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Another Year, Vlad

by Patric Quinn

Harold and Vlad are a pair of old monsters. Harold is a werewolf who hobbles around on a cane. Vlad is a vampire with dental problems. They usually meet at Vlad’s mausoleum.

* * *

“Well, it’s about time.”

“What are you doing here?” Vlad rubbed at the sleepers in his eyes. “How long have you been sitting on my stoop?”

“It’s not a stoop, Vlad. Mausoleums don’t have stoops.” Harold shook his head in annoyance. “And I’ve been here since five-thirty. And now it’s seven-thirty. You overslept two hours.”


“So sundown was at five-twenty three and you’re just getting up.” Harold waved around at the night air and the cemetery monuments and the low, drifting ground mist that reflected the bright full moon. The old, tilted headstones and weather-darkened mausoleums surrounded them like waiting troubles.

“But I’m dressed already.” Vlad stepped out of the shadow of his crypt entrance into the moonlight.

Harold cast up a critical eye at Vlad. “Well, yeah. You’re dressed all right.”

“Don’t just sit there, Harold. How do I look?”

“Well, yeah. Okay, you look fine. Spiffy tuxedo and shiny cape. Nice. I still don’t know how you get your widow’s peak smoothed back so shiny and neat.”

“I do it every day... every night.”

“But you can’t see yourself in a mirror, Vlad. You vampires don’t reflect in mirrors.”

“Practice, Harold, practice.” Vlad stepped down and spun around in front of his friend. His white collar shone in the moonlight, and his black cape billowed around him. “All cleaned and pressed, Harold. For my birthday. Did you remember it was my birthday?”

“Yes, Vlad, I remembered. That’s why I’m here.”

“And it’s a full moon.”

“Yes, that, too. But I remembered your birthday. You know, I’m very old for a werewolf, I don’t transform anymore. At least, not much. If it wasn’t your birthday, I might have stayed home.”

“How old are you now, anyway, Harold?”

“I’m eighty-one.”

“That’s not so old.”

“It is for a werewolf, Vlad. We’re not like vampires that are undead. Werewolves die of old age, like my age, if they don’t die from a silver bullet first. Or get run down by a car when they’re not werewolves.” He peered at Vlad standing in front of him all decked out in top hat and tails, and looking ready for a night of dining and dancing. A cool look for an undead guy. Hip. “How old are you anyway, Vlad? I couldn’t remember, exactly.”

“You forgot.”

“I forgot exactly how old, Vlad. Four-hundred fifty-eight or fifty-nine.”

“See. You forgot. Four-hundred and sixty years old. A nice easy number.”

“Easy for a vampire. Most people don’t deal with birthdays over a hundred.”

“Amateurs. Do werewolves have birthdays like regular people, Harold?”

“Yes, we are regular people, Vlad, who became werewolves along the way.”

“Really? When did you become a werewolf?”

“When I was a teenager. On Prom Night in high school.”

“Prom Night? What happened?”

“I went to the dance with my date and, when I took her home, instead of kissing me goodnight, she bit me.”

“Bit you?”

“That’s how werewolves get to be werewolves. They get bitten by one.”

“So you’ve actually been a werewolf for only about sixty-five years.”

“Yeah. Only. A lot of loping after prey in sixty-five years, Vlad. Couldn’t find much wolf bane around the States, That’s what werewolves take to stop transforming. When did you become a vampire?”

“I was born a vampire.”

“No, no, Vlad. Vampires aren’t born. They get bitten just like wolves.”

“I was born a vampire. Don’t ask me. I don’t know, I was too young. I was born like other kids with no teeth, except I had no teeth, too, but I had these four tiny things in my gums. And I had a desire for blood. My mother really liked the feel of them when she was nursing me, so, my father got me nurses to nurse me.”

“But you were so little, what could you do?”

“I could suck blood through those four tiny teeth.” Vlad flipped back the shoulders of his cape and stared up at the full moon while he spoke. “You know, when you’re a baby and they feed you and, then they lift you up and lay you on their shoulder and pat your back until you puke all over them—”

“That’s called ‘burping’, Vlad. And sometimes the baby does just burp.”

