19 July 2012
About the Queen and the Princess...
Back then; all hail the vampire queen!
Back during that summer, the night would almost always start the same; I'd meet Lee at the shop where he worked with a bag of take-out Chinese from across the street, sometimes getting a tattoo or a touch-up out of the deal. After he closed up, we'd go back to his place so he could change clothes. I would harass him he worried more about his appearance at the juke joint than most women and he'd remind me it had been some years since I'd known the touch of a woman, period, whereas he might've gotten laid, twice, the previous night. Once finished, we'd stuff my pockets with bottles of cheap Mexican beer and head out across the Hill to the vampire den.
It was great being twenty-nine years old in the city...
Lee knew the guy at the door and had slept with at least one of the bartenders, so we never had to worry about cover. The song Shake the Disease from Depeche Mode seemed to always be starting up as soon as we walked in, followed by either Indigo Eyes or All Night Long from Peter Murphy. I found this fantastic, or, at least, interesting, our time of arrival and the timing of the DJ's set. Lee would dart for the bar for our first round and I would light up a pensive cigarette and head into main room to assess the crowds and scope out my perches for a night of monkey watching.
That particular night, we were on a mission; five nights before, Lee had introduced me to a girl that I didn't want to strangle within the first few heartbeats of interaction. In fact, at the time, I wanted this girl to take me home and read me Nietzsche. The kicker was I did not copy down her phone number right, and was unable to get in touch with her to even ask her out for a film and an ice cream cone. If this would've happened to anyone else, I might have found it funny, but it didn't. This happened to me, and it simply would not do. I was playing odds between Lee knowing pretty well everyone in the vampire caste, the rotation of nights at the gin and juke joints, and strange luck that I might see her again. I at least wanted to apologize for not phoning, what with having been raised with manners.
Lee was talking to some vampires at the bar with two beers in his hand, and two tumblers of whiskey on a nearby table. I retrieved my beer and whiskey with an inclination of my head. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her; not the girl I was looking for, but someone who definitely had a certain bearing to her. Her two-tone hair was a combination of silvery blond and swirls of black stripes that got me to think of the coat of a zebra. A crass and vulgar man might've noticed how...flatteringly...her corset hugged her frame, but being neither crass nor vulgar, I noticed her big iridescent doe eyes, which glittered like abalone shells in the half-light. There was something rather regal about how she brought her clove cigarette to her lips.
"Hello, my pretty," I whispered to myself. "Ain't you about striking?"
It wasn't love at first sight. Nor lust. But I approached her. It'd been a few weeks since I'd had a clove and it never hurt to ask. Vampires could be fairly giving of those little Indonesian death-sticks.
"Can I get one of those?" I asked her, offering her two of my 'Merican Spirits. The gutter-punk rate of exchange; two regular fags for every one clove.
"Sure," she said. "But I don't smoke regular cigarettes."
"Thank you, Ma'am," I said, taking my newly acquired clove and lighting it. "You saved me two cigarettes for later. Kai pei."
I said something to her boyfriend, a barrel-chested man in a Motley Crue t-shirt, but he blew me off. A gothic aristocrat, a vampire snob. I was not impressed to rocket science, an opinion that never really changed over the years. In fact, only soured further as time went on. With a shrug, I ventured back into the main room to continue my fruitless search and do a spot of monkey watching.
My most vivid memory of that night, aside from the girl I bummed the clove from, was when another Peter Murphy song, I'll Fall with Your Knife, came on. The dance floor was packed and beheld simple smiles of bliss to the tune, to the heat of the night and comradery, to the moment. I'm a sucker for those moments of pure and simple humanity. It gets me to smile, to almost have hope for the species. Almost.
The world has gone around the sun ten times since that night, and I still smile longingly at the the opening notes of that Peter Murphy song...
The jewel-eyed girl had once dated Sabina's musician x, that barrel-chested bass player of a local band of some repute. At the juke joint, I could set my watch to their arguments, and yet they were one of the couples, even if it was all about facades. Being one of the popular kids, I would refer to Sabina as the vampire queen, sometimes, even to her face.
It was nearly a year and half from that first night I bummed a clove from that we really talked. It was shortly after my grandmother died, and she expressed sympathies for someone she never met and would never know, but I was still comforted. Of course, it was when we were both dancing with the dead for money that our acquaintance began to grow. We even had a death-pact at that place, but that's another story. First, it started out as a friendship with some unintentional challenges, but some indeterminable time later morphed to something else entirely, which Sabina will say is all my fault because once I innocently, wholesomely, threatened to stab her in the gallbladder.
Never mind that she's the one who started it...
I had mentioned to her working up the escape velocity to leave the vampire caste, or at least go on sabbatical. Sabina encouraged this under the auspice of Jibril having died, moving on to something new, and whisper games of Machiavellian drama some of our x's would play. Up in the mountains, in a stretch of landscape we came to know as our Kashmir, nestled within our own Sahel, when I mentioned wanting to move there, she was right there with me, being as tenacious about putting the greater metroplex behind us, and starting a new life.
Once, before much of anything happened between us, I dreamt of the two of us living out in the badlands, a place that looked a lot like my parents' house, in fact. In the dream, I asked her if she wanted to go to the juke joint and she said she'd think about it. The night I confessed this nocturnal hallucination to her might've been the first night she ended up in my bed, despite my efforts to stop her. Years later, having just moved to the mountains, but visiting my parents out in the Rub 'al Khali, I thanked her for moving to a never-never with me, but also that it wasn't those badlands out in eastern Colorado.
Depending on the day and my bent of superstition upon the sanctity of dreams, I might call that all a vision...
I could rhetorically ask if anyone else would've been crazy or strong enough to make such leaps with me, but I already know the answer. No one else could've been because it could only be her. She was the only one who could read me ancient love poetry whilst the Misfits sang Die! Die! My Darling. It was her actions and reactions to the factors at hand. That's just the way of it.
Ten years from that night with the bummed clove and the moment of pure and simple humanity with Peter Murphy as backbeat, and I have a hard time remembering why I found cigarettes so interesting, let alone urban living. It was another time. A past life, not the present one.
The vampire queen is pretty far from being vampiric these days. She'd probably punch me in the neck, or at least say something sponsored by the letter fuck if I called her that now, and I'd not blame her, much. Although, she never minds it when I refer to her as my mountain princess. Strange.
Of course me and royalty of any kind often get on like oil and water, thus adding to queerness of how I pulled this off without drugs or torture...
Years and lifetimes later, she still puts up with my aberrant paradoxically misanthropic ass. Sometimes she suggests a walkabout before I do. When that happens, as with thousands of small things, I catch myself smiling inwardly. Most cats, if they say they're embonded to someone from a past life mean something flaky and ridiculous like Atlantis. Hypocritically, I can say I met Sabina in a past life and she's stuck with me through the innumerable psychic incarnations since and I'd be honest about it. Perhaps that means something. It could mean nothing. In any case, I can say for us, because there's always been a sense of balance, it's worked both ways.
These days; the mountain princess, a blurred photograph of the elusive wild Sabina in her native habitat...roar...