Vampire Reality Show
Monday morning in Ruby Beach starts with a crash. A crash and a clang and the roar of a diesel motor and the screeching of angry seagulls as the huge dump truck empties the dumpster behind the Crooked Angel Saloon, lifting it high into the air and shaking it like some ravenous diesel monster, emptying the putrid contents into its gaping maw and all the while roaring and grinding and insisting that I wake up. I rolled onto my back and pulled the pillow off my face, trying to remember the dream I was having just before the truck pulled into the parking lot. Something about vampires. Oh yes, Mona had been taken captive by vampires on the college campus back in Indiana where we both went to school . And the vampires were trying to drag her across campus to the vampire dormitory for their own dark reasons. I meanwhile was dashing frantically across campus with a large knife, slashing and hacking at vampires and slaying ten or fifteen of them before catching up with the group that had Mona. As I dove into their midst swinging my knife, which had somehow become a machete, she was screaming at me.
“Don't worry, baby, I'm here!” I yelled, turning around fast and hacking my machete into the tallest vampire's neck. Blood was flying everywhere and Mona was screaming.
“Stop, you asshole! Stop! They're not vampires, they're my friends!” In the dream, I dropped the machete. I turned and saw bodies all around, and my hands were covered in blood. I got that really sick feeling in my gut, that old familiar sensation of horror and impending doom as I heard the whine of sirens in the distance. But then, mercifully, the whine of the sirens faded into something else: the high pitch of the monster gears of the approaching dump truck, my Monday morning warning that a new day was dawning and as hard as the days were, the nights could, at times, be worse.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed and rubbed my temples. Not too bad. I got up and went for the shower, holding my arms on each side of the bathroom door to brace myself. The house that Molly was letting me crash in was really just a beat up sixty year old surfer shack that would have been condemned were the building inspector ever to get a good look at it, but the Town Planner was a sometime drinking buddy and the chairman of the Historic Preservation Society. Over plenty of beers and shots on my tab, I had talked him into granting me a special “preservation and remodeling” permit which bought the old place another year before being either expensively rehabilitated or turned into additional parking for the Crooked Angel. Molly had contacted me about the demolishing idea about a month after Mona's realtor (her attorney's brother) had hammered a “For Sale” sign into the front yard of our waterfront home on the Indian River. I had been living in one fleabag motel after another on U.S. One and thought it would be a great idea to come home to beach side and start pulling myself back together before I needed an expensive rehab myself. Molly was far less than enthusiastic about the idea but as usual, her heart of gold and my line of bull got the best of her and I took my trunk of clothes and my other trunk of books out of the step van and put them in the shack. I had a new home.
But the place was old, sagging and funky. The shower was an antique ball and claw bathtub with the curtain on an oval hoop. The water pressure was not bad, though. I put my head under the hot stream and let the dream fog gradually clear as the steam rose around me. It was another day in Ruby Beach. I was pulling on a pair of jeans when there was a knock on the door. That would be Rusty. Rusty is the only guy on my crew with a driver's license, so he comes by every workday morning and takes the step van to pick up the rest of the guys.
“It's open,” I said. He walked in carrying his bicycle. He doesn't own a car and rides ten miles everyday to pick up the truck. He is pretty fast on that bike. He didn't say anything, just stuck the bike in it's usual corner by the front door and took the truck keys off their hook. He looked at me.
“There's money for ice and gas in the stash box,” I said.
“Any leftover beer?”
“If there is, leave it alone. You guys get that roof dried in today and you can have it.”
“If we get that roof dried in today there better be a whole lot of leftover beer. ”
“Just get out of here. I'll be down later.”
“Yes, your majesty.” He went out and a moment later I heard the step van's engine roar to life.
I went to the closet and pulled out one of my “Dixon Construction” polo shirts and pulled it on. It would take Rusty thirty minutes to round up the crew and get to the job site, then another thirty minutes to get things moving. I had time to get over to the Lighthouse for some coffee and toast before heading down the beach to the job.