Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 30

The snow was falling heavily as I stood on the doorstep.  A number of
emotions ran through me and I hesitated for a while not knowing if I should
knock or just turn and leave.  Who would greet me if I did knock?  It
wasn't that late.  The sun had set a short time ago.  I had spent the day
at my old house across town.  I still owned it and my company used it from
time to time.

After standing on the doorstep in the snow for nearly ten minutes, I
finally chickened out and turned to leave.  I was on the bottom step when
the front door opened behind me.  "Young man, is there something I can do
for you?" a familiar voice asked.  I turned and looked up.  There standing
in the doorway was an older woman.  She was about 70, with grey hair and
glasses.  But the lined face was still so very familiar, if aged from my
memory of her, Sarah Kitterage, Brewster now.

As I looked back, she gasped, recognition suddenly hitting her.  "Oh my
God, Jefferson!" she squealed, her face breaking into a smile.  "Oh my,
come in!  Come in!"  I stepped back up the three steps and into her doorway
where she grabbed me and hugged with all her might, tears coming to her
eyes.  "I can't believe it!  All these years!"  She pulled me inside,
shutting the door and reaching up to brush the snow from my hair.  "You
look just the same!"

"I don't age, remember," I replied.

"I do," she said sadly as she helped me pull off my coat.  "I'd say you
must be freezing, but you always were," she joked as she pulled me into a
cozy living room.  There was a small Christmas tree in the corner,
decorated with a string of equally small twinkle lights.  Below it, I
noticed a definite lack of packages.  "Sit down here beside me," Sarah
ordered as she pulled me down onto the couch.  "This is so much nicer than
the card I get every ten years or so.  How long can you stay?"

"I had a feeling you were going to say that," I laughed, "so I actually
packed a bag.  It's in the car."

"This is the best holiday treat I could have."  Her face suddenly fell.
"Oh, but I don't have anything in the house that you could eat...except
me."

"Not to worry," I replied.  "I've learned and I always come prepared.  I
have a cooler in the trunk that's loaded with my special diet."

"Oh Jeff," she sighed, tears in her eyes.  "I haven't heard from you since
Brady died."

"I know," I replied softly.  "I'm so sorry.  I just didn't know what to
say."

"That's not true.  You always know what to say.  You've seen more than your
share of funerals."  She hesitated a moment.  "You haven't been in a
relationship since Frank died."  Sarah didn't know about Beorn, or Tony or
Terry.  Frank's name felt like a knife going through me.  I hadn't thought
of him in several years.  I had loved him so deeply, and then that
hillbilly vampire clan took him away from me.  I had isolated myself from
humanity for a long time after that.  I had no desire to meet anyone and
get hurt again.  I spent a short amount of time in the company of Jayron
and his father Flesar.  Flesar had joined me in the search for Frank and
Jayron.  He and his son had come from another world, the fairy world that
May had spoken of.  They were true fairies, visiting our world by accident.
Unfortunately they became separated.  This allowed my father to find and
imprison Jayron.  I guess supernatural beings just have a natural ebb and
flow to their lives.  These unusual tidal forces seemed to eventually sweep
them together.  Sarah will never know how tempted I was to step through
that magical doorway and become human in a different world, but the time
wasn't right.  I felt I had to live out my existence in this one.

"So how have you been?" I asked, changing the subject.

"Fine," she smiled.  "I finally retired last year.  Since then I've kept
busy with volunteer work and so on."

"What about the family?  What's become of Brigit?"  I knew Sarah had a
daughter.

"She's married now and has a little boy.  Can you imagine me a
grandmother?"

"But they don't live nearby?" I asked.  I noticed the Christmas tree.  If
they were here surely it would be surrounded in presents.

"No, they're in Kansas City.  My daughter's husband is such a nice man.
He's a little different, but really very nice.  And my grandson is so
precocious, such a bright little boy.  I wish they were closer so I could
see them more often."

I was a little surprised.  "Surely they will drive over for Christmas."

"No, Brigit doesn't like to drive and Rel, that's her husband, doesn't
drive at all.  Can you imagine that?"

