Chapter 2: Things They Don’t Tell You

 

If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting in a dive bar killing time before going to meet Claude at the diner, I would have definitely believed you, because that’s an entirely reasonable thing. If you’d told me that I was going to be a vampire at the time, I would have just asked you to give me some of whatever you were smoking.

If you’d happened to mention that a few months before that, I would be spending my last night as a full-fledged member of the human species in the backseat of my Honda POS (literally means “Piece of Shit”, but you already knew that), between the legs of a woman I’d only met ten minutes before, I might not have been able to stop laughing at you and your tomfoolery. If you also mentioned that said drunken chick was going to take a bite out of my neck in the throes of passion or whatever, I might have looked at you in all earnestness and asked what anyone normally would after this entirely odd conversation: “So is that how I became a vampire? And by the way, about those winning lottery numbers…

You would have possibly run away cackling like a maniac. Past-you isn’t very stable in my imagination.

Past-me was just as clueless as anybody else would be and due to that general cluelessness, would be getting it all wrong.

So just imagine for a second, me in all of my ignorance and the sudden shock of being bitten on the neck mid-coitus. I imagine for a male praying mantis it would be business as usual and if I had indeed been one, nothing would have interrupted me at the moment. Since I wasn’t a praying mantis and instead just your regular average twenty-nine year old named Bob, I was definitely thrown off my stride.

“You bit me!” I gasped. “I can’t believe you bit me!”

Her answer was to try to bite me again, and she was laughing while she did. I couldn’t even remember the chick’s name, Gloria or maybe Gladys or some shit like that. It wasn’t important at the time, knowing her name, but that’s a common theme with me. I suck with names anyway. All that mattered at that moment was that I hadn’t had sex in three months, and this chick had been hot for me from the first time I bumped into her at the bar.

I had managed to spill my Vodka Seven all over my shirt and had been mourning the loss since I was extremely broke at the time and had just spent my last five dollars on said drink… which was now soaking into the front of my shirt. If I could have reached, I probably would have been trying to lick my shirt just to get a taste of some of that ever-so-important alcohol that just might give me a little buzz. The alcohol levels in my blood were dangerously low and I feared slipping into a coma of sheer depression.

“Did I do that?” She had asked, and I had nodded, already in mourning.

“Yep. That’s alcohol abuse you know, spilling it like that.”

“I can think of a much better use for it myself. Let me buy you another one to make up for it.”

“I think I will let you do that,” I said, and took a good look at her then, but my immediate attention was drawn to her generous cleavage which made it hard to look her directly in the eye. She was around forty and sure of herself. You could see it in the way she carried herself, especially with a rack like hers. Her ample curves spoke volumes to me in a sexy, husky voice that made a lie out of her decidedly corporate wear. Good God, the woman rocked a knee-length skirt like I’ve never experienced before or since. I managed to get all this in one glance at her and tried my best not to stutter. “Can’t let you go around committing mortal sins like that,” I managed and then almost kicked myself, but she smiled, charmed.

“Well, what kinds of sin should I be committing then?”

“The non-mortal kinds?” I grinned and shrugged. “I dunno. It sounded wittier in my head than it did coming out of my mouth.”

Oh God, she was definitely interested.

“Don’t you just hate it when that happens?” She asked, and she was giving me serious “fuck me now” eyes. “You should find a better use for your mouth you know.”

“That’s either a big come on or I’m being rejected without even trying.”

“You weren’t coming on to me?”

“No, actually. I was still mourning the loss of my drink. Hadn’t had time to notice you yet.”

“You’re kidding, right? I thought you were ogling my boobs.” She jiggled them, and they were quite an attractive pair. The half-chub that I had been trying to keep in check so I could try to walk away with my dignity intact was suddenly now well formed and ready for action. It was making it hard to think. Damn boobs.

“Well, I was,” I admitted, “but I was also looking at the alcohol in my shirt.”

“Shouldn’t have put it there then.”

“I didn’t. I had been planning to put it into my mouth.”

