Eric the Vampire (short story)

No pun intended: Vampire romances suck.  I’ve seen Gigli and I’ve seen Bruno, but the only film I’ve ever walked out on was Twilight. I had never cared for vampires much myself, having been traumatized as an eight-year old by an AMC showing of Nosferatu.  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 boyfriend to view Twilight with him, I was reluctant.  At the time, I was seeing a young man who identified himself as a Goth, a Wiccan, and as I would find out from another of his exes, a vampire.  Though he always insisted that we made love with the awfully eerie sounds of Echo & the Bunnymen blasting from the iHome on my headboard, it wasn’t until that night, when I left him to Edward Cullen, that I punished him for taking advantage of me all these years.  I was young and foolish, and though California’s own “Violent Cal” Eddino (R) was pleasuring himself with his Presidential power, I believed that the state’s Constitution would soon be in our favor.

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 contemporary “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.

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 “Salinger bootlegs,” I attracted more cops than customers.  My first customer would also be my last.  He was a gangly nineteen-year old, with a bit more self-esteem than Holden 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 wildfire.  It was clear from his delayed manner of speaking that he had not escaped the perils of the autistic spectrum, yet his mannerisms were fresh and not without uniqueness.  His name?  Eric Neuman.  And though writing light verse was indeed his game, Eric loathed rhyme schemes like I once loathed Dracula.  He told me that he 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 tedious sermons of his Reconstructionist rabbi.

Now, I’ve never been one to connect with my Jewish roots that mark the maternal half of my family tree.  I never understood why G-d would turn more of his Chosen People to the Grand Old Party than the social justice that the Torah continually preaches.  On top of that, I never understood why G-d would primarily spare the Jewish Americans while allowing Hitler to convert Europe, with its cultured bohemians and superior landscapes, to an eternal graveyard for the Jewish people.

So then, why did my assurance that this complete stranger shared my background lead me to sudden realization that this man, though he was undeniably autistic and ticked whenever he heard anything but free verse, needed to be my future husband?  Perhaps it was the fact that my mother thoroughly expected me to marry a nice Jewish girl, even though she herself had conceived me with a Catholic named Sepulveda.  After all, she had refused to talk to me ever since I came out of the closet.  What could I do then but settle for the most logical substitute, entering a civil union with a nice Jewish boy?

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

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

“Don’t buy into that right-wing bullshit,” I tell him.  “And besides, this one’s a Winston.  I paid tax and everything.”

“Iggy, you don’t understand,” he says, worried.  “Iggy, it may be f-fun in a stick for you.  But it’s sudden s-suicide for me.”

I then proceed to yell, “Fuck Glenn Beck!  If by chance, I see him on the street, I’ll throttle him!  That asshole has no idea how many young minds he’s corrupting!  Please, Eric, listen to me.  Forget everything you heard on FOX.  The only voice that matters now is mine.”

“But…”  He gulps.  “I tried that weed 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 joint?  What kind of lung condition do you have, Eric?”

Eric scanned my bedroom, as if he 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?”

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

“What the fuck do you mean you’re a vampire?”  I stare at Eric.  “What kind of fucking vampire writes light verse, anyway?  Vampires would only write—pardon my American—emo poetry.  Plus, we already went over our musical tastes, and you have no knowledge whatsoever of Gothic rock.  Even a self-loathing vampire would cleanse his iPod until it consisted of little besides Bauhaus and the Banshees.  So, get real.  Are hypochondria symptoms of autism?  Because you’re just making this shit up!  I mean, c’mon, Eric!  Where are your fangs?  A vampire’s gotta have fangs.”

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

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

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

I coughed, and then repeated the question.  In reply, he repeated his fidgeting and his shocked answer.  In all honesty, this all happened thirty-seven times, until finally, Eric 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 autistic.”

“That’s too vivid for an Aspie to imagine,” I murmur.  “But, Eric!  Forget the High Priest, he did not put that spell on you.  Eric, while I was still in college, while majoring in English, I minored in medicine.  There I became familiar with the works of Dr. Squire Bag.  I read in Bag’s Anatomy that lack of blood can give a man the symptoms of an autistic child.  Eric, 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 autistic, you’ve just been desanguinated for too many millennia.

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

“I know my way,” said Eric, and he promptly left.

*                                              *                                              *

Though then I had loved Eric, he had proven himself too much of a basket case for a healthy relationship.  To tell you the truth, he may have even been straight.  Having never officially dated him, I replaced that void in my life with Dane.  Dane was much unlike my previous lovers, for he was—pardon my American—flaming.  He knew all the queer bars and clubs in town, and though he appreciated the work of Ginsberg, he saw the Beats as too homophobic for his tastes.  I didn’t find Dane too attractive; after Eric’s departure I constantly needed a man in my life like a chain-smoker constantly needs something to keep his mouth entertained.

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

“Eric, what the fuck do you think you’re doing?  I don’t want to call 911 on you, but you’ve hurt my boyfriend, and that is completely unacceptable.”

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

“Eric, 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, Eric.  You don’t want to be the weaker partner, Eric.”  Eric shook his filthy head and walking far too close to me, proceeded to reach into my pockets.  As he possessed unlikely strength, I was unable to keep Eric from grabbing my last joint 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 Eric released with his spontaneous combustion, I’ve since moved away from North Beach, and now live in—pardon my American—the middle of nowhere.  Doctors were unable to save Dane, but luckily, I was able to get back in touch with my ex—the one who I saw Twilight with so many years ago.  He no longer considers himself a Goth nor a Wiccan.  Yet, he is, like Eric, a vampire, and a much stronger vampire at that.  He has now slept with hundreds of men, but unlike all those other men; he has done what Eric wouldn’t dare do: he has turned me into a vampire.

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