Vampire Boys Of Summer Chapter 5

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Chapter 5: Mannequins & Bloodsuckers
I didn’t say anything else about the loveless tattoo and neither did he. He seemed to act like it was perfectly normal for me to know this tattoo as if it was just as common as the word “Mom” on a sailor’s arm. I didn’t feel comfortable pursuing it further because then I’d have to reveal a whole range of things about last night and I didn’t want to go there.

“So, what’s your tattoo then?”

“Mobile Suit Gundam beating up on Sailor Moon.”

“Are you serious?”

“No, I’m just kidding. I don’t have any tattoos.”

I frowned at him. “You need to work on all this kidding stuff. A girl likes to be told the truth.”

“Truth. Hmmm. Tell you what. You tell me the truth why you came over last night, and I’ll tell you any truth about me you want to know.”

I looked at him for a moment. This could be very tricky and could bring the hope of any type of friendship to a crashing halt. I mean come on, what was I supposed to say? I just came over to put a stake through your heart?

“I can’t do that,” I finally said. “Not yet.”

He stopped walking. He sighed, running his fingers through his long blond hair as if he was thinking or debating something within himself. Finally, he looked at me. “Fair enough,” he said. We walked on a couple more blocks before he spoke again. “So, you like tattoos?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Do you have any?”

I smiled. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Um..yes I would.”

“Yeah, I have one. But don’t ask to see it. I won’t show it to you.”

He smirked. “Fair enough.”

The whole ‘fair enough’ thing was starting to irritate me. I was beginning to think he used the phrase whenever he didn’t like what you said.

“How long have you lived here, Nora?”

“All my life.”

“Exciting.”

“Not really. Where did you grow up?”

He nervously stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Lots of places. Japan, San Francisco, Queens. Now we’ve moved here.”

“It must seem dull here next to those big places.”

“It’s not dull. Just slower paced, which I guess is what my uncles wanted.”

“Your Uncles?”

“Yeah, I live with my uncles. They are making a show of raising me these days.”

“Where are your mom and dad?”

“Traveling. Always present, but always gone, if that make sense.”

I nodded. “Yes, I think it does. My dad’s gone too, but he’s not traveling.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

I laughed. “It’s not like that. He’s in the state hospital.”

“What’s his illness?”

“Sick in the head, I suppose.”

He gave me a little reassuring smile. “Sounds like we both have dysfunctional families.”

“Yeah.”

We rounded a corner and started down our street. Home was only a block away now. The time had gone by so fast.

“Maybe we should hang out and get dysfunctional together,“ he said, a little quietly.

From the lips of someone else it may have come out sounding flirty, dirty, or just outright insulting, but from Haru it sounded like sound advice and the offer of friendship. I couldn’t believe it but I was thinking it possible that I just might be able to like this guy without staking him.

“Yeah, I think that would cool,“ I replied. “You know where I live. Consider yourself invited over.”

He smiled so brightly I could see his perfect white teeth. It made me realize I had just invited a vampire to my home. What an idiot. But what puzzled me about that were two things: one, his walking in daylight, and two, when he smiled I could see no fangs, not even an overbite. Perhaps I’d been wrong. Maybe I just have an obsessive compulsive “vampires are everywhere” disorder…

We stepped up on the sidewalk and crossed over into my yard. I hadn’t realized while we had been walking, but he was right up next to me, only inches from my body. The only way we could be closer is if we’d been holding hands. Why I thought of that analogy I don’t know. It would be pretty weird holding hands with a vampire. Aren’t they clammy and icy cold to the touch? Still, it seemed as if he had no concept of personal space. And I had no concept of not minding that fact.

It made me a little self-conscious, the lack of distance between us. A girl thinks of these things you know. All kinds of thoughts went through my head: Do I have anything stuck in my teeth? Can he see where I’ve tried to cover up my acne scars? Is my breath okay? Do I smell? If any of these things were noticed he never said, much to my happiness.

We stopped at my front porch. “Here we go,“ he said. “Safe and sound.” He edged closer and I backed up onto the step. I had kissed a boy before and I know what happens when you allow him to go all the way to the front door. He stepped up onto the step with me and began to lean close ever so slowly. I couldn’t believe this. I knew he was hot and all, but it’s worse if he knows it. I could only take this to mean he was making his move. I could feel my palms starting to sweat and my face felt flushed.

“Um…I don’t think you…Well , I…”

His face nearly grazed my cheek, his beautiful dark eyes making contact with my frightened doe look. His lips were at my ear and I could feel his warm breath against it. I closed my eyes and braced myself. It was either that or run, and to be honest, my legs were so weak I couldn’t have moved if I wanted to. I heard the sound of his tongue passing over his lips and then he whispered, “Someone’s watching us.”

I could have slapped him. All this nervousness and sweaty palms for this? If someone was watching us they just might see me lay him out cold.

“In the window. The house across the street behind me.”

Now I was really getting pissed. “Dumb ass, that’s a manikin. Old Mrs. Winston put that up to keep kids off her lawn.” I put some distance between us for real by stepping up two more steps on the porch.

He smugly smiled. “No, behind the manikin. There’s someone there, and it’s not an old lady.”

I looked past him, squinting my eyes in the afternoon sun to try and see what he was talking about. After a moment I saw it, a shadowy figure behind the manikin. At first I thought it was another one, but then I could see it move. My anger at Haru started to subside, replaced by alarm. Who was in Mrs. Winston’s house?

When he was sure I saw it, Haru turned and looked also. The figure disappeared back into the shadows of the room. “I’ll take care of this,” said my new neighbor.

I was confused. “What are you?…”

“Stay here,“ he commanded, but he must not have had very good hypnotic vampire powers because I followed after him across the yard.

