“You see, young fellow, I do sympathize with you and all,” the werewolf said, taking a sip from his coffee cup. “You work for a living and you have to earn your, what, ten, fifteen dollars an hour? Doing what they tell you. But really, there’s just no way I can let you walk out of here with the information you want.”
I sat very still on the overstuffed sofa across from him, doing my very best to be absolutely still. The fact that the coffee cup in my hand was doing an impromptu tarantella in its saucer didn’t help. “I see,” I said, swallowing. “But why? Is… is this really necessary? You and other paranormals are a recognized minority now, sir! You have been for years… there’s no need to, to resort to violence to conceal your secret any more–”
I’d known this would be a bad idea, taking this job with the James Lyft campaign office. But I was a fresh faced college graduate with ambitions of getting into politics. And the bonus incentive for workers who’d canvass this new demographic– fifty percent above baseline pay!– was just too good for a college graduate with a college debt to pass up. I had strapped on the clipboard and pen, pocketed a bottle of pepper spray, and gone out to do the job.
My very first stop had been here, to this quaint little wooded cul-de-sac on the outskirts of the city. The houses were all right out of a Kincaid painting; cheerful little one story cottages behind white picket fences and beds aburst with flowers. I’d walked up to the front gate of the first little pastel-yellow house, clipboard in hand, confident as could be.
Out in the yard was a balding, stocky, fiftyish man, dressed in khaki shorts, a polo shirt and loose flip flops, watering his begonias with a garden hose. I looked over my sheets, this must be the resident in question. “Mister Andrescu!” I called out.
He looked up in surprise, his bushy eyebrows climbing up his forehead. “Yes?” He said. He had a thick accent, Eastern European, if I was to wager a guess.
“How do you do, sir? I’m from the James Lyft campaign office–”
He heard the name and scowled. He waved his hand in dismissal. “I don’t vote Democrat,” he said tersely. “Nobody in this neighborhood does.”
I was undaunted. I’d been trained to press on, and press on I did. “I understand, sir, but Mister Lyft does want to get feedback from the community. Think of the help you could be giving to those of your minority–”
He turned around, his expression unchanged. I missed the dangerous glint in his eye. “And what minority might that be, pup?” he asked.
“Well, sir, the, ah, paranormal minority, sir,” I said. “Specifically the lycanthrope community…?”
His mouth set in a hard line. He seemed to swell up. “And just who has been telling you that??” he demanded angrily.
I winced, but held up my clipboard. “It’s a matter of government record, sir…”
He grabbed my clipboard from me and flipped through it, his expression rapidly growing darker. The data had his name (Jon Andrescu), address, marital status (widowed), number in residence (one)…. I could tell when got to the part about ‘metanormal ancestry;” his bushy eyebrows nearly shot to the top of his head. “Where you get this??” he said, furious.
“From the Census Bureau, sir,” I explained.
He heard that and started swearing in what I presumed was his native language. I’d expected him to explode at the “invasiveness” of some of the questions. Some older people are like that– unreasonably hostile about the government knowing their “private business.”
What I hadn’t expected was for him to swell up to seven feet tall, sprout claws, fur and fangs, and drag my by the front of my shirt into his house.
He looked up at me and just— grew. Muscle swelled. Greyish fur spread over his body; his skull warped into a wolfen shape, muzzle full of fangs pushed out from the middle of his face, pointed furry ears swiveling atop his head. One massive clawed paw lunged out for me and took a fistful of my shirt. Before I could even scream he’d yanked me off my feet and dragged me through the front door of his house.
The next few minutes were fraught with terror. The wolf-headed man pointed me towards the sofa with one claw. “Sit,” he growled. I sat. To my confusion he spent a moment pacing back and forth, tail (yes, tail) stiff behind him, ears laid back, growling and grumbling to himself like a discontented labrador. He looked over at me; I shrank under the gaze of those piercing yellow eyes.
