Me: Hi, Slim. Why don’t you pull up a seat?
Slim: Don’t mind if I do. Thank you kindly.
Me: I’m gonna do a little talking out loud if you don’t mind. The interview is for posterity and I’m trying to get as much as I can down. It might sound, I dunno… weird.
Slim: I’m gonna level with you – you cannot out weird me.
Me: I thought as much – but better safe than sorry.
Slim: Know a lot about that too. But, go on. Do your thing.
Me: Okay. This is interview one for Back Roads. Interview subject is a caucasian male. Apparent age is around thirty to thirty five years old, approximately six foot one. Pale complected, dark hair and eyes. Hair kept short in a rustic cut. Wears a black cowboy hat, denim jeans, red button down shirt with a black vest and cowboy boots. He’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
Slim: [Coughs] Mostly rock and roll. Country’s been done to death. Tired of it. It’s all they play on the circuit Butch and I run.
Slim: Yeah. I guess you could say he’s my road partner.
Me: So you travel around a lot.
Slim: Almost my whole life.
Me: Well, let’s start at the beginning. Where were you born?
Slim: Tennessee western territory.
Me: Not just Tennessee?
Slim: No sir. But, that ties in with the next question. Go on ahead and ask it. I don’t mind.
Me: Alright, when were you born?
Slim: August nineteenth, eighteen forty-six.
Slim: Yes sir. We headed out West when I was just a kid and helped found the Republic of Texas. Daddy rode with Sam Houston hisself.
Me: That seems unlikely.
Slim: Honest Injun. All true. Ain’t the weirdest part of the story, tell you that.
Me: So that makes you…
Slim: One hundred and sixty-six this August.
Me: [Whistles] Bold claim. What’s your secret? Clean living, exercise, diet?
Slim: Definitely not clean living – though that’s a fine aspiration. Not exercise, but you could say there’s something to the latter.
Me: The diet?
Slim: Yes sir.
Me: Can you elaborate?
Slim: Blood. Preferably human blood.
Slim: Like I said on the phone. I’m a vampire. The genuine article. Fangs, toughness, power, undying.
Me: Wow. That’s a bold statement.
Slim: Also a true one. You didn’t believe me when I told you that? You think I’m nuts?
Me: I’ll admit, I didn’t believe you. But, when someone comes to you with the belief that they are a vampire, you’re going to at least hear something interesting. Even if its not true.
Slim: I can’t say as I blame you. It’s a tall order. But, it is a hell of a good story if you got a spell.
Me: I got some time. Lemme get a drink from the barista.
[Recording ends – picks up again]
Me: Okay, so, I have my drink refilled, and I gotta take you off track from the backstory first and ask a couple more questions.
Slim: Yeah – anyone who meets a Nocturne is gonna go through this. [Chuckles] So go on. I know you got a vampire checklist you’re itching to go through so let’s just get it done and then we can talk about how I got to be what I am.
Me: Okay so. Let’s hit the popular ones. Reflection?
Slim: Yep. I’d be a fine mess if I didn’t have one.
Slim: Nope. Don’t do shit. Same with garlic, holy water and silver. I’m just dandy with all of those.
Me: Stake through the heart?
Slim: Just pisses me off. Handy though when some shitheel gets a mind to off me and thinks the job’s done. Oughtta see the look on those son’s o’ bitches faces when I come up from behind.
Me: Wow. So, fire?
Slim: That hurts. But, no. Don’t necessarily do the trick. I been burned a couple times. Slow to heal, but I’ve made it out every time. I dunno what’d happen if a fire ashed me out. Never done that.
Slim: I dunno. Never had that happen. Thankfully most idiots go for the old stake through the heart routine.
Slim: Nope. Speak from experience on that, though obviously it gives me a real bad headache [chuckle].
Slim: That’s complicated.
Me: Care to elaborate?
Slim: [Shifts. Looks uncomfortable] Yeah. It can kill me. But… it ain’t like the pictures make it out to be. Sunlight takes away everything. Everything. I don’t just mean it burns me up and scatters me on the wind. Nothing of the sort. If I were to go out into the parking lot and wait for sun up, you’d see not so much as a spark. No light show, nothing.
Me: What would I see?
Slim: Well, you’d see the wreck of a man. All of my powers go away. I turn back into a human for most intents and purposes.
Me: That’s it?
Slim: Bible truth.
Me: Doesn’t sound so bad.
Slim: I got a lot of people like to see me dead. Comes with the territory.
Me: I think I get the picture. So all someone has to do is kill you in the light of day?
Slim: [Sighs] Pretty much. You found me sleeping in the sun or wandering on the side of the road during daylight hours you could poison me, slit my throat, or put a bullet in me and it’s over. S’why I try and keep a low profile. People start going around knowing about all my dirty laundry or god forbid my past caught up with me… it can all go to Hell in a hurry. But, that ain’t the worst part.
Me: How so?