“Haru, You can’t just…Look , I know her…She’s not going to be happy if you go in her house.”

He crossed the street. “She’s asleep,“ he replied.

“In the middle of the afternoon? How could you..”

“She’s dreaming of a man at the foot of her bed.”

I reached out and grabbed his arm. “What the hell are you talking about?”

He stopped and turned to me. His hand reached up and took mine gently off his arm. His touch was not cold at all. In fact, he was pretty warm. And his skin was soft. For the first time I noticed he was wearing nail polish the color of his hair. He let go of my hand quickly as if I had scorched him, and said, “Nora, go home. I will take care of this.” Then he gave me a sharp look. “Do not follow me.”

He started across Mrs. Winston’s lawn. I couldn’t believe he was just going to walk up there and enter her house. And for what or whom? And how did he expect to even cross the threshold? Without even thinking, I yelled at him, “Vampires can’t go in uninvited, you idiot!”

He came to a complete stop so fast you’d thought he hit a brick wall. He turned towards me slowly and started walking back to where I stood, now afraid. I took a couple steps back.

“What did you say?”

“I..I’m sorry…I didn’t mean it…I don’t know…”

“Vampires?”

I nodded and started to bolt.

“Stop,” he said. His voice was quiet and lilting, and I was helpless. I had to obey his command. It was like something within me shut down and he could have demanded anything of me. He stepped right up to me and I didn’t flinch. Leaning in, his eyes were nearly touching mine and I felt like he could consume me whole and I wouldn’t care. Then just as quickly as the helplessness came, it went away. I must have been holding my breath because it came out of my mouth heavily. Now my head screamed run before he could do anything else.

“Don’t tell anyone,“ he said. “Please, don’t.”

I was looking him right in his eyes. Tears had erupted from those dark orbs and were streaming down his face. I had never seen a boy cry before. In my world they were tough and invincible. Nothing could hurt their emotionless shell. But not this boy. He was weak, vulnerable, crumbling to pieces before my eyes. I almost cried myself seeing it.

“Please, not even your friends,” he begged between sobs.

“I won’t.”

He wiped his arm across his face and cast a look back at Mrs. Winston’s. Then he returned his eyes to mine. “If you dream tonight, and it’s not me, don’t invite them in. Okay?”

I nodded. “Okay.”

He then walked away from me, moving briskly across the yard to his own. He never said goodbye. He didn’t even look back. I stood there watching, wondering what just happened, and knowing everything had changed between us in an instant. We were not strangers any longer. I was not a killer. He was not a vampire. We were two souls now connected by something beyond us. And looking beyond my yard at Mrs. Winston’s house, I saw the thing that could destroy us both as it shifted in the window.

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

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Vampire Boys of Summer Chapter 4


Chapter 4: Sunlight & Surprises

You know you have the potential for stalking when you wake up and the first thing you do is go to your bedroom window to peek out and spy on the house next door. I don’t know what I was expecting to see: trash littering the lawn from their all-night party, drunken guests crashed out under the trees. What I didn’t expect to see was my mom sitting in a lawn chair on their front porch engaged in conversation with some guy in an expensive business suit. It wasn’t the vampire boy or the puzzle freak. No, this guy was very different. The way he was dressed screamed success. Gray and white pinstripe suit, black framed glasses, hair combed neat. He could have been a lawyer, doctor, or maybe a college professor. And there was mom, animated in the moment. She didn’t have a drink in her hand either. It made me wonder if perhaps an alien spaceship had come down last night and stole my mom, leaving a strange doppelganger in her place. It also made me wonder just how many people had moved in next door.

Stepping from the window I retrieved my cell phone from the dresser and woke it up from sleep mode. I checked the photo gallery to see if someone had snuck in and used the camera again. No, it was still showing the photo of the boy’s chest emblazoned with the tattoo that read “loveless.” It was easy to tell the person was young, his skin smooth and flawless. No blemishes or moles, no acne or skin tags. This boy had been the perfect canvas for the tattoo artist. On a good day I would have stared at the photo awhile and fantasized about what the boy’s face looked like, but not today. “Prick,” I muttered, and put my phone back to sleep.

I got dressed in my usual school attire of blue jeans and t-shirt. The knees of the jeans had holes in them. Not the precut ones you can buy now. No, I had these pants for years and am happy to say they were faded and worn from actual use. The t-shirt was a novelty thing I had picked up online. It was white and pink and had a hello kitty type character on the front. I wouldn’t usually be caught dead in a girly shirt but the fact the Hello Kitty type character was carrying a chain saw and the severed head of an Angry Bird made it a lot cooler. I put on my glitter converse shoes and began to look around for my book bag. It was nowhere to be found. Oh that’s right; I had left it sitting on the front porch when I had come home from school yesterday.

I bounced down the steps and was about to open the front door when it began to open from the outside. I jumped back startled. It was my mom coming in from next door and in her hands she was holding the book bag. She was also holding a stern look.

“What was this doing outside?”

“Sorry, I forgot,“ I replied. “I was just coming to get it.”

She nodded to let me know it was okay, which was totally unlike mom. She should have been lighting into me about the money it costs to replace lost school books or to remind me that dad would probably want his backpack back when he got out. I wondered what he would need it for other than packing up and getting the hell out of this crazy house.

“I’m going to need a ride to school,” I said throwing the bag over my shoulder. I wouldn’t normally ask her, but then again I never found her sober this time of the morning.

“Okay, dear. Let me get the keys. I have to go in to work before you get off school. You don’t need a ride home do you?”

“No, mom. I’ll walk. Or take the bus with Angela. Her mom will give me a ride home if I want.”

