"Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two ... ONE!!! Happy New YEAR!!!"
A television was playing loudly somewhere in the background. The folks nearest the blue screen were yelling out the numbers as the ball descended in Times Square and then the whole room exploded with a wall of sound from noise makers, shrieks of alcoholically loud enthusiasm and I swore I could hear someone moaning in reckless abandonment. My head was still spinning from this evening. How the hell did I get myself into these situations?
I looked around the room, trying to find my ill-advised date in the crowd of kissing and hugging bodies. Someone was starting a round of song that was best left to folks with musical abilities. I found my date; he was currently thrusting his tongue down the throat of some junior high student. His law firm would love to see that. With that thought in mind, I pulled my camera to my eye and casually snapped a few candid shots. Hell, what did I have to lose? A ride home? It was not like I didn't know how to call a cab.
Some guy stumbled up to me and tried to grope my chest while saying, "Happy Year." Obviously he had drunk his dinner and possibly his lunch and breakfast. I casually kneed him in his groin while continuing to snap pictures. Not like I had anything else I wanted to do, or anyone. The inebriated idiot fell to his knees, moaning. I walked away capturing various stages of intoxication and seduction happening around me while the year broke.
I hadn't wanted to come to this little party, but my best friend, Liz, had told me I was rapidly becoming a full fledged stick-in-the-mud and that Zack, the guy currently checking a teenager's tonsils for shape and size, was terrific and would treat me well. Liz meant well, but since she was currently pregnant with her first child I blamed her obvious errors on the hormones racing through her blood stream screwing up a perfectly good lady.
I finished up the roll of film in my camera and automatically reloaded while looking for more shots. I had been resisting the whole digital camera scene for a number of years -- my thirty-five millimeter camera had served me well for my needs and I saw no reason to change yet. I pocketed the exposed film and snapped a few more frames when my alleged date came up to me, combative and well past the point of no return.
"Give me that film. YOU took a picture of me." He looked like he wanted to tear my camera from my hands. Mentally I went over the frames I had just taken and there was nothing I could live without.
"Excuse me?" I played along.
"Sandy," God, how I hated that nick name. My name was Cassandra and I really liked it. Zack whined on with, "I know you took my picture. Ralph saw you. That kiss meant nothing."
I smiled inside while looking indignant. "Excuse me? I thought you were supposed to be my date? So that makes your kissing someone else fine because it's New Year's Eve?" Minor point, it was now New Year's Day but hey, he wasn't going to call me on it so I tried to see how much fun I could have with this.
Zack flushed a lovely shade of red and stammered, "She kissed me."
Oh, yeah, that gets major brownie points with me. Not.
I bit back another smile while saying, "Whatever. So I took some pictures. It wasn't like I aimed at you. I had nothing else to do with my hands."
He bristled and said, "Come here, I will give you something." I avoided looking at what he was talking about; our little banter had got him aroused.
I stood firm and said, "I don't think so."
His temple vein was throbbing out the beats of his heart as he said, "Then, please, give me the film!" Gee, so now he didn't want me? Go figure.
Looking completely affronted, I replied, "But I haven't finished out the roll."
"I don't care, just tear the damn roll out, please." He kept saying please like it was the magic word that changed his demand. I was beyond grade school and not impressed by manners.
Milking it, I said, "Okay, fine, Zack. I will destroy this roll." With that I pulled it out, dramatically handing the celluloid mess to him while looking extremely upset.
He gratefully gathered up the media I gave him and smiled while practically running back to the teen waiting for him. She had discarded some more clothing and was fanning herself as if she was now overheated by the room. I could feel the breeze from the air conditioning wafting down on me as my date ran.
Smiling, I knew I would be sending out some anonymous emails in the near future to a certain jerk's law partners. He really hadn't bothered to figure out who I was. His loss, I figured. Of course, it might be mine if I didn't find someone to play with soon.
It wasn't too damn hard being a vampire in this era. But stupid dates and generally pretending to be human was such a pain.
Nevertheless, it beat the alternative. I had been turned well over a hundred years ago. Being dust was not exactly a game plan I was ready to deal with, so I would take the bad dates and stupid men.
