Saturday, February 24, 2007

"The Hair Of The Pill"

I was late for an appointment in the City. I should've already been there an hour ago and the train had just pulled into Berkeley. I just dry-swallowed the pill that I take to keep my disease in check, but it's efficacy was in question. It could be likened to allergy pills in that eventually you build a tolerance to the stuff and then the sneezes will come at the most inconvenient times. The doors opened and I was blindsided by a Yuppie jerk, wham, in the chest. I almost spat the pill back up, just catching it with the skin of my teeth like this idiot that I saw on TV as a kid who used to catch bullets, only in reverse.

I winced and made for the door when the Yuppie grabbed me.

"There! Don't go on there! Vampires on a train! There are!"

Now that I had a second chance to study him, the guy was as off as his sentences were. His clothes were about twelve years out of style, his shirt was misbuttoned, his face had smudges of God knows what on it and then, his smell hit me in the worst way. This guy was a "5150," which is the designation under the California Penal Code for someone who is criminal insane and the label that those in the law enforcement profession, use for nut jobs.

I've seen his type before. They lose their jobs or their minds, in either order. Then they still "go to work" with their briefcases filled with old newspapers or drawings and scribblings that reflect how far off the deep end they've gone.

I ignored him and stepped on to the car, he grabbed me and pleaded, "no! There are vampires on there!"I rubbed my five o'clock shadow and told him calmly, "my father is Italian and my mother is Korean. With the dishes that they taught me how to cook, I eat at least a bulb of garlic a day. If anything, the vampires should be afraid of me."

The doors closed and he tried to pry them open as they train pulled away. I was going to laugh at him or flip him off, but I figured the guy is in enough torment from his own mind, and it would do no good to compound that. It was just before lunch so there wasn't a lot of people on the train, though some of the passengers wouldn't have to work that hard to pass for monsters on Halloween.

There was a man in a suit that was tuxedo-like and his hair was all too slicked back. He had so much stuff in his hair, I could've turned him upside down at the next stop and he would've slid out of the train, despite the carpet. He definitely would've been a "Dapper Dan Man" if such a product actually existed, but I imagined that he had used a whole jar of gel to get that effect. I saw him eyeing a bike messenger in such a way that he definitely wasn't looking at the bicyclist's neck nor was it his blood that he was after.

Then there was a Goth chick. So pale that she was almost translucent and her hair was dyed-pitch black to match her makeup and clothes. The empty look behind her eyes and the snarl on her lips made her seem more zombie than vampire. Then there was a tall cat sitting right behind with scars all over his face. I imagined that he was in an accident and that he probably went through a window. If you painted him green and pulled the discs that he had through his earlobes down and fashioned them into bolts, you would have Frankenstein.

Then there were the real life, aspiring monsters and you could see it their eyes. Cats on their way to job interviews and their only ambition in life is to be like Ken Lay, only, they want to get away with it. I sat as far away from them as possible, the stench of their twisted souls smelled worse to me than that crazy man.

I got off at Glen Park Station and caught a bus to my appointment, a decrepit house on other side of University Mound, a small neighborhood where most of the streets were named after universities. The gate was wide open to the house with the tunnel entrance and the tunnel was dark, though I had no problem seeing with such little light. I guess the locals had figured out a long time ago not to come in there for in that darkness, two Afghan Wolfhounds stood guard.

They had decided that I wasn't a threat before I even passed the threshold of the gate, though they were clearly annoyed at me by the fangs that they bared. I climbed to the top of the stairs and stopped. There was no doorbell, no door handle, no knocker or door, for that matter. I knocked on three walls that faced me, then the wall in front of me, lit up.

There on the wall were lights showing all phases of the moon and the wall slid open. A small Australian Aborigine stood before me, flossing his teeth.

"Hi, sorry that I'm late. I-"

He held a finger to his lips to shush me, then he flossed some more. He took a piece of food from the floss and flicked it at me.

"You're not sorry, mate, you're fucked."

"I had a relapse last night and it got involved. I couldn't get here any sooner than-"

"You know who I am, you know what I can do. You piss-fart around with my time and you wind up buggered. Plain and simple enough, bye."

The wall slid closed and the dogs growled. I turned around slowly and sidled past them.

I don't know how long I wandered around the City in despair, but it was dark by the time I got back to Berkeley. I had a feeling that all the pills in the world wouldn't prevent a relapse and that my last hope slid closed with that wall. As I cut through a dark wooded area on the fringe of the campus, I heard a twig snap, then footsteps.

"The train, you got. The vampires, they didn't get you."

It was that Yuppie Bum and he had a box cutter in each hand.I started shaking and my forehead broke out into a cold sweat.

"Yeah, I got away from them," I said, my voice fluctuating like a guitarist was using it as a tremolo bar.

"Then, must really be good, you. There's no way anyone is that good."He took a step closer to me and I visibly shook.

"What are you doing with those in your hand?"

"These? What, these? Oh, no. I'm houses. I'm cutting houses for my friends."

He motioned downward with one of the box cutters toward some refrigerator boxes that he was making into cardboard cabins with. My shaking, amongst other things, was past the point of no return. He looked at me with shock and pity, then he quickly put the box cutters away and out his hands as if to assure he me that he didn't mean any threat.

"I thank you for the warning, but there was nothing to really be scared about on that train."

He put a hand on my shoulder to console me, my eyes bulged.

"No, your warning wasn't necessary, because vampires don't exist."

A growl crept up from my belly and as I saw the fear in his eyes, I knew that he had an inkling that my disease had a little more to it than the common cold.

The timbre in my voice deepened as I muttered, "now, werewolves? That's something else altogether..."

Note: In response to the "Snakes On A Plane" -hype, JJ wanted a story that had "vampires on a train."

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