Sonstige - The Chronicles of the Honorable Dominic Beausére, Vampire (PG)

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    • Sonstige - The Chronicles of the Honorable Dominic Beausére, Vampire (PG)

      Episode 1 - Felo de se

      "Many held that to drive a white thorn stake through the dead body
      rendered the vampire harmless,(...) a practice common in England,
      so far as suicides were concerned, until 1823, when there was
      passed 'An Act to alter and amend the law relating to the interment
      of the remains of any person found felo de se,' in which was
      enacted that the coroner or other officer 'shall give directions for the
      private interment of such person felo de se without any stake being
      driven through the body of such person.' "

      Dudley Wright, Vampires And Vampirism, 1924


      I still remember that first night vividly.
      Under the light of the full moon, a few desperate men must have decided to better their lot by looting graves. When I awoke, I was actually grateful for the digging sound, since at first I thought I must have been buried alive by mistake and somebody had noticed. I thought they were coming to the rescue. The digging took some time and all of a sudden, I noticed strange changes in me - I had nothing else to do, you see, than to take a mental check of my faculties. I found them not only intact, but rather brimming over with strange, new sensations. I could smell, hear and see things I never before noticed.
      Slowly, the memory of my final moments flooded back and finally I realised that it was all horribly wrong. I had blown my brains out good and proper.
      No way could I have survived that, especially not without detecting a single wound in my mouth and head. It took me a while to notice that I had grown fangs since I last checked my dental situation. When I did, it all suddenly made sense. In a way.

      What didn't make sense, however, was how on Earth I could have come back, joining the ranks of the Undead, when what little must have been left of my head would definitely have meant a closed coffin funeral.
      Quite frankly, I still don't understand what really happened to me. In the years that followed, I stumbled over quite a few suicides, who - like me - came back to haunt this Earth. None of them had regenerated like I did. In fact, they were never more than revenants, lowest-order vampires, little more than zombies.
      The only explanation I managed to come up with so far is that maybe one of my paramours had been a vampire and she somehow unwittingly marked me. That might just have given me the regenerative power to replace half my head when the need arose. Then again, it might just have been a quirk of fate, a meaningless anomaly. Suffice it to say that the persistency with which I clung to life amazed me then and that sense of awe has never quite left me.
      But back to my awakening. When the men took the lid off, I smelled the night air...
      Smelled a little of decay, though. They must have dug up other corpses as well.
      The men were swearing heartily. Digging is hard work and that dirty scum most certainly never meant to earn anything the hard way. Scavengers, thieves and Lord knows what besides ... but they would soon discover that they made a mistake in digging me up. I actually should thank them, really, since it would have been so much harder to do all the digging myself! Would've ruined my hands, too! And I have always been rather proud of my hands. The ladies also seemed to find them quite attractive, with their long, elegant fingers. Stronger than they looked, too, even when
      I was still human.

      I carefully opened my eyes to survey the situation. There they sat, arguing about who was to have my signet ring and who would get the locket. The locket ... with her picture...NO! I forced my muddled brain not to think about that now, to concentrate on the sound, that beautiful noise of twin drums beating in the night, that lush, velvety, coppery smell that hang in the night air like fog, crimson fog. One of the men must have cut himself or must have had open blisters on his hands from digging, perhaps and was bleeding ever so slightly. The smell was intoxicating and helped me to focus on what had to be done for my survival. It was time to jump, to gather strength for the things to come, to take what was to be mine from now on - to feed.
      It was harder than I thought, but since those filthy scavengers were unsuspecting, I could knock one out and get at the other in less than a few seconds.

      Ah, the luxurious feeling when my new, exciting, wickedly sharp incisors tore through skin. Rich, warm blood gushing past my lips and gum, elation and at the same time the horror of what I was doing - how splendid! And there were two of them ... could that be construed as an orgy? Who cares! Certainly not me at the time. I was wallowing in the rush of what I was able to do, secure in the knowledge that I would never again be measured by human standards, anyway. I saw myself as a ruthless beast of prey, a lone predator in the mellow English Spring night. How silly can you get, you might ask, but please understand that I had no one to teach me any better and I was still rather confused and lost.

      Then - I was running . Running through the still of the night towards the hum of the city. The thought of how afraid the good citizens would be of me elated me. Afraid and, once they were to realise the nature of the stalker, how angry at the magistrate who abolished a good and valid law! Humbug and old wives' tales, he said, superstition, obsolete in enlightened times like these. No suicide was to be buried at a crossroads with a whitethorn stake through a vital part of his or her anatomy anymore. Ha!
      A place to rest was what I needed the most then, it was getting close to dawn.
      Hampstead Heath will do nicely, I thought - the place had just the right atmosphere for the likes of me. With so many legends of the supernatural, no-one was bound to notice new rumours here.