He stalked, or perhaps prowled off into the next room. I could heard dishes clattering about and him muttering and growling under his breath. Fifteen awful minutes passed and I was just getting up the nerve to make a desperate run for the door when he came back in…. carrying a coffee service on a tray in his massive paws. He’d set the tray down, poured us each some dark french roast in cups large enough to serve as soup bowls, indulged heavily in sugar and cream, and proceeded to sip his way through a steaming cupful.
The ritual seemed to settle his nerves. About half a cup in he’d relaxed, regarded me, and in polite, civil tones informed me precisely how much information I was going to be leaving with: namely, nothing.
At which point I drew the obvious conclusion as to how he was going to prevent that information getting out. He greeted my frantic blabbering with a facepalm. “Will you stop that?” he snapped. I clammed up. “What, you think I’m going to EAT you or something?”
“Forget it, pup,” he snarked. “Government workers give me gas. “ He thumped his chest with a hairy fist. “Look, pup, It’s just this basic. I don’t like the fact that I’m on some government computer list. And I’m sure as hell not about to give them any more information about myself.” He ran his claws down the clipboard, shredding the thick stack of government documents to ribbons with a single stroke. I let out an involuntary yelp as he tore up the government document, but managed to stifle it. “You ARE aware that using Census information like that is illegal?” he growled. “Unconstitutional, as a matter of fact.”
Despite myself, I felt incensed. Another armchair ‘Constitutional scholar,’ I thought. “Not since the executive order back in—”
“The fact the President doesn’t think he has to obey the Constitution doesn’t change what it says,” he said. “The Census is only supposed to tell the government how many people live in a Congressional district. It’s not supposed to even HAVE this sort of information in it.”
Didn’t he understand? “I don’t understand this,” I told him. “ The census is so the government can help you–”
He cut me off with a short sharp laugh. “The way it helped the Japanese Americans in World War Two?” he snorted. “Yank the other one, pup; it plays Jingle Bells.” He picked up his coffee cup and drained the last drop. “Anyway, the last thing anyone like me wants is help from you or yours.”
I was at sea. He was a werewolf. His entire race had been hunted like, well, animals in the past. He should want every bit of government aid he could get. “But your status as a persecuted minority… the government can get you reparations, financial aid…” I tried to steer the topic towards my employer (I was something of a suicidal idiot back then)… “Senator Lyft, he’s behind efforts to extend all sorts of aid programs to the new paranormal communities—”
He just rolled his eyes and set his empty cup down. He patted me on the knee with one massive, taloned paw. “Let me make it simple for you, pup:
“Werewolves vote Republican.”
I stared at him for a moment. “That’s a kind of odd sweeping statement,” I said finally.
He waved one paw in a so-so gesture. “Eh, some vote Libertarian or Independent, some vote Tea Party– either way, I’ve never known a single werecritter who didn’t vote on the right hand side of the political spectrum. And I know a lot of werecritters. And no I’m not telling you who they are.”
“You’re a Republican?”
By way of answer he reached behind him and picked up something out of the bric-a-brac on an end table. He held up a yellowing “Vote for Reagan” button and waggled it about. “First election I ever voted in,” he said. “I’m a lot older than I look. I guarantee you, every werewolf in this neighborhood, every werewolf in this city did the same.”
Great, I thought. A violent, ruthless predator AND a werewolf. “I doubt that it’s true for every werefolk,” I protested, feeling a bit contemptuous. “At least some of you have to have voted in your own people’s best interests–”
“Oh shut that yap,” he snapped. Literally. I gulped and scooted back, hastily remembering myself. “I’ve seen more of the world than a wetnose like you has even heard of, pup,” he went on. “I’ve seen just how the leftists in this country, how the Democrat party ‘helps’ minorities. Do you think I’m stupid, pup? Do you think I’m blind?”
“I think you might be biased,” I ventured as boldly as I could manage. “The Democrats have done great work for minorities of all kinds!”
