This story was performed in London as part of the Solstice Shorts festival on 21st December 2018. Many thanks to Cherry Potts and Arachne Press.
A Vampire at Noon
That summer half-term in Mallorca, both our kids were in a vampire phase.
Lucy, just sixteen, was obsessed by the Twilight Saga, with its repressed sexuality, Robert Pattinson’s pale face and beautiful haunted eyes. Jack, aged nine, preferred the vampire bat side of things: transformation, superpowers, gory fangs.
Apparently it was one of the hottest Junes on record. Our apartment had no air conditioning, was surrounded by taller buildings and faced south, so we sweated all night and headed out each morning to seek shade and sea breezes. As we processed down the baking avenida with our beach gear, cool-bag, sunscreen and parasols, Gerald warbled, ‘Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’ with a Noël Coward lilt, which was his way of reminding me how badly I had screwed up with my choice of apartment. Lucy and Jack were unfazed; they slept well in spite of the heat, and the beach suited them perfectly. Most days we were there by ten a.m., and spent our time in and out of the sea, fetching ice-creams and drinks, reading, snorkelling, having goes on banana-boats. We always ate lunch at the same restaurant, which had a flame tree growing in the centre of its shady courtyard.
It was under the flame tree that we got talking about the finer points of vampirism. Jack said, ‘You know how you can tell a vampire’s a vampire because it doesn’t cast a shadow?’
Lucy said in her weary I-know-it-all-because-I’m-sixteen way, ‘Of course, squirt, who doesn’t?’
‘But if the sun’s right overhead, like now, no-one casts a shadow, do they? So if a vampire was here, we wouldn’t know.’
Lucy’s eyes flickered for a moment, but she said with a contemptuous laugh, ‘Of course we’d know, because as soon as the sun hit him, he’d melt.’
‘Suppose he had protection?’ Jack persisted. ‘A long cloak. Big gloves. A big hat.’
Gerald, who was a headteacher and always turned conversations in an educational direction if he could, began to explain about cloth not giving total protection from UV rays, but then the calamari and chips arrived, and we were busy for some time. It was during dessert that Jack looked up from his Knickerbocker Glory and cried, ‘There’s a vampire! See him?’
Across the road, under a plane tree, a huge gleaming black motorcycle had just pulled up. The rider swung his leg over the back of the bike and moved to stand in a patch of sunlight. He was tall, and in spite of the forty-degree temperature was wearing serious biker kit: full-face helmet, black leathers, boots with silver buckles, big gauntlets. He cast no shadow.
Lucy and Jack stared at him, wide-eyed. Gerald, who had once owned a 250 cc Suzuki and had never quite got over missing it, eyed the shiny monster bike with desire. I thought what a stupid poser the man was. Serve him right if he fainted from the heat.
A girl who had been sitting at a table in the corner of the courtyard then got up and walked past us towards the entrance gateway. I don’t know why we hadn’t noticed her before —perhaps Gerald had, and pretended not to—because she was wearing something short and diaphanous, more like a negligée than a sundress, and her skin had the kind of paleness you’d really have to work at, in Mallorca in one of the hottest Junes on record. She walked across the road to the motorcyclist, who stood at least a foot taller. I thought he would remove his helmet and embrace her, but instead he turned back to the bike, straddled it and waited, without looking round. The girl climbed on, gracefully side-saddle, and put her hands on his waist. He kicked the motorcycle into life, pushed off from the kerb and they were away, with a deep virile thrumming like a base-note among the street sounds that hot afternoon. White fabric fluttered around white legs as they turned the corner.
Watching my family watching them disappear, I knew without a wisp of doubt what was going on in the mind of each. Lucy was feeling in her own fingertips the smoothness of the black leather, the lean male flanks underneath. Jack was picturing the whole ensemble gathering itself in a midair blur, morphing into something with huge beating wings. Gerald’s breathless attention, I understood with relief and a dash of disappointment, was focused not on the white thighs of the passenger but on the black-and-chrome beast beneath them.
And I? I ordered another Chocolate e Churros, with extra cream.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to read future stories when they are published, click ‘follow’. My previously published work can be read on this site.