Friday, January 16, 2004

My English feature has hit some snags. It'll be a while before I can release it to my reading public. Not to worry, though: "soon" is a soothing, if ambiguous, word.

Entry from a Dead Man's Journal

To you who will find this after I am gone, I wish you peace.

That you hold this volume in your living hands is proof of my final death.

I write this so that someone will know of me, of my life, of what I am. Perhaps I write to gain some of the immortality that is the right of all men wishing to pass on a legacy, a history: a bloodless immortality, so to speak. I am laughing ruefully as I write; can there really be immortality without even the slightest connection to the blood? The living drink of Jesus to give life to the spirit. The dead drink of the living to quicken the flesh. The living mingle blood, begetting children, bequeathing them knowledge, stories, legacies.

I was born at a turning point of our history. Yes, our history. I refuse to place myself completely outside the human ken, despite my obviously altered state.

The colonial government had sentenced three priests to the garrote for treason. I knew nothing of the political implications. I only knew that two of the priests were family friends. One of them had baptized me.

I grew up as normal male children did. I was at times precocious, curious, disobedient, naughty, rebellious, pious, na�ve and worldly-wise. I was a young man, a farmer's son, working in a rich man's hacienda, and learning from his wife. He had a daughter; looking on her was my greatest mistake.

Teresa was pale-skinned, dark-haired, graceful and regal. That she was born into a family of local merchants of indigenous blood was considered a miracle; the friar had triumphantly proclaimed it. (I will leave you to ponder on the miraculous nature of her birth.)

I had dreams of finding love and becoming an artisan. Teresa fuelled the fires of both dreams. Those fires consumed me. She was both muse and meal ticket. I was not uncomely, and though she had a line of suitors, she was always kind to me; was it a sin to marry across borders of class for both love and convenience? We were destined for each other. Her suitors' families were only concerned with her money; her suitors for her flesh and her pedigree. I had written her many poems proclaiming my undying love, passed hand from hand to be left at the doors of her rooms, in places in the gardens where she walked, white grace bathed in sunlight. She had received them politely, displaying the requisite shock that was so in vogue with women of that time. But among her friends, she had laughed aloud at them.

As I said, I was na�ve.

Teresa left for Europe. When she returned, she was a vampire. No, not the psychic kind that populates your workplaces-- pitiful souls scrabbling for money or a higher social position. Teresa had returned as a vampire: yes, the bloodsucking kind.

You scoff; I don't quite blame you.

But think: I have lived here longer than you, and I have seen the things that retreat from the steady advance of the city.

The first thing Teresa did, upon her return, was to eat all her waiting suitors. She did something to her parents� made them fear her, made them pliant. That is the only reason I could think of that made them look the other way while she fed on her suitors, the farmers and the artisans living on hacienda grounds. And then she fed on me, and made me like her. I will swallow my manly pride and tell you that she did it only for sport: she was bored. I allowed her blood to touch my lips as I died, for even in death I was still in love with her.

The Lord knows I tried to contain her hunger, but she was willful, and would not be swayed. She had laughed and called me weak for feeding on rats, stray dogs and farm animals, rationing human blood like water during a famine. I told her that people she ate had relatives who would inquire after them; we could not feed on all of them. We would be found out, hunted like dogs, subjected to painful shaman-rituals and suffer a second, more permanent death. And what of the supernatural denizens from our own lower pantheons? These would not take kindly to competition.

We were drawing too much attention to ourselves. Already, the hacienda languished under an unnatural pall; the workers-- those she didn't eat-- were furtive, wan, pale. And they were deathly afraid of Teresa and her plaything. (They were afraid of me! I was one of them!)

When she ate the priest in a black parody of the Holy Communion, I knew the end was coming. It would come with torches, with bolos, bamboo stakes, incense, palm leaves and the longed-for, painful kiss of holy water. It would come with a frightened angry mob, a priest at its head.

I did not know that the end would come through me. Even as the hacienda was being razed by self-righteous clerics and ignorant peasants, Teresa was bent on sating her bottomless thirst. We had stolen away from the mansion-- the peasants were fool enough to launch their assault at night-- and secreted ourselves in a hovel in the middle of nowhere, about six villages away. I left her alone to reconnoiter. When I returned she was holding a sleeping child. A girl.

Our flight had� aroused her. She wanted food and she wanted me. She had acquired "merienda" from a neighboring village. There was no doubt that she had fed on the girl's parents. Even as I felt my own blood pooling in my loins, I realized that Teresa was totally bereft of humanity. I took her that night, with a passion born of sorrow, born of anger at the waste, at her utter disregard for life, for even the semblance of human propriety.

And there, on our bed of bamboo slats, I also took her life. It was our custom that we exchanged blood during coitus, each taking a turn at draining the other to near-torpor. I drank when she climaxed, and I did not stop. An hour before dawn, the beast Teresa was dead, for good.

The beast was dead and I had a child in my care.

No comments: