Chapter Seven

The List

While Jody showered, Tommy made a list.

Feed

Laundry

New Apartment

Toothpaste

Sweet Monkey Love

Windex

Dispose of Vampire

Minion

"What do we need an onion for?" Jody asked. She was having a little trouble getting her vision to focus.

"Minion, minion," Tommy said.

"Mint-flavored onion? Why do we need that?"

"A minion! Someone who can move around during the day who can help us out. Like I was for you."

"Oh, my bitch."

Tommy dropped his list. "Nuh-uh."

Jody picked it up and walked over to the kitchen counter where the coffee machine stood. "I would sell my soul for a big cup of joe."

"I was not your bitch," Tommy said.

"Right, right, right. Whatever. So how long do we have to do this list?"

"I checked the almanac. Sunrise is at six fifty-three, so we have about twelve hours. It's almost the solstice, so we get a lot of darkness."

"Solstice? Oh my God, it's almost Christmas."

"So?"

"Hello? Shopping?"

"Hello? We have an excuse. We're dead."

"My mother doesn't know that. I have to find something for her that she'll disapprove of. And your family - "

"Oh my God! Christmas. I was supposed to go home to Indiana for Christmas. We need to redo the list."

"You do it. I'm going to dry my hair," Jody said.

The new list read:

Christmas Presents

Call Home

Feed

Minion (not our Bitch)

Hot Monkey Love

Windex

Write Literature

Dispose of Creepy Old Vampire

New Apartment

Laundry

Toothpaste

"I think you should take monkey love off of the list," Jody said. "What if we lose the list and someone finds it?"

"Well I think 'dispose of Creepy Old Vampire' would be a little more embarrassing, don't you?"

"You're right, cut monkey love and change 'vampire' to 'Elijah. " Jody tapped the list with a pen. "And take off Windex and put in 'buy coffee. "

"We can't drink coffee."

"We can smell it. Tommy, I desperately need coffee. It's like the blood hunger, only, you know, more civilized."

"Speaking of blood hunger - "

"Yeah, you'd better move that up the list."

"And add a bottle of whiskey. You're going to have to buy it."

"Sorry, writer boy, but we're doing this stupid list together."

"I'm not old enough to buy liquor."

Jody stepped away from him and shuddered. "That's right. Isn't it?"

"Yep," Tommy said, nodding - trying to look wide-eyed and innocent.

"Well, okay then. I should have checked IDs before picking my bitch."

"Hey!"

"Kidding. What are you going to do with a bottle of whiskey anyway?"

"Check something else off the list," Tommy said. "I have an idea. Get your purse."

"What did the Animals want, anyway?"

"Twenty grand."

"I hope you told them to fuck themselves."

"They did that already."

"Did they suspect, you know, about what you are now?"

"Not yet. Lash said I looked a little pale. I sent them to the store. If Clint knows, well - "

"Oh, good move. Maybe we should just take out an ad. 'Young vampire couple seeks angry village people to hunt them down and kill them. »

"Ha. Village people. Funny. Put self-tanning lotion on the list. I think the pale thing is giving me away."

At seven in the evening, three days before Christmas, Union Square was awash in shoppers. There was a Santa's Village set up in the raised square, with a line of children and parents that wound five hundred deep through a labyrinth of red velvet cattle gates. Around the square, the street performers, who would normally have knocked off around five, lined the granite steps up to the square. A juggler here, a sleight-of-hand guy there, a half-dozen "robots"  -  people painted silver and gold who would move in machine-jerk rhythm for the drop of a coin or a bill - and even a couple of human statues. Jody's favorite was a gold guy in a business suit, who stood motionless for hours on end, as if he'd been frozen in midstep on the way to work. There was a small hole in his briefcase into which people stuffed bills and dropped coins after photographing him or trying to make him flinch.

"This guy used to freak me out," Tommy whispered. "But now I can see him breathing and the aura thing."

