"Let's see you turn into a bat." I did so and flew around the room. I saw a spider I'd seen earlier and the change in perspective always vexed me. The echolocation business is also unpleasant; the bat's not my favorite.
"Ok, let's have a mist then." I've spent most of my life as the mist. One of the reasons I moved to New England (besides seeing a Eugene O'Neill play) was because in Western Colorado, with its dry arid climate, my mist state was all too apparent to the townsfolk. One time I got vacuumed into five different vacuums. I won't go into the eyebrow splitting details here, just imagine five limbs crawling and togethering. But the mist, I love the mist. You can even stay out during the day some, it burns your back, but feels nice in moderation. I'd probably live my life as the mist like most vampires, if not for Kendra.
I met Kendra at a Monroe flick in one of those independent movie theaters more non-profit than cinema. We were the only people by ourselves and after I created an awkward moment while leaving, "You're using that door too? Monroe, exits, we have so much in common," we went to the burger joint next door and flattened a knoll of sliders. Kendra had sandy hair, penciled eyebrows, doughy eyes, with a small wave of a double-chin. She was at Monroe to spite her father, who, as a lapsed intellectual, would be furious to know his daughter spent the night contextualizing German Expressionism. Kendra was a senior in high school though she was twenty-one, her explanation being, "I flunked on purpose. Repeating grades was fun; it cemented the lessons, and gave me plenty of time to daydream. I forged friendships with several grades of kids, a lot of whom are now at the local college, and will be able to help me as I helped them."
"You must be really smart."
"I'm very smart. All the useless stuff we were taught in school, I still got."
"Like how photosynthesis works?"
"Precisely. Are you a vampire?"
"Is there a mirror somewhere?"
"Ah, I bet the a-hole that installed that was a vampire too. It's a cheap way to make space appear larger than it really is."
"I'm not feeling all that seduced."
So I rolled the silverware into seashells and threw my voice from them. Kendra had to get home as it was a school night. "What if I showed up at your class and used my physic mind control to make them throw us a party?"
"Can you do that?"
"Just one person at a time, but, sometimes one person is all it takes."
* * *
Whilst Christ hung on the cross, a weary traveler approached in dire need of a drink. He silently climbed up the crucifix, trying not to alert a young looking mother and the intense looking man, and from the slit on Christ's side drank. The combination of sun's fermentation with the God particle all aswirl after five hours distillation turned Christ's blood into Eternities Wine. The traveler became the first vampire. It's not blood vampires drink, but wine.
"So real wine tastes like blood?" Kendra had asked the internet what went well with French dip sandwiches and it had recommended a red. She was disappointed and confused.
"Yes. Just if you have anything else, like a mixed drink or-"
"So by that pair-of-shoes logic, flesh tastes like crackers?"
"Yes. It made for such a delicious crisp that Vlad the Impaler filled his moat with spikes just so he could eat skin chips anytime he wanted. He not only inspired the woodblock that established vampirc lore, but an excellent Mortal Combat level as well."
"So, you're like priests?"
"Many a priest was a vampire. I remember when Goya was painting Saint Francis Borgia at the Deathbed of an Impenitent, I told him that St. Francis Borgia was a vam—"
Her father emerged from the subterranean living room, a descending octagon of steps, "I don't like hearing so many historical figures recounted during supper. The lives they lived fill a head with wicked wonderment. Particularly that Goya. His Carpaccio's bring about the kind of intense feelings I want you nowhere near."
"What are the Carpaccio's?" Kendra asked flatly.
"You," he pointed his ring finger at me, "a word."
He led me to the sidewalk lining his house. "I got no bones with you being a bloodsucker, provided you don't transform my daughter and me without our consent. In fact, when the food supply starts getting low, turning people into vampires might help curb demands on agriculture. However, I'm trying to prepare Kendra for a world that expects her to limit her propensity for extremes of emotion. So please, confine it to superheroes and sex jokes," he impored and I tilted in acquiescence. We went back inside and watched hologram wrestling.
* * *
I decided to stop by Kendra's school after all and took on the guise of a wandering lecturer of medieval history.
