The Ballad Of You And Me

Sing me a ballad of you and me

Down by the water or under a tree

Capture a moment in poetry or prose

So the heart may take it wither it goes

Sing me a ballad of you and i

Under the blanket of a rain filled sky

Dance in the orchard, a kiss in the field

Will you be mine, oh say that you will

Sing me a ballad of me and you

And lay me down in the morning dew

My love, my heart forever for thee

Oh Sing me a ballad of you and me
Poem & Photo by Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

For my wife, Heather.

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Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 21


Chapter 21: Ryo’s Offer & One More Lost

I knew she had been acting out of character in class, dressing a little more provocative, wearing dark glasses, popping pills, but nothing prepared me for seeing Mrs. Lazenby in Ryo’s doorway. My jaw must have dropped so far flies were buzzing in..

“Mrs. Lazenby?” I stammered.

“Nora child, you look absolutely adorable.”

“You do, too, Mrs. Lazenby.”

“Oh please, call me Aggie.”

I nearly laughed. “Aggie?”

 “It’s short for Agatha. But I don’t like that. Sounds too old and stuffy.”

She smiled and I noticed her teeth were pearly white. Almost too white to be natural. But that wasn’t the only thing off about her. The way she was dressed was not quite screaming chaste single school teacher. She was wearing a crimson cocktail dress, low cut in the front, and high up the sides of the leg. To say it was sexy would be an understatement. She was revealing so much cleavage her breasts were barely contained by the fabric. And all this coming from a woman who I thought of as so prim and proper she would one day die a virgin. Now however, she was looking like one of those half clad girls you’d see in an old 80’s rock video. Any minute now, I expected the music would change from Miyavi to “She’s my cherry pie.”

“Want to come in?” she asked, stepping aside in the doorway.

“Um, yes. Is Ryo here?”

“I think he’s a little busy at the moment, but I’m sure he’d take the time to see the likes of you.”

She looked me up and down, and her gaze was so lingering it was uncomfortable. Despite this, I accepted her invitation and stepped over the threshold. “Is Haru still here, too?” I asked.

She hesitated, and I got the impression she was weighing in her head whether to say anything or not. “I’m not sure,” she replied after a moment. “I just got up.”

Got up? Did she live here, too? It was then I noticed what topped off her sultry ensemble; a silk scarf loosely tied around her neck. No wonder she’d been acting strange in class lately. Ryo had turned her and it hadn’t quite taken hold yet. I guess the strange boy I’d seen in the driveway when they first moved in was a turn of his also. If that was the case, then Mrs. Winston, transformed from old and feeble to working out in the yard, was yet another of Ryo’s growing conquests. But why? That’s three people he had turned already. The diverse group was no way to start an army. My mind returned to why I’d come over. For whatever reason, Angela seemed to be next.

The music was overbearing in the background. It was almost too loud to speak over, as if it were designed to hypnotize the listener, or otherwise make them forget why they were here. Just as I was about to say something about the volume, the song stopped.

“Well, well, what have we here? Nora Williams?”

I turned to the voice. Coming down the staircase was Ryo. His movements were sleek and calculated, like a jungle cat sizing up its prey. He looked me over, his eyes trailing up and down the height of my body, and I felt like I was wearing clear cellophane instead of clothes.

“What do I owe the…pleasure?” He asked in a teasing tone.

“I..I wanted to talk to you.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Talk? Whatever would you want to talk to me about?”

His ignorance was an act. His eyes told me he knew why I was here. “Angela,” I replied.

He smiled, and it reminded me of an animated character from Disney’s Jungle Book movie: Kaa, the snake. “Ah, Angela. Yes,“ he said. “I think I may have been mistaken about her. First impressions aren’t always best, but perhaps I was too much in thrall of you at the time to notice. But, she is…delightful.”

“I’ve come to ask you to leave her alone.”

“Leave her alone? What is it you think I’m going to do to her?”

“You know very well what you plan to do.”

He grinned. “Yes, but a gentleman doesn’t discuss those kind of things with a girl who is not his partner.”

“Please, Ryo. Don’t. Just do me this one favor.”

Again, he looked me over, his eyes lingering long on my tank top, though I do not believe he was admiring the two vampires on the front. “Favor? You already owe me a favor. A pretty big one at that.”

“What for?”

“I saved your boyfriend’s life. I’d say that counts as a favor owed.”

“What do you want?”

“Ah, now we come to the crux of the matter. After all the times I’ve tried to get your attention, now you come over here dressed to distract. That itself is going to cost you.” He paced back and forth in front of me, glancing every now and then at the quiet Mrs. Lazenby. “I was prepared to, let us say, indulge myself this evening with the graceful shape of history, but I suppose I could put that off for a night, if perhaps you would like to spend the evening with me instead.”

I looked at my history teacher. Her face was immobile, as if he hadn’t just said, ‘hey, your teacher is hot, but I’d take you over her any day.’

“Spend the evening?” I asked.

He shrugged. “You know, stay the night.”

I looked at him like he was out of his mind. But maybe it was me who was out of mind. After all, I had gotten all dressed up and come over here thinking the sight of me alone would make him change his mind. I was getting to be just like Amanda Trump, walking around thinking I was God’s gift to everybody.

“Stay the night?” I asked.

He sighed in exasperation. “Do you always have to answer me with a question? You know what I mean.”

“No,” I replied.

“No, you won’t stay the night, or no, you don’t know what I mean?”

“No, I wont stay the night with you.”

“Well then. I guess Angela and I will have a great time together after all.”

I didn’t know what to say. I loved my friend, and I told myself I would do anything for her, but to allow Ryo to have me however he wanted pushed my loyalty a little too far. Maybe some girls would sleep with a guy for their best friend, but not me. Angela herself would have been like, ‘ oh I could endure that kind of punishment easy.’ For me however, there was only one boy I wanted touching me.

“Where’s Haru?”

He laughed. “Yes, Haru. I knew your friend wasn’t the real reason you’d come. Everything is all about Haru, now isn’t it?” For a moment, I thought he was going to spit at my feet, as if his cousin’s name was a poison he wanted out of his mouth. “Haru is not here.”

“Where is he?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Luhan came and got him.”

I didn’t know if he was telling the truth or just trying to mess with me. “Okay. Where’s Luhan live?”

He spread his arms in a mock gesture. “Luhan lives wherever he pleases. And he tells no one his place of rest. So, I guess you’re stuck, Nora Williams.” Again, a lecherous smile. “Unless, you wish to change your mind..save your friends…be with me.”

“You don’t really want me, Ryo. You just want me because Haru does.”