"I watched him for a whole lunch hour one time and he never moved," Jody said. "In the summer, you know he has to be suffering in that painted suit." Suddenly she shuddered at the thought of Elijah, the old vampire, still encased in bronze back at the loft. Yes, he had killed her, technically, but in a way he'd just opened a door for her, a door that, no matter how bizarre, was immediate, vital, and passionate. And yes, he'd done it for his amusement, he'd said, but also because he was lonely.

She wound her arm into Tommy's and kissed him on the cheek.

"What was that for?"

"Because you're here," she said. "What's first on the list?"

"Christmas presents."

"Skip down."

"Sweet monkey love."

"Yeah, we'll do it in the Santa's Workshop window at Macy's."

"Really?"

"No, not really."

"Okay, then we need liquor."

Jody snatched the list out of his hand so quickly that most people wouldn't have even seen her move. "You are no longer in charge of the list. We're getting me a new leather jacket."

I AM HOMELESS AND SOMEONE SHAVED MY HUGE CAT. William had changed his sign. Chet the huge cat was still wearing Jody's sweater. He eyed the two vampires suspiciously as they approached.

Tommy held the bottle of Johnny Walker out to William. "Merry Christmas."

William took the liquor and squirreled it away in his coat. "Most people just give money," he said.

"We're cutting out the middleman," Jody said. "How are you feeling today?"

"Great, why? Really good, you know, considering that I'm homeless and you guys shaved my cat."

"You were pretty hammered last night."

"Yeah, but I feel great today."

"That's how it used to affect me," Tommy said. "Remember. Kind of energizing."

Jody waved Tommy away. "You didn't get light-headed or anything?" Jody asked.

"I was a little hungover when I woke up, but I was fine after a couple of cups of coffee."

"Fuck!" Jody spat. Then she held her head.

"Calm," Tommy said, patting her shoulder. "Dr. Flood will make it all better. Maybe."

Jody growled, just loud enough for Tommy to hear.

"Ya know," said William, when there was a break in the pedestrian traffic and he didn't have to concentrate on looking pathetic, "I'm flush for cash, but since you're in the Christmas spirit, I'd still go for a look at Red's hooters."

"Bite me, dirtbag," Jody said as she rolled up on William.

"Honey." Tommy caught the back of her newly purchased red leather jacket, just in case. They'd never know if his idea was going to work if Jody snapped the bum's neck.

"I will not be sexually harassed by the entree."

"Something you ate isn't agreeing with you?" Tommy grinned at her when she looked back at him, but the fire went out of her eyes.

"You can just cross sweet monkey love right off your list," Jody said.

"Jeez, what a bitch," said William. "Her time of the month?"

Tommy quickly wrapped his arms around Jody, lifted her off her feet, and carried her a few steps around the corner, even as she squirmed.

"Let me go, I'm not going to hurt him."

"Good."

"Much."

"That's what I thought," Tommy said, still holding her tight. "Why don't you head over to the Walgreens and I'll finish up with the huge cat guy?"

A family of Christmas shoppers smiled as they passed them, thinking they were young lovers indulging in a public display of affection. The father whispered "Get a room" under his breath to his wife, which a normal person wouldn't have heard.

"Count your lucky stars, buddy, we almost did it in the Santa's Workshop window. Hot, sweaty elf sex - in front of the kids. The kids would have liked that, huh?"

The father hurried his family on down the street.

"Nice," Jody said. "Way to stay under the radar."

"Well, you know, I like to stay sharp," Tommy said. Because he was nineteen and had only started having sex regularly since he met Jody, he still thought he had some sort of secret knowledge that was unavailable to other people. How can they possibly be thinking about anything else? he thought in the private part of his mind.

"I'll bet it smells like peppermint," Tommy said.

"What?"

"Elf sex."

"Would you please put me down."

"Okay, but don't hurt the huge cat guy."

"I'm fine. I'll meet you at the drugstore in five minutes. This had better work."

