When it first starts to feel a little cold in the air my thoughts go back to memories of the harvest festival in the old town in South Dakota where I grew up. Or sometimes, eager to feel the mixture of sweet and pain such memories bring, I summon them. The taste of hot cider, the songs of the hay buskers (you stand on an elevator on the back of a flatbed holding two hooks and manhandle the baled hay into position, sometimes seven bales high) and the wagon wheels of the vampire wagons taking the vampires to town. There were still a few vampires in those days but they were getting scarce and the WPA would take them from town to town at harvest time trying to get them to bite a few people. The virgins — well, unmarried girls to be precise — would parade around at evening and try to coax the creatures out of their coffins.
But it was no go. One coffin opened a few inches and we saw the red eyes within and the long claws and Maggie tried to look even more buxom and to bring the blood temptingly to the surface by a couple self-administered slaps, but BAM! that coffin lid just slammed down after about a minute. And the feeling for the WPA program was mixed — cultural heritage and all that and some said and there were some studies that when the vampires were gone there was less incentive for the brightest young people to study ritual, and the incunabula were ignored in favor of technical manuals, and there was a weakening of the community’s asarbiya or ties of cohesion without the issue of the nosferatu to bring us together. Be that as it may three coffins did not open at all, one opened for a bit while the coffin-dweller checked out Maggie and shut, and the rest of us went on with the harvest festival.
Me and Mom and Dad and Flippy and Candace in the house at night after the festival and there was something scrambling at the window hissing “Let me in! Let me in!”.”
“What do we do, Mom? Do we let it bite us?”
“I don’t want to” said Flippy.
“I don’t want to” said Candace.
“Take care of it, Eric.” said Dad.
And I went out and impaled it and filled its mouth with sacred dirt and sewed it up (some people don’t know about that part anymore, but it’s part of it.) (BTB sacred dirt has been blessed by a priest or has lain undisturbed for at least one new moon adjacent to dirt that has been so blessed.)
Why didn’t you let it bite you? one of my graduate students asked me years later. Now there are none left. Are you against the idea of the vampires continuing into the modern world with their attendant train of mystery, authority, and revelation.
Not against it a ‘tall, I said and I will keep on saying. By all means them’s that want that stuff can have it and let the vampires bite them from here till Tuesday, and all manner of ghools and ghasts and dholes and catoblepas! But as for me, it’s not who I am!