— “It was really lovely seeing you again” assured Kurt while he fumbled in his pockets to find his car keys.
— “Yes we must see each other more often” Linda went on, already holding the handle of the car door.
From the doorway of their house, Richard and Patricia Von Plasma answered with one voice: “The pleasure was all ours. It was great having you over and bringing in the New Year with you!”
A mechanic click signalled to Linda that Kurt had found his car key and that it was now opened. She got inside and waved to them distractedly, checking her phone for new New Year messages as she did so.
— “I insist! It really was a blast. Next year we’ll do it at our place. We’ll be delighted to hunt for everyone.” Kurt marked these last words with a wide grin then got in behind the wheel, making sure to wave to them through the windshield as he did so.
Still smiling, Richard and Patricia waved back from the doorstep like robots. Kurt put the car into gear and turned around in his seat in order to back out of the driveway. They were the first ones to leave so he had to be careful not to touch any other car that was still parked.
— “What did you say that for?” Linda asked Kurt aggressively once they were on their way.
— “Well you know, just to say something…”
— “There is no way we’re hunting for all of them next year.”
— “Don’t worry, by the time we get to it, they will probably have forgotten about it.”
— “Honestly Kurt, your fear of being alone will finish us off one day…”
— “What else did you want me to say? They also invited us last year. Would you rather we sat in our vault, day in day out, and never see anyone? There aren’t so many of us left in this part of the country…”
— “I’m not saying we need to stop seeing all of them. I’m just saying I don’t want to be responsible for hosting the whole party. Did you count how many corpses were offered tonight? They had 6 adults and one adolescent. Different ages and ethnicities. You name it they had it. It sets the bar pretty high for the next couple that will be inviting. I have no idea how to find such a diversity of prey and most of all how to stock them all until the party. We just don’t have a big enough house Kurt. Face it; our friends have more money and better skills than us. The Von Plasmas are such show offs with their huge mansion and all. How could we ever compete?“
Kurt put his hand on her thigh, patting it gently. Linda had always had a tendency to compare herself to other vampires. It just wasn’t so important to him. They had no reason to feel like the underdogs. Of course their house was smaller and their vault was only made of stone, but they had been together for a few centuries now and that was something. Why couldn’t Linda be happy with what she had? He looked up at the night sky, admiring the sparkling stars.
— “What time is it?” Kurt asked worriedly.
— Linda answered instantly because she was looking at her phone: “A quarter past two. Don’t worry; we still have plenty of time before the sun comes up.” She continued, as if speaking only to herself: “Oh how I love winter, these endless nights, these very short grey days. Feels almost like we are living a normal life again.”
— “I wouldn’t try it though. Old Alistair’s eyesight was never very good. He went out one February morning thinking it was still night and fried like a piece of bacon directly on his front lawn in front of all to see. All was left was a pile of grey ashes.” Kurt marked a pause then concluded “One should always look at his watch before stepping outside.”
Linda nodded distractedly at this quick piece of vampire philosophy. She was barely listening to him; she was on her favourite roll.
— “I was looking at Julie tonight, have you seen that woman eat? Doesn’t she care about what she looks like? And monopolising the conversation like that, how impolite of her.”
— “Their Transylvanian trip seemed interesting though,” Kurt remarked.
— “Meeting Count Orlok? Come on…I didn’t believe them one-second. They had to come up with something now that Dracula has moved to Miami. I don’t know what everybody sees in her and Martin. They are such bores.”
— “Do you know anybody else we could see on New Year’s eve and go hunting with on Halloween? Because last time I checked, we were the only vampires on our block Linda.”
— “I’m just saying, it’s not because they are like us that we have to like them. It’s just like that idiot Jonathan. He always agrees with everything everyone says when I’m sure he secretly hates all of us. I always wonder why he comes. He never opens his mouth unless it’s for drinking his bloody Marys. He has a real drinking problem I’ll tell you.”
— “You barely know the guy, give him a chance,” Kurt offered as he drove the car onto the motorway.
— “I’d love to if he actually was interested in us giving him one. He only seems interested in the Von Plasmas.”
