It was daunting assignment and I had every right to be nervous. Anyone would be a little scared; most people recognized how reopening a dialogue with a strange, mysterious neighbor after eighteen months of passively cherishing the mutual, silence would be more uncomfortable than fun-comfortable or pun-comfortable.
My initial meeting with Devin was brief. Having just moved into the building, I had introduced myself as his new neighbor. He then introduced himself as a vampiric lord and, with that, I retreated back to my apartment with no intention of interacting with Devin or pursuing the sterile, meaningless acquaintanceship that I’d soon share with other tenants. The claim of vampire had been made, but the only potential proof I had of said bloodlust were those blotchy crimson stains around his thin, chameleon-like lips. Conceivably, it could have been a ruse and those could just be debris from forcefully consuming spaghetti. I’m not one to judge; I’ve gotten swept up in my share of spaghetti-heavy moments and know they can get pretty graphically messy in a hurry. Not to humble brag too hard, but I am in talks with Jonathan Safran Foer about a book through a child with autism’s perspective chronicling one of these aggressively grotesque displays. Our current working title is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross.
I hadn’t been able to tell if it was blood or not; I’m not really a blood guy, more a hard-crap-before-a-hard-nap kind of guy. All I had was his self-disclosure and, in this overly-politically-correct world where every potential label is approached with an exhausting amount of apprehension, well, I’m just an intolerant bigot if I don’t recognized his self-categorized identity. I know no one wants a repeat of the time I met that pansexual, pre-op She-Hulk.
With a knock on Devin’s door, the euphoric, non-dependant existence we had enjoyed and never shared ended. “I don’t mean to be too forward,” I said as he opened the door. “I need an interview, and you had told me you’re a vampire.”
He pondered for a moment before pushing the door open and leading me in. The lack of emotion was peculiar, but the smell, like a simmering Crockpot full of cabbage and old wigs, was the only thing truly violating me. It was dark and bare inside, just the way a blind, unimaginative person would have pictured it.
He gestured for me to have a seat on the opposite end of the lone futon inhabiting the room. Sitting down was a mistake; the pad had a damp and crusty quality, not unlike an old pizza left out in the rain. I persisted in the name of journalism; plus, I figured I could always just throw this pair of short jorts in the trash post-interview. Promptly, he offered me a cup blood pudding and a blood sausage to which I politely declined. I didn’t know what that was a euphemism for and, for the first time in my short amateur journalism career, I didn’t want answers.
I wondered where he got all the blood; did he have a guy, did he inherit it, or are they his victims? Not wanting to ask about a potential murder was really handcuffing my hard-hitting, hard-shitting natural and journalistic instincts. Slowly and disgustingly, Devin audibly slid a Jolly Rancher into in his mouth and apologized; he said today would have to just be a quick pop in, as he had to work soon.
There was my opening question. Naturally, I inquired to where he worked and responded with no words, but rather with a tender pat on the futon and a little smirk. Again, I had no follow up questions—blissful ignorance was far preferable. My instincts could tell there was no stock trading or freelance photography job in the equation with his moist futon and coy grin.
Devin scooted closer to me, apparently interpreting my revolting cowering for interest. “It’s a cute pretense, but I know what this is all about,” he said, gazing into my eyes and possibly attempting to glamour me. “No more questions,” he said removing his duster, revealing a freckled, shitty torso. “You’ve got those Tom-Cruise good looks,” he said in whisper as I recoiled like I had just witnessed something horrific or eaten something sour, “what do you say we take this Interview with a Vampire to the Danger Zone?”
I had no garlic. I had no Silver Bullets or Bob Seger. All I could do was pretend like I was about to barf and scamper out of the apartment. There would be no plans made to schedule a follow up. There would be no thanking him for either of his offers of blood sausage. Liquids had been soaked, short jorts irreplaceably damaged, and now there would just be me scrubbing off with a gasoline-soaked rag in my tub, as that was my only hope to ever feel clean again.