Saturday, 15 March 2014

Interview With A Vampire

Today, my good friend Billy Kravitz is visiting with his friend Thomas, who is one of the Night People. I'm slightly nervous about having a vampire visit but let's see what happens.

Billy Kravitz' vampire wonderland

A VAMPIRINO SPEAKS - The mutilated corpse of a fifty five pound feline was found on a hard, dirt lot in a rough, Philadelphia neighborhood. Its hide, surgically removed. The paws and feet were missing. Veterinarians think the creature was an exceptionally large bobcat, or ocelot killed to satisfy an evil rite. Sometimes goat heads are left by streams. Philadelphia after dark, a land of ersatz magicians. If they only knew.....

I am of the night-folk. And I do know.  Some call me Tomas de Macabea, others Jonathon ben Macabi. Both appellations are true. For I am born of Al Andalus, the golden land of Southern Spain. I speak Arabic, Hebrew, Old Castilian and Old Vahmperigo, a Latin derivative known by.... Well, let's just say the first syllable of that linguistic designation says it all..... A 'vampire'... I am a vampire. Though many hate that name, preferring 'night-folk,' or 'life-eater,' or anything but that vile label given us by The Inquisition.

Before that shameful time of hate-filled superstition humanity saw us differently. We were 'the good death'...'the sweet kiss,' ... ' brother night,'... 'the silver lady.'  Few suffered. Indeed the culling of a life was spiritual in nature. Acolytes of The Angel of Death we were... members of the demi-angelic host. We took vows. And let me tell you one thing. Faith does not die. Nor is it transformed into satanic contortions. Those burdened still believe. Jews remain Jews. Christians remain Christians. Muslims remain Muslims. I suppose devotees of non-Abrahamic communions are the same. That's how it is.

Please excuse the ecclesiastic digression. This is the first time in my approximately one thousand year journey that I've addressed anyone beyond our little household. How did 'it' happen to me? (sigh) Alright, I'll tell you. I was eighteen and on my way to study Biblical commentary at the academy of a renowned Provencal (southern France) vintner.  Aristocratic houses customarily give one son to The Rabbinate and in our house that was me. So we set out from the manor-villa  at Cordoba. If you want an image, picture a lesser castle, or a fortified great house built in Moorish fashion. Retainers and servants went too, not many, perhaps six men-at-arms, two valets, maybe a mule handler, my personal bodyguard, Johannon. I don't know. That's all I remember.

But one night a few weeks out, soon after crossing into French speaking lands, we stopped for Eventide (sundown services in the Jewish denomination known as Rite of Spain, or Sephardic).Johannon, who'd been this way before with my father, knew of a Meeting House (synagogue) following our prayer order, so we went. A nice little stout, stone prayer house built in the manner of The Blessed Dura Europa in the Levant. The congregants were surprised by so many Iberian 'hidalgo' in their midst. Some paid more attention to us than the cantorials and the rabbi, a rather saintly looking old soul in a black velvet cassock and matching prayer cap did his best to reach us all. I know some of the daughters up in the ladies' gallery watched me, for I was quite the figure, even then in my black leather riding clothes and long, loose curls.. When I caught them, they smiled and looked away.

But midway through the recitation of The Tenents of The Faith, we heard hoof beats. Crusader fever was building and hoards of 'righteous defenders' thundered into the town. The sexton peeked through a window high up along the left gallery. He gestured toward the rabbi, who signaled all to stop. In a heartbeat the sanctuary went silent. But we heard them. We heard the rough voices in the square, as they set up their camp. They sang songs, hymns and other things too. Someone yelled - 'Death to the infidels!' And a hundred voices took up the chant. Then quiet, just quiet. But the sexton made a sign, a bird beak with his thumb and fingers to indicate talking. Some congregants with family to the north heard stories, though few thought it'd happen here. But it did.

Three heartbeats hence we heard POUNDING, as they sealed the doors. Parents hugged their children. A few cried. Some screamed prayers. Two men tried to escape through an upper window on the right wall, but were immediately shot, as those outside cheered the archers on. And then we smelled the smoke. Thick grey tendrils slithered 'neath the doors. Lurid, orange lights filled the small, high windows.The walls themselves grew warm. But the archers never stopped and soon the roof was burning too. The women and girls ran down. Families reunited. Everyone rushed toward the middle of the room, the better to avoid the heat and smoke and flame. Soon the air was gone and the fortunate few began to die, as those still living stared dumbstruck at a roof bright as the sun.

I saw people still as statues as their hair began to burn. Little children martyred too. Older children...widows... What difference does it make? Outside, they sang songs. The smoke was dense and sticky. Soon I could barely see at all. My lungs were scratched and raw. And the last thing I heard was the prayer for the dead, voiced by the dying, accompanied by shrieks and screams. But the steadfast Johannon saved me. He saw a table, a big, strong, stout, stone table toward the back,used for memorial candles and votives. The stone apron along the front came down low, though there was perhaps ten of your inches between the bottom edge and the floor. He wedged be through, plus a woman and her little boy. Soon after, the roof fell in. The space under the table became like an oven. Then I passed out.

A few hours later I awoke to the rush of cool air. A being possessed of vast strength grabbed the table and tossed it aside. Silvery moonlight washed down through the ruined roof, discreetly illuminating burnt bodies amidst the desolation. The sickening stench of charred human flesh and congealed smoke was everywhere. Then this being, this 'golem' reached down and picked me up. I said - Am I dead?..... He whispered - No, you are the only one..... For Johannon was gone and the women and her little boy wedged in beside me were too.

He bore me off through what was once a small, side door, gliding through the darkness, snaking through the alleys, on his way to a raw, subterranean refuge. When we got there, he bit his lip and dribbled tiny drops of blood into my parched mouth so that I might recover.

I was found by a vampire, yet for the first nights he left me unmolested. But then I saw the pit.... and the two ragged girls sobbing at the bottom, as he quietly explained what I must do...

Let me rest now. I want my music. Perhaps The Barccarole from TALES OF HOFFMAN. If you would like to join me, click on and scroll down a few episodes, or click on OLDER POST at the bottom of each page. You'll see it. It's not far. All 800,000 words can be accessed via Billy Kravitz Vampire Wonderland ... (laughs) Living with these mortals has made me quite the huckster..... Imagine that.....

Let me thank The Lady of The Nephylim for facilitating this introduction...

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