biting people and drinking their blood?"  He seemed a little excited,
almost like he wanted to see it happen.

"Well, probably not," Jeff replied.  "After all, what would Peter think?"

"Oh, come on, you can always get a different agent."

"No I can't," Jeff replied firmly.  "I can't just call up William and
Morris and say, I'm a vampire and I'd like you to represent me.  I can act,
but I can't do daytime shots or appear in afternoon matinees.  Peter
understands my condition.  As I've told you before, there are limitations
to this lifestyle."

"You call this a lifestyle?" Terry said, suddenly angry.  "We never go
anywhere.  We never do anything.  We can't go out to dinner because you
can't eat.  We can't lay out on the beach because you might burst into
flames.  We can't have a wild party because you are afraid someone might
find out about what you are.  I can't even open the drapes and look at the
morning sun because then you can't come into the room and have to hide in
the bedroom closet.  You might as well be sleeping in a coffin all day
long!"

"Terry," Jeff said gently.

"No, I don't want to hear it.  I'm out of here."  The man stood and grabbed
a leather jacket, then slammed the door as he left.

A few minutes later the phone rang.  It was Peter and he was angry.  "I
know this isn't live theater but you have to work with these people.  They
were very upset when you walked off the set tonight."

Jeff finally agreed to try again tomorrow evening, but he made no promises.
Then after hanging up with Peter, he picked up the phone and dialed the
number Craig had given him.  A woman answered the phone, and then called
Craig on the line.  "What's up, buddy?" the man said in a welcome, familiar
tone.

"How difficult is it going to be if I want to leave here and not finish
this movie?  Are we going to be in serious financial problems?"

"Wow," Craig said after a momentary pause.  "Movies are big money and they
will sue you and consequently our whole organization."  There was another
long pause.  "But you have to do what is right for you.  If you want to
bail, then do it.  We'll come up with some excuse."  After another pause,
Craig asked in a gentle tone, "What is it?  What's bothering you, buddy.
You can tell me.  Is it all the people?"

Jeff felt tears coming to his eyes.  "I just hate it here.  Everything is
so bright.  People are always asking me out to things I can't go to.  The
film isn't going well.  The assistant director is a jerk and most of the
time I just want to rip his head off and drink him."  There was another
long pause.  "And then there's Terry.  He doesn't like all the restrictions
of living with a vampire."

"That's the real thing, isn't it," Craig asked, hitting the nail on the
head.  "Do you love this guy?"

"No, I don't think so," Jeff admitted.  "I thought I did, but I think it
was just that I wanted to be with someone.  He was great at first, but it
didn't last long at all.  I get angrier and angrier every day.  He seems to
delight in pushing my buttons.  I just don't know what I'm going to do."

"Hey, you want some company for a bit?" Craig asked.  I could fly out there
for a visit and see what this Terry guy is up to.

"Thanks," Jeff said.  "I'm a grown man.  I should be able to solve my own
problems without calling in big brother."

* * *

As I hung up the phone, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"Angela," I called and my girlfriend came back into the room.  "I'm going
to have to go to California for a little while."  She just nodded and
smiled.  It was already past our usual bed time, but she began to pack a
bag for me.  Where would I ever find another one like her?  I guess I'm
going to have to marry this girl.

"Do you know when you'll be back, Craig?" she asked as she went into the
bathroom for the toiletries.

"Not really.  My boss sounded pretty upset on the phone.  He's having a
rough time of it out there.  But I don't expect it will be more than a
couple of weeks at most."

She tossed my shaving stuff in the bag and then came over to wrap her arms
around me.  "Well you know I'll miss you, but you do what you have to.  And
hurry home.  I love you so."  I kissed her and then went back to the den so
I could call the airlines and see what I needed to do to get to LA as soon
as possible.

* * *

"What do you mean they haven't heard from him in a day?" I demanded as I
talked to Peter on the phone.  I had just landed in California and got a
page at the airport for a phone call.  Peter was frantic.  The studio had
called him and no one seemed to know where Jeff was.  They finally got hold
of Terry James and his reply was "In hell where he belongs, I hope."  I
hung up the phone and grabbed a cab, directing him to the apartment address
I had for Jeff.

On arriving, I found the door locked and no answer to the bell, or my
knocking.  I looked around and no one was in the vicinity, so I just
applied a little muscle and broke the door open.  We'd have to pay for a
new door jam.  Inside it was incredibly bright.  The drapes were wide open
letting in as much light as possible.  I quickly went through the small
flat, checking out the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room.  But there
was no sign of Jeff.  I feared the worst.  If he was in one of these rooms
when the morning sun came through those windows, well I don't know that
there would be anything left of him.  But here were no burn marks either.
I finally opened the bedroom door.  Inside it was all bright as well, the
drapes pulled widely open.  I glanced around and it looked as though he had
been here, the bed wasn't made, but there was once again no sign of any
burn marks.  I stepped to the closet and pulled the door open, then slammed
it shut again quickly.  I saw what looked like a body on the floor.  I ran
across the room, trying to pull the heavy drapes closed but I found someone
had cut the cords on them.  I had to climb onto the bed and reach up,
forcing them closed by hand and plunging the bedroom into darkness.  Then I
turned on the ceiling light and went back to open the closet door.  Sitting
on the floor was my boss.  He looked up at me with bright red eyes and
uttered an animalistic growl.  "Hang on, buddy," I said and ran back to the
kitchen.  In the sink were several empty bottles, and blood stains on the
porcelain.  Someone had deliberately tried to passively kill Jeff.  I
yanked the refrigerator door open, but it was empty.  "Just hold on," I
shouted through the bedroom door.  "I'll be right back as fast as I can."

