Dead in Denmark
I was standing behind the bar desk, polishing glasses, when the door opened. As I always do when the door opens, I looked up. I own the bar and I need to see who walks in - to see if it`s a loyal customer wanting a "hi" or if it`s trouble needing to be kicked out again.
This time it was neither. It wasn`t anyone I had ever seen before, and in spite of his 6 feet 5 inches muscular body, he didn`t seem like trouble. Usually I only offer new customers a single glance, but this time I couldn`t help myself. I stared.
He was just too handsome to take your eyes away from. His hair was long and the same blond tone as my own. The texture was something else though. I would have put my hairdresser in my will if she could have made my hair look like that. His hair was much thicker than mine and it was almost glowing.
My best friend, Amalie, would have lost a kidney from laughing if she knew that my staring stopped at his hair. His hair looked great, but so did his face and body. According to Amalie, I look way too little at mens` faces and bodies.
Yeah well, I`m getting older and I might as well stop drooling at men before I move into one of those homes for senior citizens. I`m 37, so I`m not quite there yet, but mentally I sometimes feel 30 years older than my birth certificate. Let`s just say I`ve been through more than your average 37-year-old.
I knew I would have to stop staring. And I should definitely close my mouth. To my embarrassment I noticed it was wide open.
To keep myself occupied, I sent out a probe to see if I could read his mind. Nope, just as I thought – a vampire. I can read minds of human beings and feelings of weres and shifters, but vampires are just empty voids for me. Which is probably just as well. I have a feeling vampires wouldn`t enjoy my reading their inner thoughts and dreams.
Yes, I`m a telepath. I`m not thrilled about my telepathy. It has helped me out from time-to-time, but you don`t really want to know what`s going on in people`s minds. Let`s just say that what comes out of peoples` mouths is not always what they are actually thinking.
Reading were feelings can also be a nuisance if the feelings are unwanted, for instance. I don`t really want to know that someone wants to "hughughugkisskisskiss".
This is the advantage of being around vampires. The only advantage, I might add. It`s nice that I don`t have to block out thoughts all the time, but vampires have so many issues, that the comfort of not hearing their thoughts - is way outweighed by all their politics, rules and pecking order. I`ve been around vampires. I know.
I`m not sure if the vampire noticed my staring. He may have had hair and body to die for, but he looked like he wanted to meet the sun. I have had my share of depressed vampires in my bar and in my home, so I know one when I see one.
After all Nykøbing, the town I live in, is the first town Eastern European vampires would hit coming into Denmark. It`s the town many of them stay in while they wait for my government to award them refugee status. And for their own vampire government, so to speak, to find them a job and a place in their ranks.
After The Great Revelation about 15 years ago, Denmark had welcomed large numbers of vampires from countries where they were less popular.
Most of the Northern European countries had accepted vampires when they came out of the coffin. That was not the case in Eastern Europe and definitely not in the Middle East. Most vampires there stayed in hiding, but some were tempted to live in the open in more vampire-friendly places. Like Denmark. Like Nykøbing.
This vampire looked like he had met pain and lost loved ones. I recognized it from all the refugee vampires who had come here through the years. Vampires would rarely admit to having feelings towards anybody, but I have comforted many a vampire who missed their masters, bonded humans or children after horrible stakings, fires or other ways local humans had chosen to get rid of the "vampire problem".
I put on my motherly smile, looked him in the eyes and asked him if I could help him. He didn`t look Eastern European, but I was so used to hearing different Slavic languages from visiting vampires, that I had to ask him to repeat himself, before I realized that he spoke Danish. Well, a sort of Danish anyway. A Danish that hasn`t been spoken in a couple of hundred years. Think Vikings mixed with some Ludvig Holberg.
It made my knees a little weak. What can I say? I have a thing for strange Scandinavian accents.
"Are you Sookie Stakhus?", he asked.
I couldn`t deny who I was, even if I hated my name. What did my parents think when they called me Sookie? What would have been wrong with a Danish name like Rikke or Gitte or even Henriette?
At least it was a name my fellow Danes could pronounce, since there really just was one way of saying it. My brother Jason hated his name even more. People were having a much harder time deciding if they should pronounce his name in Danish (which would probably be close to the original Greek way of saying it) or English (which would be the only way most Danes had heard the name pronounced). It`s almost like the discussion as to the correct pronunciation of the brand Nike. You would still find Danes insisting on the "Danish" way to say the name.
Jason and I often discussed why our parents had given us these weird names, but we would never get answers since our parents died when I was 7 and Jason was 9. Luckily our grandmother took us in and made up for the mum and dad we missed.
"Yes, I`m Sookie Stakhus", I answered. – And you are?
He gave me a small nod with his head. Vampires don`t exchange handshakes and that was just fine with me. I respect other people and if they don`t want to shake my hand, I`m not forcing them.
"I`ve been told that you run some kind of hostel for vampires?" he asked looking at my mouth.
