Strangers on a Turkey
I always wanted to write a vampire story. Instead I had a nightmare that I wrote down this morning as if it were a story. If you are the kind of person who reads stories like this, then perhaps, instead of reading this story, you should just go take a good look at yourself in the mirror:
STRANGERS ON A TURKEY
I just can’t see myself looking into the glass, being unable to see myself. Bloody Mary’s confuse me bloody enough. Turned all the mirrors days ago to the wall. Like turning away from advice from the inner self: I suspect it’s foolish, but feels better this way. I like, in any event, the vertigo the turning away instils.
Sit in the kitchen alone – staring at the fridge – between practicing scales on a bone flute. Stand in the bedroom contemplating – between memorizing paradigms – the drawn shade. Lie on the couch in the media room – between commercials on the news – counting spiders on the ceiling. Stalk through the house, sipping vodka stained with V-8 juice and celery stalk…
I just can’t see myself asking the mirror why I can’t see myself.
Leafing through a Romanian grammar, my thoughts wander: Suppose it’s not true: Suppose I’m not Dracula’s blood descendant? Still fear garlic in the sauce; dread the sight of a cross; commune with upsidedown spiders eking overhead?
Compose a tune on my ulna flute. Words ride the notes like paper boats a stream, or shades a dream:
Narcissus – no vampire,
Disintegrated on his pyre.
Despite every place
I go or think
Narcissus haunts. At
Every blink – catch him,
Daffodil in hair,
Fall with his own face in
Love, tumbling through the pond
Of himself pondering…
Narcissus be my vampire,
Reintegrated on your pyre!
The news does me no good. It’s the commercials hackle my blood. I abandon the bugs to sit up for some sucker agonizing in the mirror, opening the medicine chest, lunging for pills. How I envy Mad Avenue vampirism! This tableau of subtle paranoia not only gives me a headache, so slick is the actor at his craft, but makes me feel left out without a supply of acetaminophen, a liver toxin proven to do absolutely nothing, beyond cause death in large doses. Then a babe sells a car that will set me free as a finance company permits; another slut insists I shop exclusively at Safeway; and it’s back to the zombie droning war, famine, pestilence, a joke about a dope and his dog in Idaho to top it all off, long before which I’m prone again, returning my attention to the handful of arachnids dotting the acoustic.
Soon let the eyes close. After after-images of tiny black eight-legged bloodsuckers finish fading, the moon tugs the blood. See the Sea of Crises – oval pock near the top of the waxing crescent. Imagine myself to be Orlando searching that smooth gray for my brains. Orlando the Furious penned nearly a century before some telescopist named the blemish barely visible to the naked eye after an ocean of unspecified crises. For eons it has been known, perhaps even to the spiders, that lost brains hide themselves on our satellite.
If he can’t see himself looking into a mirror, Orlando reflects, never will his brain anywhere appear.
Sit bolt upright. Bolt past a ghoul obsessing on death in Afghanistan into the kitchen. Yank open fridge. Remove bowl. Dive into blood pudding. Right here on the counter, don’t even bother to sit down or grab a spoon. Dig in with fingers. Sometimes, when mirrors refuse to stop re-entering my thoughts, pigging out helps.
Spiders don’t suck just blood, I think to myself, slurping pudding. Once the fangs have inflicted coma, they poke an opening into the near-dead; vomit through the wound digestive juices. Which rapidly liquefy the innards. Only then does the sucking begin. Spiders imbibe body-temperature half-digested meat milkshakes. Still, I can’t help but feel kinship. Kinship itself a species of metaphor – a flesh and blood comparison.
Remind myself, cupping palm to swab the bowl, blood pudding actually a sausage. Mine – this goo concocted from a pint of my own ichor. Cup of starch to thicken. Sweeten to taste with wild sage honey. Like the sage who drinks his own urine, my vampirism both starts and stays at home.
Lick last scabbing gobs off ceramic. Toss bowl in sink. Throw together a BM: four jiggers Popov, teaspoon V-8, flaccid stalk from refrigerator bottom.
Stalk, drink in hand, out of the kitchen, through the bedroom. Stop at the front door. The only door. Eye the unturnable knob. No knock, of course – now, then, or ever. Interruption impossible.
Because we – me, the mirrors, the media, the grammar, the flute, the bugs, other life and objects I can’t see – breathe and fill up space inside a ship. Morons designed the surroundings to resemble a bungalow – to lower my discomfort at being lightyears in the black from nowhere. Figured this better than the padded cell décor endemic to all other space movies.