Something crossed his face. A sudden change that was like a match to gasoline. “Haru doesn’t want you!” He screamed. “If he wanted you so bad, why hasn’t he come to you already? He drank from me hours ago, got up and left with Luhan, and you still haven’t seen him? You must be really important to him.” Then his face changed again, from anger to calm. “But I’m right here. I’ve always been here waiting for you. I have even come to you. You always have to go to Haru. He’s never there when you need him. When you really, really need him. Like right now.” He stepped closer to me, and I thought for a moment that Mrs. Lazenby was retreating to the shadows, as if she was wishing herself away from the scene. “When are you going to wake up, little girl? Haru is not your hero, your savior, or any of that crap. You are one among hundreds. Do you really think he’s been all alone for centuries? For people like him and me, you are nothing more than a warm body…”

I slapped him. I still can’t believe I did it. It was just a natural reaction, one which I would have taken with any boy who talked to me like that. My fury lashed out, and my open palm came back for another swing, but he caught me by the wrist. His cheek was a slight pink where I’d made contact the first time, but I know I didn’t hurt him. Not in a physical sense anyway.

“Nora, I could take you anytime I wanted to. I’ve done it many, many times before. I could have you any way I want, but I’ve tried to be nice about it. I’ve tried to make you feel like you have a choice when a vampire wants you. The truth is you don’t have a choice. I will eventually get what I want, whether it’s you, Haru, or your flirty little friend, Angela. “

He let me go. “But not today. I’ll just let you reflect on what’s coming.” He turned away from me and took a step up the staircase, before turning back to me. “Think about this. Where is your vampire protection now. I don’t see Haru running to your aid. He didn’t even think enough of you to let you know he’s okay. And where is Chinatsu? Luhan? They don’t care about you, Nora. I could bite you right now, and they wouldn’t even bat a lash.”

If I thought Haru was going to suddenly appear, come around the corner, and save me from Ryo, I was wrong. I was on my own. No one was coming to help. I was in the vampire’s lair, and I had two choices. Let him have me, or run crying like the little child I now saw I was.

I ran crying. I went out the door, bounded down the steps and into the yard. I didn’t look back, for fear I’d see him laughing. How could he be like this? It was one thing to have him showing up in my room to flirt without ceasing, but this was just plain mean. And where were the others? Last time there was a problem with Ryo, Luhan showed up to stare him down so bad Ryo had nearly fled from his sight. And what of my Haru? How could he just take off and not let me know he was alright? Are the vampire boys that unfeeling?

I sprinted across the street to my house. Up on the front porch, I dared to look back. The front door of Mrs. Winston’s was closed. All the lights were off, except the front porch, and soon I imagined I would see, if I stayed outside long enough, Angela arriving. I looked over at Haru’s house. It was just as dark, with no sign of activity. I unlocked my front door and went inside, to where it was just mom and me, and a big empty life. And that life was falling apart fast. It seemed the closer it edged to summer break, the more things came to pieces.

Up in my room I plopped myself down on my bed, going over all the things wrong about me. For the first time I was flunking school so bad I would be taking summer school to avoid being held back. My dad was in a psychiatric hospital and it looked like my parents would be divorcing soon. The school bully was gunning for me, and even though right now she was suffering a broken nose, she would be back with a vengeance. My best friend ever was mad at me and would soon be vampire food. But the worst of all these was the possibility that I had lost Haru somehow.

What had I done so wrong that I was now left in the dark? Hadn’t I rushed to save his life? Even offered up my own blood so that he would live? Wasn’t my love enough? And yet, he couldn’t come to me and tell me he was okay. After all his sweet words about living inside my breath, and he couldn’t even be considerate enough to regard my feelings. Instead of walking across the street to say, ‘hey I’m ok,’ he’d went with Luhan somewhere and nobody knew where that was. I couldn’t even ask Chi. She’d taken off, too.

I guess I could go over to Haru’s, maybe see if he and Luhan were there, but no, I thought, I’m not going to beg anyone for their affection. Either they want me or they don’t. I will never let anyone see how desperate I long for their touch. Haru had been a hard lesson for me. Very hard.

I cried. I couldn’t help it. What if Ryo was right? Why wasn’t Haru with me right now? He had to know how scared and worried I was about him. Perhaps vampire boys are no different than human ones. Give you sweet words, gentle kisses, and a bunch of bullshit.

“Nora,” I heard a voice call from outside my door. I stopped my sobs the best I could with my pillow. It was mom, of course.

“I left you dinner in the oven,“ she said. “It won’t stay warm long, so don’t forget to eat it, ok?”

“Okay, mom.”

“I got called into work. Somebody didn’t show, I’m sorry. Maybe…maybe we can go to church tomorrow, take in a movie after.”

“That’s fine, mom. Don’t work too hard.”

I heard her retreat down the hall. Church tomorrow. Right. Like something there is going to help me. I was finding my belief in God, or my ‘God Thing’, as Angela called it, slipping. I mean, come on, nothing was going right, and no one had time for me. Even my mom. She was always running out to work or whatever. For once, I wish she’d just tell them no whenever they called her to cover someone’s shift. It’s like I’m dying here, and no one really cares.

I heard the front door close, and in a few minutes, the sound of her car pulling out the driveway. Now, I was truly alone. ‘And truly alone is what you’ll always be,’ the tiny voice in my head said.

I got up from the bed and went over to my desk. I pulled out the drawer and dug under my drawings and stuff to seek the only solace I knew. The only thing in my life that was guaranteed to never let me down. It always did what I expected it to do. I pulled the razor from the drawer and it gleamed in the dim light of the room. It was like a friend that never disappointed me. I carried it over to the bed and sat down. Hiking my skirt up my thigh, I set the razor to my leg, and in a slow motion drew it across the skin. The cut wasn’t deep, but it drew blood, and I brought the razor back for a second slice. In these moments, it was strange. Tears rarely came forth in my act of cutting, but the blood always did. No wonder the vampire boys loved it so much; sometimes it was the only way to feel anything.

I closed my eyes, and took a third draw against my leg.

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

Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 20


Chapter 20: Home Alone & Angela

I tried my best to stay busy, so I wouldn’t think of Haru so much. I lay up in bed, streaming movies and trying to get lost in someone else’s story, but it wasn’t working. Every story on the television reminded me of my own. Or at least, every guy on the screen made me long for Haru. I couldn’t lose him from my mind, and the worry overtook me no matter how I tried to focus on something else.

I turned off the TV and went to my desk. I brought out some paper and pencils and began to doodle. I thought maybe I’d sketch Black Butler or another favorite anime, but the face I drew was not of Sebastian, or some other anime character. It was all Haru. The piercing dark eyes. Slightly flushed cheeks, pouting lips. Pale, flawless skin. I closed my eyes . I could almost feel his lips full against mine, his strong arms lifting me from my chair to carry me to the bed where he would lay his hands gentle upon me. I opened my eyes. I was alone. The beautiful vision of Haru had been just that. My longings for him and his touch invading my very thoughts.