He sneered, baring a fang. “I know. I’ve seen the great work they’ve done. I saw the Democrat party form the KKK at the end of the civil war. I watched while Democrats propped up the Jim Crow laws and voted against desegregation. I watched them put a Grand Kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan in Congress and call him ‘the conscience of the Senate!’
“I watched as they propped up Planned Parenthood— an organization founded by a racist who wanted to exterminate the black race— and helped them slaughter tens of millions of little black babies. I saw them to use welfare to subsidize unwed mothers in the black community, and pimp ‘safe sex’ and leaky condoms to inner city kids. I watched they destroyed black men’s pride by putting their families on the government teat, tearing the black family to shreds. I watched as they lowered the standards in inner city schools out of ‘compassion’ till all they turned out was uneducated idiots. They took some of the proudest, most independent and family oriented people in this nation and turned them into ghetto trash in less than half a century.
“Why the raging HELL would I– would any werewolf– want our people to be ‘helped’ like that?”
I sat there gaping like a fish. I felt as winded as if he’d gut punched me.“B-but the Republicans…” he couldn’t possibly imagine that the party of the selfish wealthy and white were better–
“Were founded by people who wanted to end slavery,” he said bluntly. “Two famous Republicans? Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. The NRA? Had General Grant as its president. They went down to the South and helped arm and train black citizens with firearms so they could defend themselves against the KKK raids. Civil Rights act? Overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, signed by a majority of Republican Congressmen and Senators.” He poured himself another cup of coffee.
I was stunned. That couldn’t be true…! “But look how they treat illegal immigrants,” I protested.
“Like they’re, oh, illegal?” he said, his voice flat. “So now it’s racist to expect Mexicans to be able to obey the law? Anyway, better that than being treated like free slave labor and ballot-stuffers. Which of your glorious leaders was caught with an underpaid illegal in her house working as a maid for less than minimum wage, again?”
He snorted. “With that kind of example, I’ll take the Republican’s ‘heartless selfishness’ over the Democrat’s ‘helping hand’ any day of the week.”
Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t immediately slip into the easy truth-denial that my college professors had ingrained in me through five years of postmodern lecturing. I suppose there’s something about having historical facts snarled at you by a 300+ pound predator that bypasses all your normal defense mechanisms. “So,” I said, as the worm of defiance in me bared a fang. “Are all werewolves as adamant as yourself about that?” I ignored my inner voice chiding me for my racist overtones.
“Mostly,” he said, to my surprise totally unapologetic. “You get a few wetnoses, but they grow out of that leftist fantasy quick.”
I bristled as best a college-educated limp fish could manage. “And why do you suppose that is?” I asked.
He looked up at me. I shriveled a bit under that moon-yellow gaze. He actually mulled it over a bit, clearly searching for how to phrase it. “It’s like this, pup…” he said.
He stood and paced. “Werewolves aren’t like vampires or ghouls or most of the other metanormals out there,” he said, gesturing with his free paw expansively. “We don’t dig up our sustenance out of a grave, or sneak in someone’s bedroom and suck it from their neck, or steal our lover’s lifeforce or.. whatever it is that other paranormal races do. We have to work for a living. We have to hunt our prey– and it takes a lot of hard work to pull down a deer or an elk or a moose.”
“Or a, ah…?”
He glowered. “No, not humans. The stories from the Old Times were because, here and there, you’d have a werewolf going bad in the head due to sickness or famine or… well, just going bad. One werewolf attack, and a thousand hysterical monster stories… you can guess how it goes.” He waved a hand dismissively. “Hunting humans is stupid anyway. Think about it. Elk vs human; half a ton of juicy meat nobody except Mrs. Elk ever misses, vs 100 pounds of gristle that shoots back and that has a herd backing it up that carries pitchforks and torches. Weres back then put down man-eaters among their own kind just as hard as humans do. Humans weren’t nearly as discriminating, though…” he brooded a bit. “Meh. Where was I?”
“Eating a moose.”
“Right right. The first thing you learn as a werewolf is that there are consequences for your actions. You screw up, you go hungry. And no amount of whining or crying will make the elk or deer or rabbit come back and give itself to you.
