by Geoff Orens
“You have to join us,”
Gary said standing on my porch one cool autumn night as the smell of wet leaves filled the air. “It’s going to be an old fashioned vampire hunt.”
“Great!” I said and started to go inside to grab whatever I would need, but then I realized I didn’t know what that would be. I turned around and asked Gary.
“I think we’re good,” he said. “Bob has the stakes and John has a hammer.”
“I’ll just grab a coat,” I said.
“Make it quick,” Gary replied.
“Where are you off to?” my wife murmured as I walked past her to the closet.
“It’s an old-fashioned vampire hunt,” I replied with enthusiasm.
“Be careful,” she said. “I don’t like those words together.”
“Oh, it’ll be fine,” I said kissing her on the cheek.
“What will you be doing out there anyway?” she asked.
“I don’t really know,” I said. “There hasn’t been one in a while.”
“Do you think it has anything to do with the death of the Winthrop children?” she mused.
“Probably,” I said.
“It wasn’t a vampire,” she said firmly.
“I think you mean you’re 99% sure it was not a vampire,” I proudly retorted.
“Actually, I didn’t mean that,” she told me. “Just don’t become a mob.”
“You worry too much,” I said and went out the door to find Gary was now with Steve, Bob, and Stan, not to mention the Sylvester twins.
“Alright. We have to go to the cemetery,” Stan said taking a stern look at all of us.
“Is that where we’ll find the vampire?” I asked.
“Obviously,” said Bob. He’s been like that since high school. I don’t really like him.
The town was awfully quiet that night. We hardly ran into a soul on the streets.
“Only the brave,” said Steve.
“Yes,” said Gary. “Only the brave.”
At the walls of the town cemetery, we met Frank and Clarence.
“We think we know who the vampire is. Well, was,” said Frank.
“Yes,” said Clarence. “The Smith plot has been disturbed.”
We turned on our flashlights and walked over to the plot. There, Paul Smith’s grave was still a bunch of turned over dirt. Jeremy Sylvester passed out some garlic while Frank and Clarence proceeded to dig up the coffin. I did feel nervous that someone was going to catch us, but I was also excited to see what an actual vampire would look like.
“It’s horrible what happened to those kids,” said Steve. “They just wasted away. Jack Winthrop is beside himself.”
They were now in the grave. “How will we know he’s a vampire?” I found myself asking.
“They say if he’s well-preserved,” said Stan. I thought that was how you recognized a saint, but I kept my Catholic thoughts to myself.
“Of course, there may be more signs,” Gary noted, prying open the coffin with some effort. A well-preserved Paul Smith lay there, looking the way I used to see him sitting asleep on his porch in the evenings.
“Shocking,” said Stan.
“Unbelievable,” said Steve.
“It has been cold lately though,” I heard my wife’s voice speaking through me.
“Not that cold,” said Bob. “For the sake of being cautious we need to rip out the heart and burn it.”
“Well, that’s it for me,” I said. “There are enough of you to see to this task.”
“What if he fights back?” asked Gary.
“You have my number,” I said.
“You’re a good man,” noted Frank and patted me on the back. “Take some garlic with you just in case. And we’ll bring by some of the heart ashes later so you can eat some. “
“That’s really a thing?” I asked.
“Most definitely,” added Stan. “I read about the last vampire hunt here a hundred years ago and they definitely did that.”
“Damn,” I noted with some awe. “They didn’t play around.”
“We don’t either,” added Frank, adjusting his baseball hat.
“Right,” I said, “but maybe we shouldn’t tell the Smith family about this.”
“That goes without saying, man,” Arthur Sylvester said. “We are sworn to secrecy for the good of the community.”
“Good,” I said, and walked out of the graveyard.
The wind had picked up and swirled the leaves around in circles. The houses were all dark, even my own.
Geoffrey Orens teaches high school English and art history in New York City. He is a voracious traveler, and his work has appeared in Eunoia Review, Terror House Magazine, Star 82 Review, Potato Soup Journal, and Down in the Dirt.