"Five minutes," Tommy said. "Cinnamon. Maybe it smells like cinnamon."

The pale couple stalked the aisles of the Walgreens, having a great time dismissing the crass accoutrements of bourgeois American life, and generally scoffing at all the conventions of traditional culture. They were elite, after all. Special. Chosen - if you will - if only by the nature of their heightened sensitivities and superior sensibilities. They both claimed the ability to look past the façade put on by most people, and see the very depths of the human soul. Strange, then, that they didn't see it coming when the skinny guy in a flannel shirt popped around the corner in front of them.

"Let's ask these guys," Flannel said. "They look like heroin addicts."

Jared White Wolf and Abby Normal backpedaled from the eyeliner display where they'd been looking for something hypoallergenic. Abby's eyes had been watering all night, causing her makeup to run and giving her more of a sad-clown-of-life look than she was going for.

Jared hid behind Abby, just a little, which was awkward, since he was nearly a foot taller than she. The guy in flannel was joined by a beautiful, pale redhead, carrying an armload of toiletries. What amazing hair, Abby thought, looking at the long red tresses. I'd give anything for hair like that.

"Tommy, leave these poor people alone," said the redhead.

"No, wait." Flannel turned to Abby and smiled. "Do you guys know where they keep the syringes?"

Abby looked at Jared, who looked at the guy in flannel. "Well, you can't just buy them," Jared said. He was fiddling with the leather straps on his bondage pants, looking coy. Abby slapped his hand.

"You need a prescription to buy syringes," Abby said.

"Do you really think I look like a heroin addict?" Jared threw his bangs out of his face dramatically. His head was shaved except for his bangs, which reached to his chin, specifically so he could throw them out of his face dramatically. "I was, like, thinking that maybe I should bulk up. You know, eat and stuff, but - "

"Well, thanks," said Flannel Shirt. The redhead moved off down the aisle. "I was going to try some heroin, but if you can't buy needles, well, there you go. See you guys. Nice shirt, by the way."

Abby looked down at her T-shirt, black, of course, with the image of a poet taken from a nineteenth-century etching. "Like you even know who it is."

" 'She walks in beauty, like the night, " quoted the flannel-shirt guy. He winked at her, then grinned. "Byron's a hero of mine. See ya."

He turned and started to walk away. Abby reached out and snagged his sleeve. "Hey, there are needle exchange programs all over town. They're listed in the Bay Guardian."

"Thanks," said flannel. He turned and Abby grabbed him again.

"We're going to be at the Glas Kat. There's a Goth club tonight. Five-hundred block of Fourth Street. I know a dealer there. You know, for your heroin."

The flannel-shirt guy nodded, and looked at Byron's picture on her shirt again, then at her face. Fucksocks. He's so looking at my streaking eye makeup.

"Thanks, milady," said Flannel Shirt. And he was gone, off over the dark moors of the tampon aisle.

"What was that about?" whined Jared. "He's so, so Happy Days." Jared White Wolf spent a lot of time watching Nick at Nite when he wasn't brooding or fussing with his appearance.

Abby walked into the flap of Jared's black duster and pounded his slight chest with her palms. "Didn't you see. Didn't you see?"

"What, you acting like a complete ho?"

"He had fangs," Abby said.

"Well, so do I," Jared said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a pair of perfect, dentistry-quality vampire fangs. "Duh, everybody does."

"Yeah, but his grew! I saw them. Let's go," Abby said, pulling Jared White Wolf by his great bat-wing lapels. "I have to change into something hot before we go to the club."

"Wait, I want to get some Halls. My throat is raw from all the cloves we smoked last night."

"Hurry." The buckles of Abby's black platform boots jangled as she dragged her friend past the lipsticks and hair products before he could get interested.

"Okay," said Jared, "but if I don't meet a cute guy tonight, you have to stay up all night and hold me while I cry."

