Sunday, March 3, 2024 Mar 3, 2024
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Summer Fiction

Dallas Summer Reading Series: Granada After Dark

In today’s piece of summer fiction, even vampires play the Granada.
By Kathleen Kent |
Tatjana Junker

Angela squeezed her way to the foot of the stage where the opening notes to the familiar song had started, bringing the hundreds of fans packed into the Granada Theater to a frenzied crescendo. The song began with a simple rhythmic beat, soon overlaid with earsplitting feedback, followed by an ominous bass line that would be repeated over and over, accompanying the hypnotic chorus. A chorus that the audience started to chant, even before the lead singer opened his mouth to sing.

Angela was ostensibly there to write an article about the British band, made famous in the ’80s for this signature song. An entertainment writer for the city’s newspaper, she especially loved writing about musical acts that performed at the one-time movie theater, still decorated with the original art deco murals. The sound system was superb, and the theater was known for hosting some of the best bands from the glory days of punk and glam rock: beautiful, skinny boys and girls, with pale complexions, dramatic face paint, and large libidos.

But really, Angela was there to write about vampires. In particular, those supernatural creatures who hid in plain sight, touring as English rock bands. She’d secured a book deal, one with a hefty advance and a handshake deal with the publisher not to announce it before she was ready. She was going to blow open the secretive world of British bloodsuckers. Her revenge for being spurned.  

The thing about vampires, she discovered, is that they don’t look like Vampyres. They eat, drink, and smoke like mortals. In fact, annoyingly, they do those things to excess. And yet they remain, if not ageless, then age defiant: slender, energetic, with full heads of hair. Their joints don’t creak, their arches won’t fall, their vision remains startlingly keen. No signs of mottling age spots. They’re not particularly fond of the sun, so they tend to spend most of their time in dark and rainy places—places with stable governments, decent restaurants, and live theater. That’s why so many of them could be found “living” in the U.K. The only thing to give them away (well, other than the obvious) is that their image was never reflected in mirrors. But you can’t miss what you don’t see.

It doesn’t work that way, love. You’re not my … type.

Angela, a tireless club kid in New York City during the early ’80s, had been plucked out of CBGBs to be an extra in a film about the undead. It had featured a famous rock star and a gorgeous French actress. The film’s title soundtrack had been recorded by a British goth band—Angela’s longtime favorite—and, even after she’d moved to Dallas as a journalist, she continued traveling, sometimes great distances, to see them play. The original band had broken up after a few years, but the lead singer had continued touring. And touring. And touring. 

Angela was there for every show she could attend. Which was why she suspected that the lead singer was immortal. Because he just. Wouldn’t. Age. Year after year. Decade after decade. His hair had begun to gray (hair tint), and his pallor had increased (theatrical makeup), but interview after backstage interview she’d watched him chain-smoking, swilling gallons of Irish whiskey and dark ale, and groping his fans, male and female alike. 

She had caught him feeding once, which disavowed her of another misconception about Nosferatu. Contrary to the slash-and-bite methods portrayed in popular literature and films—methods that would certainly raise alarms from housekeeping—vampires take blood from their hosts selectively, delicately, painlessly. She’d stood in the doorway of his dressing room watching silently as he’d bent over the prone woman on the threadbare couch. It had taken only a minute, the woman oblivious to the deed: her eyes had been closed, a blissful smile on her face, unaware that a needle thin organ had ejected from under his tongue, burying itself into her skin. When he had finished, the organ had retracted again; he’d sat up and turned to Angela, whispering, “It’s the saliva, you see. It deadens the skin. Like a mosquito.”

He’d pronounced the word moskweeto and given her a nasty grin. She’d offered herself to him after the other woman had left. Made a fool of herself, really. Angela had started to feel the negative effects of aging—gravity had gotten its claws into her and was beginning to tug—and she’d begged him to make her immortal as well. Begged and pleaded. 

But he’d only laughed and said, “It doesn’t work that way, love. You’re not my … type.”

Now, with the concert over, she made her way backstage for the interview. He was alone in the dressing room, waiting for her. Smiling, he closed the door and locked it. Took her hand and pulled her down next to him on the requisite, fluid-stained couch. Her heart began racing as he gently pulled up her shirtsleeve, exposing the tender underside of one forearm. Deliciously, he began running his tongue over her flesh. She could feel the portals of immortality opening.

“About that book deal, Angela,” he said. “Don’t you know vampires always read Publisher’s Weekly?”

He began to drink her blood and never stopped. 

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