She didn’t seem to be bothered by the dig, and soon with her keys in hand we were heading out the door. Down the steps I followed her, both of us daring to look over at the house next door. To our equal dismay, everything looked quiet and calm. No one was outside, not even the puzzle man.

The ride to school started off relatively quiet, both of us lost in our own worlds, but finally I couldn’t take it anymore. “So, who were you talking to over there?”

“Oh, that was Mr. Tomoko. He’s our new neighbor. He was apologizing for an apparent loud party he had over there last night. Did you hear anything?”

“Yeah, I heard a little. Did he say what the party was about or who the guests were?”

She gave me a weird look. I had been blessed with my father’s lack of tact and overabundance of curiosity. She smiled. “He said it was a business party for associates and different interests he had dealings with.”

“Dealings?”

“Oh hell Nora, I don’t know. Investments I imagine. Why all the questions?”

“I just like to know who’s moving in next to us. They could be serial killers for all we know.”

She shook her head in exasperation. “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree, does it?”

“At least it falls.”

After that we drove the rest of the way in silence. At school, I got out of the car without so much as an ‘I love you’ or ‘see you later.’ I was turning to close the door when mom leaned across the seat.

“Nora,“ she said, “look, I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you lately. I know this has to be a difficult time for you.”

I froze. “Difficult? Why?”

“Well, you know, being fifteen and all. Trying to find your way and place among your peers. I remember it was an awkward time for me too. I didn’t know what I wanted either.”

Suddenly it dawned on me. She had heard the rumors, too. It had taken awhile but things do travel across Facebook and eventually land in front of your parents. “Mom, it’s not true…”

“What’s not true?”

I didn’t know if she was feigning ignorance or whether I was just reaching, so I shut up about it. “Nothing. Never mind, I’ve got to go to class.”

“I’m here for you if you are having problems.”

“I’m not having problems. I’ve got to go. Bye.”

I closed the door and was up the front steps of the school before she could say another word. Her car was still sitting out there when I disappeared into the cold confines of the school building.

I didn’t even make it to the first class before trouble came knocking. My guidance counselor, a middle aged woman named Miss Thomas, caught me in the hall and asked me to come to her office. She offered me a chair across from her well-ordered desk, and cleared her throat.

“Miss Williams, This is pretty late in the game. There’s only a couple school days left and I kept hoping you’d make an effort to pull yourself out of your, um, slump, but the truth is you are going to flunk tenth grade. “

Crap, I thought, shaking my head.

“Unless you want to take a few classes in summer school.”

“Aww man. Summer school? Are you kidding?”

“I won’t make you go, Nora. But if you don’t, you’ll lack the credits to graduate to eleventh. You’ll be held back a year while all your friends move on.”

For a moment I thought that might not be a bad idea. Let everyone who knows me get ahead, so the new students coming in won’t know a thing about me. The Trumps would be moving ahead, too. It would almost be like going to a new school with a different peer group. It seemed once you shifted up a grade, those that didn’t move up with you were forgotten or otherwise ignored.

She must have known what I was thinking. “It’s not as bad as it may seem. The classes are very small in our summer school program. The tutors are excellent and you only go half a day. Small price to pay to make up all the unsatisfactory work. “

“Can I think about it?”

“Well, we need to get you signed up if you’re going to do this. I’ll give you until tomorrow. But you are the last one to commit. Other students have already signed up and paid their fees.”

“Okay, I’ll let you know. Is that all you wanted from me?”

She nodded. “Yes, you can go on to class now.”

I got up and left her office in a bummed out mood. Summer was going to be wasted at a school desk. Angela would probably have three boyfriends before I even got out of school.

The rest of the school day was like a dull headache, the kind that is too small for an aspirin, but too big to think about other things. I coasted through my early classes and met up with Angela at lunch. When I told her about Summer school she was just as bummed as me.

“That sucks, girl. I was hoping we’d hang out all summer.”

“I guess we still can, but it will have to be in the evenings. No hanging out at the lake or boarding in the park.”

She shook her head. “Well, you got to go. You can’t ditch me and make me start junior year without you.”

“Yeah, I’ll probably go. When mom finds out, she’ll make me. My dad dropped out in the ninth so she’ll be pushing me not to follow in his footsteps.”

“I don’t want you to follow his footsteps either. Steaks are for eating, not driving through someone’s chest.”

Angela was the only one who could say something like that to me and not make it sound like some kind of wisecrack. I tried to laugh but my headache was getting worse.

“You got an aspirin?”

“Shit, you’re at the pharmacy now, woman,“ she said. “What you need?”

She opened up her purse and pulled out three different bottles of pain reliever. I’m sure one of them was probably illegal without a prescription.

After taking some of Angela’s magic it seemed like the rest of the day passed like a dream. In fifth period where I had been drawing hot manga boys the day before, she finally hit me with the burning question.

“So, what’s his name?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get his name.”

She frowned, disappointed. “Loser. You didn’t even go over there, did you?”

“Yeah, I did. It just didn’t turn out well. The guy’s an asshole. Won’t be drawing him again.”

“Shit girl, I’m sorry. I was hoping you’d get lucky. Better yet, I was hoping he had a hot cousin or something for me.”

I shook my head and laughed. “My Angela, always on the prowl.”

She grinned like the cat that has just eaten the tastiest fish. “You know it.”

“They had a party over there last night,“ I said.

“Yeah, I heard.”

“Really? What did you hear?”

“Grant and Nathan were talking about in first period. Apparently they went. Word has it that the Trumps were there.”

“I’m sure they were,“ I replied. It figures that the biggest hoes in the whole school would be there. My jerkface neighbor was probably drooling all over them. Hell, they may have even been the reason he had humiliated me the way he did.

