The Librarian's Vampire AssistantBy: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
I look up and see Miriam on the second floor, standing on top of a tall ladder, reaching to put away a book. She’s wearing a pair of horrible khaki pants and a white golf shirt.
Dear God, woman. I must take you shopping.
I’m about to say hello when I see her losing her balance. Suddenly, she’s falling backwards, over the railing, hurtling toward the first floor.
Crap! There’s no time to think, so I bolt underneath her and extend my arms, catching her just in time.
“Ooph!” I grunt loudly, trying to make my strength less obvious. I look at Miriam’s face, and her eyes are open, but nobody’s home.
“Miriam? What happened?” I ask, noting how light she feels in my arms and how petite her body is next to mine. She fits perfectly in my grasp.
“What…what…” she groans.
“Ohmygod! Did she just fall?” A woman with a brown ponytail rushes over. I recognize her as one of the mothers from yesterday’s story time.
“Yes,” I reply.
“But how did you catch her?” the woman questions.
“I pump iron. Lots of it,” I add, knowing I sound like an idiot.
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” says a blonde at the front of the coffee line, forcing my attention away from the phone in my hand. She’s wearing a rather unattractive red coat and has apparently rammed into a UPS guy carrying a hot cup of tea.
“Serves him right. Only weak men drink tea,” I growl under my breath and return to my screen.
My name is Michael Vanderhorst, and I am not usually this grouchy or this close to doing something terribly unwise—throats torn, heads lopped, appendages removed. Unwise. However, today is quite possibly the worst day of my life, and a silent rage is brewing inside me.
But let us not start off on the wrong foot. I am actually a nice guy. Some might say I’m a classic gentleman, and they don’t mean I know which fork to use, though I do. They mean gentleman in the true, old-fashioned sense. I open doors for ladies and stand when they rise from the table. I keep my word, pay my debts, and believe in being polite to others, even when they don’t deserve it.
Do not get the wrong impression. I am no pushover either. I get my hands dirty when the situation warrants, but generally I am an agreeable man.
Or I used to be.
Now I’m a vampire, and like most of my kind, the journey hasn’t been an easy one.
No, this is not the reason I’m in a foul mood. Neither is the fact that I’ve been in line for over ten minutes, waiting to order coffee.
Oh, yes—pause of deep appreciation—coffee.
“Oh, dear me! I’m so sorry!” I look up again, and the same blonde woman, who I see only from the back, has just knocked over a towering pile of coffee cup lids onto the floor.
The employees rush to pick up the mess, and when she bends over to help, she hits her forehead on the counter. “Ouch!”
I am about to step forward to assist, but she seems all right, rubbing her head and apologizing to the entire world.
I hope she doesn’t stab herself with a straw or spontaneously combust. Then I’ll never get my coffee. I cannot start my day without it.
Do not be shocked. There are many things people don’t know about my kind. For example, we don’t live exclusively on blood. In fact, I prefer spicy vegan dishes. Indian food is delicious.
Another myth? Vampires cannot go in the sun. Also untrue. We are merely averse to it. Right now, it’s a cool spring morning in downtown Phoenix, and while I am sweating through my Italian suit and can’t get home to Cincinnati fast enough, the sunny sky outside is merely an annoyance.
So now you’re wondering just why I’m so angry. It is something so ghastly, I can hardly say the words. Two days ago, someone killed the most upstanding person ever to walk the planet. Clive was a give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back sort of man, which is the likely reason his detective agency wasn’t making money. I once worked for Clive—also a vampire—but his generosity toward his clients, giving away his services, got to a point where he could no longer employ me.
So I went back to school, obtained yet another degree, and started my eighth profession, this time in biotech research. When you’ve lived as long as I have, you get bored. I find changing occupations every fifty years keeps a man on his toes, and if you’ve guessed that would make me over four hundred years old, you would be correct.