Chapter Four

It was dark out. Yelena sat in her usual spot on the thyme colored sofa opposite Dr. Sloane who sat in his high backed chair looking at her. Yelena was dressed more casually than she ordinarily was, wearing a black Cinema Strange t-shirt, black leggings, and a pair of black Mary Jane platforms, but as always she wore her diamonds and the necklace with its empty setting.

A week had passed before she came out of her coffin, fully rested, but inside she still felt a blood starved weariness that Dr. Sloane labeled depression and inquired as to whether Yelena was still taking the four hundred and fifty milligrams of Wellbutrin XL and sixty milligrams of Cymbalta he prescribed her to take daily. She said yes, even though she had skipped both during the week she slept in her coffin. Antidepressants made no difference in her life while she lay in her coffin, but she took it otherwise so her psychiatrist didn’t need to know any better. They talked about me for the first time during that session.

“It’s like she knew exactly what a bad person I am. She screamed her lungs out at me and ran off.”

“What did she scream?”

“‘Please don’t love me,’” Yelena answered.

“That’s a strange thing to say, let alone scream.”

“I was stunned. It’s like she saw right through me. She knew right off I was a bad Valentine.”

“Can you explain what you mean by that?”

Yelena was referring to killing those she loves, but she didn’t answer Dr. Sloane that way. She changed the subject instead. “Here, what do you think of this?”

Yelena turned over the scribble from where it lay on the sofa beside her. She leaned forward and handed it to Dr. Sloane who studied it.

“Not exactly a Rorschach. Not that I put a lot of stock into inkblot tests. What do you think it means?”

“I don’t know. It’s supposed to be me. I feel like I should give it back to her.”

Dr. Sloane glanced at the scribble once more before returning it to Yelena. “I don’t know if that would be the best idea.”

“I know. I guess I’ll just keep it. I’ll frame it and hang it. I’ve already titled it ‘Deplorable Yelena.’”

“You’re placing a lot of power in the hands of a child. How old did you say she was?”

“I didn’t say. She said she was twelve.”

“You said she didn’t have a family. Perhaps what she yelled stemmed from a fear of intimacy. Something you would have in common.”

“She has leukemia.”

“That’s unfortunate.”

“That’s fucked up is what it is.”

“It sounds like you care about this little girl.”

Yelena thought about that for a moment and then shook her head.

“No. She said she’s getting better and I’ll never see her again.”

“How are things going with Andre?”

“They’re not. We’re over. And I’m fine with it.”

Dr. Sloane nodded his head. Not long after that, their session time was up. Yelena paid him in cash and left his office and headed to the parking garage.

*

Four chocolate covered strawberry magnets affixed the scribble I had done of Yelena to her otherwise vacant steel finished refrigerator door. She had bought the strawberries just for me as she had not yet decided on a frame and where to hang the scribble in her house. Her refrigerator was always stocked for appearance’s sake but even so, it was always filled with tastes Yelena preferred. Berthold was tasked to ensure that. He did the grocery shopping for Yelena weekly, visiting small mom and pop stores, as instructed, and always buying more than would fit in her refrigerator or pantry. The significant excesses of his purchases, upon Yelena’s orders, were donated anonymously to a local soup kitchen on skid row.

These foods and beverages, with their pleasing tastes, would never satisfy the hunger of a vampire or provide the sustenance necessary to keep one alive, but with their heightened vampiric senses, selected tastes were a delightful pleasure that provided a much needed variance from the slight range of tastes amongst human blood.

Yelena sat at her kitchen table, in near darkness, staring at the scribble from a distance with a nearly empty glass of red wine that had been poured from a bottle that was a century old and had just been uncorked. Like with her Scotch, Yelena preferred the numbing effect wine created in her brain.

From elsewhere in her house, Yelena heard a dull thud and then another. She stopped staring at the scribble, got up, still holding her glass of wine, and walked toward her bedroom.

Strewn across her bed and fully nude were three beautiful women. This was Corinne, Darcy, and Grace. They were her best friend’s lovers and he had made them all immortal. They were all fast asleep, in a postcoital slumber with blood still smeared across their lips. A mass of blood also stained the sheets and the floor leading to the master bathroom.

