Starving


Vampires are people, too - Editor

by Kelly Barnhill

The people gathered in the rain - black hair and black clothing all clinging to spare frames like damp feathers.  Crows, Randall Kinney thought as he stationed himself in front of the large black door.  A murder of crows. He liked the sound of it, and felt the corners of his wide mouth twitch slightly, itching the contours of his stubbled cheeks.  He forced his face into that look of stern detachment, which he had perfected in front of the mirror before his first day, five years earlier.  He had never smiled on the job.  A smile could be dangerous.

He leaned back on the dented steel and waited for the knock telling him that he could let everyone in.  The line stretched along the length of the low building, its black face painted over with the white lettering of bands that had played there in previous years.  Some of the shows he had seen as a teenager, back when hanging out with your friends on Hennepin or First Avenues was cool, before the bodies, half frozen and drained of life, blood, and everything else that once flowed under their skin, started showing up in dumpsters or abandoned cars or the quiet doorways to abandoned restaurants.

The district had been a happening place back then. But a restaurant can’t survive without customers.  Living ones anyway.  Neither can a movie theater.  Or a wine bar, for that matter.  The basketball arena managed to hang on, but only because they constructed a high security parking garage attached to the north side of the building with guards and security cameras.  Even still, people vanished.  Not enough to make the papers anymore, but Randall noticed and kept track.

Randall was the bouncer of the club, which, for practical purposes, meant that he was a vampire-hunter, or a dead-hunter, though, legally, those terms could no longer be used. Since the vampire sweep in city elections, the term “vampire” by city ordinance was considered “hate speech.” As was the pejorative use of the word “dead.” The approved term was “non-dead.” Randall’s official title, the one that appeared on his tax returns, was Living/Non-Dead Relations Manager.

The lamplight shone pale and sickly and yellow on the wet faces in the line.  Bernice, the manager, pounded on the door right behind Randall’s head three times, making his ears ring.  Time to open.  He scanned the crowd, removed his hooded sweatshirt, letting it fall in a heap at the foot of the building.  It was November and cold, but no matter.  Better to stand at the door, his bald head glinting in the limpid light.  Better to let the customers squint at the two diamond studs he wore in each ear.  And most of all, better let them see the tattoos that crawled up the curves of muscle on each arm – a woman headed snake on one arm, and a raven eating a griffin on the other.  These tattoos were given to him inside the club in the middle of the dance floor, as he lay spread-eagled and piss-drunk.  Bernice had done the honors herself, her tiny frame sitting on top of his chest as though he were a park bench.  It was important, she told him, to be marked.  To show the regular customers who was boss, and to scare the bejeezus out of the other element.

It worked too. The other element didn’t scare easily. But they were scared of Randall.  All of them. Except one.

The customers filed in.  Young kids mostly.  A couple looked like they might be past drinking age, but not much past.  The rest, gangly, acne scabbed eighteen year olds showed their ID’s, got their hands marked and slid inside without making eye contact.  Actually, Randall preferred it that way.  He watched their faces, the veins in their necks, and their hands.  Time was, you could tell the living from the dead by looking for the red rims at the eyes, but not so much anymore.  Most dead learned to carefully apply thick eyeliner to fit in – or at least they fit in with a certain type of crowd.  Instead, Randall looked for a pale stillness at the throat, and hands so cold they were laced with frost.





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This is me: home-writer, book-reader, dog-lover and occasional poet. I make this website to share my and my friends texts with You, dear Reader. Please: read carefully, don't be scary, upgrade your mood and be king and leave your comment. :)