Slim: Remember how I say it takes everything? It takes my memory too. I can’t tell you what I’m like by daylight. I don’t remember anything. I find myself in strange places if I don’t find someplace dark enough to hunker down during the day. Butch though… he tells me that I go kind of crazy. He’s seen it on a few occasions.
Me: Like violent crazy?
Slim: Sometimes. Mostly out of panic. But mostly he says I’m scared, disoriented. Confused. Apparently, the human me doesn’t know anything about vampirism. Doesn’t have any of my memories. Has some of my old life rattling around in there though. The twenty-first century rattles the shit out of him. Scares him senseless. Those people you sometimes find, wandering around, dirty, raving, incoherent, oblivious to everything around them? Willing to pay dollars to donuts that they’re Nocturnes. Just wandering around until the sun dips back beneath the horizon.
Me: That’s not what I expected.
Slim: Yeah. It makes it hard. But, I got Butch to help. Vampires are seldom solitary creatures. They require a lot of propping up. Reliable help.
Me: Do you have powers to help with that?
Slim: Sadly, no. Well, I don’t. I hear that other Nocturnes have different abilities.
Me: That’s the second time you’ve said that word. What was it again?
Slim: Nocturnes. Collective word for the various types of vampiric critters in the world. Occultist term. Little pretentious you ask me. But, there you have it. I’m just one kind of Nocturne. There’s weirder kinds than me. Do the homework sometime. Every culture’s got a different vampire ‘myth’. You dig deep enough you’ll find that some of them are real. Izzy – a contact of ours out near Sedona – says I’m what occultists would call a Western vampire. Or, Eurotrash as she sometimes calls me, which I take offense to on more than one level. South American vampires, Chinese vampires, Native American vampires, all different. The Chinese ones are wicked scary sounding and the ones south of the border? They don’t even pretend to be human. Part of the reason so many Mexicans are hot to get outta Dodge, I suppose. Vampires down there are shitting where they eat so I’m told. Not my problem though.
Me: Interesting. But, we’re getting off track. The checklist. Running water?
Slim: Bullshit. How’d a fella like me make it from Texas to Delaware without crossing a goddamned body of water?
Me: Good point. Uh… transformation?
Slim: You mean like bats, mist, rats, wolves? No. Again, at least I can’t. Izzy though, she tells us about Vagr – another kind of Western Nocturne – that can. So can some of the Native American ones. Butch met one once, but that’s another story.
Me: Sunlight do the same to them?
Slim: Some of ‘em. Again. The information I can give you is kind of specific to me. Anne Rice got that part right at least. The blood touches each vampire differently. I can only speak to myself. Izzy could tell you more.
Me: Okay. Fair enough. One last question though before we get into history.
Slim: Fire away.
Me: How often do you, you know… have to drink?
Slim: Less often than you’d think, though if I get into a tussle, if I use my gifts or if I get caught out in the sun, the tank gets lower faster so to speak.
Me: Makes sense I guess. Oh, and I lied, but there is one last detail. How about, you know, the day to day stuff. Eating, going to the bathroom, drinking –
Slim: Fucking I reckon on that list too?
Me: Well, since you bring it up, sure. Add it in.
Slim: I’m biologically dead so long as the sun doesn’t hit me. So, no, I don’t eat, drink or shit. Can’t. Only blood does the trick, though I can swap out animal blood for human blood for a little bit before I get the itch to get a real meal. Deer is good, I’ve gotten by on possum, though it’s shit for taste, like flat beer. As for getting it up, I can, but, it’s a waste of blood and, to be honest, I don’t care. The drive for that kind of thing just blows away on the wind. Next to blood, sex is… boring.
Me: That’s awful.
Slim: That’s unlife. Is what it is. You get used to it after a while. I get by. Besides, I got some good people on the road to take my mind off the worse parts of the condition. Izzy and I, we don’t always get along all the time but she understands me better than most anyone cause of what she knows. Butch, he gets on my nerves something powerful sometimes, but we always help each other out. You think I got problems… you should talk to Butch sometime. If we didn’t have each other to lean up on, we’d be in a fine fix.
Me: Well, we’re here to talk about you, so we’ll leave Butch out for now. But who else is in your circle?
Slim: Well, most of them are out west in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, the godforsaken state of Colorado and Death Valley. There’s Eddie Saguaro. Cavey. Auntie Bellum – corny, but that’s her CB handle. All of our family so to speak is out West. The Road takes us all out there a lot for reasons beyond my ken.
Me: The road?
Slim. Capital R. Yeah. I could explain it to you, but… let’s keep it simple. You wanted my history, right? The story of where I’m from?
Me: Yeah, I think I got all my questions out of the way about the condition, so let’s meet the man.
Slim: The man’s a good a place to start as any I suppose, and the Man will take you to the vampire, and the vampire will eventually take you to the Road and the truth will out. Gimme a second though. I’m gonna catch a smoke then come back in. We’ll pick up then.
[Interview part one ends]