— “Well, they got lucky! Buying a mansion and realising their neighbour is a vampire too. It makes things easier when you are surrounded by your own. Talking about which, I think Mrs. Morrison from next door is on to us. I saw her on our security camera roaming around our backyard last weekend while we were in our vault. We might have to take care of her soon.”
— “Ok but do it a little more discreetly than when you took care of the gardener please. His wife is still leaving messages on our answering machine.” Linda grabbed some chap stick out of her bag and spread some generously over her lips, looking into the lit up passenger’s seat mirror as she did so.
Without missing a beat, she went directly back at commenting the rest of the evening and the other guests. This one had said this, that one had said that. Blabbing on, she was going to put her phone back into her bag when it rang with a sharp tone. Linda held it up; Julie’s name and smiling face illuminated the fluorescent blue screen. She picked up the call excitedly.
— “Julie, what a pleasant surprise! Why it feels we saw each other just moments ago,” she giggled stupidly at her own joke. “Did we forget something? We are almost home but there is still time for us to turn around and come back. Sunrise is not for another few hours.” She listened silently as Julie spoke on the other side.
“Mmmh, mmmh, yeeeees. Mmmmmh. Noooooo. Noooooooooo. Nooooooooooo! You’ve got to be kidding!?! And nobody noticed???… I knew it!”
Behind the wheel, Kurt was getting curious.
— He whispered: “What is she saying? What happened?”
— “Shhhhhh” Linda murmured back.
“Mmmmh, Mmmmmh” she kept on with Julie. “Well imagine that! Who would have thought…Mmmmmh, mmmmh… Well I would have reacted in the exact same way, well done Richard! Thank you so much for calling and telling me this Julie, you really are a true friend. Mmmmh mmmh… Kurt sends his love too. Speak to you soon. Would love to see your pictures of Transylvania.”
Linda hung up with a wide smile on her face that exposed her sharp white canines. Next to her, Kurt was fretting with impatience.
— “Come on woman, don’t make me linger!”
— “You’ll never believe what happened!!!!”
— “Not if you don’t tell me. Go on, we’ll be home soon; I can still turn the car around and go back to their house. Something went wrong?”
— “Oh no dear, no need to turn around. There is nothing to see anymore, the party is over. Julie called to let me know that Jonathan left shortly after us. Richard and Patricia walked him to the door to greet him farewell when Patricia told him to come back inside so she could give him some left overs. Richard went back into the living room but when Patricia didn’t come back for quite some time, he went into the kitchen to check on her. You’ll never believe it. He found Patricia kissing Jonathan, his hands were all over her.” Linda beamed as she said this.
— “Oh my…Poor Richard. “ Kurt said sadly as he got off the highway, taking the exit to their house.
— “But there is more! Richard shouted so loudly when he found them, it brought everybody into the kitchen – Julie first of course. Jonathan opened his mouth to try and justify himself and that’s when they saw it! He’d LOST of one his canines!”
— “What?” Kurt was confused.
— “Darling, don’t you get it? They were glued on! He never was a vampire. He was just pretending so Richard accepted him in their close circle.”
— “So Patricia knew all along?”
— “Of course, she did. You know it when you are with a human and not a vampire I’ll tell you…” Linda shrugged saying this, as if remembering something she didn’t want to. “What better way to hide something to everyone than by exposing it?”
Kurt drove into their drive. Above them the sky was filled with glowing stars; it was a perfect cold winter night.
— “There is no such coincidence as moving into next to a fellow vampire. Jonathan never was one! Patricia likes humans, and not in her plate if you know what I mean…”
Linda laughed contentedly at the twist in her story. Kurt cut the engine and put both hands on the dashboard.
— “So you mean Jonathan was human all along? That explains many things…”
— “I always knew there was something just not right about him. Anyway, no need to worry about him anymore. That’s the end of his Bloody Marys.”
— “Because Richard took care of him right there on the kitchen counter. One thing is sure, we won’t be celebrating the New Year again at the Von Plasmas…”
Linda exhaled happily and got out of the car to walk over to her front door. She marked a pause before going inside and, looking up at the starry sky, she felt very satisfied for once with her own little endless life. This New Year started wonderfully.
Picture by Delphine Seminckx