      Second night of my Unlife.

      I awoke with that awful screech echoing through my head again. Nobody told me that the last oral experience in life, if you shoot yourself, is the taste of gunpowder, blood and burned flesh and the last sound you will hear is that maddening screech that won't go away for nights once you're undead. Horrid, really!
      But that was the real crux of my situation, anyway. Like I said, I had nobody to show me the ropes, to teach me about my new powers and, more importantly, still, about my weaknesses. So far, I haven't been fruitful and multiplied - have taken great care not to, really! But if I ever decide to deviate from that rule, I will endeavour to be a good parent.
      But at least I was more coherent and more lucid on that second night. I guess I was beginning to settle down a little.

      I realise that I have failed to introduce myself until now. Well, structured storytelling is not something that comes naturally to me, having always been more a man of action than a man of words.
      So, please forgive me and allow me to introduce myself: The Not-so-honorable Dominic Beausére at your service. Not that you'd want that kind of service, anyway... or would you now?
      Just in case you're confused about the name, I'm American, or rather, I'm of that peculiar European breed of Americans you only find on the right side of Canal Street, New Orleans and on the wrong side of any given kind of Yankee authority. I had grown up on my father's plantation near Lake Pontchartrain. When I was old enough to go my own way, I spent most of my time in New Orleans.

      I have quite a temper. I probably inherited that from my mother. Having discovered at quite a tender age - I was a very precocious kid - that the opposite sex seemed to find me rather attractive, I grew up to be quite a rake. Like most of the idle rich, I spent my time whoring, gambling and drinking, until that eventually became boring and I decided to take an interest in business. My father, besides owning the plantation, also had trade relations to several countries in Europe. He was overjoyed when I finally exhibited some interest in making money - up to that day, I had only been rather apt at spending it.
      I stayed my hot-tempered, woman-chasing self, though. In spite of devoting my daylight hours to serious work, my frivolous streak would continue to lead me to find happiness in a woman's arms at night.

      I eventually went to London to further the interests of my family's trading company and to embark on a tour of Europe - I never got around to that at the time, but rest assured, I caught up on that later.
      I enjoyed being in London. I went to balls, had dinner with interesting people and was fairly popular. My aforementioned weakness for les femmes, however, got me into trouble with a few husbands and fiancés eventually. I had always been a wild one and sadly enough, I must admit that I haven't mellowed with age.

      I guess that also at least partly explains why it had to be me who was the first suicide case to be buried after the passing of the aforementioned law. And of course I had to prove man's worst nightmares to be true. Sheer cussedness, if you pardon my French. Well, and I absolutely had to make my exit on Primrose Hill, hadn't I? Fought so many duels there that it somehow felt logical to end it there, where by right of law it should've ended long before. Have I mentioned that I've got quite a temper?

      I had been in town for quite a while. Long enough, anyway, to pick up a lot of peculiar little British mannerisms. One I have never managed to muster, though, is the art of the stiff upper lip. I guess I've always known that a woman would be the death of me, only I didn't quite foresee this kind of an ending. But that's what you get from being single-mindedly visual in your approach to the 'weaker vessel' (weak, indeed !). A grown man (six foot four, in fact) ought to know better than to confuse an angelic face and a dulcet smile with an equally sweet disposition. On the contrary, it seems that the more beautiful the lady, the more shallow and petty the character.
      Sad but true.

      Take the reason for my dire state - no, not the reason. Let's be honest here, even if it's both painful and embarrassing. I am the reason, or rather my lack of the said.
      Let's call her the trigger of my fate. The lovely Annabella Leigh, daughter of the most boring specimen of country squire ever. I fell in love - not for the first time in my life, since I always was in love with my conquests. This time, it was different, though. I felt that it might be time to settle down and in my infatuated state failed to notice her greed, petty cruelty and shallowness. She liked so much to dance and frolic with your humble servant, small wonder he got high hopes!
      But in the end, I'm not of the nobility (not of the one that counts here, although a couple of my admittedly rather shady forebears were French noblemen, after all) and came in second best after an earl of little hair and less brains. A title plus a large fortune - a lethal combination. Broke my heart, it did. Well, judging from what I did next, my heart hasn't been the only organ which suffered a temporary damage. How unbearably melodramatic, too, doing it on the day of her engagement. Really, I don't know what possessed me.

