Dinner Is Served
By: Dennis Desmond

It's a good thing I don't have a heart because if I did, it would've surely broken in half the night my daughter brought a boy home to dinner.

It's not that I dislike humans. I've adopted a neutral, one might even say a benevolent, attitude towards them. I stopped feeding on them 244 years ago, around the time of the American Revolution, right after Jacob Fells bought his farm down the street and named the neighborhood after himself. Fells Point. Being a vampire who prizes modesty above all else, I assuaged my offended sensibility by making Mr. Fells my last meal.

I blame the Revolution for my switch from a human to an animal diet. I figured I'd do my part by leaving the revolutionaries alone to be all they could be.

My daughter, Elena, was just a baby then. I imagine most vampire dads think their daughters the cutest in the land, and I was no exception. It is true that Elena's rosy cheeks were not as pale as vampire fashion dictates, her fangs blunt rather than pointed. No matter. In my mind she was – and is – the most beautiful.

It's best not to argue with me. My fangs are bigger and badder than most, though they are retractable, like my personality. Treat me with respect, you'll never see them.

I can't deny that I hanker for a tasty human from time–to–time and I wonder if my daughter does, too. She hasn't had a bite since she was a baby, sucking on little glass bottles of fire–engine red formula, probably too young to remember. I weaned her of those bottles when I went all–animal, and later in life, told her all about Mr. Fells, the American Revolution, and the evolution of our culinary habits. I wonder if her interest in this boy represents some primeval hankering to get back to some good–old–fashioned neck chomping?

In any case, her meeting the boy is my fault. After hundreds of years of home schooling, I allowed Elena to go to a human night school. For some variety. Out of curiosity and liberality.

Big mistake, but too late now. The doorbell rings. The human has arrived.


I am dressed in a red cashmere sweater and brown slacks. I am trying to brighten my white–as–flour skin and black–as–the tomb hair. My vampire friends nicknamed me "Bela," after the American actor Bela Lugosi who portrayed the fictional Dracula in the 1930's. The fact is, I look just like him.

"Good evening," I say, unfortunately, also sounding like him.

A young man awaits on the front stoop of our home located deep in an alley. He bears a striking resemblance to a carrot. Thin, with bushy red hair and ruddy features.

He is holding a half–dozen red roses. Vampires have a keen sense of smell, and the scent overpowers my delicate nostrils. The young man looks as though he is getting ready to plant a kiss on my daughter's cheek. Alarmed, I flash him one curled–up section of lip, showing off a fang. He wilts like a carrot in the heat. I'm hoping he faints, and we call it an early night. My daughter, however, does something completely unexpected, and equally unwelcome. She plants a kiss on Carrot Top's cheek.

"I love roses," she says.

If I had any blood in my veins it would've boiled on the spot. In my day, we had humans for dinner. Now we invite them for dinner?

Carrot Top enters, giving me wide berth.

"You two have a seat in the living room while I putter in the kitchen," my daughter says.

Vampires can tolerate only limited amounts of human food. My daughter has laid out a series of plates, with nuts, berries, and slices of rare roast beef. It is my habit to suck out the juice of the beef and spit the regurgitated result on my plate. I am contemplating whether to do so when our guest speaks.

"Nice digs," he says, looking around.

"Digs?" I say.

"Yeah, you know, the furniture."

Carrot Top has parked himself on a Louis XV armchair, not an imitation, but an original. Having been around a while, and blessed with impeccable taste, I've had time to assemble a truly formidable collection of memorable mueble.

I need to get a grip. Stay calm. I made a deal with my daughter, didn't I?

"What are you studying in school?" I ask, sighing deeply.

"Criminal law," Carrot Top replies. "I'm planning to become a police officer."

"I see," I say. "Are there many criminals to be had in Baltimore?"

Carrot Top laughs. "Plenty. Even some in this neighborhood."

"And what sort of criminal activity are they engaged in?"

"The usual," he replies. "Robberies, assaults, break–ins, drug–dealing." He pauses. "Have you and Elena lived in Fells Point for long?"

"You could say that," I reply.

"Me too," he says. "My family was pretty much the first to arrive in the area."

I scrutinize his red hair and blue eyes. "What did you say your name was?"

"Jeremy Fells. The neighborhood is supposedly named after my ancestor, Jacob Fells."

I lean back in my sofa, head spinning. My thoughts halt 244 years in the past. I twist the farmer's head of red hair, exposing the delicate, white neck. I sink my fangs into my victim's flesh, the beat of his living heart a symphony in my ears, as the succulent, viscous substance replenishes my withered torso

My daughter's polite cough brings me back to the present. She is standing in the entrance of the living room. Beyond, in the kitchen, I note that nothing has been laid out, nothing has been prepared.

She looks at Carrot Top. She looks at me.

"Let's eat," she says.


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