Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 31

Willow had been walking for a long time and his feet were killing him.  His
last ride dropped him off hours ago and no one would stop for him since.
In fact he hadn't seen a car since he had turned down the country lane off
the highway.  He wondered if he was even going the right way, but this is
what the computer map had indicated.  It was already growing dark and he
was afraid he'd lose his way, but he kept going.  Being raised in the city,
the sounds of nature around him only added to his nervousness.  His mind
began to play tricks on him and every shadow became some creature from a
monster movie about to pounce on him.  Willow felt that strange feeling as
if he were being watched.  He kept glancing nervously around.  As he
continued to walk along he glanced into the dark tree line and thought he
saw something moving, paralleling his course.  The sun had set and it was
growing ever darker.  He would have to stop soon for fear of being totally
lost in the dark, but the shadows only made him walk faster.

Willow looked behind him again, staring into the blue-black shadows.  He
turned around and almost ran into a figure standing right in his path.  He
jumped back, his heart racing.  The image appeared to be a tall, thin man
blocking his way, but as he looked his gaze was met with glowing green
eyes, like those of a cat or a wild animal, gleaming at him in the
darkness.  "It can be dangerous to be walking alone out here at night," a
voice said, coming from the figure in front of him.

Willow felt the goose flesh raise on his arms as well as the hair stand out
on the back of his neck.  "I...I was..." he stammered.

"Lost?" the voice supplied.  The figure seemed slightly menacing and rather
intimidated him.  "This is private property.  You should turn around and
head back to the highway."

"But I was looking for someone."

"I'd say you found someone.  Now I advise you to turn around and start
walking in the other direction."

Willow had come this far and wasn't going to be put off.  "I didn't mean to
trespass, but I was looking for Jefferson Smythe's residence."

There was a long pause and then the man with the glowing eyes said,
"Smythe.  Why do you want him?"

"I have something for him.  Do you know him?  Am I at least in the right
area?"

"What is it you want to give him?" the voice asked.

"Well sir, that's none of your business," Willow said, surprised at his own
temerity.  "That's between me and Mr. Smythe."

Another long pause and then the figure said, "Keep walking along this road
and you'll find the house."  And then the figure was gone.  Willow blinked
and it just disappeared as if it had never been there.  Creepy.  He
shrugged and continued walking along the roadway.  The trees grew more
densely and the roadway began to turn and twist, snaking its way up the
side of a hill.  After about an hour of hiking, and just as he thought he
was going to run completely out of energy, the land leveled off and the
trees opened into a wide circle of cleared land with what looked like an
old Victorian mansion sitting alone in the center.  It was shrouded in
darkness with the only light showing from the glass window of the main door
as if the only light in the house was in the entryway.

Willow slowly walked up the path to the front porch and mounted the five
steps up onto the wide curving veranda that surrounded the front of the
house.  As he approached the door, it opened as if he was expected and a
tall thin man stood in the entryway.  "What is it you want?" he asked.
Willow thought he recognized the voice.  This sounded exactly like the man
who had stopped him on the road an hour ago.

"I'm looking for Jefferson Smythe."

"I am Jefferson Smythe, now what do you want?"

Willow looked sharply at the man in the doorway.  He was backlit by the
light coming from the foyer behind him, so it was hard to tell his
features, but he didn't seem old at all.  In fact he didn't appear much
older than Willow.  He was tall, thin and had shaggy blond hair.  "You knew
my grandmother," Willow said slowly.  "She asked me to give you something."

The man in the doorway shook his head.  "You are most likely mistaken.  Now
go away."  He began to shut the door.

"She was Sarah Brewster," Willow said as the door closed in his face.  But
on this statement it stopped and the man behind it stood perfectly still
for a minute.

"Sarah Brewster is your grandmother?" he asked, opening the door slightly.

"She was.  She passed on just last month."

 He had turned sideways and the light caught his face.  Willow was amazed
that the man appeared as young as he did, but for all his youth, he seemed
weighed down with an immense age.  "Sarah is gone," he said more as a
statement than a question and then he heaved a sigh.

"Yes," Willow said, feeling the sadness that seemed to engulf the young man
in the doorway.

The man seemed lost in his own thoughts for a minute, and then appeared to
realize that Willow was still standing there.  "You...you're Sarah's
grandson?"

"Yes," Willow answered.  "I'm..."

