Erica the Vampire

            It’s just one of those nights when you’re just laying helpless, being slaughtered by the despair. Everyone you pester says that you’re well off, but it sure doesn’t look that way. You live in a town ranked the happiest in America; you think your presence keeps it from being ranked #1 worldwide. They’re all oblivious, indulging in their own white bread fantasies as you indulge in the pain.  Man, even the sorority queens are winning at life. (grabs an arguably blonde sorority girl from a couple yards away) “Excuse me, missy—how do you, like, manage to get straight-A’s?  Did you, um, screw every teacher at this here school?”

She almost stares at me with those pretty blonde eyes.  “Not all of them, but, like, some of them?”
Forgive the misogyny, actually.  But what do you expect from a time like this?  The sixties, man.  Any garage band on the radio is churning out sheer sexist crap.  Like those Kingsmen from about six years back.  This is what they send the world…er, hand me my guitar there, Marcia:

 

“Ah five year old girl wuz wait for me

Got to sheeit all over place

They sail my ship, oh all alone

We never break out our way back home

 

Ah, Louie Louie, yeah yeah, we gotta go

Ah Louie Louie, hey baby, we gotta go

 

Play nights and days, my girl you see

Pick up girl all on the way

And on my way, she sheeit right there

Them girl sit roll, aw, my yellow hair”

 

And, I mean, The Kingsmen weren’t the most (how you say) normal band on the Pacific Northwest, but they could have passed as The Monkees’ wacky next door neighbors, I mean, yeah!  They put out some good records, I’d say.  You might have even thought the drummer was a benchwarmer for some minor league baseball team—he was in remarkable physical condition (and slightly handsome) for a guy who sat around testing out cymbals for an eventual one-hit wonder half his life.

I sometimes think I could make a living as some drummer in a garage band, but then I realize I’ve been fucked over for years, a man working 9-5 in the mediocrity business, and they’re just puzzled, yeah. They’ve seen people of my kind before, but in the ghettos – people too low to even be labeled “counterculture.”  They don’t know what to say. You can see them making their little gossips behind your back. Then they leave for their big jobs in little suburbia, and you’re left wallowing in the teenage angst that never went away. You’re now thirty-five, and have the emotions of a thirteen-year old girl. That was the age you were when the first girl rejected you. Nothing felt the same after that. But you should have gotten over the pain, because everybody else did. You should have left the 13th Floor Elevators alone and headed straight for the schoolbooks, the ones you peer into but are afraid to study.  And every night, you just lay in bed and wonder how the hell a person like you was born and raised in America’s happiest town.

Man, I need to get a life sometimes.  If I’d had written bestselling novels, my reclusiveness might be as infamous as J.D. Salinger’s!  And it’s not like I’m not living in some small town Catcher in the Rye, neither.  Lots of people think they’re Holden, but have they met me?  They might have to surrender their fascination to yours truly, ‘cuz I am the Caulfield of suburbia.  Got my gray hair, don’t have any rye, but I got another yarn, actually.  It’s about a vampire I used to know.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, vampires aren’t so hot, really.  I’ve seen Glen or Glenda, and I’ve seen Robot Monster, but the only movie I ever walked out on was Nosferatu!  I was eight years old already, and it scared the shit out of me.  It took a psychiatrist’s prescription and a Count Orlok hand puppet to coax me out of the yearlong phobia.  So when I was asked by my first ex-girlfriend to view some new Dracula flick with her, I was reluctant.  At the time, I was seeing a girl who identified herself as a Buddhist, a Wiccan, and as I would find out from another of her exes, a vampire.  Though she always insisted that we made love with the awfully eerie sounds of Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band blasting from the record player on my headboard, it wasn’t until that night, when I left her, that I punished her for taking advantage of me all these years.  I was young and foolish, you know, too, kinda like now, really, and though California’s own “Violent Cal” Eddino (R) was pleasuring himself with his own power, I didn’t see any Vietnam War or anything coming around the corner!  I expected love, peace, and a couple doses of Elvis!  Despite my naïveté, back then I read constantly, preferring Beat literature to all other genres.  Be it Corso or Cassady, all of these oft-overlooked bards had transformed me during a brief stint as a square “hipster” to one of the “angelheaded” variety.   And though my first manuscript, a countercultural novella, resembled an illustration-free Robert Crumb anthology, casual references to forgotten Beats were plentiful in that whole work.  By the summer of ’12, I was still without a BA, and so broke that I pawned copies of my rejected novellae on a Lombard Street curve.  Advertising them as “Hemingway bootlegs,” I attracted more cops than customers.  My first customer would also be my last.  She was a gangly nineteen-year old, with a bit more self-esteem than the aforementioned Caulfield but still not at all enough; I felt foolish even starting a conversation with this apparent loser at life.  But I did, and our conversation spread like margarine.  It was clear from her bizarre manner of speaking that he had not escaped the perils of potential schizophrenia, yet her mannerisms were fresh and not without uniqueness.  His name?  Erica Neuman.  And though writing light verse was indeed her game, Erica loathed rhyme schemes like I once loathed Nosferatu.  She told me that she fidgeted with every listen to what I felt to be the cleverness of “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and with every recital of Robert Frost delivered during the sloppy sermons of her Reconstructionist rabbi.

Yet I took Erica to my shabby North Beach apartment, where we spent hours discussing standard quasi-Beat figures like Brautigan and Bukowski.  After listening to Brautigan’s sole spoken word LP, which I shoplifted from City Lights a few weeks back, I lit one of my few cigarettes left and offered it to a paling Erica.