"Rel," I repeated.  "That's an unusual name.  Is it a nick name?"

"No," she shook her head.  "That's his name, Rel.  Rel Granger.  They named
the boy Willow.  It sounded awfully like a hippy name, but Brigit said her
husband really liked trees and nature.  I'm so worried that the boy will
get teased something awful in school."

"Did you have plans to go visit them on Christmas?" I asked.  "I didn't
mean to interrupt anything."

"No," she said forcefully.  "I'm so glad you are here."  I noticed what
looked like tears in her eyes.  "I was going to celebrate alone.  My
daughter...my daughter and I don't get along very well."

"Oh, Sarah, I'm so sorry."

At this point she broke down in tears and began to cry.  I reached over and
took her in my arms, holding her.  She sobbed on my shoulder, and then
tried to pull back, sniffing and pulling out a tissue from a pocket.  "I'm
so sorry, Jeff," she sniffed.  "I'm just a lonely old woman and it's so
good to have you here.  I don't mean to do this."  I just patted her on the
back and held her.  "I don't know where I went wrong.  Brigit seems to hate
me.  She has a drinking problem and we do nothing but fight when she's
around.  Her husband is such a good man and so patient and kind.  To be
honest I just don't know how he puts up with her.  And that poor little
boy.  I worry about him so much."  She continued to cry.

"It's alright," I said, soothingly.  "It will all work out okay.  You'll
see."

She sniffed again and then dried her tears on the tissue.  "Now let's go
out and get your things from the car," she ordered, pushing me back and
getting up from the couch.

After I brought my bag and the cooler in, we sat back in the living room
and she turned out the lights, just leaving the Christmas tree illuminated.
She warmed a bottle of blood for me and fixed herself an eggnog.  We sat
and looked at the pretty lights and caught up on our lives.

"I actually saw your movie," she admitted.  "I think I was the oldest one
in the theater.  Mostly it was young people and teenagers.  Despite the
fact that it was a horror movie, I really enjoyed your performance.  Are
you going to make any more?"

"No," I laughed.  "Making movies is interesting, but it's hard to find
something that will only be filmed at night, in the dark, or in a sound
stage.  It's not like I can do a sunny location."

"No, I suppose not," she replied.

"Besides, I've found that being a celebrity has definite draw backs."  I
told her about my run in with the Van Helsing Foundation.  I reminded her
that Count Pinsky and warned us about them.

"Oh my, they sound very scary.  I can't imagine going through that sort of
thing again.  If it means you have to blend in and not be a movie star,
then it's for the best," she agreed.  We continued to visit for quite some
time until Sarah began to fade.  Then we went upstairs and she showed me to
the guest room, pulling the drapes over the window so the morning sun
wouldn't shine in.  She apologized for going to bed, saying she knew I
probably was on a more nocturnal schedule, but I told her not to concern
herself.  I really didn't require that much sleep and could be up with her
during the day as well, if we just kept the windows dark.

The next day was Christmas Eve.  I got up in the morning to find Sarah had
covered all her windows.  I asked her if the neighbors would wonder, but
she said it didn't matter.  I didn't visit that often and she was
determined to have a great holiday with me.  We had breakfast together, she
eating toast and coffee, me another bottle of type O.  I told her about the
company I used now that furnished human blood which was much better than
the pig's blood I used to use.  She was a little concerned but I told her
they guaranteed that it was donated or purchased and no human was harmed.
I also shared stories of my hunting adventures in the wild.  She was less
than thrilled to hear of me attacking wild animals.

"Jeff, you could be seriously injured by a bear or a mountain lion.  And
just think of the diseases you might catch from wild animals."

"There really are very few diseases we can catch," I told her.  "I'm pretty
much immune to everything."

"What about viruses?" she asked.  "I was concerned about AIDS.  I know it
ravaged the gay community and you seem to have a double threat with being
gay and living on blood."

"So far no vampires have reported contracting it," I assured her.

"Well there's the cure everyone has been seeking," Sarah laughed.  "Just
turn everyone into vampires."

