There’s an abiding myth that vampires are afraid of garlic. This, of course, is a lie. The garlic myth was triggered hundreds of years ago, when a nameless vampire joked about not attacking some woman because she smelled of garlic. I mean, how could anyone be terrified of a culinary herb? It’s true that garlic makes vampires sick. But in that respect it’s no different from bread or bacon or Brussels sprouts. A vampire’s stomach isn’t capable of digesting normal food; one slice of watermelon could put half a dozen vampires in bed for a week.
Casimir had been a typical vampire—the quintessential vampire, in fact. And look what had happened to him! Whereas I . . . well, I was different. I was active and empathic and dependable and involved. I wasn’t anything like Casimir. It’s funny what lies you tell yourself when you’re scared to death.
Suddenly I found it impossible to contemplate walking away without Reuben. To do something so feeble—so flaccid and pathetic—would be hard to live with. Even a bullet in the gut might be preferable to a never-ending sense of worthlessness. Being a vampire was bad enough. Being a skulking, cowardly, apathetic vampire would be hideous.
It flashed into my mind that maybe Casimir was better off dead. I thought, What’s the point of living, if you’re a vampire? I felt so pitiable. So victimized. Nevertheless, while it seemed monstrously unfair that someone should be attacking powerless invalids like me, I could also understand the sense of revulsion motivating Casimir’s killer. After all, vampires made me sick. How could I blame other people for having the same response? I was in the unfortunate position of resenting behavior that I could understand perfectly. For several minutes I plunged deeper and deeper into an emotional black hole. Then, with an enormous effort, I hauled myself out again. I made a decision.
Bridget’s always knitting. She was eighty-two when she was infected, so she can’t do much else. Even climbing stairs can be a problem for Bridget because of her hip joints. There’s only one thing worse than being a vampire, and that’s being an elderly vampire with bad hips.
The plain fact is, I can’t do anything much. That’s part of the problem. Vampires are meant to be so glamorous and powerful, but I’m here to inform you that being a vampire is nothing like that. Not one bit. On the contrary, it’s like being stuck indoors with the flu watching daytime television, forever and ever. If being a vampire were easy, there wouldn’t have to be a Reformed Vampire Support Group.