The boy still drinks too fast for his own good. I know he thinks that he's slowing down to keep his wits about him, but the alcohol has impaired his judgement. Still...it was best to keep him talking. Less time to concentrate on much of anything else.
"So, how old are you kid?" I asked. "Sixteen? Seventeen?"
"Right down the middle, man..." He said, bringing up another belch. With a wide grin, he said, "I crossed over right on my 17th birthday. Haven't looked back since. There wouldn't be much to see back there if I did."
"And how long ago was that?"
"I don't know, man. A couple of Winters...couple of Summers...it's hard to keep track. I figure, I ain't got no place to be. What am I watching the clock for?"
"Must be nice." I told him.
"To be real with you, Jack...it is. I don't miss the bullshit at all, if you get what I'm saying. I was never cut out to be one of those 'Leave It To Beaver' types. Couldn't see myself with a hat and a briefcase either. And you weren't ever gonna catch me joining up with army. But this that I've got now? Oh yeah...this is my bag, right here. I couldn't have found myself a better spot in the shade."
"Funny thing...sitting here talking to a dead child in my living room." I said. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe giving life a few more tries to work itself before becoming...whatever it is that you are now...might be worth it? You were seventeen. I'm not saying that you can't have problems at that age, but I highly doubt that you were out of options when it came to turning things around. More options that I've got now."
He gave me a lazy smile after taking another sip of his beer. "There you go again, man...trying to burn me down."
"I stated that as a fact. Not as a sign of disrespect."
"You think too much, Jack. Always thinking, thinking, thinking. Doesn't it get exhausting, man?"
"I'm just saying that seventeen might be a bit too young to make such a big decision like that."
"You and everyone else." He said. "You know...the people on my side of the sunrise? They call people like me a 'half-life'. Like we're all these brainless little snot nosed kids, running around town and trying to play with the big boys. They honestly think that we don't have feelings, or ambitions, or any common sense at all. It's a prejudice, is what it is. Looking down on us because we were able to figuring things out before our 21st birthday. Fuck 'em all, I say."
I told him, "Things change when you get older. You learn how to work shit out with a more developed brain, and draw from a greater wealth of experience."
"Lay off me, man." He said, rolling his eyes and drinking a bit more out of his can. "Trust me, in real time, I'm a lot closer to your age than you are to mine. The mindless sheep out there just have it stuck in their heads that everybody younger than an age where they can exploit them for modern day slave labor should be viewed as ignorant and in need of protection. Do I look like I need protecting, man?"
Victor was slurring his words even more than he was before. The alcohol was definitely taking effect, but it was too soon for me to figure out whether or not that was going to be enough of an advantage for me to get past his speed and strength just yet. So, instead...I kept him talking.
"You can't fault your parents for wanting to keep you safe from the very real demons in the woods. The boogeyman under the bed..." I smirked. "Me, being one of them."
Sitting up, he said, "You know how you effectively cripple someone for life, Jack? By completely robbing them of their life experience. That's how." I watched Victor finish off his beer in record time, and actually get up from the couch to go back to the fridge for another one without me even offering it to him. "Kids get told all of these happy little fairy tales...and we get sheltered. We're forced to remain blissfully ignorant about the world we live in. Our parents and our teachers and every adult who struggled through the same shit we go through every day...the exhaust themselves trying to keep us away from the truth, man. And then...one day, you turn 18 and they tell you, 'Good luck, asshole! Have fun finding out about the rest of the world on your own. The rest of your life is your problem, now!'"
"I take it that you feel cheated, then?" I asked, raising an eyebrow as he sat back down and popped open another can.
"That's an understatement." He replied. "I think they like keeping us kids in the dark. No alcohol, no drugs, no sex, no nothin', man. They want to shield us from life itself until we're too damn old and frustrated to TAKE it anymore." Victor was beginning to vent now. I could hear the anger in his voice. Apparently, I had touched a nerve. "Adults shelter you from everything and refuse to let you grow the way you're supposed to grow. They want you stay their little baby in a pair of shitty diapers forever, and it's not fair! But reality comes for us all eventually, you know? And when it slammed into us like a runaway truck...we weren't ready for it. We weren't prepared. We were still wandering around believing in Santa Claus and rainbows and a sexless, virgin, society that they created with the bogus excuse of keeping us 'safe'. We weren't 'safe'. We were being fed to the wolves...with no knowledge of how to protect ourselves. Or regulate our own emotions. Or even look at our own reflection without seeing someone who was totally unprepared for the world he was about to become a part of." I remained quiet as Victor drank some more. Getting this emotional poison out of his system. "They didn't allow us to grow up when we were ready. They stalled and suppressed and stunted our growth to the point where we actually began to believe that life was all sunshine and candy. But they knew better. My parents had been my age before. They knew what it was like. But they filled me with shame and self loathing for feeling the same way that they did when they were my age. For being curious. For being horny. For wanting to explore the world around me in general. Man...my pops could be a real piece of work when it came to laying me out for having sticky sheets when I was only 12 years old. I wonder how HE handled it when HE was 12 years old...and all the feelings that came with it. Adults try so hard to forget their own lives in some weak attempt to give us youngsters a better one. If you ask me...that's just the wrong way to go, man. I'd much rather have someone to relate to than someone to hide from. Ya dig?"