I called a cab and then looked in the yellow pages trying to find a butcher
shop.  It didn't take long for me to get there, manage to convince the man
behind the counter to sell me a jug of beef blood, and then I was back at
the apartment.  I closed the drapes in the living room and the curtains in
the bathroom, plunging the place into the darkness that I knew he needed.
Then I opened the bedroom door, fearing what I would find.

Jeff was laying on the floor, writhing in what looked like pain.  He didn't
look good at all.  He looked up to see me and his face took on an almost
animal quality.  I held out the jug of beef blood and before I could hand
it to him it was gone.  He moved so fast I didn't even see him.  One minute
I was standing there holding the jug and the next, he was across the room
draining it.  In only a few minutes he had polished off a whole gallon.  He
then collapsed on the bed and took a moment to try and compose himself
before looking at me again.  I realized he was totally naked, and could
only stare at his pale white skin, almost looking like an albino.

After a few minutes he turned back to look at me.  He now appeared more
like the man I remembered.  "Thank you," he said, his voice still sounding
a bit rough.  I started to walk toward him but he held out his hand.  "It's
still not safe," he whispered.  "That wasn't enough."

"I'll go get more," I told him.

"And some clothes, please."

I quickly left the apartment and found another cab.  I had to find a
different butcher, but the second place I found, the man was much more
willing to help.  He packed a Styrofoam cooler with several bottles of
pig's blood.  He then gave me a wink and said, "Good luck."  I had no idea
what he thought I was going to do with the blood, but I just nodded and
smiled.  I then drove to a men's store and picked up the essentials, jeans,
shirts, underwear, socks and shoes.

Back at the apartment, I opened the door and found Jeff still sitting
quietly in the bedroom.  I brought in the cooler and placed it on the floor
next to the bed.  I then laid out his clothes as he reached in the cooler
for a bottle of blood.  I went back to the living room and phoned Pete to
tell him what I had found.  He said he would let the studio know that Jeff
had taken ill suddenly but was feeling better and would be back soon.

By the time I hung up, my boss was coming out of the bedroom, dressed and
looking more like himself.  "What happened?" I asked, still very concerned.

"I've learned a valuable lesson," he said as he sat down on the couch,
visibly shaken.  "There are some people you don't want to share your secret
with."

"Was it that James guy?" I asked.

He nodded.  "He was unhappy with the restrictions in my life.  He seemed to
just snap.  He fixed me a drink and I thought I tasted a bit odd, but he
said he just added a little vodka and some cinnamon to it.  I think there
was more than just vodka.  Anyway, I felt really strange, kind of sick so I
laid down in bed.  He came in and undressed me, pretending we were going to
have sex, but I passed out before we ever got that far.  When I came to, I
felt like I was on fire.  The morning sun was just about to rise and the
drapes were wide open.  I tried to get up and shut them, but he had broken
the cord.  I barely had time to stumble into the closet before the sunlight
came into the room.  I've been there ever since, the thirst growing worse
and worse.  He took all my clothes and I kept passing out.  I don't know
what was in that drink, but it really affected me strangely."

"Rat poison," I told him.  I found an empty box in the kitchen.  "If you
were human you would be dead."

"So, my temporary boyfriend tried to murder me. Like I said, I've learned a
valuable lesson.  I just want to get out of here."

"You only have a few more days of work on this picture.  Do you think you
can hold out?"

"Yes," he answered.  "But I'm not sure how I'm going to manage the last
scene I have with Terry.  I'm supposed to kill him.  It's going to be a
real temptation."

I slapped him on the back.  "Come on, buddy, you can do this.  Just give
him the old heave ho and get on with your life.  Think how he's going to
feel when the man he just tried to kill shows up on the set, alive and
well."

"He knows what I am.  I guess it will be good motivation for his character.
He won't know that I wouldn't really kill him."  Jeff kind of laughed.

* * *

The next day, I had a long talk with the director who had flown in from
Italy.  He agreed to replace the second unit director and supervise the
filming of the final scene himself.  Of course, the studio had made sure
there was a change after Peter and I had complained and threatened to pull
Jeff off the uncompleted project.  I explained what I could without
revealing anything, and the director agreed to allow for some leeway when
they began filming.  The day after that I was on the set watching as they
prepared to film the fight and death scene between the two vampires.  Terry
James was in early certain that they had found a replacement to use in the
last few scenes.  He had no idea that the real Jefferson Smythe was just
next door in the makeup trailer.  In fact, he was still secure in the
knowledge that Jefferson Smythe was dead.  He finally chatted with the
director who had come back from the overseas filming and had taken over for
his second unit man.