“The second is that if you want to prosper, you gotta take risks. A werewolf is tough, but a well-placed hoof can kick your ribcage in. But you don’t risk that, you don’t eat. On the flipside, risks have rewards for the taker…. and it’s only fair that the one who takes the risk should get the reward. You want a deer haunch instead of a squirrel? Go hunt your own deer.
“The third thing you learn is that there’s always someone or something– scavengers, rival predators, or just some freeloader who hangs at the back of the pack while the rest of you are getting gut-kicked by an angry moose– who thinks they can let you do all the work, and then they can swoop in and take what you did for themselves. And you learn that don’t sit well with anybody.
“Get it yet? We’re werewolves, not poodles. We don’t need a social worker to take us walkies and we think your welfare Alpo is for sissies.”
My face was getting hot. I certainly hadn’t started out the day expecting an overgrown dog to be criticizing my compassionate worldview. “All very individualistic and manly and independent, I’m sure,” I muttered rebelliously. “Not much sympathy for the weak and elderly among you either I suspect–”
He reached over and cuffed me upside the head. “Shut it, pup,” he growled, rumbling deep in his chest. “You’re here to learn? Well, learn. Wolves take care of their own. There isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t go hungry so that our pups and our elders could eat. We got a family member who’s sick, or hurt, or feeble? We take care of ’em. We don’t wait for some scavenger a thousand miles away to steal from others for us. And we’re mighty pissed at you right now. Because you make it harder every day by stealing the meat right out of our mouths, giving us the gristle back, and then telling us to lick your feet for it.” The growl echoing in his chest got even louder, a basso rumble I could literally feel in my bones.
“I didn’t mean to impugn your honor,” I whimpered, trying to compress myself into an inoffensive ball.
“You idiots never mean to do anything you do,” he snarled. “But you do it anyways.” His growl dropped off slowly as he drained his cup again. “Gah, this isn’t enough.” He went into the kitchen. When he returned he was emptying a can of Red Bull into his coffee. I watched in horrified fascination as he downed the concoction without blinking. I’d tried that myself once, during my college finals; my roommates had to peel me off the ceiling with a spatula. He saw me staring as he refilled his cup and popped another can. “Werewolf metabolism,” he said gruffly. “Mostly wolf, but there are some chemical quirks. Caffeine actually calms me down. And I need the B vitamins.”
He sat back down nursing his cup. At least he wasn’t growling anymore.
Encouraged, or perhaps suicidal, and desperately trying not to picture an enraged werewolf on a caffeine buzz, I pressed on. “But what about environmental issues? I would think that persons closer to nature like yourselves would be interested in the Democrats for that, if not the Green Party.”
He cut me off with a genuine bark of laughter. “Do you really want me to go into the Democrat’s record on environmental issues? Or the Green Party? ‘Environmental issues.’ “ He snorted. “Deer population running amuck because of their stupid policies, and they outlawed hunting in this state for twenty years. There’s your Democrat environmental issues!
“Little hint, pup; when someone gets something wrong, and keeps getting it wrong– not just wrong, but as wrong as it can possibly be– stop listening to them. Klamath Basin, the California forest fires caused by ‘green’ timber policies, the DDT ban that caused the resurgence of Malaria, windmill farms that are killing bald eagles and other endangered birds by the thousands, the ‘global warming-global cooling’ panic cycle …remember pup, I’m old enough to remember when that hysteria all happened before… the bunko predictions of overpopulation, the godawful mess they made of Yellowstone…. the biggest disaster to hit the environment has been liberal environmentalists.
