Kev the Vampire
by Phillip Donnelly
|Cast of characters|
|Chapter 9 : The Flight of the Earls|
‘The blood is the life! The blood is the life!’ That is all the mysterious Patient K would say at first. Dr. Mac Pherson gradually pieces together the story of K’s life: his gruesome school days at the Holy Bleeding Pelican; his drug- and alcohol-induced visions; his wars with Social Welfare zombies, and his attempts to use his meagre housing allowance to rent a castle. Dr. Mac Pherson learns of K’s romantic misadventures as a dishwasher in Bavaria and how comically difficult life can be for the quixotic would-be vampire in the 21st century.
Following the regrettable failures of K. to secure social welfare assistance and the castle that he believed to be his birthright, he disappeared from view for several days. According to his vampire blog at the time, he was ‘exercising a deliberate policy of stealth, flying under RADAR, shying away even from the light of the moon... mainly in my bedroom.’
The next person to see him face to face was Teacher G., and I will shortly provide you with an extract from his short story of the day, as it provides a great deal of information on the circumstances surrounding K.’s hasty departure from Ireland and also provides us with some insights into his general mood at the time.
However, Teacher G.’s short story that day was otherwise largely concerned with how the universe might be perceived by the tea bag he had left in the sink that morning and is therefore not worth quoting in its entirety.
Indeed, one must sadly note that Teacher G.’s own mental health was beginning to decline noticeably at this stage, and he had already received several formal warnings from his headmaster over his repeated use of ‘silent non-directive meditation’ and ‘light-sleep learning’ in the classroom, and he had been told in no uncertain terms that the Department of Education did not consider them to be valid teaching techniques.
An interesting case in its own right, and one I would like to investigate more thoroughly myself, had circumstances not intervened to prevent this, Teacher G.’s flight from reality to a world of his own creation appears, at first sight, to lack cause.
There was no beating; there was no tainted hallucinogenic. Why did this teacher, with thirty years experience and with no prior indicators of madness, end up in this psychiatric establishment? Why did this most sane of men throw off the coils that bound him to the world of the norm? Was there any connection with K.’s case?
Rather than the sudden breach and headlong rush into insanity that we note with K., a perusal of Teacher G.’s short story diary entries leads me to conclude that his fall from grace was more graduated, and finding the root cause would require years of extensive psychoanalytic analysis. However, G.’s case belongs to another psychiatrist, and my request for him to be transferred to my own care is still pending.
Nonetheless, since it affects the reliability of the witness, the reader does need to know something of the incident that led to G.’s incarceration, which occurred only several weeks after the chapter included below.
While teaching the same Year 5 English class in which K. had previously been a member, Teacher G. announced that they would be adopting a more experimental method in their analysis of literature.
With a thud, he dropped a lump of sodden papier mâché on his desk at the front of the class and asked his students to interpret it.
There was a long silence and then G. repeated his request, further informing his students that the pulp they were looking at was none other than a thousand pages of Joyce’s Ulysses and that he had improved upon it with judicious flavouring.
Teacher G. then tore lumps of the wet brown paper off what he referred to as his ‘literature egg’ and threw it at the wall, onto which some of the blobs stuck.
He claimed that this action had proved the utility of education, since the wall now a keen reader of post-modernist fiction.
The students looked at each other and no doubt questioned G.’s sanity, which was already a talking point in the school, but no-one left to ask for assistance.
Teacher G. then plucked out a pile of teabags hidden deeper under the paper and squeezed them in his hand. A brown liquid began to ooze out through his fingers, staining his hand, and he held it out to the class and asked who would like to sip from his hand of knowledge.
When no-one replied, he offered them an even more concentrated form of knowledge and delved into the middle of his papier mâché egg, pulling out one of his own turds, which he claimed was the essence of life and literature combined. This was, of course, the last of Teacher G.’s lessons.
While we must add a pinch of salt to his quoted extract, his words are, I believe, still reasonably reliable in this entry.
