From the Unlife and Curse of Sean Becker
Can a vampire still love? I know that’s probably a hard question to answer. I feel the same way for my wife Janet as always. I feel the same love for my children as I did before I died. Perhaps that’s what’s driven me back home…to see them again.
I know it’s crazy. If I’m seen by my family or anyone I used to know, they’ll recognize me and I have no explanation for how I can be here, well, no sane explanation.
Can you imagine me saying, “It’s okay. It’s me, Sean Becker. Yes, I died, but you see, I was killed by a vampire, so guess what I woke up as three days after you buried me?”
Yes, I can only imagine. No one would believe me, but they wouldn’t know how to explain me. If anyone did believe me, it would either mean my second (and final) death or a one-way trip to a government research lab as the star guinea pig.
So I’m stalking my family. I can’t believe they had to sell the old house, but it makes sense. A single Mom and three children have to live off just her income now. My life insurance must have gone only so far.
It’s a nice house in an older neighborhood. I miss our old neighborhood. I miss my old life.
The living room window curtains are open. I’m hiding in the shadow of a big Elm across the street. I think the people living in the house I’m in front of are away. No lights. No activity for days. Makes it easier for me.
Lizzie was just learning how to walk when I died. Now she’s zooming around the place, a precocious two-and-a-half year old. Jill is already in kindergarten, and Aaron, the oldest, is in second grade. They all look so mature.
Jan’s reading to them on the sofa. It looks like Lizzie has the toughest time holding still on her Mommy’s lap while the other two sit on either side of her.
I can’t see the book she’s reading, but the kids seem enthralled.
Why am I doing this, torturing myself?
I keep saying that I just want to make sure they’re okay, that they’re getting along without me, but what would I do if they weren’t?
On Wednesday evenings, I follow them to church. It’s the same church we used to go to as a family. I know Pastor Rob. I know everyone there. They’d have pitched in to help after I died. They’d have made sure to take care of my family because I was gone.
I can’t get too close. I rented a car with stolen credentials. I’m not proud of it but I do what I must. I’m a vampire. I can only go out by night. It’s not like I can get a job and earn a living. So not only am I a monster, but by necessity, a thief. Some Christian I’m turning out to be.
After Jan puts the kids to bed each night, I watch her for a while. She cleans the house, cooks meals for the next day, reads a little, then prays before closing all the curtains and turning in for the evening.
I’m tempted to go closer. To get into the backyard, see if I can peek into my children’s windows and watch them sleep. I won’t do that. No use having the police called on me as a trespasser and scaring the heck out of my family.
After Jan turns in, I drive downtown, park the car, and go hunting. It’s not hard to find some drunk passed out in an alley and siphon off a pint or so, though the blood of a chronic alcoholic isn’t the best. By the taste, this one has the early signs of liver damage. Wish I could warn him, but even if he believed me, it probably wouldn’t do any good.
It’s good to be home but it’s bad as well. It all looks so familiar, but that’s what’s killing me. I can visit home, but I can’t go home.
This is all so useless.
The next Wednesday evening, I don’t follow my family. Instead, I find a church on the other side of town, on the so-called “other side of the tracks.” I remember my Grandpa used to live in this neighborhood, but I haven’t been here since I was sixteen, so chances are, even if some of the original neighbors are still here, they won’t recognize me.
I go into the church. There’s a group of people praying in the sanctuary. I join them, sitting in the back. Looks to be mostly poor and blue collar folks. I’m one of the few white people in the church but no one seems to notice me.
So I pray.
“Dear God. I know that nothing happens by accident and that you have a plan. I know that you love each and every one of us and wants what’s best for us. I won’t ask anything for me, but I beg you to continue to watch over my wife and children. Please, I can’t be with them, so I ask that you take care of their every need. I just wish I could tell them that I still love them and wish I could share in their lives.”
I’m not praying out loud but my thoughts become jumbled as I start softly crying. Then rage wells up in me at the injustice of it all. All of these people, no matter what their lives are like, still have lives, husbands, wives, children, people they love and who love them back.
Everyone who ever loved me thinks I’m dead and for their sake, I must never tell them otherwise.
“Where is justice, God? Where is love and compassion? I’ve always tried to serve you faithfully. Is this my reward?”
Disgusted with myself, I stand up and leave the sanctuary and return to the night.
Later, I’m lucky enough to find a mugger about to attack some old woman coming out of a Bingo hall. She’ll never know how close she came to being assaulted, and I am particularly rough with him, not because of what he was about to do, but because I’m mad as Hell at just about everything.
He’ll wake up with some blood lost, a concussion, a broken arm, and no memory of what happened to him. Some Christian I am.
It’s near dawn, but I swing by the house. Janet’s up early getting lunches ready for the kids and herself before making breakfast. She’s probably got the kids in daycare but all that goes on in the light and I have to be concealed by then so I have no clue what that is or how it works.
I risk crossing the street to get a closer look. I can see her through the kitchen window. Her back is to me. She seems thinner. I don’t think she sleeps well. How I wish I could talk to her, even for a few minutes.
