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.
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.
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.