“He didn’t invite you in or anything?”

“No, we didn’t make it that far.”

“Damn, total strikeout,“ she said. I had to agree, but if the Trumps had been in attendance I wouldn’t have wanted to be there anyway. At least now I knew not to waste my time with a certain cute Asian boy.

The sun outside was so bright it was killing my eyes. We were standing on the front steps of the building waiting for Angela’s bus. It was always the last one, which almost always put us in the line of fire when it came to The Trumps and others who loved to sneer at us. As one bus was pulling away, some stupid jock hung his head out the window yelling, “Come on, kiss her.” We both flipped him off. People are so stupid.

“So you coming to my house?” Angela finally asked,.

“Yeah, I’ll ride with you.”

“You don’t have to stroll the rest of the way. Mom can give you a ride ho…Oh My Freaking God!”

“What?” I nearly screamed at her. I was facing away from the buses and looking right at her, alarmed. She clutched her chest and nearly all the color went out of her face.

“I think I have freaking died and gone straight to St. Michael’s bosom.”

She was freaking me out. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“That is the most beautiful boy I have ever seen. I want to throw myself at his feet and thank Jesus.”

I turned and nearly dropped my backpack. It was the Asian boy from next door. He was standing at the bottom of the steps looking right up at us.

“Konnichiwa,” he said.

I didn’t know if he was still making fun of me or not, but I heard Angela whisper softly to herself, “dreamy.”

“Konnichiwa,” I finally replied. “What are you doing here?”

He came up a couple of steps and stopped. “I..uh..wanted to apologize.” He waited for a response and when I didn’t give one, he continued. “And possibly…maybe..if you would allow me..to um…walk you home.”

I crossed my arms. He wasn’t getting off the hook this easy; I didn’t care that he was wearing tight leather pants and a white pullover shirt that seemed to hug his frame in all the right places. “I guess it depends,” I answered. “What are you apologizing for?”

He looked around, taking in his surroundings and the fact other students had stopped to watch the exchange. He bowed his head and whole upper body. “I apologize for …being insensitive and having a joke at your expense. My humor was not appropriate for the occasion. I meant no…dishonor.”

I uncrossed my arms and was getting ready to say something when he turned and went back down the steps, walking away at a brisk pace, as if he wanted nothing more than to get away. I looked around and noticed a considerably sized crowd had formed, including two of the three Trumps. They were smirking to themselves.

“Hey wait a minute,” I called out, to which he stopped so fast you’d think I’d threatened him. “What about that walk home?”

He looked up at me with those dark eyes filled with surprise. The sad look on his lips turned into a boyish smile. “I would like that honor, Nora.”

“I don’t walk home with people I don’t know,” I said.

Again, he bowed. “I’m Haru.”

I turned around and saw Angela, her eyes gone wide. It had been a roundabout way but I had gotten his name after all. She silently mouthed, ‘call me later’ as her bus pulled up. I noticed the Trumps were gone, too.

“Okay Haru,“ I said, walking up to join him. “You know where I live, don’t you?”

It wasn’t a short walk from school. It seemed even longer simply because I was walking home with a strange boy I had only spoken to once before, and even then I felt like I had done the talking. If he was in his element at night, you wouldn’t have known it by his ease at walking home under the burning sun, which in itself was surprising to me. If he was a vampire, how could he stand to be out in the direct sunlight without burning to ash? Hell, he didn’t even sparkle.

“I am sorry about last night. It was very rude of me.”

“It’s okay,” I replied. “You can make up for it.”

He raised an eyebrow as we hit Market Street, just three blocks from the school. “Oh yeah? And how is that, I wonder?”

“What did you say to me last night?”

He grinned. “Oh, you mean when you were looking at my chest to see how my shirt was buttoned?”

I looked away for a moment, embarrassed that he had noticed. “Uh yes, I guess so.”

“I said, Koko Omotemuki.”

“In English, please.”

He stopped and looked right at me. He touched his chin and said with a smile, “Face up here.”

My face really turned red this time. I don’t think a guy had ever said anything to embarrass me that bad before. “Oh, was it obvious?” I finally asked, trying to play it off.

“Um…yes.” He gave me an inquisitive look. “I just wonder if you do a chest inspection with every guy you meet, or if I’m something special.”

“No, it’s nothing like that…” I started.

“What, you don’t think I’m special?”

This stunned me. “I…I’m…I don’t know..I”

Once again he was having a laugh at my expense, but I wasn’t so mad about it this time. In fact, I kind of liked it. His eyes almost seemed to dance in the light as he spoke. I couldn’t look at them for long; they were too intense, and he seemed to know this because he kept trying to make eye contact.

“Seriously, “ he said, “what was the big deal? Was my shirt dirty or something?”

“No, I was trying to figure out something,” I admitted.

“Oh really. And that was?”

“I was trying to see if you had a tattoo.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You’re not very forward, you know that?” He laughed at the expression on my face. “Yes, I have a tattoo.”

I knew I was being bold, or forward as he said, but I had to know. “A moon with vines that says ‘Loveless’ across it?”

He stopped me with his hand on my arm and a look of concern. “No, that would be my cousin, Ryo.”

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 3- Conversation &  Razor Blades

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Chapter 3: Communication & Razors

It was dark out but the house was lit up like Christmas. It seemed like every light was on and I could see movement behind the curtains. Lots and lots of movement. In fact it looked like my new neighbors were throwing a party. The weird thing was just a few moments ago when I looked out, there didn’t seem to be any activity outside at all. Now I stood there on my front porch unsure of what to do. I couldn’t very well waltz into the middle of a throw down and stake someone through their heart.

