...AND DRACULA LAMENTED
A warm breeze blew in across the ocean, tickling the palm leaves above his balcony. Dracula gazed across the moonlit beach, absorbed in doleful strains as Mozart’s Requiem wept over the terrace speakers. He leaned against a column, watching the breakers devour the sands, bite by bite, in perpetual hunger. Staring into his glass, he gulped the dregs of his wine and slipped back inside, down the spiral staircase, past the red-lit pleasure parlors where the wax trickled from gothic candelabras. A few revelers remained, sprawled like corpses across his burgundy couches. He pricked his ears, taking note of couples cavorting in the darkened chambers of his mansion.
He paced through the lounge gathering up abandoned champagne flutes, occasional bubbles effervescing out of the flat liquid. Returning to the kitchen, he paused before the hall mirror, scarcely able to see the shadow of his reflection. For the first time in his life, he had found acceptance in the highest echelons of society, beloved as a bon vivant, admired for his flare and sophistication. Titans of the entertainment industry sought his counsel and emulated his manner. Yet, he felt suspicion gnawing at his throat, that he had become a parody his former self, and a voice deep within whispered, “Sellout.”
In the previous weeks, he had been deluged with calls from critics clamoring to hear his opinion on the latest crop of vampire films, hackneyed Hollywood plots involving super-hero vampires and teen abstinence vampires. Where the genre had once conjured the haunting genius of Bram Stoker and Bela Lugosi, it now floundered in floppy clichés and banal scenarios, served up as gruel for multiplex zombies with an appetite for buttered plot lines and candy-coated endings.
A film critic from the LA Times had phoned him earlier in the day to get his opinion on the the latest vampire flick. “Twilight. What do you think, Count?”
He had stifled a gag and hung up the phone without a response. How many formulaic contortions could they twist out of his life? Vampires were, had always been, could only be, by nature, manipulative killers. The only genre any self-respecting vampires would associate with was classic horror, but Hollywood had ripped out their eye teeth and made them into model youth and virtuous, if conflicted, vigilantes. The genre cross-pollination surely would not end there. The studios would suck every last cent out of the brand until they bled it dry. He could see the flashing marquees of the future hyping wedding-comedy vampires, sports-hero vampires, celebrity-biopic vampires, and military-bravado vampires.
Dawn was breaking over the San Gabriel's as Dracula shuffled red-eyed and weary down the dank, mildewed steps to his subterranean grotto. He lumbered into his coffin and swung the lid shut. Crossing his arms and closing his eyes, he wondered why he’d ever left Transylvania.