You think being undead would be a wonderful way to live out the best years of your life, but to be honest, it is more of a curse than a blessing. Why? Because falling in love becomes a hopeless dream than a nocturnal reality.
At least being nocturnal has its advantages. The nightlife in the heart of South Beach barely sleeps. We just take a siesta from the sun now and then as if it was an allergy all the people suffer.
Cloudy days give me a chance to see Miami in all the bright colors instead of the neon lights that illuminate the nighttime sky. From the magenta hue of the bougainvillea dotting Collins Avenue to the green, oblong fruit of the calabash trees along Lincoln Road. Hibiscus bushes bloom around the front lawns of every hotel and art deco building. A welcoming attraction to a paradise like a beach line of Rio de Janeiro's landscape.
The flavors of Cuba bring an effervescent perfume of Pollo con Arroz and café con leche on rainy nights. The sweet, succulent smell of croquettes de jambon pollinate the streets of Little Havana around lunchtime.
I hope for Miami to become my permanent home. After heartbreak, war, and political unrest caused us to relocate to the other side of the world, I longed for an unchanging settlement to become my new and forever home. Miami is an exquisite city full of life and color like Mexico. It's refined and elegant like the streets of Paris, modern and youthful like the cities of Northern Germany after the war or Eastern Europe who lived under communist rule. Miami is a city that does not belong in Florida but welcomes rain and sunshine like every Floridian lawn.
Living inside a city of three million people gives me enough alleys and dark corners to hide. The throbbing beat of nightclubs allows me an opportunity to see my prey at its vulnerable point. All this drinking, dancing, and sex makes blood taste sweeter when fulfilled with every human desire.
Being a vampire is like being an artist, sometimes perfection is already achieved, other times it takes a few moments to define and create. Renting a studio in an art gallery located at the heart of Lincoln Road also gives me some advantage to working on my own abilities to blend in with the social crowds that populate the city day and night. Whether I am hunting for prey, starving off a fresh kill, or simply putting my nighttime nature to good use are just some of the things I have enjoyed doing in such a metropolis as Miami.
I collect photos of nature and sell them as special prints in this small studio. Sometimes I take in a few photos at sunset before heading to my little room inside the large art gallery, sometimes I just go to my studio and lay out some new photographs and items for people to see. I fell in love with nature partly because my family used to live inside the Black Forests of Germany long before we were converted into those monstrous beasts everyone dramatizes over television. I am Beatrice Madeline von Schmidt, but I prefer Bee. My family once held a long upstanding reputation with a local village, until Claus von Schmidt decided to anger a witch that lived deeper inside the forest. In her state of anger and bitterness towards my family and our stupid cousin, she cursed us with vampire powers and cravings for human blood. We must live in the dark, rise at sunset, and find a way to hide who we really are around human beings for the sake of keeping our curse a secret.
Most pureblooded vampire families have children who are born with their powers early on, others are delayed and do not come about until the first signs of puberty or adulthood. I was one of the later cases and have remained a prominent and beautiful eighteen-year-old girl since I bit into a young man who was stationed in Belgium during WWI and drained him of his life. It was only later in the papers I found out the young man I killed was from a royal family. My family left Belgium for Paris.
I had several other lovers later in life with which I either killed from bloodthirst, gave them hemophilia, or just created more monsters of myself. I remember the taste of Richard Burton's finger on my lips, the sweet smell of liquor and women made me feel as if I was bathing in a tub full of roses.
We moved to the Western Hemisphere after a turbulent relationship my younger sister, Adaline Mary von Schmidt, or Alfie as I call her, had a small fling with a young Austrian painter named Adolf. I never found the beauty in his paintings since they lacked everything possible to be a great painting. But she enjoyed receiving some of his work in his own handwritten letters of affection. She broke off the relationship after his second rejection into the University of Vienna. He moved on and founded the Nazi Party in Germany. It broke her heart to hear from someone that he killed himself with a gun and cyanide to evade capture. A coward's way out, as my father used to say.
Our lives generally became easier once we moved to Mexico. My brother Nicholas Claudius von Schmidt found refuge in the walls of Frida's childhood house. I found refuge in the landscape of Mexico as it changed over the years during the height of the communist scare around the world. We moved later to California where I saw dazzling Hollywood stars shimmer down the streets of Beverly Hills. It wasn't until we moved to Miami that I fell in love with the possibility of having a home in the heart of a metal Atlantis that I pushed to become part of the city's growing culture.
In our present place, we moved into the apartment complex of the Four Seasons. It doesn't take that long for me to walk to work, but I enjoy the wonderful view from inside my metal cage atop the second highest floor. Large looming structures of metal and neon lights transform the streets below into a crypt of fantasy.
Tonight, however, was the most important night in all my life as a young vamp. It was the night of the blood moon when my powers are at their strongest. The urge to feed and gorge my desire for blood was the highest I have ever felt in an entire night alone under the comfort of the black and starless nights down on Lincoln Road. A blood moon is rare for most young vampires to endure. Some say the old ones either die out on a blood moon or age quite rapidly, depending on the amount of blood consumed before and after the eclipse. The younger ones, those freshly made have a much more difficult time in this process. Without being properly tuned into their vampiric nature, they are the easiest targets for hunters and the Catholic Church for religious exorcism or termination. Many of the young vamps who have been converted by ancient ones or those of a more professional age of experience say 200 years, would have a better understanding of how blood moons work. They would learn how to hunt or stock up on blood supply that an adequate level of blood would be enough to quench their desire.
