The doorbell had been ringing all night. Trick-or-treater after trick-or-treater had left angry and disappointed and vowing to return next year with a carton full of eggs. Jerry Dent didn’t care. Kids were dumb, he’d always said, and that’s why he didn’t have any. Same went for hopes, dreams, ambitions, a savings account, and a desire to shower. What Jerry did have, though, was garbage, and lots of it. And, for the first time in a month, he was determined to get it to the curb, if only so he’d have room to lay down on the couch again. Figuring the neighborhood kids were all done for the night, Jerry cinched his bathrobe tight over his chili-stained t-shirt and the sweatpants he’d been wearing for a week, swept the cushions clear, collected up the pizza boxes and beer bottles, then threw the pair of garbage bags over his shoulder and stepped outside.
The first thing he noticed was the dark. Jerry lived on the outskirts of the city, out near the mesa, so he was not unfamiliar with dark. But, still, his neighborhood was suburban as fuck – there were streetlights, house lights, moonlight. This all-encompassing absolute pitch blackness was something new.
Then he heard the chirping sound, coming from seemingly everywhere. As Jerry’s eyes adjusted, he realized what it was, why the night seemed so overwhelming: Thousands of bats blanketed the sky, smothering the moon and stars.
Finally, he saw the figure. Standing stock still in the street at the foot of his driveway.
“God damn it,” Jerry mumbled. “Kid, it’s ten o’clock, what’re you …”
But this wasn’t a kid. Too tall, too calm. It was hard to make out the details, but even the silhouette was overdressed. Flamboyant collar, flamboyant-er cape, wingtips.
This was clearly a Dracula.
The Draculas were a family of vampires that lived in an enormous castle in the foothills, on the other side of the city. They were actually pretty decent as far as tyrannical despots went – at the very least no worse than any other ruler the city had had. Except that they fed on the blood of innocents. So a lot like the Trumps, actually, but with more compassion and political acumen.
The bats began to fall into formation and circle like well-organized whirlwinds above the vampire’s head, allowing moonlight to fall on the figure. His skin was pale, his eyes were wide and red, his hair had too much product. Delbert Gulliver Dracula IV, the youngest of the Draculas, stepped towards Jerry, his hand outstretched.
“I vant to suck …”
“My blood?” Jerry interrupted. “Nah, you don’t want that, man. I’m on all kinds of meds right now and only, like, two of them are fun.”
“No, no,” explained Dracula. “I vant to suck, at everything, at life, like you.”
Jerry opened his mouth to protest, but then felt one of the garbage bags leaking an unidentifiable and viscous fluid onto his bare feet. He shrugged instead.
“Please, my friend,” said the vampire. “The rigors of being powerful, immortal, handsome, rich beyond comprehension. The pressure … It takes toll, you know? I vant to be none of these things. Boring. Mundane. Giving up on dreams. It seems … Easier. Like … Enjoyment? Is that word?”
“Sometimes? I guess?” replied Jerry, cocking an eyebrow, still not sure if he was being insulted.
“So you vill help me then, yes? To be like you?”
“I don’t know, man. What am I getting out of this?” asked the man in the bathrobe. “You gonna pay me? Or is this a Prince and the Pauper situation? I could be down for seeing what it’s like to not suck for a little while.”
“Does not prince get beaten and go to jail and learn lesson? No, that is not at all vhat I am saying,” replied Dracula. “Is that vhat I am saying? Perhaps is my English. My friend, I only vant to relax. To … Netflix and chill, yes?”
“To make the cinnamon buns in the oven.”
“Are you … Are you trying to get me pregnant? Is that how baby vampires are made?”
“Vhat? No. Is that not …?” Dracula put up his hands. “OK. Cards off chest: I heard from friend of friend you vere holding.”
“Ohhhhhh,” said Jerry. “Yeah. All kinds of stuff. Whatever you need. That’s not a problem at all, man.” Then he scrunched up his face and asked: “If you just wanted to get high, though, why did you say you wanted to ‘suck at life?’ I mean, the other stuff I almost get, but …”
“Does not ‘suck’ mean to be hollow, empty? Is not your shortened American slang of ‘to be sucked dry?’ To have nothing bad left? Expression for being free of vhat ails you.”
“No, that is not even close to being close,” said Jerry. “It means ‘super bad.’”
“Oh. Oh dear,” said the vampire, putting his hand to his mouth. “All this time, vhen I drain blood of civilian … They always shout ‘This sucks!’ I thought it euphoria at not having to put up with pains of mortal life.”
“Nah, man. You were murdering them and they were not happy about it.”
“Oh my,” replied Dracula, deflating. He somehow got even paler. “I … I feel strange. I have this … This feeling, in belly, like have eaten something rotten.”
“That’s called guilt,” explained Jerry, dropping his trash bags at the curb, “but don’t worry, I’ve got something for that inside.”