“Meanwhile businessmen, hunters and farmers– you know, the evil monsters Greenpeace gets its udders in a twist about?– have actually been conserving and protecting the environment and reducing pollution. Try comparing air from the time we burned coal to modern day. No comparison. And why? Because nobody, not even greedy rich tycoons, likes breathing dirty air or drinking dirty water. Coal in factories was replaced by diesel and gas. Simple competition by car makers increased fuel efficiency and reduced vehicle emissions to a fraction what they were, long before environmental regulations. And hunters, farmers and land owners do more for protecting the wilds than anyone. It’s their land, of course they’re going to take care of it! Teddy Roosevelt? Big game hunter and conservationist. Meanwhile, Democrats are setting all our country’s environmental policies based on the whims of people who’d die before they went out in the woods where they might get their Birkenstocks muddy, and the delusions of granola crunchers like the Grizzly Man.”
“The Grizzly Man…?”
Mr. Andrescu smirked. “Guy in the paper a few years back? Thought he was a ‘brother to the Grizzly bears?’ Got him and his girlfriend eaten?” His grin was absolutely wicked. “Laughed my fuzzy butt off when I heard. Guess he really got close to nature after all. You don’t get any closer than being turned into grizzly bear scat.”
I laughed unenthusiastically.
“Werewolves know all this stuff. We make a point of knowing it. We research, we keep up to date, and we double-check everything. In person. And we keep our clans notified. Nothing ruins a full-moon hunt like drinking from a poisoned stream, or choking on a smog cloud…. or on the flipside finding out your favorite prey’s environment has gone teats up because of a screwed up EPA policy, or getting trapped in a forest inferno because some treehugging twit wouldn’t let the loggers clear out the overgrowth and your favorite forest turned into a million-acre tinderbox. It’s not too smart to preach environmental fluff to monsters who actually go out and deal with the environment.
“Point is, Pup,” he went on in a much more amicable tone. “You want to go polling or censusing a bunch of avid, starry eyed liberals? You are definitely starting with the wrong minority. You want to start with the other guys.”
“Other guys,” I said carefully.“Who, the Hunters?” When the paranormals came out of the closet, the Vatican, the Islamic community and other religious organizations had suddenly been swamped with applications from would be “holy monster slayers.” The Protestants and the Catholics, appalled, had proclaimed the humanity of the paranormals, and vehemently and publicly denounced the would-be Van Helsings.
The Muslim variation on the other hand had found out to their unpleasant and bloody surprise that vampires, ghouls and werewolves weren’t as easy a target as schoolyards or planes full of innocent civilians. The enthusiasm for the movement had rapidly vanished. Still, you had Hunter groups around— a lot like the KKK; generally doing nothing more than having clandestine meetings, wearing black hoods in public, fingering their stakes and silver crosses and muttering about the coming “monster uprising.”
Andrescu snorted. “Try again,” he said. “Tall, vain, conceited? Think that they’re all European royalty? Have fawning servants who think they’ll be made like them? Suffer horribly when exposed to the light of day? Live by sucking other people dry?” He made the rather racist “long pointy fangs” gesture with his index fingers next to his muzzle.
“You don’t care much for Vampires, I take it,” I said.
“Kind of a cliché, isn’t it,” he chuckled. “It’s not the race, though– it’s the lifestyle choice.
“ Vampires… eh.” He grimaced; the expression was reminiscent of the expression on my mother’s chihuahua when it smelled my gym shoes. “When they came out…” he shrugged again. “They’d timed it to take advantage of the whole ‘Vampire Romance’ thing. Every young idiot at the time was swooning over the idea of an undead lover. So the vampires got their tuxedos out of mothballs, combed some glitter through their hair, and came out of the closet.
“It was nauseating.” His muzzle wrinkled in distaste. “It was the most condescending and biased pandering to racial egotism since the screening of ‘Roots.’ The romanticizing, the massive pity-party for the poor misunderstood vampires, the epic guilt trip thrown at the mainstream community over their ‘persecution of the hemoglobin-impaired,’ “ he made air-quotes, “It went on so long the Vamps started believing it themselves. They lapped up all the attention and came back for more. And the ‘community organizers’ in power were more than happy to give it to them.
