from Chapter One
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
“Lord, bless Mårten, for he hath sinned egregiously against Thee,” the priest said.
“Why do you bother with a privacy screen if you can tell it’s me?”
“It’s a confessional, so everyone expects a screen.”
“Shouldn’t you pretend you don’t know me?”
“You want me to lie? You’ve been coming to my confessional for ninety years. Even if I couldn’t see you, your Texas dialect stands out in Germany.”
“I had sex four times yesterday.”
“God has rules about pride and bragging.”
“Isn’t there some rule about gay sex?”
“Jesus said nothing about gays,” he said.
“Any kind of sex rules?” I asked.
“Oh, most assuredly,” he said with a scholarly flair. “The rule says ‘Thou Shalt Not Boink’, but it only applies to castratos and coloraturas.”
All I could do was study the floor, hoping that the stones would morph into something I could understand.
“Are you sure you’re a priest?” I asked through my teeth as I shook my head. Please let me find wisdom rising from the grout between the stones of the floor.
“Ja, Mårten. Castratos don’t have much sex, so I never understood why they were mentioned in the rule, but we should keep our eyes on the coloraturas. They can’t be trusted without adequate supervision. There’s nothing more disturbing than a coloratura boink-a-thon.”
“What? Did you even hear me say that I had sex with Oberon four times yesterday? I don’t care about coloraturas.”
“Yes, Mårten. You’ve lived with Oberon for almost a hundred years. I would worry if you weren’t having sex.”
“Four times,” I said.
“That’s nice, darling, but don’t brag. Are you trying to make me jealous?”
“Not at all, Father Johannes. There’s no need to be jealous. You can have sex with Oberon any time you want.”
“Shhhh, I’m not gay,” the priest whispered.
“Your boyfriend thinks you are, Father Johannes.”
“Humph. He only wishes it. Did you kill anyone since your last confession?” the priest asked blandly.
“Nobody,” I said. “Just two vampires.”
“Ah-ah,” the priest said, tapping his knuckles against the privacy screen. “Vampires are fictional characters.”
“So your boyfriend sleeps with a fictional character? He’s going to be shocked.”
“Focus, Mårten. This confession is about you, not me. Are you sorry for killing the vampires?”
“No, Father. It was business, and they were vampires, so technically they were already dead.”
“That’s nice, Mårten. Don’t forget to pray. Ludwig and I went to a Chinese restaurant last night. When he opened his fortune cookie, the piece of paper was completely blank. Do you think that means anything? He was in tears, of course. I need to go… you know. It’s Ludwig.”
And with that, the priest was gone. I was alone in the chapel’s confessional. The layperson always leaves a confessional first. The priest leaves later, but Father Johannes doesn’t understand such mundane rules. He has to be the strangest priest I’ve ever known. He didn’t tell me to be sorry or to promise to do better or to say Hail Mary’s. He just mentioned his boyfriend’s fortune cookie and went poof.
I was left to ponder or shake my head. It sure feels like he is messing with my head, but he is always like that. He gets into my thoughts, slaps me around, scares the daylights out of me, and then he disappears.
I am a vampire, but not by choice. A German prison guard during World War I raped me and turned me. I’m gay and would have agreed to the sex if he had asked, but he didn’t ask. Rape is always wrong. He’s dead now. I killed him. Twice. But that’s a whole other story.
A hundred people witnessed the second time I killed my rapist and Maker. He was a bad vampire who needed to die. Nobody complained (except my rapist, of course).
The vampire queen of Europe didn’t even object that I refused her help with the second killing. She helped the first time, but it didn’t get him completely dead. If you want to get things done right… you know.
There are two ways to kill a vampire: rip off his head or burn him. I did both. It was the vampire version of the fat lady singing: rip off the head and burn it, and it’s all over.
That’s what it did: I flew up and pulled the asshole’s head right off, and then I flew to a bonfire and threw the head onto the fire. Most vampires can’t fly, but I can. It is a talent or skill that is the envy of many vampires.
“Pride is definitely a sin, Mårten.”
“Yes, Father, but I’m telling this story. Don’t you have some altar boys to chase?”
“That isn’t funny, Mårten.”
“Oh, yes it is, Father.”
The queen’s own chief goon watched me take down the bad vampire. Pierre called my fighting the most insanely terrifying thing he had ever seen, and he is several hundred years old. He made me promise to get some training. The queen had told everyone that I was a Master Vampire after this caper, so I think I could have ignored the promise to get training.
But I didn’t. I tried training.
Thwunk came a blow to my chest that sent me somersaulting backwards. My fighting teacher and I were about thirty meters in the air, just above the top of the tallest tree. Just as soon as I rolled half a turn, I felt a swift kick to the butt: thwunk.
“Hamlet!” I screamed. “Are you trying to kill me? No sex for you when this is over.”
Hamlet is the most effeminate vampire anybody has ever known. I’ve known him since he was about eighteen years old. His Maker refused to turn him until he was in his mid-twenties. I know because I was his Maker. Hamlet looks like a frilly queen on the outside but fights like the toughest kung fu ninja karate blackest-belt-possible you can imagine.
Hamlet is a magnet for street thugs who want to roll young gay guys, and he loves it when they try. Thinking you can get the drop on Hamlet says more about your thinking than it does about Hamlet. He fights with human bullies, and he loves sending them flying against walls or Dumpsters.
He likes fighting with me, although I am technically his student. We try not to hurt each other too much.
I almost never get mad at Hamlet because anger changes all the rules. I go absolutely berserk when I am in a real fight. What you see is an insane burst of venom and movement. Hamlet could probably take me down in a real fight, but I know that I could cause some damage.
Causing damage wasn’t part of that day’s agenda. Humiliating me in front of a dozen others was what Hamlet intended. He smacked me, kicked me, and threw me.
Nelly friggin’ vampires.
When I turned, Hamlet was grinning and prancing on the ground with one hand on his hip. A vampire sashaying is a sight like no other, especially after the girly fighter has wiped the floor with the scrappy one.
“Ouch,” I complained loudly. I got no sympathy from the gallery on the ground. They just jeered that a wimpy little guy like Hamlet could wipe the whole sky with my butt.
I grabbed one of his legs, but he curled his knee quickly and sent me crashing down to the ground. There was no justice. No dignity.
“Had enough for the night?” Hamlet asked as he pranced to the house. I saw one member of the human staff, apparently a recent addition, pulling some folded money out of his pocket and handing it to a groundskeeper who had been at the estate for years. The bitch bet against me.
“Father Johannes, is it wrong to wish for the death of another vampire?”
“Hamlet again?” he asked.
“Ja, Vater. Maybe I could just cause some pain.”
“Don’t forget to pray, Mårten.”