Interview with the Vampire

PART I

I SEE…” said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window. For a long time he stood there against the dim light from Divisadero Street and the passing beams of traffic. The boy could see the furnishings of the room more clearly now, the round oak table, the chairs. A wash basin hung on one wall with a mirror. He set his briefcase on the table and waited.

“But how much tape do you have with you?” asked the vampire, turning now so the boy could see his profile. “Enough for the story of a life?”

“Sure, if it’s a good life. Sometimes I interview as many as three or four people a night if I’m lucky. But it has to be a good story. That’s only fair, isn’t it?”

“Admirably fair,” the vampire answered. “I would like to tell you the story of my life, then. I would like to do that very much.”

“Great,” said the boy. And quickly he removed the small tape recorder from his briefcase, making a check of the cassette and the batteries. “I’m really anxious to hear why you believe this, why you…”

“No,” said the vampire abruptly. “We can’t begin that way. Is your equipment ready?”

“Yes,” said the boy.

“Then sit down. I’m going to turn on the overhead light.”

“But I thought vampires didn’t like light,” said the boy. “If you think the dark adds to the atmosphere…” But then he stopped. The vampire was watching him with his back to the window. The boy could make out nothing of his face now, and something about the still figure there distracted him. He started to say something again but he said nothing. And then he sighed with relief when the vampire moved towards the table and reached for the overhead cord.

At once the room was flooded with a harsh yellow light. And the boy, staring up at the vampire, could not repress a gasp. His fingers danced backwards on the table to grasp the edge. “Dear God!” he whispered, and then he gazed, speechless, at the vampire.

The vampire was utterly white and smooth, as if he were sculpted from bleached bone, and his face was as seemingly inanimate as a statue, except for two brilliant green eyes that looked down at the boy intently like flames in a skull. But then the vampire smiled almost wistfully, and the smooth white substance of his face moved with the infinitely flexible but minimal lines of a cartoon. “Do you see?” he asked softly.

The boy shuddered, lifting his hand as if to shield himself from a powerful light. His eyes moved slowly over the finely tailored black coat he’d only glimpsed in the bar, the long folds of the cape, the black silk tie knotted at the throat, and the gleam of the white collar that was as white as the vampire’s flesh. He stared at the vampire’s full black hair, the waves that were combed back over the tips of the ears, the curls that barely touched the edge of the white collar.

“Now, do you still want the interview?” the vampire asked.

The boy’s mouth was open before the sound came out. He was nodding. Then he said, “Yes.”

The vampire sat down slowly opposite him and, leaning forward, said gently, confidentially, “Don’t be afraid. Just start the tape.”

And then he reached out over the length of the table. The boy recoiled, sweat running down the sides of his face. The vampire clamped a hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “Believe me, I won’t hurt you. I want this opportunity. It’s more important to me than