Dusk came earlier and earlier as summer neared its end. The leaves were eager to shed their green and reveal the oranges and reds that were lying in wait. The air was cool and crisp. Hues of sunset orange blended with the purple curtain of nightfall making everything appear as silhouettes. Warm light and laughter poured from the doors and windows of La Yarara, traveling out into the parking lot and across the hood of the fully restored El Camino. Heat from the now quiet engine began to creep into the backs of his legs as he leaned against the car, or truck, depending on your opinion of what an El Camino might be. He ran a hand through his unnaturally iridescent hair and started toward the restaurant. Entering through the bar, he saw the first patron, a squat latte-colored man in a t-shirt and apron smeared with the day’s special. On break from his kitchen duties, he was hunched over a plate of what appeared to be refried beans and rice, smothered in a puddle of nacho cheese. Not real cheese, but that liquidy goo pumped from a stainless steel tub.
“If I’m going to blow my diet, I’m certainly not going to waste it on him,” thought Wit. “If you are what you eat, that guy’s a tortilla short of a 7/11 burrito.”
Actually” You taste like what you eat” would be a much more accurate statement. Wit had been on a steady diet of vegans since him and his wife, Reese, had been “turned” and vegans tasted really, really bland. His wife was convinced that feeding on vegans was much healthier for them. Not that health is a factor when you’re already technically dead. Wit tried to think of them as corn-fed beef, but it didn’t help. Beef tastes awesome. Vegans taste awful.
Since Reese was traveling with Sunny to visit the in-laws, Wit thought it a great opportunity to hit the local Tex-Mex joint and indulge his inner carnivore. It had been months since he had a chance to slip out and sneak a quick bite. His mouth watered at the mere thought of something that didn’t taste green. Sure, Mexican food had plenty of lettuce and tomatoes, but the layers of grilled meats mingled with the oils and spices plus a frozen margarita with a salt laden rim. It all sounded like heaven.
Wit scanned the bar like it was a full-size picture menu. There was so much to choose from: chicken quesadillas, sizzling steak fajitas, burritos the size of a small cat. All tempting, but the dish that caught Wit’s eye had much more than flavor in its favor. Wit knew that any meal can be enhanced simply by its presentation. The artistic dribbling of sauces and a well-placed herbal flourish can turn the most mundane food into a delight for the palate and eye. The garnish on this plate came in the form of a tall blonde. Her hair was swept up in a loose bun, held in place by a pair of black enameled chopsticks. This would typically give Wit a view of his “point of entry” if not for the fact that she was wearing a white sleeveless turtleneck sweater. Her long black slacks flared enough at the bottom to conceal shiny black stiletto heels. Her retro style and elegant features reminded him of an actress that fueled his boyhood fantasies. The fact that she was indulging in chorizo and egg tacos seemed secondary. Wit straightened the collar of his sport coat, took a deep breath and walked over to her end of the bar.
“That looks delicious.”
“Excuse me?” she coughed.
“I said that looks delicious.”
“Oh, I thought you said I look delicious.”
Wit smiled. “Well, I would have to agree with you on that, as well.” The blonde blushed a bit. “You remind me of that actress that played Samantha on ‘Bewitched’. Her name was Elizabeth something.”
“Yes. Montgomery.” Wit knew the name of the actress all along but wanted to make sure he was headed down a path that could work for him.
“I always thought Samantha was so sophisticated, pretty, but not in an overt way. Not like Jeanie, on ‘I Dream of Jeanie’. They dressed her so skimpy. I mean, was that really necessary?”
“You’re complaining about an actress wearing too little clothing? That’s a new one.”
“Not complaining, just saying that there was a difference in how the two of them presented themselves. You seem to be more like Samantha than Jeanie.”
“Thanks. I’ll take that as a compliment. Ginger or Mary Ann?”
“Mary Ann. Definitely Mary Ann. It’s the overt thing again.”
The blonde nodded in approval. Wit could see he was making headway.
“My name is Danny Witmoore. All my friends call me Wit.” He extended his hand. She took it as if to shake it, but continued to hold on.
“Do they think you’re funny? Or do they think you’re smart?”
“Neither. They add ‘half’ or ‘dim’ or ‘nit’ to the front of it. More often than not they add ‘less’ to the back.”
This little tidbit was true. Wit’s friends liked to give him a hard time about his unique ability to make the wrong choice on even the simplest of decisions. All the big decisions were left to his wife, Reese.
“I’m Jayne, with a y,” she said, continuing to hold his hand. “I was just about to move to a table. Why don’t you join me? Grab my drink.” She gave his hand a squeeze before letting go of it.
Wit couldn’t believe his luck. Wit hadn’t shopped for dinner on his own since Reese had been turned. He had thought the seduction aspect of the evening would be awkward and hadn’t been looking forward to it. He was pleased with how well it was going. The seduction was a necessary aspect of feeding. It made the target a willing participant while adding a bit of adrenaline to their blood stream. Adrenaline, the vampire’s equivalent of ketchup. Wit thought that everyone tasted better with a little adrenaline in them.
As “Jayne with a y” rose to move, Wit realized she was about six inches taller than he was, most likely due to the height of her stiletto heels.
“This is going to complicate things,” thought Wit. “I’ll have to get to her while she’s sitting down.”
“Booth or table?” Jayne nodded in the direction of the dining room.
“Let’s take that one, over there.” Wit motioned toward a dark corner booth partially hidden behind a couple of fake palm trees. The secluded area would shield them from view if the opportunity for Wit to make his move should arise.
