Ryo was mad, no scratch that. He was crazed. A shadow came over his eyes as if something was clouding up within him. His lips curled back and I was afforded a good long look at his fangs as he snarled, “What did you do that for?”
I didn’t know what his problem was. He acted like I cut him, when in fact it was me who was hurting. The blade had gone clean through my pants leg and taken a huge slice across my skin. The cut was deep and the blood was beginning to stain my clothes.
I guess Ryo was enraged that I had severed the mental connection he had worked hard to establish with me. Now I knew what it was like for the girls in all those vampire movies where they just fell into the vampires embrace and let him do whatever he wanted as if they were hypnotized.
I put the chair between us. Using the back of the chair, I held myself up, because my leg was on fire. He paced back and forth in front of the chair. I thought at any moment his hands would reach out and fling it away from between us.
“Do you think you are too good for me? Is that it?” he growled.
“No, that’s not it. I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for your kind.”
His eyes grew wide as if he couldn’t believe what I just said. To be honest, I couldn’t believe it either. “My kind?!”
“I mean your kind of personality, “ I stammered.
He wasn’t buying it. “I was trying to be nice,“ he said. “But now I’m going to show you what my kind is capable of.”
All of a sudden there was a knock on the door. We both stopped. My mom wasn’t home, we both knew that.
Ryo half turned to the door.
“Who is it?” I said.
There was no answer, but when the knock came again it was a little louder.
This distracted me, and Ryo knew it. The window of opportunity had opened up for him. He lunged forward just as the door was blown inward and knocked off its hinges. The door collided with his charging feral frame and it shattered against him, splinters shooting outwards. I ducked so as not to get hit. I turned to the doorway to see what the hell had just happened and saw Luhan standing there.
His short stature and youthful age made him look about as menacing as an elementary school crossing guard on a big wheel, which is why it weirded me out to see Ryo look up from his position on the floor and scoot backwards across the room to put distance between himself and the kid. He stood up and held his hands out in surrender. “Luhan, I was just..,” he tried to explain with definite fear in his voice.
Luhan lounged against the busted door frame, his arms crossed, and shaking his head. “Ryo, you know this isn’t the way we do things,“ he said in his boyish voice. “You know better than this.”
“Yes,“ Ryo replied in a meek voice. I was in shock about how humbled he had become. And by a little kid, too.
Luhan looked at me and said, “Please forgive Ryo, and indeed all of us. We sometimes forget ourselves and succumb to our, let us say, baser natures. I’m sure he is sorry, aren’t you Ryo?”
Ryo looked at me, and though his eyes didn’t say it, his voice did. “I’m sorry, Nora.” He bowed his head and backed towards the window. His face was twitching as if he were fighting an urge to cry. Then he let out a remorseful wail and was gone out the window, as if he were a child trying to escape fierce punishment .
Luhan bowed before me. “Again, my apologies.” He looked at the splintered door. “I’ll see that you get a new door before your mother gets home. I hope you will refrain from explaining this incident to her.”
He turned around and was down the hallway before I could say a word. “Hey wait!” I yelled. “What the hell just happened here?”
There was no answer because he was gone already, leaving me with hundreds of questions about tonight.
I had just gotten out of the shower and managed to dress when I heard the doorbell ring downstairs. I slipped on my sandals and went down to answer it. I had no idea who it could be. No one ever came to visit me without a phone call first. I bounded across the front foyer and looked out the peephole in the door. It was Chinatsu. I breathed a sigh of relief and opened it to let her in. To my surprise, she wasn’t alone; she had the jigsaw man with her.
“Hey girlfriend,“ she said with a smile. “Heard you need a new door.”
I stepped aside to let them in, but I looked at the jigsaw man with a wary eye. Chi noticed my trepidation and put her hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry, girl,” she said. “We got this. He’s an excellent carpenter. Been building and repairing homes since Kubla Khan was a baby.”
I didn’t get the reference, but if he could fix the door, and as long as Chi was here with me, I was okay with that. “Mom may be home soon, I’m not sure.”