“N-No thanks,” said Erica.  “I’m not falling for that one again.”

“Don’t buy into that right-wing mumbo jumbo, honey,” I tell her.  “And besides, this one’s legal—it’s a Camel.  I paid tax and everything.”

“But…”  She gulped.  “I tried smoking once, and then I woke up a thousand years later in a California hospital with only one lung.  The doctor said I almost spontaneously combusted.”

“On your first cig?  What kind of lung condition do you have, Erica, baby?”

Erica scanned my bedroom, as if she  was looking for miniature spies.  “Don’t tell anyone this.”

“I won’t.”

“You promise?”

“We’re too old for this.  What kind of lung condition do you have, darling?”

“Iggy, it’s not a lung condition.  I’m a vampire.”

“What do you mean you’re a vampire?”  I stare at Erica.  “What kind of vampire writes light verse, anyway?  Vampires would probably write—Edgar Allan Poe type crap or something.  Plus, we already went over our musical tastes, and you have no knowledge whatsoever of heavy metal.  Even a self-loathing vampire would cleanse her record collection until it consisted of little besides Black Sabbath.  So, get real.  Are hypochondria symptoms of schizophrenia?  Because you’re just making this shit up!  I mean, c’mon, Erica!  Where are your fangs?  A vampire’s gotta have fangs.”

“The doctors replaced them with fillings.”  She opened her mouth, revealing twenty-eight teeth solely built from metals.

“Ah, well, no one ever said the schizophrenic was quick with dental hygiene,” I scoffed.  “And besides, when was the last time you sucked somebody’s blood?”

She fidgeted horrendously.  “For the love of Pete, don’t bring that up!”

I coughed, and then repeated the question.  In reply, she repeated her fidgeting and her shocked answer.  In all God’s honesty, this all happened thirty-seven times, until finally, Erica wailed,

“OK, OK, I’ll tell you!  But please believe it!  It was back in what you call the Middle East, where I was born three millennia ago.  At the age of two, I sucked the High Priest’s blood, and he knocked me to the ground and started spanking me.  I was teething; I barely had my baby fangs.  Since then, I’ve kept my fangs to myself.  After all, the High Priest undoubtedly put a spell on me.  From that young age onwards, I’ve been what you call schizophrenia.”

“That’s too vivid for a schizoid to imagine,” I murmur.  “But, Erica!  Forget the High Priest, he did not put that spell on you.  Erica, babe, while I was still at Berkeley back in the day, I minored in medicine.  I read the works of Dr. Squire Bag.  In Bag’s Anatomy, it said that lack of blood can give a man the symptoms of an schizophrenic child.  Erica, it is the fact that you have not drunk an ounce of blood since the age of two that makes you this way.  It must be so; you’re not permanently schizophrenic, you’ve just been dehydrated of blood for too many millennia.

“Now, Erica, please suck someone’s blood for me.  Unfortunately, it won’t be my blood, as I am afraid of the fluid, even my own!  Find someone, anyone, and with their consent of course, drink!  Just drink!”  I stared at my Fritz the Cat clock.  “Damn, it’s getting late.  Can you get back home safely from here?”

“I know my way,” said Erica, and she promptly left.

*                                              *                                              *

Though then I had loved Erica, she had proven himself too much of a basket case for any healthy relationship.  To tell you the truth, she may have even have never loved me.  Having never officially dated her, I replaced that void in my life with Dana.  Dana was much unlike my previous exes, for he she was not at all countercultural.  Yeah, she knew all the bars and clubs in town, but though she knew a Ginsberg poem or two, she saw the Beats as too bizarre for her tastes.  I didn’t find Dana too attractive; after Erica’s departure I constantly needed a woman in my life like a chain-smoker constantly needs something to keep his mouth entertained.

Dana and I were making love for the second time when I heard three knocks at my door.  Exhausted as I was, I sent Dana to answer the late night knocks.  From my bed I heard a peculiar ripping sound, and a horrible shriek which I easily attributed to Dana.  Scared and confused, I popped out of bed and to my dismay, saw that my crazy ex, Erica the vampire, had bitten my new lover’s neck and drained tablespoons of her blood!  Dana now lay semi-conscious on my foyer floor, blood staining at least thirty-six tiles.

“Erica, what do you think you’re doing?  I don’t want to call 911 on you, but you’ve hurt my girlfriend, and that is so unacceptable!”

“But Iggy!” cried Erica.  “I thought I was your boyfriend!”

“Erica, I haven’t seen you in months.  And even on the one day that I did, we didn’t do anything intimate whatsoever.  I’m too strong for you, Erica.  You don’t want to be the weaker partner, Erica.”  Erica shook her filthy head and, walking far too close to me, proceeded to reach into my pockets.  As she possessed unlikely strength, I was unable to keep Erica from grabbing my last cigarette and my lighter lying in my right and left pockets, respectively.  Instantaneously, the vampire lit up, and after one small inhale, spontaneously combusted.

Due to the toxic chemicals that Erica released with her spontaneous combustion, I’ve since moved away from North Beach, and now live in an overrated California suburb.  Doctors were unable to save Dana, but luckily, I was able to get back in touch with my ex—the one who tried to take me to that Dracula flick so many years ago.  She no longer considers herself a Buddhist nor a Wiccan.  Yet, she is, like Erica, a vampire, and a much stronger vampire at that.  She has done what Erica wouldn’t dare do: she has turned me into a vampire.

 

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