“Don’t get me wrong. We werewolves get a lot of the treehugging crowd slobbering all over us. But we were kind of a disappointment to the back-to-nature crowd. Weres like their, hah, creature comforts the same as anyone else who’s used to indoor plumbing. Plus we’re a little too carnivorous for the crunchy granola crowd to get comfortable with us. But Vamps? Oh, the Left could snuggle up with them just fine.”
He laughed ruefully. “The vamps never recovered. The Leeches latched onto a new host body… the body politic. Within a generation they were the Democrat’s new underclass; just as stuck on the plantation as the blacks or the Mexicans ever were.
“They were already pretty badly off already, mind; they had their own parasitic instincts going against them— that little inner voice that told them that it was okay to treat other humans like Capri-Sun drink bags— and that Byronic hero vampire stereotype… Bram Stoker, Bela Lugosi, all that… had been entrenched in their culture for decades already, the way gangster-rapper culture was for African Americans. ” He rolled his eyes. ”People forget that Count Dracula was supposed to be a derogatory stereotype: the decadent bloodsucking European nobleman clinging to his crumbling castle and his crumbling aristocracy, at the expense of the peasants in the valley below.
“Don’t get me wrong. Every now and then you’ll find a vamp that has his head screwed on straight. Usually one that’s survived an attack by someone wielding a stake and screaming “Allahu Akbar”… or an IRS audit. But for the large part their elitist, parasitic attitude fits hand and glove with the elitist, parasitic attitude in the Democrat party.” He snorted. “Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the DNC leaders weren’t part of the Fang Gang themselves.
“Two groups of bloodsuckers cuddling up together. I wonder who’s holding the straw?”
“That’s kind of harsh,” I said, my ears flaming. I’d never heard such blatantly politically incorrect talk about a non-white since I’d started grade school. Plus I was a card carrying Democrat at the time and I was taking it personally.
He sighed. “Come ON, Pup, look at the results. Whether you want to blame upbringing or circumstances or even genetic chance for their choices, they still made a bad choice. Vampires are either lording it up over everyone else, prancing around in the upper elitist circles, shmoozing with the limousine liberals and acting like they’re royalty and the rest of humanity were their cattle…or living at the other end, playing the pity-party, letting the government turn them into charity cases, sucking down their dole at the government blood bank— either way, they’re acting like the world owes them a living. And if their numbers dipped any lower they’d be an endangered species.
Meanwhile werewolves are thriving. We’re prosperous and numerous and self-sufficient and free. Why? Because we’re not stupid or sociopathic enough to prey on other people. In any sense.” He grinned and took another sip of coffee. “We’re as invisible to the Democrats as the working class and we like it that way.
“So which way is superior? Better, or worse? Good, or bad? Lots of happy little werewolves, or sick little vampires in the projects living off the dole?
“You gotta choose. Vamps chose to follow their bellies.“ His lip curled.
I had too many years of indoctrination in the dogma of anti-discrimination behind me to let that slide. “You really think that the way werewolves and vampires vote is dictated by their instincts?” I chided.
He shrugged. “Pretty much, yeah. Leastways, it leans us in that direction.” He sipped his coffee. ”Conservatism is a reality-based ideology, and werewolves live by it. Liberalism is a pathology, and vampires are addicted to it.”
“So what makes you better than them?” I challenged. “If the ‘liberal worldview’–” I made air quotes “–is a pathology like you say, shouldn’t society be helping those stuck in it?”
“Isn’t it unfair to judge the vampires for following their instincts, the way you follow yours?”
He stopped sipping a nd took a look at me. “Key word there is follows, pup. No matter how we’re led, whether we follow those instincts or not is a rational choice. Vampires may lean the way they do by nature, but they can make a choice to do things a better way… and I know a few who have. But right now this nation, this culture panders to their nature. Why should they want to change?” He fixed his gaze on mine.
“You on the other hand…”
He paused. “When I stop to think about it, it’s not the bloodsuckers who get me torqued half so much as people like you.”
“People like me??” I yelped a little bit, offended.