Many of the young human boys and girls who are not interested in this special moment of the year, continue with their rituals. The clubbing, the drinking, the dancing, the sexual encounters and flings that ware off their magic the next morning. It's as if magic was something everyone used, a glamour of sorts to get what they wanted and fulfill their other primal needs as the day continues. Whether it is food, more sex, more drinking, more stimulation, everyone is satisfied.
In my little studio, I work on finishing the last touchups for some photos I have recently taken at Vizcaya. An old mansion, glittering with vines and priceless beauty inside and out. The flowers may not be in bloom, but the glass dome atrium and majestic grounds offered more natural elements than most flowers would care to pause and give you the best position to take their photo. I go onto the internet and find a local news program keeping up with the lunar eclipse that was happening tonight. I have my radio stationed to the local radio that talked about politics, economics, and sometimes the moon while I edited the photos and began to save them on the computer and copies to my flash drive. A few people have walked into the studio to look at my photos and some have barely glanced at my little shop of florals. I made some small pocket change, a few hundred dollars or so, and maybe a few people interested in some business cards for future pictures. One person asked me for wedding photography, I promptly declined. Weddings aren’t my thing, neither is cupid.
About five in the evening, I decided to close my shop and walk down the small galleries of stores, watching everyone head into the next store for other items on the list. The maze of people on the busy street drove me wild with the intoxicating smells of perfume, liquor, and sex. I sat down at a café corner and ordered some hot coffee. Although I could no longer taste the aroma of coffee and milk, it seemed normal enough to enjoy a small cup while looking at everyone on the street. I pulled out my cell phone to begin looking at the local listing of the next phase in the lunar eclipse. It won’t happen until about eleven this evening, possibly once I am home with everyone else. My family takes a little longer to rise on the night of the blood moon. The sweet smell of whiskey and wine hit me from a distance. A young woman clinging to the arms of her beloved boyfriend was teetering down the street. They exchanged some sloppy kisses and headed into the dark corner behind Dave’s Candy Shop. I paid for my coffee and began to talk to the other side of the road. I followed them in pursuit but held back a little distance before heading towards the parking garage. They got onto an elevator and went to the fourth floor. I ran ahead of them on the opposite stairwell and began to walk to their car. The pounding heartbeat was driving me mad. The soft hushed breaths they did inside the car made me want to explore every part of their body. When I couldn’t take enough anymore, I rammed the girl into the side of the car and stuck my fangs into her throat. She let out a soft whimper. The boyfriend stared at me wide-eyed and left a trickle of urine down his pants.
Her blood boiled inside me with passion and succulent intoxicating flavors of several sexual gratifications. Images flashed inside my head of all the boys she dated, prostituted, and screwed over before falling head over heels on this gentleman with the urine in his underwear. Her breasts were warm and soft, her nipples hard and furious to come out of her bra. Her vagina wet with desire and thirsting for new meat. Once her heart began to slow, I pulled out my fangs and set her down gently on the ground. Her body was nice and cold to the touch. There wasn’t enough blood to save her or recharge her heart. I looked up to see the boyfriend running away. The urine leaving small drops of evidence where he was heading.
“When you take someone’s life, make sure there are no survivors or even any witness to the event,” my father used to say to me.
I ran after him and shoved his head towards the wall by the elevator. I sank my fangs into his shoulder and gripped his head tightly. He struggled to breathe or even get away from my grasp. The elevator dinged, but I was finally done with him. I headed inside and pressed the button for the bottom floor. In the glass I wiped the blood around my lips with my finger, smearing it into a beautiful and wonderful shade of red lipstick.
When the elevator reached the bottom floor, all I had to do was walk out and head towards Lincoln Road and back towards the apartment. Sometimes I would pass by Club Madonna on Washington Avenue before heading to my bus stop to get my ride back to Brickell. I found it lovely to take the bus now and then instead of paying for a taxi. Even if I could fly home, I prefer to blend into the city that I want for my home. It would be nice to grow some roots in a place that is culturally different.
When the bus rolled up into the stop, I put some money into the box and found myself a seat in the back nearest to the window. Reaching into my pocket I pulled out my MP3 player and began to listen to some of the greatest musicians to play at Woodstock. I was on Grateful Dead and tapped my finger to the beat of the drums. I remember the boy I sat within the crowd at Woodstock back in the day. He was a charming lad and very handsome. I thought if love could exist, I would be with him until he died of old age and found someone else to continue my life with. But since we left New York after Woodstock and moved to Miami, I have barely found a way to reconnect with the old flame. My assumption would be that he was long dead by now. I’ll never forget the curly brown hair that hung around his face, his pale skin, or his bright hazel eyes.
“Is this seat taken?” a voice asked me.
