Driving and Drinking with Dracula
Drac needs to talk. Urgent.
I’m getting drowsy, just about ready for bed, when Drac calls. His full name is Count Dracula, but we go way back, so we’re down to nicknames. I call him Drac. Drac calls me Ray.
“Let’s drive,” he says. “And drink.”
“It’s bedtime,” I protest.
“Not for everyone. Just a little while? No all-nighter. I’ve got work.”
He picks me up in his old ‘54 Nash Metropolitan. Funky, for a guy of Drac’s stature, but as he told me once, “Who cares? I only go out at night.”
I’ll give it to him. He comes prepared, a short case of Burgie on the seat between us. Stubbies. “Wow, these are chill,” I say, using the opener on his dash.
“I sleep with them,” he says. “Advantages of being … well, you know.”
We met at the blood bank. We were both lying there, needles in our arms, draining into the bags when I realized who he was. I asked what he was doing there, in the middle of the day.
“All that daylight-turns-me-to-ash stuff is horseshit. It’s what they tell you, in vampire basic, but it’s just not true. We gotta get out. Mingle.”
I asked him if he didn’t think it was a little contrarian for him to be giving blood, instead of taking.
“It’s not like I need it all,” he said. “I’ve got more than I can use, to be honest. I’m an aggregator. And a giver.”
Decent kind of guy. Now, tipping his Burgie, he says he’s been having trouble sleeping. Nights come around, no energy left for popping in on the ladies, sharing a few pints.
I love the way his fangs embrace the bottle mouth, like it’s a kiss and he could chomp down, but he doesn’t, because the kiss is good and besides, who kisses glass?
He reaches down, punches a button on the radio. He likes oldies rock, always tuned to ‘50s doo-wop. “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Blue Moon.”
“You’re into irony, right?” I asked one time.
“Who, little-ol’ flittin’-around-in-the-bat-shit me?”
He smiled and his incisors twinkled in the light. Then he laughed harder, longer, so much he urped.
“Reflux,” he said, and reached into the tub of Tums on the seat. “I gotta see a Doc, but who would take a guy dead six hundred years?”
“Do the math. If you start at Vlad.”
Just a regular guy. Not sure what this night is about, killing time, I ask him to drive by Lenora’s house.
“Sweet on her?”
“Maybe I shouldn’t say this,” he says, to preface what he wants to say, “but I tried to suck her neck one time.”
I wait. There’s more.
“Not so hot,” he says.
I tell him I’ll compare notes, if ever I get past first. “Is she a vvvv–?”
“Vampire? No. She had a crucifix around her neck.”
I nod, happy she’s still available.
“She’s nice and all,” he says, “but she wouldn’t shut up about her Barbie collection. A woman in her twenties? I never knew.”
He pulls up in front of Lenora’s, his motor running. I stare at the window of her room. The light is still on. I see her shadow, moving around. Then her arms extend. She’s holding something, a doll maybe. Or a phone. The light goes out. I wish I were in there.
Drac puts it in gear and we head off. We finish the beer, talking about taxes and repairs to his water heater, and he turns toward home.
“I called for another reason,” he says. “I’ve got news.”
“I’m going back to school.”
“Seriously? For what?”
“Accounting. I’ve always had a head for numbers.”
“Really? I would’ve guessed phlebotomy. Don’t want to be too obvious?”
“Right?” he says, chuckling. “Hey, what about mortuary science?”
I blow a spurt of Burgie out my nose.
“I just want to be normal. No more nights. Spend more time with the wife and kids.”
That’s a big reveal, that he has a family. I don’t ask about them. I’d hate to run into them on the street and start wondering if they were gonna jump me.
I steer it back to accounting.
“When I took all the paperwork to my tax guy last year?”
“He was so calm. Adding and subtracting. I loved the desk lamp with the green shade. It’s me. A spot of light in the dark. Believe it or not, but I like light. My eyes aren’t cut out for the dark. My nose is my eyes. Keeps me from crashing into things.”
I want to support him, but hold back. Who wants to talk Drac out of being Drac?
“Wouldn’t you miss the percs?” I ask.
“You get more neck than anybody I know.”
“You think that’s cool? Dude, it’s neck. There’s more to sex than neck, but not in my line of work. It’s pretty stifling, frankly.”
Then he goes on a rant, about all the limits, how he wants to go out to dinner and have a steak and a glass of wine. Or a salad.
“Do you realize, for the entirety of my curse, I’ve had nothing to eat but blood? No crackers. No cheese. No Lunchables. No kale. Believe that shit?”
He tells me change is hard. He’ll have to see a dentist, lose the fangs. Slowly work his way into Italian food, with all that garlic.
“Talk about indigestion,” he says. “And — I know this sounds whiney — but imagine trying to get a good day’s sleep. All these idiots out there, vampire hunters. They’ve seen too many movies, running around looking for castle cellars with seeping walls, so they can terminate me. If just one more person drives a stake through my chest, I’m gonna scream.”
He says he would love health insurance without the cardiac risk rider.
I think of Drac in his new gig. Probably have to lose the cape. Shame. I’ve never needed one. If you’re Drac, you need a cape. If you’re not Drac?
Two thoughts hit me: One, an accountant with a cape would attract clients like … I dunno, Bela Lugosi? Two, if he’s not Drac, then who?
I could do it. Maybe he would cut me a deal on the franchise? Maybe time for something new?
It would be interesting. Meet new people. Working nights? Not my favorite. But that would leave my days free, to go on walks with Lenora, who surely would say “yes” to getting married if she knew I, her husband, was about to become The New Dracula.
How’s that for a business card? And I could see the fun building my LinkedIn.
Drac pulls up in front of my house and stops. I get out but lean on the roof and look back in. I am wondering if they make queen-size coffins (room for Lenora), even as I give him my best advice.
“Follow your bliss, Dude.”
Turns out, he does.
Me? I pass on the whole Drac thing. Ugly hours, no upside, and Lenora wouldn’t hear of it. But I got the cape anyway. I wear it for yuks, when we go out driving and drinking. Not for Halloween, though. I know where to draw the line.