“I have something else you can put in your mouth…”

That’s a line that us guys only ever dream of hearing. About ninety-five percent of us single guys will die without ever hearing those words uttered from the lips of a drunken bimbo in a corporate dress suit at a sleazy dive bar. I could now stamp my Man-Card and die a happy man.

“Now if I’m not mistaken, that one was a come-on line, wasn’t it?” I asked, just to be sure. “And I do hope you’re talking about breasts…”

“Definitely,” she said and moved even closer, checking me out as she did. She smiled at the half-concealed bulge in my pants.

“Which one?”

“Both.”

“You wanna get outta here?”

“I was going to say it, but I didn’t want you to think I was a slut.”

“Would it matter?”

“No, I’d fuck you anyway.”

It wasn’t until she bit my neck that I wondered what kind of freak I’d ended up with.

I managed to scramble out of the car as fast as I could, somehow pulling  up my pants while not tripping over anything. I heard the bar door bang open, and the music and sounds from inside poured out into the night air for a few seconds as people either entered or exited the bar. They might have seen my naked ass or maybe not, but I didn’t care at that point. All I cared about was that this woman had just bitten the hell out of me and I was probably going to be bleeding soon.

I kept an eye on Gloria as she exited the car, pulling down her skirt as she slid out, still giving me a saucy look.

“I thought you’d be into it,” she said innocently. “We could always go back to my place and try it again. Or a motel and we can really get loud. No biting this time.”

My stupid and possibly traitorous penis twitched at the thought and I made a note to shoot it for attempted mutiny. There was no way I was going anywhere with Gloria. It might not be my neck she was biting next time.

“Sounds great, but let’s pretend that we did and call it a night,” I said, still wary.

You’re probably wondering at this point if Gloria is a vampire, so let’s just lay that to rest right now. No, Gloria is not a vampire, and I wasn’t about to turn into a vampire just because she bit me. Hell, the only thing I was going to turn into at this point was a more sober version of me since Gloria had never bought me that replacement drink.

Gloria reached out quickly, faster than a snake, and tucked something into the front of my pants before I could step away.

“Something to remember me by, lover.”  She blew me a kiss and sashayed away with significant extra sway in her hips, no doubt for my benefit. I’m not ashamed to admit I watched her every step. Crazy as she was, that was one hell of an ass.

“Don’t stick your dick in crazy,” I whispered to myself, more of a reminder to not go chasing after her to take her up on her offer; after all the deal was already sealed.

I pulled out whatever it was she had stuffed into my pants. Was I surprised it was her panties? Hell no. I almost smelled them, but instead, I wadded them up and pressed them against my fresh bite wound, the lace and tiny amounts of silk a reminder of just how the night had gone.

I trudged back to the bar, swearing at my bad luck.

***

I have no clue where we got this idea that a vampire bite would turn the victim into a vampire. Of course I’m going to blame the movies again since they get so much of it wrong, but it’s also where a little common sense could do us all some good. If you stopped to think about it, how much sense would it make if your food came back to compete with you for the rest of the food out there?  Pretty soon every steak you bit into would be stealing that nice juicy pork chop off your plate, just because you happened to bite it. The steak I mean, not the pork chop. I know it’s a ridiculous image, but go with me here, okay? That sentient steak is just as ridiculous as the idea that a vampire bite will turn you into a vampire. I mean, it’s not rabies. It’s you literally turning into an entirely new creature who just looks human. I don’t even know what the hell a vampire really is, but I can tell you, it’s going to take more than being bitten by one of us, to make you into one of us.

Anyway, the food chain doesn’t work like that.

If vampires used people as a source of nourishment like the stories all say, it would work out differently. What would happen is we people would be meat. Just meat. It’s as simple as that. We’d be cattle who happen to walk and talk and cuss and kill stuff, but cattle nonetheless. Our self-awareness doesn’t count for shit when we are what’s for dinner.

