"So sad really," said the vampire as he placed his top hat and cane on the mirrored desk. "But I'm afraid it has to come to pass."
He stared out at the stars from Rebecca Ridalia's bedroom suite, overlooking the dimly lit city. Gazing into the dark starry sky, he took a deep wanton breath. The air was cool and crisp in the late October evening. The vampire enjoyed the last breath he was ever going to take without speaking.
"You'll have to forgive this formal attire. I thought the classical guise might work tonight. I hope you like it. I usually don't wear anything like this, but tonight is a special occasion. I suppose it is for you too. I mean, after all these years we've known each other to think that I would not wish you well on the eve of your wedding."
The vampire lit the last cigarette from his pack with a golden lighter engraved with the initials U. M. It was his most prized possession and it was the last cigarette he would ever smoke. He placed the expensive monogrammed lighter in his pocket, inhaling the cigarette deeply and exhaling as exquisitely as if it was the best cigarette he had ever had.
"Believe me, I would have loved to have attended the ceremony tomorrow afternoon, but circumstances prohibit my daily appearances. It's not your fault and I completely understand why I never received an invitation." The vampire took a long drag from his cigarette. He watched in amazement the smoke rings he had made like a first time smoker.
"You probably thought I was dead, and you were right. To a certain degree."
The vampire sat at her desk and continued his narrative. He felt like talking, which was a rare occurrence for him and he knew he would never have another opportunity to open his heart to her like this again. Not like this. He would never again have her complete attention again.
"It's amazing how much the two of us have changed since high school. Look at you. You went to college, left your snobby friends and started a successful career in interior decoration."
He puffed on the cigarette, dumped the ashes on the carpet and ran his foot over them. He hoped she wouldn't notice. "Me, I became a vampire."
"I have seen some of your work. You're quite talented. I was very impressed. If I had known better I would have had you redecorate my rooms. You've done well in the last ten years. And tomorrow is your wedding."
He looked around the well-lit bedroom. There were a few snapshots of friends hanging on the wall above her bed. A desk lamp was positioned on both sides of the bed. A few well read and worn paperbacks were lined up in a row like paratroopers ready to jump off her bookshelf. There were a couple of chairs in the room. Everything was arranged around the entertainment center: a medium sized television set, a DVD player, and a moderately expensive stereo system. The mirrored desk was covered with assorted Avon products. The vampire wondered if this was how her room had looked seven years ago when she lived at home. It was a possible assumption since this was the house where she grew up. "Too bad you couldn't have done something about this room. Apparently you didn't take your work home with you."
What caught the vampire's eye was a violet paper picture-framed photo of Rebecca and a handsome young man with the look of an Esquire magazine cover. The man possessed a look and style the vampire could never have had even when he was human.
"Greg, huh?" The vampire whispered as he read the golden inscription and saw how happy the couple looked together. "Probably as dumb as a box of rocks," he tossed the picture to the side. The vampire took a final drag from his cigarette before stamping it out with his boot on the carpeting. He didn't care whether she noticed or not. He continued after a long moment of silence.
"High school, yeah, those were the days. Rebecca, you do remember me, don't you? Most people have forgotten. I hoped you haven't. I hoped you would remember old Dennis McGuire, the small dirty blonde kid who never said a word.
"I had the biggest crush on you. I don't know if it was a crush anymore. A crush is a rush of hormones at adolescence messing with your emotions and you believe you love a person. Neither of us are adolescents anymore, but I feel the same toward you as I did all those years ago. Hey, who knows, it might have been the real thing. Oh well, que sera sera.
"Back then I would have done anything to go out with you, but cash and status separated us. Your friends and family would have never let you date anyone from a four-room shack at the ass-end of town, even if it was an attempt to rebel. It wouldn't have been so bad if you hadn't laughed when I asked you out and then told your friends about it. It took me nearly a week to build up the courage to ask. And you laughed . . . but it's just water under the bridge now.
"We went our separate ways, you and I, to different colleges. You detached yourself from your snobby friends. I detached myself from this awful town that we called home.
"Then I met a very beautiful woman a couple of close acquaintances knew, whose comforting embrace was inexpensively obtained. She was gorgeous -- something out of a soaked night vision. Her hair was long and thick and black as night. Her skin was as white as paper. And those lips. Those lips have left a permanent stain on my memory. You remember this old joke: what's black and white and red all over? Her, after she bled me. It was a costly, but fair fluid exchange.
"Before she bit me she looked deep into my eyes-almost through them. She stared for the longest moment of my actual life. She must have seen something worth keeping. She smiled and whispered with the largest, most loving smile I had ever seen in my entire life. 'How would you like to be mine forever?' I nodded weakly. What else could I do?
"Then there was the funeral of Dennis McGuire. Many people at home heard about my demise, but only a few cared. There weren't many people at the service. I was heartily disappointed when I learned you didn't attend. Oh well .
"Anyway Dennis McGuire is dead and I was born, so to speak. That was my first death, my physical death. I was brought back in this form. I'm a creature of the night -- a poetic, feasible, animated nightmare. And I love every minute.
