Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Stereotypical Hobson's Choice

Tired and cramped. Stressed. In need of nothing so much as a good blowjob, a good meal and true love. Friday night meant relaxation; a chance to slip the grind and to live briefly as if he were free. Vincent started the bath, pouring a measure of luminescent pearl liquid from a glass decanter into the frothing waters. He stood, swaying suddenly at the head rush. A recently smoked fattie (really meant for two to share, if he cared to admit it) had taken firm effect.

Vincent briefly swayed to the sounds coming from his stereo, the low subwoofer beat driving through him like soft butter spikes. In the Arms of an Angel, from the simply astounding Sarah McLachlan, wove waves over him as he walked to the counter. Lighter in hand, he lit several strategically placed, finely yet subconsciously balanced, candles. A generous portion of liquid potpourri quickly filled the air with the subtle yet heady scent of an unidentified flower.

A gesture and a nod was enough, and his dog Storm (a pedigree boxer) lay down on the bath mat, and looked up at him with soft eyes. While to some, a dog would be considered a pet, to Victor, his dog was a family member, as loved as any brother or cousin. He suspected that, were he ever to be lucky enough to find out, he might love a son or daughter more than his dog, but he wasn’t sure.

Fuck, Vincent thought as, de-robed, he slipped into the comfortingly horrific hot waters. As scalded as he felt, he was grateful that the water was not as hot as he usually made it. The bubbles creaked and popped silently as he slid into the water. He leaned back slowly, removing his glasses and setting them on the counter. He sighed, his ego and his id went to war as he flew into the music, transported and uplifted; only to wrench and frown as a phalanx of reason would assert itself over the situation.

As his two natures warred, he was presented with a thought.

This would be, like, the most possibly stereotypical way in which to actually encounter a vampire.

He chuckled to himself, equally amused with his folly as he was interested in the possibility. Perhaps interested, a certainly useful and admirable transitive verb, was in and of itself entirely inadequate in its ability to properly express this particular shade of emotion. To be fair, that’s hardly what the word was intended to convey, but I don’t think they’ve come up with a single word meaning “interest/dread/lust/fear”.

Sarah faded away, to be replaced by Marilyn Manson’s cover of Tainted Love. The soft and kind notes receded, beaten down by the driving beat and the sound of menace filled silken hatred. Once again, Victor thought, a pretty standard song for the soundtrack.

Manson faded, and Bowie was born, growing stronger into Scary Monsters. The discordant beat and jarring imagery flooded through his mind, and he slid deeper into the waters. He started suddenly, in the corner of his eye spying a man, tall, handsome, classically-trimmed van dyke twisting in the fingers of a black-gloved hand. He wore a dark suit, impeccably tailored, dark red satin shirt; tasteful black cloth (not leather, so at least that particular cliché had been narrowly averted) trench coat over it all.

The time has come.

The thought was strong, the though was heard, the thought was not Vincent’s. Vincent saw it, still not quite believing: the first stage, the Enticement was upon him. He thought back to every book, movie, and graphic novel on vampires he had ever read. Enough books to fill – and even Victor would be surprised to somehow learn this – a medium-sized bookmobile. Not the full-sized Winnebago, mind but rather the middle-sized one that you sometimes ran too with a hopeful gleam in your eye, only to realize that it wasn’t the ice-cream truck.

Which would I honestly choose? Vincent wondered, fully lost with the reality side of this possibility. To live life on as I have, with no guarantee of success, health, or happiness? A live with no guarantee of heaven? Or would I renounce my life, my soul, perhaps, and become as one of the undead?

The possible futures lay themselves out before him, each an eager whore, anxious for the seed of his belief. If he stayed … well, human, he supposed … he might live out a sad and lonely life, and die in pain; destination oblivion. However, he could also live well, gain success in his life, and die a happy and prosperous man; bound for Heaven with a song in his heart. Tra la la.

But then, there was … oh, hell, to call it the Gift sounded too fucking melodramatic. If he called it the Gift he’d have to change his name to Lucius or Julienne and go move into a gothic fucking mansion in downtown Atlanta. And Vincent fucking hated Lestat. He just couldn’t take the chance that the bastard might be real.

Call it a choice. Small case 'c'. Nothing more, or less. Nothing greater, for that matter. For from here, he made his choices based upon full knowledge. I know not what I did would no longer be a phrase he could honestly use. He could choose life, good and God, or death, depravity, and Damnation. Or maybe not, Vincent dared to hope. Some books are about vampires who follow a good path, worship God, and therefore might be saved. There might be enough time to redeem himself.

Vincent allowed himself to follow these future paths fully, exploring and considering every angle. The vampire – for really, to refer to it as anything else from here on in would just be coy – stood silently, following Vincent’s thoughts through their fluid course. The vampire sniffed, softly. Hmm. Jasmine.

Victor followed each path to its end. First, the good. Life, sunlight. Then, the bad. Death, darkness. Eternity. Heightened experiences, a chance to do everything, to go everywhere, to read everything. Vincent felt his decision forming as the shadow of the vampire fell slowly across the still water. Vincent saw himself, in his minds eye, acquiescing; feeling the short, soft twin stings of fangs as the slow rush of death and desire dashed through his body like angry waves against a solitary rock. The slow draining death, replaced the by rush of cold blood, mixed with his own warmth, flooding over his lips, hungrily sucking, not even pretending to be repulsed.

The coldness of death, of feeling his own warmth fade as the waters of the bath cooled and grew tepid. How long, he couldn’t say. Hours, perhaps, but no more than a night, judging from the blackness outside the window. Vincent imagined standing, glowing with newfound power and insight. Undeath, in Proprius Gloria, Laus Cavus.

He imagined stepping out the tub, cool water slipping off of palid flesh. He imagined slipping into his robe, and stepping out into the hall. He saw himself encountering Storm. He saw her hackles raised, her shoulders hunched as she snarled and drooled her implacable hatred.

Fuck, Vincent thought, I forgot dogs hate the undead. The bubble popped, and the decision reversed. Try has he might, he could never imagine living as someone that dogs would hate. A dog was, to Vincent, the last shred of evidence of goodness in the world. No matter how foul mankind could be, how spiteful, petty, greedy, and hateful, for in the eyes of a dog, Vincent could see love.

Vincent made his decision. He would live.

A most interesting decision, and an enjoyable tale. The thought was not his own. But sadly, predicated upon a fallacy. Your choice, as you put it, is not between life and undeath. It is between undeath, and regular, ordinary, every day death.

So be it.

Vincent shook himself from his cannabis-laced fantasy, and chuckled softly as he reached out a toe to shut off the tap. He sighed contentedly, swatting briefly at two, sudden pricks of pain in his neck. He sunk deeply into sleep.


Auntie Bernie said...

It's a wonderful story, but I had a bit of trouble following it. Are there two men there (Victor and Vincent) or did you inadvertently change the name of the one character?

Asher Hunter said...

Fuck. I'm a dumbass. Vincent morphed into Victor for some reason. I changed things to the way they should be, thanks for pointing that out Bernie!