Somebody did a calculation recently that showed exactly what would happen if every person bitten by a vampire turned into a vampire. Apparently it would spread like a disease and in about a month, there would be no one left to feed on. Everybody would be a starving vampire just imagining how tasty everyone else would be. Pretty much we would be back to where we had been before, all alike, one race looking for ways to not eat each other because that’s just gross. Imagine that.

***

My usual crew of friends were out front somewhere. We had decided some time ago that this was going to be our bar but that had been when I wasn’t so broke all of the time. For a moment, I considered trying to get one of them to buy me a beer. After doing a quick calculation and realizing that there was nobody there who I didn’t owe money to, I shot down that idea and tried not to be too depressed about it. Damn, it sucked being broke.

So there I was, standing in the middle of the bar, Gloria’s formerly white panties pressed against my bloody neck. I still smelled of sex and was completely sober. I still hadn’t washed my hands and the smell of Gloria’s sex clung to them. The last thing I expected was for some chick to be whispering in my ear.

“Why’s there blood on your neck?”

That voice perked my mood up immediately. It belonged to the one person among my bar friends who I did not owe money to. You could not imagine the grin on my face when I turned around with a big one-armed hug for–

“Louise! Where the heck have you been?”

“Dude, you’re seriously bleeding all over the place here. You have got to get a bandage on that.”

Louise, the tall, dark-haired Castilian girl with the striking pale blue eyes and the not-taking-shit-from-you attitude was not about to take any shit from me.

“It’s nothing, really–”

“Is that from a person? Dude! Are those panties?”

“Well—”

I swear she was going to hit me. She rolled her eyes at me instead and shook her head. Damn, it was good to see her.

“Jesus Bob, you have to get a tetanus shot. You don’t mess around with bites like that.”

“Serious? You’re not even going to ask about the panties?”

“Yes seriously! Come on man, we have to get you to a doctor or something. And I really don’t want to know about the panties.”

“Does this mean you won’t buy me a drink?”

She dragged me out of there, me faintly protesting all the way, drowned out by Louise filling me in on facts about bites and blood loss that I didn’t need to know at the time. She was taking me to a doctor friend of hers who happened to live just around the corner. He would patch me up and get me disinfected. Only then would Louise come back to the bar with me and buy me all the drinks my heart desired. I made her say it so it had to be true. We both agreed that going to the emergency room was just going to suck even with her admitting privileges as a doctor herself.

So we walked the four short blocks to this guy’s house, Louise on the phone part of the way, those huge retro-stylish sunglasses of hers on her face.

“Did you know that even though a bite from a person may not seem dangerous, it’s anything but not-dangerous?  You’ve got a huge amount of bacteria in your mouth so if you happen to bite someone, the risk of infection is extremely high. Your joints could get infected from even the smallest bite, and that’s not even the worst of it. Bloodborne diseases like Hepatitis B and syphilis can be spread through bite wounds.”

It was amazing listening to Louise spout off medical facts.

“You serious?”

“Deadly serious. I see lots of bite wounds. I know a lot about them.”

For all of you paying attention, you just scored a point in a little game I like to call: “Spot the Vampire”.

Surprise!

***

Dammit.

I was going to go on and tell you about how I became a vampire, but I’m beginning to realize that’s not the important thing here. People already have this fucked up idea it’s this great romantic thing, and God knows there have been a whole lot of stories written about becoming a vampire. I look at those stories and then look at my own account and it’s just embarrassing.

I promise I’ll get around to it. Eventually. But it’s kind of not the point of this story.

The important thing here is that life as a vampire changes your entire perspective, but not like how you would assume. Even after you’ve put your assumptions aside, you realize the stories gloss over so much fine detail essential to everyday living. High adventure and save-the-world scenarios don’t happen to all of us you see. For some of us, it’s the day-to-day stuff that gets us.

They don’t tell you the whole truth because it’s just not sexy.

They don’t tell you that when you become a vampire, you still have to hold down a job.

***

“You mean you actually have a job? What the fuck does a vampire even need a job for?”

