Chapter 1: Bob the Vampire

“I want you to turn me into a vampire.”

These words were the last thing I had expected to hear in the middle of yet another dingy little no-name dive bar that I happened to frequent. Truthfully, they would have been unwelcome even in a fancy restaurant, but given my state of mind at the time, that state being one in which I was just not giving any serious number of fucks, it was especially unwelcome.

I examined the squirrelly little dude who had made the insane request and considered just telling him to fuck off, but I was tired, more than a little half-drunk and to be honest, I was also a lot bored.  The dude had almost no chin to speak of and wore a stupid fucking fedora that was much too big for him, and looked nothing like a gorgeous redhead with tattoos, so he instantly had that strike against him.

I had seen him trying not to get caught looking at me earlier in the night, almost as if he recognized me or, at least, thought he recognized me, but couldn’t quite figure out who I was.  I had thought at the time that it was my new suit that was attracting the attention, especially since the bar was such a dump. I certainly didn’t know who the hell he was, so the possibility that I owed him money or that he had been sent to kill me was pretty low. That had been a relief, especially after the events of the past week, and I really didn’t feel like having yet another fight for my life, especially since I hadn’t figured out how to fight in the suit. My future plans had involved me not fighting at all, but life has a way of hijacking all of my plans. It never occurred to me that he had figured out that I was a vampire.

“Say who-what-now?” I managed to sputter, overly eloquent as usual.

“I want you to turn me into a vampire,” Squirrel Boy repeated, a little more slowly this time in case I was either deaf or dimwitted.

I finished pouring my glass of tequila to buy more time and took a sip, eyeing him warily over the glass.  I wondered for a long moment how he had figured it out, and then if this was some trap but then decided that at this point in my life, I just didn’t give a fuck.  Maybe it was how I wore sunglasses at night with no apparent difficulty, or maybe he had caught a glimpse of my pale blue eyes which most people assumed were contact lenses, but were common among vampires.  It’s just that when you take a brown guy like me, half black, half Mexican, those pale blue eyes are very striking and a dead giveaway… if you knew what you were looking for.  Somehow, Squirrel Boy had an idea of what to look for.

“That’s your opening line? Seriously dude?”

Squirrel Boy swallowed hard and clutched his stupid shoulder bag even tighter than he had before.  I knew almost instantly that he had some kind of stupid ass weapon inside that he intended to use to protect himself or to fend me off.  I also realized that I scared the shit out of him.  I almost laughed at that and wondered what kind of movie he had playing in his head where he had decided he was the lead and where I was the scary bad vampire man.

“I’ve been watching you and I know what you are,” he whispered to me. “I could tell the whole bar, expose your secret.”

I drained the glass and poured myself another drink, emptying the bottle.  Yep, I was going to need another one and quickly.  The buzz was a nice one even though I smelled very much like a tequila factory, but I wasn’t out to impress anyone tonight.  I just wanted to forget about Beatrice and the terrifying mission Harry had sent me on, but they were never too far from my mind, no matter how much I drank.  One of the problems with being a vampire is that my body metabolizes alcohol too quickly and I’m sober with a throbbing headache in about an hour, that is, if I don’t keep drinking. I miss the days of getting blackout drunk sometimes, especially when I’m feeling this miserable.

I sighed deeply and looked blearily at Squirrel Boy.

“Go ahead then. Out me. Like I give a fuck.”

Squirrel boy licked his lips nervously, his bluff called.  He apparently had seen this playing out differently.  For a second, I almost felt sorry for him and considered telling him how lucky he was that it was me he was pulling this stupid stunt with.  If it had been Beatrice, she would already be draining him dry in a bathroom stall and he would have not been able to do anything about it.

“Look, what’s your name.  I can’t call you Squirrel Boy all night.”

“Armand?” A look of confusion crossed his face.  “You haven’t called me Squirrel B-”

“That’s not your real name.  If you’re going to be obnoxious to me, you might as well tell me your real fucking name.”

Squirrel Boy slumped and mumbled something under his breath, clearly embarrassed.  “It’s Sidney.”

I grinned wickedly. “Go get us a new bottle Sidney. Then we’ll talk.”