I put the drawing away and got up from the desk. Walking to the window, I looked across the yard to the other house. Haru’s room and the widow’s walk was dark. No sign of life, not even a candle in the window. I turned away, trying not to think sad thoughts, but once the mind gets to dwelling on worry, it seems all kinds of images play hell with you. Horrible thoughts like, what if Haru doesn’t recover? What if he died in Ryo’s arms after I had run out of there?

I had to admit seeing him drink from Ryo like that made me a little jealous. I didn’t think they were lovers or anything, but something stirred within me, demanding it should be my arms holding Haru, offering my skin to him, being the lifeblood he craved more than anyone. But that’s right, I couldn’t be his lifeblood. To drink from me for a lengthy time would kill me. I would not arise as one of the undead, either. I would be just like his first love, Chiyo; cold, lifeless, never to feel the warmth of his kiss again.

A tear threatened to escape my eyes while thinking of these things, and I had to get out of my room. It was starting to feel claustrophobic and way too lonely. I crossed the hall and went into the bathroom. I didn’t bother shutting the door behind me. I turned on the shower and got undressed. Testing the water, I stepped under it and let it wash over my body. The water cascading down my frame soon became Haru’s fingers in my mind, and I slumped against the shower wall and cried.

“Please come to me,” I pleaded to the empty room, before sliding down to sit on the floor, the hot water pouring over me to mingle with my own tears.

There comes a time in a relationship when you realize you can’t live without the one who has come into your life. They are so much a part of you that you wonder how you even existed before them, as if life began with them, and the old life before belonged to someone else. That’s not to say the old sorrows and loneliness go away, but you know what can stop it now. You know the touch, the kiss, the very warmth that can save you. Haru, to others who didn’t know him, would perhaps seem a cold, undead vampire. But to me he was a warm, loving boy, and I craved him more than I craved anything before. And I hoped he yearned for me, too. I worried that maybe he didn’t, at least not in the same way. I felt like he liked me, even loved me perhaps, but what was it like for a vampire? What did they think of when they were resting? Did they dream of love and passion, wanting someone with an insatiable desire so bad they’d wake bathed in sweat amid soiled sheets?

I stood up and turned off the shower. Wrapping a towel around me, I stood there a few minutes, berating myself for my worries and wanting. The bathroom had a small window, a half window really, that allowed light to filter into the otherwise private room. It was dark out now though, and the only light came from star shine and the glow of the moon. I looked out the window, and saw it afforded me a view of the house across the street. The Winston House.

Of course I thought of Haru. Was he still over there, being nursed back to health? Or was he home now, resting and recuperating? How long did it take a vampire to get their strength back when they have neglected to feed anyway? I wished in that moment that I knew something of his fate. Even a phone call to let me know would be welcome at this point. And then my cell phone went off in the bedroom.

Haru! I sprinted from the bathroom and into the bedroom. My cell was on the desk and I snatched it up. Across the screen was an unknown number. I pressed answer. “Hello?”

There were a series of crackles and pops on the line, and then someone cleared their throat, much in the same way one does before making a public announcement. But there was no announcement; only silence. Another crackle and pop, and I thought I could hear a faint something, but couldn’t determine what it was.

“Hello,” I repeated, and this time there was an answer. It was barely discernible, but there it was. A giggle. Like a child’s mischievous laugh without the innocence. It repeated itself to make sure it was heard, then an exhale of breath and a word rendered in three syllables: Ic-a-rus.

“Excuse me?” I asked, not sure that I heard it right. It had been faint, and in a childlike voice, but it sent chills up my spine. I don’t know why. Perhaps the tone, as it did seem to be of sinister intent. “Who is this?”

Whomever it was, they hung up. I heard the click, louder in my ear than the voice had been, and I wondered if the person had called from a landline. The clicks on a cell were not as loud or prominent in my experience. I looked at my handset. Unknown caller. I thought about hitting redial, but before I could, it went off again in my hand. I almost dropped the phone, but then I saw Angela’s name on the screen. I answered it.

“Hey,” I said.

She was a bit surprised. I never said hey; I always answered with hello, even with her. “Hey yourself, “ she replied. “Everything alright over there?”

I sat down on the edge of the bed. “Yeah, Ang. Just a little freaked out. Had a prank call or something.”

“Lucky you. Was he a heavy breather? Did he talk smut?”

I laughed and it was a relief. Angela always had a way of cheering me up with her perverted sense of everything. “No, I don’t think so,” I replied. “If he did, it was garbled.”

“Too bad. I’d kill for a smut call.”

“I’m sure. So, how’s it going?”

“It would be better if that hot neighbor of yours would crawl through my window and bite me.”

I froze. Did she know something already? “What do you mean by that?”

“It means just what I said. That Ryo has such a gorgeous mouth, I wish he’d put it all over me.”

I sighed, but I was smiling. “You got it bad, Ang.”

“Yes I do. And when I saw him at the club last night I was like, holy shit! I have to have that man! You should have seen him. My god, he looked like he had been poured into his clothes.”

“I bet.”

“I tried to take his picture with my cell, but the lights kept screwing it up.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“Oh god, yes. He has such an amazing voice. He could talk to me for hours about automotive parts and my panties would still fall off. Damn, he is so sexy.”

“Well, I don’t think automotive parts are his thing.”

“Oh, they aren’t. He told me he liked old horror movies, and Manson, and saucy blondes.” I heard her giggle on the line, and I thought, uh-oh, that’s her ‘I’m getting ready to do something crazy’ laugh.

“Ang, be careful,” I said. “You hardly know the guy. Don’t do anything you’ll regret later.”

“I wouldn’t regret anything with him. And anyway, you barely know Haru, and you guys are already making out in the grass and stuff.”

“Yeah I know. Just be careful, that’s all I’m saying.”

She sighed. “Yes, mommy. I’ll be careful tonight.”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah, can you believe it? He asked me to his house tonight. Man, I am so ready for this!”

The excitement was unmistakable. Her voice alone let me know what she was hoping to happen. I, however, wondered if something else was going on. The other day, Ryo acted like she was the most annoying girl ever, and now he was asking her to come visit him at his house. Something didn’t ring right. I know vampires can probably be fickle and change their minds about people too, but it didn’t fit what I knew of Ryo’s character. What I did know however, was last time I was over there, Haru was laying at the point of death, drinking blood from Ryo’s chest. But, what if that hadn’t been enough. Maybe it took more than just vampire blood. Maybe it was required from another, more human, source. They couldn’t take mine without something bad happening to me, but if it came from someone else maybe it would not matter that much to them.

“Angela, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for you to go over there right now.”

“Why not?”

“I just don’t think it’s a good thing. You are there by yourself.”

