It was a bit chilly tonight, waking up in the back seat of my old Dodge Neon. I guessed that it was about six o’clock, and the big sleep was just now releasing its hold on me. That’s when I noticed that I could feel a bit of a burning sensation on the back of my hand, and as soon as I was fully conscious, my body responding to my conscious commands again…I snatched it back from a single beam of fading sunlight as it set over the horizon. Fuck! I TOLD Bruce to FIX that freaking hole in my sunproofing! If my sleep cycle wasn’t so irregular, I could have woken up with a permanent scar on my skin for the rest of eternity! That shit BURNS!
I shook my hand, small wisps of smoke still rising from my scorched flesh, a tiny black mark now burned into the skin. Sighhh…I tried to rub it out, but it looks like its here to stay. Great. Vampire disfigurement is SO not attractive. It was only a tiny hole in my sunproofed window tint…but if it was enough to let sunlight in…it might as well have exposed me to a high powered laser.
I looked up into the front seat to see my ‘roommate’, Christie, already gone. I swear…everybody wakes up earlier than me these days. And her fading UV tolerance is much better than mine is. As soon as the Autumn months begin, usually the end of August, early September, like now…I start experiencing longer and longer sleep cycles. It happens every year. And I always end up missing something big.
Ugh! I just sleep through everything.
I struggled in the tiny space to put on some clean clothes, and then climbed out of the backseat. The rest of the parking lot had filled up again with people coming to enjoy the New York City night life. Such a strange thing, finding a vampire working as a nightshift parking lot attendant. Even better that he allowed us to keep our habitats on his lot, free of charge. I guess finding graveyard shifts that guarantee that you can get home before sunrise isn’t easy for any of our kind. But sometimes…the cards just so happen to stack up in our favor.
My other friends were already goofing around in the parking lot, looking at what kind of models we had parked around us today. Tony was the one that kinda held us all together. He was the oldest after all. I don’t know how long he’s been in darkness, but he was 20 when he crossed over. And with the rest of us being right around high school age, we kinda made him our big brother. It’s funny how the mere appearance of an older boy can be such a big influence on how the rest of us view him. For all I know…we could be older than he is. It’s just a trained response, I suppose.
Now Frankie? Frankie was actually new to our little group. He was only 12, and still a newblood. He’s having the time of his life being a vampire right now. The darkness hasn’t consumed him yet. He still thinks this is a game. A weekend vacation from the rest of the world. Once the idea of living this way for the rest of forever, as opposed to a fun little trip to summer camp, hit him…he’ll stop being so playful. I can pretty much guarantee it.
Tony saw Frankie wearing brand new shoes and a new Yankee fitted cap tonight, and he was showing off a new wad of money to Christie with a giant grin on his face. Tony did NOT look happy. This isn’t gonna end up being a good thing, I’m betting. Tony walked over and snatched the money out of Frankie’s hand, catching him by surprise.
“What are you doing? Huh?” Tony asked him, a heavy New Yorker accent from years back nearly clouding his speech. “What are you, stupid? What is this? Where’d you get this?”
“C’mon, Tony…take it EASY. It’s mine, alright?” Frankie whined, reaching for his cash, but Tony pulled it back from him.
“It’s YOURS? Whaddya mean it’s yours, huh? What’s yours? Where’d you get it? Huh?” Frankie lowered his eyes, and Tony gave him a smack in the back of his head, knocking his cap off. “What are you doing? HUH? You been robbing houses again? Is that what you’re telling me?”
“I just sneak in when they’re sleeping, Tony! It’s no big deal! So I take a couple of bucks, so what?”
“A couple of bucks? Look at those shoes, Frankie! Those are hundred dollar sneakers. You see any other street kids runnin’ around the city in hundred dollar sneakers? Huh???” Tony gave him another slap on the head. “Are you stupid?” He asked him. “I’m TALKING to you! Are you stupid?”
“No…” He whimpered, a pout on his lips.
“Then why are you still cleaning out houses after I done told you to stop? You wanna draw attention to us, is that it? You wanna get pinched? If the cops lock you up, that’s IT. You know that, right? They don’t got sunproof prisons, kid. They put you on lockdown, and you’ll be ashes, come morning. Is that what you want for yourself? Is that what you want for the rest of us? Huh?” Tony could be hard on us sometimes, but he cared for us all. We knew that. Even if he used true humiliation as a lethal weapon to keep us in line. And with his Brooklyn accent, it could sometimes sound so much more degrading when he really wanted it to sting. “You think these robberies don’t get reported to the Jakes uptown? You think people don’t notice a fucking TWELVE year old walking into a downtown store and paying CASH for a pair of hundred dollar kicks and a Yankee fitted? With NO parental supervision? How long ′til folks start putting two and two together? You gotta THINK, Frankie!”
