Chapter 16: Just Like Coming Home

“I don’t know about this. I think it’s too soon,” I whispered to O’Malley as we stood in the dark behind the two-car garage. Actually, I felt like I hadn’t seen my home in decades. It even looked abandoned; the car was gone and all the lights were out inside.

“They’ve given you a funeral and a tombstone. It’s been long enough,” she said. “Besides, it doesn’t look like anyone’s home.”

I heaved a sigh and stepped toward the house. Automatically, my hand went toward my left jacket pocket where I’d always carried my keys. The nostalgia was painful. Had it really only been two weeks?

We ascended the stairs to the back deck and I stood in front of the back door.

“What’re you waiting for?” O’Malley asked.

“I dunno if I can go in,” I said. “I mean, do I need an invitation, or is it still my house?”

“Didn’t think of that,” she mused. “Try it. You won’t be able to open it if you can’t go in.”

Carefully, slowly, I reached for the knob and turned it. It opened easily and the door swung open into the dark kitchen.

“Looks like it carries over,” she said. “But, just to be safe…”

Before I could ask what she meant, she shoved me forward, into the kitchen, and watched me. I froze, looking at my hands, my body, watching for blood to start pouring out of me, waiting for the unbearable pain.

But nothing happened, and I took a long, relieved breath. Then I turned around and glared. “Do you wanna wait outside?”

“Oh, c’mon!” she protested, and pouted beautifully. I rolled my eyes and waved her in after me, forcing back a smile.

“You have to declare it,” she reminded me.

I chuckled and smiled at her. “Come inside my house, vampire girl.”

“Where are you?” Walter’s voice demanded from the living room.

“Shit,” I whispered, and jumped back outside with O’Malley, closing the door to a thin gap and crouching. “It’s him.”

“You cain’t just walk out on me! I’m yer husband!” we heard him yell.

I swallowed hard. He was talking to Mom, but I couldn’t hear her responding. He must’ve been on the phone with her.

“Of course I’m yer husband! We’ve been married fer seven years! … Well, he’s dead, Laura, and by death did you part. … Whether you love me or not, we’re married in the eyes of God! … An’ whose fault was that? If you’d act like a proper wife, I wouldn’t have to! … It don’t matter that they’re both dead! What’s keepin’ you here is me! Yer husband! … Hello? … Answer me, Laura! … Laura!”

I peeked in through the window. He cried out and threw the phone across the kitchen, then stomped his way through the room, tearing pictures off the walls in the hallway and slamming the door as he went into the bedroom.

I smiled to myself. Mom had escaped.

“What was that about?” O’Malley whispered.

“My mom left,” I answered, and closed the door gently. “C’mon, there’s another way.”

I took her hand and led her down the stairs, around to the front of the house. The windows to my room were just above the roof over the front porch. I leapt onto the railing and pulled myself up one of the posts to the roof.

“Not the first time I’ve had to sneak a girl into my room,” I said, and reached down to her. She climbed onto the railing and I helped her up the rest of the way. The window to the left was unlocked, just as I’d always left it. We slipped inside onto my bed for a quiet landing.

“Make it quick,” O’Malley suggested. “Someone could’ve seen us.”

I looked around the room in the dark and stepped forward, picking up my gym bag. I unzipped it and let the clothes fall out on my way to the closet. As I began to fill the bag with shirts and jeans, I heard O’Malley giggle and sit down on the edge of my bed. I glanced back. She was flipping through a Hustler magazine. Apparently, under the bed wasn’t as effective a hiding place as I’d thought.

“Let me guess,” she mused. “You buy it for the articles?”

“Actually, I buy it for the pictures of naked women,” I answered, looking for my Crashdïet t-shirt. “And you might not want to touch page 34.”

She cringed and put the magazine back under the bed, but pulled out something else. “Ooh, kinky…” she murmured.

I found the shirt and looked back at her again. She was holding up a pair of red, fuzzy handcuffs. “Ah. You’ve discovered my bag of tricks.”

“Tell me, Grin. Who usually wears these?”

“It depends on the night,” I said, zipping up the gym bag. “And the girl.” I started back toward her, admiring how she handled the cuffs.

