Teasing Him Out
Copyright © 2012 By Michael Litzky
My little brother was the tough one. I never got used to the pale faces pressed against every window but he did.
I had to pull the shade down over my bedroom window and move my bed to the middle of the room. In fact, since the bed was built into the wall, I just took to hauling off the blankets and sleeping on the floor.
Not Alec. He kept his bed right by the window. I hated to go into his room at night because he’d tink his finger on the window and make faces at the vampires outside, drive them into a frenzy. They’d writhe against the glass and make like they were going to smash it with their fists, they’d hiss and show their fangs and their red tongues. He’d laugh at their dire threats and their coaxing.
One night he even cut open his finger, a little nick with a razor blade. I was sitting right there; I’d come in to ask him for one of his CDs, and I gasped. I think he was doing it more to tease me than them. He held up the finger with the glistening red line, let them see it.
“Jesus, Alec, don’t, oh don’t…” I moaned with the fear.
Their bodies shook the walls and windows, they slammed so hard. But never hard enough to break in, they couldn’t. We were in our house and we were safe. He walked over and held his finger against the window, painted a little blood “x.”
“Come out, bring your flesh to us! Be warned, snipe! We suck you dry if you set one foot out of your house. We will remember you!” Their voices snarled on and on.
Alec grinned at me, then put the cut finger in his mouth and sucked, made a dramatic “yuck!” face as he swallowed. The vampires became silent and their eyes blazed.
Then one of the vampires looked at me. He was older than the others and his face was fatter. With a chill that that crawled through my skin, I heard his thin cold voice whisper, “Open the window and push him out to us.”
I turned so fast I tripped and Alec laughed “What did he say?” as I stumbled to my own room. Shaking in the dark, crying with the fear, I turned on the overhead light and my bedside lamp. I knew they were outside my own window, unseen because of the roll-up shade. As the scritching of fingernails started, I retreated to the very center of the room.
I only once again ever saw the vampire who first said it, but once the idea had been suggested, they never dropped it. Night after night they whispered at my window. …send him out to us, young one…we will catch you one day…you can never be careful enough forever…send him out to us and we will spare you…
They never said it again while Alec was around. They raged at him and threatened him, but always a few pairs of red eyes would be on me.
Days went by and we carried on normal lives. Cold cereal for breakfast and fresh mornings with only footprints left. Mom and Dad drove us to school even though it was two and a half blocks. Where did they all go in the daytime? Never a corpse to be seen: anyone they caught was either drained and became one of them, or consumed to the last stitch of clothing. When we got home, we could play outside but the unbreakable rule was: back home an hour before sunset, no exceptions, ever. And Alec would come dancing in the door fifteen minutes before the sun went down and say “Chill out dudes,” as Mom and Dad raged at him, weak with relief. Then the sun went down and the world outside our lighted islands belonged to them, and the whispering at my window would start up again.
On my birthday, Alec gave me a nice card that he made himself. We made popcorn and settled in the living room to watch old movies. I was watching him, a nervous hum in my belly, not thinking anything in particular.
Mom and Dad had a great movie collection and I picked one that I thought would be too grown-up for him, thinking he might whine for a kid movie. But he watched it with me.
It was a French film with subtitles. In one of the first scenes, an uncle offers to sing at a big family gathering. They all say no. So he says, “Alright then, I’ll show you my ass.” And does it.
Alec got that mischievous look. “I’m going to moon those vampires,” he announced.
I felt a jolt of terror. He saw it, his eyes said “Wimp” and maybe that made him up the ante. “I’ll just open the front door to do it. They can’t come in if I don’t invite them.”
Suddenly I pictured him standing in the doorway, me right behind him and tried to squash the thought that came to me. He sprinted to the door. I tried to stop him, confused thoughts fighting in my head. If I quietly said, “come in” – of course I wouldn’t do it. But before I thought I won’t, I thought Would they kill me too?
He snapped open the deadbolt as I pulled at him, shouting “NOO, don’t!” From upstairs, Mom’s voice screamed, “What are you two doing???”
Then he got the door open and there they were. Dimly we heard slippers and boots clumping down the stairs as the cold, thin bodies filled the doorway. Alec turned, ripped down his pants and underpants, and mooned them just like he said he would. Three of them looked at me.
I quivered in perfect terror and couldn’t move. But I twitched against him. His balance shifted just a snitch, and his white butt protruded a fraction of an inch past the line of the door. Outside the house.
And in a forever that was over in a roaring instant, they had pulled him out. His mischievous look turned to horror as he vanished into the pressing hoard. An animal snarling and a spray of blood filled the air but not a drop came inside. Hungry vampires caught even the spraying mist, sucked it up, smacked their lips.
Hot hands pulled at me and I knew I was dead. But it was my parents pulling me away from the door which drifted shut with a click. Not before I saw–
Mom’s arms held me tight and Dad stroked my hair with hands that trembled. My nerves were stretched, feeling for the tiniest nick of a hard word. My skin cringed at the familiar sound of Mom’s breath, her “Tell me exactly what happened.” I don’t know if any look passed between them before I started talking.
I told them everything except for one thing. It was in that instant before the door clicked shut. I got just a glimpse of the vampire who had started it. And he was giving me a wink and a thumbs up.
I could never ask Mom or Dad if they saw it. I think they were cooler to me ever after, but how can I know?
Doesn’t every kid go through a phase where he thinks his parents don’t love him?