Vampire Boys Of Summer
42: Fast Road Home
“Is it true?” I asked, after we’d driven a few minutes.
“Is what true?”
“Did your people come here to build a colony?”
“No, it’s not true.”
“Then, why are you here? Why did your family settle here of all places? There’s nothing here.”
He looked at me and smiled. “You’re here.”
“You didn’t come here for me.”
“When vampires hit the headlines, it hardly goes unnoticed. My uncles spotted a news article about your dad and his case. It mentioned the fact he attacked the clerk because he was a vampire. Of course, the news article made him seem crazy, but well, we were traveling, looking for someone we’d lost, and thought we might want to check it out. See if it was true.”
I turned my head and looked out the window. “So, you bringing me today wasn’t about you being sweet and nice to me, was it? You weren’t being a good boyfriend. You offered to drive because I could take you to my dad.”
I heard his soft sigh. “I wanted to help you. But yes, I wanted to see your dad for myself. To see if he was a danger to us.”
I turned to face him. Tears were threatening my eyes. “You tricked me, Haru.”
“It’s not like that, Nora.”
“Then tell me what it’s like. All this time you have been nice to me. All the sweet things you say, us getting close, me falling for you…it’s all been make believe for you. You have been using me.”
We stopped at a red light and he turned to look at me. “There is no make believe. I haven’t been using you or tricking you. Everything I feel for you is real, Nora.”
I didn’t know if I could believe that or not. I was beginning to feel like a pawn on a chessboard. Vampires just don’t show up in your hometown for no reason. All the things I thought were just coincidence or random, blind luck or faith, now appeared to have been planned. Had Haru’s uncles compelled him to become friends with me in order to find my dad and talk to him? Was Ryo the backup in case I didn’t go for Haru? And what about Chi and Luhan? Were they further assurance the vampires got what they wanted?
“What is it you want from me, Haru? I thought it was me.”
He pulled the car off to the side of the road and threw the gear in park. He turned to me. His eyes were red and tired. His face pale and sweating. “It is you, Nora. We aren’t concerned with your dad. After we got here, we figured out no one believed him. There was no danger to us. But there wasn’t any sense in moving in one day and moving out the next.”
“So what, you decided to put the make on a local girl to kill some time, then? A girl nobody else liked or gave a damn about? Am I that easy to you?” There was no stopping the tears now. I felt them running down my cheek.
He reached up and let them run onto his finger. “No, you’re not that easy, nor am I just killing time. From the moment I saw you watching me from your window, I wanted to know you. Even from the distance of our two yards I saw the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, and yet her eyes were more haunted than my own. I wanted to know you. I wanted to know everything about you. Me getting close to you has nothing to do with your dad, vampires, or anything. I just thought maybe, this was it, I’d found the someone to …to be with after all these years.” He took me into his arms and held me. My tears fell onto his shoulder. He cut the car off, and even though the sun was coming out brighter, I felt like he was enduring the discomfort for me. I could feel the heat coming through the window, and I knew he must feel it worse.
“I’m sorry, Haru. I didn’t mean…I just need to know if this is real or not. All my life I have been picked on, bullied, made fun of, and I don’t want to be taken for a fool anymore.”
I could feel his smile as his face pressed against my cheek. “The only fool is me,” he said. Before I could wonder what he meant, he tensed, and I caught a scent of something burning. I pulled away from him and saw that the skin on one of his hands seemed to be wilting. It wasn’t like in the movies where the vampire’s skin smolders and catches fire; it was more like a flower wilting before your eyes.
“Oh, my god,” I whispered. I had this horrible vision of centuries of aging catching up to him all at once. “Haru, we have to get you out of the sun. Why didn’t you tell me it was this bad? Do you have a blanket or anything?”
“In the trunk,” he said.
I grabbed the keys from the ignition and jumped out of the car. I ran around to the trunk and popped it open. There wasn’t much in there. A spare tire iron, bottles of oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid. And the blankets. I snatched them up and ran around to the drivers aside.
“Move over,” I commanded. With his help, I managed to maneuver him over the gear shift and into the passenger side seat. I got in behind the wheel and laid the blankets over Haru. He was starting to slump down in the seat. He lay his head over in my lap as I restarted the car and put it into gear.
I’d had plenty of simulations and driving instruction in school, so it wasn’t like driving was an alien concept, but trying to drive while a boy’s head is in your lap is not the easiest thing to do. It’s even worse when that said boy just might be dying before your very eyes.
Haru’s body was wracked by shivering as we sped down the road. I held my own with the driving. I knew I was going over the speed limit. But I was focused. Intent on getting us home safely, I prayed the whole way. I believe in God, and though I wasn’t sure where vampires stood in the spiritual scheme of things, I was hoping that heaven would allow me to save Haru.
“Hold on, baby,” I heard myself say, and took a curve much faster than I should. The back tires slid a little and squealed, but I righted the car and drove on. We passed a sign for Chelsea Valley and I smiled a little. We were going to make it. “Almost there,” I said to reassure him and myself both.
The ‘almost there’ was a little further than I thought, and I put my hand on Haru’s head, stroking his hair with my fingers in gentle motions. The road twisted and turned, winding and curving its way to home, and we drove the rest of the way in silence. The only sound was my steady heartbeat and Haru’s ragged breathing. By the time we reached the town limits, I was almost to the point where I would offer myself to him and risk death rather than lose him. But the burning smell had dissipated and it seemed the blankets were helping to protect him. He was still shivering and cold, though. He would shudder, and his head in my lap would shake from side to side as if cold chills were wracking his very brain.
I did my best to soothe him, but I was at a loss at what to do once we got home. Did I drag him inside his house? Get Ryo from across the street to help? Or do I take him to my bedroom and try to nurse him back with my own blood? I knew, no matter his condition, he wouldn’t allow the latter to happen. So it was either his house, hoping someone was there to save him, or Ryo. I chose Ryo.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D. Aronson. All Rights Reserved.