I got this question on yet another night from this girl I had met in a bar. There’s a whole theme going on here with me, bars, and girls with slightly more open attitudes about casual sex, so yes, I was in another bar, but this time slightly less broke than usual. This was about three months after I had become a vampire and I was hanging out at one of the bars my old friends would never ever go to. This girl had walked right up to me like she knew me and had said “I like your eyes,” like it was nothing. She was utterly fearless and that was charming in itself. The fact that she was cute and a redhead also helped. I love redheads: they’re my kryptonite.

“Oh, I got them when I became a vampire,” I had said before realizing I was going to.

“Cool,” she had said and that was that. “I’m Becky.”  We became instant friends in the way that strangers who don’t want to fuck each other become friends. It was actually what I needed at the time since I was in one of my dark moods, and she had actually made me smile. We ended up sharing a joint while we walked to the next bar and it was cool to be honest with someone for a change. She and I would part ways at the end of the night and we would never see each other again, but for a while, at that moment, we had a connection and we were the best of friends.

“Well, I still gotta pay rent don’t I?” I asked, but from the look on her face, I could tell she wasn’t buying it. “Were you actually thinking that I lived in a graveyard somewhere, sleeping in a coffin and shit?”

“Well yeah. You’re a vampire. That’s what vampires do.” Becky sounded a little let down by my admission.

“Sorry to disappoint?”

“You’re really not what I expected a vampire to be like.”

“I get that a lot.”

“You tell a lot of people that you’re a vampire?”

“Nah, only you. It’s the other vampires who give me attitude. Man, the stories I could tell you.”

To be honest, I get the “graveyard” question more often than not and people don’t even think about the complications and total creep factor of hanging around graveyards. You probably think that’s where vampires are supposed to live and I can’t blame you. But can you imagine having the stench of death hanging on you? Ever spent a night in a graveyard? Believe me, there’s a bit of a stench going on with all the decomposing bodies. And where would you even keep your clothes?  This is where the whole smelling like a grave comes in, because clothes pick up whatever is in the surroundings and you’re going to stink worse than a smoker. No thanks!

It’s amazing what we’ve all been trained to think about how vampires live.

I live in the same place that I did before I got turned and I still have the same shitty job. Do I have a social insurance number? Check! I still paid my bills late, and when tax time rolled around, guess which guy was trying to find a way to not pay them on account of being a vampire, only to find out there is no vampire exemption clause anywhere. And I still hide from the occasional creditor by telling them that I’m dead. I’m still in the system, just another ordinary citizen, making his way through life, another face in the crowd.

“What about flying? Tell me there’s at least flying,” Becky pleaded.

“Sorry no. That’s a movie plot device to keep things moving forward. I still take the bus which of course takes for-fucking-ever, and then on rainy nights, I drive my old piece of shit car. And it’s the same old piece of shit car I had before.”

“Next, you’ll be telling me there’s no Easter Bunny or Santa Claus,” Becky had pouted and passed the joint.

I inhaled deeply and passed the joint back to her, considering telling her that drugs no longer had any lasting effect on me, but then decided I didn’t want to completely ruin her idea of vampires.

I could have told her what an elitist bunch of pricks vampires are. The old ones are the worst because they’re the richest. They’ve had time to accumulate wealth you see and they consider it a prerequisite that to be worthy enough to be a vampire, first you had to be rich. Trust-fund kids are the best candidates for this, and the fact that so many of them are already rich assholes pre-qualifies them to be rich vampire assholes.

They say it’s for their own protection and I see their point. It’s expensive to be a vampire because you now have to actually plan for the future, get those investment portfolios rolling because it’s no longer your grand kids you have to worry about leaving something for; it’s yourself.

It’s no wonder so many vampires are ecologists. If you don’t understand this, then you’re a fucking idiot and you ruined the earth. If you get it, please continue.

“You aren’t just fucking with me are you?”

“I could be, but I think you can smell a bullshitter.”

“Now you got me thinking,” Becky said after a moment. “I was imagining vampires swanning about the damn place being all broody and shit and coming out at night to prey on people for blood…”

“Day in and day out. Think about it for a while, just think about doing that all damn day. Sounds incredibly boring right?”

