This was my first meeting. Needless to say I was a little nervous. I never thought I'd ever find myself in a meeting of one of these twelve-step type programs. This particular group actually met in a church basement, no less. A church that had a cross on the top of the steeple out front. Crosses always made me nervous to say the least. But, Bert, he was my sponsor; Bert was very efficient and was well aware of those type things.
Bert approached the church from the back alley as we drove up earlier tonight and we were allowed to enter through the back basement door. In fact, everyone at this meeting did that; all of our cars were parked out back. There were also no crosses anywhere within our eyesight either in the basement hall where we met or in the hallway leading into it. This was done especially for newcomers like me and for some of the others who had started rather recently. Most of the old-timers could tolerate and some could even appreciate crosses.
Shortly after the meeting got under way, Bert walked up to the small wooden podium to introduce me to the rest of the group. As I said, I was a little nervous, as it was customary for a new member to address the group with a short testimonial. Bert introduced me. I was sitting in the back by myself. As the twenty some odd pairs of hands began to clap I stood, smiled, and bowed slightly as the whole room turned it's eyes in my direction.
I began my walk between the five rows of gray metal folding chairs to the podium in front of them. The floor I walked on was carpeted with a very neutral gray carpet. The walls of the basement were exposed concrete and were of a gray-tan color and had no windows. Two rows of long fluorescent tubes burned a bright bluish-white light overhead; all except for the couple that only flickered.
As I reached the podium I looked at the felt banner hanging on the wall directly behind it. On it were images of a loaf of bread and of a chalice containing a dark burgundy colored liquid. It suddenly flashed into my mind that the liquid was the blood of Christ. For a split second I got weak in the knees and almost fell, but I used the podium to steady myself and I quickly recovered. I took a deep breath and I turned to address my peers.
I looked into this group of recoverers for several seconds and I saw acceptance on their faces.
"My name is Baxter," I said. "And I'm a
"And I haven't had a drink in two weeks!"
Everyone clapped. They were rooting for me, it felt great!
"Tell us, Baxter" Bert said. "Just how did you become one of the undead? We care about such things; it helps us get to know you. We all want to hear Baxter's story, don't we gang?"
"Sure we do. Tell us Baxter," someone said.
"Yeah, we've all been there" another chimed in.
"Well," I said," It all started around three-hundred years ago. I won't go in to all the gory details but I know I got bit." I pulled down on my collar and showed the group the two dots of scar tissue on my neck about an inch and a quarter apart.
"When I woke up I had this irresistible lust that I'd never felt before."
It seems the whole group were shaking their heads to this comment. I heard several uh-huhs and a few yeses.
"Blood" I said, "I had to have it and fast!"
"Yes, the blood," someone whispered.
"When I first started, one body usually lasted me several months. That one feeding and I was good to go. I only killed three people a year. That was all I needed. Then, the more blood I sucked the more things began to get out of control. I needed more and more blood to quench the thirst! It cost more and more lives to get me the feeling! I cared about no one. I saw all people as an intoxicating drink, walking cocktails. They all existed for my pleasure and nothing more. I killed with no remorse; just give me that next fix! I was an addict, I was a leach, I was a Vampire!"
"Oh yes, go on brother," someone said.
"Me and a few of my friends would have several bodies on ice for the Super Bowl alone. We'd turn on the game and set the first body, in an ice filled casket, on the coffee table. We each jabbed a straw into one of the major arteries and sucked away. We'd fight over who would get the jugular. We went through one body after another, as many as we could get. I mean, like my British friend would say, we got bloody wasted!"
"He got wasted" someone said.
When I first arrived at the meeting all fangs were retracted. After those last few comments I noticed some extended fangs and some drool on the chins of some of the newer members.
"Just several years ago things got to the point where I needed one whole body just to get off. I looked at each human being as a six-pint. My whole life became a quest to see how many six-pints a day I could acquire and consume. As if the mere quantity wasn't bad enough, I had acquired a taste for the good stuff. Street prostitutes and the homeless used to be good enough for me. Then I moved up to the working class. But lately nothing was really satisfying me except those who had the bucks. I was craving the expensive stuff. A socialite-a-day habit was becoming very hard to sustain."
Just then one of the group looked up and raised shaking hands saying, "A wealthy man is like a fine wine".
Someone else said, "Money is the root of all flavor."
"Then it happened! I had made a couple very wealthy acquaintances. I used them as my contacts. They would introduce me to the people I would visit on my next binge. One night, not long ago, I was invited to a very swank party in a very high-class part of town. There were Doctors and Lawyers; there were local business owners and a few local celebrities. All the blood here was blue. I was like a vampire in a blood bank-literally!
"The next thing I remember I was waking up with a throbbing headache just as the police arrived. There was blood everywhere; blood on the walls, on the tables, in the punch bowl and in several wine glasses. Bloody bodies in bloody tuxes and bloody evening gowns littered the bloody floor in their own bloody puddles. It was quite a sight. There must've been thirty bodies there and I must've drained them all. But I couldn't remember a thing.
"My head pounded and my stomach churned. As I staggered to my feet I looked at one of the wine glasses that was still half full of blood. I puked! Blood was the last thing I wanted to look at. I passed out again.
"When I came to this time I was being handcuffed by two officers. I'm sure I was suspected of mass murder-I was the only one left alive in the room. My head hurt and I was sick; I was nearly too hung over to shape shift, but I managed it. As a bat I flew out the front door, after missing it on the first try and banging into the wall just beside the opening; not something you want to do when you have a headache!
"So that was it! I knew then that something had to change!"
A tear was forming in my eye as I said, "I just can't keep this up. I wish I could say it was killing me but it's not and that's the problem. I can't die; I never die -- I mean sometimes you just want to die!" I sniffled while drying my moist eyes.
"He wants to die, we know" someone said.
Bert walked up to the podium and put his arm around my shoulders. "That's great Baxter," he said. "I think that's enough for the first meeting. You've completed step one of the program Baxter; you've admitted your problem and by coming here you've asked for help. How'd Baxter do on his first night?" Bert asked the group.
Everyone clapped and cheered and whistled. They all came up to me and shook my hand one by one. They assured me that I wasn't the only one and that they were all there for me from this point forward. I knew that together and with God's (yes, God's) help we would all overcome. I knew I'd done the right thing. I knew I was in the right place. I knew everything would be all right.
I'd know that I was cured when I could walk out the front door of the church, look up at that cross up there and smile. Maybe then I could finally just die.
I was dying to die!
© 2004 Jim Fowler, all rights reserved
appears here by permission
A Vampire, to me, is the most perfect allegory for evil. Wasn't Dracula really Satan incarnate? But then what about the bitten? Following Dracula's line to today; what if a modern Vampire was just an average guy with a bad habit he couldn't break? That might have it's funny side. Baxter, just a three-hundred-year-old guy addicted to blood and looking for help. Looking for a support group.