Vampire Preys for Death Vampire Preys for Death
Immortality comes back to bite a despondent blood drinker

By our woman who is no stranger to a midnight snack, Jennifer Gardner
138-year-old David Hollowell once savoured the idea of living forever but now he prays for death—or possibly undeath
Born in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1867, Hollowell grew up in America’s flourishing southern city known for its music, food, extravagant night life and inadequate levees. Hollowell drew his last mortal breath at the tender age of 33 in the city’s most famous cemetery, the Saint Louis, when he was bitten by the vampire bug—in his case, a very attractive hooker— who sank her fangs into his neck while he was indulging his passion for brass rubbing.

For over a century he never regretted his choice to exchange mortality for an eternity of pallid skin and blood breath, but recently his situation has turned grave. This year, he granted utterpants an interview to die for.
“The hardest adjustment,” the tall vampire told our nervous reporter over a bottle of blood-red Sangria from his own cellar, “was sleeping in a coffin. I can’t tell you how many nights I awoke with a stiff neck and aches in my lower extremities. Luckily, the lovely lady who made was a Chiropractor who had a nephew who was a carpenter. I‘m eternally grateful to him for building me a coffin with extra arm and legroom. A good day’s rest is so important when you intend to live forever. He was an excellent craftsman but his business went downhill after I met him."
"Recession?" I asked.
"No—his aunt bit him, or I did, I can't remember."

Once his daytime sleeping arrangements were made, Hollowell had to adjust to his new plasma diet. “The first taste is always the best,” he explained as he casually flipped his cape off his left shoulder. “It was love at first bite. When I lost my vampire virginity, I drank way too much. I was intoxicated with the thrill of it. The blood just rolled down my throat like the Nectar of the Gods. I felt like a baby at a titty bar. I just couldn’t stop. The next night I woke up with such a hangover I didn’t crawl out of my coffin for a week. My undead friends still tease me about it, even though the story is so last century.”

Life for the undead Hollowell soon improved as he grew accustomed to the nocturnal routine of vampirism. He recalls that as the years flew by, New Orleans grew into a bustling city of culture, tourism, music, easy sex—and blood. “The city was literally bubbling with life,” he reminisced as the hint of a small tear ran down his pallid cheek. “Especially during Mardi Gras. I can’t tell you how many breasts I saw on any given night. I gave the ladies more than cheap plastic beads for a flash of flesh,” he added with a wry smile. “It was a splendid time, if you could stand the crowds and open-air urination—” he paused to sniff the air suspiciously. “Have you been eating garlic sausage?" he asked.
"Er...no," I replied, hastily tucking a strong-smelling, homemade necklace into my blouse.
"Funny..." said Hollowell, "I could have sworn...where was I?"
"Having a splendid time?" I prompted.

“Yes...well, I was the top recruiter for my coven three years in a row you know.” He looked down at his Dolce and Gabbana black velvet cape. “I won this in 1992, because I recruited 348 new vampires that year. Oh sure,” he added with a dismissive shrug, “Anne Rice and her alcoholic ramblings helped. But I did all the bloody work.”
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as he flashed a toothy grin and fixed his bright, yellow eyes on my neck. “Don’t worry," he laughed. "I’ve retired from recruitment. Anyway, you wouldn’t last a decade with those silicone breast implants. They drop, you know. So you're quite safe. Plus, I‘m on a diet. I've been feasting on too many fat American women lately. I‘m even starting to get a blood belly,” he added, patting his stomach with a nervous laugh.

"So what changed you?" I asked.
“The 21st Century. I just couldn’t sink my teeth into it. New Orleans began dying on the vine. With the election of George W Bush and his thirst for blood of a darker colour, the City that Care Forgot began living up to its nickname. Federal cash for social programmes were siphoned into the liberation of Iraq and tax cuts for the rich. And, as we all now know, the Bush Administration sucked over $70 million from the budget of the New Orleans Corps of Engineers, which prevented the proper maintenance and upgrade of the city's levee system. I might bite a lot of necks, but George Bush is the real vampire,” he finished bitterly.
A bit of empathy peeked out from behind his bright, piercing eyes. “Many of the city’s wealthiest residents moved to higher ground when Hurricane Katrina hit, leaving the black urban poor bathing in their own death. Not wanting to leave my home, I almost starved—unable to find any victims. The ones that I did find had already been sucked dry.”

“By the government, you mean?” I asked.
“No, by other vampires. I survived solely on looters, but they left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Noticing my empty glass, my charming host poured another glassful of Sangria as dawn peeked in from behind the heavy velvet drapes of his flood-damaged dining room. As I tipped my glass to forget the plight of New Orleans, a smile of poignant nostalgia passed over Hollowell's ashen face. "Ah..." he sighed, there's nothing like the warm wine of a young virgin flowing down the throat on cold night. No, no, please don't alarm yourself," he added hastily as I shrank from his gaze. "I told you, I'm retired. In fact my analyst says I’m suffering from post traumatic depression—a disorder not uncommon to vampires for obvious reasons. He wanted to put me on anti-depressants but my stomach rejects everything but blood. Unfortunately needles scare the death out of me. There’s only so much dying and destruction an immortal man can take. There’s no hope for me. My existence is as empty and dreary as the President's policies. Some nights I don’t even have the energy to climb out of my coffin. Undeath is just not worth living anymore. Therein lies my dilemma. How does an immortal kill himself? How can you kill someone who's already dead? Where's that meddling fool Van Helsing when you need him?” The vampire put his head in his hands and began weeping tears of blood.

It was then that I noticed the sharp, wooden stake lying on the windowsill. It was suddenly clear to me why Hollowell had granted this interview. Still weeping, he was oblivious to the stake I held high over his trembling body. But as I attempted to drive it into his chest, the Sangria made it's presence felt, my legs turned to jelly and I missed his heart completely, succeeding only in leaving a nasty-looking splinter in the vampire‘s left shoulder.

“Oh, thanks for trying,” he said as he gingerly picked the wooden shards out of his pale skin. “You’re far too drunk to drive home."
"No, no...I'll manage, " I insisted, backing unsteadily toward the door.
"You’re welcome to sleep in my guest coffin and have another try later,” he offered nonchalantly as he corked the wine and closed the curtains. “But if you can't manage it and get up early, don’t wake me,” he warned. “I’m a late sleeper.”

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Story © 2005 Jennifer Gardner. Design and construction © 2005 utterpants.co.uk / 281005

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