* * *
(Extract from Teacher G.’s Short Story Diary)
Diary of an English Teacher: Chapter 5051
I shuffled around the Illac Library, silently bemoaning the current glut of formulaic teenage pulp vampire fiction not worthy of the genre. I scowled at the tattered tomes, piled score upon score, preaching that there was no right, no wrong, only vampire evermore.
To distract myself, I searched in vain for fiction written from the perspective of a used-up teabag.
“Where are the feasts we were promised?” I heard someone say out loud from behind a shelf in a nearby aisle.
Recognising the voice to belong to my erstwhile student, Kevin O’Donghaile, I stuffed The Writer’s Handbook back on the shelf — rather abruptly, I admit since it is a tale told by an idiot — and found him in the aisle behind my own, in the Travel section.
“I want roses for my garden, dig?” he said to no-one and to nothing, as far as I could tell.
A few heads looked up in interest, but their bodies betrayed them and dragged the heads away from the strange man in black who wore sunglasses where none were necessary, and bodies and heads moved instead to the horror section.
“How fares the Prince of Denmark?” I asked him, remembering his penchant for Hamlet.
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon: now touch me, baby,” he hummed, leaving me non-plussed and silent.
It was only when I discerned the tinny crackle emanating from the plastic appendage nestled in his ear that I realised that he must be listening to his Walkman, or his ear-pod, or whatever they call them nowadays. Recognising all normal auditory inputs to be blocked, I tapped him on the shoulder to announce my presence.
I tend to avoid ex-students, and if it were possible I would avoid current ones too, but I was curious to know what had become of this youth following his drubbing at the hands of Bob the Bully.
“Mr O’Donghaile, what brings you to prison hither?” I asked him, trying the Hamlet allusion a second time.
“Do you think it so?” he asked me but looked beyond me.
“All books are prisons. Each one a bounded rectangular cell; each one a universe in and of itself; each one believing itself to be a king of infinite space. I have wasted my life reading them and writing them, and now it seems as though I have done nothing but decorated my cell, and it is not even a pleasing form. But, how does fortune favour you? The class seems empty without you. Truly.”
“I lack advancement and will seek my fortune elsewhere. This dead city confounds me. Destiny calls me across the sea. I make for the east.”
“And where will it lead you, I wonder? I would read the tea leaves and play the oracle, but I fear the tea leaves are reading me. Does the man drink tea or does tea drink the man? Is urination an escape?”
He showed no interest in my tea bag philosophies and instead pointed at a photo in a large book he was reading on German castles. I saw something that looked very much like the Disney castle and wondered if Bob the Bully’s beating had softened his mind.
“Make you to Disney Land, or Disney World, or Disney Europe, or whatever they call it?” I asked, surprised at his apparent choice.
“A pox on Disney and all their houses. I go to Koenigsschlosser, high in the Bavarian Alps, to a castle perched atop a hill, overlooking an ancient lake. The castle was built by Mad King Ludwig and it was the last thing he saw when he drowned in the lake below. The site is sacred.”
“A blessed tragedy. Do you seek the noble Mad King Lugwig in the dust?”
“I search for Elizabetha. In this misted lake will I find her. I seek that which never dies.”
“Tea bags? They never decay, regardless of how long you leave them in the sink, and I ingest three a day to prolong life.”
“No, not tea bags. I seek True Love.”
“A noble quest. But how will you fund this adventure? Those who would be seek their fortune must pay the ferryman. There are no free rides; for if there were, who would stay to grunt and sweat in this weary life?”
“I have secured a position in the castle.”
“What position? Knight-errant?”
“It is a noble profession. Orwell was a dishwasher in Paris before he was a tramp. It could be the making of you.”
We parted shortly after that and I wished him every success, and indeed I would have liked to have spoken longer, but he started rambling on about vampires, and I had important and weighty tea-bag conundrums to consider, so I bade him adieu but made him promise to write to me. He asked for my e-mail address, but I instructed him to write me a proper letter in proper English and furnished him with my address.
When he does so, as I believe he will, I shall affix his letter in the next page of my novel, which I hereby leave blank in anticipation.
* * *
Copyright © 2011 by Phillip Donnelly