Marcus rolled over in his bed and glimpsed the time: 5:30 pm. The sun had slipped behind the mountains and the light was almost gone.”The evenings are coming earlier,” he thought to himself. He headed to the bathroom and his cat ran rings around his legs. It was a dance they performed every time he awoke. The cat tried to trip him and he had become so used to her movements that they moved together in one fluid motion.
He kept vampire hours. He used to wonder about vampires when he was a teenager going through his Goth-stage. Why didn’t they move to near the North Pole for half the year and the South Pole the other half? They wouldn’t have to spend as much time hiding from the sun that way. He finally answered the question for himself several years later: because vampires don’t exist.
He pulled on his jeans and walked to the kitchen. He pulled out an energy drink and popped open the lid of the can. Caffeine hadn’t been helping him as much as it used to. “I need to get one of those light therapy box things,” he thought to himself. This schedule was taking a toll on his body. He could feel it. Each day’s sleep felt less refreshing than the day before.
When he got his license, he thought being a bartender would be the perfect job for him. He enjoyed the club-life. It seemed like a dream come true to be paid real money to do what he willing did every night anyway. Somehow, in bartender school, they never explained that he would be scraping gum off the dance floor at four in the morning. That particular point of glamour was never addressed. All they talked about was about not serving alcohol to drunk people. Like that was ever going to happen.
He dumped a wet and smelly lump of food directly on the floor in front of the cat, who attacked it with flourish. He finished drinking the foul tasting drink. “I need to learn to like coffee. This stuff tastes horrible,” he thought to himself. He left the cat to her meal and took a shower. Slowly, the hot water reminded him what it was like to be alive. By the time he was out, he felt ready for his night.
He pet the cat gently with the tip of his steel-toed boots. She had eaten all her food and licked the floor clean. The small spot where he fed her every night was the only clean area on the vinyl floor. “I’ve got to get a mop or something,” he thought to himself. He smelled like Hugo Boss cologne and his hair was slicked back. By the time it dried it would be a curly mane, but for now, it was tamed.
The first hour of work was before the club opened. After it opened, the second hour was pretty slow. Everyone wanted a drink when they arrived, but being fashionably late is always more popular than pleasantly drunk by the time the party started. Marcus didn’t drink anymore. It started the second month of working as a bartender. Suddenly, alcohol smelled more like puke than a delicious escape. It didn’t take too many weekends cleaning up after over-indulgence before he lost his taste for it.
The regulars filed in, taking their spots. He never realized how much his fellow clubbers were like animals. They marked their territory and guarded tables like beasts. He smiled every time he passed what used to be “his” table. It was the perfect spot to watch the girls dance, but it was close enough to the bar to get a quick drink when the lines died down. Now the girls line up to see him, even though it’s only for beer and the beer, well, that wasn’t so interesting anymore.
One of his favorites came up to the bar. He didn’t know the guy’s name. He was some Goth poser. “I was Goth before you were out of grade school, kid,” he thought to himself. The kid had a pair of those snap-on vampire fangs and full Victorian gala. Marcus smiled at the vampire-wannabe. “Amaretto Sour?” The kid shook his head. He lisped behind his fangs. “No, I was going to ask you something.” Marcus chuckled to himself, “Shoot.”
“What’s it like to be a real vampire?” The kid asked it so innocently and openly. It was like he was earnestly asking advice from an older brother. Marcus laughed, “Man, I’m not a vampire. I don’t know what I’d do with immortality. I have trouble keeping busy on my days off.” He thought about his dirty kitchen floor. “I need to clean that next Monday,” he thought to himself. The kid shook his head, “You don’t have to hide from me. I know you’re really a vampire. I was just wondering what it’s really like.”
Marcus shook his head and filled a drink order for the waitress in the striped stockings. The kid stayed at the counter, waiting for his answer. “I’m not a vampire. Look around you. If I was a vampire, would I be a bartender here?” The kid looked around and shrugged, “Yeah, looks like a pretty good job for a vampire. You only work after the sun goes down and you fit right into the crowd.” Marcus handed the kid a glass of water. “I’m not a vampire. Sorry to bust your bubble, but vampires don’t exist. It’d be kind of cool if they did as long as one didn’t try to feed on me, but they just aren’t out there.”
The kid tried to take a sip of the water, but he couldn’t close his lips around the edge of the glass. His vampire fangs got in the way. The water slipped down his chin and onto the ruffle of his white shirt, leaving a strange mark under the UV lights. He wiped off the water droplets and spoke again, “Ok, ok… you’re NOT a vampire. What do you think it would be like if you were?” Marcus rolled his eyes. “It would be just like right now except I’d never get to see the light of the day and I’d be less worried about socking money away for retirement. Immortality gives the phrase Long-Term Investing a whole new meaning.”
The kid shrugged, “I think I’d move to the North Pole right now. More night at this time of year.” A chill went up Marcus’ spine and the kid walked back to “his” table.
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