“I’m SORRY, Tony, I just…I wanted some new stuff, you know? I’m tired of wearing the same clothes over and over again.”
“Oh, so you’re mister fashion diva now, is that it? Well, you know what I say to that? If you’re so obsessed with what you’re wearing then you’ve just got too many places to go. To many people to show off for. So how ’bout this? For the next few days, why don’t you confine you activities to this parking lot and no further? How’s that?”
“Nah! Nah! You evidently ain’t ‘fancy’ enough for the big bad city. So you stick around here with Amber, Bruce, and the rest of us until you feel a little more comfortable with your current wardrobe. How′s that?” Tony demanded. Then he snatched up Frankie’s new hat, dusted it off, and put it on his own head. “And I’m KEEPING this hat too. Looks better on me anyway.”
“FINE!!!” Frankie said, and stomped off to go back to his car to sit and sulk all alone. He might have been upset, but he wouldn’t go anywhere if Tony told him not to. Despite our little flare ups, we all took comfort in some sort of structured environment. Couldn’t tell you why…but I guess boundaries are needed in all walks of life. If for no other reason than to keep us focused on what kind of person we think we’re supposed to be.
Tony turned to Christie, posing with the hat on. “What do you think? Am I stylin’ or what?”
Christie just grinned and shook her head. “You suck for taking his hat, Tony.”
“I’m gonna give it BACK to him, don’t worry. I just wanna teach that little rat a lesson. He’s gotta stop stealing, Christie. That shit’s not gonna fly around here. We’ve been lucky so far with this place, we don’t need some newblood exposing us to every other human within a hundred city blocks for fashion′s sake. And God forbid if we piss the Elders off. The LAST thing I want is to hear that they’re considering us a security risk over here. I kinda LIKE living, you know what I mean?” At that moment, Tony saw me and gave me a smile. “Well, well, well…look who decided to roll his pretty boy ass out of bed? So happy to have you join the rest of the world, Rodney.”
“Can’t help it. I’m sleeping later and later. It′s late August again, right?” I said.
“Second week of September, actually.” Christie told me. “I TOLD you to get a calendar, blockhead.”
“For what? It’s not like I’ve got any important holidays to remember.” I answered. I shivered a bit from the air, and thought about going back to get a jacket for the night. “Hey, Tony? I thought you told Bruce to sunproof my car better? Are you seeing this right here?” I said, holding my burnt hand up. “This shit is forever. It’s not fair for him to sleep comfy and cozy while I’m worrying about having my ‘face’ burned off during my sleep cycle.”
“Hey, he told me he was gonna fix it…he didn’t fix it. Whaddya want me to do?” Tony said with a shrug.
“I want you to get him to FIX it, is what I want. This isn’t a minor request, you know?” I said.
And Christie backed me up, “C’mon, Tony…get him to patch up the windows, will ya? I gotta sleep in that car too. You don’t want me waking up ‘less pretty’ than I am right now, do you?”
“Alright! Alright! You’re like a duo of barking dogs, the two of ya! I’ll talk to him when he gets back.” Tony surrendered. “Geez! You’re so sensitive to daylight. The rest of us were out here, you didn’t see ‘us’ burning up with that little bit of left over sunset.”
“Not my fault. Some of us have to wait until every last ray of UV light is gone. So deal with it.” I mumbled.
“Cranky?” He asked, and I just started to walk towards a car mirror to fix my hair up a bit. It was almost time for me to get out of there before I was too late. Tony saw me and snickered to himself. “Gettin’ all dolled up to go visit your ‘man friend’, sweetie pie?”
The comment froze me in my tracks, and I gasped, holding my breath in the back of my throat as my accusing eyes fell directly on Christie. Did she tell? How DARE she tell!!!! “WHAT???” But Christie’s eyes widened as well, and she slightly began shaking her head. Secretly telling me that Tony was just teasing me…that he didn’t really ‘know’ about me. At least not yet. “Oh…I mean…whatever! Fuck off!” Geez, I almost outed myself over a joke. So much paranoia. I kill people and drink their blood to stay alive…and yet, I’m still too scared to tell the other serial killers in my close knit group of friends that I’m gay. Go figure.
“We’re outta here.” Christie said, and hurried over to take me by the arm to get some distance from that place for rest of the night.
