The Old Antiques DealerbyNigel Debonnaire©
Welcome, my dear, welcome. Peace be with you as you enter my lair–excuse me, my store.
Isn't it a pleasant evening? Just the right temperature: not too cold, not too warm. I can see you're a little cold, would you like a glass of brandy? Port? No? How about a cup of tea? I have some excellent blends from India.
Of course, I drink tea, don't be silly. Who drinks only one kind of beverage? I love good Turkish coffee, and dry martinis as well, from time to time. Ha, ha, you've done your homework. Of course, I'd just as soon impale a Turk on an eight foot pike as look at him, but their coffee is the finest in the world. Perhaps that's why they were put on this planet. Of course, since they no longer have an Empire, perhaps they've mellowed. I'm not going to go find out.
Now, please be seated in this very comfortable chair and make yourself at home. I can tell what you're thinking, although God forbid I should be psychic. When you've lived as long as I have, you can fill in the gaps more readily. Think of me as Sherlock Holmes at the age of 2000. I can tell you are 43 years of age, you are here under an assumed hair color, you are married, have four children: three boys and a girl, hope to meet your Internet pen pal soon for some creative infidelity. . . I'm sorry, but I can't tell you how I know all these things. Too many indicators, I'm afraid. You are searching for meaning in life, but of course, so many are these days. Such a pity, such a pity. Of course, your secrets are safe with me.
You're still trembling and it's not from the chill. Look, it's not often I grant an interview, so I want to see you live through this as much as you do. Immortality isn't all its cracked up to be. Oh, I still enjoy it, but there are really very few old vampires, almost none from my generation. Afterlife palls eventually, one runs out of original things to do, and one loses the fear of seeing God face to face. No–Barbara, right? No, I won't go farther than that: I know atheism is popular these days, and my kind is supposed to be deathly afraid of Him in all His manifestations, but you will have to work that out on your own.
If it makes you feel better, my brother Vlad would have been happy to drink every drop of your blood, leave your broken body for the neighborhood to discover, and greet you when you rose from the tomb after your funeral. Vlad was always too much of a show off: no wonder he came to a bad end in England. I have a connoisseur's taste: I happen to prefer a virgin in their late teens or early twenties. Don't laugh, there are still a few around, even this far from civilization. No, gender doesn't matter, but girls are better. No, I don't drink them dry, either. That's how I keep my svelte frame: just a little harmless sip from time to time; she goes back to her little home in excellent health. I like being under the radar. Hordes of villagers with torches outraged at the death of an innocent always give me the willies. And science indicates it's good for you to give some blood from time to time; healthy and cleansing for the system. Blood donorship is good for the donor as well as the recipient. No, I don't store blood, cold blood is appalling to drink.
Oh, I go as far back as anyone. I called Vlad my brother, but I've been around millennia longer. My original name was Sextus, my father was Ovid, the Latin poet exiled to modern day Romania. Yes, I was bitten by a vampire, repeatedly, and drank her blood as well. Cassandra was her name, and you look a little bit like her. Maybe she was your distant ancestor. Oh yes, I had a family when I was an ordinary human: two wives, fifteen children of various kinds, grandchildren. I kept track of them as long as I could, but after four generations it took too much of my time. Vampires aren't very sentimental creatures.
Cassandra came from ancient Troy. Yes, that Cassandra, and no, I'm not going to give you any inside info about that story. It doesn't matter after all this time, anyway. Trust me, it doesn't: you're just going to have to trust my judgement. Of course, I find some of the misconceptions that have sprung up through the years hilarious, but it's no profit to me to set the story straight. As if I could without breaking cover.
Do my friends call me Sex? Very, very droll indeed. What wit you have my dear. Do you always enjoy teasing the piranhas, playing with sharks?
There are lot of misconceptions about vampires, of course. I'm not going sunbathing, but if I stay out of direct sunlight at midday, there are no problems. With this current Internet age, I can stay inside all day and no one is the wiser. No, I don't like running water, but it's not like I dissolve if submerged. Sometimes I have to go in the water: it's the surest way to dispose of an inconvenient automobile. There are old mines that no one knows of near here, and an overlook where a too traceable car can be propelled to the depths of the lake. I hate that: it takes a week to dry out completely, and the waterlogged feeling is extremely unpleasant. Yes, I drive it down the ramp, how else are you going to be sure it's gone for good? No, I'm not talking about getting rid of innocent victims, just malicious adversaries. I don't kill my lovers, but those who cross my purposes, beware!
I love the romance of love and the delicate chase of seduction. Goodness no, I don't bat a thousand, who does? What's the fun of making them comply, tell me? It's not like I let my appetites drive me: this generation is too focused on instant gratification. I know, it makes seduction easier, but I'm not interested in material girls. Delayed gratification is so much better, if you only have the patience. I have lots of practice and lots of patience, that's what works. Wiling submission, time after time, faithfulness to commitment: they are as sweet as the nectar from their veins. No, I assure you, you're safe. Put every care from your mind, I beg you.
Yes, I have some nice pieces here. I've always been a shopkeeper of some kind, and I love the development of the antiques business. It's perfect for me: I've been doing business around here for three hundred years now. No, not here exactly, of course. I came here first with the French, with the Chouteau brothers, great lads, and dealt with the Osage. Couldn't fool them: they knew what I was at first sight, but they were people of extraordinary insight and wisdom, treated me well. Traded with them for decades before Lewis and Clark. No, I haven't been here all along, I went back East to Ohio for a while, and out West as far as the coast. This land has always charmed me, ever since I crossed the ocean. No, I don't know any Transylvanians who've settled in the Ozarks, either.
