Day 18 - Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch
(story by guest-author Laureate)

When the sun begins to rise, you’ll find me walking home. All around my neighborhood, I see faces peering at me from upstairs windows. I call them the Neighborhood Watch. They watch the street to keep it safe. I’m a bit of an exception. I make a half-lunging step at one of the houses, and the faces disappear behind blinds and curtains.

Laughing, I resume my journey.

My house is in a row of brownstones in Brooklyn, facing north so that it’s harder for the sun to shine in. I got my brownstone from an old lady who invited me in. While most prefer to drink their old ladies away, I take pride in the eating as well. Marinated, even the toughest and stringiest old meat can be made tender and edible. A good white wine goes well with ground basil, fresh garlic, and liver that’s been soaking in balsamic vinegar overnight.

At the door I take out my keychain, an old lady paw dangling for good luck. The house is dark: electricity is not a necessity. Locking the door behind me, I walk upstairs to the bedroom. Some of my kin prefer the traditional coffin. Still others prefer a tight crawlspace that they can’t be surprised in. I’m partial to a bed, myself. It’s non-traditional, I know, but living by tradition has gotten most of my kind killed. I really enjoy being undead. A bed gives me a way out in any direction.

Unbuttoning my shirt, I hear a scratch from inside my closet. I laugh and open the closet door. Karol is squatting on the floor, looking up at me. She’s naked. Her face, once covered with freckles, has faded to pale. She has her arm across her chest, trying to hide herself. I sniff the air. Something smells.

“You’ve soiled your bed again, Karol,” I say.

She glances down. “I know. I can’t wait for you to come home.”

I put my hand on her chin and force her to face me. “Should I stop feeding you?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “No, no, I’ll try to be better.”

“Get out, and go get the cleaning the things.”

She slides past me, covering herself as much as possible with her hands. She’ll go downstairs into the old lady’s kitchen and find a sponge and a bucket of water. The water I brought in for her to drink, but she’ll have to use it to clean, too. She could leave, but her nakedness embarrasses her. Her human nature keeps her my hostage.

When I arrived here I came as a religious zealot. Funny thing about the bible thumpers; you might be better off letting them people in. One of them may be right about God, and if you turn Him away, where will you be? Of course it could be me, so you take the risk. Nothing stokes my sense of irony more than knocking on someone’s door, asking to speak to them about the afterlife, and then sending them there.

The old lady asked me to come in. Of course, folks in the neighborhood noticed she was gone right away.  I told them I was her cousin from Italy. They really didn’t buy it, but it got me a few extra days.

You see, I had a plan. I was tired of slinking around, always on the move, creeping from place to place like the rest of my kind. I wanted to live on the outside, and for that, I needed some allies.

After I had killed the old lady, I watched the neighborhood, sizing up my opportunities. There was one girl, Karol. She and her boyfriend Carlo had a routine. He would drink beer and wait for her at the corner bodega. She went to school in Manhattan, but still came home every night on the subway, after dark. The two up them would walk home, stopping to chat with every family that sitting outside on their stoops, before going into her house for sex.

This was a situation ripe for my coming out.

I wanted to impress the neighborhood, you see. They needed to see my viciousness, just how powerful I was. But it’s a fine line. I didn’t want them to flee from me. There needed to be something to tie them to me. Thankfully, no matter how much they complain about their neighbors, people get really attached to where they live.

So, the next evening, I ritually slaughtered Carlo on the street. I sprayed the blood in each direction, up and down the block, until there wasn’t a home left untouched. It was impressive. I showed them my fangs and demonstrated what they could do to a man. Karol, I took hostage. Some would have called the authorities, but I used my power to keep them transfixed; watching me. Then, in a loud voice, I spoke to the entire street. I made them a deal that they couldn’t refuse: I keep Karol. They keep quiet. And they live. No one else gets hurt from me, and no one else would come to this neighborhood to hurt them. In their stupefaction, in their cravenness, in their greed; they agreed.

The next day, Karol’s family shook themselves out of their stupor and talked about going to the police.Their neighbors thought about their sons and daughters and decided that the police were a bad idea. Her family could not be dissuaded, and so their neighbors killed them. It was early afternoon, and I watched from the window—the sun being behind my building by then—as they beat Karol’s family down in the streets. It was a sight I enjoyed immensely.

The neighbors brought me her family, leaving them on my doorstep. I commended them for their loyalty
It didn’t take me long to settle in, really. I don’t feed on the neighborhood and they don’t bother me. When someone comes by snooping, my good neighbors take care of him and I get a free meal.

Occasionally, I know, Karol looks out the window. They see her face, peering at them through the sunlight.  And they hold their daughters and sons tighter. When they walk down the street, they can still see the stains left by Carlo. And they hold their daughters and sons tighter.

They’ll never tell on me. In fact, they protect me.

That’s what a neighborhood watch is for.

Human Nature: ain’t it a bitch?

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