This is something my local college is considering publishing. I deliberately kept the details lean, but focused on the cultural and literary humor. Those in the audience who know much about vampire history and enjoy their evolution over time might get a kick out of the allusions. It's not a very good example of the deeper style that I use for most other genres (those without specific word count maximums), but I hope anyone who reads it, at least, finds it mildly amusing.
A Vampire of His Time
He came in to my store late, just before closing, but that didn’t matter. I stood there holding unfolded denim pants and watched as the automatic glass doors slid shut behind him. The GAP sign glowed over his head. It threw illumination that made the moment more perfect, like something out of a movie. He was like something out of a movie.
Dressed in tight black jeans and a green turtleneck sweater, his skin was alabaster and utterly flawless. Even from across the store I could see that his eyes were gold ringed in red. I ignored the fact that he was just a shade over five feet. Height didn’t matter to me.
He scanned the store once before he saw me watching him. Our eyes met. Worlds felt like they were moving, colliding; I imagined starlit skies and endless nights in his arms, and couldn’t help but smiling and waving at him. The pants I’d been holding fell to the ground. It looked like he grimaced, but that was impossible.
My immortal prince walked up to me. There was a look of some poignant emotion on his face. The quiver of his lips, the concave of his cheeks, they might have been mistaken for constipation but I knew them for what they were: This was a man whose soul knew pain and torment, a man in search of someone who could accept him for who he was.
“Can I help you, sir?” I asked, trying for my most professional voice.
“Ah . . . I think . . .ah, I think that you dropped these.” He reached down and picked the pants I’d dropped up and offered them to me.
I took them back from him, deliberately brushing his fingers with mine. His hand was stone cold. I’d expected that, so it didn’t bother me one bit.
“That’s very nice. Don’t you want to go somewhere to talk? Maybe back to my place?” I looked down into his face and hoped that I didn’t sound too expectant.
My vampire took a step back from me. He looked uncertain. “Ah…that would…ah, be…ah…nice. How about coffee, instead? I’d love to…talk.” He shoved the tips of his fingers into his too-tight pants and rounded his shoulders awkwardly. Someone else might have mistaken him as an uncertain teenage boy. I didn’t.
“Of course, that sounds perfect! Coffee will help me stay up with you all night!” He was brilliant! Of course he was. No doubt he was very old; he probably had a degree.
I finished my shift and closed the store down as quickly as I could. It was hard not to pause every few seconds to look over at him where he stood next to the entrance. Limned by the light of the sign, he might have been mistaken for some sort of vampiric angel. I managed to resist, mostly.
We talked all the way to the IHOP. He was a total gentleman. He didn’t try to manhandle me, and he was a great listener. Better yet, I couldn’t look at his face (which I did often) and tell what he was thinking. The look of discomfort that I was coming to adore was fixed. There was no reaction when I revealed that I’d only dated two boys and had kissed neither. I was, after all, a good Christian girl waiting for my vam … the right man to come along.
I didn’t want to tell him that I knew what he was, not yet. He’d show his true self when he was ready. I was certain that it would be soon.
An unenthusiastic waitress greeted us at the door with an unlit cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other. She scowled, but led us inside and passed us menus.
“Seat yourselves, I’ll be back in a minute,” she told us.
My vampire failed to take the lead, so I grasped his hand and led him past the first rows of seats and to a private corner near the back. There weren’t many other people there, a few black-clad smokers congregated in the designated enclosure and an older man was slumped in his seat next to the entrance. Still, I wanted absolute privacy.
I sat across from him so I could watch his face. His tussled dirty-blond hair just begged to be touched. Somehow, I resisted the impulse. “So, tell me about yourself,” I said.
He fidgeted and looked down.
“You’re special, right?”
“Ah . . . yes.”
“You can tell me, I won’t judge. I promise.” I tried to inject every ounce of earnest conviction possible into my voice.
“Well . . . I am . . .ah . . .”
His hesitation was driving me up the wall. Clearly, he was trying to play coy. Maybe he was testing me.
“You’re a vampire, aren’t you?” I said.
“Ah . . . yes. Of that, I am certain.”
Finally, real communication!
“What sort of vampire are you?” I asked. “Do you shimmer and glisten in the sun?”
