No living resident of record to interfere, I break
Autumn free. I hold her closely to communicate safety.
She releases tears, muscle weakness, terror shaking.
“He said he knew you, that you were friends. He told me
we were to be in his scheme together, an outlaw family.
He insisted I needed initiation. He threatened to sell me
to my dad if he didn’t like my cooperation, my loyalty.
He laughed when I spit, kicked, dug in my nails, my teeth.
He said I fought like a girl and that pleased him.”
She offers me no blame, no complicity. She explains,
emotion drained like blood. She recites like lines in
unrehearsed reading. She holds me, her hands grasping
behind my shoulders. It is well I do not need breath.
I do not know if we ought go from here.
The thought occurs that I can settle here at least for
many months. But would Autumn feel deterrence,
discomfort in visiting? This place did not harm her.
I will ask when she is calmed from this immediacy.
Now I listen, act only to soothe.
I tell her he is permanently dead. I tell her I knew him
“I thought that man gone from me. I give no space to his
memory. He was present. He wasn’t. His return was
unwelcome surprise. He said he thought of me while he
was absent. I was his only vampire. I have known, for
their moments, so many men. So many men are monsters.
Among them, I am unique, a monster proper.
I am so sorry, so sorry, so, tell me, anything. I am your
undying servant. Use me as you will.”
She uses me as crying towel, punching bag, embracing blanket.
Hours and hours.
I think eventually to ask about notifying Kathy. It is too near
dawn for me to leave.
Autumn is not ready to face the day, questions, placating
We settle here for this while. There is food in the kitchen
in expectation of its procurer’s return. Instead, he has fed
me well. Autumn breakfasts. She showers. For a short time
The dreams wake her.
I mesmerize with softest lullaby to give her momentary peace.
She sleeps. She dreams. I soothe. I watch over, a loving guard.
I drowse, simultaneously hyper-alert.
I imagine. Could Autumn and Kathy live here, rent free, out of
any watchful eye?
I could provide what cash they needed from my regular victims.
They could do as they please. Kathy would have to learn to
accept me. The life I offer is so much better than what she has.
It could happen. It could work. We could become a happy family.
What an ironic twist to Peter’s plan.
When Autumn is able to understand clearly, I will lay it out for her.
When she is ready to face Kathy, we will have this wonderful
surprise to soften her current pain. The fates will smile in
our favor. We have paid our penance of hellfire.