The Vampire – Bob Selcrosse

There is a young man with his grandfather. The grandfather is confined to a wheelchair. The grandson takes his grandfather to visit the vampire.
The vampire comes to the mouth of the cave.
It is a rainy evening in March.

Age brings a vampire nearer to death. The blood of the old makes them less undead. They cannot die. No matter how much they drink. They just go into a coma.
They break into retirement communities. They are eight feet tall, typically, and incredibly thin.
Retirement communities ask for increased security—but the incentive is wrong.
Families deny they have grandparents at all. They keep them in a secret room and spoon feed them garlic. Every house is surrounded with garlic.  
Some call it “age.” Some call it “grandpa.”

Vampires just want to score grandpa.
They get back their reflection. Their skin takes on color.
Typically, nurses are careless. They let tall, pale visitors in.

Vampires do not live in castles but in the darkness of caves, or pitch-blackness of lava tubes.
When the age has worn off, they spill out of their coffins, malnourished and crawling. They crawl desperately towards death.
But there is no darkness darker than the black inside the coffin inside the blackness of a cave.

Vampires do not buy or sell coffins.
They dig them up from the graves with their claws.
They devour the body, what marrow is left in the bones, then drag the the empty coffin down the throat of a cave.
Because of their height, they must curl like a fetus.

The vampires have killed each other by cutting each others’ heads off. When one vampire desires another vampire, she cuts off his head and makes love to it.

The young man desires to use his grandfather to gain personal riches.
He rolls his grandfather in a wheelchair. His grandfather has a glassy expression like a feeble animal.
The young man knocks on the mouth of the cave. The knock echoes as if it were a rock thrown down a well.
A vampire crawls up from the bottom.
This one is bald. He is tall and white and slimy. His skin is dimpled like the walls in a cave.
He gets down and inspects the grandfather’s ankles, which are aswirl with blue veins.
He is bloodless, he says.
It was true. This grandfather was as thin as a bird.
You have cheated me, says the vampire. You will bring me the blood of your mother.
The young man’s mother is very famous.
The future is desperate.
Wait—the vampire holds onto the grandfather’s wheelchair. I will keep him.
The vampire descends into the cave with the grandfather.
The grandfather is rolled backwards into the cave.
The grandson watches the grandfather disappear inside darkness.

The young man stands by the cave. He shines in a light. Something inside hisses. He clicks it off. A glimmer of gold. There is gold in that cave.

In neighborhoods, some rush out to kill a vampire. Neighbors find vampires, high on age, gazing into the mirrors of parked cars.
The aged vampire is easy to push and pin to the ground. The neighbor drives a wooden stake through the vampire’s heart. Neighborhood Watch has a purpose. They meet above the dead body of the vampire, pick him up, and carry him away into the woods. The limbs of the vampire are the limbs of the old, the skin impossible thin, the heels and the shoulders, dry, cold.
These murderers are only saving the neighborhood.

Mortal peril, under the influence of age, is novel and unfamiliar, like the senses of touch and warmth.
Vampires drink blood then come out of the black like white lizards. They want to touch things, fear things, and stare into mirrors.Vampires are foolish, under the influence of age

The young man does not need his mother’s blood. The grandson waits, on the black hill in the night, and smokes a cigarette, for now, the land’s only light.
He waits. A small flame perks up in the distance, under a thin grey plume. 
The vampires stand around a barrel fire outside the cave.
These vampires knew not to venture into the town. They stood around a barrel fire.
The young man cannot see their faces, just their movement in the light.
Maybe there are two of them, three of them.

When the fire went out, the young man went in.
Age only gave the vampires little more than an hour of conscious mortality.
After that, they became so weak, they couldn’t stay upright. They could only crawl back down into the cave and climb into their coffins. 
The cave walls were moist. The way down was steep. 
The young man’s light was weak and only helped at making shadows.
But still he sensed the gold.

The ground leveled and he shined his light up. The cave was steep.
He shined the light on the coffins. He could do anything he could to them. He could hammer a stake in each heart. He could douse each coffin with gasoline, drip a trail back up above ground and light it.
First, he needed the treasure.
He heard someone swallow.
Grandpa, he said.
He shined the light on grandpa. The old man’s neck was black with bruises. Blood leaked from holes on his ankles and under his jaw. His eyes were the color of piss.
Gold coins glimmered beneath him.
The young man looked at his grandfather. The grandfather looked back. 
They had the same teeth. They had the same neck.
In the moment of death, a grandfather stares into his grandson so as never to leave the earth.

Bob Selcrosse grew up with his mother, selling books, in the Pacific Northwest. He is now working on a book about a book. It is based in the Pacific Northwest. The book is The Cabinet of Children.

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