He looked away. “Um. . . . I do, now.”
“What do you mean, ‘you do now’?”
“Well, a few years ago, I didn’t. Now, I do.” He wouldn’t look at me.
I admit it, I was intrigued. “What were you like a few years ago?”
Somehow, he blushed. “I . . . ah, I didn’t like the sun. But I really liked . . . ah, feeding from men. I was very tormented; it didn’t seem right, you know?”
“What? You were into men?” This was unexpected, to say the least.
He shook his head. “Not like you mean. It wasn’t . . . intimate. I don’t think.”
“You don’t think? How could you not think? What sort of vampire are you?” I couldn’t help raising my voice. I was a modern girl, but I’d been raised to believe in certain inalienable facts. Like that vampire boys liked girls.
Scowling, he shuddered and sat up straight. For a moment, I could see the shadow of someone else overlaying his body; a darker, taller, more devious man. It scared me, that visage.
“In the beginning, I was the sort to ruin young ladies like you,” he said. His voice had changed; it had taken on a regal, faintly foreign, tone. “I was in command of the world, then. Nothing could stop me.” The red rims of his eyes filled in as he spoke; the bloody color swallowed the gold in the center until only a pip of the original color remained.
Quivering, somewhere between terror and hopeful longing, I asked, “And now?”
The shadow that had embraced him vanished as though it had never been. His shoulders curled inward defensively and the grimace returned. “Now, I . . . ah, glisten in the sun.” He looked up at me. The near-solid red of his eyes was the only proof that the shadow I’d seen had been real. “I can go into the sun!” There was terror in his voice.
His vulnerability touched me. I reached out and took his hands in mine. “That isn’t so bad, is it? Isn’t the sun nice?”
“Not at all,” he replied distastefully. “It’s horrid. I despise the sun. Why become a vampire if you want to be . . . normal but shiny? And these unholy urges . . .” His voice trailed off.
“Urges?” I asked, hopeful.
“Yes. For the last few years, I’ve been . . . lonely. I never sleep anymore and my heart aches constantly. It’s like I am. . .”
“Broken?” I finished for him.
Despite rising, giddy, hope, I had to know more. “Have you experienced any other changes over the years?”
The waitress arrived before he could answer. Blandly, she asked, “What would you like to order?”
“Coffee and a veggie omelet, no garlic please,” I said. No garlic, just in case.
“Nothing else on the side, no bacon or grits?” she asked.
“Oh no. I’m watching what I eat. I don’t want anything else.” I wanted her to go.
“Alright. And you, sir?” she turned to face my vampire.
If he’d looked uncomfortable before, he did even more so now. “Ah . . . I think no. But, maybe a very raw steak.” He wrapped his arms around his stomach and turned a lovely shade of pink. He closed his eyes and grunted out, “Maybe some tomato juice?”
The waitress didn’t seem to notice the change in his demeanor; she just wrote down his order and walked away. As soon as she was gone the color drained from his face and he sat back up. He looked like himself again.
I asked, “Are you okay? What was that about?”
“Around some people my stomach . . . gets confused. Damn the Lost Boys,” he said mirthlessly.
I didn’t get it.
The rest of our evening went by in silence. I wanted to press him, to find out more about the changes that he’d been through, but he wouldn’t look at me anymore. It was the waitress, I decided. We needed real privacy.
After our order finally came, I ate quickly and gestured for the waitress to go ahead and bring the check. She returned a few minutes later with a slip of white paper that she left face up on the table.
“Pay whenever,” she said.
I looked up at my gentleman vampire expectantly.
He made a confused face then reached into his pocket. It was a surprising struggle for him to get his hand into his jeans. He withdrew a fat wad of cash and stared at it suspiciously, like it hadn’t been there before.
My vampire paid, of course.
We exited the IHOP together and made our way back to the GAP parking lot where my car was waiting. The silence between us was electric; I was certain that I could feel a real connection there. We were meant to be together. I rehearsed what I would say to convince him to come home with me the entire way.
At the car and I looked down at him expectantly.
“Well, this is it. Are you sure that you don’t want to come home with me?”
He didn’t answer. He just leaned down and kissed my neck, hard. Then, I felt teeth.
Ah yes, I’d forgotten. His eyes were red, not gold.