"It's a well-known fact that the Plantagenet dynasty, or the Devils Brood as they're referred to as, was chock full of vampires. The mother of the Dynasty, the Countess of Anjou, famously refused communion because, for vampires, reverse transubstantiation turns Christs' blood back into wine, and if you're an alcoholic, like the Countess was, vampirism doesn't really alter that disease. It explains the frequency with which the line won and lost the battles and territories it did. Lionheart's name is self-explanatory in that he would eat the hearts of his enemies like a lion. The Dark Prince, it's all there. John Lackland had the hard time he had because he wasn't deemed 'vampire material.'"
"Was Edward II a vampire?"
"That vampire could garden like a motherfucker! If only you could've seen his rutabagas. He was also the gayest king since that drag-queen king, Elagabalus. It took courage to be as gay as Edward was, vampire courage. Where was I? There were a few that strains of vampirism in the following dynasties. Queen Mary would drain three Huguenots for lunch. But ultimately Protestantism stamped out the ruling vampire aristocracy in England. Protestantism is much more of a werewolf religion."
I walked over to Kendra and made out with her. I looked up at the class, "What? Show me the law that says it's illegal to kiss."
"In sixteenth century Naples, it was punishable by death to kiss in-"
"You don't have to tell me, kid," I transformed into a mist, "I was there." Then I seeped into the air ducts.
Swimmingly. It was all going so well the personification of my good fortune simply had to jump into a river. It's there now. All I had to do was take care of the other vampire in town whose running for election on a ballot composed of the same crap Kendra's father had said to me. Kipson Calatrog of the ninth district would like nothing more than for the whole county to turn vampire. The pro vs. cons were irrefutable and a complete vampire refitting could be what saves the planet. He was passing me now, his body encased in a swooshy olive-green suit and an International Kline button-up. A dark wizard had cursed him to forever put gel in his black hair, spiking it like a sucker.
"Hey, my best friends' brother showed me a video of your speech today, you really riled them up. I could use a gut like yours on the campaign trail." I told him in the past I'd been a member of the movement that wanted to turn people into the creature of the black lagoon, but I'd consider it. "And who's the flouncing flunk? Gal like her could give a guy polyamorous ideas, if you know what I mean? Hey, how do you go about your blood?" He asked with too cued a curiosity-all downshift on the eyebrows.
"You haven't figured a blood system yet?" I asked, flummoxed.
"You're not going around killing people are you?"
"Uh, no, I mean, I—."
"Kipson, they're going to catch onto you, you're running for office for Christ's sake! You can't go around giving vampires a black eye."
"I don't need to be lectured by a guy that's going out with a high-schooler, but I do hope you join the campaign." He transformed into a bat and got the hell out of there.
* * *
Kendra and I visited a witch I knew because we wanted to party. The witch lived in a hollowed out hill with a large fir on top whose roots curled down and provided the structural columns of the hut. Past the un-knocked, egg-shaped door, a mustachioed cactus stirred a bubbling cauldron while the witch looked at Man Ray pictures. She had Dvorak's Noon Witch poem on, which I thought was a self-absorbed tune to stumble into.
"Xenatitus," the witch stubbed out a cigarette, "the day is made auspicious by your presence. I hope you brought me the head of my enemy."
"Is that what's in the box?"
"Witch, this is Kendra. We both like Monroe, Strindberg, and Scriabin."
"Like that's so unique." Kendra and I laughed at the witches' reasoning.
"We were hoping to get freaked out on some herbs if you've a brew you find transcendent?"
"Let's see." She went to a bookshelf of bottles and vials. "I've got an elixir that turns you into a cloud. Here's the Death Walk, it's super far-out. This one will let you see parallel worlds if you walk by a nexus. This one summons an angel, and if you can play a prettier song on the harp, and they're terrible at it, you get to trade places with them for seven minutes-"
"Just give us what's in the cauldron."
"That's just meth." We laughed too loudly and a subterranean whirlybird popped out of the ground we then had to defeat with rocket launchers.
"Anyway," the cactus filled up two tumblers, "here's your drink. I brewed it for an earth goblin that just lost his home to a pipeline."