"Willow Granger," the man said.  "Come in."  He held the door and stepped
back.  Willow stepped into the house and Jeff shut the door behind him.  He
then led his guest through the foyer and into a dark living room.  He
quickly lit a lamp to cast a warm glow on the room and indicated that the
guest should sit.  Jeff took a seat on a chair opposite him.  "How did
she...how did she pass on?" he asked.

"Her heart," Willow said.  "She had congestive heart failure and had been
in poor health for some time then her heart just gave out."  They sat in
silence for a moment, and then Willow seemed to remember his mission.  He
reached in his backpack which he had sevgfbt on the floor beside the couch.
"Grams wanted me to give this to you," he said, pulling out a small package
wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.  "She said it was important
that you should have it."

Jeff took the package and opened it.  Inside the brown wrapping was a book.
He opened it and looked at the neat, handwritten pages.  "It's her diary,"
Willow said.  The pages seemed to blur as Jeff blinked back tears.  "So
it's all true then," Willow almost whispered.

"You've read this?" Jeff asked, looking up sharply at the boy.

"Yes, when I was younger.  I sneaked it out of her bedroom and read part of
it.  I thought it was just a story she was writing."  He looked
uncomfortable as he admitted his knowledge.  "She was furious when she
found out I had read it.  But later I think it made us a lot closer, like
just the two of us shared a special secret.  When she knew she was failing,
she made me promise to bring it to you after she passed on.  I didn't
really think you existed."

Jeff looked back at the book, gently caressing the pages as if he were
touching the woman, the young girl from the cemetery who he rescued and who
had rescued him.  "Yes," Jeff said softly, "it's all true."

"I couldn't really believe it, but seeing you..."  Willow's voice choked
off.  He worked up his courage and spoke again.  "You look like you're
twenty.  Grams said you never aged."

Jefferson smiled at the boy.  "No, I supposed I don't.  Everyone I've ever
cared about does though.  They all grow old and die.  Some don't even get
the chance to grow old..."

"Like my great uncle David," Willow supplied.  "You loved him, didn't you?"

"David, yes I loved him.  That was back in a time before gay rights.  We
were discrete back then."

"Yeah, I guess times have changed," Willow agreed.  "You've seen so many of
the changes."

Jeff seemed to come to his senses, putting the book gently down on a table
beside the chair.  "And you must be very tired after your long walk.  You
hitch hiked all the way here from St. Louis?"

"Yeah," the boy said.

"Well come with me.  I'll find you a bed for the night.  I'm afraid I don't
have any food in the house that you would eat.  In the morning, I'll see
that you have a way to return home that doesn't include footwork."

"Thanks," Willow said as he stood.  He followed his host back out of the
parlor and up the stairs.  Jefferson turned on lights along the way.  He
showed the young man to a door and pointed out the bathroom down the hall.
He then bowed his goodnight and returned down the stairs.  Willow just
shook his head and stepped into the bedroom.  It was a comfortable room
with a full sized bed.  The boy quickly stripped off his clothes and fell
onto the bed, amazed at how comfortable it felt.  It had been a rough trip
and he was glad it was over.  He wanted to get up and take a shower, but he
was so exhausted that he instantly fell asleep.

Morning woke him as the sunlight came in the window.  Willow sat up and
looked about.  His clothes had been neatly folded on the chair.  The heavy
drapes over the window had been pulled back so the sunlight would stream
in.  He got up and found a soft terry cloth bathrobe hanging on a hook at
the back of his door.  He slipped it on and opened the door.  The hallway
was still dark and gloomy.  He shut the bedroom door behind himself and
stepped down the hall to the bathroom.  Inside the room was dark with heavy
curtains over the one window.  He flipped on a light and stepped inside.
After taking a nice long shower, and washing the dust of the road off, he
stepped out, dried and slipped the robe back on.

As Willow stepped out of the bathroom he smelled the aroma of cooked food.
He followed his nose down a second set of stairs that opened into the
kitchen.  He noticed that there was a big window over the kitchen sink, but
it was darkened with a blackout curtain.  Jeff was just dishing eggs and
bacon onto a plate.  "I fixed you breakfast," he said, sitting the dish
down at the table.  He then grabbed a pitcher and poured a glass of orange
juice and then stepped back to the counter to retrieve toast.

"Thanks," Willow said as he sat at the table and took a sip of the juice.
Jefferson placed the dish of toast in front of him and then sat at the
opposite side of the table.  "Aren't you going to have anything?" Willow
asked, picking up a piece of toast.

"I've already had my breakfast," Jeff said.  "I hope this is alright.  I
didn't know what you liked."

