Not Dying in Central Texas – Sarah Pinsker

By the time I learned about the vampire living in our town, he had long been old and toothless.  My brother Michael first told me about the monster on the evening after my eleventh birthday.  We had just walked out of Bluebonnet, and even though it was September my ice cream was melting faster than I could eat it.  We hadn’t taken three steps out of the store when Michael grabbed my arm.  The ice cream in the spoon, halfway to my mouth, spilled onto the sidewalk, pink stain on white concrete.  I didn’t have a free arm, so I kicked him. 

“Ssssh,” he said in a low voice, gripping my forearm harder.  I held onto my spoon.  “Aaron, do you see that guy over there?” 

I looked across the parking lot at the Kroger’s, where Michael worked as a bag boy on weekends.  An old man stood next to the exit, his position forcing people to dodge him as they pushed their carts through the automatic doors.  He didn’t seem to be begging or trying to get inside.  The shoppers just treated him as if he were a trashcan that had been left in the way. 

“Let go of me!  I’ve seen that creep a million times!” 

Dry River was too small for anyone to go unnoticed, but it was true that I had never really paid attention to him before.  I had known him only by the way my mother would quicken her pace and shepherd me by on the evenings he loitered outside Jack in the Box or Kroger’s, or the way my father would shake his head and tell me to look away when we passed him on the road. 

“Shut up.  I’m trying to tell you something important.  He’s a vampire.”

“There’s no such thing.”

“There is.  He is.  His name is Robert Karring.  He’s lived here as long as anybody can remember!” 

“As long as Grandma?”  Our grandmother had lived in Dry River her entire life.

“Longer.”

Michael heard all kinds of interesting things now that he worked at the supermarket, all of which he passed along to me as fact.  Some of them were truer than others.  John Grand didn’t really catch a two-headed catfish, for example, and my mother said that Donna Martinez wasn’t actually kidnapped by aliens; she was just crazy. 

When we got home that night I told my mother what Michael had said.  I expected her to laugh it off, but to my surprise she confirmed it.  The old man really was a vampire.

read the entire story in Pulp Literature Issue No. 2, Spring 2014.

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