“Aw, c’mon…I was just teasin’! Hehehe!” Tony hollered after us. “UV ain’t the ONLY thing you’re super sensitive to, sunshine boy!”
Christie and I started walking the city streets and she had a nice little laugh over my reaction to Tony’s joke, which got her a few pokes in the ribs. She said “You should have seen the look on your face! You looked like you were about to lay a fuckin′ egg right there on the concrete! Hahaha!”
“Shut up!” I grinned. “You know, I thought for a second you actually TOLD him. I was gonna skin you alive.”
“Don’t think so highly of yourself. You′re not that interesting when it comes to topics of conversation. Besides, it wouldn’t be so bad if the others knew you were crazy about ′boy sausage′.”
“Says you. You get to be a part of the brat pack. But me? I’d never hear the end of it.” I said, but feeling a bit of an emotional connection to my roommate, I added, “Thanks for not saying anything, Christie. Seriously. You’re like my best friend out here.”
She smiled widely, and gave me a shove. “Look at you, getting all sweet before going off to see your beautiful stranger.”
“Hehehe, ugh! He’s NOT a stranger, alright? His name is Robert. And he works in the tower.” I said proudly.
But Christie called my bluff. “You asked him, then?”
“Wha…well…yeah. Sure.” I stumbled.
“You’re LYING to me right now! You read his thoughts, didn’t ya? Cheater. Why don’t you just TALK to him?”
“I’m working UP to that! These things are…delicate…” I said.
“What’s delicate about it? ‘Hi, I’m Rodney. Wanna go some place and pound my sweet tender ass for a few hours?’ What′s he gonna say, no? He′s gotta go hoe and watch a new episode of ′Smallville′? Maybe ′Buffy, The Vampire Slayer′?” I laughed out loud and nearly punched her in the arm.
“Hehehe, fuck off!″ I said. ″It’s not that easy, alright? He’s 25 years old.”
“You’re 23 years old. What’s the big deal?”
“I’m 23 years old for REAL, sure. But when he looks at me, all he’s gonna see is 16 of those years looking back at him. He’s gonna turn me down.”
“Whatever. You know how many 25 year olds would give their right testicle to screw a teenage boy? They may not wanna get caught doing it, but in reality, you’ve probably got a better shot than anybody his age. So just go for it already.”
“Everybody′s not a pervert, you know? Some relationship guru you turned out to be.”
With an extra mischievous grin, Christie asked, “So…is he gay?” I giggled at first, and then, with a strong blush I nodded my head. “Ahhhh! You mind thief! I KNEW it! I knew he’d be gay! So it’s perfect! You guys are perfect!”
“What? You ARE perfect. Work it out.”
“The gay thing is a lot easier to work out than the fact that I’ll never grow old and can’t ever see the sun again. That can be a bit of a heavy hit for a relationship to take.” I smirked with a sarcastic tone.
“Excuses, excuses. We’ll figure all that shit out after you get laid a few times. Hehehe!” She replied. I should have expected that to be her answer. It’s her answer for pretty much everything.
I looked at a clock on one of the buildings across the street and it said that it was already 7:30!!! I was gonna miss him if I didn’t hurry! “Shit! I’ve gotta run, Christie! He’s getting off of work right now. He’s probably already on his way down in the elevator.”
“Go! Run! I’ll see you back at the parking lot. And for God sakes…just TALK to him already! STOP waiting around for the right moment! Some people never get one!”
″I will! Promise!″ I hollered back. ″Love you!″
″Love you too!″ She replied. Man, I hope I can be as confident about this as she is in the end.
I hurried to race through the next few city blocks over, hoping and praying that I wasn’t too late. Just catching a few minutes′ glimpse of my sexy man-friend every week night was more than enough to keep my heart racing for the rest of the day. It excited me soooo much, knowing that I’d be able to stare into those pale blue eyes again. And see the little grayish hint of his stubble, and his lips. GOD, how I loved those lips! And he always dressed up in the most awesome black suits for work, with a briefcase, and a hint of fresh smelling cologne, wafting from the side of his neck. Sighhhhh….just a hint of his aroma would leave me spellbound for hours. I needed my fix. I needed it now.
Just a few corners turned, a few street vendors passed, a few homeless people jumped over…and I found myself getting to the base of the towers JUST in time to see him coming out of the lobby. Wow…all of that man made majesty bearing over my head…and all I could do was stare at him.
