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They sing to me. Only I can hear it, this song of passion, of longing, of hunger. Only I bear witness to this haunting melody… I alone was chosen. Once long ago, on a day much like this, I interrupted the song long enough to ask them why. They stared at me, then one came close and stroked my cheek as it whispered, “Because, my dear child, you alone listen.” And the song started once more. I’m not afraid. Most of you would be, I know. Most of you would refuse to listen, perhaps convince yourselves it was a dream, but not me. I embrace the song, revel in it… don’t you see, I heed the lure of the song because they need me… they need me. Nobody has ever needed me this way, so desperately, so… hungrily. Now the song grows louder. The time is drawing closer where I must do as the song commands. Hundreds of voices raised in terrible beauty, and I am helpless against it. I am abruptly drawn out of my reverie. An old lady wearing a red dress stands at the front of the room and smiles around at the sea of people. “Let the speed dating begin!” She rings a little bell, and I sit and face my first speed date, a bitter looking brunette who smells of cigarette smoke and cats. We introduce ourselves and talk about random things, and two minutes later the bell rings frantically and I stand to make my way to the next table, the next woman. And then I meet her. “Hi, I’m Robin,” she says, holding out a slender white hand. I take her hand and at the contact, I feel as though I’ve known her my whole life. “Hello Robin, I’m Tony.” And then she asks the question. “What do you like to do in your spare time?” I look her in the eyes. “I breed tarantulas.” And for the first time this evening, I see a smile at this announcement. “Oh, Tony, I love tarantulas. I have several myself!” And the two minutes with Robin is gone in an instant, and I am forced to stand, to move to the next table. But my gaze still comes back to rest on Robin, and hers on me, through the rest of the evening. The speed dating comes to a close an hour later, with the bell once again ringing cheerily throughout the room. “Okay, all you handsome men! You met every one of these lovely ladies, and now it’s time to mingle and find the woman who is perfect for you!” She smiles happily. My eyes meet Robin’s. I want to go to her. She wants it too. But then we both give each other a bittersweet smile and turn away. I scan the crowd, and my eyes land on Shirley, the bitter cat lady. I walk to her. “Hi, Shirley, I was hoping we could talk more?” I smile at her, and I can tell she’s surprised, that she expected nobody to come up to her. “Um, sure, okay,” she replies, and gives me a nervous smile.
The sun was setting. “Are we still going to your apartment?” I smile down at her with affection. “That sounds perfect.” “Sounds good. it’s feeding time.” I laugh and wind my arm around Shirley. almost pretty with a flush on her cheeks. She looks up at me. I guide her to my home. “What are you humming? I could swear Robin was just humming that same song. then looked back at Angela. “Maybe we could… go back to my place?” I grin. After all. off with her date. The tarantulas are singing. Right now I must think about Shirley. and she giggles once more. She giggles again. Shelley opened the door. She’s giggling now. you see.We walk to the bar. I respond at all the right places. then another.” I say. then another. her job as a file room secretary. “Next week we’ll try the new sushi bar down the street from my place. and he holds the door open for the rest of us. and I’m alone with Shirley. and Angela decided to walk the few blocks to her home. telling me about her many cats. How about we go to mine. laugh at the right times. gesturing to the crowded room. we are. “Maybe we should get out of here. then looks at me curiously. “It’s just a song I’ve had in my head for ages. and pretty soon I know she’s mine. It’s them. it was lovely. so we’re not… interrupted by curious onlookers?” I despise cats. The night was absolutely gorgeous. And I know Robin hears it too.” Angela adjusted the strap of her handbag as they stood outside the restaurant. It slowed and weaved its way through the traffic to the women.” I look at her in sudden realization.” Angela waved as Shelley slammed the cab door and watched as the taxi pulled away. but Robin answers. “Yes. it was.” The song now pounding through my head.” Then she’s gone.” replied Shelley. I wink. “I have a better idea. “Oh. and I order her a drink. yes. “Me too. But when she looks at me. and the already crisp autumn air was becoming chilly. She buttoned her jacket and waved her arm at the approaching taxi. The Walk Home “Thanks for the dinner. Shelley.” At the door we meet Robin and her date. . But I can’t think of her now.
“Anything else. looking him up and down. madam?” he asked sarcastically. The neighborhood was safe. blood-red lips. and fangs.” Dracula gasped and ran his hands down his lapels. that getup is tacky. He glowered down at her. and relatively quiet. His eyes widened. “I didn’t know they made camera phones with built-in flash. then opened his mouth and bared his teeth at her once more. in full Dracula glory. coming face to face with Dracula.Angela took her time walking home. She heard footsteps behind her. There he was.” she said briskly. He undid the clasp and slung the cape over his arm.” she muttered. pale skin. quietly.” “Like what?” Angela rolled her eyes and turned away.” “I’d bet there are lots of things you don’t know. cleared her throat.” “The cape needs to go as well. and a vampire bared his teeth menacingly as she passed… Angela’s brow furrowed. The hissing noise soon became a choking cough as he was blinded by a bright flash from the cell phone in Angela’s hand. Dracula stared after her. then yelled. “This is an expensive tailored tuxedo. heading once again for her apartment. I’ll have you know. It’s too… eighteenth century.” The vampire thought about that. weird cape. and nodded. The neat little rows of brownstones lined the streets. “Halloween isn’t until next week. casting a yellow glow on the sidewalk. Pretty soon she heard footsteps behind her once again. A vampire? She blinked. interior lights glowing brightly. and made a mental note to call Shelley when she got home.” “Well it is hard running after people in loafers. keeping pace. and glared at Dracula. “Are you quite done?” He glared back reproachfully. Angela turned back and began walking again.” He brushed a speck of imaginary dirt off his sleeve. and looked over her left shoulder. “Like what?” he asked again. and an odd hissing noise escaped from his throat. and then he was there next to her. and she whirled around in alarm. “But you’re wearing Reeboks. . He rubbed his eyes wildly as she returned the phone to her purse. “Excellent. “And aren’t you a little old to be playing dress up?” The vampire looked shocked. “Maybe there’s a masquerade party around here somewhere.” Angela said dryly. and stopped sneering at her. “Like what?” Angela didn’t slow down. “For starters.
Anthony. . thanks for the walk home. Remember that. Don’t you have a masquerade party to get to?” “A par… I’m not a fake. I wouldn’t presume to get smart with you.” “You might have been aiming for lion. She pulled it out of her purse and searched for the photo.” Angela shut the door in his face.” “Shall I walk you in?” “Fangs. but you got badger. As the picture came into view.” “Don’t get smart with me. There was the street. lady. and the brownstones… but Dracula. but I think it’s time for you to go. and smiled as she remembered the camera phone. I’m a real vampire!” Angela patted his arm. You looked like a wild animal. “Of course you are. “Well.” “My name isn’t Dracula. but no fangs.” She glanced at him again. It’s Anthony. The whole baring-of-the-fangs thing is.” “Oh. “Well. the lamp. Drac. so she could send it to Shelley. I was aiming for a lion or tiger. She watched as he walked away sullenly. “Less is more. her eyes widened. who was less than three feet away.“Yeah.” “You were supposed to think that. Drac. hysterically funny. And I’m a werewolf. You’re much too crafty for me.” She laughed as he gasped.” “It’s Anthony!” She giggled. It was safe to say that Angela didn’t sleep well that night. wasn’t there. then turned abruptly and began climbing the stairs to her brownstone. Anthony. for lack of a better term.
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