Please, wait just a moment and I'll fetch you that brandy. I'll give you the good stock; brought it from France myself. Here. Just what the doctor ordered. I beg your pardon, I have several doctorates, from some of the finest universities in the world. Trust me, I should know.
No, none of these items came with me. Oh, very funny, what about my coffin? My people didn't use coffins in antiquity, please do some more homework, Barbie dear. Well, I don't care if you don't like being called that, you were a bit snooty now yourself. Not one speck of my native soil is anywhere near here, much less the earth I was buried under. My sleeping nook is fully darkened and that's all I need.
Oh yes, I've lectured at universities near here. Mostly on European history: who would be better qualified since I've lived through most of it? You think the terrorists from the Middle East are bad; they are wimps compared to the Huns. If I hadn't done some fancy stepping, they would have ended my long life in the 13th century. Those guys were machines. With Internet classes, teaching is a dream, except for the snotty students. No, of course not, why would I want a pain in the ass student to live forever? I'd just have to put up with them indefinitely; it would be enough to make me seek out a member of the Van Helsing family. No, thank you, Barbara.
The past few hundred years? Oh, I've laid low. Been part of the community, helped my fellow man. Stayed under the radar. Fought the wars, manned the general store, married a couple of times for appearance sake. Exciting days, the world seemed as fresh as my childhood in Dacia long lost. The charm of these hills hasn't worn off, not by a long shot.
Well, if you must know, I seduced my women one at a time, swore them to secrecy, took an electric little sip from the veins from time to time. No, none of them are running around now, they weren't interested in the life of vampirism. Some moonlit nights I walk the cemeteries and remember them, but I'm inhuman, remember? They're dust; I live for today. Or tonight, how droll you are. Yes, I have a girlfriend, but if I told you her name, I'd have to kill you. Oh please, don't be melodramatic: I'm not going to tell you and I'm not going to kill you. How are you supposed to do your article if you disappear into thin air?
Vampires are as different as any other kind of human. Yes, I know I just said we aren't human, but since where are you going to start believing what you're told? Take my cousin Bela: he made headlines in London over a hundred years ago. They called him Jack: stupid, really, since his given name is William in this language. Had a thing about prostitutes, hated them because they gave him a disease when he was alive, and made fun of the police as he went on his rampage. For a few months he made headlines, got his kicks, then got bored and wandered away. No, I don't know where he is today; he's nowhere near here. Ludmilla was a camp follower: slept with hundreds of soldiers every night, said she did the virgins in the neighborhood a service. Zoltan was a saint: no, don't laugh, you silly cow, he was the wisest and most gentle of our kind. I can tell you aren't ready for his story, so I won't waste our time.
Now look, I told you I'm not interested in overpowering you and puncturing your neck. I know you'd much rather offer me a good price for the china in the corner, and the crystal in the cupboard over there. No, I saw how your eyes lit up, you can't deny it. Are you that, that,
that. . . Maybe I should give you a little thrill just to get it off your mind.
Thanks for coming to your senses. Now, how much will you give me for the china? I have to liquidate some of my stock; times are getting rough and now's not the time to hold onto a lot of inventory. If you have to think about it, you can come back in the morning, no offense taken. Well, if you must know, I have a date later tonight. No, you can't follow, this is private. Trust me, what we do isn't a spectator sport, no matter how perverted you are.
Silver? Of course I have silver. Aren't these fine pieces, and I have some other nice items in the back that may interest you. What do you mean. . .oh, I understand. You're confusing us with werewolves. I assure you I would not bear to let one of those mangy curs within 200 miles of my abode, even if I have to lead the posse myself. And I have done it. You don't understand? Check the record yourself: I was county sheriff for five terms not too long ago. The people were safe under my watch. Yes, it was under a different name. Look, I'm a good neighbor: I know all their names, what's going on in their lives, what's they're worried about, I've even hosted community action meetings here, New Year's parties, Independece Day. I even send them produce from my garden. Now take that look astonishment right off your face: I love working in the garden, even if I do it after dark. Where do you think those lovely flowers in the front came from? I've won prizes, I've been doing it for almost two thousand years. Good grief, I'm a vampire, not a psychopath or a paranoid schizophrenic: I have a well balanced existence, I'll have you know. A rash vampire is an extinct vampire, I've always said.
All right, since you'll be disappointed otherwise. Look into my eyes, yes, your eyes are lovely. Hold still, and let me hold you. Such a delicate wrist, I can see your pulse speeding up at my touch. A little nuzzling on the nape of your neck, which is attractive, by the way. No, you have no choice, but that doesn't matter. You like this, don't you? Shame you haven't been laid lately. Here's a little sharpness. No, no, I'm not going to bite you. Why should I spoil my appetite for my beloved later? Just the tiniest bloodless superficial scrape on the skin, just because you want the thrill. There, frightened? I should think so, the way you're trembling. Happy now? Good.
Have a safe trip back to the hotel. The deer like to jump out from the ditches at you this time of year. Don't want anything untoward to happen to you; we want that story to come out. Good night. Come again. Come back and talk to me about the china: I know you want it and I'll give you a great price. Good night, sleep well.