“Don’t you worry about that. My other handsome uncle is on his way to distract her as we speak. We have enough time.”
“Yes. You know vampire men have an irresistible charm. Don’t worry, he’s not like Ryo; he’ll behave himself like a gentleman. I think he may be kind of sweet on her anyway.”
I didn’t know if I liked that or not. “I already have a dad, so I hope he’s not getting any ideas.”
“No, girl, it’s not like that. He would consider it more like self-preservation than romance. I think most of us have problems in the romance department, but I think Ryo is the worst.“ She shook her head and laughed. “He tends to either break stuff or cause other people to break stuff. So hey, let’s get started. Where’s the offending door?”
“Upstairs. My bedroom. “
“Well of course, it would be your bedroom,“ she said with a smirk. “Why he can’t be like Haru, I’ll never know.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, as we headed up the stairs, her speechless companion following behind.
“Ryo is a chaser, and a relentless one at that. He doesn’t like being pursued, but prefers at all times to be the one who takes charge of the relationship. But Haru, is the exact opposite. He waits for you to come to him in most cases. He doesn’t really chase anyone; hasn’t since as long as I’ve known him. If a girl likes him she has to hit him with a brick just to get him to notice her as a woman.” She shook her head. “For years I have been enjoying the show with those two.”
We walked down the hall and into my room. The splintered door still lay where it had smashed against Ryo. “I don’t think it’s repairable,“ I offered.
“Ooh yeah. Looks like you might be right. What do you think, Unc?”
The jigsaw man stepped forward. The door itself looked like a scattered puzzle with a lot of missing pieces. He shook his head and opened his mouth to speak. The sound that came out sent chills up my spine. It sounded like speech on a movie reel that had been cut up and reassembled wrong, so that nothing was understood. But Chi seemed to.
“Yeah, I guess that could be the case,“ she answered him. “I’d go over and check it myself, but I’m liable to slap him for interrupting my date night. Nice young man named Colin.”
My jaw dropped. Could she mean Angela’s creeper, Colin? I guess nerd boys can have their appeal, but that was pushing it a little. She was gorgeous. She could have her pick of the boys, and perhaps the men too. But Colin?
The Jigsaw man nodded and left. I heard him clomping down the stairs and going out the front door.
“He’s going across the street. The Winston house, I believe. Most houses in these suburban neighborhoods are modeled the same. Floor plans, building materials, dimensions. As long as no one has broken this door previously we may be able to get an identical one from over there.”
“What about Mrs. Winston?” I asked, wondering what Ryo had done to the old woman.
“Oh, I doubt she’ll mind. Nothing much bothers her these days.”
“Why is that?”
“Well… Just nothing much bothers her.”
It wasn’t much of an answer and didn’t reveal why I hadn’t seen much of her since the vampires came to the neighborhood, but I didn’t push it.
“He’ll be back soon,“ Chi said, and it took me a moment to realize she was talking about the jigsaw man. “You don’t have to be so afraid of him.”
“I’m not afraid.”
She smiled. “Yes you are. I can smell the scent of your fear. Unless you’re afraid of me?”
“No, I’m not afraid of you, Chi. You saved my butt today. “
“Good. I really want us to be friends.” She cast a look at me that appeared to be one part flirtatious and two parts mischievous. “Girl hug!” she yelled and grabbed me by my shoulders, pulling me to her. She threw her arms around me and gave me a hug that nearly lifted me off my feet. I didn’t know how to react so I just hugged her back. Her long hair brushed the side of my face and I caught the scent of honeysuckle and dirt. When she set me down, she seemed to realize I’d caught it. “I hope he hurries, I left Colin out in the woods,” she explains.
My face must have showed surprise because she giggled. “Don’t let the nerd boys fool you, girl. A Nerd on the ground is worth ten quarterbacks in a locker room shower.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at her analogy. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to picture Colin, president of the unbathed and weird club, as a guy any girl would want to be with. Before I could ponder it, thank god, the jigsaw man returned with the replacement door from Mrs. Winston’s. By the time he was done, it looked identical to the original. Mom would never know the difference, and as Luhan wished, I never said a word about it to her.