The sound again. Yelena walked across the blood-covered floor toward the bathroom naturally as if its damp consistency was the result of a recent mopping.

Hisato stood over the enormous oblong bathtub wearing a useless and ruined blood soaked apron, holding a cleaver with one hand and with the other he struggled to pry open a black plastic trash bag with the toes of an amputated foot. The tub was littered with limbs, male torsos, and faces with heads of hair that were gelled with blood to their lifeless expressions. Blood ran down the sides of the tub to the floor and mixed with the blood that had been smeared while dragging the bodies up and into the tub in order to make use of its drain. It was quite the mess.

Hisato turned to her. He even had blood splatters across his usually pristine and perfect Japanese face.

“Rub a dub dub. Three frat boys in a tub,” he said.

“You don’t have to do that. You’re guests. Berthold will clean it up.”

“I like doing it.”

“Such a sadist.”

“Such a cunt.” Hisato winked at her. “I’ll let him carry the bags and clean the tub.”

Yelena was lost in thought, looking at her best friend.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Yelena answered, but in truth she was staring at the apron Hisato had ruined. It was the same apron that had appeared in her house the last night Andre came over to cook dinner for her.

“I opened some wine. Come sit with me.”

Hisato dropped the cleaver, removed the apron and put it in the trash bag. “Sorry about the apron. Trust me, you didn’t want it. I don’t think any of those pricks ever heard of colonics.”

“That’s foul.”

“But it was full of wit and shit.” Hisato could be gross like that.

He noticed the apron had not saved his silk shirt from the blood bath. He unbuttoned it and took it off and chucked it in the tub, leaving him shirtless, revealing his delicate frame.

Back in the kitchen, Yelena resumed her seat and Hisato sat opposite her and poured them both a glass of wine.

“It’ll be daybreak soon,” she said.

“Sorry we stayed so late.”

“It’s fine.”

“The girls make fishing easy, don’t they?”

“Who were they?”

“Fuck if I know. The girls picked them up.”

“You don’t know anything about them?”

“If you’re gonna start that guilt trip again, I’ll just go to sleep.”

“No, don’t,” Yelena said. She hoped Hisato would spill some details about the frat boys that could make her feel guilty for having fed on them and repress the binge she felt coming on. Hisato and his girls fed regularly but, unlike Yelena, they fed evenly.

“Fucking Greeks at a goth club,” Hisato chuckled.

Yelena snickered in her head too but she didn’t show it. Instead she took another sip of wine.

Right then, Corinne entered the kitchen, still fully nude. She was tall and had long brown hair that was so dark that in the dimly lit kitchen it appeared black. She walked to the refrigerator.

“Do you have anything to eat?”

“Refrigerator,” Yelena answered.

“I’ve got to get this taste out of my mouth. My guy’s stuff tasted weird.”

Corinne opened the refrigerator door. “Oooh! Truffles!” she exclaimed and popped one in her mouth. She chewed it slowly, savoring it, her fierce green eyes rolling up into her head. After her moment of bliss had passed, she looked back inside the refrigerator, and from the top shelf she removed a bottle of peppermint infused mineral water, opened it, and drank straight from the bottle, and left it, still quite full, on the kitchen counter. As she shut the refrigerator door, her eyes landed on my scribble.

“What’s this supposed to be?”

Hisato didn’t turn to look to see what Corinne was referring to, but Yelena answered.

“It’s actually supposed to be me.”

“Hmmm. I don’t see it. You know, I’m telling you, I could live just fine without modern art.”

That annoyed Yelena. Clearly Corinne wasn’t perceptive enough to notice her current surroundings, as Yelena’s walls were covered in modern and post-modern art. Yelena didn’t have a problem with any of Hisato’s girls, but she didn’t find any one of them to be exceptionally bright, though she didn’t make a remark because she couldn’t see herself in my scribble either.

“This guy I used to date,” Corinne continued, “used to drag me to all these art shows where it just looked like someone pissed paint on a wall. And everyone just stood there staring at it. Total waste of time.”