"You should try black lipstick sometime," Tommy said to Jody as they approached their building, their arms loaded with packages. He was still thinking about the kids at the drugstore. It was the first time since tenth grade that he'd used his knowledge of Romantic poetry. For a while he'd tried molding himself into the tragic Romantic hero, brooding and staring clench-jawed off into space as he composed dark verse in his head. But it turned out that trying to appear tragic in Incontinence, Indiana, was redundant, and his mother kept shouting at him and making him forget his rhymes. "Tommy, if you keep grinding your teeth like that, they'll wear away and you'll have to have dentures like Aunt Ester." Tommy only wished his beard was as heavy as Aunt Ester's - then he could stare out over the moors while he stroked it pensively.

"Yeah," Jody said, "because I need to make it more obvious that I'm an undead creature that feeds on the blood of the living."

"You make it sound so sordid."

"No, I meant it in a nice way."

"Oh."

"Because it's not like people wouldn't understand if they found out we were vampires, because we slipped up and, oh, I don't know, UNSHEATHED OUR FANGS IN THE FUCKING DRUGSTORE!"

Tommy almost dropped his packages. She hadn't said a word about that all night. He'd hoped she hadn't noticed. "It was an accident."

"You called that girl 'milady. "

"She was impressed with my Byron."

"Yeah, well, your Byron was probably sticking out a little, too, wasn't he?"

"It wasn't like that."

"You drooled." Jody paused at their security door and dug into her jacket for her key.

Tommy stepped around her. "I'm still new at this. I think I'm doing pretty well. My ghastly pallor obviously impressed the lady at the needle exchange." He reached into his bag and fanned out a handful of sterile-wrapped and capped syringes.

"Congratulations, you can now pass as an HIV-positive heroin addict."

"Tr��s chic." He grinned like he imagined a sexy Italian man-whore might.

"Who drools in public," Jody said.

Damn, she's immune to my sexy Italian man-whore grin, Tommy thought. He said, "Be nice, I'm new. My lips don't fit together right when my fangs are out."

She turned the key and swung the door open. There, passed out on the landing, was William the huge cat guy and sleeping on his chest, Chet the huge cat.

"I told you it would work," Tommy said.

Jody stepped into the stairwell and closed the door behind her. "You go first."

Fifteen minutes later, as he placed five syringes full of blood in their refrigerator, Tommy said, "This vampire thing is going to be great."

He'd had a moment when he'd bitten William - not just getting over the idea of being that close someone who smelled that nasty, but also being close to another man period. But after cleaning William's neck with an alcohol swab they'd gotten from the drugstore, and consoling himself that most literary vampires seemed sexually ambivalent anyway, the blood hunger pushed him through.

He was feeling more relaxed, now that they had the food problem solved - for a while, anyway. If his friends didn't kill them in the next couple of days, he might even enjoy life as a vampire. Then he turned to Jody and frowned. "But I can't help but think that it may be wrong, taking advantage of a homeless alcoholic."

"We could just hunt and kill people," Jody said cheerfully. She had a little crust of William's blood in the corner of her mouth. Tommy licked his thumb and wiped it away.

"We did give him a nice sweater for his huge shaved cat," Tommy said.

"I loved that sweater," Jody said. "And we are giving him a warm landing to sleep on," she added, diving onto Tommy's rationalization dog pile.

"And if we only take a little bit each day, he'll actually feel better. I know I did."

"And we won't become alcoholics ourselves."

"How are you feeling, by the way?" Tommy said.

"Better. Hair of the dog. You?"

"Two-beer buzz, max. I'll be fine. You want to try the experiment?"

Jody checked her watch. "No time. We'll do it tomorrow night."

"Right. So, on to the list. Looks like hot monkey love."

"Tommy, we need to find a daytime person to help us. We have to move out of this place."

"I've been thinking about Alaska."

"Okay, good for you, but we still need to find a place to live where the Animals and Inspector Rivera can't find us."

