James Dyer is currently a junior at Northern Michigan University. He was formerly news editor at NMU’s student newspaper The North Wind, where he still contributes as a staff writer. James enjoys hiking, bizarre music, growing beards and being an underachiever.
You can view his work through The North Wind.
Jerry Patsy sat outside his editor’s office, watching as the skies darkened outside the window.
The office secretary, a twenty-something geek with thick, black framed glasses, was devouring one of his previous novels. She had just gotten off the phone with a friend.
“Yes, he’s sitting in the waiting room now,” she had whispered excitedly into the receiver. “He’s just finished a new one.”
The waiting room wall was covered in cheesy inspirational posters. As Jerry fiddled nervously with his tie, he could hear his editor screaming into her cell phone from the other room. “Hang in there!” a cat told him while dangling precariously from a tree branch by its claws.
Susan, his editor, poked her head out of the door.
“Alright Jerry, come on in,” she said, “I just read it over. I have a few quick questions for you.”
Her shoulders trembled as he ran his fingers down her spine; his hands searching every nook and cranny of her being for points of pleasure.
“I’ve never felt this way about anyone before, Thomas. And yet, you’re still such a mystery to me.”
They stood in her backyard, their silhouettes bathed in the light of a full moon. He leaned in and gently gave her what she desired. He kissed her softly at first, their tongues entwining in blissful knots of passion. She felt his fangs for the first time and shivered.
“What is this? Who are you? What are you?”
Thomas stepped back slowly, sighing.
“There’s something you need to know about me Yvonne. I’m attracted to you in ways I can’t understand. It’s your smell, your taste... I hunger for you. But I love you. I’m a vampire Yvonne.”
“How can this be?”
“It is true. It’s why I don’t sleep. It’s why I freak out at the sight of blood. It’s why I sparkle in the sunlight…”
“Yeah, seriously, what is up with that?”
“It’s all true…but I love you. Truly and deeply.”
She turned away from his gaze. The moonlight reflected in her astonished eyes.
“I don’t know what to say Thomas… this is all happening too fast.”
“I could never hurt you Yvonne. My love for you will live longer than both of us.”
Yvonne turned back to him, her face showed an expression of sincerity and understanding, in all but her eyes. No matter her expression, those eyes stayed the same. Cold, calculating and emotionless.
“Oh Thomas! Kiss me again,” she said, covertly reaching for the shovel lying next to her garage.
“I love…” he started before she hit him in the face, breaking his nose and knocking him off his feet.
“Die you dirty vampire!” she screamed. She hit him again and again until the force of the blows turned her arms to jello. Blood splattered on her face, but despite his caved in skull Thomas still drew labored breaths.
“Why won’t wu wub meh? I would neweh hurt woo.” he muttered through broken teeth.
Yvonne left and returned with a chainsaw she found in the shed.
“How could I love you? You’re a soulless vampire.” She said, revving up the chainsaw.
“And seriously, for a vampire you’re kind of a pansy. So…”
“ … ‘die you fairy fuck’, she said, slicing into him, laughing as she massacred his flesh. Jerry, what the hell is this?”
Susan’s hair had come undone from a tight bun, and now her bangs were dangling menacingly in her eyes, giving her the look of a wild beast.
“I’m taking things in a new direction Sue, this sappy romance stuff just isn’t realistic. I’m trying to channel the true nature of love,” Jerry said with as much courage as he could muster.
Jerry Patsy was the author of a series of vampire romance novels that drew in millions of readers from around the world. The latest novel in the series, “Forbidden Night,” was already receiving intense fan hype from millions of adolescent teenage girls around the world that made up his audience. Jerry finally finished his masterpiece and had sent the first draft in to his editor.
“The true nature of love is dismemberment with a chainsaw? Jerry, your fans are never going to buy this. The rest of the story is good, but Thomas and Yvonne’s romantic tension cannot end in an evisceration,” Susan said through a grimace.
“But that’s what love is! It’s gritty. It’s real. And in the end, it’s brutal and pointless. Just like…”
“Don’t even finish. I don’t care what’s happening in your personal life. Get over it. If it’s a chick, find a new one. God knows you’ve got plenty of teenagers and desperate housewives to choose from,” Susan exclaimed. Her face contorted in anger and revealed harsh wrinkles around the corners of her mouth. Jerry couldn’t imagine a face like that ever smiling.
His editor continued the conversation with the usual “We’ve got books to sell” speech and other ra-ra jargon, but Jerry had other things on his mind.