After a brief pause, coming to a moment of understanding...I asked, "So...I take it that this is the reason you turned into...a 'vampire', then?"
"Again with the labels, Jack..." He said. "You're always thinking too much."
"Answer the question."
"Yes. I guess you could call that my big gamble on something better. Something that didn't involve me being a baby for the rest of my life."
I told him, "For what it's worth...I think I can relate. If only just a little bit." I was almost finished with the beer in my can, and I stood up to walk over to him and hold it out to give him another friendly cheer for him being so honest. "To finally growing up on your own terms for once." I smiled.
"Right on, man!" He said, and raised his can to bump with mine, but I was holding it loosely with my fingertips, and dropped it down to the floor at his feet. "Shit!"
"Dammit..." I mumbled, picking the can up and seeing the beer spilled out on the floor.
"Are you getting trashed on me, Jack?" He grinned with a drunken stagger.
"Hardly." I said. "Just a bad case of butter fingers. Hold on...I've got an old rug in the closet that I can put down. I'll be right back." I walked over to the coat closet on the far end of the room and reached for a thick, rolled up, carpet that I've had in there for years now. I came back and laid it down over the spill. "Lift your feet..." I said, and he did as I spread the old rug out in front of him. "Now, don't you go making the same clumsy mistake that I did. I happen to like this rug."
"You ain't got to worry about me, man. I'm riding high, but smooth." He smiled.
"Good to hear..." I said, giving him a smirk of my own.
Victor kept drinking, but then asked, "Say...when are we getting out of this joint? I've got a nasty little rumble in the gut, man. And the streets start emptying out 'round midnight. If we're gonna go get your foxy chick and do the deed, we should get moving."
I made sure to clear my mind, as I was sure he would be shuffling through my private thoughts again any moment now. "How about you let me get one more for the road, huh? Something to loosen me up?"
"Whatever blows your skirt up, chief. Just don't take too long and disappoint me tonight. I'm starting to loose my marbles over these hunger pains lately. And that ain't groovy."
"Don't sweat it, kid. We're almost done here. Trust me." I said. "It won't take long. By the way...you really should cut that long hair of yours. Tidy up a bit."
"I feel just as 'tidy' as I need to be, man." He said, dribbling a bit and wiping his mouth on the back of his wrist.
"You look like a woman." I told him. "Somebody could grab a hold of it and make you their bitch in a minute or less. You realize that, right?"
"Don't go sassin' my locks, Jack. They're, like...my legacy, man."
"If you say so." I said, and came back to sit on the couch with a fresh cold one.
"Don't you go sipping on that brew like a toddler, chief. I already told you, I'm not looking to put this off for one more day if I can help it. You take me out, get your little 'art project' over and done with, and then you let me get my juice to finish things off. You do whatever you need to do with the body afterward. That's none of my beeswax. Just keep it clean."
Leaning forward, I asked him, "You really don't believe in my art, do you?"
"It's whatever, man. Can't say that I care."
Staring into his eyes as they began to gloss over a bit more, I got up to grab my six inch blade, unfolding it right in front of him. "Did I ever show you this? My...'tool' of choice?" I held it firmly in my hand, slightly watching the sharp blade glimmer in the light with a subtle turn of my wrist. "There's something truly intimate about using a knife. Something personal. The flesh yields to it so easily. The blood spills out so freely. There's a certain sex appeal to the feeling of the body your holding tense up with shock and horror...only to release that tension, and allowing themselves to go limp in your arms. It's like...melting butter on a hot bowl of popcorn. There's nothing else like it."
"You're a sick fuck, man. But I like that about you." Victor smiled. "At least your honest about who and what you are? So many people lose themselves trying to pretend they're not animals. Predators. Creeps and maniacs and murderers that are just looking for their moment. Anxiously waiting for that one sucker to come along and push them into taking the mask off to show them who they really are. You're about as refreshing as a cold drink of water in a desert full of phonies, man. I dig that. I dig that, hard." Then, he looked down at the knife in my hand, and predictably asked, "Can I hold it, man?"
"Of course..." I smiled. I handed him the knife and let him grip it tightly as he waved it around a few times with a boyish grin. "This is wild, man. How many girls did you slice up with this thing?"
"C'mon, Jack. Be straight with me. How many?"
"Enough." I repeated, and took another swallow of my beer, getting the can to the halfway mark. "That blade is my Excalibur. I've done some of my finest work with it. I make sure to sharpen it at least twice a week. Keeping it clean is a routine part of my hobby."
"Crazy." He said. "Is this what you had planned for your Aunt Cindy one day, Jack? When you felt the time was right?"
Putting my beer can down on the table, I leaned back with a half grin. "Do you know what a 'proxy' is, kid?"