Jayne sat at the edge of the upholstered horseshoe then scooted around to the center of the “U”. Wit slid in on her right, purposely spilling the last of her margarita as he set it down.
“Jeez! I’m such a klutz. Let me get you a fresh one.” Wit signaled for a waiter.
“Could you please bring us another one of these? This time make it a jumbo.” Wit slipped a twenty into the waiter’s hand. The bigger the better, as far as Wit was concerned. A little alcohol never hurt in these situations.
“You didn’t have to do that. It was almost gone. Aren’t you going to have anything?”
“No. Not tonight. I’ve got a long night ahead of me.”
“What about something to eat?”
“As appealing as that sounds, I can’t. I’m meeting up with someone for a bite later this evening.” Wit smiled at his own wordplay. “What about you? Are you eating alone tonight?”
“I was supposed to hook up with a friend, but she sent a text saying she couldn’t make it. I was already here so I decided to have a couple of tacos.”
The margarita arrived, its rim laden with salt. The frozen green swirl was in a vessel the size of a small punchbowl. Jayne raised it to her lips using two hands, pausing briefly to lick the rim. She took a small sip, contemplating Wit across the top of the glass. The amber glow of the candles made her blue eyes seem to glow teal.
Wit sensed Jayne was looking into him, rather than at him. He felt like he may be blushing, although he knew that was no longer physically possible for him to do. The look lingered a bit too long. Wit cleared his throat and shuffled in his seat as he revived the conversation.
“So, how are the tacos?”
Jayne broke her gaze, set down her margarita and picked up the last of her tacos. “They are fantastic. You sure you don’t want a taste?” Jayne raised the taco toward Wit.
“No. Really, I can’t. Thanks for asking.”
Jayne gave a slight shrug. As she lifted the taco to her mouth a cascade of chorizo poured out of the open end of the tortilla and into her lap.
“Aw, damn it! These are my favorite pants.” Jayne grabbed a napkin and scooped up the greasy mound of ground sausage out of her lap.
“I have to run to the little girls’ room and take care of this before it stains. I’ll be back in a heartbeat.”
Jayne scooted out of the open end of the booth and headed across the restaurant toward the restrooms, wiping at the spot with her napkin as she walked. Quite a few heads turned in her wake. Wit got a nod and a wink from one of the other patrons.
A couple of minutes pass before Jayne emerged from the restroom. It was difficult to tell if the spot was gone since her pants were black to begin with. Wit couldn’t help but notice that Jayne’s hair, formerly in an upsweep, was now flowing down across her shoulders. As he watched her walk back toward the table, time seemed to slow. She looped her pinkie around a stray strand of hair and pulled it from her freshly painted lips. She misted herself with a spray of cologne, which glistened like glitter in the candlelight. Wit sat transfixed thinking, “This is so worth going off of my diet.”
Time caught up to Jayne as she arrived at the table. She remained standing, purse in hand.
“So, Danny Witmoore, do you like to dance?”
“I don’t know if you would call what I do dancing, but yes, I do.”
“Great! I know a place just up the road that has live music and room to dance. I’ll pay my check and we’ll go.” Jayne began to open her purse.
“Let me.” Wit went for his wallet, but Jayne had a fifty on the table before his hand reached his pocket.
“Don’t be silly. You didn’t even eat anything. You’ll pay later.” Jayne reached across the table and picked up her margarita. She spun the glass slowly, licking salt off of about a quarter of the rim. She then swallowed a couple of huge gulps, as if she were downing a Gatorade after a long run.
“Shame to let this go to waste,” Jayne said as she set the glass on the table. “Let’s get out of here.”
Jayne led Wit across the restaurant and out the door. She started down the steps toward the parking lot, then stopped one step below Wit to breathe in the night air. Jayne slowly inhaled, stretching as she did. As she exhaled she wobbled a bit and leaned back against Wit to steady herself. Wit took hold of her by her shoulders.
“Those margaritas must have been a bit stronger than I thought.” Jayne remained leaning against Wit’s chest. Standing a step above her, Wit was at the perfect height. He began to make his move.
Still holding her shoulders Wit pulled Jayne tightly to him. He lowered his face to the side of her head. Jayne responded by gently placing her hand at the back of his head. Wit brushed the hair back away from her neck as Jayne tilted her head sideways enough to grant Wit access to the one thing he had been waiting for all evening. He slid a single finger into the turtle neck and pulled it down far enough to reveal the perfect entry point. Jayne’s fingers curled through Wit’s hair in anticipation.
Unhinging his jaw, Wit tilted his head as fangs lowered from their chambers. Entering Jayne’s neck, he expected the tender flesh to melt in his mouth. Instead he was met with the feeling that he was biting through a wad of steel wool. The sound of fingernails on a chalkboard reverberated through his head. An electrifying pain swelled in the roof of his mouth then shot up through his fangs. It seared through his sinuses and stabbed at the back of his eyes. Wit tried to recoil. Jayne’s hand, once holding a gentle caress, now held a fistful of hair. Her vise-like hold kept Wit from moving his head even the slightest bit.
His mouth filled with the taste of vinegar and warm nickels. A dull ache traveled from his lower back into his legs. His calves twitched as he collapsed, no longer able to support his own weight. Instead of falling to the ground, Wit found himself hanging limp from Jayne’s neck like a lamprey on a shark. Jayne began to walk forward, only slightly twisting to compensate for the additional weight of Wit’s body.
“She was the one doing the seducing” was the last thought that went through Wit’s head before everything went black.