"Now in this scene you'll be seated at the piano when Hector enters from
above.  He'll appear at the top of the stairs and slowly walk down while
you do the dialogue.  Just try to stay on the marks and it should work out
fine.  We'll be filming from the start without a rehearsal because we're
behind in the wrap up thanks to the time lost between Jeff and Mel.  Are
you ready?"

"Yes, yes I'm ready.  Bring the guy on and let's get it in the can," Terry
said impatiently and went to sit at the piano.

"Okay, all cameras to speed, on my mark, ready, three, two, one and
action!" he shouted.

Terry began playing the piano softly.  The doors at the top of the stairs
on the set burst open and Jeff walked through in costume.  He stepped
through and onto the platform, posed and said his line.  "Well, Sid, I knew
I'd find you here."

Terry stopped playing and turned to look up the stairs at the elevated
platform, beginning his line.  "Hector, we meet ag..."  He stopped and his
eyes grew wide as he recognized the man in costume at the top of the
stairs.

"Keep going," the director yelled.

"Hector, we meet again," Terry repeated as he slowly stood.

Jeff began to walk down the stairs.  "Did you think you could kill me so
easily?  I've been around for nearly a thousand years."

"You can't blame a guy for trying," Terry laughed nervously and began to
slide along the set.

"No I suppose not," Jeff replied.  "Rat poison was a clever thought.  It
certainly slowed me down."

"Rat poison, that's not in the script," the script girl whispered to one of
the assistants.

"But leaving the windows open and cutting the cords off of the drapes was
probably the most clever."  By now Jeff had reached the bottom step, and
slowly turned to face Terry.  The script girl was going crazy flipping back
and forth in her printed copy.

Terry started grabbing things off the shelves and throwing them at him as
Jeff slowly crossed the room.  Jeff just ducked or knocked them out of the
way, but continued to advance with a sardonic grin.  "What did you expect?
That I would burst into flame?  I'm so sorry to disappoint you.  But I
guess you weren't as clever as you thought

"Please don't hurt me," the actor wined as he began to cower in the corner.
Jeff reached down, grabbing him by the front of his jacket and lifting him
off the ground with one hand.  He carried him downstage toward the camera,
and then slowly lowered him back to the floor.  "Here's your mark.  If you
don't stay on it, you won't be in focus, asshole." He shouted and turned to
walk away.  It was obvious that Terry had peed his pants from the dark
stain on the front of his light blue, velvet costume pants.

"Cut!" the director yelled.  As Jeff walked back toward the crowd watching
in stunned astonishment Terry seemed to come to his senses.  He turned and
grabbed a prop sword off the set decorations on the wall and ran at Jeff.
Even though it was a prop, if it ran my boss through, piercing his heart,
he would die just as well as any human.  "Jeff, look out!" I shouted.  Jeff
easily turned around and stepped to the side so fast it looked as if he
blurred a bit.  Terry ran past him, realizing his mistake and turned
around.  He ran at Jeff again and this time the real vampire moved aside
and grabbed the actor from behind, easily disarming him and knocking him to
the floor.

"Was any of that in the script?" one of the technicians was asking another
one.

"Security, get this guy out of here and hold him in his trailer," the
director ordered, pointing at Terry.  "Thanks, guys," he then said,
reaching out to shake my hand, and Jeff's.  "That could have been really
dangerous.  I'm used to seeing stuff like that on film, but it's usually
choreographed and rehearsed with special effects.  Wow, that thing you did,
picking him up by the front of his jacket and carrying him.  If we can
actually use any of that footage it will be great."

"Yes, well, thank you sir," Jeff answered.  "I apologize if we messed up
the scene."

"It's okay, we'll fix everything when we film the second crew in here
tomorrow.  You've already done all the principal shooting and close ups.
We can have a couple of doubles do the long shots and I think we're
finished.  I'll see you at the wrap party tomorrow evening.

Jeff and I returned to the hotel where I was staying.  Jeff had moved in
with me for the few days we would remain here.  "So where now?" I asked
him.

"I'm not sure.  I may go back to Idaho for the winter," he answered
wistfully.

"You know Pete wants you to do more film work.  He was very excited about
some offers."

"I know," the vampire replied sadly.  "But I think I ought to do what
Mr. Petrov advised.  I should keep a lower profile.  I wouldn't want to
appear on the Van Helsings' radar screen again."

"Well that would make our jobs easier," I agreed.  "This time can you keep
more in touch?"

"We'll see," Jeff laughed.  I got him an overnight flight to Salt Lake City
and then a bus ride north.  That was the last I saw of him for quite some
time.

 

 

 

 

 

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