The night was oppressively quiet. Even in my yard it was like a graveyard, still and silent. I stepped off my porch and walked across the yard. My eyes still on the house, I could see all kinds of partying going on and yet there was no sound, not one single muffled noise. Suddenly a door opened on the side of the house facing me. Loud rock music interrupted the quiet with a cacophony of sound. B’z. Las Vegas. I knew the song, though a large part of it wasn’t even in English. I spent many long hours streaming music from Japanese radio stations on my laptop, never thinking I’d have neighbors who would nearly bring it to my door.

With the door still open, I could hear some people shout out the lyrics, “Won’t you come with me? Ah-ha-ha!” Then the door shut again. A figure was now wrapped in the night on the side patio. I stood completely still and watched them, wondering if they had seen me. The figure let out a sigh and tilted his head to the sky. It was a clear night and the moon and stars seemed to illuminate his face.

It was the boy I had seen the night before. Clearly he was Asian, and hopefully no relation to the puzzle man. He wore what looked like a schoolboy’s uniform, the kind they wore in the harem animes I watched. He could have just stepped out of “Uta No Prince Sama” and I waited to see if he would suddenly break out into a song. He didn’t. He was too enraptured with the night sky as if he were cataloguing the stars in his head.

He put a hand up to his head and ran his fingers through his shoulder length blond hair. It looked kind of out of place on him as most Asians I’d seen had black hair and dark eyes, but it was obvious this boy was different. His hair didn’t looked like it had been dyed. No, it looked like the color had been sucked out of his locks, leaving him with a pale blond that if two shades lighter would have been white. Even his skin looked paler, but not sickly. His face was smooth as if he hadn’t even started shaving yet, and when he turned his head in my direction I saw his eyes were the color of dark almonds. And unfortunately, those eyes had just seen me.

There was nothing I could do. Sure, I could have charged him with my vampire stake in hand. Or I could have run screaming for help. But I did neither of these. Instead, I took a bold step over the threshold of his yard and approached him. Just like earlier that day, it was like walking into a vacuum. I could feel the crunch of the grass and twigs beneath my feet but heard no sound. I wondered if he spoke if it would be a silent whisper for me to try and decipher. I came to a stop at the edge of the patio. In three steps I could be up there with him, but something told me to stop where I was and remember why I had been going over there to begin with.

“Hi,“ I said.

He looked at me blankly, so I tried again.

“Um, Hello?”

Again, nothing registered on his face. His stare was so empty I thought he could be a corpse. Of course, Vampires are generally that anyway.

“Konnichiwa?”

He smiled. “Konnichiwa.”

This he understood. I only knew it from watching anime. On there it pretty much meant hello or greetings.

I pointed to my house. “I’m your neighbor. Nora.”

He looked over there and nodded. “Ah, Nola.”

“Nora,“ I corrected.

Again a nod. “Nola.”

This was going nowhere. I tried something different and a little closer. I pointed behind him to his house, where the party was going full tilt. “Having a party?”

He looked at me even more confused, then smiled, nodding his head vigorously. “Nola.”

I sighed. This was just great. It appeared he neither understood nor spoke English. No matter if you looked at him as a hot guy or vampire, in both areas you were screwed. Trying to figure out if he had the tattoo was going to be near impossible, unless I just reached out and ripped his shirt open, which despite my anger over invasion of privacy seemed like a nice idea. After all, he was very cute, and his white school boy shirt had two buttons already unfastened at the top. I could see his collar bone and the very beginnings of his chest, but not enough to tell if he was tattooed.

He must have noticed my gaze because he looked at me with a little smile. He touched his head and said something like “Koko omotemuki.”

Now I was the one not understanding. “Huh?” I looked around to see if there was anyone nearby to help, but the party was inside not out here. “English?” I finally asked in desperation.

“Ah, English, “ he nodded, and then shook his head vigorously back and forth. I could only take this to mean no.

This was ridiculous, but just my luck. Meet hot guy, can’t talk to him. It figures. So, in the most desperate way of thinking I pulled out all the stops. Pointing at him, I asked, “Vampire?”

He scrunched up his nose and squinted his eyes almost to the point of closing. He shrugged and shook his head back and forth again. Clearly he didn’t understand.

“Filthy perverted bloodsucker?”

The confusion on his face was laughable. I finally gave up.

“Oh to hell with this,” I said , and spun on my heel to walk off in exasperation. I had made it halfway to my yard when he called out to me.

“Understand English fine.”

I quickly turned back to him, my face flushing about fifty shades of red.

“I was just having some fun with you,“ he smiled.

I noticed his lips were moist and his teeth perfect white. I wanted to punch him in the face. Instead, I gave him my fiercest look. “Screw you. You understand that?” and stalked off so mad I could have pulled the stake out the back of my pants and stabbed him from there.

Up in my room I cried. I couldn’t help it. Everything about the day came crashing over me. First, the Trumps and all their crap, the cellphone picture and the intruder who had taken it, the invasive feeling in the shower, My drunken mom oblivious to my needs as a daughter, dad locked up in an institution, and now this guy making fun of me, having a big laugh at my expense. It didn’t matter anymore if he was a vamp and needed killing. I was completely humiliated and made a fool.

I pulled open my desk drawer. It was usually reserved for my school work, but there was something hidden in that drawer that I desperately needed. I shuffled pencils and paperclips around, moved some papers, and then located it. It was a man’s open razor blade, the old kind they used to put in shaving razors and box cutters. It had a slight stain on its edge from use. I tossed it on the bed and sat down. The tears were much heavier now, and all I could feel emotionally was absolute anguish. I hated me.