      But I shouldn't complain, being a vampire (there, I've said it. Didn't think I could, folks? Well, you were wrong.) isn't half bad.
      It has its drawbacks, mind you, but on the whole, I'm quite enjoying myself. Even after 178 years, I'm still not world-weary. Not like some of my kind I've met over the years. Vampires who couldn't handle immortality, who got bored or depressed and ended up getting the tan of their unlives one morning, when they decided to watch the sun rise for the final time.
      I have always been a hedonistic person. A rake, a gambler, a wastrel, I have been called. Mostly by maiden aunts or chaperones, whose charges called me by different, much nicer names. Who would have thought that I'd "live" to see the new millennium! And I plan to continue into the next millennium, too!

      The hunt is on. I think I'll have a girl tonight, not too old, not too young, with one of those long white necks that just seem to stretch forever, like a swan's, gently curved and pure. Mind you, I will neither kill nor ravish my victims - what good would come of that? Why rape when you can seduce? On that first night, I didn't know any better, but I soon found out that the amount of blood needed to keep me going is fairly small and can be donated by a willing victim, not only without harming him or her, but also giving the "victim" and yours truly a lot of decidedly carnal pleasure.
      For the blood is the life.
      I can't believe I'm saying things like that - this is awful! Might that be a side-effect of my condition? The overwhelming urge to utter horrid tripe? I sure hope not. Please, gentle reader, bear with me for the time being.

      But on with the story of my first days as a fledgling vampire.
      The hunger on that second night was almost unbearable. London in those days fortunately was teeming with lowlife and thus I was able to abate that hunger rather quickly. Whatever can be said about my character, I have never intentionally hurt the innocent while I was alive and I am proud to say that no matter how bad the hunger got, I never harmed an innocent in my undeath. I did kill that night, though. I still had much to learn and nobody to teach me, so I thought I had to in order to survive. I prided myself that this victim was a murderer and a rapist. It wasn't until later that I started regretting this needless killing. Life, strangely enough, is very precious to me, even more so than when I was alive and couldn't have cared less.

      Third night of my Unlife.

      Waking up in those early days was always an adventure. Strange things were happening in my brain! Weird words were forcing their way out of the deep recesses of my skull. It felt as though the very essence of my soul and reason was being re-shaped in a similar manner to the re-forming of my metabolism. My former despair had been changed to hatred, a desire for revenge that must needs be quenched soon!

      But first things first. I had to find a handy resting place somewhere close to my 'beloved', near Russel Square. A tiresome business, since in that well-kept area there was an acute shortage of dilapidated buildings with crumbling wine or coal cellars who might offer me secure shelter from the sun as well as prying eyes. But who dares wins.
      I found a cosy space in a locked-off portion of the attic in the very house of Reginald Leigh, Esq.! The windows had been nailed shut and the whole place was so scary that no chambermaid in her right mind would ever venture to explore the old wardrobes and boxes which so conveniently hid an old trunk in the deep shadows of an alcove, new home to 'Our dear Nick'. That was what Annabelle's mother used to call me before worthier prey in the shape of the balding earl appeared on the scene. Dear indeed. You'll see.

      About the only disadvantage of my new abode was the dire feeding situation in that part of town. No loitering , with or without intent, was permitted there, no cut-throats, pimps, or derelict drunks were to be found anywhere in the vicinity of my home sweet home. Too annoying, really. I did so love to dine close to home in the early days. It hadn't occurred to me yet that there was a lot of danger in that. People might come to conclusions and start a regular witch hunt, or rather vampire hunt, in the neighbourhood. Much better to dine as far away from home as possible, I can assure you! But back then, it seemed like such an effort to travel all the way to that lovely area within easy hearing distance to the fabled Bells, just to take a hearty bite into a scruffy Cockney neck. Have fang, will travel. Not a bad motto, I think.

      Saturated on lovely hot blood with just a hint of gin (delicious, I can tell you!) I then started working on a plan for my revenge. What should I do to her? Should I hurt her directly or should I choose the more subtle approach of hurting those dear to her?
      What a deeply pleasing thing revenge seemed to me then! I wanted mine to be like a tragedy by Ford or Webster, where all protagonists get polished off in the last act - lovely! Not authors currently in favour with the audience of the day, but all that gushing blood just had to appeal to me. I plotted the whole night through, each new plan more fiendish than the last.
      Dawn always comes too soon for my kind, so I had to put off my dark plans until the following night.

      Fourth night of my Unlife.