***

The first thing I want you to be aware of is this: being a vampire sucks.

It is definitely not like they show you in the movies or any of the books that have been written on the subject.  In the movies, the vampire is always such an intriguing figure and he always has his act together.  He lives by the rules of the movie world and as rules go, they are relatively straightforward.  Avoid sunlight, dress in evening clothes, drink blood from the necks of nubile and attractive young ladies, be handsome and don’t ever worry about picking up the check. So on that end, it’s best to have lots of money and maybe a castle in someplace exotic and cold with lots of thunder and lightning and preferably on top of a mountain somewhere.  Also, don’t look into mirrors and most of all, avoid any overly eager young men who happen to be carrying sharp pieces of wood with them.

As you can tell by now, I’ve broken every single one of those rules, even the last one. What do you think Sidney is carrying in that bag of his?

The rest of it, the going to sleep in a coffin and sleeping in all day thing, and, of course, the mounds of cash that goes with the job but no one ever sees; that kind of goes with the territory of the movie world of vampires.

Another thing I’ve noticed about a lot of movie vampires is that most of them tend to be a bunch of really pale, pretty white guys.  The reality is a lot different and yes a good number of Harry’s Trust Fund babies were wealthy and white, but diversity never seemed to be an issue with the vampires I’ve met, especially when you consider how many different kinds of rich people there are from around the world.  My point is that the whole pale skin, ‘like the dead’ is a huge load of bull.

And no, our skin isn’t as ‘cold as the grave’. Our blood flows just like everybody else, and it runs hot. We bleed and we heal fast, but you wouldn’t know that from the movies at all.  For some reason, people would prefer to think of us as dead, rather than something else entirely.

Who are we kidding here?  We all know about vampires.  We know how they live and we know how they die.  We even know how to become one of them.

After all, the movies told us everything we ever needed to know, right?

***

Sidney was looking less sure of himself as he watched me drain my second glass of Tequila from the new bottle he had bought.  I, of course, hadn’t needed him to buy me anything since Harry’s money was still in good supply, but face it: he had been an asshole and rightly deserved it.  If you’re going to demand something from a stranger, at least, introduce yourself and buy them a drink first.  Protocol must be observed.

“Why do you want to be a vampire Sidney?”

“Can you, at least, call me Armand? That’s the name I’ve decided should be my vampire name.”

I barely held in my laughter. “Fuck that. You’re Sidney, so I’m fucking calling you Sidney. Now answer my fucking question.  Please.”

Sidney hesitated and I noticed that he was only playing with his still full glass of tequila.  He was purposely not drinking it, perhaps trying to get me drunk, but considering the number of empty bottles on the table which on any other night or in any other bar would be getting me arrested for public drunkenness, he should have really thought harder about this plan.

“I want to live forever, but I want the power and everything that goes with being a vampire.  I want to be cool, just like you.”

“Is this about a girl? This is about a girl, isn’t it?”  It’s always about a girl. At the root of all of our problems, it’s always about wanting to impress someone.  “What’s her name?”

Sidney considered lying to me, I could see it in his face, but he was already smiling, picturing the girl in his mind.  “Dorothy,” he breathed her name and I knew he wasn’t lying this time.  He turned and looked across the bar and I looked with him.  “She’s over there.”

The girl was gorgeous.  She was slim with a nice build for her small frame, dark hair and eyes and her smile really lit up her face as she joked with her friends.  She really looked like a nice girl, the kind of girl Sidney probably was too shy, to be honest with and, as a result had probably ended up in the dreaded place called the friend-zone.

“She looks nice.  But why do you think being a vampire is going to make her like you?”

“Look, are you going to make me into a vampire or not?”

Well, that escalated fast. And I thought we had just made a personal connection.

“Have we reached the part where you threaten me already?” I asked and poured myself a drink.

Apparently we had.  Sidney reached into his man-purse and pulled out one of the biggest fucking crosses I have ever seen.  He held it out in front of him triumphantly, apparently playing his trump card, bringing his knowledge of vampires from movies and books into the one thing that he knew would protect him.

Goddamn movies.