“Well, I don’t want to share him with anyone, dummy. What’s up with you anyway?” She hesitated. “Oh, I get it. You want Ryo, too. Don’t be greedy, girlfriend.”

“No, it’s not that. I just don’t trust…”

“You don’t have to. And I don’t have to either, for that matter. I’m not going over to get married or meet the reverend.”

I didn’t know how to warn her. I couldn’t tell her the truth, that they were vampires. While she thought she was wanted for her and her body, it may have been the blood they were after. I didn’t think Haru was that way. I couldn’t see him ever doing such a thing, but Ryo, I could see it, especially after Chi’s take on him being so loveless inside.

“I know, Ang. I’m not trying to be preachy. I just want you to be careful.”

A vision popped into my head. A vampire army with Angela as its queen. Problem was, I could see her sliding right into that role, to rule beside a ruthless Vampire King. But, who was the king? Could it be Ryo? Is he the one building an army for takeover? I mean, there is an animosity, or rivalry of sorts, between he and Haru, and Chi said she thought she knew who it was. Had Ryo been in Chelsea Valley for awhile, making plans without the other vampire’s knowledge?

“Look, drop it Nora. Okay? I’m going to hang out with Ryo tonight. Stop being so envious and jealous.”

“I’m not jealous. I just know things you don’t about…”

“You know nothing, Nora,” she replied in an angry tone. “Absolutely nothing. Just shut up and let me have this, damn it. Don’t come between Ryo and I or I swear I’ll forget we’re friends.”

Before I could say anything else, she hung up. Click. Just like that. Frustrated, I tossed the cell onto the bed. I couldn’t believe this. How many people were I going to lose today? First, Haru’s on his deathbed, and now Angela, for the first time ever, hangs up on me in anger. I felt that in the space of just a few minutes, I lost her. My best friend. Who else was there to lose? Sometimes it’s best not to ask such questions, as fate has a way of answering.

I sat on the edge of the bed, lost in my thoughts. If Angela wasn’t going to protect herself, it was up to me to do it. But what could I do? Anything would make a bigger mess of things, but I couldn’t sit here idle, waiting for Haru and watching Angela step right into a bloodsucking trap. So I did what all girls do when they want to distract someone. Go for the eyes.

I went to the closet to pick out an outfit I thought would appeal most to vampire boys on the prowl. I chose a black and red checkered skirt that came down to just above the knee. Some sheer black leggings from my dresser. A ‘Queen Of The Damned’ tank top, whose image of two lovers in a bathtub of blood was sure to catch any vampire’s eye. I topped it off with an open white jacket with coat tails and no buttons. Oh, and the shoes. One can’t wear chucks around vampires. They may be comfortable, cute, and cool, but they scream ‘unsexy’ unless the chucks are ALL you have on. So slipped into some black boots dad had bought for me. At the time, he had joked he’d got them from a s&m shop. I giggled at the memory. I couldn’t see my dad in a place like that, but then again I couldn’t see me dressing like this to distract a boy either. This was my basic concert or clubbing attire, and I didn’t wear it to impress guys. One thing boys didn’t get was that girls don’t always dress to turn them on; most of the time they dress to show other girls up.

I stood in front of the mirror, admiring the look. For once, I thought I looked kind of hot. Well, except for the hair and makeup, which I set about to fix. I applied dark eyeshadow, black lipstick lines, a dash of foundation to make me look paler than I was. For the hair, I really didn’t know what to do, so I got out my straightener and went for the Morticia Adams look, straight down my back and off the neck. I smiled. Now if only I knew what to do with all this.

When I walked outside, across the yard, and into the street, I wondered if anyone was watching. A neighbor looking out their window would have thought one of two things. Either, Halloween had come early, or there was a goth hooker convention happening close by. Still, I strutted with confidence into Mrs. Winston’s yard, hoping that somehow Ryo had seen me coming and wouldn’t hesitate to invite me in. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after that. Talk him out of Angela, offer myself to him in exchange, or some other stupid shit. All I knew is I had to try and distract him from my friend. That would make her more angry than she already was, but someone had to stop this thing from happening. Sure, the vampire life seems appealing to most, but today I had the seen one of the flip sides; the horrible state that overcomes the vamp when they haven’t fed. Haru had been close to dying. I know I downplayed it a lot in my mind, so I could get him back home, but the truth was I almost lost him. And even now, I didn’t know of his fate. I didn’t want to see Angela like that, deprived of the things that give her life and left to suffer.

Up on the porch, I raised my hand to knock. I hesitated. What the hell was I doing? I heard sounds from behind the front door. It was faint, as if the heavy wood was masking the sound. Music. Exciting and fast, it seemed to race as much as my heartbeat was. My fist met the door and the sound seemed to echo in time to the music, which seemed to be growing louder. The door opened and I was assaulted by the energetic and sexual beat of the song. It was by Miyavi, another favorite Japanese artist of mine, and it’s title, “Secret”, seemed perfect for this moment. What wasn’t perfect however, is it wasn’t Ryo who opened the door. It was my World History teacher, Mrs. Lazenby.

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

Morgan’s Plague

​MORGAN’S PLAGUE

    When I came out of the forest clearing into the morning sun, the first thing I noticed was the quiet and absence of people. An RV was parked by a camping spot, but I didn’t see anyone about. Another vehicle, one they used to call a ute, sat alongside the dirt road that led away from the campsites back to the main road and civilization. To break the silence, I shouted a greeting and was answered by the stillness of the day. I thought I heard the sound of birds in the distance somewhere, but I wondered if that was just my imagination, wishing for some other sound besides my own breathing. 

My stomach growled. It had been awhile since I’d eaten.I had run into the woods days ago. I still don’t know why. One minute there was a man talking to me, and then he started choking. I got scared and ran. I didn’t want to be blamed for whatever was happening to him. Whatever his problem was, it seemed to be contagious, because others I slipped past on my way to escape, were also choking, their faces pale and sickly. But now I didn’t see anyone, sick or otherwise. Just the RV in front of me, and common sense told me that where there’s a campsite, there’s generally food. I approached the vehicle cautiously, thinking any minute someone would come out and tell me to get lost. But no one did. And by the time I reached the side, I realized no one was there. The RV had been left abandoned. 

   The door was left open, and as I scrambled up the steps to go inside, I heard something. Voices. I hesitated, suddenly overcome with fear. I listened closely to hear the conversation. It was one-sided, a single desperate voice saying something about an airborne plague affecting the population. I went deeper into the camper in search of the voice’s source, and as I came into a small kitchen area, I found it. A small black and white TV, mounted under a cabinet. Still powered, the image that crackled and flickered was a man in a stained suit looking like he was close to death himself.