Or this just a junket to the moon, memory recycling time’s blood, fooling me into taking a second for a year, light slow as molasses in absolute zero? Wish they had stocked Absolut, mutter to the faux keyhole, bolting down the BM. Make a drier drink.
I could be a seed. Or an experiment to see how long I can survive this crazy. If the former, there must be a colony of me each in his own ship outside the drawn shades drawn on the walls. Seems farfetched, especially female me’s…
So often when the thoughts space, when they slip their vampire pylons, I conclude I’m a probe escaped from observation, a tincan of instruments lost across a sea of crises, washed up on the shore of an uncertain principal of a kindergarten for the soul. Beyond the reach of even the remotest fairy tale or Milky Way myth; say nought of monitoring devices…
Drift into the sleeping chamber. Clack empty glass on dresser. Pick facedown grammar up off bed. Rather than pick up where I left off with memorizing the pluperfect, I riffle the glossary in back, pick out the Romanian for: “I just can’t see myself looking into… ” Halfway through the sentence realize it’s mirrors again.
Toss paperback back onto bed. Roam into the bathroom. Flip up toilet seat. Take a leak. Bouquet of booze piss tickles nostrils; triggers yesterday’s bone flute ditty:
Away to nothing Echo pines,
Save her voice among the pines.
Her love quite unrequited,
Not even regarded
By the youth lost in self-regarding,
Fallen in love with his
Own features reversed.
Echo chases Echo
While the mirror lures
Though his image be.
Electricity in the air.
Electricity in the wire.
Empty souls fill with
Electricity on fire.
Dance off the last of the pee (although impossible ever to dance the last droplet off). Flip moist unit back into boxers. Flush. Step to the sink. Begin the Pilate.
Gaze wanders to the veiled medicine chest six inches from the tip of my nose. Old flannel shirt tacked to the frame. Be easy to lift a tail, peek under…
Hustle out of the bathroom, hands thickly lathered in Dr. Bronner’s mint soap. Out in the kitchen yank open fridge. Build another BM – hold the V-8, forget the stalk, fuck the glass. Straight out of the quart gulp. Slam bottle down on counter. Watch a moment suds slide over red letters: P-O-P-O-V…
Relocate with half-empty into media room. Flop on couch. Snatch cigar box from lowest of built-in shelves. Pop open Phillies Cheroot lid. Remove a fresh outfit. Rip syringe from plastic wrapper. Flushed with chugged vodka, sweat beading forehead, jab needle into elbow crook. Miss. Fish. Vein rolls. Rolls again. Finally hit. But point slips out…
Forgot to tie off. Flip hypo over shoulder. Ticks off wall. Bounces behind couch. Raise arm. Steady elbow in right palm. Jam mouth down. Chomp fleshy hollow.
Skin breaks like lightning. Pain thunders. Blood flows.
I suck. Slurp. Lick. Blindly seize – blood coursing down chin, spattering slacks, barefeet, leprous wall-to-wall shag – neck of quart in right fist. Chase mouthful of hot blood with eighty proof cheapshit.
Eyes flick to, as sink into spongy couch, dead plasma screen. In which I detect the room mutely mirrored: the draped window, the empty – now the cigar box removed – shelves, the arm of the couch, the…
Jerk back down for a another chomp at throbbing gory crook. Lightning repeats, bone-splitting thunder re-peals. Eyes squint. Suck another couple ounces of the scarlet.
Tip the bottle – now – to my disgust – wholly unfull. In the curved glass – for background the back of the label – catch reflected…
I just can’t see myself…
Hurl bottle eight feet across the room. Crashes through monitor in internecine holocaust.
“Cut!” bawls the director. “It’s a wrap!”
I hurtle through the bedroom into the bathroom, vomiting on the way bloody Popov. Slam shut door. Strip off soiled slacks, BVDs, boxers. Change into a bat. Before the script comes after me in unplain English with a cricket bat.
A black widow chuckles. The dust mites purloin the widow’s mite. And I recall – on my knees heaving through my reflection in the bowl – the director to be some indirect offspring of Houston. Despite his name appearing as Alfredo Bitchcock in the credits to this bestiality flick STRANGERS ON A TURKEY – all of the above thereof but one of a thousand and one scenes.
“I think,” I spit bile into faceless water, “we have a solution, Houston.”