      There was a big fais-do-do in the house that night. Lovely young ladies in dresses with extremely low-cut necklines and tight bodices - a sight that made my mouth water! And everyone in fancy dress, too. Very advantageous, if you ask me. So, there's nothing like going to a ball to which one hasn't been invited...
      I donned a mask and a black and crimson roquelaure and joined the fun and games.
      Saw her, all flushed and breathless, dancing with every single handsome male in the room, steering successfully clear of that yokel of an earl she was betrothed to.
      I was sick and tired of lurking in the shadows and since I had fed before coming to the ball, my temperature was bearable to humans, thanks to a truly dazzling girl with auburn hair (who survived the encounter almost unharmed, if a little dazed). So I joined in the fun. I even danced with that faithless, cheating bitch. She didn't recognise me, of course. I barely endured the dance, not because it tormented me to be close to my beloved again, but because her inane conversation hurt my ears.
      How I ever could have mistaken her meaningless chatter for enchanting conversation soon became a complete mystery to me!
      I excused myself as quickly as manners would allow and had a wonderful time seducing some more of those enticing damsels. Temperance was never among my virtues. I'm afraid I overindulged. Another sad habit of mine. Not a man of temperate ways, as I said....
      Went to sleep at the crack of dawn rather satisfied with the night's events. I dreamed of moonlight over Lake Pontchartrain.

      Fifth night of my unlife

      I woke up thinking I should end this fairly quickly and get myself back to New Orleans as soon as possible.
      By the way, did I ever tell you that one of my cousins (more than twice removed, but close enough all the same) was rumoured to be a loup garou? I'm glad, really, that I don't sprout hair all over at every full moon! If I must be a monster, I'd rather be a vampire than a werewolf, being the vain scoundrel I am.
      Don't you think it's ironic, though, that my cousin, who in all his life truly was never anything more extraordinary than a rather hairy guy with a predilection for moonlight walks, died a lonely death feared and abused by the whole community? Whereas I, being a rake, a gambler and a complete wastrel, lived an extraordinary life, met with an extraordinary end and have an extraordinary preternatural after-life.
      My nanny always told me that I would come to a bad end - but this end was more of a beginning. There are, admittedly, drawbacks to this lifestyle, but so far the assets outweigh the liabilities by far.

      I spent the better part of the night watching sweet Annabella toss and turn in her bed.
      Strange, how in sleep, which makes most people look sweet, she looked more like her true self. Her greedy little mouth, the cast of her jaw all bear witness to her character when the day's deceitful charade is over.
      I decided that taking her life just wasn't worth the effort and, furthermore, would not be painful enough for all parties involved.
      Ruining her husband-to-be or her father, on the other hand, would actually be far more enjoyable and effective than a bloody tragedy, since they were all so keen on their reputation and their facade of nobility.
      Taking that away from them and exposing them for the frauds they are would hurt them in a much more satisfactory way than a death would.
      Deaths are tragedies, but for those kind of people, reputations are the world.

      The key to this plan, though, lay not in London, but in cold, grey, dreary Glasgow. The merchant city. The place where old man Leigh made his money.

      Night six and beyond

      The plan unfolds....
      Even before I continue my account of those early days, I can imagine your reaction to the next bit. How prosaic, you will say! Of course, you, dear reader, would have thought my travels would be of a more romantic, preternatural nature, didn't you?
      Travelling on the wind, tiny leathery wings flapping, or turning to mist or running in wolf shape through the country... Romantic, hein?
      In reality, though, I entrusted my person, coffin and all, to hired hands and a coach. It was a dastardly uncomfortable journey, I can tell you. And a long one, at that. But just imagine how far it would have been to Glasgow as the bat flies!
      Anyway, by the time we arrived I was half starved, half coach-sick and whole-heartedly tired of the whole business. I found it hard to remember my purpose and cursed myself soundly for having chosen such a singularly uncomfortable road to my revenge. Why couldn't I just have ripped out my ex-beloved's throat and left the other two to mourn her passing? Why did I have to excel at fiendishness, when the rest of my life was so devoid of ambition?

      At least I found a decent abode on the Glasgow Necropolis, a nice, silent mausoleum of some merchant or other. The shapes and sizes of the markers and mausoleums they chose for they beloved departed! Well, the Glaswegians might not know how to live, but they sure knew how to die in style.
      Over the years, the Necropolis would grow and prosper - if you can say that about a cemetery at all, anyway - and then slowly crumble and decay, together with the rest of the city. Such a close connection between life and death...
      I started to work on my plan the very next night.

      Strange, how much of the boring stories Annabelle's father told me over dinner I could still recall. I remembered the names of his business partners and of his lawyers and even some details of deals he made. All I had to do was put the pressure on some people.
      It was frightfully easy. I found the man Mr. Leigh had made a very crooked deal with. I threatened him, he hanged himself and left a very, shall we say, interesting suicide note.
      The police investigated and little by little, the whole sordid affair became common knowledge. The balding earl left, the father went bankrupt, the mother took to drink and Annabelle was forced to marry a clergyman. She had brats and died a fat, disillusioned old woman. Yes, for a person who claimed to be utterly disinterested in the results of his vendetta, I did keep good track of events. I know, I never claimed to be perfect and I must admit that the prolonged agony the family suffered did give me some satisfaction after all.

