by Michael Chin
There are two types of vampire fiction. The type people tell about vampires. The type vampires tell us.
In my experience, vampires are pathological liars. For Frank, it started with lies of omission, like not disclosing that he was immortal and drank blood. He progressed to more active lies. Like till death do us part.
I lied, too, of course. I worked the cracked counter at a coffee shop in Old Town to create the appearance that I was scraping by, but I was a trust fund baby and probably could have lived three lifetimes on that money. And I didn’t ever tell my mom and pop that I was attracted to men. I just said I was engaged, told them Frank’s name, and let them deduce the rest.
One by one, all of these lies fell away. That’s what marriage does. I understood why Frank went out every night and didn’t ask questions if I saw a blood stain on his collar. I even started working more night shifts so the both of us could sleep through the morning and have more time awake together.
At the age 50, I began pondering an early retirement and whether it were too late to adopt children. I had grown pot-bellied, wrinkled, with all of these spots on my skin I’d never had before. I’d been myopic for as long as I could remember, and all of a sudden I needed reading glasses.
That’s when Frank admitted his last lie to me.
“I didn’t plan this,” he said.
“Who is he?”
It was embarrassing. Sitting in bed. We hadn’t had sex in two weeks, so when he got up to take his early afternoon shit and start the day, I humped the mattress like a teenager. I sat there, semen still cupped in my hand, paisley sheets twisted around my left leg, light film of sweat all over me.
Frank stood there, all sinewy, with his washboard abs. He never slept in anything but boxers and never got more dressed than that before he showered and started the day in earnest. He hadn’t aged a day since I met him. Back then, if anything, he looked a few years my senior. Now, I could pass for his father. “I never wanted to hurt you.”
“Who is he?”
“This is about us.”
“Who is he?” Like the magical creatures of lore, I found if I asked Frank a question three times, he might reveal an answer.
“Her name is Cat.”
“Her name is Cat,” I repeated. God, what a cliché. I was a weird trick. Mortals played at queer for a year or two. What was a couple decades to someone who would live forever?
“You’d like her.”
“How do you know her?” I asked.
“I ran into her at a party. At the college.”
“Is she a college girl?”
He ran a thumb between his elastic waistband and his skin and studied the line impressed on his skin.
“Well, I’ve got a dick and I’m fifty.” I wiped my cum on the sheets, kicked myself loose, and stood up. “I guess those are deal breakers.”
Not all lies are created equally. There were lies to deceive. There were lies that we both recognized for what they were from the very beginning.
Lies like when we were getting to know each other and started talking about the idea that two people could enter the same dream space and interact there, and decided to try it. Frank produced an Internet article that said the only way to bridge the gap between subconscious worlds was to sleep in proximity, so we shared a bed, both knowing full well what we really wanted out of the arrangement.
That afternoon I looked away from him, to the brown and gray checkered curtains where the thinnest line of sun peeked through in an uneven line, and I told him I always knew he would leave me.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York, and is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at Oregon State University where he also teaches writing and edits 45th Parallel, the new literary journal. He won the $1,000 2014 Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize from the University of New Orleans.