“Yeah, well, when you’re up there, you’re right against their neck. And instead of puking on them, I’d bite them with my tiny little teeth. They never gave on that they felt anything, and I felt very happy afterwards. I was getting a teeny little bit of blood through my teeny little teeth, and the nurses didn’t notice anything until later, when they quit to go hunting for their own supply of blood. My little bites gradually turned them into vampires.”

“And what about when there were no more nurses?”

“I was like you, on my own, growing up as best I could. I didn’t have any prom. We had court dances and wild orgy parties then. I don’t know what happened to my escorts.”

“Dates, Vlad. Here we call them dates.”

“Okay, dates. They wound up all over Europe. Four-hundred-sixty years of dates running around the world.”

“That’s the kind of thing you remember on birthdays... and when you’re dying.”

“That sounds nice, Harold. At least, this a birthday.”

“Well, you’re undead, Vlad. No dying. All you can have is birthdays.”

“Yes, Harold, four hundred and sixty years. And I don’t even have a cake.”

“Don’t pout so, Vlad. I tried to get you a cake.”

“Really? Well, where is it?”

“I ran into some problems with your cake.”

“What? Bakers can’t bake anymore? Or did you just look in the supermarket?”

“You don’t have to get snarky, Vlad. The bakers weren’t the real problem; you were.”

“Oh, so it’s my fault. I was okay for four hundred and fifty-nine years, but suddenly I’m causing a problem.”

“You’re too old, Vlad. I ran into—”

Vlad stiffened and turned his back to Harold and swished his cape so it billowed in the shadows of the cemetery. Moonlight glistened on the folds of the cape.

“Don’t go ‘whoosh’ and change to a bat, Vlad. Stay here, no flying away. I don’t want you to go away mad.”

“So, then, Mr. Harold, my so-called friend, why am I too old?”

“Vlad, I tried to get you a cake. I just thought to pick one up and we could each have a piece. Then I thought about putting candles on it. And that changed my mission.”

“A little birthday candle? You couldn’t find the blue ones, is that it?”

“You’re being sarcastic, Vlad. I was trying to do something nice for you.”

“I do appreciate it... as much as I can.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Harold, don’t get me wrong, birthdays are very nice, but after two or three hundred of them, they don’t excite a lot of celebration.”

“So, I wasted my time.”

“No, no, with you I’m interested. You always have such... novel... explanations for what you do. So, tell me about my cake.” Vlad spun around until his cape billowed again. “Like where is it?”

“At my house, Vlad.”

“Well, let’s go!”

“Wait! Wait a minute until I tell you about it. “

“About the blue candles?”

“There you go, getting snarky again.”

“I’m not. I’m calm and happy. You’re my friend, my buddy. So, get on with it.”

Harold impatiently blew out what was left of his howl. “I am. It’s not just the blue candles. At first, I was going to get you a regular cake. But that looked too small for even a few candles. Then I looked at the 10-inch cakes and couldn’t see space for four hundred and sixty candles. You get the picture? Twelve-inch cakes were no good either.”

“So, you said you have a cake for me over at your house.”

“I do, but I had to get a sheet cake. I tried a half-sheet cake but no on that. Even ‘no’ on the sheet cake.”

“Harold, the cake... whatever it is... will be stale by the time you finish this story.”

“I had to get a double sheet cake, two pushed together. To fit your candles, Vlad! Four hundred and sixty blue candles.”

“Oh, wonderful, Harold!”

“Wait. That’s when my real problems started. The four hundred and sixty candles.” Harold shook his head slowly and looked at the yellowish full moon. “First, I could only find four hundred, so, I was short.”

Vald planted his hands on his hips impatiently. “Okay, go on.”

“Well, I figured, if there were four hundred candles burning on the cake, no one would miss the sixty.”

“Maybe I can see that. Four hundred is a lot of candles.”

“But that’s not what happened. I had a hard time lighting them. A match would only light four or five before it burned my claws. So, to get them all lit I took my grill butane lighter. You know, sort of like a pistol. You pull the trigger and it lights and stays lit as long as you hold the trigger.”

“That was smart, Harold. Those things hold a lot of fuel, too.”