“It sounds like the lifestyles of the rich and the bored.” Becky agreed. “I never thought of it that way.”

“You never thought of it at all. Don’t worry: nobody thinks about it unless they’re living it.”

Not convinced? Fine: you decide to not do the same thing that I did and keep my job. You go off and have adventures, maybe even travel someplace exotic (or not, entirely up to you), or do something fun. That is assuming you have money saved. You do have a big savings account right? No? Then you’re pretty much fucked and you’re going to be bored pretty quickly… at least, until your landlord comes to kick you out for not paying the rent. Have you ever thought what you’d be doing if you didn’t have a job to go to? Most people would just end up sleeping, overdosing on Netflix or porn and masturbating too much. Nothing beats boredom like tossing one off in the afternoon and for many people, going to work is the only thing saving them from the fate of being a compulsive masturbator.

“So what do you do for a living?” Becky asked.

Now that was one hell of a question.

***

Look, I’d love to tell you that I had a dream job to die for, and up until four years ago, I would have not been lying. I had been particularly proud of landing a job at one of the city’s best tech firms. It was the type of job I had always dreamed about all through college, the kind that came with an enormous salary with one of those cool employer matching savings plans Canadians call a Group TFSA and the Americans refer to as a 401K.

We were based in the downtown core with an easy walk from the subway, and just knowing that I worked in that cool, shiny building in the financial sector made encountering any of my old classmates from high school an absolute pleasure. I was the jackass who took a particular delight in being a total shit to anybody I used to hate. You see them more than you think, rushing to and from work, sometimes commuting with you and trying to catch your eye, or maybe they’re serving your morning coffee with a wry smile that you know is partly embarrassment and mostly annoyance. Some of them you like seeing and may even strike up a conversation or maybe have drinks with them later, whatever, but odds are, the ones you like, you don’t see as often. If nobody sees you at all, though, that’s perfectly okay. Sometimes it’s better to be a stranger among strangers.

You don’t know what vindication feels like until after you’ve wiped the smug look off the face of one of those assholes.

Then the company crashed and burned and we got laid off in batches that eventually claimed me as one of the victims and you know what? The smug look was gone right off my face. I ended up being the one avoiding eye contact and trying to hide behind a newspaper or even staring extra hard at the poster on the subway that I had read at least a hundred times since the ride began but was better to look at than at the people around me. Even on a good day, making eye contact is hard and ends up being either creepy or just plain uncomfortable and there I was suddenly broke and apparently unemployable, and aware that I was veering towards creepy.

I freelanced for a while, trying to get a new job and managed to survive from month to month. I ended up in the shitty basement apartment that I’m still in, telling myself it was only temporary; after all, I needed to save some money, but temporary has a way of sticking around if you’re not too careful or too proud to admit it. Commuting turned into a once a week thing and as much as I tried to paint a positive spin on it whenever I’d run into any old friends in really nice suits, I just missed all of it. The familiarity of the daily grind among fellow commuters gave a sense of purpose that you don’t get stumbling from your bed and over to your desk where you spend the next two hours reading Cracked.com and catching up on other people’s lives over Facebook. Social media became my means of pretending that I was social or relevant until days would go by and I’d realize I hadn’t actually spoken to anyone in in a long time.

“You could always move in with me,” Claude had offered, and I had almost taken him up on it, but life with Claude always seemed to be wildly unpredictable. He was my best friend of twenty years and was always there when I needed him, but remember what I said about pride? Yeah, pride has a way of making you make stupid decisions.

So I didn’t move in with Claude and I found some new friends and went with the flow for a while.

These days I work in the shadow of the building I used to work in. It’s a seriously fucked up combination porn shop/head shop open twenty-four hours for some reason.