I took my pants off and sat back in bed. My tank top was so long it covered my underwear and I nervously fumbled with the bottom edge of it. The X-Japan logo instantly made me think of my favorite song by them, Tears. There was a line in there that said, “Dry your tears with love.” That was Bullshit, I thought. Tears can’t be dried. They are always there and so I raked the razor blade across my leg just above the knee. I knew it would leave a little scar to go along with the previous ones, but I didn’t care. All I was was exemplified in the physical truth. I was nothing more than tears and scars.

Later, I lay in bed on top of the covers, the stinging from the six gashes on my upper leg still keeping me awake. The blood had congealed and was nearly caked on the wounds, a reminder of my pain and turmoil. I often pretended that everything was okay with me. Angela was oblivious to it all. It’s not that she didn’t care. It was just something I couldn’t share with her, or any of my other friends and classmates. This was the only thing I had that was completely mine. Everything else had been torn from me by other people or life events and been put on public display. But a girl isn’t happy unless she has that one secret that nobody knows.

I guess I started cutting after dad got sent away. The public humiliation and teasing became a lot to bear. Mom disappeared into the bottle, I into the feel of a sharp razor across my skin. And I’m not one of those who did it just to feel something. Sometimes maybe that was true, but for me I did it to cover up my real pain, my loneliness. It’s hard to be crying over someone hurting you or something depressing when your pain is real and excruciating. So, my physical attack on myself was to mask the real hurt. It’s the only way I could get beyond it.

I finally fell asleep around two AM and it wasn’t long before I was hardcore dreaming. I have really vivid dreams. I am one of those who can wake up and have instant recall of the dreamscape. A lot of people wake confused and disoriented, trying to grasp the images that fade at a rapid rate. But I’m not like that. I’m pretty clear headed when I awaken, even though it does take a while to rouse me from my deep sleep.

My dream that night was of the puzzle man. I was out there in the backyard again and he was handing me puzzle pieces to put in place. The puzzle was different and it kept changing every time I looked down at it. Once it depicted a mound of decapitated heads, another time it was a young couple making love, a stake penetrating both of their bodies impaling them to the ground. The next glance revealed a river of blood, upon its banks bloody swords in the hands of massacred teenagers. And each time the missing piece was a female face which always turned out to be the piece in my hand. Finally, the bizarre vampire man, who again spoke in guttural noises, got up and scattered the pieces, overturning the card table with fury. A piercing sound erupted from his throat and eventually it started to sound like a word: Imouto.. He clenched his fists and shouted this several times over. Blood started to run down his hand where his fingers dug into the flesh and he offered it to me. I jolted awake.

Wide awake and staring at the ceiling, I didn’t know what to make of the nightmare. None of it made sense. But it freaked me out just the same. It would be awhile before sleep came again, so I got up from bed, threw a robe over my t-shirt and underwear and went to my window. I gently parted the curtains to look out, expecting to see vampire boy staring up at the heavens. But he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. The party was apparently still going full force but I couldn’t hear anything from my house. I probably wouldn’t have heard anything even standing right outside their door.

I couldn’t believe they were still going at it at this hour. It was a school night damn it. And where did all these party goers come from? If they had just moved to Chelsea Valley, how the hell did they know so many people? I couldn’t believe everyone came with them from their old house. Suddenly the side door opened and the boy emerged. He had lost the uniform and was now in sweat pants and a tank top. The dim light from the stars illuminated his skin and for a moment I thought I caught a glimpse of a tattoo. The very edge of it seemed to peek out of his tank top, but I couldn’t tell if this was certain or just a trick of the light. Personally, I really didn’t care anymore. If he was the creeper who’d been in my room earlier it just allowed me to hate him more. It would be a long time, maybe forever, before I’d try to talk to him again. What he’d done was mean spirited and not funny at all. He had played with me in my awkwardness and uncertainty, and made me out to be a complete and embarrassed fool. He was no better than the Trumps, and once I had some rest I was going to expose him to the sun and watch him burn with the same glee he had exhibited when he made fun of me tonight.

 

 
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer – Chapter 2

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Chapter 2: Jigsaws & Tattoos