The boy looked a little uncomfortable.  "To be honest, I can't eat eggs and
bacon.  I'm kind of on a special diet...like you."

For a moment, Jeff looked shocked, and then his face relaxed.  "I'm sure
your diet isn't like mine.  I'm sorry; can I get you something else?"

"No, the toast will be fine," Willow said.  "I'm just allergic to meat and
eggs."

Jeff shook his head and got up to retrieve the plate from in front of his
guest.  "I've never heard of a food allergy like that."

"Something I inherited from my father," the boy said.

"Well, once you're dressed, I can loan you my car so you can drive into
town and I'll arrange for your transportation back home."

Willow looked up at the man leaning against the counter.  "I'd like to stay
here for a while if I could," he asked.

Jeff's green eyes clouded.  "No, I don't think that would be possible."

"Why not?  You've got lots of room, and I promise I wouldn't be a bother.
I'll stay out of your way.  And I know about your condition so it's not
like I would be opening up the drapes or freaking out if I saw blood in the
'fridge."

"Willow, it's more than just that.  I live alone out here for a reason."

"Because you're a vampire," the boy supplied.  He was surprised at how
easily the word came from his lips.

"Yes, that's partly it.  But there are other reasons as well."

"Such as?"

Jeff seemed taken aback that the boy would ask.  "I'd rather not go into
it."

"Well I have my reasons too, for wanting to be here," the boy said.

"You belong at home."

"I have no home," he shouted.  He looked down at the plate of toast in
front of him, tears coming to his eyes.  "My grandmother was the last
family I had.  My mom remarried after my dad disappeared, and she was
killed a few years ago in a car accident.  My stepfather hates me and threw
me out of the house.  I was staying with Grams until she passed on.  I
don't have anywhere else to go."  The boy began to sob quietly.

Jefferson reached out for him, and then pulled back.  He remembered how he
felt, totally lost when Sarah had taken him into her home all those years
ago.  "You can stay," he said softly.  Willow looked up at him, tears in
his eyes.  "Now why don't you eat your toast and then we can have a long
talk."

* * *

"How old are you?" Jeff asked.

"I'm 18.  I just graduated from high school last spring."

"What about college?"

"I don't have any money for that," the boy replied.

"Why would you say your stepfather hates you?" Jeff asked as they sat in
the gloomy parlor.  "I always knew your family to be so very loving."

"You knew my grandmother's family," Willow said.  "Mine were quite
different.  My father was very loving and gentle.  He fell in love with my
mom and she had me.  My father was wonderful, but he disappeared when I was
10.  Mom would never talk about it at the time.  But she managed to get a
divorce based on abandonment and then got remarried."

"Yes, I remember getting a letter from your grandmother.  She really loved
your father.  She was quite devastated," Jeff said.

"My mom wasn't.  She said it was good to be rid of him.  I hated her for
that.  She married this real creep, some guy she met in a bar.  He used to
drink and he'd beat me."  Jeff had to suppress an animalistic growl that
wanted to come from his throat.  "Anyway, he would have thrown me out a lot
sooner, but Mom wouldn't let him.  Then when she was killed in that car
crash, the guy told me to get out.  I moved in with Grams.  Her health was
really starting to fail and I was there to help her out."

"The man just threw you out?" Jeff asked in shocked surprise.

"He never cared about me, and then when he found out I was gay..." Willow
replied.  An odd look crossed his host's face.  "Yeah, I know, you're gay
too.  It was in the diary.  So I thought maybe you would understand."

"I do," Jeff said softly.  "That was what started this whole thing.  My
father hated me for being gay and that's how I became a vampire in the
first place."

"I think if my real father was still around, I would have a home," the boy
said.

Jefferson was curious.  "Do you know what became of your father?  Your
grandmother's letters were very vague about all that."

"I know he loved me a lot.  We were best friends.  But when he went away,
it was like he just disappeared.  One day he was there and then I woke up
and he was gone.  Mom told me he wasn't human.  When I was little I thought
that meant he was an alien from another planet.  I used to think his space
ship must have come to take him home and that's why he couldn't contact me.
But I don't know what really happened.  Maybe he just got tired of my mom
and couldn't deal with it anymore, so he split."

Jeff decided to change the subject.  "If you are going to stay here you
might as well get dressed, and we can make a list of things we'll need.  I
don't usually keep food in the house so this evening we'll have to go
grocery shopping.  I don't know what else a young human needs.  Winter is
coming on so you'll want a coat and winter clothes."

