TOO MUCH BLOOD
/ more teenage vampires / short /
written by jack richardson
ALEX, a teenage vampire
MATT, his teenage friend
The hotel room is crisp and white, like starched underwear, and with about as much personality. alex sits on the edge of the bed, turning the bedside lamp on and off. He is dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a hoodie, all of which are covered in blood. He seeps gently into the linen sheets. He has an early Nineties haircut.
Alex sits, bored. Blood rolls down his cheeks from the cuts on his forehead, and through a stab-wound in his chest. Each time he breathes out, blood seeps from it in a sluggish ooze. Alex absently probes it through the hole in his shirt, casually inspecting the gruesome damage. He frowns, sinks his fingers in, and pulls out a thin sliver of wood. He turns it over in his fingers; it’s a 2B pencil. He looks around for a place to put it, fails, opens the bedside draw, places it inside, closes the draw carefully. He licks his bloodied fingers, unfazed by the whole transaction.
Bored again, Alex runs his eyes around the room; to the lamp; the sideboard; the notepad of hotel stationary, spotted with dimes of drying blood. He settles on the television remote beside it, picks it up, turns on the television. An episode of “The X-Files” is playing: the one about a town full of vampires. Bemused, he settles into it.
After a while, the room door opens. Alex looks up as matt enters, a bulging Woolworths bag in his hand. Matt is dressed similarly to Alex, jeans and a jumper, with a wet smear of blood on the sleeve. He’s rolled it to his elbow, to make it less obvious. He sees Alex sitting on the bed, and frowns; sees what he’s watching on the television, and frowns again. Matt closes and locks the door behind him.
Matt walks over to the bed and upends the contents of the bag on the bedspread, and begins to rummage through boxes of Band-Aids, Elastoplast, gauze padding, bandages, Panadol, sterile wipes, Cough Drops; two of basically every medical item you can get at a corner store at 2am, purchased without much thought. He picks up a box of sterile wipes, turns it over, reads the instructions, and tears the box open.
Matt goes into the bathroom, turns on the light, and runs the cloth under the tap. Alex sits patiently and watches the television. Matt returns, wringing out the cloth. He sits on the bed next to Alex and begins to wipe his face. Alex watches the television, thoroughly absorbed in Mulder and Scully’s muted repartee.
Matt wipes Alex’s face, continually folding the cloth over and over on itself to find an unbloodied spot of fabric. He comes upon a stubborn spot, repeatedly scrubbing at it in a matter-of-fact way. Alex leans away against the onslaught, watching Matt’s resolution: Matt’s gone somewhere in his head, and it’s a place where he can’t see the blood he’s scrubbing off in disturbing volumes.
On the television, Scully is talking to the Sheriff in his car:
Sheriff: “So what do you think about vampires?”
Scully: “Aside from the fact I don’t believe in them?”
Sheriff: “Yeah, beside the fact.”
Scully: “Well, they’re supposed to be extremely charming… Seductive. I mean, even if they did really exist, who is to say they’d actually
be like that? As Agent Mulder says, there are many different kinds of vampires…”
Alex tunes out, and notices a spot of blood on Matt’s collar neck. He touches it with a wry grin.
ALEX (Ironic) You’re bleeding.
MATT (Shrugging him off) It’s nothing.
ALEX It’s okay…
MATT Shut up.
ALEX Let me look.
MATT Rack off.
Matt gets up, goes to the bathroom, and runs the bloody cloth out under the tap. He comes back into the room and sits again, opening a box of Band-Aids. He begins to stick them over the cuts on Alex’s forehead. Alex watches the television. On it, Scully is being interfered with by a charming, seductive vampire.
ALEX Hey, what we did before…
MATT (Guilty) What I did before /
ALEX I wanted to. Didn’t you?
MATT Yeah, but… not like that. I mean… (Frustrated) Idiot…
Matt finishes taping up Alex’s face. He still looks way bad, but maybe not as critical; at least, his face doesn’t. Now Matt looks over Alex’s blood-soaked clothing, frowning especially at the tear in his shirt, and the blood oozing out of his chest. Matt peels off Alex’s hoodie carefully, bundling it up, mindful of getting blood on his hands or the bedspread. Matt grabs a handful of gauze and goes to place it on Alex’s bloody shirt. Alex stops him.
ALEX (Drolly) I wouldn’t. Lead poisoning.
Matt takes his hands away, not amused. He tosses the gauze aside, frustrated, stares into the television. He massages a headache in his temples, leaving a smear of blood across his forehead.
MATT Does it hurt?
ALEX Not really.
MATT You gonna die?
MATT Yeah, I know. Trick question.
Alex nods to the smear of blood on Matt’s forehead. Matt catches his gaze, asks “What?” with his eyes. Alex nods again. Matt touches his forehead, looks at his bloody fingers, swears, gets up, and goes into the bathroom. The tap runs for a long time.
Alex doodles on the stationary notepad, making swirls in the blood with his finger. Matt turns the tap off and comes back into the room with a towel, drying his face and hair. He sits back down beside Alex, and gives him a long look, which Alex doesn’t return.
MATT Do you… want me to call your mum?
ALEX If you want to.
MATT I think I should. Just in case. (Beat) You do have one, right?
Alex pulls his cell phone out of his pocket and hands it to Matt with little ceremony.
Matt looks at the phone in his hand, wiping the bloodied screen on his jeans. He gives Alex a long look, his concern lit clearly in the glow of the cell-phone’s screen. The backlight fades, and Matt sighs. He puts the phone face down on the bed beside him, decisive. Who could he possibly call anyway?
Both boys sit and watch the muted television. Matt picks moodily at the dried blood under his fingernails. On the television, Mulder inspects his neck for signs of interference; he checks Scully, too, just to make sure.
Alex turns to Matt and tugs down his collar, to look at the spots of blood on his neck. Matt recoils reflexively. He instantly regrets it, embarrassed to have flinched. Alex picks up a Band-Aid from the box beside him and sticks it carefully over the bite-marks on Matt’s neck. Matt lets him, reluctantly.
MATT (Quietly) Thanks.
They sit for a moment, Alex staring at Matt, Matt staring at the television, rubbing his Band-Aid.
MATT I screwed up /
ALEX That’s ok.
MATT I thought I was ready /
ALEX I know.
MATT It’s just that when you did that… (Gestures to own neck)… and I… (stabbing motion)… I lost control. A bit.
ALEX I think that’s what you’re supposed to do.
MATT I didn’t mean to… (Gestures to all of Alex)
ALEX No big deal. I never liked this shirt, huh.
ALEX I’m sorry this wasn’t how you wanted.
MATT (Ironic) I’ll… survive.
ALEX You can go if you want. I won’t blame you.
Matt thinks about it for a beat. Then he rummages in the Woolworths bag, pulls out a toothbrush, tearing open as he goes into the bathroom. He runs the tap and brushes his teeth. Alex picks up the wad of discarded gauze, folds it up, presses it to the wound in his chest, inspects it: the blood is slowing, almost to a stop, really not as bad as it looks. Matt comes out of the bathroom, turning off the bathroom light.
Matt sits back on the bed beside Alex. He falls backwards onto the bedspread, arm over his eyes against the light. On the television, The X-Files episode has ended, the credits rolling over the familiar theme music. Alex picks up the remote and turns it off.
On the bed, Matt rolls onto his side, away from Alex. He touches the Band-Aid on his neck. Alex watches him, reaches over, and turns out the light.