From the look she gave me, she may have been imagining how they’d look on me. “Say, a night like tonight?” she offered. “And a girl like me?”

I smiled and took them from her. “If you keep touching my shit, you’ll be the one wearing them.”

She rolled her eyes and walked over to the bookshelf. I looked around the room, silently saying goodbye to my music collection, the posters of my heroes, and most painfully, my guitar. I knew we could only take the essentials, and lugging an instrument around was bound to make some noise as we made our escape.

I moved on and picked up a small framed picture from the shelf above the desk. It was a photo from my parents’ wedding. Dad was in his tux, Mom was in her white wedding dress, and they were holding a month-old Jake between them, asleep and swaddled in a blue blanket. I took the photo out of the frame carefully and put it in a separate pocket of the duffel bag.

Burn Me Alive,” O’Malley said.

“What?”

She turned away from the bookshelf with an old, crumpled piece of notebook paper in her hand and read out loud:

Like a spark that lights up the night,

“Make come true my wettest dreams,

“I wanna be bad, it feels so right,

“Take me down and make me scream.”

She lifted her eyebrows at me. “This room is starting to look like a den of debauchery.”

I remembered that song. I put the bag down on the floor and walked toward her, singing,

Set me on fire, stoke my desire,

“Burn me alive in your passionate flames,

“You make me feel something so real,

“Burning alive in the pleasure and pain.”

She smiled. “You wrote that?”

“I was in a band once,” I reminded her. “The chicks loved that song.”

“I can see why,” she admitted. Looking at something over my shoulder, she commented, “You sort of remind me of someone…”

I glanced behind me. She was looking at a poster of Peter Steele on my wall. Another fucking dead guy. Still, she was sort of right. I had the long black hair, the green eyes, and the imposing stature. And hey, now that I was a vampire, I even had the fangs!

“Nah, these lyrics are more Poisonblack than Type O Negative.” I took the paper from her and put it back on the pile of other old songs, taking the opportunity to move closer to her. I held onto the shelf above her shoulders and trapped her between me and the bookcase. “But… you can still ‘Be My Druidess,'” I suggested, smiling. Damn, that little black dress looked great on her, but I imagined it would look even better on my floor.

“Step back, Grin,” she said.

I sighed and rolled my eyes, but I moved back.

“More.”

Confused, I took another step away.

“Keep going.”

I took another step back and felt the edge of the bed behind my knees. I smirked.

So that’s where this is going.

“Almost there,” she said with a grin.

I crawled back across the bed and sat up on my elbows, watching her, waiting for her to… I dunno, pounce on me and tear my clothes off, hopefully?

Instead, she just said, “That’s good. Now, let’s get going before the old man hears us,” and and picked up the duffel bag.

I groaned and fell back on the pillow. All this teasing was going to kill me.

“Everything in the bag?” she asked.

“Yeah…” I muttered, still disappointed. But the song had reminded me of something. “Wait, no.” I jumped up and went to the shelves of CD’s and DVD’s and scanned the titles with my finger.

“What are you doing?”

“There’s one more thing I need,” I said. “Just go. I’ll catch up.”

She sighed anxiously and climbed out the window. Though I searched the CD’s, and even the DVD’s in case it had gotten mixed up with them, I couldn’t find it. I almost gave up, but then I felt along the top of the tower. I felt a thin CD case, covered in dust, and brought it down. I rubbed the dust off and saw the disc through the clear plastic. It was a Memorex CD-R, and on the label, written in black Sharpie, were the words, “Wicked Grin and the Grave Robbers.” It was the demo we had made in my basement, GG Allin-style: with a voice recorder sitting on the floor as we jammed. I smiled and put it in the inside pocket of my jacket.

I glanced back and forth between the window and the bedroom door. I almost wanted to go say hi to Walter, but I knew it was too soon for that. So I just slipped out the window, closed it behind me, and jumped to the ground.

When I came around back, O’Malley was nowhere to be seen. She wasn’t with her car, in the field behind the house. However, the side door to the garage was open.

My bike!

When I entered the door, O’Malley was standing there with her back to me. The bag slipped out of her hand to the floor. My mouth fell open.

“Holy shit,” she said, staring ahead.