I rode Angela’s bus home. Even after skipping sixth period, she was still pissed about the Trumps, and like always, the conversation was along the lines of “I should have kicked her ass” or “she does that again and I’m going to stomp her.” Of course, both of us knew that was just big talk. You couldn’t just go up and punch Amanda without fighting the rest of them too. And even if you did manage to take them all on and beat them, your glory wouldn’t be long. In fact, they would do their best to turn it into humiliation. That’s what they did to me earlier in the year when I had had a run in with Chrissy. So I told her on the ride home it was best to leave it alone. Angela may have talked big but she understood, and soon we were riding in relative silence.
“Thanks for catching me,” she finally said. I knew she was referring to the hallway incident earlier. “You’re always there for me.”
I smiled. “You’d do the same thing for me.”
“You never did tell me the anime.”
“What?”
“Your drawing. What anime the guy was from.”
“Oh that,“ I laughed. “You just don’t let it go, do you?”
“Nope.”
“It’s a new one.”
“Okay, so what’s it called?”
I knew I couldn’t keep this up for long. I had no choice. “It’s called, I have a hot new neighbor.”
Her eyes grew wide as saucers. “No shit? You’re kidding me.”
“I just caught a glimpse of him last night. I made up most of the picture because I couldn’t see him very clearly.”
Her eyes got even wider. “Were you peeking in his window, perv?”
“No, he was on the back porch staring up into the sky.”
“Well hell, I’ll come over and keep him grounded if you won’t.”
I laughed, shaking my head. “I bet you would.”
“You going to talk to him?”
“I don’t know,“ I said. “We’ll see.”
“We’ll see? What’s wrong with you? Everybody at school already thinks you’re gay. Get the hook up and prove them wrong.”
Leave it to Angela to downplay her Trumps incident by referring to mine. It was the first party of the school year. Earlier that week I had called Chrissy Trump a skanky bitch after she tripped me up in the cafeteria. A girl at the party that I didn’t even know came up to me to say she thought that was the coolest thing ever and she wanted to talk to me outside. I didn’t think anything of it and went outside with her. Next thing I knew she had shoved me into the pool and dived in after me. As I came up out of the water she threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. It all happened so fast and I was gasping for breath so it was easy for her to take advantage. Before I could get away, The Trumps had appeared with cell phone cameras going in rapid mode. I shoved the girl away from me but it was too late. Next day it was all over facebook, Instagram, and twitter; me all wet and wild-eyed with some girl shoving her tongue down my throat.
“You just had to bring that up, didn’t you?” I said to Angela as we got off at her bus stop. “You know that was a set up.”
“Yes I know. But the fact remains everyone thinks you don’t like boys. And you have never had a steady boyfriend, unless you count Charlie Simkins back in the seventh grade.”
“You want to get slugged, don’t you? None of that was my fault.”
“Okay so, prove everyone wrong. Hit on your hot neighbor.”
I knew this was her way of daring me, but knowing Angela, I also knew this was a way for her to position herself if I failed. I wasn’t about to tell her I thought he was a vampire. She’d probably try to bite him back. I sighed. “Look, I’ll introduce myself and we’ll see what happens.”
“What do you mean, see what happens? “
“It means, I’m not going to throw myself at him like some lovesick fool I know.”
“I’m not lovesick, just desperate. Which is what you should be. Tomorrow I’ll be expecting to hear his name. I bet it’s something sexy like Ryan or Tatum. Or better yet Gray. Omg.”
With that she nearly danced up her sidewalk to the front door. “Don’t count on it,” I muttered, wondering what in the hell I’d gotten myself into.

The walk home from Angela’s was about two miles. It usually took me an hour, but that day it took longer. I needed to seriously unwind and think things through. To rise to Angela’s challenge would mean it would have to be tonight. If I drug my feet she’d give me hell when I didn’t give her his name next time I saw her. I berated myself for even trying to please her. If I went over to meet this guy it needed to be on my terms not hers. And again, she didn’t suspect what I did. She wouldn’t be the one who would have to kill the bloodsucker. Damn it, why was life always so complicated? Why couldn’t I just meet a guy I liked and not kill him? I was jumping ahead of myself I knew. Chances are he wouldn’t be friendly, or perhaps he didn’t like girls, or just flat out didn’t like me. By the time I got home I had already convinced myself my whole life was a disaster and always would be.
The sun was just starting to set as I threw my book bag on the front porch. There was still plenty of light out and if I was going to wait for the boy next door to come outside I might be waiting awhile. I could go inside my house and read my latest Manga acquisition, or perhaps watch some Netflix, or just sit on the porch and wait for the undead. Or I could be bold and go over right now and knock on the door. If he was a vampire he wouldn’t answer, unless he had one of them human caretakers to protect his resting place in the daylight hours. In that case, I would just have some slobbering Renfield to fend off. If that happened I could just holler for mom. She was probably sunbathing in the backyard with a vodka in her hand anyway.
I looked over to the house next door. I didn’t detect any movement in the yard or behind its drawn curtains. “Oh to hell with it,“ I mumbled, and headed across the lawn.
The first thing I noticed as I stepped from my yard into theirs was the absence of sound. It was almost like I had stepped into a vacuum, or perhaps even sound was afraid of being this close to nightwalkers. I couldn’t even hear the light breeze through the trees, though I could see them swaying. No birds, no creature made a sound on this property, and I have to admit it made me a little nervous.
Still, I went up the front porch steps and raised my hand to knock. I hesitated, wondering just what I thought I was doing. I had just gotten home from school. What little make up I started the day off with was now gone, my hair was a mess, and I was in jeans and t-shirt; not exactly following the ‘how to meet hot guys’ guidelines. I shrugged and knocked anyway. For a moment it didn’t make a sound, and I thought maybe I should just give this up, but then I heard the noise of my knuckles rapping the door. No matter that it came about thirty seconds after I actually knocked. I listened intently, hoping to hear footsteps or a voice telling me, “wait a minute, I’m coming.” Anything to tell me there were no vampires here; that I had been wrong. But no one came. I debated whether to knock louder, and in the end I decided to try the door handle myself.
I put my hand on the door and it was ice cold. Perhaps the AC was running overtime in there, but I didn’t think so. There were no window units and I didn’t see central air units outside anywhere. I tried the knob but thankfully it was locked. I decided to go around back, maybe knock there.
The backyard was spacious with a concrete patio and in ground pool, much like my own yard was. A row of hedges lined a back fence that separated our properties, but the shrubs were barren and sure enough I could see mom lying out in her bikini by the pool. I could tell by the rise and fall of her breasts that she had fallen asleep as usual. Part of me wanted to scream her name just to see how drunk she was, but before I could I saw I wasn’t alone on this side of the hedge. A man was sitting at a card table on the patio working what appeared to be a jigsaw puzzle. He didn’t seem to notice me at first, and when he did, his head came up so slowly it made me think of those old automaton gypsy fortune telling machines they had at the fair when I was like nine. He stared at me curious, tilting his head one way to the next, before beckoning me to him. My head was screaming not to do it, but something bolder inside made me approach his table. He held up a puzzle piece and handed it to me as if he wanted me to place it for him. He had very dark eyes, the kind that are so intense you almost feel naked. His smooth pale skin made him seem almost unnatural, and I wondered how he could be so white out in this sun. He impatiently shoved the puzzle piece at me with a nod of his head. I took it and looked down at the puzzle he was working on.
It was a bizarre kind of puzzle, like something out of a nightmare. The unfinished image clearly suggested a view of hell, with writhing, tormented bodies, some entwined in reckless abandon, others twisting in the talons of demonic figures. At the center, a tall dark presence drank the blood of several people at once, all of them hypnotically held fast in his gaze and grip. Where the puzzle piece was missing there was a young girl about the same age as myself . Her body was turned towards the terrifying figure, and she must have been looking up at him rapturously, but she didn’t have a head. It was the missing piece.
I looked in my hand and turned it over. Sure enough, the piece I held was the girl’s head, and looking at it I saw in her eyes a look of adoration and helplessness. I looked at the man behind the card table. His Asian eyes held no malice, but something within told me this guy did not wish good things to befall me. A slight sneer crossed his thin lips. His mouth began to open. He made a sound in his throat but it wasn’t exactly speech. It was a guttural kind of moan and his lips seemed to curl back to show me the only teeth he had were two pairs of fangs. His sneer turned into the scariest smile I had ever seen. I dropped the puzzle piece and bolted.
I ran so fast to my front door I didn’t even bother with my book bag. I slammed the door behind me and threw the deadlock in place. I kept waiting to hear the man’s body slam into the solid oak of the doorframe, but he never did. I wasn’t even sure if he ever got up from the table. I didn’t look back once; I’d been too freaked out.
I went through the dining room towards the back of the house. Looking out onto our patio, I saw mom was still sleeping one off and the guy next door was gone; the macabre puzzle still laid out on the table. Thinking he was on his way over, I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room; my dad’s vampire kit laid out and open on the bed. If anyone came through that door they were going to get hit with a one two punch of holy water and wooden stake. But no one came, and I sat on the bed as the night began to fall outside. I heard mom come in and rumble around in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure if she was fixing dinner or a new drink, but I wasn’t about to come out my room to find out. I was waiting for pitch dark so I could go stake that puzzle working , blood sucking freak.