***

The one thing that the movies never did tell us is that vampires do exist.  And more specifically, we were never shown to actually avoid them, or even better, exactly how to avoid them.  The one thing that they do leave out is that you should definitely at all costs, avoid a vampire whenever possible.

See, the problem is that maybe 100 years ago you could actually do that, but now maybe one person in every 50,000 you meet just might be a vampire, so avoidance might be a bit of an issue if you’re that eager to not run into one, so good luck with that.

Imagine it.  You’re an ordinary guy, around thirty, which is my age, so you’ve grown up on a steady diet of rock music, horror movies, too much alcohol and withered expectations.  See, I know exactly where Sidney was coming from since I used to be that guy who believed on some level that the movies got it right about vampires, no matter how many times they contradicted themselves.

I was that guy, and you were that guy too.  Or the girl. Whatever. Stay with me on this.

Too many nights you’ve gotten drunk watching some bad horror movie with either cheesy special effects or an equally bad horror movie with excellent effects. Either way, the movie is shit and you know it, and you love it.  After all, you’ve been watching all kinds of horror movies since you were about eight, in an age before all of the kids were on some sort of medication and before somebody’s parents weren’t trying to hide your eyes and your fragile little mind from the horror that is… well, horror movies.  Usually, the most horrible thing on the screen was the story, but that kind of analysis would come later when you became a teenager and by extension, an expert on everything under the sun.

By eleven, you were reading all kinds of horror novels, from Stephen King to Dean Koontz (although you gave up on him after all his books followed the same damn storyline), and then Clive Barker entered the mix followed, of course, by Anne Rice and lots and lots of Neil Gaiman.  You were the kid that everybody talked about and avoided because you were so weird and dressed in black all the time and why were you reading all the time anyway? Only weirdos spent that much time with their heads buried in books like they were always up to something.

By the time you were getting drunk at your best friend’s house at the tender age of seventeen, you had seen it all and knew absolutely nothing about everything. But it was just an affliction easily cured by turning twenty and having to get your first job.

So, of course, you know everything there is to know about the world, and still have no idea how or where you’re even going fit in, but there are some immutable facts about the world and one of those facts is something you don’t even have to think about: vampires don’t exist.

Sure you and your friends have talked about how cool it would be if vampires did exist, but none of that talk is serious and is quickly forgotten, abandoned to dreams and broken, drunken memories.  Most of that talk is nonsense in any case and none deal with the reality of how vampires would exist alongside with the rest of us and how well, how invisible they would have to be to survive.

***

Sidney was making being invisible very difficult at the moment, especially with that huge fucking stupid cross, held out in front of him like a weapon.  His other hand was back in the bag now and I knew that it was clutching a wooden stake of some kind, either crudely made in Sidney’s backyard or a prop from the Internet.  I thought about it and decided that it was most likely purchased from some stupid vampire website that sold pieces of wood, “blessed by a priest and sprinkled with Holy Water” to gullible people like Sidney for way too much money.

“Your negotiating tactics suck balls, I just want you to know that.”

“Fuck you, you fucking fuck.”

I drained my glass and put it back on the table with an audible thud.  I was determined to finish the bottle before I dealt with Sidney, just in case I had to leave in a hurry.

“No wonder you can’t make it with Dorothy over there Sidney.  You have no game and you have no idea how to relate to people.”

“Don’t make me compel you! I just need you to turn me.  Just bite me and make me one of you.”

“Just bite you.  Are you serious?”

“I know that’s how you get turned. Everybody knows it.”

I really fucking hate the bullshit that Hollywood and bad literature has spread about vampires.  Dude was hitting every single one of my pet peeves, and the cross thing was just getting annoying.  There were currently two options to get out of this so I could go somewhere else and drink until the sun came up away from idiots wanting me to turn them into vampires.

Option one involved grabbing that stupid cross from Sidney and jamming it so far up his ass every time he went to the bathroom after that it would be the holiest place in the city.  And, of course, not biting him at all, but still having enough time to drain the bottle.  Option two was probably going to be more entertaining…

I took off my sunglasses and wiped my brow, pretending to be affected by the cross.

“Okay, you got me, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, can you please move the cross now?”