In his books, Jerry’s heroes were always flawless and smooth; impossibly perfect men who knew just what to say to make a woman swoon in his arms. Jerry’s characters were lady killers. Jerry, however, was not. The glamor shot displayed on the back flap of his novels showed off a rugged yet naïve looking young author. His eyes cast a glow of sincerity that helped sell his hopelessly romantic novels to a generation of teenagers that craved unrealistic fantasies. Any sex appeal he would have had through his looks was completely quashed by his inability to form simple sentences when around members of the opposite sex. Around women, Jerry became a deaf, dumb, mute. Romantic diatribes that came so fluently through his novels were filtered through his vocal chords into high pitched squeals of nonsense. Most women refused to believe that such a man was actually the writer of the “Blood Passion” series. Few were actually able to break through his barriers of shyness and get at the man beneath. For the present, Jerry was done with women. The ending of his most recent relationship still stung him deeply, and as a result he had since come out to his friends as “asexual”. Predictably, this made the writing of romances difficult.
Jerry zoned back to his editor as she finished her tirade.
“In all seriousness Jerry, I want you to take some time. Get over this girl, Julia, Jessica…”
“Sure, whatever her name is. Go home, get laid, whatever it takes. Just make this work,” she said, putting on a face closer to concern than Jerry had ever seen from her.
“You got it boss,” said Jerry dejectedly, making his way out of the office.
Jerry’s masterpiece had hit a roadblock. He was experiencing what he understood to be every fiction writer’s worst nightmare. Reality had bled into his story, and now there was no way of filtering it out again. In his story, as in life, Jerry was stuck.
Jerry walked slowly down the street to his apartment. It was raining, but the air was too fresh for a cab. He grappled with his thoughts for ideas on how to end his story. His writing had always been complete fiction. In a creative leap, he had decided to draw from his life to write his latest novel. The beginning of his personal love story, like the beginning of all of his stories, began joyfully. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Unfortunately, unlike his fiction, in reality girl tears boy’s heart out and puts it through a garbage disposal. True life rarely makes for a happy ending.
“Inspiration is a soulless demon bitch,” Jerry once told a fellow writer. “It will stop by every once in a while for a booty call, but as soon as you try to corner it into a relationship, it will leave and never come back.”
Jerry struggled to find the inspiration for a new ending.
As he walked past a local coffee shop that he frequented, he stopped in his tracks as a sickeningly familiar voice called to him from the entrance.
“Jerry! Is that you?”
Turning slowly, he greeted her with a forced smile.
“Jennifer… it’s been a while,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Do you have time for a cup of coffee? I wanted to talk to you about a few things,” she said brightly.
He said yes, as he always did, and entered the coffee shop. Each step for him was more difficult that the last. Every footfall released a flood of painful nostalgia. It was this coffee shop where he and Jennifer had first met.
“What is it?” Jerry asked softly, sitting down at the table across from her.
“Do you remember when we first met? It was at this very coffee shop,” she said through a booby-trapped smile.
“I haven’t forgotten.”
Jerry couldn’t force himself to meet her eyes with his. He pulled at his tie, loosened it, and then pulled it back up to his chin, all while watching the rain fall outside the window.
Thomas moved silently to the girl crying alone at a booth in the restaurant. He watched her silently for a few moments before she looked up at him and wiped tears away from her eyes.
“Ca-can I help you?” she said, stammering through tears.
“You look like you could use a friend. Can I sit down?”
“I’m fine really. I just need a moment to gather myself,” she said.
“Nonsense. What could possibly turn a face as pretty as yours so gloomy?”
“My boyfriend… I thought we were in love. He left me this morning. He told me I was holding him back. How could someone be so heartless?”
“Men can be fools,” Thomas began, his eyes glowing with sincerity. “No one should value anything higher than love. Love… love is all that matters.”
“I wish everyone shared your views,” she said, wiping tears away with the sleeve of her shirt.
“What’s your name?” he asked innocently.
“Well Yvonne, I’m going to buy two milkshakes. One for you and one for me. You don’t have to drink your milkshake. You can stare at it if it suits you, but I would like you to tell me what has made your tear ducts spring such horrible leaks.”
“I suppose that couldn’t hurt,” she laughed finally. “And who exactly are you?”
“You can call me Thomas.”
“You always were there for me Jerry. I guess I never really realized that. My last relationship was so horri…”
“You sat down next to me and convinced me to buy you lunch while you cried on my shoulder for over an hour,” Jerry interrupted, his face bright red.
“That’s how we met. I don’t want you to contort it into something it wasn’t,” Jerry muttered, staring at the floor.
“Christ Jerry, get your panties out of a bunch. I’m not making fun of you,” she said, as if to a child.
“What do you want?” he said, all the while avoiding her piercing gaze.
“Well, I’ve been thinking. I know the last time we saw each other didn’t exactly end smoothly.”
“You called me a pathetic little girl and stormed out of my apartment.”