But that’s insane. I turn abruptly and leave as quietly as I can.
I can’t go on like this.
Next night. This has to be the last night. I’ve over-stayed my “welcome”. Got to return the rental car and “get out of Dodge.”
I can’t resist. Just one more time. I have to see them just one more time.
I wait but I have to be more cautious. The yard of the house I’ve been watching my family from, looks like the residents have returned.
Reading time again. I’m close enough to see it’s a book of children’s Bible stories. It must be funny because the children are laughing, even Lizzie. Aaron looks like he’s grown up to be a fine young boy; studious, serious, and loving. Jill is a big help with the baby, and even Lizzie hugs and kisses her Mommy like she knows she’s always a little sad inside.
Jan was always a wonderful mother and of course, that hasn’t changed. She’s had to bear so much weight on her shoulders now that I ache inside wanting to take it from her.
She’s putting the children to bed now. She kisses each one. Lizzie doesn’t want to let her mother go. Jan spends over thirty minutes comforting her. Does she miss her Daddy? Does she even remember me?
Jan looks particularly tired tonight. She hurries through her routine after the kids are asleep and then heads for bed herself. She’s closed all of the curtains, but I’d be embarrassed to watch her getting ready for bed now.
In my heart, we’re still married, but our vows said “til death do us part.” Well, I died, so the minute my heart stopped beating, our vows before God were broken. She can see any man she wants, even get married again. I hate myself for being glad she hasn’t found someone. I don’t want her to be alone, but I can feel hurt and jealously consuming me at the thought of my wife with another man.
All the lights go out. I wait a long time in the backyard, hidden behind a hedge until all of the neighboring houses go dark as well.
I go up to the back patio door. It’s not a bad neighborhood as such, but Jan shouldn’t have left the door unlocked. I’ve had plenty of practice moving silently. I’m practically a shadow.
Mentally, I’ve mapped the floor plan of the house, so even though I’ve never been inside before, I know where everything is. Being a vampire makes me kind of photosensitive, but my night vision is unbelievable.
I peek in on the kids first. Aaron’s breathing is slow and steady. I used to love watching the children sleep when they were little. Tears start streaming down my cheeks. I love them so much.
Jill’s back is turned away from the doorway, so I can’t see her face. I stand there watching the blanket rise and fall with her breathing. I hope she grows up to be a wonderful woman.
Little Lizzie seems restless. I wonder if Daddy’s going away has bothered her most of all? I see her eyes flutter and quickly move back down the hall. I listen. No sound of her getting out of bed or saying anything.
I save Janet’s bedroom for last. She’s left the door open so she can hear the kids if any of them call out to her.
She’s deep in sleep which is what I was hoping for. I walk inside as careful as a cat. I kneel at her bedside. She seems peaceful in sleep, like the day we were married, like my sweet angel.
“I’ll always love you,” I whisper. “I am so sorry I died. I’d give anything to return to you and the children.”
I start crying again, then pull myself together.
“God is watching over you. I’m sure of that. If there’s any sort of justice in the universe, if God has allowed this horror to happen to me, He will bless you and keep you.”
I stand up.
“I can’t stay. I’ve already been here too long. I wish I could talk with you, let you know how I feel, but you can never know.”
Irrationally, I feel the urge to bend over and kiss her cheek, but just being in the house is dangerous enough.
I look at her for a few more moments. She’s starting to stir so I turn and leave. I’m out the back door and gone so I can’t see her when she wakes up or hear her call my name as if she’s seen me in a dream.
I return the rental car at the airport but instead of traveling by air, I make my way to the rail station and my secret hidey-hole in a long abandoned freight car just before sunrise.
I’m unconscious for the day and plan to leave down by train as a non-paying passenger after sundown.
Janet’s still troubled by her dream about Sean. She had them all the time after he died, but as the months passed, they troubled her less and less. But when she woke up a little after 1 a.m., it was like he had been in the room with her.
That’s impossible, but she could have sworn she’d heard his voice. All of the grief and pain came back, all of the loneliness, the aching to have him hold her in his arms just one more time.
She fought back her tears as each of the kids, now dressed for school, or in Lizzie’s case, day care, came into the kitchen for breakfast. Eggs and bacon for the lot of them.
“Hi Mom. Thanks,” Aaron said as he took his plate and headed to the kitchen table.
“Thanks for breakfast, Mommy,” Jill said following her brother a second later.
After the two older children were seated and eating, Lizzie slowly walked into the kitchen and up to her Mommy, tugging at her pant leg.
Janet looked down and saw her youngest had the most puzzled look on her face.
She reached down and softly caressed Lizzie’s face. “Yes, sweetheart. What is it?”
“I saw Daddy last night.”
Janet’s heart froze in her chest.
This is the sixth story of the “unlife” of Sean Becker. I introduced Sean in the tale Even Coffee Doesn’t Help. I’ve created links at the end of each story to the next one so you can start there and click-through to read them all in order. Enjoy.
The next tale is Living One Night at a Time. Can a vampire get gainful employment and earn a living like everyone else?