There it was, next to my de Ville, just feet away from me, shiny and black. My Triumph. You’d never guess it had ever been crashed. It
looked showroom new!

“Oh, baby!” I marveled. I moved around O’Malley and jumped on the leather seat. The handles felt perfect in my hands again. It was just like coming home. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I felt like I was someplace I belonged. My ass belonged on that seat, my hands belonged on those bars. I wanted nothing more than to burn rubber out of that garage and rampage through town like I used to, scaring the hell out of everyone who saw me.

My hands fell to my thighs and I sighed. It was too soon.

“Hey,” O’Malley said from the doorway. I looked up. “The time’ll come,” she replied to my thoughts. “Be patient.”

I accepted that, climbed off, and picked up the bag. “I know,” I answered, following her across the field, and growled, “I’m just getting tired of riding bitch.”

It was after midnight when we arrived at Lanigan’s, and the place was packed. O’Malley offered to take my bag up to the loft, and against my better judgment, I let her go and waited outside.

After a while, the front door of Lanigan’s opened and O’Malley descended the front steps. And she wasn’t alone. Following her was a guy with spiky black hair, pale white skin, looking even paler since he was dressed all in black. Black wife-beater and black jeans under a black trench coat. The jeans were tucked into black leather combat boots that had probably seen better days.

I tried to listen in on what they were saying, but I couldn’t make anything out. It pissed me off because, judging from his body language, he was really talking her up. And that made me feel… icky.

The truth is, I was really starting to dig O’Malley. How could I not? She was exactly the kind of girl I’d fantasized about since puberty, the woman my right hand turned into when I closed my eyes, the physical manifestation of every wet dream I’d ever had!

But here’s the strange part: of all the things a man could do with a woman, what I wanted most was to kiss her. I wanted to know what her lips would feel like pressed against mine. And that’s how I knew there was something to the feeling I got when I was close to her, something more than just me being a horny teenage boy.

Probably another weird vampire thing, I thought, and rolled my eyes.

It seemed they said goodbye and O’Malley got in behind the wheel. “Who was that?” I asked as we rolled to the stop sign at the end of the block.

“Friend of mine,” she said.

“A friend. Right,” I muttered, and we accelerated down the dark, empty street.

She laughed. “Don’t worry, Grin. There’s nothing going on between me and him.”

I laughed too, but I didn’t let on to how glad I was to know that.

Downtown near the river is the oldest part of the city, Arlington Landing. During the day it’s a popular tourist attraction, but after dark, the Landing is nothing but bad news. So, of course, O’Malley and I decided to hunt there. We left the car behind in a parking lot and stalked the dark brick streets like a couple of vigilantes searching for criminals. No one would ever guess our true intentions if they saw us, walking through the night together, my arm around her shoulders and hers around my waist. A policeman on patrol drove past us, unaware that we were part of the cause of his heavy workload. The answer to the Case of the Drained Corpses was right in front of him, and he had no idea.

“Kinda quiet tonight,” I commented. “Maybe we should just hit Cecilia’s?”

She seemed to consider it, and finally nodded. But as we were walking back toward the parking lot, we found them. I pressed my back against the wall, around the corner from them, out of their sight. O’Malley stood beside me and asked, “How does it look?”

I peeked around the wall and gauged the landscape. “Three ugly rednecks, sitting around, smoking weed,” I described in a whisper. “High as the sky. Sounds like they’re talking about Nascar and their sisters’ blowjobs.”

“You are a sick bastard,” she hissed in my ear.

Damn, I love it when you call me names,” I answered, grinning back at her. “It makes me so hot.”

She held back laughter and punched me in the shoulder.

“Okay, okay. Chill out,” I said, and looked back around the corner at the rednecks. I listened closely and cringed at the conversation. “Ugh. Those guys are the sick bastards…”

“What is it now? Barnyard bestiality?” she muttered.

“Worse,” I said, shaking my head. “They’re talking about getting tickets to see Toby Keith.”

“Ugh. We’d be saving them from a fate worse than death,” she replied.

I turned back around to face her. “How do you wanna do it?” I asked.

She thought about it for a moment and said, “I’ll go first.”