Slim and sturdy, the athletic build that always used to drive me crazy in high school. His dark hair was a bit longer than normal now, but still styled so nicely. And as he got closer, I saw his ocean blue gaze catch sight of me in the distance…and I could have SWORN that he smiled at me. He lowered his head bashfully, trying to hide his grin…but awwww, that only made him MORE adorable to me! I felt this tingling rush of jitters suddenly manifest in my gut and then spread out to every part of me, making me tremble helplessly in his presence. And he still hadn’t even gotten close enough for me to speak yet.
Not that I had ever had the courage to.
Should I push it? Should I read…just a little bit more of his private thoughts? I won’t invade any part of his mind that comes off as too ‘personal’, I swear. I just…I wanted to know a LITTLE bit more about him. His inner essence is so addictive to me.
I felt kinda bad about it, but I tried to read his mind on some shallow level that would be somewhat respectful to his privacy. Heh…how does a mind reader draw THAT line in the sand, huh? Never easy.
I saw a few simple conversations, and he was trying to remember his cousin’s birthday, and he had to get his mother some peppers and garlic from the store to make her famous tortellini sauce for the Angelino family next door. But I couldn’t really find much until I dug just a little bit deeper through the current images spinning around in his mind. And that’s when I saw something that…made me gasp out loud in shock.
“There he is again. I swear this kid is actually waiting for me every day when I get off from work. I’m such a pervert for it, but…he’s soooo beautiful. If I thought I had a chance…he’d be the one minor I’d end up going to jail for. Hahaha! LOOK at him! I gotta struggle to keep from jumping on him every time I walk by! Ha! I’m SO going to hell for thinking these thoughts…”
Is he thinking about…about ME like that??? Is he??? Please let him be thinking about ME like that! No! Noooo!!! I’m not young!!! You can HAVE me! I SWEAR!!! I’m not a minor! I’m NOT! Wait…wait…arrrgghhh!!!!
He got closer and closer, and I saw a blush flood into his cheeks. And then, while he was barely peeking at me…he mumbled a very quiet, “Hi…” And he kept walking. He just…he kept WALKING! And I didn’t say anything! I was too paralyzed to say anything! My voice got choked up in my throat, and my lungs were too deflated to get the breath to say what I needed to say. Not to mention that my brain locked up on me, making intelligent speech IMPOSSIBLE! Ugh! What do I do? WHAT??? I saw him walking down the sidewalk away from me, and he looked back over his shoulder at me to see if I was still watching. And that’s when I took every last ounce of courage that I had to raise my hand and give him a timid, half-hearted wave. It made his smile even brighter, and he waved back before continuing his walk home. Omigod!!! Oh…My…GOD!!! I WANTED him so badly, but…we′re SO incompatible! I think. Shit! Whatever.
The emotional rush as almost too much, and I had to lean back against a wall to keep my knees from buckling. The air pushed itself out of my lungs so fast that I actually began giggling just trying to keep up with it. My heart! Oh WOW, my heart! This was just a harmless crush yesterday…but I think I’m actually starting to fall in LOVE here! Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow! I looked up at those giant towers, and saw them piercing the sky above, as if reaching into Heaven itself, and allowing the most potent feelings of love and joy to rain down on everyone standing under them. Life never felt so good. Not ever. And it was only a three minute dose of pleasure that made me feel this way. Imagine if I actually got to sit down and talk to him. Laugh with him. BE with him!
Thoughts like that, practically had me FLOATING home to the parking lot!
It was only four or five blocks away…but I could have sworn that I danced through those streets for over an hour. Looking up at the New York City skyline, I could still see everything from where I was standing. Wow….hehehe! I can′t believe how easily I got swept up in all this!
Christie greeted me right away with a hug, and was amazed by the look on my face. “That is the biggest smile I think I’ve ever seen on your ugly mug, you know that?” She said. “What happened? Did you talk to him?”
“I waved at him.” I said dreamily.
“You…‘waved’ at him?” She shook her head. “You are seriously fucked in the head, Rodney.”
“Gimmee a break, will ya? I might have been around for a while, but I’m still running on a teenager’s hormones here. It can be a bit…overwhelming sometimes.” She rolled her eyes and folded her arms. I told her, “He waved back.” And when I said that, the smile was so huge on my face that she couldn’t help but smile herself. I found myself on the receiving end of the biggest hug ever. Then I looked over her shoulder to see the car that we were sleeping in. “What is that?”
“What is what?” She asked.
“THAT…right there on the windshield. Is that a freakin’ piece of electrical tape?” I said. “I told Bruce to SUNPROOF the car! I could put my own freakin’ piece of TAPE on the goddamn window! What is he DOIN’???” But Christie just laughed and told me to chill out.
