Thursday, January 29, 2015
Dominic and Frederick - Week 4 of 52round2
Dominic awoke just as the sun was setting. He didn’t make it a habit of sleeping so late, but he functioned best with a full 12 hours of undisturbed sleep. How he adored the night though, with the moon and the stars lighting up his world. A few years back, he had been a typical nine-to-fiver, punching in and punching out, and shuffling papers in between. It had been a generally satisfactory life, and he had earned enough to get by, but that’s all he had been able to do – get by, until the night he met Lenora.
Tired of his routine, one evening he decided to treat himself to a show at one of the small theaters at the south end of town. He had heard co-workers discussing their fascinating experiences there and found himself captivated. Those productions and players were not the sort one sees in a typical community playhouse. There were several stages set up, each with their own unique backdrop, in a large field that was part of Teddy Jenkins’ farm. In an adjoining field, a band of gypsies had set up their camp, and performed in all the nightly shows.
Teddy had tried to run them off when they first arrived, but over time, it appeared they came to a mutual understanding. Teddy maintained his home and the rest of the farm’s operations and the gypsies kept their camp clean and trouble free, and were able to sustain themselves with the take from the tickets they sold to their various productions. There was a great deal of variety to be found. There were high wire acts, plays depicting characters from various times in history, musical performances, and card readers to tell fortunes. Dominic sampled them all and one evening, decided to get his fortune told, just for a laugh.
He didn’t believe it was possible to see into one’s own future, but Lenora proved him wrong. She showed him what was to be and how he could obtain a long and stress-free existence. She set him free from his dreary life and he would be forever grateful to her. He left the area soon after and never saw Lenora again, but the memory of her and the world she opened up for him would remain dear to his heart forever.
Free now to travel to seek his fortune, Dominic settled in a small village in a county whose name he could not pronounce, but that didn’t matter. The people were kind and gentle and Dominic made his home in an abandoned estate a few miles from town. None of the locals minded since the owners were long since deceased and no heirs came to claim it as their own. Tourists passing through often stopped by thinking it was a bed and breakfast. Dominic always accommodated them since it was a mutually beneficial proposition. They were afforded the opportunity to spend the night in a luxurious mansion and Dominic was provided with the means to maintain the house and property. Also, having guests in his home served to keep up his spirits and sense of well-being.
This morning had brought him an unexpected windfall. A group of people on their way to a family reunion decided to spend the night at Dominic’s. There were 18 of them; men and women, boys and girls, and grandmothers and grandfathers. Dominic was beside himself with delight. For a brief time, he had a bit of company, and with what they paid him, in advance, he could complete his make-over of one of the downstairs sitting rooms.
They had all bid him goodnight and retired to their rooms, planning for an early morning start after breakfast to continue their journey. Dominic was in his room preparing for his nightly routine when he heard a window break in one of the downstairs rooms. Slowly he crept down his private staircase to confront the intruder.
Frederick had always been a happy and easy-going soul. His parents were hard workers and while they could never be considered wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, Frederick’s home was always filled with love and joy and toys and small treasures his father would purchase for him when a few extra dollars could be spared. They were a close and solid family unit; that is, until Frederick’s terrible accident. His mother had permitted him to play outside in their backyard while she completed her housework inside. The terrible scream she heard her little boy emit would haunt her for the rest of her days.
No one could ever explain to him how such misfortune could come into Frederick’s life. He grew into a decent, hard-working young man, but all potential for a rewarding career and fulfilling life was gone after the horrific event from his childhood. He lost more than a promising future. His parents could no longer bear the sight of him and turned him away, as did his friends and neighbors, and his unpredictable behavior following his injury instilled fear in all he encountered. He was left to face life and survive alone with his disfigurement.
He learned that he could conceal his frightening appearance if necessary, but the true, and new, Frederick would always show itself at the most inopportune times. He avoided interacting with anyone to save himself the embarrassment and ridicule that always occurred when his scarf slipped or his gloves were forcefully removed by the ever present bullies that resided in every town. He ate what he could catch and was usually able to find drinking water in streams as he traveled the back roads searching for somewhere safe where he might possibly settle down.
At first, the ugliness in his appearance and manner would seem to come and go at odd intervals, but one day, after another of his too often restless and nightmarish evenings, when he awoke, the vile markings on his person had remained and continued to the present day. That’s when he knew he had to resort to covering up his head, face and hands if he were ever able to pass people on the road and not have them chase and persecute him.
His aimless wandering led him ultimately to a charming village in a county whose name he could not pronounce, but that didn’t matter. The people were kind and gentle and never sat in judgment of the short, yet extremely muscular, man who lived in fear of his deformities being revealed. Frederick knew he couldn’t take what he needed from these people. They were non-judgmental and supportive, and one of the storekeepers offered him three meals a day and a small room to call his own at the back of his shop free of charge. All Frederick would be required to do was sweep the inside of the store and pick up out front after closing.
When time permitted, Frederick cruised the countryside to see if perhaps he could find some transient or lost traveler he could abduct. He had about given up one afternoon when he came upon a large mansion. He decided to stake the place out to determine if a break-in would be worth the risk. No one from town ever spoke of the place or went out that far, so he assumed there was no link to any of them. He observed that people would arrive there, carrying in suitcases and stay past sunset. He wondered if the place might be one of those bed and breakfasts he had heard talk about. When Frederick returned the next morning, he watched for some time, but never saw any of them leave. Since he had no experience with that type of establishment, he didn’t know their checkout times, but since their stay involved a bed for the night and breakfast, he assumed perhaps their morning meal was provided at sunrise and they were long gone by the time he got back to further observe.