   “I don’t think there is an antidote,” he was telling the camera. “If there is, only government officials have it, if in fact they survived the outbreak.” He coughed, and even in black and white I could see he was bringing up blood. “I don’t know if anybody is left, but if someone is out there, I’m at the Channel Ten Studios in Melbourne. Don’t come for me. Everyone here is beyond help. Head for the bush. Maybe the plague can’t survive it out there either.” He looked about ready to cry. “Listen. No one is coming. The British Isles are infected. America suffers the same fate. The plague is highly contagious and passes from person to person. Get out of the cities, flee the towns. Get as far away as you can.” He sighed heavily. “Maybe the plague will lose strength and die out eventually. Until then, stay away from other people.Families, do not stay together! It is certain death. Shit,the cadgers finally did it. Thanks a lot, Mr. Prime Minister.”

   I continued to stare at the TV. The man was just rambling now, verbally blasting government and politics for the deadly plague that seemed to have infected the world. But I felt fine. Why hadn’t I been affected? Was it because I had fled to the forest when I saw people getting sick? My leg began itching and for a brief moment I panicked, thinking the plague was upon me as well. I scratched my leg and prayed it was just that I hadn’t had a bath in a few days. I really needed to wash and get me some brekkie.

   I left the TV with its black and white newsreader no longer blaming the Australian government, but the aborigines and New Zealand. I wandered through the RV looking for something to eat. There was a small refrigerator, but I couldn’t get it open. The owners had put a lock on it, maybe to keep intruders like me out of their grub.

   Under a bed toward the rear of the camper, I found an opened box of bickies. They were dry, but biscuits are biscuits. I ate them quick, just glad to have something to eat. Finishing off the box, I went outside to catch some air and decide what to do next. There was a creek several yards from the RV and I headed for it. The water was sparkling and clear. I didn’t care if it was infected, it still looked cleaner than I felt.  I stepped halfway into the creek and it felt so good around my legs that I sat right down in the middle,and began to splash the water over my head. The water was cool, and I found myself shouting for joy, it felt so refreshing. I didn’t care if anyone heard me. I’d already come to the conclusion I was the only living soul in the vicinity.

   After my creek bath, I decided to head back to the RV as it looked like it might rain. The camper would provide good shelter. The newsreader was still at it, except now he had gotten personal. Racked by guilt and the knowledge that he was going to die soon, he was apologizing to everybody he had ever known. “I was a bad husband, I know I was,” he was saying.

   Why is it when a man gets to the end of his life he finally wakes up to all the horrible things he’s done? If he would have tried to live right the first time we probably wouldn’t even have this plague. I can only imagine that the disease was not only born of pathogens but greed as well.

   The man had stopped his apologies and was reading from something on his desk. “This just in from Gippsland..” He looked up and rolled his eyes. “Yeah right, like there’s anything left in Gippsland.” He laughed under his breath and I realized he was starting to lose it. Any minute now he would be a babbling idiot.

   I decided I would lie down and take a nap. Despite his going mad, the man’s voice soothed me somehow, and so I just lay there on the floor, curled up in a ball, and went to sleep with the sound of his quiet madness in my ear. A short time later,  I awoke to the sound of screaming. Startled out of my sleep, I yelped in surprise, before realizing it was just the yob on the TV again.

   “You bastards!” he screamed. “You really did it this time, didn’t you?! Hey, you doing anything this weekend, let’s make a plague. Oh yeah, make sure it’s passed from person to person. And let’s make it so bad victims tear their own flesh off like mad dogs!”

   I have to admit he was acting a bit rabid at this point. I found myself wishing someone would step in and put a bullet to his head. Anything to end his madness and misery. He let out a loud mad laugh and then lapsed into a sigh of silence. When he finally looked back up into the camera, he seemed calmer.

   “You know what’s funny? They named this thing, Morgan’s Plague, after the notoriously brutal bushwhacker Mad Dog Morgan. But get this is, here’s the funny part. It doesn’t even affect dogs.” He laughed. “After all our superiority, all the advances in technology, all the brilliant world thinkers, our own pets outlive us.”

   I shook my head sadly. After all, he was right, the world had brought this on itself. Mankind had forgotten the simple things, and strived to be its own God. I wanted to feel some great sympathy for this man and his world, but all I could offer was a small whimper. And as I brought my hind leg up to scratch behind my ear, the TV went out, its internal battery finally running out of juice.

Story by Paul D Aronson. First draft 2008. Final draft. 2016. All Rights Reserved. 
   

   

Judgement: By Accident Or Design

“Judgment: By Accident or Design”

   I should be dead. The car hit me head on as I was crossing the street. The impact was sudden, slamming like a jolt that wakes one up from a dream, and then I’m in the air, spinning up and over the hood, across the windshield that shatters under my weight.

   The concrete seems so cold, though it’s in the middle of July. I know this because the sun is so high and beating on the pavement. It feels strange laying here on my back, prone in the street. I know the car has stopped and I turn my head to look for it. The car door opens and a man gets out. There is blood on his forehead where the glass exploded inwards to litter the dashboard and his face.

   He’s screaming, “Oh my God, somebody help! I have hit someone.” I try to tell him I think I’m going to be okay, but I can’t move. I can’t force my limbs to react to my brain’s command. It’s as if body and mind are operating on different levels. I concentrate. I force them back together. For a moment I wonder if this is how it is when people die, the body and spirit separating, drifting from one another. I close my eyes and tell them to come back. Suddenly I am whole again and those thoughts are forgotten.

   I gasp for air, choking in my dry throat as if I’d just taken a deep breath of foul smoke. I roll over coughing and I bring something up from my stomach. It’s blood. I must be bleeding inside. I get to my hands and knees, watching the blood drip from my lips onto the pavement. It has an unusual taste and I find I don’t like it much.

   The screaming man has reached me, but he hesitates to help. He doesn’t know what to do, he is in shock. He just ran over a man in the street.

   “Oh God, I’m sorry, mister,” he cries. “I didn’t see you.”

   I want to tell him it’s all right, but I don’t know what happened. Did I step in front of him? Was I just crossing the street and he failed to see me? I try to remember what was going on before the collision of steel and bone, and I can’t do it. It’s as if some of my memory has been erased on impact. I feel like something has been taken from me and I want to tell the screaming man to give it back.

   I manage to get to my feet, standing shakily. A crowd has gathered, most of them muttering in astonishment to themselves. None of them believe I could have survived that accident, much less stand. I go to brush the dirt off my clothes and realize that I am naked. Strangely, I am not ashamed, but still I look around me, trying to find where my clothes may have gone. Was the impact so hard it tore them right off? Impossible. Had I been naked, wandering the street in broad daylight, maybe drugged out of my mind, until the crash? No, I don’t think so. My body can’t tolerate drugs or alcohol.