“Enjoy the good vibes for a bit, will ya?” We’ll worry about the window tomorrow. Relax.” She giggled, and we spent the rest of the night just…talking. Talking about ′him′. What if I’ve got a chance? I mean…what if it’s meant to be, me and Robert?
Before turning in that night, I told her…”I’m gonna talk to him tomorrow, Christie. I’m just…I’m gonna meet him outside the towers tomorrow when he gets out of work…and I’m gonna talk to him. And I’m NOT just talking about saying ‘hi’ either. I’m gonna…maybe…” I stopped to blush for a moment, and she sat up.
“You’re gonna ask him out???”
“I don’t know…hehehe, maybe.”
“I’ll believe that when I see it.” She laid back down as the big sleep began to take a hold on her body for the night.
“You’ll see. Tomorrow night, Christie…the whole WORLD’S gonna change! I can just feel it.” I smiled, and laid back down to rest myself. Seeing that small bit of ‘tape’ in place to keep the morning rays from burning me to a crisp. I switched myself around, just to make sure if I DO get a burn…it’ll be on my ankle or something less visible. Jerk off…I’m gonna let him have it when I wake up.
It was such a peaceful sleep that day.
An uninterrupted sleep.
Such a contrast…to what I woke up to when the sun went down.
“Rodney!!! Rodney…get up!!! You’ve gotta wake up!!! C’mon!” Were the first shouted words that I heard as I groggily rubbed my tired eyes and tried to pull myself out of my daily state of hibernation. Christie was shaking me wildly and yelling almost at the top of her lungs. Her face was…covered in DIRT…with the exception of giant black smears on her cheeks where she had obviously been crying herself silly. It was such a bizarre display to wake up to. My mind was so confused by what I was seeing that I couldn’t fully regain my wits right away. “RODNEY!!!”
“WHAT??? Huh…what the hell is going on? What the heck have YOU been doing?” I asked. My head was pounding, but as I looked at the front windshield of our car, the glass had a huge web of cracks in it! And I was almost immediately infuriated. “What the FUCK??? Who broke our windshield??? Is this Bruce’s idea of a fuckin′ JOKE? Who did it? I swear to God, I’m gonna…”
“RODNEY!!! You’ve GOTTA get up! C’mon! Something is wrong!!! Something is really REALLY wrong!!! Get the fuck up!” She shouted, and I heard the symphony of what sounded like a BILLION police sirens outside. I twisted and turned to put some clothes on, and I could hear the rest of my friends either shouting, cursing, or crying outside. What the hell was happening? What the heck did I miss?
I finally stepped outside…and…something just seemed odd.
It was like…the whole world had just…disappeared. When my foot touched the ground, it…’sank’ a little. I looked down at my feet to see what I thought, at first, was a few inches of snow. But snow? In September? And GRAY snow at that? Couldn’t be. There was this…’paper’ littering the whole parking lot. And the streets beyond it. And the rest of the city on top of it. People were looking through the blanket of dust and smoke. There wasn’t a car on the street. No pedestrians on any of the surrounding sidewalks. Not a plane in the sky. It was as if the population of the entire city, maybe even the planet, had all been kidnapped while we were sleeping.
My mind couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. There was…fire…and debris…and the entire city had been shut down.
Bewildered, I walked over to Frankie, Christie, and Tony…who were all standing in a line…staring up at the sky. I stumbled a bit over the rocks and twisted metal at my feet. The air was so thick that it was hard to breathe. I coughed and wheezed for a few minutes, but my friends were too horrified to even notice. “What is it? What went down?” I asked. Silence. They just kept staring off into the distance. And when I looked in the same direction…I was baffled by what I saw. Or more appropriately…what I didn’t see. It wasn’t until I heard Christie sniffle and take a shaky hold of my hand, that I was able to speak…and ask what I’m sure was on all of our minds.
“Where are they?” I said. “Where are the towers?” Christie sobbed openly on my shoulder, as more police sirens raced to the scene. “Christie…where’s…where’s the World Trade Center???” Where was my dream…my pillars reaching up into Heaven to promise just one more day? Just…ONE more day!
They were just…’gone’…
And the promise was forever broken.
I swear…everybody wakes up earlier than me these days. As soon as the Autumn months begin, usually the end of August, early September, like now…I start experiencing longer and longer sleep cycles. It happens every year. And I always end up missing something big.
Shit…I sleep through everything.