"If everyone were vampires, we'd have a serious shortage of human blood.
But wouldn't that make a great plot for a horror movie set in the future?"
I replied.  "There are other drawbacks too.  No babies.  Vampires are
sterile."

"Oh," Sarah said with a look of distress on her face.  "I never new that,
or thought about it.  Jeff, that's so sad.  You can never be a parent."

"For most of our kind that's probably a good thing.  I think basically
we're too selfish to raise children.  Most vampires haven't turned out like
me.  It's usually the older ones who become a little more mellow and able
to fit in with human society.  I think it helped me because I wasn't
allowed to be a young vampire, but was kept in the crypt for such a long
time before I finally was freed."

"Still, I think you would have made a great father."

"Thanks," I said, appreciating her sentiment if not actually sad that I had
missed that opportunity.  "Speaking of children, are you interested in
going for a drive this evening?"  I asked.  "We could leave at sundown and
be in Kansas City by ten o'clock.  You could spend the holiday with your
daughter and family."

"Good gracious no," she answered quickly, then blushed.  "Thank you so
much, Jefferson for the offer, but it wouldn't be appreciated by my
daughter.  She and I really don't get along and she has made it clear in
the past that she isn't interested in any visits.  I know a surprise one
would be very unwelcome."

"You said your son-in-law was a great guy," I remarked.

"He is, but I would never want him or my grandson to have to deal with the
anger that Brigit would foist on them if we just showed up.  She never has
dealt well with change."

That evening Sarah served rum laced eggnog for herself and vodka laced
blood for me.  We sat at her spinet and sang Christmas carols and then
segued on to Broadway show tunes.  It was a very pleasant night.  At
midnight I escorted her back upstairs to bed, admonishing her to go to
sleep or Santa might not stop by.  She just laughed and laughed.

Christmas morning I got up and went downstairs to fix coffee for my
hostess.  I also scrounged in her refrigerator and found eggs and bacon and
cooked her a wonderful breakfast.  Around nine she came stumbling down the
stairs, asking what smelled so good.  It pleased me to wait on her like she
used to do for me some forty years earlier.  After breakfast I took her
hand and led her back to the living room.  There, under the tree was a
small package, wrapped in shiny blue paper with a silver bow.  "See, Santa
has brought you a gift," I said.

Sarah looked in surprise, then gave me a guilty look in return.  "But Jeff,
I don't have anything for you," she said sadly.

"Sarah, I don't want or need anything.  Remember, I travel kind of light.
Now open it."

She took the package and unwrapped it.  Inside was a small, velvet covered
box.  She opened it and the light caught the diamond inside.  I had picked
out a pendant for her.  It had a flawless one carat diamond surrounded by
emeralds, rubies and sapphires.  I was afraid it might be too ostentations,
but she seemed to love it.  "Oh my stars, Jeff, this is beautiful.  It must
have cost a fortune."

"Don't think about the money.  I just wanted to give you something back for
all you have given me.  I always think of you as a precious jewel, so I
tried to find something that would express that.  I really hope you like
it."

"I love it, but you really shouldn't have.  It's just too much."

"Put it on," I begged, then took it from her and helped fasten the claps
behind her neck.

"How does it look?" she asked, and then jumped up to look in a mirror.  "Oh
Jeff," she said as she looked at it and her image.  She turned and ran to
me, grabbing me in a hug and began to cry.  "I love you more all the time,"
she gasped and tried to staunch the flow of tears.  Then she suddenly
thought and jumped up.  "Wait right here, I do have something for you."
She ran from the room and upstairs to her bedroom.  A few minutes later she
came down the stairs with something in her hand.  "It isn't much, and I
haven't even wrapped it.  I hope you won't be offended, but here."  She
held out her hand and showed me a gold signet ring.  It held the letter K
in the center.  "It ... it was David's.  I've kept it all these years, I
don't know why.  But I want you to have it, if you want it.  After all, you
are a part of my family."

I took the ring and now it was my turn to try not to cry.  "Sarah, this is
the nicest gift anyone could ever give me.  Thank you."  I slipped it on my
finger and it fit perfectly.