I glanced at Sidney, but he had suddenly seen my freaky light blue vampire eyes and the reality of what he was doing was crashing over him.  Terror sweat had broken out on his upper lip and he had started to shake in fear.  The thought occurred to me that he had maybe been hoping I was just a dude who was pretending to be a vampire or something and really wasn’t prepared mentally to deal with the reality that was me.

***

Think about it.  How many vampires have you possibly met in your lifetime?  Even when you think you know everything in the world, you don’t even consider the possibility that you may even have met a vampire or two and survived, blood intact, and just gone on with your life, never the wiser.

At some point, you’ve lost hope that you might have a chance of fitting in with what the world expects of you. Yes, your dad is always going on about how you should make something of yourself since he’s worked his ass off to give you that chance, and you want to live up to that, but reality is telling you a different story.  You know for a fact that the world is shit and takes every chance it has to shit on you.  The only things you can count on are what you can see, touch, or even better, who you can get to buy you the occasional drink so you can forget just how shitty your life is.

You have a shitty life, a shitty job that nobody sane would want.  You have even worse habits, and if you’ve had time to think about it, you’re sure that even if vampires did exist, most of them would have killed themselves by now rather than live in a world like this. After all, this is the world where nothing ever seems fair, and there is always someone to keep you down or make you do stupid things and make your girlfriend leave you.

If you had time to think about it, you would consider the point that maybe it was because you were at the bottom of the heap.  As everyone knows, vampires like heights; they like to live right on the top, so life for them would be tons better than anything you’ve got going on.

None of this occurs to you because you’re onto some other bad habit, and sometimes you’re sure you’re losing your alcohol soaked and drug-addled mind.

By the time you meet a vampire, you don’t ever recognize them for what they are.

Of course not: they look just like you.

***

I looked Sidney directly in the eye and gently pushed the cross down.  He weakly allowed me to do this, definitely terrified of me now.  Damn, my buzz was fading away now, and I needed to pee pretty badly.

“Crosses don’t work.  Neither does Holy Water, a chain of garlic, a silver bullet or whatever other stupid shit you’ve talked yourself into believing works.  You have no protection from what I am, just because you read about it on the internet or whatever.  Think about it Sidney and for once in your life, get out of your head and into the real world.  You are not the star of the show and for that matter, neither am I. I’m going to be a footnote to you, an interesting story you can tell your friends. Call it ‘the night the vampire didn’t kill you,’ because believe me I can kill you and I’m not even the worst vampire you could meet.  There are some really, really bad people out there, so don’t you ever pull this shit again or you’re going to wind up very dead. You got me?”

He nodded mutely still staring at my eyes, and I wondered if he had heard a word I’d said.

“Gimme the cross.”  He handed it over and I threw it into a corner.  I held out my hand to him again. “And the stake.”  There were six of them, identical, all from the internet.

“Do you want to live Sidney?”

He nodded and I sighed.  I was done playing and I really, really needed to pee.  I pointed over to Dorothy and her friends.

“Then fucking live. Go over there and ask her the fuck out.  She’s either going to say yes or she’s going to say no, but at least, get off your ass and get an answer and then you can move on with your life.  And you’ll get to ask another girl later on and maybe she’ll say yes, because Dorothy there might not be the one for you and she’ll probably say no, I mean look at her, but damn dude you gotta try, and I really gotta end this now cuz I gotta pee, so whaddaya say?”

Sidney nodded and stumbled to his feet.  I got up with him, feeling the weight on my bladder now of two bottles of tequila wanting to come back into the world a lot more diluted.  I clapped him on the shoulder, and he turned wordlessly and walked toward Dorothy, a man on a mission of certain doom, but damn he was embracing his doom-

I never got to see how it turned out.  I ran off to the bathroom and for a second I thought I wasn’t going to make it to the urinal. I danced from one foot to the other, while trying to pull down a suddenly stubborn zipper, and finally I was free to pee the pee of the damned.

That’s the problem with tequila: it always shoots right through me.

What? Don’t give me that look.  Just because I’m a vampire doesn’t mean I’m suddenly a magical creature with no natural urges.