Usually vampires look you straight in the eyes, probably to see if you hold their gaze or if you look away. I can lock eyes with anybody and I always do that with vampires. I make it a point that they know they don`t scare me. I can`t take in a vampire in my home if they think I`m terrified.
This one was different. Apart from not looking me in the eyes, he never checked out my body. This must have been the first vampire entering my bar - who didn`t give me an eye over.
It`s not that I have a great body or anything. I`m voluptuous in a time and age where one is supposed to be skinny. And I`m not getting any younger, which means that my "assets" are subject to the force of gravity. Vampires still give my body a good look up and down. It`s not that I like it, but I`m so used to it that I was surprised when this vampire only looked at my mouth and chin.
"Yes. I have vampire safe rooms at my farm. I`m closing up here in about an hour, so if you could just wait around, I`ll take you home afterwards."
I asked him if I could get him some blood. Just like I have at least 25 kinds of beer for my beer drinking customers, I also have a large variety of artificial blood. I even have the new expensive kinds that taste almost like human blood. Or so I`m told.
"I`ll take whatever you have", he sighed. This was no happy vampire.
I brought him a heated Classic Blood and went on with my chores. It was a full moon tonight so most of my usual customers were out howling, or whatever the weres and shifters do when the moon is full. I rang the bell to indicate that now was the last round and people started gathering their jackets and walking out the door.
Soon, only the depressed blond vampire and yours truly were left in the bar. I went my rounds, locked up and the vampire and I were out the door. I brought him to my old Volkswagen Polo and indicated that he could jump in the passenger seat. He growled a little, probably disliking my car or something, but sat and closed the door. I went behind the wheel and started driving.
It`s a fifteen-minute drive, but we didn`t exchange one word with each other. I`m usually one to talk, but I felt that he wanted peace and quiet, and decided to give him just that. Back at my farm, I invited him in and gave him the key to his room – built especially for vampires. Not a ray of sun can enter that room. Or any of my other vampire rooms, for that matter. Actually the whole side building on my farm is vampire-proof: Safe from the sun and safe from intruders.
It`s been over 12 years since I transformed part of the farm to rooms that would suit the special needs of vampires. Luckily, Amalie`s father gave me a great price on the job, hoping that I would recommend him to all the vampires who would hopefully build their own houses or mansions as soon as they were well established in Denmark. Amalie`s father owns one of the largest construction companies in Denmark.
I`m not quite sure why I decided to help out vampires with housing. There was a great need for vampire rooms when they all had to flee Eastern Europe after The Great Revelation, but as Sam pointed out, I didn`t have to be the one who let half of my farm be invaded by creatures he didn`t really trust.
It wasn`t just my farm. It was our farm. Sam`s and mine. Just like the bar was Sam`s and mine. The bar was even called Sam`s Bar. I always disliked that name. Sam insisted because Sam`s bar is the Danish name for the American TV show "Cheers", and Sam just loved that show. I hated the show, the name of our bar and even the fact that my dear Samuel always insisted on being called Sam. I have a stupid name and my brother has a stupid name. Samuel is a beautiful name, and Sam still insisted on being called Sam.
Today I regret all the fights over his name, the name of the bar and making the farm into some sort of vampire heaven. Today I just wish we could have spent all the little time we had together, doing something other than arguing. It`s too late, though. Sam has been dead for almost five years and I can never take back my harsh words or my stubbornness.
The vampire; I reminded myself of his name - Erik, looked the room over and just nodded. He didn`t ask for the price or how long he could have the room, so I left him to himself and figured he would come over to my part of the farm when and if he wanted to talk. I could live with him not being my best friend. Even if he was good looking. Which he was. Good looking and incredibly sad.
I made my usual call to Amalie. Every time I take in a new vampire, I always call her and tell her the vampire`s name and explain how he or she looks. She insisted on this because she really hates the fact that I live all by myself and she claimed she needed a name and a description of whoever might drain me in my sleep, so she could turn him over to the police.
She was half teasing, half serious when she said it. She was very curious about my life and especially my lodgers and I didn`t mind keeping her updated.
The first two years after Sam`s death she lived with me, but she moved on, married and now has her own little family.
"Hi, it`s me."
"Hi, Sooks. What`s up? Any undead hunks on your doorstep?"
"Yeah. I have a new one now. His name is Erik, he speaks some kind of old Danish, he`s blond and very tall. I don`t know much about him, but if you find me drained tomorrow, you`ll know that you`ll have to look after a tall blond"
"Sounds promising." I could hear her suggestive smile through the line.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. You think all the vampires sound promising."
"You know, they are great in bed. All those years of experience…" she trailed off.
"Amalie. Are we having this conversation again?" I managed a tell tale sigh.
"Ok, Sooks. I`ll report in a hunky blond, Danish-speaking vampire, to the police, if you are dead or gone tomorrow. Sleep tight!" She blew me a loud kiss.
"You too, Amalie. Thanks". I hung up.
I went to bed, thinking of my new "room-mate". He was good-looking, but I was mainly a bit worried for him. I figured he would be fine in a couple of days, when he landed on both feet and found out he was safe. Safe on my farm and safe in my country.