      I went abroad for a couple of decades, travelled a lot, tasted a great many exotic women. Had a lot of adventures, but we'd be here all night if I told them all. Well, okay, I may share some of them with you eventually.
      Suffice it to say that I tired of it all a little and decided to go back to Glasgow at the turn of the last century.
      I went to sleep for a long time. When I woke up, the mausoleum door was barred.
      The tell-tale signs of decay where everywhere. Not that a mere barred door could keep me inside, really. I tore through the wooden planks that had been nailed across the wrought-iron gate.
      There was a sign on that gate that I rather liked: "Danger - unsafe". It made me laugh. Yes, unsafe indeed. Enter my humble abode at your own risk.

      There probably have been countless people loitering in the mausoleums and looting the graves over the years. I wisely had chosen to dig myself underneath one of the tombs, rather than risking to rest in one of the leaden coffins or in a stone sarcophagus. Wise choice, that! It seems that I at least have learned to take some care of my precious person over the years.

      We're in a new millennium now. It's hard to believe, really. Somehow the human race has not changed so much since I was born. Homo homini lupus est and all that.
      Devastating wars, technological catastrophes and still they haven't learned. We'll see what will happen as the new century evolves. I most certainly plan to be around for a long time still. I sometimes miss the taste of wine and food, I often miss my friends and family. Still, this is my fate and I will not let those things spoil my fun. And no over-zealous vampire hunter will drive a stake through this body, I can tell you. Lignum vitae, the wood of life - what a nice name for a lethal weapon. I've learned to take care of myself quite well for a man of such a reckless disposition.
      And I enjoy myself hugely.

      Watch out closely for me and my brethren, dear reader, for we are closer than you think!
    • Episode 2 - Wild sounds in the night

      I prick them, they bleed.
      Such is the exchange, the given certainty. The one foreseeable end for every rendez-vous with me.
      I don't kill them anymore, though, my "victims". That stopped after those first clumsy nights, where I just didn't know any better. It's much more satisfying this way, anyway.

      Dusk descends, I can feel it. I can always feel it coming, in my bones, in my blood. The quickening of my pulse, the slow ascension from my death-like trance.
      With it comes the hunger. It is inevitable. I awake craving, like an alcoholic. Craving with mindless focus. The craving gets me out of bed - or rather out of my coffin - quickly, even though I used to be a slow riser, a long, long time ago, in another life.

      You do remember me, don't you?
      The not so honorable Dominic Beausére, at your service again.
      Ah, yes, I can see it's all coming back to you now, isn't it? I told you the story of my first days of being a vampire a while ago. Maybe too long ago? These are fast-changing times, maybe you already forgot.
      I promised I'd fill in some gaps between the first week of my unlife and present times, didn't I? And I am a man of my word. Well, I used to be a man of my word, anyway.
      Now I'm a vampire, a bloodsucking fiend. Maybe you think that has changed me in more ways than just my diet, and maybe you're right. But the basic features are still there. The handsome face, the mobile mouth, the quirky sense of humour, the unabashed opportunism. Okay, okay, I can't really swear to the first two anymore these days, since there is a decisive lack of reflection in mirrors and the likes, but I still have no troubles whatsoever in chatting up a pretty girl, or a handsome boy or two to feed, so I guess those old charms must still be working.

      The weird thing is that sometimes when I awake, it seems like I've been dreaming for a long time. Days, weeks, months, years blend into one. When you're around for as long as I am, you keep seeing things come into fashion, go out of fashion and then come back into fashion years later. That makes it sometimes hard to shake that dreamy feeling.

      Today, as I leisurely strolled down Westbourne Grove after dining on a Swiss tourist in Hyde Park, inhaling the divine smell of curries and tandoori, I felt transported back to the 60ies for a moment. It almost seemed unreal. People wore the same clothes they used to wear some thirty-odd years ago, in the heyday of the hippie area.

