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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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…”
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.
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.