It was a Fauvist cocktail and I knew it well. The sky turns green and the trees move like dancers you can talk to, and at the end of the trip, you turn into a tower. Kendra hopped on my back and we flew into the sky to kick the peaks of mountains, kick footballs mid-air, kick hang-gliders' feet, kick birds. We were in love! We could kick whatever we wanted! I stretched her into a sandy coastline, and she tousled my hair into a coral reef. Her hips became a canyon and my arms turned into a wilderness. We collided like asteroids. We twinned into towers.
We walked back to her house under new streetlamps that were LED white, and no longer buzzing, florescent orange; truly a great crime atoned for. Cobblestone-clouds bricked in the night, making it warm and cool and webbed in silver light. The trees shed their leaves one by one like an autumnal striptease.
"How do you get your blood?"
"I kill people."
"I thought you told Kipson-"
"I was just messing with him."
"Why don't you drink animal blood?"
"Because animals rock."
Her father was still up. On the counter was a stack of Sontag, "Now why would the librarian tell me my daughter ordered smut like this-"
"Dad, I'm not a child anymore! I can seek to understand whatever aesthetics I want."
"Not while you're living in my house!"
She bolted out the house and into my arms. I tried to hold onto her, but already I could feel her slip further and further into Madam Bovary. "Let me go away with you. I'll be your servant. You can turn me into a vampire, or if you prefer, I can stay a human and help you kill people."
"It's weird when you say it."
"I would conquer Australia for you. I would chisel the moon into a bust of you. Let us go to the wisest plastic surgeon in the land and get sewn into one."
"Uh, yeah, you can stay with me."
I lived in a really cool place I wasn't going to show Kendra. I turned my back on her for a second and she made an eternal vow to me and cut off half of her hair (it's this damn French literature she had to read twice). We went to one of my condos' and I rethought my life. It's ok, this is love, it's always terrible like this. I have to remember: it's being dissected alive; it's the enemy king sleeping in the deposed kings' palace; it's being called on stage to be sawed in half; it's being haunted by your phantom soul.
* * *
Kipson left me a voicemail saying he was desperate for another bloodsucker on the team. His campaign office was in one of the library's conference rooms and at eight the slave staff had to pack everything up a reschedule the room for tomorrow. Now he's wearing a wool herringbone suit with a black slik shirt and a bolo. Who would make this guy a vampire?
"I'll join your operation with the provision that I get to lead a task force that smashes every mirror in town."
"No can do, I'm the guy installing those mirrors. Transparency is what this campaign is all about, and the mayor's nephew owns the glasswork. But I'm happy you're on board."
Kendra, with her bizarre hair, walked in without acknowledging me and handed Kipson a file, a bagel, and a sloppy kiss.
"What the hell?"
Kendra was shocked at my being shocked, "This is a polyamorous era."
"A triangle is stronger than a line, Xenititus." Kipson chimed.
"Don't say my name."
"Kipson's even going to turn me into a vampire. Something I had serious doubts you were willing to do."
"Hmm, it's close to eight, we really should start packing up."
That ended that.
I admit, on a few occasions after one too many drinks, I'd visit them in their dreams. They'd implore me to reconsider, to give the trinity of love a chance, but I stood firm in my resolution that I was vampire, not a gorilla, or a walrus. They sent me many letters but I perched too high for their postal drones to find. I stayed there, on the peripheral, while the vampire craze consumed the entire town. The new generation really pushed it on the whole sunlight business and slowly burned away. They didn't take themselves seriously and went mad drinking vermin blood; they order garlic knots and have to be hospitalized for a month. And when they ran out of non-vampires, they all just ate themselves and the city became a ghost town.
When I journeyed forth once more I began to see reptilian creatures that walked on two legs. Green skinned frog-sapiens. Excellent! I'd say sign me up, but I'm already a member!
BIO: Gabriel Congdon was born in Grand Junction, Colorado and now resides in Seattle where he lives hand to mouth as dishwash extraordinaire. He’s one of the creators of the web-series &@ and occasionally acts in independent films and for virtual reality software. His stories have appeared in, Pigeonholes, Inklette, and Jokes Review among others. His childrens play The Biz is available from A Pocketful of Plays.