“Not that smart. What happened was I lit the first row okay, but by the time I was half way down the second row, the first row was melting and burning out. There was no way I could light four hundred candles in any way. So, I took them all out, smoothed the butter cream icing and wrote ‘Happy 460th Birthday’ in the icing.”

“You had the whipped cream?”

“Well, no.”

“What did you write it with, then?”

“My claw. I engraved it in the icing.”

“Ah, well, Harold, you tried. At least, we have that.”

“Well, yes and no.”

“What now, Harold?”

“I was moving the cake from the kitchen to the dining room table. And I was a little unsteady.”


“So, I was pushing my walker and had the double sheet cake balanced across the handles. It was so big it was really awkward.”

“Was, Harold? Was?”

“Well, yeah, I guess you might say ‘was’. I stumbled and dumped the box upside down on the floor. So, I have the cake, but it’s in little pieces stuck to the box lid. I tried it and it still tastes good. But it doesn’t look so good.”


“Custard cream and lemon filling, Vlad.


“And sugar cream. But it’s stuck to the lid.”


“I’m really sorry, Vlad.”

“Harold, I’m trying to say, it’s okay. You tried so hard.”

“Then, you don’t really mind?”

“No, everything is fine, Harold.”

“Ah, Vlad, you’re really a good guy for a bad vampire.” Harold growled a sigh of relief that came out like a loud purr. “You know what we can do, Vlad. I’ll take you down to St. Jude’s Bingo and we’ll find some blood for you. You know how those folks concentrate on their Bingo cards and don’t even notice you sucking at their neck. Then, we’ll go to my house and do pot luck with the cake. It still tastes good and it’ll be easier than eating a pizza that fell upside down.”

Vlad wrapped his cape around Harold’s shoulder and walked slowly to keep pace with Harold’s hobble and to hold his old monster friend steady. They headed down to St. Jude’s and into the night.

* * *

The moon was high and full and shed a somber illumination on the weathered old monuments of the cemetery. The ground mist stirred where Vlad led Harold’s wobbly steps over the lumpy dark path to his mausoleum. A distant owl hooted.

“The cake was delicious, Harold, and with just pieces all over I think I ate too many of them.”

“No one tells a birthday boy he’s eating too much. And with St. Jude’s before you had cake, that was quite a lot.”

“You didn’t have to come back with me. I know it’s a little difficult for you.”

“But look at that full moon. That calls up my werewolf, as much as I have left. That fearsome energy. I’m okay, Vlad. I just wanted to see if one more thing happened.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I did something else, too—”

Suddenly strange lights rose and fell piercing the darkness as they seemed to pick their way through the night.

Vlad swept his cape in front of his face. “What’s happening? What is that?”

Harold clapped his paws “Oh, good! I think that’s it.” The lights grew nearer as they all seemed to close on Vlad’s mausoleum. “It is! It is! It’s Federal Express!” The big white truck was clearly marked and stopped in front of the mausoleum. The driver checked his sheet in the headlights, slid a big door open and started pulling large boxes out and stacking them on Vlad’s front step. Then, he was back in his truck and pulling away.

“Harold, what’s this all about? This is crazy.”

“No, Vlad, no, this is great. Happy Birthday!”

“But what is all this stuff?”

“Calm down, Vlad. This is special. There, that’s better. This is a gift only for you. No one else.”

“But, Harold—”

“Vlad, it’s your ground, your earth, your native land.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You know how you have to have dirt from your home so you can live in your coffin?”

“Yes, I have it.”

“But that’s hundreds of years old. This is fresh dirt. Fresh from your old home town. I made arrangements to have it dug up and sent here by Federal Express. It doesn’t take much to line the bottom of your casket. And it’ll probably help you to sleep better.”

“But look at all those boxes.”

“Vlad, think about it. You’re almost five hundred years old now. This much more native earth should last you another five hundred.”

“Then you’ll get me another pile of boxes?’’

“Oh, I don’t think I’ll be here, Vlad. I’m a werewolf, not a vampire.”

“Ah, yes, Harold, we are different. But you made me a wonderful birthday this time, mostly. You remembered. I’ll remember. Thank you. And memories, my friend, can last a thousand years.”

Copyright © 2019 by Patric Quinn

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