Midnight. I was back at my computer trying to find something that was relevant about the neighborhood vampires. Just like before, as big as the net was, I couldn’t find anything of much use. Ryo had told me a lot in a few minutes, while the web told me nothing. I guess the information, the questions I wanted answered, would have to come from a vampire.
I sighed and scooted back from my desk. The night was quiet. Mom had come home and went to bed. She hadn’t said much to me beyond hello, and she didn’t mention anything about being late because of a guy. I wondered if she had had a hot vampire distraction, but this was something I didn’t want to get into a discussion about. As long as she wasn’t cheating on dad, it wasn’t any of my business.
I got up and walked around the room, pacing one might say. I was restless and didn’t know what to do with myself. Everything that had happened today had gotten me so keyed up there was no way to unwind. Thoughts of everyone passed through my head: Amanda Trump, Angela, Colin, Chinatsu, Luhan, Ryo, Haru, the jigsaw man, Mrs Winston, The weird boy lurching himself along the sidewalk, Mr. Tomoko, my dad…a whole myriad of characters and dilemmas that were building up so much there wasn’t a way I could sleep tonight.
I got up and walked to the window and looked out onto the night. I heard a siren off in the distance, and then another. Crazy night in Chelsea Valley, I thought. I looked down into the yard. Lightning bugs were putting on a tiny light show and I saw my cat chasing them and getting so frustrated. I looked over at Haru’s place. I was hoping to see him outside so I scanned his porch and yard. It was so dark over there I couldn’t tell if he was outside or not.
Part of me wished he would show himself; call me down to him for another night of intriguing conversation. But the night was still and he wasn’t there. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement across my yard. A figure, dressed head to toe in black, was moving across the lawn, heading over to Haru’s.
“Who the heck is this?” I thought, when I realized the black outfit was a dress, and the bottom hem of it trailed through the damp grass. The person turned and looked back before continuing on their way. I stood there by the window, rendered speechless, as I’d seen who it was in the moonlight’s glow. Mom.
I thought she’d gone to bed. Or at least that’s where she told me she was heading. But now here she was creeping over to our vampire neighbors next door. I’ve never been much of a jealous person, but my first thought was if she’s going over to see Haru, there was going to be a fight.
I slipped into my shoes and went to the closet for a shirt to throw over the flimsy one I had on. I chose a black one that had Hyde of Vamps and L’Arc En Ciel on it. I looked into the mirror and fluffed my hair a little, then bounded down the stairs, taking off into the night in pursuit of my mom.
I didn’t call her name or anything, but moved quiet among the trees, trying to follow her without being seen. I watched her saunter up onto their porch. She raised her hand to the door as if she was going to knock. Before she could rap on the door frame, I bounded up onto the porch.
“Mom! What are you doing?”
Startled, she spun around so fast I jumped back away from her. At first I thought she was snarling at me. On her face was a look of complete confusion. “Nora, what on earth?” she asked, before looking at herself and seeing what she was wearing. Up close, I realized it wasn’t a long dress, but a sheer slip, and she was just as embarrassed at the realization as I was.
“Mom, what is going on with you?”
“I..I don’t know,” she stammered. “I was dreaming. I heard a voice in my head telling me to come next door.”
“Did you recognize the voice?”
“I..I think so. Oh my, I don’t belong here like this. I need to get back home.”
Mom went down the steps and ran home. I watched her disappear across the yard and heard our front door slam. I took a long look at the vampire house, wondering who had summoned her. It was obvious by how she had dressed herself that she wasn’t being summoned to fix a pot of coffee. I turned to follow my mother’s trail home, but then I felt the boards of the porch creak behind me. Before I could turn, I heard the voice. “Nora,“ it said. I didn’t need to turn. I knew it was Haru.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.