Vlad sat up with a sigh, his white fingers folding over the edge of his coffin, and stared at Harold. “Do you know what time it is, Harold? The sun just went down. You know, at my age, our age, I don't jump the minute the day is gone.”
Harold shifted between edgy and embarrassed. “Yeah, yeah, I know, Vlad, but tonight is another full moon. And I get itchy, my skin does, because I don't spring that thick fur anymore. Who ever heard of a naked werewolf?”
“You don't howl anymore either.”
“Or sprout those killer fangs.” Harold looked so disheartened Vlad felt sorry for him even though 'sorry' wasn't in a vampire's stock of feelings.
“When the moon turns full I get this terrible urge to be out preying on victims.”
“You tried that already, Harold. You can't chase victims using a walker.”
“I've been practicing with a cane.”
“That's not much better. We both have to face the changes that come our way. Look at me.”
“What about you?”
“Are you losing your memory, too?” said Vlad, his comment short and sharp. “Oh, I'm sorry, Harold. I didn't mean to bite your head off. But I told you about the mad doctor over on Fleet Street. The dentist?”
“What about him? I know you went to him.”
“A dentist, Harold,” he said impatiently. “He works on teeth. My teeth are important to me. What good is a vampire without his teeth!?”
“But he fixed them.”
“No! No! He ruined them. Or half ruined them anyway. I had a cavity in one of the crucial teeth and he was supposed to fill it. But he drilled the wrong cavity all out and filled up my collection system all the way up through the tooth. Solid! It won't suck anymore.”
Harold looked at him, trying to take in the import. Vlad had, indeed, told him this before, but Harold had been thinking of his own problems. “So, where are you at now, Vlad?”
“Pretty hard up, I'll tell you. Only one tooth sucks in blood. Get it? That means I have to get two victims for a full load. At our age? Do you have any idea how tough it is to get two victims in one night? It was like you trying to attack that young girl in the park and getting tangled up in your walker. And the real cavity still hurts.”
“Yeah, that walker thing was embarrassing. Especially, when she came back and helped me up on the park bench. But I'm trying a cane now. I can move faster.”
“Can you howl?”
“No howl. Maybe a little growl.”
“Are you horrifying?”
“My bones stretch a little and get a little out of shape….like some monster.”
“All just a little,” said Vlad in summation. “And you don't sprout thick, wild fur either?”
“And you want me to go with you tonight?”
Harold nodded enthusiastically. “Yes, we can go together. You'll be slow, too.”
“And you? A little bent with the full moon, no howl, no fangs, no fur, no lope. And naked. And a cane? You'll make a hell of a fearsome werewolf, Harold.” Vlad smirked. “Maybe some new kind of monster?”
“Don't make fun, Vlad.”
“If someone sees us out, they'll think I'm walking my dog...or walking something.”
Harold wasn't happy with Vlad's sarcasm, but was happy to be out under the full moon. He felt stirrings of old feelings as they walked. The vast park was like another country with the tops of tall buildings overlooking its distant borders. The moon made most things visible in this darkest part of the night. Harold saw the movement of something white in the distance, but coming toward them. He watched until he was sure it was a human. “Do you mind if I take this one, Vlad?”
Vlad sighed as he stared across the moonlit park at the figure. “Looks like a nurse. In the white uniform. Just getting off duty. Or going on. Okay, she's your victim,” he said and with a whoosh turned into a bat and skimmed away into the trees.
Harold watched her come closer and tried a howl at the moon to terrify her, but only the driest croak squeezed out of his throat. He stumbled through the shadows of the trees to pursue his attack, but his bent werewolf legs ached and tripped him up. He probed with his cane to stay upright even to move slowly after his victim. And it was 'after'! He had been so slow going after her that she had passed. She seemed to glance into the darkness in passing as if she heard him stumbling around in the trees. And then she was too far ahead for him to hobble fast enough to bring her down. And then she was gone.
Harold stood in the shadow of the trees dazed and disconsolate with his failure. No victim, no claws, no fangs, no howl, no fur. No horror. A whoosh in the darkness and Vlad was standing in front of him. Vlad didn't need to say anything, he could see the failure in Harold's slumped figure and downcast eyes.
“Harold, snap out of it. I see a cop coming along the walk. Just strolling his rounds, but he can't see you like that.”
“With no clothes. I'm sure he's never seen a naked werewolf before, but he won't care about the werewolf, he will care about the naked you. Here, take my cloak. It's long enough and will cover you from top to bottom. Well, to your ankles anyway. Maybe we can get away with that.”
“But what about how you're dressed? Are you going to be in your underwear?”
Vlad smiled. “No, my friend. Vampires always wear crisp, spiffy tuxedos under their big black capes.”
Then, Harold smiled. “And you better wipe that blood off your chin”
They strolled past the policeman, nodded, said “Good evening, officer.” Harold was a bit wobbly, bare-pawed and leaning on his cane, but they were so polite the cop just tipped his club to his cap and nodded as they passed.
“So?” said Vlad.
“So. Nothing. She got away.”
“Too fast for you?”
“I can't fly like you.”
“I've only got half a bite. Tonight I'm only halfway there.”
“So, where do I find victims? Maybe senior citizens? Like me.” Harold croaked what was left of his howl. “Would they be slow enough? And where would I ever find senior citizen victims in the middle of the night? All wrinkled...not very juicy either.”
“I have to go find the other half of my night. You…?”
“Yeah, I go home. Failed again.” Harold looked devastated. “What am I going to do, Vlad?”
Vlad shrugged. “Maybe you should start writing your memoirs, Harold. You used to be a pretty scary creature.” Vlad heard the disconsolate sigh from the shadows.
"Vlad, was I really scary?"
"You, Harold? Were you scary? Ah, Harold, you were the bounding, howling, horrifying, most terrifying menace in the night. No monster was scarier than you."
Vlad thought he heard a throat-clearing or a little chuckle in the dark as Harold hobbled away.
BIO: Quinn's zig-zag progress through life has involved him in some unlikely adventures. But he finds some truth even in the strangest fictions.
As with Harold in this story, it's true that we all get old. Well, maybe not a succubus. But old is a fact to deal with. Quinn has lived and worked
mostly around New Jersey and Florida.and hasn't yet written the Western he promised a friend....or about running over a whale in the middle of the Pacific.