On a couple of occasions however, he had seen a young man out and about on the grounds at daybreak. At times, he looked to be carrying quite a heavy load and at other times, he drove the vehicle the people had arrive in around to the back of the house. Frederick thought perhaps there might be another road through the woods that would provide quicker access for the travelers to the highway than the road through town. Frederick felt for this young man since he could see how slowly and deliberately he moved. He would, at times, have to drag the large parcels as he was obviously too weak to carry them. Another man cursed by the Fates, Frederick thought; disabled and ruined for life as am I. He decided the tourists were fair game, but he knew he would spare the owner any distress. Frederick knew what it was like to have to live one’s life knowing you would never again be 100%.
This morning, on one of his visits to the house, he saw a large group of people enter the home. What a stroke of luck. He knew tonight would be the perfect time to get everything he needed. He finished his duties at the shop and snuck out the back and made his way to the estate. He waited in the surrounding woods until all the lights went out and the house appeared to be secured for the night. Frederick decided to use a small rock to break one of the small downstairs windows, climb in, and make his way upstairs to the sleeping victims.
He gently tapped the window and the glass fell inside with a soft tinkling sound. He was certain the noise was not loud enough to awaken anyone within. Only someone with super powers would hear him tonight. Frederick laughed quietly to himself at such a ridiculous thought as he began to climb through the window into the house. His smile froze and his giggle caught in his throat when he felt powerful hands grab both his arms, pull him through into the house and push him to the floor.
“Who are you and what are you doing in my house?” Dominic was livid, his plans for the evening having been disrupted.
Frederick recognized him in the moonlight streaming into the room through the windows as the young man he had seen tending the grounds, only he wasn’t moving slowly now and there was nothing weak about him at all.
“I did not come to do you any harm, good sir. I am only interested in your guests.” Frederick hoped this would appease the angry resident, but it seemed only to enrage him further.
“They are mine,” Dominic said harshly. “Each and every one of them. You know, I should kill you for interrupting me, but I confine my proclivity to guests of the manor. I do no harm to the locals or visitors to our town, but you have taken it upon yourself to vandalize my property and try to take that which is not yours. Speak up, man. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Frederick was confused.
“Your pro…what? I’m so sorry, sir, but I wasn’t planning to take anything from here or from them and I am sorry about the window. I will return and repair it as soon as I am able. Whatever possessions your guests have are yours to keep. It’s simply that I hunger, and while I am able to sustain myself on human food for a brief period of time, I have reached a point where my need for actual human flesh overwhelms me.”
Dominic knew he had a total nutcase on his hands and decided to scare him away by bringing out the big gun. He decided to tell this poor disillusioned fellow the truth. He smiled broadly, his now elongated incisors visible.
“My ‘proclivity’ – my natural inclination; it is the desire for human blood. I drink it to survive, you see.”
Dominic could see the burglar’s eyes opening wide with shock and surprise.
“What I am, you see, is a vampire,” he continued. “Tourists stay here and I feed on them. I dispose of their bodies and belongings in the woods over yonder and their vehicles in the swamp that’s at the back of the property. No one ever comes here looking for any of them, so it works out well for me. I tend the grounds during the day as I am able to tolerate the sun, but it depletes my energy terribly.
“Since you are not a member of the group currently staying here, I have no wish to harm you and you are free to go. If you do not fear to return however, I would appreciate the repair and/or replacement of my broken window. I do have to say though, considering what you spoke of a moment ago, I’m not sure what your problem might be, but there is a wonderful doctor in town I would recommend you see. Perhaps he would be able to assist you with whatever mental difficulties you might be having. You do seem to have some issues though; I mean, you have a scarf wrapped completely around your head and face and thick gloves covering your hands. It is the middle of summer, my poor man. What on earth happened to you?”
Frederick couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He decided to reveal his true self to this forgiving stranger, who had shown so much concern for his welfare. He removed the scarf and gloves and when Dominic saw all the fur, the large fangs and clawed hands, he stepped back in amazement.
“You’re a werewolf?” Dominic said, not certain how to proceed since he’d never encountered one before. Then again, he’d never even run across any of his own kind either with the exception of Lenora who had given him the dark gift. “But the moon is not even full tonight,” he pointed out.
“It doesn’t work that way for me,” Frederick explained. “In the beginning it did, and I would only turn when it was full, but one night, I became this…this… you know, and when morning came, I remained this frightful beast to this day. I know I am in your way, good sir, or however I am to properly address you, but could you find it in your heart to let me eat just a couple of your guests? Flesh from at least two at this point would satisfy me for a good week or two, and then I will be on my way and will trouble you no further. I love the townspeople as well and could never harm any of them, but since the people here are yours and yours alone to feed on, I will seek another source of nourishment.”
Dominic couldn’t turn this pitiful creature away – he’d been so courteous and respectful, and Dominic did have to admit to himself that lately, while he never went hungry from a physical standpoint, emotionally, he craved conversation and companionship.
“I have a wonderful idea,” Dominic began. “Why don’t you stay here with me and we will share. I can do my thing, you can do your thing, and then all we’ll have to dispose of are suitcases and cars. We already agree the folks in town are off limits, and I’ve got guests booked through next spring. By the way, my friend, my name is Dominic.”
Dominic extended his hand, and Frederick responded in kind.
“My name is Frederick and I am so grateful for your offer and for your friendship. I was staying in town and helping to sweep up a store as trade for meals and a bed, but I could move in here and after the shop closes, I could go into town and continue my duties there and then return here for our late evening snack. What do you say?”
“Our late evening snack?” Dominic began to laugh. “I believe you and I are going to get along just fine and become great friends, Frederick. I know you’re hungry now and to be honest, I’m famished. We have a buffet of 18 this evening, all laid out and waiting upstairs. What do you say we start with an appetizer in the first room on the right at the top of the stairs?”