[Sustentation] Chapter 7 - Wesley - Live in Fear

For the last week I’ve been waiting for the moment when Kareem decides I know too much. He keeps walking around as if nothing is wrong. On the contrary, he acts as if we’re childhood friends. He talks more, even coming to the second floor of the house just to check on me. At least he claims he’s checking on me, in reality, I think he’s stalking me. He can kill me whenever he’s ready but he’s choosing the perfect time. I’m not without my own preparations. I’ve been gathering my own supplies in case we’re forced into a confrontation. I keep a vial of holy water in my left pocket and a stake in my right pocket. The scent from the braided garlic necklace I’ve taken to wearing no longer bothers me. He hasn’t shown any signs that it bothers him either, but he’s a killer, a serial killer. Aren’t serial killers sociopaths? He wouldn’t know how to display that my new charms are bothering him. He’d only attempt to get closer in an attempt to remove them from me.

I make my way down the stairs, on the toes of my feet, trying not to make a sound as he watches a movie in the living room. I don’t want him to hear me, but he throws a hand into the air to wave at me, letting me know that I’ve been seen. I drop the stealth and quickly make it to the kitchen. I simply want to prepare a meal for myself, something fast and easy. I think there’s some sausage in the fridge. A few peppers, some onions, that’ll work.

“Hey, what are you making,” Kareem enters the kitchen, having paused his movie.

I do the only sensible thing I can to escape, I pour a bag of rice onto the floor and wait for him to react, but he doesn’t do anything. He just laughs and looks at me strangely.

“Aren’t you going to count the grains of rice,” I ask.

“Why would I do that?”

“Vampires, you’re obsessed with counting.”

“I think you have me mixed up with the guy from Sesame Street. My math skills are terrible, even counting money trips me up sometimes,”

“Well, stay back, I’ve got garlic, and Holy water.”

“I’m only a half vampire, that stuff isn’t going to work. The smell of garlic is just going to really annoy me but it’s not dangerous.”

“That’s what you’d say just to keep me away.”

Kareem tries to force a smile, and struggles. He still hasn’t figured out how to do it on command. I’ve only seen a real smile from him when he’s watching a movie he finds enjoyable. Nothing else has managed to remove the vacant look from his face. For now, he’s trying a large smile that shows all his teeth, struggling to keep his upper lip from snagging on his teeth. He wouldn’t have that problem if his lips weren’t so dry. I’m sure he thinks it’s flattering but the entire situation reads like an H.P. Lovecraft novel for me. His smile isn’t comforting, I can only think of some kind of small demonic creature crawling free from his mouth, shedding the skin known as Kareem.

I’m paralyzed with fear as he approaches me, still smiling. My body stiffens as he places a hand on my shoulder. His other hand reaches below my shirt, almost as if it were slow motion. His hands aren’t cold, but they aren’t warm either, the smooth skin of his palm climbs my chest before a feel a feint scratch while his hand grips the garlic I had hidden beneath my sweater.

When I come to my senses he’s struggling to peel a piece of the garlic in front of me. I watch silently as he finally manages to remove the peel from a clove by rubbing it in his palms. He tosses the rest of the garlic onto the counter and places the clove on his tongue. I watch and as he winces and chews the garlic, occasionally opening his mouth wide for me to see. When he’s finished and sure I witnessed the whole thing he rushes to the fridge and downs half a gallon of orange juice.

“Told you, that stuff doesn’t work on me,” he gloats as his face still winces from the garlic.

“What about,” I fumble on the words, “I’ve got holy water. That’ll stop you.”

He closes his eyes and spreads his arms as if her were being crucified. He motions for me to splash him with the holy water. I hesitate as I pull it from my pocket and contemplate what might happen. If I splash this water on him, he might be disfigured, or killed. But, I’d rather do it now and prevent an issue from arising later when it doesn’t work. I strengthen my resolve to splash the water on him. He doesn’t melt, scream or anything like that. In fact, he does nothing, but stand there, only slightly wet. When he does open his eyes he grabs my wrist and removes the bottle from my hand before drinking it in two big gulps.

“That was holy water.”

“If you’re going to use holy water, it needs to be some super blessed stuff.”

“I got that from a preacher.”

“You might as well have paid $29.99 and called his hotline too? He hustled you. Anything else you want to try?”

“I’ve got a stake.”

“Yeah, I’m not taking any risk with that one. I haven’t tried to kill you, so how about you don’t try to kill me,” he waits for an answer but I can’t give him one. “Are we cool or not,” I sense the irritation in his voice.

I’d be irritated too if I had a mouth full of garlic, rice stuck to my feet and a face full of tap water, “so we’re cool.”

“Good, what are you making for dinner?”

“Sausage, with some peppers and onion.”

“It would go nice with that rice you make, the kind with the tomatoes,” he adds to the menu.

“Do you mind floor rice? It’ll be cleaned and cooked.”

“I don’t mind, we can watch a movie while we eat.”

“Okay,” is this his way of a peace offering? It would be best if I accept. I’d rather have dinner with a murderer than be dinner for one.

He helps me scoop up the rice before scurrying off to the basement. I’m sure he’s looking for a movie. I just cook, carefully. He rarely eats so I need this to be perfect, if I just keep him satisfied, he won’t eat me. By the time he’s returned from the basement I’ve gotten the food cooked, plated and sitting on the coffee table. Almost as if he heard me, he probably did, he appears with a thumb drive and loads up a movie.

It's an old movie called Coffy, the kind of cocaine fueled films of the 70s that my father would have seen in his youth. Filled to the brim with the things that he still preaches against today. The film stars a young Pam Grier, working as a nurse. In her spare time, she tracks down the people leading the drug ring that turned her sister into a heroin addict. She infiltrates the organization by posing as a prostitute and from there the film is filled with murder, sex and general mayhem. I’m not sure if he purposely chose to show me a film filled with prostitution and murder to send a message to me or he generally enjoys the movie. Since I found the body, he’s been more talkative, but never this much. He’s constantly pausing the movie to give me different trivia. Coffy wasn’t successful in the theatre so they turned the planned sequel into Foxy Brown. I didn’t see him as a smart person, but he’s pointing out different film techniques that he finds interesting.

I can’t understand him. Everything he does seems as a way to deliberately threaten me; but the way he touched me earlier. Is he interested in me romantically? He’s kind of cute, I might consider, despite the fact that he’s a serial killer. Then again, I could be imagining things because I haven’t been sleeping well. Almost eighty percent of the population would suffer hallucinations if they’ve become sleep deprived. Right now, I’m suffering through incremental sleep deprivation, as well as a healthy dose of paranoia to only exacerbate the situation.

I’ve grown accustomed to hiding myself amongst others; shrinking who I am to avoid offending anyone. I thought I sensed the same thing in him, but I don’t even see cracks of anyone else below the surface. Is he really this ambiguous about everything except movies? I almost feel like he’d be scarier if he was the classic depiction of a vampire. Paper thin white skin, pointy fangs, hissing and maybe even a tuxedo with matching cape ensemble. Instead, he dresses similar to me, the language he uses is the same as mine, and he eats the same food as me. He’s just a normal person, but there’s a monster lurking beneath the flesh and I can’t see it. I’ve been told the monster is there, I’ve seen the monster’s work. All I’ve seen is a person who seems to be somewhat awkward and doesn’t manage emotions well. But, I haven’t seen the monster, and that’s what scares me the most.

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