Therapy Therapy Blood Fangs Therapy
By Jack Sherman
Therapy therapy blood fangs therapy. Therapy fangs stakes friends AIDS. Do you ever wonder what happened to the vampire population during the AIDS crisis? I like to describe it as viral genocide. The Sanguine Holocaust. AIDS: the new wooden stake. Sabina and I had dozens of friends before 1981. These days it’s just the two of us. Vampirus biticus: the most endangered species on the planet.
Now we suck each other’s blood until we’re just husks who used to love each other. It’s been bad for us. I miss our friends.
Question: If a vampire chokes on their vomit in their sleep, are they buried in their own coffin or another coffin?
“Are you asking me, or are you asking Sabina?” the therapist says. Think talk think did I think out loud again?
“When a vampire dies by choking on their own vomit, they’re better off being buried in a new coffin,” Sabina says. I agree with Sabina: vampires shouldn’t be buried in bile coffins. But I’m always angry at Sabina these days, so I can’t even agree with her when I agree with her anymore. Does that make sense?
“You don’t know that,” I say. “What if they wanted to be buried in that coffin? Why doesn’t the family have it professionally cleaned?”
“Is that what you want? Do you want to die in a vomit coffin? Is that what you want, Pookie?” Sabina calls me Pookie because she heard it in an old movie once and that’s her life: an old movie. Movies arguing past centuries Milo Harris Milo Harris. Sabina Milo Harris movie cuts. Sabina: arguing in black and white. Sabina: smiling in technicolor.
“Maybe that is what I want. Jimi Hendrix died that way,” I say. “And he was a legend.”
“Jimi Hendrix wasn’t a vampire. Jimi Hendrix played the guitar,” Sabina explains.
“I know that. You think I don’t know that? I’m saying vampires can play the guitar. Vampires can play the guitar if they want to, and they can do whatever the hell else they want, too.”
“We can’t murder anymore,” Sabina says.
“Anymore? What do you mean, anymore? We could never murder.”
“We could murder if we wanted to. A hundred years ago? We could murder. We had to. We only did it to the bad ones. But now there’s laws and cameras and the Equal Bite Act, so even the bad ones get away.”
The Equal Bite Act of 1983: A vampire can only bite another vampire. It was a reactionary law that worked out fine when there were more of us. Our bodies made blood and we lived off each other. Then AIDS happened and nobody wanted to bite anybody. Now that it’s just the two of us, Sabina and I have to bite each other to stay alive.
Question: if the last two vampires suck each other’s blood every day for twenty years, who’s to say they haven’t replaced all their blood with the blood of each other?
I don’t think that’s healthy for any relationship.
“I’d rather not discuss who you could and couldn’t murder a hundred years ago,” the therapist says. “Why don’t we focus on more immediate issues?”
“Fuck you,” Sabina and I say to the therapist. Therapist therapist talk talk therapist. That’s the one thing Sabina and I agree on: therapists talk too much. After enough therapy you realize that therapy isn’t really for the people going, it’s for the therapist. Therapist conversational narcissism therapist: The Rapist. The Rapist of Privacy: therapist.
The therapist sighs and writes something down. For some reason I remember something interesting I read in the news.
“Did you know that only three percent of human conversations need to happen? And the rest is fluff?”
“That’s not true,” Sabina says. “Milo said all sort of interesting things.”
Milo Milo ex-lover ex-AIDS sufferer ex-living.
“You would say that,” I say. “You would turn things around and say that.”
“What’s wrong with what I said?” Sabina likes to bait arguments like this. She likes it more than anything. Maybe she likes it more than me and Milo Harris combined.
Here’s the thing about Milo Harris: he hangs around like a ghost. Milo Harris was Sabina’s vampire lover up until he had an affair with a human and died of AIDS. Then Sabina decided she needed a new vampire lover and that lover was me. Lucy: the second choice. Lucy: the fanged silver medal. Now Milo rises from the dead every day and inserts himself into our conversations like an unwelcome house guest.
Sometimes, before I go to bed at night, I look into the mirror and ask myself: where do I belong after the year 1981? I feel like I belong in the bottom right corner of the picture underneath the artist’s autograph. If I had my own picture I would be front and center eating dragon fruit in a beautiful orchard, but when you need someone’s blood to survive, you don’t get your own picture. Instead, you get to hold someone’s brushes while they paint you with a microscope.
“Pookie, I asked you a question,” Sabina says. The baiter baits.
“What’s wrong with what you said is that you still love Milo Harris. Milo Harris used to make you feel colorful. Now it’s all black and white with you. Do you know how that makes me feel?”
“Use your ‘I’ statements,” the therapist says. Fuck ‘I’ statements. America is the place of ‘I’ statements. Nobody likes ‘you’ statements. Why talk about you when I can talk about I? Conversational narcissism: talk talk talk I talk. You’re tired? I too. Your relationship is difficult? Let I tell you about mine.
“I feel like shit,” I say to Sabina.
“It’s a start,” the therapist says. His voice sounds like a deflating balloon.