   A man comes forth from the crowd with a long coat, and he covers me up, but not before I notice a group of women staring at my nakedness. I can almost hear their thoughts; feel their hearts racing in their chests. One of them has louder thoughts than the others. They are lustful and lascivious. She will go home to her husband tonight and make love to him for hours thinking of the naked man in the street. She’ll think of my perfect body, my tanned hairless chest, muscled biceps rippling, clutching for her, my manhood thrusting deep inside her as she moans her surrender.

   I shake these thoughts, her thoughts, from my head and try to thank the man who has given me his coat. The words that come out of my mouth are garbled, as if I haven’t talked until now. “Tank youth” it sounds like.

   The guy who hit me is still hysterical. By now others are trying to calm him, to reassure him there are no major injuries to my person. “Look, he’s okay,” they try to tell him. I don’t agree with that assessment much, but I can’t find anything wrong with me either. At worst, I am moving in a fog, as if I have to adjust to getting used to my body again. I look at the man, and he peers at me from his frantic eyes. He knows I should be dead. I can even hear it in his thoughts. He doesn’t believe this is happening to him.

   He steps forward and I know he’s going to touch me just to convince his own mind that I’m real. He thinks I may be a ghost, and he looks back at his car just to makes sure my body really isn’t trapped beneath it, dead and lifeless. But my body is not under his car. I am here right in front of him. Body and spirit are perfectly one. I feel complete, but confused. But, I know I am alive and I want to shout it. Before I can though, he touches me. And he begins to scream again.

   He tears away from me to run back to his car. He wants to get away. He has realized what he has done. Seen the sheer cruelty of it. I felt his sickness when he touched my skin and I nearly retched. I fight the waves of revulsion, the urge to throw up in the street. He knows it’s over. He’s been caught. And though he’s not been judged yet, he has judged himself and wants to flee from the horror.

   He’s trying to start the car. He wants to drive far from here. His thoughts are clear to me, as if we are making conversation in my head. You know what I’ve done, the mental image says. Yes, I agree. Don’t show them please, he begs. I have a wife and kids.

   I shut my eyes, knowing I can’t give him that. I am incapable of much mercy under these circumstances. And I wonder if it’s by accident or design that I was the one he hit in the street. Was there a purpose in this meeting? A higher power directing our paths until we collided?

   I surge forward past the people, moving towards his car. He can’t start it. It sputters, trying to turn over, but it won’t. No, no, no, his thoughts cry, and I feel his fear. He is afraid of me and what I know.

   The crowd has turned to watch me. There are whispered voices, “what is he doing?’ or “did anyone see him get hit? He shouldn’t be walking after something like that.”

   I put my hand on the trunk of the car to steady myself. The world is starting to spin around me, the thoughts of all these people closing in, some of them not even thinking of this moment, but of other things. Some good. Some bad, but all loud and trying to pound into my brain. Then above all the other voices, a small whimper comes to me as if from a darkened room. Help me, it says.

It’s tiny and helpless like a child, and I turn to the crowd seeking its source. I can’t pinpoint the direction through all the other thoughts. I see no children, except a little girl holding her mother’s hand standing on the curb. She smiles at me, it’s not her.

   The car throbs beneath my leaning hand, the trunk vibrating as if it has a heartbeat of its own. Has he managed to start the car? No, he has gotten out of the car. He’s backing away from it, as if it’s a rabid dog prepared to lunge at him.

   I pass my finger over the trunk lid and it clicks. The hood pops open and the man falls to his knees weeping. People have come closer, wanting to see what is in the trunk. Do I show them? Do I even dare? I reach my hand inside and another hand, much smaller than mine, clutches it. I pull the child from the trunk. There are gasps and frantic whispers from the crowd.

   “It’s a little boy,” says someone in astonishment. “He had a kid in the trunk,” angrily yells another, until suddenly everyone is talking among themselves, some dialing numbers on their cell phones, wanting to tell others what they have been witness to. Someone grabs the weeping man. He struggles in their grip. I fear they are going to kill him. Maybe to most it would seem like a fitting punishment for what he’s done, but still it is wrong. It is not for them to judge.

Nor is it my job either. I am simply here to read the minds of the wicked. To feel the thoughts most wish to remain hidden and bring that darkness into the light, so it may be seen. I point to him and the world comes to a halt. There is no movement. The crowd is still. No one even sways. No one breathes. They are as storefront mannequins on display.

   I pass by them on my way to the man. Even their thoughts are frozen; the only whisper in my head is his lone voice saying he’s sorry.

   “I saw him playing,” he says. “And I wanted him.” I know this is not the first time. There have been others. And my heart weighs heavy thinking of the families of the disappeared.

   “Tell me,” I command, and his thoughts let loose everything he has done. I can’t feel sorry for him. It is not in my power to forgive. He is a bad person. And he must pay for his crimes. A smaller part of me, maybe that part that exists within every human frame, wants to kill him with my bare hands. I want to take every rage of every parent of every child he’s taken and pour it out on him ten fold. But I know that is not the way.

   I touch his forehead with my finger and mark him with an ‘X’. Others can’t see it but he will know it’s there, and eventually when his time comes, the punishment will be severe and everlasting. I do not wish to think of the horrors and torture that await this man. I turn from him, ignoring his pleas.

   The world starts up again. People breathe, they move. They grab hold of the man tighter. Some women are looking after the boy. I hear sirens drawing near. They will arrest him and he will confess everything. He knows now the punishment for unconfessed sins.

   I walk from the crowd unnoticed, for they are no longer aware of my presence. All they’ll remember is there was an accident. A man hit someone with their car. What happened to the person who got hit? No one knows. Maybe he was taken to a hospital. No, he didn’t get up and walk away; you must be imagining things, honey.

   I look to the little girl with her mother standing on the curb. I put my finger to my lips. She smiles, running an imaginary zipper across her lips and waves goodbye. It sometimes takes the eyes of a child to see the Hand of God in things.

   The boy will be okay. It will be in the papers. The accident that caused a child killer to be apprehended by bystanders and police. They won’t mention me. No one will remember.

   In the beginning, I thought I was dead. That I was a ghost wandering through the world. But I’m not. I live, I breathe. I am seen and unseen. I am believed and doubted. Desired and feared. I am the Lord’s angel and I prepare the way for his judgment…

“Judgement: By Accident Or Design” by Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.

Vampire Boys Of Summer: Chapter 19



Chapter 19: Saving Haru & Girl Talk

I pulled the car into Mrs. Winston’s driveway and honked the horn several times. Haru groaned in my lap. I lifted the blanket off his head so I could see his face.

“We’re here, Haru. Can you walk?”

“Yes,” he answered in a weak voice.

“Look at me,” I demanded. He tilted his head until he was peering up into my face. “You had a taste of my blood the other night when you bit my lip. You can take a little more from me, I don’t mind. “ I offered him my wrist.

