85. The Old Vampire

The old vampire entered the room somewhat clumsily. Immediately, he knew he was being watched, that there were cameras hidden in the room, and so he was somewhat self-effacing or self-aware. His clumsiness was therefore partly a result of and aggravated by his self-awareness or self-effacement.

Because the old vampire knew he was being watched he avoided looking in any direction where there might be a camera. Therefore, he looked down, which made his clumsiness that much more pronounced, like a drunk slowly trying to make his way through broken glass.

The fact that the vampire was aware that he was being watched altered his immediate goal or at least postponed it, which was to satisfy the hunger in his system. He became aware that he was being watched just as he entered the room, that he was on camera, a sudden condition he could, at the moment, do nothing about, as, he felt, it would be better to appear clumsy than to leave his audience thinking that he, an old vampire, was a coward.

Maybe not a coward but rather to reveal to them that he knew that he was being watched, that he was on camera, because to reveal such knowledge would amount to embarrassment and then what could he do: flee (cowardice), raise his hand and wave (comedic, as he might wave in the wrong direction or at a corner where no camera had been installed), descend or elevate into a monologue (ridiculous, as he had nothing prepared)?

To reveal an awareness of uninvited attention was doubly troubling because the old vampire knew he was being watched because he was a vampire. He had entered the room to satisfy his hunger, as anyone would do albeit using different methods. He had not entered the room to gain an audience or to gather attention to himself. He had entered the room after following a young man to his apartment, who’d left the University library after a late night of study, so the old vampire, who pretended to be a chemistry professor by day, knew the man would be fatigued, throw himself on his bed, and the old vampire would sneak in with little trouble, take his fill, then depart, the young man no wiser than when he went to bed. Of course, if the young man had entered his room and realized he was being observed by an audience behind a camera or a bank of cameras, he would have no idea why, no immediate cause as to the interest of the audience. He could guess that he was the subject of some terrorism probe (he was a student of nuclear physics), caught up in a government plot against students who protested against war (which he did), or the subject of illicit voyeurism by apartment perverts (which he might think odd as he was rarely home and had had no romantic encounters to speak of), but the old vampire’s situation was different, for he knew exactly what the cameras were after and what the camera’s expected.

He knew, for example, that the audience was expecting him to creep with murderous and licentious hunger through the room, his fingernails extended like switchblades. He knew that the audience expected him to make his eyes burn red or glow white and to bare incredible fangs that would remind them of yawning baboons. He knew that the audience would expect him to look left and right with clever suspicion and say something profound about mortality, morality, frailty, the grip of undeath on the human mind, prudence, desire, and companionship, and then pierce the young man’s neck with his baboon’s teeth and suck or lift with his purported inhuman strength the young man up by his chin if he happened to start awake and snap the bones of his neck.

Under the inhuman eye of the camera, the old vampire saw his victim on the bed, just as he’d expected, unknowing, unsuspecting, and innocent. The weight of the unseen audience compounded the pain in his knees and the anger in his thoughts, that a whole host of the unseen were waiting for his next move or, worse, were disappointed at this old clumsy vampire appearing here. Who was he, they must be thinking, who did this old vampire think he was, entering into our field of vision so vast and impenetrable, who was this limping, clumsy and perhaps drunk old vampire with his pathetic hunger (he doesn’t even look at the camera; he moves like my grandmother; his eyes, they’re the eyes of the near blind; he could’ve at least shaved), this old vampire shuffling nearer and nearer to his victim. This old vampire now with a syringe in his hand and what must be a glass container with a rubber top, kneeling to the sleeping student. It’s too pathetic, turn it off.

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