“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic,” Sabina says. Sabina didn’t use an ‘I’ statement. Sabina used a ‘don’t be so melodramatic’ statement. She did it to hurt my feelings, but that’s just what happens when you date someone. They hurt your feelings and if you turn around and yell at them then you hurt their feelings and your own, too. When you leave you hurt each other’s feelings and when you love each other you hurt them even more.
Sabina continues: “Things aren’t colorful or black and white, Pookie. Everything is in color. You’re so melodramatic that you call things black and white and color these days.”
“I call them black and white because that’s how you see things. Why do you see me in black and white?”
“Why not? Black and white isn’t bad. Old movies are in black and white and everybody loves those.”
Question: are old movies lovely because they’re old or lovely because they’re not the way things are anymore?
“If I died of AIDS like Milo Harris would you love me in color?”
Lucy Lucy that was too much. Lucy: the biter. Lucy: pushing until the car falls off the interstate.
“Is that what you think?” Sabina says.
“Sometimes I think that,” I say. “Sometimes you make me think that.” Sabina begins to cry. Do you ever watch someone you love cry and understand why people want to be the first one in the relationship to die? If you’re the first one to die you don’t have to watch the person you love cry. If you’re the first one to die you don’t have to let down the person you love. If you’re the first one to die you don’t spend any more time being angry with the person who’s given you just about everything.
“Sabina,” I say. I touch her back gently. This feels strange: we haven’t touched each other in any place but the neck for months. Sabina pulls away from me like an endangered animal escaping its predator.
The blood of my blood is afraid of me.
“Sorry sorry pain hurt sorry,” I say. Words escape me.
“Sometimes, crying is an effective way to release relational tension,” the therapist says. “It’s okay to cry, Sabina.”
“I know it is,” Sabina says. “Just shut up, will you?” I think the therapist is the only person in this world who Sabina hates more than me. “Pookie, you can’t think that way. Okay? If you think that way you’re stupid.”
“Maybe I am stupid,” I say. I don’t know if I’m stupid but I’m tired of disagreeing with Sabina. If disagreeing with Sabina means she has to cry all the time, then I’m done with it.
“No,” Sabina says, wiping her nose. “No, you’re not stupid. It’s just hard when it’s just the two of us, you know? Two is such a small number. It’s one, and then one more than that.” Yes, Sabina. That is how two works. “I don’t know. I feel like we’re two kids on a desert island without anything left. And it was better when Milo was here because there were three of us. And there were ten of us before that, and a hundred before that, and thousands before that. And maybe Milo and the others weren’t always nice or good, but it was still nice, Pookie. It was nice to know there were others.” Strong strong strength in numbers strong.
“I know,” I say. “I’m sorry. I know.” I touch Sabina’s back. She allows it.
“Interesting,” the therapist says. “Would you say that your vampirism has made things more difficult for the both of you?”
“Of course it has,” I say. “Imagine the only other person in the world is your wife and you can’t ever take time apart because you need her blood to live.” The therapist furrows his brow.
“Would you say that’s an accurate depiction of your relationship, Sabina?”
“Yes,” Sabina says. “We need each other, but half the time we don’t want to be with each other.” Need need love pain need.
“What about the other half of the time?”
“I think the other half of the time we do,” Sabina says. She shoots me a glance.
Once, before Sabina and I were vampire lovers, she and her friends came over and brought a heap of vinyl records with them. We listened to old tracks by Bix Beiderbecke all night and drank Pabst Blue Ribbon and talked about this new vampire she was seeing named Milo Harris. One by one everyone left except Sabina, and we stayed up and talked until it got to that time of night where you feel like you’re the only two people in the world. Two vampires on a desert island. Drunk drunk listen talk really listen. Drunk listen stare listen touch. Touch smile stare caress stroke. It was the time of night where a vampire named Sabina kissed a vampire named Lucy, and the next day it was the time of day where the vampires never talked about it again until Milo Harris died and Sabina remembered that Lucy was still alive.
But when a vampire named Sabina remembered a vampire named Lucy, she didn’t waste any time loving her. All of her friends floated into the insect zap-light called AIDS, and she still found time to love Lucy between the electric grief. She said that if Lucy ever got AIDS, she would infect herself too. Through a bite. She would bite Lucy and die with her.
It was a blood pact.
This is the history of the last two vampires: blood. Blood sisters and blood lovers in a world void of blood. I’ve bled for Sabina. She’s bled for me. A book written in blood. We need to find a way to bleed without bleeding the blood of Milo Harris.
“Lucy? What do you think?” the therapist says. Sabina Sabina you’re still trying to love me.
I am going to try to love you, too.
“I think I’m tired of coming to therapy,” I say. “And I think Sabina is, too. And I think I’m sorry about Milo Harris. And I want Sabina to be sorry about him, too.”
“I think I’m all of those things, Pookie,” Sabina says. “I’m tired and I’m sorry. But most of all I’m tired.”
“Yes,” I say. “We’re tired.”
“That’s alright,” the therapist says. “We can be finished for now. I think we’ve made some real progress here today.”
The rapist rapes the credit of our progress. We don’t care. We’re too tired.
“Talk talk the rapist blood love,” I say. “We’re not coming back.” Sabina smiles. We leave the rapist alone in his office.
Question: if two vampires are too tired to stop loving each other, is their love stronger than the exhaustion of living?