“But how did he taste?” Hisato asked, still not turning, still facing Yelena.

“Yumsies, of course,” Corinne answered.

“Cuddlebug, tell me again how it was a waste of time,” Hisato replied.

“Whatever. Come to bed, lover,” she said before walking out of the kitchen and heading back to the bedroom where Darcy and Grace still slept.

“She’s right you know,” Hisato said to Yelena. “You do like a lot of crap.”

“Like you’d know what was good.”

“Bitch, just because I don’t spend every other night at some stuck up art gallery, doesn’t mean I don’t recognize absolute shit when I see it. They call anything art these days, including that muck on your refrigerator you keep staring over my shoulder to get another look at. I got five bags of frat boy stew in your tub. If I hung a little card next to it that said mixed media, some rich fuck would buy it for his living room.”

“You know, that reminds me, I got an email last night for a gallery opening downtown.”

“Hell no. Count me out.”

“I didn’t even ask you yet.”

“Let’s talk about something more important.”

“Like what?”

“Like when are you going to get a new plaything?”

“Marcel was never a plaything.”

“I’m not saying he was. I wouldn’t want you to have that kinda shit again.”

“I won’t. I can’t.”

“Baby cakes, you gotta learn to love without being ruled by it. Just have fun.”

“You don’t love any of those girls.”

“I love all of them.”

“You let them fuck other guys, including your Greeks.”

“I’m letting them have fun. As long as we feed, I don’t really care.”

“Exactly, you don’t care.”

“If Marcel cared, he wouldn’t have run off.”

“Get out.”

“You fucking serious?”

“Yeah. Get the fuck out.”

“The sun is coming up.”

“I said get out.”

Hisato sighed. “I can’t move.”

She took another sip of her wine. Yelena came from a stronger bloodline and had more than a hundred years seniority over her best friend, both of which made her mental abilities stronger than his, while his relative youth and weaker line made his resistance ineffective. In this way she was able to restrict his movement and hold him in place in the chair opposite her.

Hisato smiled, “You’re such a bitch.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Show off.”

“Yes. I am. I want to make sure I have your attention. Do I have it?”

“Yeah, you fucking have it.”

“Good. You’re my best friend, but don’t talk about Marcel like that. Not ever. You don’t know what we had.”

Hisato didn’t answer.

“Did you hear me?”

“Yes, I fucking heard you. You and Marcel, me no talkie. Now will you let me fucking go?”

“Why? Where do you want to go?”

“Nowhere. I just want another fucking glass of wine.”

“Help yourself,” Yelena answered and then released him and got up. “I’ll be downstairs. You’ll have to settle for my bed. I sold all of my guest coffins on Craigslist.”

*

Standing before the two coffins, a relief washed over Yelena. She was glad to be in her own company again. She genuinely cared a lot for her best friend, but his carefree attitude toward killing the innocent was something she could only handle in doses, as it would always recall her own guilt. Being what she was, it was a curse to possess a conscience. She looked at Marcel’s coffin and reflected upon the curse she carried and how it had been contagious. Marcel wasn’t plagued with the guilt Yelena felt when they first met. Marcel had been just like the others, killing instinctively and passionately without remorse. Yelena had given the curse to Marcel, the contagion passed from her to him through her private thoughts which she finally shared. She felt her feelings become his feelings, and he disappeared, never to come back. He had made her immortal and she had ruined him by giving him her insight to what she unwillingly accepted as the nature of their undead existence.

She rested her hand on Marcel’s coffin, wishing he would come back to her, wishing he could come back so that she could undo what she had done to him. She would invent a revelation that would show him that it was all a falsehood, that a conscience was something they shed when they changed, just as they had discarded any notion of aging. That it was an imagined characteristic of their species as much as the feathered wings of a swan upon their backs would be. They could do without reflecting and kill freely, feeding until drunk on the blood of the dying. She would tell him that lie until he believed her, just to have him back at her side even if it meant being resigned to an eternity of isolated self-loathing.

Yelena abandoned her wishes before she stepped inside, pulled the lid over her, and lay herself to rest. There was no room for hope within the confines of her coffin.