I finally ventured downstairs around eight o’clock. Mom had left some meatloaf and potatoes in the microwave for me before heading off to work. How she managed to drink all day and then sober herself up enough to work the night shift at Walmart was beyond me. I heated up the food, but looking at the ketchup on top of the meatloaf turned my stomach. It made me think of the Asian man with the sneer and pointed fangs.
Venturing back up to my room I decided to get me a shower before heading next door. I needed something to steady my nerves. Part of me wanted to call Angela and tell her what had happened, but instead I just laid my cell phone on the bed and headed for the bathroom. I was so freaked out even the running water in the shower seemed menacing and intrusive. After a while I scared myself into thinking I was being watched. I crossed my arms over my breasts and tried to turn away from the shower door, but I found myself looking over my shoulder, fearing that at any minute the vampire would come lunging through the glass just to get to me. And then I would be like that girl in the puzzle, helplessly hypnotized and a willing victim to the powerful creature of darkness.
I turned off the water, threw open the shower door and grabbed a towel off the rack. If anyone was in the room they were only going to catch a quick glance at me. I have never been self-conscious about my body, but I’m no exhibitionist either. I had worn tight or revealing outfits at times, mostly to go to a show or something, but I had never felt so exposed in all my life. I wrapped my towel around me and nearly dashed into my bedroom where I closed and locked the door. I turned to the bed and noticed my cellphone was gone.
I froze to the spot. I knew I had put it on the bed. But now it wasn’t there. My eyes scanned the room. Perhaps my bathroom freak out was warranted after all. Someone had been here watching. And now they had taken my cellphone. I walked carefully to the window and looked through the blinds at the house next door. There were some lights on and I could see some movement in one of the rooms, but no one was outside. I heard the sound of an echoing tinkling bell from behind me and I spun to the sound, dropping the towel in the process. Naked, I grabbed up the stake from the vampire kit still on the bed and scanned the room. There was no one there. Again, the bell sounded, soft and distant. It was my cellphone. Sitting on top of my dresser, plugged into the charger.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe I had plugged it up before I headed to the shower and had absent-mindedly forgot about it. I went to the dresser and opened the top drawer. I grabbed some fresh underwear and slipped into them as quick as I could. Next drawer down, dark pants and a black tank top advertising an X-Japan concert my dad had taken me to in New York a couple years back. I turned away to grab my shoes and the bell sounded again. It was a cellphone notification of some kind. I woke up the phone and didn’t see anything to alert me to email or a message or anything. I hit the home button and pulled up the last used applications. The one at the top was the camera. I clicked it and the app opened to my photo gallery which was normal if you had just taken a picture. The top photo in the gallery brought me to a breathless stop. It was the picture of a tattooed moon, encircled by bloody vines, or perhaps veins. Under it were the words “Loveless”.
The first thing I thought of was that was the name of my favorite song by Luna Sea, but the next thought was the realization that this tattoo was on a boy’s hairless chest. And I knew for a fact I hadn’t taken it. I pulled up the tag info on the picture. It had been taken only a few short minutes ago, which meant there had been a boy in my room with a loveless tattoo and the balls to let me know he’d been there. But if he had thought to scare me with this, he was mistaken. Now I was pissed. I stuck the stake down the back of my pants and covered it with my shirt. I put the holy water in my front pocket and in one last gesture, removed the crucifix from my dad’s vampire kit and looped it around my neck letting it drop on its chain just out of sight down my shirt. I snatched the cell phone from the dresser and took one last look at the photo before sliding the phone in pocket. It was time to stake that pervert right through his tattoo.

 

“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2017 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.