There was a peck on the window. The car door was yanked open. Startled , I pulled my wrist away from Haru’s face and confronted the intruder. It was Ryo.

“Get out of the car, “ he commanded. I did , but I wasn’t sure if it was by my own thinking or his vampiric suggestion. He reached in the vehicle and hauled Haru out with one hand. He turned his face towards him to shield it from the sun and wrapped the blanket around the body. “Fool,” he snarled.

He carried him in his arms up the porch steps to the front door and then turned to me. “Well, come on, if you’re coming.” I closed the door and followed them.

Inside the house, I got a surprise. Ryo was an Asian vampire, but it looked like he was redecorating Mrs Winston’s house using the Dracula’s Castle handbook. Gothic wall sconces held red candles, dripping wax onto the carpet. Old faded paintings of half naked men and women in throes of ecstasy hung on the walls going up the stairs, as if they were directing you to the room where sins of the flesh were celebrated. When he went up the first step, I thought the floorboards would creak. The whole atmosphere of the place was dark, goth, and mysterious. I followed him up, thinking it was expected of me, and as I climbed each step, I looked back, wondering if the way home was closing shut behind me.

We came onto the upper landing, and I felt that up here even the air felt different. It had a somewhat dizzying effect, and I put my hand on the banister to keep from swaying. “It will pass,“ Ryo said, as he pushed a door open with his foot.

I took a deep breath and tried to dispel the nervousness that was pervading me. Haru moaned in Ryo’s arms and it sounded like a weak protest. They stepped over the threshold and into the room. Ryo turned back to look at me. “Enter, all ye who dare,” he said with a smirk.

I felt my body hesitate and wondered if I should let them go on alone. It would be such an easy thing to just go back down the stairs and wait for Haru to get his rest, healing, or whatever. But, I didn’t. Ryo had issued a challenge. I didn’t want him to think he had some kind of hold over me, so I stepped into the room.

“Close the door,” he whispered. I pushed it shut with the flat of my hand and all light was extinguished from the room. I froze in place. I couldn’t see a thing. Ryo’s face could be right in front of me, his lips two inches from mine, his body encircling me without my knowledge. Then, there was light. The flicker of a candle, and I saw Ryo was nowhere near me. He had lay Haru on an ornate divan and was removing him from the blanket. “Get those other candles,” he said, without looking at me.

There were tabletop candelabras everywhere it seemed. They were spaced about the room atop various objects; a nightstand here, a dresser there, a coffee table, a cedar chest. There was a book of matches by each one and I went around the room lighting the candles. With each one, I was able to take in my surroundings more.

The room was styled in a Victorian lover’s dream. It was like I fell out of real life and into Wuthering Heights, or perhaps Pride & Prejudice. Heavy curtains covered the windows, blocking all the outside light from invading this sanctuary. The furniture was old, but in collectible condition. An antiques dealer would have fainted at all the centuries old furnishings. Lighting the last of the candelabra, I turned to Ryo, who had propped Haru up on the divan. He sat down next to his ailing vampire cousin.

“You can sit too, Nora,” he said. A part of me wanted to. This room, Ryo’s commanding presence; it was easy to see how one could lose their inhibitions in this place without even thinking about it. It was almost hypnotic in its effect, making me feel lightheaded. When I fought it and didn’t sit down, Ryo grinned and held up a hand.

For a moment, I thought the room had a hallucinatory effect as well, because Ryo’s fingernails were growing, extending in length by several inches right in front of my eyes. I gasped, and he laughed at my surprise, before taking his altered hand and raking it across his chest. His extended nails slashed through the cotton fabric, tearing it in neat shreds. Most of his chest was visible beneath the torn cloth, and with his normal hand he ripped the rest of it from his body, flinging the now useless fabric to the floor.

Something overcame him, a look that was both invitational and wary. He glanced down at his chest. Sweat dotted the Loveless tattoo, and I could almost see the very pores of his skin rippling in the candlelight. With his protruding fingernails, he raked them across his bare chest, cutting into the flesh. The blood came forth, dark and crimson, flowing from the wounds. “Drink,” he said.

At first I thought he was talking to me, but then Haru lifted his head, and buried his face against Ryo’s chest. His mouth covered the wounds and I could hear the sucking sounds, as he drank from the lifeblood that Ryo supplied.

I felt something twitch within me, an awakening I’m not sure I really wanted at the moment. Watching Haru’s lips pressed against Ryo’s bare skin was downright sexy, and to add to it, his hand slid up his frame to rest on his breast, just beside the boy’s dark nipple. I think I was starting to sweat, and maybe lick my own lips as well, because Ryo looked at me and grinned, as if to say, ‘Don’t you wish this was you?’

I didn’t know if he meant I was wishing I was sitting there sucking on his chest, or that Haru was latched on to mine, but I took a step back, faltering in my stance. My breath was coming heavier, as I watched the scene playing out before me. Ryo put his hand on Haru’s head, and whispered, “Deeper,” before pressing the hungry vampire boy’s face closer to him. He laughed and threw his head back. His eyes rolled up in his head. “Yes,“ I heard him moan, and for a moment, Haru raised his head, before diving back down to Ryo’s bloody chest. I had caught a glimpse of the blood on Haru’s beautiful lips, and my head was full of a vision of him drinking my own, his hand on my breast, and me with rolled back eyes, instead of Ryo.

It was too much. I guess I didn’t realize how erotic and maddening the act of drinking blood was, but I was flushed and overcome with my own set of desires. They were alien to me. I had fantasies about boys before, but this was different. It had overwhelmed me to the point where I wanted to fling myself at their feet and beg for their attentions on me. Instead, I fled the room, with Ryo’s quiet laughter behind me, and the vision of Haru lapping up the blood from his sweat soaked frame

I took the steps several at a time and bounded downstairs. Flinging open the front door, I gasped in the fresh air, and ran out onto the front porch to escape the heady experience. Once out in the open, lust and desire seemed to flee from me and return to the house, as if they were things that had attached themselves to me like leeches. Perhaps it were these forbidden, dangerous feelings that were the real vampires here, taking control of me and draining me dry. I doubled over and would have fallen over, if someone hadn’t caught me in their strong arms.

Chinatsu had a look of alarm on her face. “Nora, what’s going on?” She looked behind me at the open doorway. “What are you doing over here?”

I was having a hard time regaining my breath. “Ryo,“ I managed to get out.

Her look of concern became a frown. “Did he…?”

“Ryo and Haru,” I stammered. “Haru got sick. I didn’t know what to do.”

“What do you mean, he got sick?”

“He hasn’t fed in a while.”

Chi looked at me. Her gaze was concerned and worried. “You saw the feeding?”

I didn’t know what to say to her. The images and feelings were still fresh, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to revisit them here and now. “I…yes..I..I guess that’s what it was…”

“It’s okay,“ she reassured me. “The feeling will pass. Come here.” She reached out and hugged me. It was a sisterly gesture, and it helped dissipate the other things that were going on inside me.