      I was in San Francisco at the time. Well, it wouldn't have done to be any place else, you know. I am a vampire of style and poise, I always was where things were happening.
      I must admit, though, that my recollections of that day and age are fairly sketchy at times. It was almost impossible to dine on anyone who hadn't used or abused certain chemicals and much as I'd like to uphold the myth of vampires being unaffected by anything, I must admit that I spent the greater part of the decade in a state of, shall we say, bliss.
      What I do remember, though, is a certain lack of personal hygiene, that often rather spoiled the pleasures of food for a person of the senses such as me.
      My apologies, dear reader, I think I have acquired a rather unfortunate tendency to ramble on about the most inconsequential things.
      The longer I think about the sights, sounds and smells of the 60ies, the less I am certain that I do indeed have a tale of any substance to tell here.
      Apart from the evening I spent with a young poet and singer named Jim Morrison, maybe. No, no gruesome tale here, nothing to add to the myth or the mystery, really.
      I met him in a bar in San Francisco, early 1967. Damned if I can recall the name of the joint, damned if I can pinpoint the date any more precisely than that. I have since seen black and white photographs of the Doors in San Francisco, recognized the clothes Jim wears in them, but anyway, like I explained, it's all a bit of a haze to me now.
      That one evening, however, has a strange, crystalline clearness to it. I can still recall every word he spoke, every inflection and every pause. And the way the dim yellow light played on his face. Yes, okay, I admit it, I was attracted, who wouldn't be? The face of an angel and a soul so old that the sunsets of aeons seemed shine through every line he ever wrote.

      Wild sounds in the night
      Angel siren voices.
      The baying of great hounds.

      Lamerica, he said, this is what the poem will be called. Lamerica. He talked and talked, about madmen, sinners, saints and damned souls.
      Nobody was watching us, nobody paid any attention to the ravings of a drunk and his companion.
      It was too much of a temptation not to sample the forbidden fruit. In plain sight, if anyone had cared to look. Do I hear a chorus of how-could-yous? I am a vampire, it's what I do and if you don't like it, then don't read my journals.

      Well, if you had read my journals, you would know that I'm not one for rape. Blood tastes all the sweeter if given freely. I told him who I was, easy as that. He looked at me with wonder, not with horror. I got my sample and a fine one at that. It was obvious that Jim was one of those people that would try anything once, at least. I satisfied his curiosity and he satisfied my palate.
      Eventually, he stood up, a little uncertainly, slapped some money on the table and walked out into the night.

      Where 'd you learn about
      Satan - out of a book
      Love? - out of a box

      He didn't look back.
      His words stayed with me, as I, too, walked into the night.
      Feeding foremost on my mind, not poetry, mind you. But it is strange how these few hours are still with me.
      It is sometimes hard to keep track of time, how many dusks have woken me, how many dawns have driven me back into my coffin? The words of that night only make it harder to accept that another 35 years have passed, well over 12000 dusks and dawns and still it seems like yesterday.

      If it's no problem, why mention it.
      Everything spoken means that,
      its opposite, & everything else.
      I'm alive. I'm dying.

      Ah, dear reader, I can see it in your eyes, the disbelief, the certainty that this old Cajun sinner told you nothing but lies. Have it your way.
      The only certainties, as I said at the start of this disjointed ramble, are that I will prick you and you will bleed. Would you rather have me lounging in a decrepit castle, uttering inanities like "For the blood is the life", or shite like that?
      Sorry, I used to be a rake and a wastrel in my time, I have lead a fairly good unlife since that morning I woke up to the sound of graverobbers digging up what they thought would be a nice suicide's corpse for anatomy.
      I may have a flair for drama and I may have a tendency to ramble, but Dracula I ain't, sorry.

      Snippets of poems taken from "Wilderness - the lost writings of Jim Morrison"
    • Episode 3 - Loup Garou Two Step

      "down in the bayous of Louisian'
      you gonna hear the story of the moon dog man
      the Cajuns say he's a loup garou
      if you listen good he gonna say to you
      loup garou, I'm the moon dog man
      loup garou, I'm the moon dog man
      you gotta get all you can, s'long's you can
      you gotta do the dance of the moon dog man"

      loup garou two step (p. daigle)

      You ask me if I ever revisited the land of my fathers?
      Certainly I did.
      You thought I had forgotten the promised story, didn't you?
      I rarely forget a promise. I might choose not to remember, but I rarely forget!
      I promised you the story about my unfortunate cousin, I forgot how many times removed. It's a sad tale of a lover scorned, of bitter intrigues and it even involves a posse, although we're talking Louisiana and not Texas here.
      Sounds like my kind of story, you say?
      Then lean back and listen, for it's absolutely my kind of story. Indeed, the not so honorable Dominic Beausére, rake, wastrel and vampire, does not deal in less than the full adventure package, if you know what I mean.

      Like I said before, I think it's pretty ironic that my cousin, who in all his life truly was never anything more extraordinary than a rather hairy guy with a predilection for moonlight walks and flighty trollops who didn't deserve him, died a lonely death feared and abused by the whole community. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
      Hmmmm, I wonder what that lady ingested... I'm not normally so scatterbrained. Maybe I should take more care in selecting my, errrm, meals?