“You’re gonna work the night shift,” the boss had told me in no uncertain terms. “You work six days with one day off. Sort it out with Sammy and Matty, I really don’t care which day, so whatever. You get here by eight and you leave at four when Sammy or one of the others comes in to relieve you. Don’t steal from me, don’t tell stupid lies to my face and don’t fuck with me or the business and everything will be cool. If you feel the need to get high, don’t do it in the store, and don’t keep it in the store. That’s what the alley back there is for, got it?”

“I don’t do drugs—”

That was the first lie and he knew it.

“That’s what they all say, kid. I can spot a junkie a mile away. Just let me know we have an understanding and then shut the fuck up.”

“I got it.”

“Good. Pay is ten fifty an hour, take it or leave it, and you can start tomorrow.”

I took the job. Working freelance is nice but I was always hustling for the next job and the clients took forever to pay. One of the universities I had taken on as a customer had insisted on paying me ninety-days net with no deposit, only expenses paid and I was seriously up shit creek at that point.

My first day at work, Sammy, who was 100% not a dude and instead 100% 5’2” Chinese girl with a take-no-shit-at-least-not-from-you attitude, slapped the mop handle into my hand and pointed to the back of the store where the viewing booths were.

“Booths one and three need a little bit of love. You’re going to need some gloves, which you’ll find behind the counter.”

“Wow, I thought we’d at least start with names first. Hi, I’m Bob.”

“I’m Sammy. This is the bucket. You and it are going to be the best of friends.”

“What about you and me?”

“Not fucking likely. Talk to me after you clean up booths one and three and then we’ll see how much I don’t not hate you, whaddaya say?”

The positive side of working in a porn shop is that porn gets old really, really fast. You just lose your appetite for it after a while and almost nothing fazes you anymore, short of actual real-life violence. The downside is you get some real creeps from time to time and they make creative use of our viewing booths, which are little closed off booths in the back of the store with some seriously high-quality headphones attached. Yes, the Boss was a cheapass but apparently he was also an audiophile. Besides, the expensive headphones cancelled out even the loudest moans from the videos. When I first saw the booths my initial thought was why is everything covered in plastic?  My first day at work, I discovered exactly why everything in those booths was encased in plastic of some kind.

I could have walked away and never looked back. Sammy was already back at the counter, reading a ratty, dog-eared Sandman trade paperback over which I was sure we would eventually geek-out about together. She likely wouldn’t have given a shit if I stayed or if I allowed pride to have its way with me and walk me right out the door, and would have probably applauded at my cowardice, but at that moment I had a sobering thought that realigned reality for me.

How the hell does any Asian girl even manage to survive more than a day in a porn shop without constant harassment and/or killing any of her fucked-up customers? I could get into the whole fetishization of Asian girls in porn and how creepy some of the customers can get about it, but then I’d be telling you a completely different story. Let’s just say it’s really bad and that some of you guys really need to knock it off. My point is that Sammy had found a way to survive and even thrive and that says more about her than you think you know.

“You got a spray bottle of bleach?” I asked instead, and Sammy grinned and tossed the bottle to me across the store. I fumbled the catch, but then shook my head and got to work.

“Just don’t let any get on you and you’ll be fine,” Sammy said, and I could hear the smile in her voice. “And I’m not talking about the bleach either!” It seemed that I had gained some mark of respect in her book just for sticking around.

“Well it can’t get any worse than this, right?”

“Wait until Tuesday. You’re going to hate Tuesdays.”

She was right: I fucking hate Tuesdays.

No I don’t want to talk about it. Fuck Tuesdays. Seriously.

***

So yeah, that’s the job I had when I became a vampire. I was still working at the store and it was easily one of the best jobs I could have had for my particular needs. Apart from missing a few days, there was literally no massive disruption to my work life, since I was already working nights and sleeping for most of the day. I sometimes think about what a clusterfuck it would have been if I suddenly had to find a job that allowed me to come to work after dark. Then I promptly realized there was a good number of them already out there. There was an entire sub-population that lived their lives after dark, all regular Joes, not a monster in the bunch.

Well, no monsters, except for me.

*******************************
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Copyright 2014-2017 Rodney V. Smith