“Well you can’t just drop the L-word on a girl out of nowhere like that you big silly.”
“Well it was true!” he cried. “Why can’t I tell you how I feel?”
“Because I can’t stand when you get all weird and emotional like that. It’s like I’m reading one of
your ridiculous little books.”
He finally met her gaze, staring at her across the table. Jerry searched his mind for a way to salvage any part of his dignity. She had taken it from him, and was clenching it tight with an ironclad fist. Her face painted a picture with expressions colored in an artist’s easel of emotions… all but her eyes. Her eyes remained the same. Cold, calculated and emotionless.
Jerry stared out the window at the overflowing rain gutters on the street. He could see the autumn leaves blocking the path of the water, causing the river of rainwater to pool out into the street. Jerry envied the rain. From the sky to the sea, it was always moving. Debris could block its path momentarily, but water always found a way to keep moving on. Jerry yearned to be a part of the water, flowing down the street, away from this place.
“I think we should give us another try,” Jennifer finally said.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, we never really got a chance, what with you dropping ‘I love yous’ everywhere,” she said reproachfully.
“I thought I was too immature for you? You said we could never work.”
“Jerry, let’s be honest with each other. We both know that you’re not exactly a paramour. I mean seriously, have you even talked to a woman outside of your stupid books?”
Jerry averted her gaze. He stared again out the window at the torrent of rain falling on the street. It collected in potholes on the road. It filled the empty spaces with water until the spaces overflowed, letting the water go. Releasing it down the street. The water moved on like this from blockage to blockage, leaving parts of itself behind as it journeyed towards the ocean. Water is constantly flowing, he thought. Constantly moving on.
“I’ve got to go,” Jerry stammered. “I’ve got some things to finish.”
“Jerry wait…” Jennifer started, but he was already gone.
Thomas was down, but not out. As Yvonne wiped his blood from her face, he staggered to his feet. He was missing an arm, and a good chunk of his midsection, but being a vampire meant that he had extraordinary regenerative powers. By the time Yvonne had finished cleaning off the chainsaw, Thomas was almost fully healed. Yvonne returned to find his body gone.
“Tom?” she cried out, fearful now, “I really didn’t mean anything by the whole chainsaw thing. You startled me and I got carried away.”
He swiftly dropped from the rooftop and landed behind her, not making a sound.
“Fool me once,” he whispered in her ear.
As she turned to face him, he disappeared yet again.
“Stop this nonsense! Didn’t you just say that you loved me? Quit playing games!” she said, trying to gain control of the situation.
“You have no power over me anymore,” he said softly from the shadows.
Thomas slipped out of the darkness, grabbed her by the arm, and sunk his teeth into her pulsing neck.
When he had finished, he stepped back to take one last look at her. Her blood pooled on the grass. Filling in the empty spaces between blades before flowing on through the lawn and to the sidewalk. It was moving on. Always moving on.
A month later, Jerry sat again outside his editor’s office to go over the new revisions to his novel. His usually busy hands sat motionless on his lap.
“Come on in Jerry, we need to talk,” Susan said ominously from her office, not bothering to greet him from the door.
“What do you think?” Jerry asked, stepping into the office slowly. To his surprise, Susan smiled back at him.
“I’ve got to say Jerry, you really can be funny when you want to,” she laughed boisterously.
Jerry’s face fell. “Excuse me?”
“The ending! You sure had me going there,” Susan said with a rare smile. “Maybe I did come down on you a little hard last time, but hey, I can handle a joke too.”
“I…” Jerry stammered.
“But in all seriousness, where’s the real thing? Jokes are fine, but I’m incredibly busy. What’ve you got?”
“But that… that was it,” Jerry said, astonished.
Susan’s smile disappeared as quickly as it had formed. “You can’t be serious. This… this is the most clichéd vampire bullshit I’ve ever seen. Even compared to your usual stuff,” she said. “Have you forgotten who your audience is? No one’s going to want to read this horror stuff. You write romances God dammit!”
Struggling, Jerry composed himself. He stood to his full height and answered his editor with newfound courage.
“That’s the ending I wrote. You can either accept it, or I’ll take my novel elsewhere,” he said with a tone of finality.
“Fine! Get out, see if anyone wants to publish this crap. You sure picked a good time to grow a backbone. You’ll never work in this business again, I promise you that.”
Grabbing his manuscript, he turned and began walking out of the office.
“You don’t want my novel? Fine, I’m sure I can find someone else to publish the newest novel from a bestselling author. Have a nice day,” he said triumphantly as he left.
Susan said something else, but Jerry’s ears had momentarily shut off. He strolled out of the office, past the befuddled secretary and out into the sunlight of a new day._
If you enjoyed "Bloodsuckers," try Patrick McGinnity's "Wit's Soul."