I looked up to find a boy staring at me with a soft smile on his face. If I had a heartbeat, it would have stopped by now because it was the same boy that I remember from Woodstock. There was no replica or an exact copy of this boy anywhere I have seen since moving to this city. It was him and him alone.
“Is this seat taken or are you just going to sit there and say nothing?” he asked.
This time there was a hint of anger in his voice. The bus stopped at the station for the Bayside Marketplace. A few stops before the rail line that takes me to the financial district in Brickell. Not daring to look back, I headed up the way to the nearest light and pushed the button for the crosswalk. I was almost home. I reached for my cellphone and began to dial the number for Alfie’s cellphone.
“Hi, you reached Adaline. I am not available now, so please leave a message and I’ll get back to you.”
The phone beeped for the voicemail option and I hung up the phone. I pressed the message button to send her a text and then walked across the road. It was almost eight, hopefully, my family was up and walking around. I bumped into a gentleman and a woman, excused myself and kept going. I was getting hungry again after gorging myself on two people in a parking garage. I had to find someone fast or it could turn into a frenzy.
Bayside Marketplace had unique shops and stores, plus lots of dark corners at night. The parking garage was small, but maneuverable for most people. Yet, I am not like most people. My senses were going overloaded with the ripening smell of boozy drinkers along the walkway nearest to the inlet. The heat from the flames felt like hot coals being pressed into my skin. I had to find someone fast before it was too late. A young woman fell off the bar nearest to the stage and landed on her hip. She began to curse and scream, the bartender was pushing her off, asking her to get away from the bar before she does more damage to herself. She wanted one more drink, but he already told her he cut her off ten minutes ago. She fumbled for her purse and tried to pay for the drink, spilling the rest of what she ordered all over the bar. I offered my condolences for the woman and pretended to be her sister. I slipped a fifty dollar note to the bartender and I rushed her off to the nearest bathroom. She began to vomit or feel nauseous from too many margaritas and not enough food. If this was going to be my other meal for the night, it would have to do. I snuck her behind the staircase on the side of the building nearest to the Hard Rock store. The foliage provided a good cover and from there I sank my fangs into her neck. I listened for footsteps going by, no one saw us. Correction, no one saw me biting into a drunk woman.
When I released her, I let my fangs cut across my lip. Her blood was filled with salt, tequila, and cigarettes. It was an unhealthy choice, but I couldn't stop feeling so high now. The sensation of her blood flowing in my veins made every possible force of static cling to my body and fill me with an electric charge. I stumbled out of the bushes and headed towards the Hard Rock store. My face began to feel tingly and hot. The tequila in that woman's system was enough to drown a small animal. Letting out a small hiccup, I veered towards the right of the Hard Rock and tried to make it to the nearest Cuban cafe for some local drinks. My mouth began to salivate and water at the smell of croquettes de queso, the stuffed potatoes filled with meat. I headed for the nearest food station and ordered a flan with a Cortado. The sweet taste of the condensed milk covered in caramel and the hot burning taste of coffee and milk made a refreshing buzz from the high of drinking that woman's blood.
As I began to walk further towards the rail line across from the Bayside Marketplace, I sensed the presence of another member of my kind. The further I walked, the further I could see my sister looking down at her phone. But somehow something seemed off. I headed towards her and ran into her body with a hug. The smell of her Chanel perfume melted into my nasal cavity a sensation I was okay. But I could still feel another presence coming towards us. The more I peered into the darkness, the more I couldn’t make out the shape of the body.
It was not until I saw the shadow of a figure beyond the boundary of the lamplight. It was the boy from the bus. Alfie looked at me and then at the darkness as I began to pull away from my sister.
"What do you want with me?" I yelled at the dark shadow.
The boy stepped into the light. He wore bell-bottom jeans, a Grateful Dead Shirt, a denim jacket, and had the most piercing green eyes. He looked about less than five foot seven and reached up to the collar of his shirt to pull back the neckline. Purple dots on the inner portion of his collarbone stood out like piercings against his pale, frosty skin.
"You don't remember these do you?" he asked. His voice was low, hypnotic. It seemed as if it was enough to pull you in.
"Should she remember you?" Alfie asked the boy.
He looked at her and glinted a soft toothy smile at her face. The hint of fangs was enough to send shivers down her spine.
“She doesn’t remember killing me, then offering me a way back from the grave?” He pointed to his wrist.
I reached for my left hand and grabbed at the sleeves of my jacket. The small marbled scar of a blade that sliced across my arm brought the hairs on the back of my neck to attention. It all began to flash back now. If I had a heartbeat this is where I would probably pass out from hyperventilating.
“I made you fifty years ago. On the last day of Woodstock,” I whispered under my breath.
I looked back up at the boy and reached out my hand. My legs began to feel faint, wobbly. I was losing consciousness. The pain of the memory began to come back to me in a way I had not felt in my entire life.
“It’s me, Bee,” said the boy again, “It’s me, Toby Stein. The boy you saved from dying all those years ago.”
It was the last amount of voice dialogue I remember hearing before I hit the ground with my sister Alfie yelling and screaming. Everything was going black and my body began to feel limp. I don’t remember what happened after that.