"So you see there is really nothing to worry about," said Vlad to Yukio.
It was late on a Saturday night. The two vampires were at Yukio's apartment together. They were talking about Candy.
"I am behaving myself, I am even behaving well, so there is nothing to worry about," continued Vlad.
"How do I know there is nothing to worry about?" said Yukio. "You haven't even approached her yet."
"That's just my point. I'm planning my approach carefully," insisted Vlad. "I'm not behaving like a crazy person. I've been spending my time getting my strength back by drinking the other students' blood. I'm not so obsessed with Candy that I ignore my health."
"Yes," admitted Yukio. "You aren't behaving as badly as I thought you would. But you are still a vampire in love…."
"I do love her, Yukio," interrupted Vlad. "I can't wait to make her mine. She will be mine forever!"
"You are still a vampire in love, and that is a very dangerous thing."
"But how is it dangerous? I don't understand how it's dangerous."
"Just tell me, Vlad, how do you plan to approach her, as you say? You are already sitting next to her in class. What will you do to approach her?"
"I have written a poem, a love poem," said Vlad.
"A love poem?" asked Yukio with a faint smile. "Really? Can I read it?"
"Why not? I've wanted to show it to you."
Vlad took a folded McDonald's placemat from his pocket, and began slowly, with a kind of reverence almost, to unfold it. The poem was written on the back of the placemat. He read it aloud:
For Candy, My LoveWhen he had stopped reading, Vlad stared at Yukio in silence. Then Yukio started laughing. At first it was just a little giggle, and he tried to stop. But then it became a snicker and finally a full-blown laugh. The sight of Vlad's indignant eyes as he held the poem in front of him didn't help matters. Eventually Yukio was laughing so hard he had to hold his sides. He was coughing and laughing at the same time. Finally Vlad shouted at him:
How do I love thee? Let me count four ways.
Your hair is a lacquer waterfall.
Your fingers are ivory toys.
Your feet are as light as sparrows.
Your nose is a jade cup.
I would crawl across Asia, Candy, to prick your finger!
"Stop it, Yukio! You are making me angry!"
Yukio made a serious effort to stop laughing. He said: "I'm sorry, Vlad. I'm really sorry. It's just that you wrote it on that placemat. And besides: it's not really a poem."
"It is a poem," said Vlad. "It's a love poem for my true love! And you are laughing at it!"
"I'm not laughing at your love, Vlad," said Yukio, coughing one final time. "I'm laughing at the poem. Please try to understand. You need to make it better. What you have there is not really a poem."
"Why not? Why isn't it?"
"There is no fixed rhythm, there is no rhyme. A poem needs to move like a song. But there is no rhythm in your poem. All you have are sentences. Some of your sentences are beautiful, yes, but you need to improve it."
"How can I improve it, then?"
"Listen. I will go through it with you. I will show you how you can change it. Then Candy will be really impressed by your love. But I don't want to do it now. I'm not in the mood. We can do it later, okay?"
"That's fine. I trust you as my friend. I don't like you laughing at me like that, but if you want to help me, then that's fine. I will be grateful. I'm not a poet, I admit. I'm just in love."
"Yes, Vlad," said Yukio. "You are obviously in love."
"What should we do tonight then?"
Yukio leaned back in the couch where he was sitting and crossed his skinny legs one over another.
"I really don't know," he said. "I'm not in a very good mood today. I'm kind of tired."
Vlad got up and began looking through Yukio's CD collection.
"Yukio," he said a couple minutes later, "you have a lot of CDs here. But I don't see any jazz. What do you think of jazz?"
"It's very noisy," said Yukio.
"Do you like classical music then?" asked Vlad.
"No, I don't like classical music," answered Yukio.
"Do you like heavy metal?"
"No, I don't like heavy metal."
"Do you like orchestra music?"
"No, I don't like orchestra music."
"Do you like rock?"
"No, I don't like rock."
"Do you like opera?" he asked.
"No, I don't like opera," replied Yukio.
"Do you like concerts?"
"No, I don't like concerts."
Vlad finally sat down on the couch.
"Yukio," he said.
"What?" answered Yukio.
"This conversation is becoming very, very boring. Who wrote it?"
"Tom wrote this part," said Yukio.
"Oh, I see," said Vlad. "Tom wrote ten questions and ten answers with 'Do you like X? No, I don't like X.' 'Do you like Y? No, I don't like Y.' That is really very boring."
"Yes, it is," said Yukio. "If we only had lazy students to write our dialogue, our lives would be very boring. It’s very sad to think about it."