I walked out into the night and flagged down a cab that had just dropped off a fare that was arriving late for the gathering. Muttering an address to the disinterested cabby, we flew from the party. I felt like playing now that my choice of dinner partners had been denied. Dear Liz didn't have a clue -- her pushing me to find someone to date was pretty much a meal ticket as far as I was concerned, but hey... a girl's got to have a little fun, right?
Soon I found myself being dropped off at the club -- Dark Whispers. Donnie, the club bouncer, waved me past the line of hopefuls standing in the bitter cold waiting to see if they could gain entrance. Since it was now a good half hour past midnight it was just sheer bravado on their parts, but cute.
Jane, seated at the entrance collecting door fees, sketched me a casual wave as I walked into the club. Her current garb of kohl-lined eyes with ornate jewelry was vaguely Egyptian in origin but typical Jane. She let us be and was not interested in becoming a vampire. That alone made her priceless in this world. Once humans found out we were vampires they usually clamored to be changed or, in the case of most of this club's patrons, our dinner.
This era was quite comfortable. No pitchforks and angry church folks to disturb my daily rest. Movies and books had made vampires romantic and exotic. We didn't have to explain the reality of who we were once they heard we were vampires. It truly was intoxicating for us. The Golden Era for vampires as far as I could tell. There had been little interest in us for the most part in a good twenty or thirty years. The Church had pretty much dismissed us once the sixties hit them with a whole new set of moral arguments and debates. Mostly folks thought we were bad stories made up to screw with little kids minds. Suited me.
Dark Whispers was wall to wall straights intermixed with some vampires. From first glance very few had fed recently. Kenyon, the club owner, tried to claim his vampires were pure and innocent, but as one of his fallen angels, I knew better. We craved blood beyond measure. I was greeted with kisses and licks as I walked amongst the crowd. I pulled my camera up and took pictures as I wandered. I got a laugh out of the legend that vampires could not be photographed. It was delightful to prove them all wrong every decade or so. Some of my best work was vampires in various states of life and death.
Kenyon saw me and detached himself from his latest morsel. She simpered and was given a caress and soft bite for her efforts. I could tell she was still human, but from his kiss that was not going to be for long. He loved women and could not resist changing them when tempted. It would more than likely be his downfall, but that was not my concern.
Over decades I had politically distanced myself from him and his tribe as best I could. Yet I still found myself drawn to him, in spite of my own desires. Maybe another century was needed to change that; we would see.
"Cassandra, my darling, why are you here? I thought I was not part of your current lifestyle," a bit of a bite to his comment. Not undeserved, but I smiled slightly.
"Kenyon, I think I need a different New Year's resolution than my usual," I purred in his ear while exchanging a greeting.
His kiss was a bit more possessive than I remembered, but then it had been twenty or thirty years since I last looked him up. He had become a player in the local vampire politics, but I didn't see him outlasting some of the competition. I blocked those thoughts from my brain and my features to be on the safe side. One never knew who might be listening.
He smiled and said, "Your usual resolution is to be nicer to humans."
I smiled, letting a bit of tooth show in the shadows. He laughed, throwing his head back.
"You are becoming jaded, my darling, aren't you?" He pegged it in one.
I demurred, "I don't know. I just think that humans are getting far too complacent and accepting of us. I think a little bloodshed would be nice. And thin the herd a bit."
He laughed even louder, causing people to glance our way. He drew me off the main floor of the club, back to his current office. Like all his haunts it was tricked out for pleasure and pain. He smiled and grabbed me a bottle of water. I drank while saying, "This generation of humans is too jaded themselves, and doesn't give a damn about anything. I think we need to take out a few golden folks and see what happens."
He didn't dismiss my comment. Looking thoughtful he said, "But I can't be aligned with any sort of mass genocide. It would not suit my current alliances."
Kenyon basically had just given me permission to do what I wanted. I had not come here to get his blessing, but it was sort of nice to know he wouldn't be trying to stop me. During my New Year's resolution declaration he had wandered over to his bar and poured us both a glass of wine. Don't believe those stories you hear -- we do drink some things other than blood.
Hoisting up my glass I said, "That said, let the games begin! Happy New Years!"
He toasted me back and said, "What a nice idea." I grinned, showing my teeth and sipped. This was going to be a lovely year.