"It probably needs polishing, and I'm sure it isn't worth much."

"It's perfect and it's worth more than anything else I have ever owned."  I
gave her a hug and kissed her on the cheek.

We were suddenly interrupted by the doorbell.  "I wonder who that could
be?" she mused and got up to answer the door.  "You stay in here," she
ordered as she pulled a sliding pocket door shut between the living room
and the hall.  I wondered if she were doing this to shut out the light, or
to keep my visit a secret.  But only a moment later she was pulling the
door open and ushering in a plump older woman dressed in various shades of
red from her boots to her coat, gloves and scarf.  Her red hair clashed
with the colors of her clothing.  It was evident that it was a dye job.
"Jefferson Smythe, this is my friend and next door neighbor, Violet
Peterson."

"How do you do, ma'am," I said standing as I took her gloved hand.

"Mrs. Peterson was the one who saw you standing on my front steps the other
night and called me to let me know.  She thought you might be a prowler."

"You never know who might be stalking us at this time of year.  How do you
do, young man.  Sarah tells me you are her nephew.  It's so nice to meet
you.  I'm so glad she has company for the holiday.  I won't stay.  I just
dropped by with a fruit cake."  I saw she was holding a small package
wrapped in aluminum foil.  "Your nephew is so young," she observed to
Sarah.

"I'm actually her great nephew," I said quickly.  "Her brother was my
grandfather."  I had grown used to lying to preserve the illusion of my
age.

The older woman gave me a curious look, then her eyes widened.  "Jefferson
Smythe.  Weren't you in that movie, "Death and Savages?"  I saw it on HBO
just last night.  Why Sarah, you should have said your great nephew was a
movie star!"

"Hardly," I chuckled.  "That is the only movie I have ever made.  I'm
surprised you remember me from it."

"Of course I remember you," the woman said as she began to take off her
scarf and coat.  "You were so handsome and dashing.  And so was that other
fellow, Terry someone or other.  I actually thought the two of you had such
chemistry together, it might turn out that you two were gay lovers instead
of just friends in the movie.  You know so many people are doing that sort
of thing in their films these days."

"If you want the truth," I said, leaning toward the old woman
confidentially, "Terry James is just a real asshole.  Not at all likeable
as he was in the picture."

"That is so sad," Mrs. Peterson said, clucking her tongue.  "But you never
really know them until they are on Jay Leno.  So what's your next picture,
Mr. Smythe?"

"Oh I don't think there will be another.  I've retired from the cinema."

"Retired?" she said sharply.  "But you're only in your twenties.  How can
you retire."

"Thank you for the fruit cake, Violet," Sarah said pointedly, trying to
pull her friend in that direction.

"Not at all," the red headed woman answered and then gave out a shriek.
"Oh my God, Sarah what is that?"  She clutched at the diamond pendant.
"This is beautiful.  Where ever did you find such a high quality in
imitation stones?"

"Do you like it?" Sarah asked proudly.  "This is a Christmas gift from
Jefferson, and I'm afraid the stones are all real."

"Why that must have cost you a fortune.  Young man you had best not be
retiring anytime soon."

I just stood and smiled as Sarah pushed the woman toward the door.

* * *

The visit was much too short for Sarah's taste.  Jeff could have stayed a
few weeks, but he felt the need to move on.  As the sun set, he took his
things out to the car.

"Jeff, I love you so," Sarah said, giving him one last hug.

"And you know I love you.  I promise when I get where I'm going, I will
write and send you an address."

"You better you big scary monster," she laughed, hugging him again.  "I'd
like to see you more that once every forty years or so.  At this rate you
won't be back till I'm nearly 100."

"Yes and I'll still only be 23.  I envy you, your ability to live in time
rather than outside of it."

"Believe me, it's no picnic," she said.  Jeff kissed her on the cheek, then
walked out into the twilight and climbed in his car to drive off in the
snow.  Sarah stood on her front steps watching after him for quite a while
before wiping away a tear and returning to the warmth of her house.

 

 

 

 

 

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