"No, I'm thinking we should move to Alaska. For one thing, in the winter, it's dark for like twenty hours a day, so we'd have plenty of time. And I read somewhere that Eskimos put their old people out on the ice when they are ready to die. It would be like people were leaving snacks out for us."

"You're kidding."

"Eskimo Pies?" He grinned.

Jody put her hand on her hip and looked at him, her mouth hanging open a little, as if she was waiting for something more. When it didn't come, she said, "Okay then, I'm going to change."

"Into a wolf?"

"Clothes, cadaver breath."

"I didn't know. I thought maybe you'd learned."

Tommy thought Alaska was a great idea. Just because she was a few years older, she always acted like his ideas were stupid. "The thing with William worked," he said defensively as he put away the supplies they'd bought at the drugstore.

"That was a good idea," Jody said from inside the closet.

Now what? "Well, Alaska isn't a bad idea."

"Tommy, there's like nine people in all of Alaska. We'll stand out, don't you think?"

"No, everyone is pale there. They don't have sun for most of the year."

She came out of the closet wearing her little black cocktail dress and her strappy come-fuck-me pumps. "I'm ready," she said.

"Wow," Tommy said. He'd forgotten what they were talking about.

"You think the Ferrari-red lipstick would be too much?"

"No, I love the Ferrari-red lipstick on you." Hot, sweet monkey love, he thought. This was exactly why he loved her. In the midst of all of the pressure, the danger, really - she still took time to think of his feelings.

She lifted her breasts until they threatened to spill out of the plunging neckline of the dress. "Too much?"

"Perfect," Tommy said, walking toward her with his hands out. "Gimme."

She breezed past him into the bathroom. "Not for you. I need to get going."

"No, no, no," Tommy said. "Hot monkey love."

While Tommy watched from the doorway, Jody applied the Ferrari-red lipstick, checked it, then frowned and wiped it off, then grabbed a different tube off the vanity. "When I get back."

"Where?" Tommy said. Sexual frustration had reduced him to single syllables.

She turned to him with the new coat of maroon lipstick. "To get your minion."

"Not like that, you're not," Tommy said.

"This is how it works, Tommy. This is how I got you."

"Nuh-uh, you weren't wearing that when I met you."

"No, but the reason you pursued me is because you were interested in me sexually, wasn't it?"

"Well, that's how it started, but it's more than that now." And it was more, but that was no reason to leave him here all aroused and stuff.

She walked over to him and put her arms around him. He let his hands slip inside the low back of her dress. His pants were getting tight and he could feel the pressure of his fangs coming out.

"When I get back," she said. "I promise. You're my guy, Tommy. I picked you as my guy, forever. I'm going to find someone to help us move and do things for us in the daytime."

"They're just going to want to bone you, and when you don't do them, they'll turn on you."

"Not necessarily."

"Of course they will. Look at you."

"I'll figure it out, okay. I don't know how else to go about it."

"We could put an ad on Craig's List." (Craig's List was a classified Web site that had started in the Bay Area and was now the first place people checked for jobs, apartments, or nearly everything.)

"We're not putting an ad on Craig's List. Look, Tommy, we have more things to do than we have time. You can clean the loft and go get the laundry done and I'll get us an onion."

"Minion," he corrected.

"Whatever. I love you," she said.

Bitch! He was vanquished. Unfair. "I love you, too."

"I'll take one of the disposable cell phones you bought. You can call me anytime."

"They're not even activated yet."

"Well, get on that, buddy. The sooner I get out there and find someone, the sooner I can get back here for some hot monkey love."

She has absolutely no sense of ethics, he thought. She's a monster. And yet, there she is, only a few dress straps from being naked.

"Okay," he said. "Don't step on the huge cat on the way out."

Jody had only been gone twenty minutes before Tommy decided that cleaning and laundry sucked and that he could find a minion as well as she could, even if he didn't look as hot in a little black dress. He was careful not to wake Chet and William on his way out.
    
 

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