Her hazel eyes sparkled with excitement. I smiled, already feeling my fangs begin to emerge. She stepped around the corner and walked down the center of the narrow alley. I crouched and watched, unseen. One by one, they noticed her and fell silent. Then one of them broke the quiet.

“Well, howdy, young lady,” the man in the middle greeted, crossing his arms and looking her up and down. “You lost?”

“Must be,” another said, and jumped down from the dumpster where he’d been sitting. “This ain’t a nice place to be after dark.” He licked sweat from his upper lip, eyes raking over her. “‘Specially fer a purdy young thing like you.”

The third chuckled and said, “Nah, I think she’s in the right place… If’n she’s lookin’ fer some fun.”

“Now, boys, let’s not forget our manners,” the first man scolded. “We should introduce ourselves.” He cleared his throat. “My name’s Duke. These’ns here are Bobby and Carl.” He motioned to the men to his right and left, respectively.

“Nice to meet you, boys,” she said seductively. “It just so happens, I am looking to have some fun.”

They laughed and nudged each other, sure they were about to get laid. The trap was set.

“Well, what did ya have in mind, darlin’?” Duke asked.

She stopped in front of him, looked him dead in the eye, smiled, and said, “I’m gonna kill you and your friends.”

I stepped out and stood at the entrance of the alley. As their focus switched to me, O’Malley leapt forward and latched her teeth onto Duke’s throat. He screamed, first from shock, then from pain. She brought him to his knees, then shoved him onto his back. He tried to fight, but she held his arms down to the ground with a strength he couldn’t resist.

The other two realized they were trapped between me and her, but Bobby was stupid enough to try and fight his way out. He ran at me, but before he could land a single punch, I grabbed him by the neck and threw him across the alley. His head hit the brick wall so hard, he was unconscious before he fell to the ground. Carl took the short confrontation as an opportunity to make a run for it, but I caught him by his jacket and dragged him back. He sobbed and begged me to let him go. I just threw him down on his face and grabbed him by the hair, jerked his head up, and fell down with one knee on his ass. He cried out in agony, but I kept pulling his head back, lifting his chest off the ground, until I couldn’t bend his spine any farther. Then I plunged my fangs into his neck.

While I fed, I watched O’Malley like a voyeur. She straddled her victim’s hips, drinking and drinking and drinking, body writhing and undulating with pleasure, back arching, eyes closed blissfully. I was hypnotized. I couldn’t look away. I didn’t want to. And in a moment of unsettling realization, I knew I was getting off on it. I was watching her kill, and I was not only enjoying it… I was aroused by it. I may as well have been jacking off to a snuff film. I knew it was wrong, and I knew it was horrible, but maybe that’s why I loved it so much. It made me feel dirty, and it felt so fucking good!

I snapped my victim’s neck and let his face smash into the pavement. O’Malley threw her head back and gasped orgasmically. I licked the blood from my lips, watching the rise and fall of her breasts as she caught her breath. She looked at me and gave me that lopsided smirk, her teeth stained red, lips wet, chin dripping. Her gaze jolted me like electricity. The fiery desire surged so strongly and so suddenly, I trembled. I had to have her, and I didn’t care if it had to be right there, in that alley, on the cold concrete, among the bodies of our victims.

Okay, so maybe there was more I wanted than to kiss her.

“O’Malley…” I panted, beginning to crawl toward her.

Her face changed to shock and she looked at something behind me. “Grin, get him!” she shouted.

I looked back and saw the man we’d thought was unconscious was up and running. “Shit,” I growled, and chased after him. Just before he made it out of the alley, I jumped onto his back and brought him to the ground. “Nice try, Bubba,” I said, and got back up to my feet. As I dragged him back by his ankles, he screamed for help, fingernails cracking and bleeding as he clawed the ground. No one could hear him. And if anyone could, they didn’t care.

“Holy shit, what did you do?” he shrieked, staring at the bodies of his friends. “What the fuck are you guys?”

“Should we tell him?” I wondered.

O’Malley smirked and answered, “He’ll figure it out.”

Our eyes met. We grinned at each other. Then we pinned him against the wall. I bit into the right side of his neck, and she bit into the left. Together, we drank him dry.

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