"Yeah...didn't think you would." I smiled. "I wasn't lying when I told you that I loved my Aunt Cindy. I really did. But I hated her at the same time. With every fiber of my being. The thing about true hatred...is it doesn't happen all at once. It festers. It spoils like curdled milk in the pit of your stomach over time...poisoning you from within...snowballing until it's just too big for you to handle anymore."
"I hear you, man." He said, leaning back as I reached for the razor sharp blade and gently took it out of his grip by the handle.
"There were many nights that I entertained thoughts about slitting her throat wide open, and having her take her last labored breaths while looking me in the eye...knowing that it was me that did it to her. Knowing that it was her own karma, guiding my hand. It would have been soooo very simple."
"So...did you do it, Jack? Did you finally get your reward?"
"No." I said, still holding the knife tight. "That's what a proxy is, kid. You see, my hatred had gone way beyond getting any satisfaction out of killing her. My pretty, blond haired, Aunt Cindy. No no no...cutting her open simply wouldn't be enough, you see?" I told him, just before finishing off my beer. "Now, my mother? Despite all of her issues and her fears...she was a good woman. With a good heart from what I remember. Her sister, on the other hand...was corrupted. By filth, and temptation, and vice. If only someone could have stepped in and saved her before she ruined her own life...and then ade it her mission to ruin mine. The monster in her...became the monster in me. And I'll never stop despising her for it. But my hatred transcends merely killing her, Victor." I began to feel my pulse race as my heartbeat sped up with a rush. "You see, if I gut her...if I watch her bleed for me...it would be a very mild relief, at best. I can only kill her 'once'. Now where's the fun in that?"
"Seems like it would be a lot of fun to me, man. She sounds like a real bitch." Victor said with another belch.
"That she was. But one simple drag of a blade across her throat wasn't going to make up for the years of torture she put me through as a child. Just a few horrific moments and it's over. No. I would get no joy out of only killing her once." I stood up from my chair, and turned off the television, turning the knob on my radio shortly afterward. Wild Cherry's 'Play That Funky Music' was on, and I turned up the volume to enjoy the tune to its fullest. Victor grinned and began to nod his head to the beat, and I grabbed my empty beer can off of the table to toss it into the trash...just as I began to circle around him. "But...if I could see my Aunt Cindy's curse in others...her wickedness, her lust, and the potential to lose her soul to the black cloud of madness and pain...if I could just paste that onto other women when I went out at night...then I could slash her to pieces...over...and over...and over again. She could die a thousand times by my hand...and I can always find her again in someone else. There will never be an end to her torture. Not until there's an end to mine."
I walked around the couch, and Victor didn't bother to turn his head to see me standing almost directly behind him. I tossed my can in the trash, and stepped closer.
"That's heavy, man." He said lazily. "I still think you should have poked her ass with your blade and called it a day though. Once again...you were thinking too much, chief."
Feeling my head free from his constant 'scan and shuffle' techniques in that one moment...I released a soft breath, and gripped the open knife that he hadn't realized that I kept in my hand since I had first showed it to him, and I softly said, "Very true." And I stepped right up behind him and added, "But when you do what I do as many times as I have...you begin to realize that, sometimes...it's simply best...not to think at all." And, with that said, I used my left hand to grab a tight hold on his long brown hair to yank his head back, exposing his pretty young throat to me all at once. I used my other hand to jam the sharp blade into the left side of his jugular...and I viciously dragged it all the way to the right. The flesh was so weak. So yielding. I got goosebumps from the feel of cutting him so deeply.
Victor had already been mortally wounded by the time the shock of what was happening wore off. All of his strength and speed was no match for the element of surprise. He tried to pull away from me, but his long hair was still tangled around my fingers, balled up into a tight fist. He wasn't going anywhere without leaving a giant handful of hair behind. The blood poured out of him, from just under his Adam's apple. In giant gushes at first, and then in a steady waterfall that cascaded down the front of his shirt. I leaned him forward to let him bleed out on the carpet that I strategically placed just under his feet earlier. He gurgled and sputtered, attempting to reach back and fight for his life, but the music was too loud for anyone outside to hear his pitiful cries for help. It was much too late for that now, kid. Just let it sweep over you. Let it take you away.
"Shhhhh...it's ok. You're alright. Don't fight it. It's over. Quick and easy. Shhhh..." I said, softly rubbing his back as he continued to stain my rug with his young blood. I didn't think that I was going to get a rush out of killing this boy...but his obnoxious approach and arrogant attitude made this much more fulfilling than I ever could have expected.
Victor's face turned so pale that it was almost blue, his eyes rolling back as his body got cold, and I allowed him to slump over until he fell helplessly to the floor. It really was his own fault, you know? You should really know who you're fucking with before you get involved in a situation like this. He's a vampire. He should know this stuff.
Victor stopped breathing, and I allowed my heartbeat to calm itself down a bit before relaxing my grip on the knife. Great...now I've got a mess to clean up, and another body to dispose of. I'll get on it. But first...
...I think I've got one more ice cold beer left in the fridge...
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