"Let's talk about something else then," said Vlad. "Like your stereo. Where did you get it?"
"I brought it from Japan. It has two CD players, two tape players, a receiver, and four speakers. It was very expensive."
"What do you want to listen to?"
"Let's put in some rap music. What do you think?"
Vlad chose a rap CD from Yukio's collection and put it in one of the CD players. He turned up the volume all the way and then turned up the bass. As the music began pounding out of the speakers, the walls started shaking. "Great!" yelled Yukio. The two vampires started dancing in the living room.
One of the neighbors was so annoyed by the music that he started pounding on the walls. But the music was so loud that Yukio and Vlad couldn't hear him.
"Let's make some Bloody Marys," said Vlad.
Yukio went into the kitchen to start mixing the Bloody Marys.
Then the doorbell rang. Vlad went to open the door. There were three young people standing in the hall.
"Hey, are you having a party here?" said one.
"Just a minute," said Vlad. "Let me ask the owner."
Stepping into the kitchen, Vlad told Yukio there were three people at the door asking if they were having a party. Yukio thought for a moment.
"Tell them to come in," he said. "We can give them Bloody Marys, and when they're drunk we can attack them."
Vlad invited the three people to come in. They all started dancing together.
Then the doorbell rang again.
"Hey," said the girl in the hall. "This sounds like a really cool party. Can we like step down to your rank and file?"
"Sure, come in!" said Yukio and Vlad.
Then more people came, and more people, and more people.
"Yukio!" said Vlad. "Our party is really getting very big! We must be sure to make them all our victims! What do you think?"
"The same as you," said Yukio. "Just look at all these neighbors! There are Taiwanese, Americans, Japanese, and French. Have you ever sucked Japanese blood?"
"No," said Vlad. "Never. Is it delicious?"
"You will love it," said Yukio. "It’s the best!"
"You say that because you're Japanese," said Vlad.
"Well, maybe. But let's make all these people blind drunk so that we can get them with no resistance. I have about eight bottles of vodka in the kitchen. I want to drown in blood tonight!"
"Hey, who is that?" asked Vlad.
"That looks like the basketball superstar Michael Jordan. What's he doing here? And look! That's Scottie Pippen and Penny Hardaway. The basketball players are coming to our party!"
"Let's ask the girl," said Vlad. "Excuse me, Miss, who are those men you came with?"
"They're my friends. They were visiting me, and we heard the party upstairs, so we rang."
"Let's not try to bite those guys," said Yukio. "They're too big."
"Yeah, look at Jordan," said Vlad. "He looks like he could throw us both through a wall."
After the basketball players left, Vlad invited the rest of the neighbors to crash in the bedroom.
"Oh, my God!" said one. "There are so many coffins here! How weird! They have a marble coffin, a gold coffin, and a crystal coffin. That's really strange!"
"Yeah, coffins. That’s cool," said another. "But I'm tired. I want to sleep."
The drunken guests were soon rolling around the floor in drunken lethargy. Yukio and Vlad sucked them one after another. After they’d sucked all their victims, Vlad said:
"Have a nice rest, victims! I love you dearly! Hah, hah, hah!"
Then he said to Yukio: "I see the Japanese blood has a little raw fish flavor. Very interesting."
"I told you it was good," said Yukio.
"But the Taiwanese blood has a lot of garlic flavor in it," said Vlad. "That's not too good."
"I agree," said Yukio.
The next night Vlad and Yukio were on the street putting the victims' bodies into the garbage truck.
"Good-bye, victims!" they called out. "Good-bye! We will miss you forever!"
Then Vlad said: "I feel like a cat that's just drunk a liter of warm milk. I just want to curl up in the sunlight on an old Persian rug and sleep all afternoon."
"Oh, yeah?" said Yukio. "I feel like a pig that's just eaten a bushel of sweet potatoes. I just want to flop in the mud under a willow tree and belch in the summer breeze."
"Is that right?" replied Vlad. "I feel like a shark that's just eaten four middle school students on summer vacation. I just want to loll in the shallows in some quiet blue bay where there's no one around. Let a seagull land on my dorsal fin if it wants. I won't move."
"Okay, you win!" said Yukio. "What should we do next? Go back and nap in the coffins?"
"No," said Vlad. "Let's go to the Blue Note Pub and listen to some jazz and drink some wine."
"You are so smart," said Yukio. "You know how to live! Let's go!"
[Chapter X by Alice and Tom.]