      Anyway, back to André, the cousin. Or whatever. He was the great-grandson of my cousin Celia and please don't make me try to figure out what kind of a relation he is to me, it makes my head ache to think of it. Let's just continue to call him cousin, bien?
      He was a hirsute guy, which is a tad strange, because the men in my family tend to be mercifully free of excess body hair.

      I arrived back in New Orleans in the spring of 1897. I took up quarters on Lafayette cemetery. I found a fairly cosy crypt and set out to explore my erstwhile home.
      The air smelled of magnolia and chicory coffee on the first night I walked through the Quartier.
      In a tavern, I found some old men to pump for information on my family and all that had passed since I departed. My family had prospered, oddly enough. Well, alright, you got me there. They probably prospered because I was no longer there to squander their hard-earned money. By and large, they seemed to be as boring a bunch of greedy, but gentile money-making merchants as you could possibly imagine and I felt fairly certain I wanted naught to do with them.
      My cousin André, however, sounded more promising. He was a writer for a local newspaper, I learned, with a reputation of being somewhat strange. My talked of moonlight walks and radical ideas, but whatever the matter might really be with André Duprés, I felt sure he was worthier of my time than the rest of the sorry bunch.
      One of the old men even knew where my cousin's preferred watering hole was and so I thanked them, bought them a round and went to look for the hairy, but surely very white sheep of the family.

      I recognized him right away from the description the old men gave me. He seemed a likeable enough fellow, so I introduced myself as a distant relation and we started talking. He turned out to be erudite and polite, with a ready wit that appealed to me enormously. When the time came for him to go home, we made arrangements to meet the following night.
      I took great care to arrive well fed that night, as André had told me we would be attending a soirée at the house of a friend of his. From the look on his face, I deducted that he had a, shall we say, special interest in one of the attending females.

      The moment he introduced Aimée Longchamps to me, I knew he was in deep trouble. She was exactly the same type of harpy as the dear, thankfully some 70 years or so departed Annabelle. The woman over which - you may remember - I blew my brains out.
      She led my cousin by the balls alright, it was plain to see. I tried to remain polite, but my somewhat cool demeanour seemed to interest the lady more than André's honest affection.
      I made my excuses as quickly as I could and retired to the smoking room. I spent some time talking to an elderly ex-general, who offered some interesting insights in both the political and the economical situation. What, why so surprised? Did you think my head was only filled with a craving for pretty dames, high-stake card games and blood and nothing besides? You wound me, dear reader, you wound me for sure!

      André joined me eventually. He seemed preoccupied and when I asked him what was troubling him, he showed me the ring.
      Yes, an engagement ring.
      The stupidity of the men in my family knows no bounds where women are concerned, I swear! It was a beautiful ring, with a nicely sized square cut diamond. I tried as gently as I could to dissuade him, but to no avail. His mind was made up, he had to have her, she was the sweetest girl alive and the only one for him and..., well, imagine five solid minutes of such inanities, but spare me the pain of having to list them all. Have a little mercy!

      So, the fool went and did it.
      Asked her for her hand in marriage. What did she say? She said that if he was the last man on earth, she would not have a hairy bastard like him. Who did he think he was? A poor scribbler, nothing more! She laughed at him, mocked him and - in short - destroyed him utterly.
      I walked him home and made sure he would not repeat my mistake and try to end the pain with a nice lead bullet in the brain. When I felt sure he would not, I said my goodbyes, dawn was drawing near. André didn't want to let me go, so I found myself stammering ever more absurd excuses to leave.
      In the end, I felt dawn close enough to just plain tell him: "André, I am a vampire. I am actually Dominic Beausére, who ostentatively shot himself dead some 70 years ago." Plain and simple, hein?
      To say he took it well would be an understatement. He surprised me by staying utterly calm. He asked a million questions and I ended up having to spend the day at his place, in the big wardrobe in his bedroom. I can tell you I did not wake rested!

      By the time I did wake, however, the situation had worsened considerably.
      Aimée apparently had spread the tale that my cousin was a loup garou, a werewolf.
      A stroke of evil genius, I must say.
      The previous night had been the first night of the full moon and my poor hairy cousin, so she said, had suddenly changed into an appalling monster in front of her very eyes. Shaggy black hair all over, crooked legs, claws and large teeth. She had gotten the fright of her life and she was sure his evil intent had been to ravish her.
      The town loves to gossip and so the tale had spread all over by nightfall. And, needless to say, it got more lurid with every re-telling. In the end, it was said that poor André had ravaged her and wounded her seriously.

