Getting old is hell. This really isn't a story about vampires, unless you consider Father Time to be a vampire. He lingers over us all, sucking away our years and leaving behind a dessicated mess. This is another assignment from the past, weighing in at about five hundred words.
Mr. Rodriguez sucked on a cross as I entered the room. He watched me with red-rimmed eyes, checking the mirror as I passed and nodding to himself. Well over ninety, Rodriguez was a small man, with pale skin and only a wisp of silver hair remaining.
“Vampire,” he hissed as I stood beside his bed.
“My name is Peter, Mr. Rodriguez. I’m an aide. They just hired me today.”
“Yeah, whatever,” I said. I tried sticking a thermometer in his mouth. He grinned and turned away. I waited a moment and tried again. When he continued to resist I lost my temper and grabbed his wrist. He cried in surprised and I took advantage of the moment to stick the thermometer in.
My dad never went to a nursing home. He died in his bed. We found him after a week, it could just as easily have been a month. Or a year.
I pulled back the blanket and the smell told me had soiled himself.
“You think I don’t know what you are?” said Rodriguez. I was afraid he might chomp down on the thermometer. I took it from his lips and recorded his temperature on the chart. I looked at a picture by the bed. Big family. Big house. I wondered how old these pictures were.
“Your kind has been a plague for the last fifty years," said Rodriguez. "I didn’t realize it at first. I couldn’t understand why things kept changing. Why I kept changing.”
“I got to get you out of bed,” I said. I tugged at him in an effort to bring him to his feet. When he didn’t cooperate I yanked harder. He rose and stumbled into me. I guided him to a chair and set him down. I turned to fit another plastic sheet over the mattress. Then I turned back to clean him up.
“You’re different from yesterday,” he mumbled.
“I told you. Today is my first day. Lift your arm so I can change your t-shirt.”
He struggled but I got him changed. I tried talking to put him at ease. They stressed that during orientation. Keep talking. He kept watching me without saying anything back. His eyes got meaner.
I took a packet from my pocket and checked the label to be sure I had the right medication. Shaking a few tablets into a paper cup, I held it out to him but he shook his head and turned away.
“Don’t do this,” I said, almost slipping up and adding: “Don’t be a hard-ass."
I held the pills out to him and he reached for them. Catching me off guard, he grabbed my arm and raked my flesh with a silver cross. I howled in pain. He clapped his hands. "See?" he crowed. "See? The cross has power over the vampire."
I was bleeding. I almost hit him, but caught myself. I needed this job bad. Unemployment had run out and I was desperate. I’d get back at him, I thought. There were lots of ways to even the score. I swore again and crossed the room to grab a handful of tissue paper. I applied pressure to the wound and turned to him. He was still wielding his cross as a weapon.
“Do that again, old man, and I’ll beat the shit out of you.”
“Vampire. Vampire. What will you feed on after me and my kind have died? Who will nourish you then? You wait and see. Your world will start to change then, as did mine, and a new plague will come.”
"Take your pills," I said. He looked at the blood on my arm and did as he was told. He was cooperative now and allowed me to finish cleaning him up before returning to bed.
"What's your name, Vampire?" he asked.
I told him and collected the clipboard and tray. It was just my first day. He’d get used to me. Maybe he would die in a day or two.
Tags:writing short story