"Thanks," Willow said as he stood up.  "I have an extra pairs of jeans and
a few t-shirts, but that's about it.  As for food, I'm a vegetarian so just
fruits and vegetables and some complimentary proteins like rice and beans
and stuff like that."  He was still dressed in the robe he found in his
room.  "I guess I should go get dressed."  He hesitated for a moment, then
stepped close to Jeff and hugged him.  "Thanks so much for giving me a
place to stay."

The vampire reached out and stiffly returned the hug.  Then the boy quickly
left the room to run upstairs and get dressed.  Jeff sat for a while,
wondering what he had just done.  How could he let this young man into his
life?  He had been living comfortably for several years now and didn't need
anyone else to complicate things.

* * *

After the sun set, Jeff and Willow went out to the garage.  Inside was a
BMW M6 Convertible Coupe.  "Wow, this car is yours?" the boy asked.

"I drive very infrequently, but when I do, I like to be comfortable."

"Do you drive to a butcher shop for ... you know, for your food?"

"No.  I have it shipped in.  When you have the right connections you can
get what you need.  There is a company out there that caters to our kind."

The boy looked at his companion in amazement.  "I had no idea.  You mean
there are that many vampires that there are companies to deal with them?"

"Well, there aren't that many, but the few that have been around a long
time have managed to find people who want to make money at their expense.
You can find almost anyone willing to do anything for money."

Willow just sat back in the leather seat of the car.  "Then you are rich?"

Jeff chuckled.  "Yes I guess I am.  I inherited quite a pile of money and
it's just grown over the years.  I don't really have anything to spend it
on."

"We've never had money," the boy replied.  "Grams did, but she was always
really tight with it.  She said she was leaving everything she had to me,
but it would be a while before I saw anything because it was all tied up in
an estate and courts and stuff."

"Yes, the lawyers always seem to get their share first," Jeff agreed.

They drove along down the country lane in silence.  Finally Jeff looked
over at the boy.  "Willow, have you ever thought about going to college?"

"Yeah, I thought about it a lot, but I knew there wasn't any money to pay
for it.  Grams said I shouldn't worry about the money, but then when she
got so sick..."

"Well you should think about it now."

"I still can't pay for it.  I don't know when if ever I'll get Grams' nest
egg as she called it.  No one even knows where I am," the boy replied.

"I could pay for it," Jeff volunteered quietly.

"But I couldn't pay you back."

"As you said earlier, I'm rich.  What else would I do with all that money."
The vampire glanced over at the boy.

They pulled onto the highway and in a short time came to a small town,
pulling up at the local Walmart.  Once inside, Jeff made sure Willow picked
out clothing, toiletries and anything else he might need.  They stopped by
the electronics department and found a nice lap top computer for the boy to
use, and then finished in the grocery area, with Willow picking out most of
the food supplies since he would be the one eating.  They then returned to
the car and stowed everything in the trunk.  The shopping finished, the two
walked down the street to a small pizza place.  Willow ordered a small
vegetarian pizza and the two of them sat in a booth.  Willow ate and Jeff
sipped a glass of water.  They took their time enjoying the evening and the
company and then slowly walked back to the car.  Once home, Willow helped
carry in all their purchases, and took his clothes up to his room while
Jeff put away the groceries.

It was awfully quiet, so Jeff walked upstairs to check on the boy and found
him sound asleep on the top of his covers.  Jeff carefully undressed him
and tucked him into the bed, putting his clothes on the nearby chair.  He
took a moment to look at the sleeping youth.  The boy looked like he was
only five years younger than Jeff, but he knew the boy was really 192 years
younger.  Still something seemed to stir in Jeff, an emotion he had not
felt for a long time.  He wanted to protect and take care of the boy.  But
he remembered how it felt to be so hurt.  He remembered what if felt like
to lose someone to the ravages of time and death.  He couldn't open his
heart to this again.  He turned and slipped out of the room, closing the
door softly.

Jeff walked down the stairs to the kitchen and heated a bottle of blood in
the microwave and then returned to the living room.  He sat down heavily in
his favorite chair and leaned back, sipping his drink and closing his eyes,
trying to rid himself of any soft emotions.  But he kept thinking of the
boy, his ice blue eyes, his sun bleached hair, the almost delicate features
of his face, his soft, supple skin.  Jeff shook his head, opening his eyes.
He was beginning to become aroused, and he would not let that happen.  He
looked at the table beside him and saw the diary sitting there.  He picked
it up and began to read.

 

 

 

 

 

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