He snorted. “Dracula was a bloodsucking despot who terrorized the helpless people in the shadow of his throne,” he said. “Bleeding them white to keep himself fat, feasting off them while he lived in crumbling decadence. But you’re worse. You liberals, you college-kid leftists, you’re the Renfield. The pasty faced little weakling who fawns and worships and does his dirty work for the parasite— eagerly lapping up all the promises you’re fed, crunching them up like bugs in your teeth… and oblivious to the blood splattered everywhere.
“Leftism has killed literally tens of millions of people in the past century. Abortion, Euthanasia, Healthcare Death Panels, Five Year Plans, Great Leaps Forward, a literal ocean of human blood spilled in the name of utopia— and you liberals are ready, willing and eager to jump headlong into it, Eager to write up yet another social program to put people on the government teat and to pilfer from the productive, to write another law that disarms the public and puts them on a government watchlist, to institute another policy that lets those in power violate their rights. You’re desperately eager to try the exact same murderous policies of despots, mass murderers, and madmen yet again. Convinced that somehow you can do it “right” this time. That somehow because you’re doing it in your home country instead of the armpit of Cuba or North Korea or Russia, that somehow the results will be different. And should it even cross your mind to question, you will be too drunk on the blood of your fellow taxpayers to question.
“Vampires are born bloodsucking parasites. What’s your excuse?”
I stared at him, speechless. After a long moment he set his cup down in its saucer and left it on the coffee table. His eyes were mesmerizing. “I keep hoping for this country,” he sighed. “I am old enough to remember more history than you were ever taught. I’ve seen all this before, Pup. I watched the lights go out in Eastern Europe. I see them racing about, eager to snuff them out again. I see the darkness spreading here, even now, the lights guttering out.
“America was once vigilant against the darkness; you kept the cross firmly in one hand and your gun in the other. But you gazed too long into the vampire’s hypnotic eyes, listened to his charming voice whispering pretty promises, and your cross and your gun fell from your paralyzed fingers. And now its fangs are at your neck. “
He glanced at the window. “It’s growing late,” he said, breaking the spell, and got to his feet. “You must be on your way, and you have a job to do. Everyone’s got to make a living however they can these days. Take a bit of advice from an old man though; you won’t get any luck on this street. You’re better off moving on to the Vampire communities. They’ll lap up your Mister Lyft and his promises like champagne.” He shot me a glance. “Don’t go there after sunset, though. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
I left his house somewhat shaken. I was anything but converted, of course; I was still young and dumb and a lecture by some old man, even a wolf man, wasn’t going to change my stubborn opinions on the spot. He was right though; not a single other person in that neighborhood was willing to even speak to me. I left, still full of indignation. I was a card-carrying Democrat. I was part of the noble, progressive, enlightened people. Couldn’t these wolf-man rubes understand?
But his words stuck with me.
Six years later, I was there. I was an intern for Senator Lyft by then, up to my elbows in the inner workings of the legislature. I watched the president sign yet another bill drafted almost solely by Senator Lyft, for “the aid of the paranormal community” this time. I was long past pretending ignorance even to myself. I had seen the numbers, read the legalese knew exactly what the massive bill proposed: whole new classes of entitlement handouts even as our national debt crested five trillion; taxes and legislation that would suck dry the very communities it was proposing to help. I had listened at doors and hovered at elbows, too; I’d heard what they really thought of the people they allegedly served. Not even they believed the lies.
The photographs of the bill being signed had been taken, the ethnically diverse group of “exotic minority” parents and children who’d posed behind the President for the signing were shuffled out so that the Senators and lobbyists, men wearing Rolexes and Armani suits that cost more than the combined incomes of the photo-op families who’d just left, could pat each other on the back for passing yet another mass transfer of wealth. Everywhere sharp, perfectly capped teeth gleamed in the camera lights, eyes practically glowing with the anticipation of all the spillage their bureaucracies and special interest groups would lap up in the near future.
“Two groups of bloodsuckers. I wonder who will be holding the straw?”
I left Senator Lyft’s office the next day. I had no desire to work for monsters.