      So in the end, the good, upstanding citizens seemingly had no choice but to form a posse and go out looking for my cousin, right?
      I heard them coming, long before André did. We fled through the garden and kept running until we reached Lafayette cemetery. We spent the night in my hiding place and I actually ended up offering to turn my cousin into a vampire.
      He just seemed like the kind of person I could spend all those lonely hours with. His intellect, his wit and his kindness just made him so dear to me. André looked at me for what seemed like an eternity.
      And then he refused me.
      I was dumbstruck. I told him that he could withstand almost anything those zealots might do to him after I changed him. I told him of the pleasures. I told him of my loneliness. He was the first and only person I ever told about the pain of being alone for years on end. He was the only person I ever offered the change to. I pleaded with him to see the benefits and in the end, I begged him. Still he refused. Gently, kindly, as was his wont, but adamantly.

      Eventually, dawn came and the sleep of the undead claimed me. When I awoke, I was alone. I feared the worst as I ran out into the warm night to look for him.
      He was dead already when I found him.
      He had tried the way of reason. He had gone to Aimée and tried to persuade her to take her false accusations back. While she delayed him, her worthless brother Denis had gone for the posse.
      They hadn't listened to reason, they hadn't even bothered to think. If they had, they might have noticed that it was the second night of the full moon and André looked very much human.
      To this day, I try very hard not to imagine what it must have been like.
      As I looked down at his bloodied, mangled corpse, I came close to crying.
      He had been a good man and he never did anything to deserve this. What is it about the men in my family and their choices of women? If only he had accepted my offer, if only he'd have let me change him.
      The night smelled of magnolias once more. I used to love that smell, but ever since that night, I have hated it with a vengeance.
      I knelt and wiped the blood from his face. And no, he did not look like he was sleeping. He looked like he met an ugly, undeserved, violent death head-on. Which, of course, he had. I couldn't even keep up the comforting illusion that he didn't suffer.
      With that came the rage. Blind, red hot rage.
      I knew what I had to do.

      Denis had done what he did best, he had gotten drunk. He sat on the porch of his father's house, nursing a bottle of bourbon, talking to himself.
      When he saw me, he grinned stupidly until his booze-soaked brain registered the expression on my face. Then he was afraid, very afraid.
      It was almost disappointingly easy to make him talk. He couldn't give me the names and addresses of the posse members fast enough. When he had nothing more to tell me and I still did not leave, he must have realized that he would not live through the night. He begged for mercy. He cried like a little girl, all big gulping sobs and huge, shiny tears. He pleaded. He offered me money, sex, even his precious sister, if only I would leave him alive. I broke his neck.
      I did the same with each and every member of the posse that had killed André. I took my time with them. Some were cowards, like Denis. They disgusted me, but I killed them all the same. Some thought to fight me, which afforded me a little satisfaction. But in the end, they were all good and dead. I wouldn't take their blood, even though I hadn't fed at all that night. They were tainted and the thought of their blood in my mouth disgusted me more than I can say.

      I went to see Aimée last. That shallow, treacherous bitch actually had the cheek to try her wiles on me. And from the things she said, it was glaringly obvious that she hadn't been quite as innocent as she claimed to be. She tried to act as if she had known nothing about the whole thing, as if she was sorry that André had died. And then she opened her negligée and offered herself to me.
      I gave her a wide smile, all fangs and dazzling whiteness. And then I told her that while she had used the lie of lycanthropy to get my poor cousin killed, there were real monsters out there. Like me.
      She had a hysteric fit. Her shrill screams threatened to burst my eardrums, but wailing like a banshee would not save her.
      I bit her.
      Non, non, I did not take her blood, what do you think of me! She disgusted me even more than the men of the posse. Actually, I gagged when I came close to touching her skin with my mouth and I wasn't even sure I could go through with it. So disgusted was I. No, I merely marked her.
      Made damn sure she would keep a scar. Did a lot more damage than would have been strictly necessary, if my aim had been to feed.
      And then, when I pushed her away from me and drowned out the taste of her with her father's excellent cognac, I told her I would be watching her. Closely. And should she ever as much as utter an unkind word about anyone, I would come and finish what I started.

      Oui, I am a bastard, you may say.
      A murderous fiend, even.
      I can live with that.
      Well, alright, not exactly live, if you catch my meaning, but I certainly won't be losing any sleep over the good, upstanding citizens I killed that night. They killed André, the kindest soul I have ever met. The only person I ever offered "immortality" to. The only person decent enough to refuse it.
      The only human being to ever accept me as I am.
      Rest in peace, André, if you can.
      Ah, mes amis, time to end this sorry tale. I hope I have not bored you with my family matters.
      The night is getting old and I feel a little famished. So, if you will excuse me now...
      Au revoir, until next time!
      Your humble servant, Dominic Beausére