"Which brings me to why I am here. Tonight is my second death. It was what many undead call the detachment. It means that I say goodbye to all the things I cared for when I was alive. I detach myself from mortal society. Many vampires with close families and friends find that detachment can take as long as a century. Some even watch generations of their old families grow and pass on. I know of one who has watched his family for over ten generations. How pathetic. It took me only..." The vampire looked at his watch. "Four years. It would have been sooner, but I've been busy. And I could not resist seeing you on the eve of your wedding."
"Not bad, but then I have never had close family or any dear friends. There wasn't much I liked about my old life. Perhaps that is why I love who I am now. Mom and Dad hated their existence along with everyone else. Friends were a foreign custom to me. Perhaps that is what Ulma saw in my eyes -- loneliness. Oh well, no use telling tales of woe. We all have our cross to bear. I'm not going to add mine to the pile.
"Don't look so sad. Tomorrow you're going to be Mrs. Greg...something. I came by to wish you well and to give you a kiss. I really must be going now."
The vampire collected his top hat and cane. He picked up a bouquet of flowers lying on her desk and arched them in the air. They landed perfectly under the mid-sized breasts of Rebecca Ridalia's body. The young brunette lay on her bed in her wedding dress. She looked breathtakingly beautiful even with her head lying nine inches from her neck. A large pool of blood separated the body from her detached head.
"I wish you, and what's his name, oh yeah, Greg, the best of luck. Why didn't I drink? That's a good question. Tempting, as it was Rebecca, I know how you hate to be called Becky; I just could not bring myself to drink from you. It would hurt me too much. When I found out you were getting married and would never be mine, well, I thought I should give you my blessing."
Dennis McGuire walked over and kissed Rebecca on the lips. He sniffed the blood that was mixed with her scent and shrugged.
Dennis dipped two fingers in the small pool of blood between her head and body and put them in his mouth. He splashed the taste around his tongue as if he was testing a new recipe. He broke out into a mad laugh when he was done.
"Your blood tastes so sweet, like candy. I want more, but I won't. I can't. I would regret it for centuries. I could never take your blood, even those times when I was near starvation. I love you too much. Tonight Rebecca, you and I shared death. Yours is eternal and I'm having seconds. You were quite a sacrifice for my second death. I hope when it's time for my third it will be just as special. Until forever Rebecca Ridalia, I will love you. Good-bye my sweet."
The vampire put on his top hat and dark, circular sunglasses, and cane. He stepped out onto the balcony and back to the darkness.
Rebecca Ridalia was getting ready for bed, but she knew any chance of sleep would be futile. She was too excited to sleep. Within the next fourteen hours she would be Mrs. Greg Mourer. Her childhood dream of being a June bride had come true. Her father took extra care to make his youngest daughter's wedding day a special occasion. At last count taken by her mother, it was estimated over four hundred people were expected to show up at St. Thomas's Catholic Church at noon. The Ridalia family, along with the Mourers had rented the banquet hall at the local Hilton. No expense was spared for daddy's little girl's big day.
Her mother had been crying for days though Rebecca was not the first child she had lost to matrimony. Rebecca's older sister had been married for a few years and Rebecca's younger brother had been married for two years come fall. The bride went over every minute detail in her head that needed her attention. Excited as she was, Rebecca couldn't wait until all of it was over. It was fun, but every morning she woke up with atrocious headaches from stress and worry -- never from drinking. She never drank. However, tomorrow she would make an exception. Tomorrow she would make many exceptions. She was doing her best to her best to stay calm.
She had taken a few over-the-counter muscle-relaxers to ease her tension. Her Adrenalin rush pulverized any affects the drugs induced. She decided to try on her wedding dress the night before the wedding. She had heard the superstitions about not wearing the dress until the moments before, but no one was going to see her and she was anxious to see how she looked in it.
She stripped down to her undergarments and took the dress out of the closet. She stepped into the gown and studied herself in the large mirror on her desk. Her reflection was the most beautiful she had ever seen herself.
Tomorrow, I'll be Mrs. Greg Mourer, she thought. I'll be a part of a whole new family. She felt a little sad about having to give up this family to start one herself. But wasn't that what life was all about: ending and beginning again? She had experienced it quite frequently in relationships, until she had met Greg, whom she had been dating for over five years. She didn't want to think of the end of her married life. That was too far away, she convinced herself.
Rebecca heard a knock on wood and someone say, "Honey?"
It must be Greg, she thought. Wasn't it bad luck for the bride to see the groom before the wedding day? So what, it's only superstition, she thought. She couldn't wait any longer. When Greg came in she would take him on the bed as her wedding present. An appetizer before the main dish, she giggled.
"Come in, darling."
"Don't mind if I do," she heard a man's voice say. It was definitely not Greg.
She heard the French door splintering open on the balcony and saw a raggedly dapper man step inside. He wore a top hat over his long dirty-blonde hair. Dark circular sunglasses covered his eyes. His face was long with a long thin nose that granted the false appearance of sophistication. He was carrying a cane with a silver wolf-head at the end.
She gasped and covered her mouth. He looked slightly familiar. She filed through her memory trying to remember who this man was. She thought knew him, but from where? If he wasn't so pale, she might have been able to recognize him, but she would never know who he was.
The man approached her. His arms were extended with his long fingers exposing long nails, sharp like miniature knives extending from his fingers.
"Do not be afraid, lovely one. I have only come to kiss the bride."