“Is Haru going to be okay?”

“If Ryo is feeding him, he’ll be fine.”

A flush crossed my face. “But it’s so…so…” I wanted to tell her about the sexual feelings and urgings it had brought up in me, but I didn’t want to admit the sight of the two boys had turned me on so. She seemed to know what I was trying not to say.

“Come on, let’s take a walk. Get away from here.”

“Okay.” I followed Chi off the porch and down the front walk, but I found myself looking back at the house. A certain upstairs window, darkened from the day, still beckoned me to come see what was going on in the room I had fled from.

“Sit with me,” Chi suggested, as we stepped up on the back porch. We sat down in some lawn chairs, just a few feet away from where Haru had carried me down the stairs to fall on top of me in the yard. The memory was still fresh and I imagine it always would be. But I didn’t tell her about that. Instead, I told her what I had witnessed in the Winston house.

“Seeing a feeding for the first time can be a breathtaking thing,” she said. “Especially when you have someone like Ryo who manipulates your emotions.”

I looked at her, unbelieving. “You mean…”

She smiled. “I’m not saying you didn’t feel things; nice, pleasant things. Still, Ryo is a vampire on many levels. Not only does he thrive on blood, like the rest of us, but he also thrives on emotional states. And he enjoys it the most when it’s young girls. The emotional things you go through growing up, the highs and lows of discovering your sexuality..”

“Whoa, Chi. Wait a minute. This isn’t some birds and the bees lecture, is it?”

She let out a chuckle. “No, this is more like the vamps and the humans. See, we are more in tune with your inner feelings and emotional being than you think. For instance, I know you like Haru. I know you like him a lot. I’ll just leave it at that to save you the embarrassment.”

I blushed. “Does Haru know, too? How much I like him and want him?”

She shook her head. “Haru is an anomaly among us. In some ways, he’s just as blind to things as humans. No offense meant towards you.”

“None taken.”

“Let me put it this way. For Ryo, emotions are something to manipulate and play with. It’s not real to him. He may have had real emotions once…love, fear, sorrow, desire…but, it died with…”

“I know. Haru told me about her.”

“Yes, well, after that, Ryo’s emotions were lost to him. And Haru was cursed with them. Haru fights them because he knows the damage they can do. Ryo laps them up like a dog because he wants to remember what it was like to feel. He feeds off others in this way.”

“He seemed to enjoy Haru drinking his blood a lot.”

“I’m sure he did. But his enjoyment derives from power. Having power over Haru, and having power over you. Always remember, Ryo is a vampire pretending to be a human.”

“Then, what is Haru?”

She smiled. “He’s a human pretending to be a vampire.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Haru has the same emotions you do. But he has had them for hundreds of years. You think your teenage angst is unbearable? Imagine his, lived over and over and over again. He is a vampire in the physical sense, yes, but in emotional terms, he is just as raging in his hormones.”

“What about you, Chi?”

“I’m raging like crazy, girl, so I understand you completely. Lucky for me though, I went dancing last night and worked it out.” She gave me a wink and leaned back in her chair. She looked up in the sky. It was coming up on evening. “Don’t tell your friend, Angela.”

“About what?”

“Anything,” she laughed. “She was at the club last night. She was so excited about Ryo. Apparently, she saw him in a towel yesterday. And then saw him out of it. “

I smirked. “Yeah, Ryo was trying to…hell, I don’t know what he’s trying to do anymore.”

“Don’t tell her about us, Nora. I do not believe she would keep it a secret. She would celebrate it, so if she’s to find out anything, let it be on her own.”

“The secret won’t be secret for long.”

“Why’s that?”

“Haru and I went to see my dad today. Long story, but he says someone is building a vampire army to take over Chelsea Valley for some odd reason.”

She looked at me with narrowed eyes. “Are you sure? An army?”

“That’s what he says. No one believes him. No humans, that is.”

“Who’s behind it?”

“He doesn’t know. Haru asked him the same question. I don’t think he knows either.”

“I think I might,” she replied. “And if I’m right, heaven help us all.” She stood up from her chair and looked up into the big expanse of darkening sky. “Except me. I don’t need the help, thank you very much.”

I wondered if she was talking to me or to heaven itself, when she directed a teary, haunted gaze towards me. “You should go home now, Nora. Wait for Haru. When he’s better, he’ll come to you, I’m sure. “

She didn’t wait for a response, but turned and stepped off the porch. She walked out into the yard, and then broke into a sprint, like a beautiful angelic vision fleeing from demons I couldn’t see. I watched her disappear across the yard and into the street, wondering where she was going. Before I could dwell on it long, she faded from view, and I was alone.

I didn’t want to go home. This big part of me wanted to go back over to Winston house and check on Haru. But I thought better of it, and instead did as Chinatsu told me. I went home to wait .

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

Dear Miss Sarah Lynne (a letter from war)

“Dear Miss Sarah Lynne”

Dear Miss Sarah Lynne

I hope this letter finds you well,

Sometimes it’s not easy to write

As I’m sure you can tell;

I hope mom and dad are doing fine

And the farm is coming along,

The thought of it makes me think of home

Or a sweet old country song.

How’s little Steffie’s braces fit?

Tell her don’t worry they’ll come off soon,

And all the boys will notice her

As if she’s the only girl in the room;

I imagine it must be summertime

The nights here are pretty cold,

And sometimes the fellas just sit around

Wishing for someone to hold.

Did daddy’s crops come in good this year?

How’s mama coming with that quilt?

Is grandpa still tinkering on that car

The one he swore up and down he built?

And how are you doing Sarah?

I’ve been looking at your picture for days,

As the bombs go off all around me

I sometimes wish myself away.

I know that I’ve never met you

And it’s possible that I never will,

But when I imagine you’re my girlfriend

It helps me out here in the fields;

I don’t know how to tell you this

But I guess the truth is best,

I haven’t much words of comfort

Except to say he loved you best.

Dear Miss Sarah Lynne

I regret to inform you this way,

But your brother died in battle

And he was buried here yesterday;

He gave me your picture

And asked me to take the time to write,

In his last moments he told me all about his kin

And the fading of the light.

I’m so very sorry for your loss

I wish there was more I could say,

But I’m only a farm boy myself

Just trying to get through each day;

I was wondering if I make it through this

If it would be okay to come and call,

By then this picture may be long faded

But I won’t forget your face at all.

I guess I should be going now

Soon we’ll be shipping out again,

But I just wanted you to know

Your brother was a hero unto the end;

Please pray for me and the other guys

Sometimes out here we feel so alone,

For we’re all someone’s sons and brothers

Just dreaming of that place called home.

By Paul D Aronson