If Sidney had bothered to even ask me what type of vampire I was, I would probably have told him the truth, but that might have been a little too much for him to take in one night.  One can only destroy so many dreams at once you know.

Truth is, I’m probably the worst vampire I know.

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 waiting for Claude to show up, 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’re smoking.

If you’d also happened to mention that I would be spending my last night as a full-fledged member of the human species, in the backseat of my Honda POS between the legs of a woman I’d only met ten minutes ago, I might have not 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 neck in the throes of passion or whatever, I might have looked at you in all earnestness and asked the question that anyone would ask after this entirely odd conversation: “So is that how I become 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 poor old Sidney and due to 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 preying 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 preying 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 was 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 was about to slip into a coma out of sheer depression.

“Did I do that?” She had asked, and I 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 got 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 very 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.  I managed to get all of 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 looking at 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. It was making it really 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 at a sleazy dive bar.  I could now 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 a freak I’d ended up with.

I managed to scramble out of the car as fast as I could, somehow managing to pull up my pants while not tripping over anything.  I heard a door bang open and the music and sounds of the bar poured out into the night air for a few seconds, as people either entered or exited the bar. They may have seen me or 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 up her skirt as she slid out, still giving me a saucy look.

“I thought you’d be into it,” she said innocently. “We could go back to my place and try it again. 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 very 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 a lot of extra sway in her hips, no doubt for my benefit.  I’m not ashamed to admit that 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 idea 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 ate would be stealing that nice juicy pork chop off your plate, just because you happened to eat it.  The steak I mean, not the pork chop.   It makes no bloody sense that just because a vampire bit you and drank your blood that it would A.) kill you and B.) turn you into one of them.  It’s not an exact comparison, I know, but close enough is good enough in this case, so just go with it.

The food chain doesn’t work like that.

Now if vampires used people as a source of nourishment like the stories all say, it would work out very differently.  What would happen is that 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 that was 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.

Wipe out the entire human race and food supply just because you had to have a blonde for a midnight snack.  Wow.

My usual crew of friends who had decided that this was going to be our bar, were out on the front deck of the bar, and for a moment, I considered trying to get one of them to buy me a beer.  After doing a quick calculation and realising 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 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 Castillian 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?”

“Yes seriously! Come on man, we have to get you to a doctor or something.”

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

She dragged me out of there, me faintly protesting all of the way, drowned out by Louise filling me in on facts 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 of 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.

So we walked the four shorts 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, they really are?  You’ve got like 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.

“You serious?”

“Deadly serious.  I see a lot 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 realise that that’s not the important thing here. People already have this fucked up idea that 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 realise that the stories gloss over so much fine detail that is 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 one night from this girl I had met in a bar.  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 also helped.

“Oh, I got them when I became a vampire,” I’d had said before realising 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 disappointed.

“Sorry to disappoint?”

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

“I get that a lot.”

To be honest, I get that 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 anyway?  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 pay my bills late and my taxes later (when I remember) 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, and 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 that 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, that first you 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 grandkids you have to worry about leaving something for; it’s yourself.

And you wonder why so many vampires are ecologists.

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

“I could be, but I think you can tell 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.”

No convinced? Fine: you decide to not do the same thing that I did and get a job, and you go off and have adventures, maybe even go and travel 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 really 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 a lot of 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?”

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 kind 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 that 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 most annoyance.  Some of them you like seeing and may even strike up a conversation or maybe have with them drinks 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 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 that 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 really 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 would realise that I hadn’t actually spoken to anyone in days.

“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 that was 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 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 or keep it in the store. That’s what the alley back there is for, got it?”

“I don’t do drugs—“

“That’s what they all say, kid. Just let me know we have an understanding and then shut the fuck up.”

“I got it.”

“Good. Pay is twelve fifty, 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, 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 hate you, whaddya 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 that you get some real creeps from time to time and they make very 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.  When I first saw them, 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, and 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.

“You got a spray bottle of bleach?” I asked instead, and Sammy grinned and tossed it 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. 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.

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 had suddenly had to find a job that allowed me to come to work after dark,.  Then I promptly realised that 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.

Except for me.