Drinking her is like the final sip before the sludge in Turkish coffee—both rich and reluctant, coagulating into the grounds at the bottom of the cup. Except that she is cold, and you haven't tasted Turkish anything, have you—not yet, anyway. She's promised you that: the Ottoman Empire, the East, the world. When she opens her vein for you, she opens up an atlas.
And yet whenever you taste her, she still reminds you of home, of the blue-black bogs in which dead things just get deader. Her flow is turgid, sluggish; if blood runs like rivers, hers is like silt. She tastes like death, like the bodies thickening into the peat of your mother country, like cold, hard ground. She tastes like earth.
Mother earth: in a way, that's fitting. She congeals so quickly you are forced to suckle—like an infant at its mother; the correlation is reason enough for her to be pushing you to her breast, not her throat. When she was alive, men came inside her body, when what she had really wanted from them was a different kind of person in her. She had done with men, with fathers, the Father, Him. What she had really wanted was a son.
But the closest she will get is in a dank alley that smells like moss and rotting earth. The closest she will get to conception is your murder, and the closest she will get to delivery is the suction of you draining from her the only life she can give. Her womb is a mud-soaked grave, and she births you in cold blood.
Blood and wine have such ancient history that when you taste, and the comparison strikes, your first thought is that this is all so very clichéd. All your effort, all your artistry, and she has suddenly been reduced to a sacrament, her body transubstantiated into a mere loaf of bread, the abbey floor into the table of a hated Christ, and her blood:—well, you can guess. Was the Mother Mary like this—a ripe vineyard, a fruit on the vine waiting to be plucked, her belly a barrel for the fermenting of the next Messiah?
God just shows up in the darndest places.
If this communion is God's gift, this conception is anything but immaculate. If she was once God's child, you have since convinced her that she slithered from the loins of Satan, and her new Daddy is another angel just as fallen. Why then does she taste like wine? She should taste like evil; it runs in the . . . family; you should know. She should taste like Lethe, because you don't want to do a damn thing in remembrance of Him.
Bubbly. That's your next thought as your tongue plays, drawing more of her out. She pops and fizzles down your throat, a nervous, swirling madness. You're everywhere and nowhere, and for a moment, you see through her visionary eyes. You sees stars. Sparkling.
Sparkling wine: a toast to success, to a masterpiece of madness. Victory is sweet, and so was Christ, going down. You lick your lips. Upon reassessment, she tastes like triumph, like celebratory champagne. You've driven her mad, and now she is dead. And so is God.
Love has a flavor. Sounds corny, but it's true. Of course, gypsies always did have a particular zing to them. Tarot cards and crystal balls—that's all bullshit, but the fortune-telling thing, that's genuine. The taste is more subtle than a Seer's, of course: Drusilla hits like a ton of bricks, but this—this is a dance.
She ripples down your throat like the twirling skirts of Romani, spiraling farther away from the campfire into the blackest night, spilling from the flame into the cold corpse feeding at her heat. Once in your stomach, she beats in your blood, a tattoo, a tempo, her metallic taste rat-a-tat-tatting back to the brain.
Her copper tang is tainted with your dead semen and her secretions, but you thought she'd needed salt, and who doesn't take their blood with a little cream? After all, virginity tastes the same in every cunt and crack: fresh and gone too soon. Lucky you there's a prize in this bag: music, something new. You taste it as you buck against her, taste it as she fights you, kicking her ankle bracelets into jingling a minor jig. That particular effect is pleasant to your lyric senses, isn't it: she clinks when you fuck her. You drink her with a song in your heart, lapping at her liquid love.
Music and dance: she is the daughter of these, too. No wonder they love her so much; no wonder her death will drive her people wild with grief—because that, in the end, is what love tastes like: fear, despair, sorrow, rage.
They skitter down your throat, runny and unfulfilling. The thinness of their vile blood sloshes the sides of your esophagus and you swear you can feel the click of tiny toenails in their platelets. There's something shifty in them that doesn't settle in your stomach, that slips them back through your veins like their oily hair greases them through drain pipes, filthy and sewage-slick.
They taste bitter, and as you rupture their hearts, small round fruits on the vines of virulent veins, you think of sour grapes. Right now, you could be drinking calf—cow, pig: heartier and healthier. You know every butcher shop on this island; you know the seedy, dark corners by the Hudson where red stains the pavement and death is delivered to the door. You also secretly, shamefully, know the time of every drive, the destination of every donation; you know when the deliveries come in to the hospitals and where they put the stores. You could be drinking human right now. And it wouldn't taste as good.
It's the flavor of their little critter fear—adrenaline, epinephrine, glucocorticoid—that determines this diet, makes it so much sweeter. Blood sugar: it should be on every breakfast table, and it's better from a body than from a straw. It's all in the panic of the chase, the beating of the tiny heart. It's all in the act of killing, the baby body breaking in your mouth, still pumping as you suck and drink it down. This is the only way you'll catch yourself red-handed. This is all you have.
What they say about Slayers is true. Once you pop—a vein—you can't stop.
Burst a vessel and you're on cloud nine, and whatever's up there, this is better than that old 'nectar of the gods' schtick. For one thing, she's blessedly mortal, and she was right about how she feels when you kiss her, because you can feel her dying in your mouth. You better enjoy it, too, 'cause she's the closest you're ever gonna get to Heaven.
She's still beating when she hits your stomach, and then she immediately surges into every part of you. She will always be a part of you, you know, in your blood like family, like murder, like death. She'll get between your legs, creeping up your cock; her hot and heavy blood will make you hard. She'll pump into your chest, too; she'll find that dead place nestled between your lungs and she'll still be throbbing, still be living, still be fighting you to give you life, Angel. For one rending, agonizing moment she will do it; she will do the impossible. She will make your heart beat.
Only when you pulse to life for that split-second do you realize her own heart was never faint. Throughout, you haven't tasted foreboding, haven't tasted her fighting, haven't tasted her fear. The only reason she's crashing into you with such force is she's letting you; she's shedding tears of blood for you; she's giving her life for yours. She has this misplaced faith your fangs will leave her in time, and that's when you decide to leave her forever. She gives you your first taste of trust, and that is why you must forsake her.
O-positive. That's all she tastes like. About that, you're not even certain, are you; sometimes your palate can't discriminate between positive and negative, A and B. You've had some rare ones in your time, some doozies, and we're talking more than just AB negative or even that oh-so-unlikely hh phenotype. You've tasted power; you've tasted divination; you've tasted death—but this one really is just flesh and blood.
And how you've missed it. First of all, she's warm. Think Starbucks in the morning, or whiskey once its in your bladder. Second, she's got this metal flavor, like liquid red rust, rolling right down your mouth and coagulating as she goes. Think eating something sinful. You know how with some things you can simply feel your arteries clogging? That's what I'm talking about. Think fudge. Think donuts. Eat Devil's Food Cake with thick frosting; then settle your hand on yourself and stroke yourself a boner, because that's what feeding feels like.
You've been looking but not touching. Touching but not tasting. Tasting that tarty little blonde, but not draining. And why? Think about it. There's a reason you're not doing that Thoreau thing, cooling heels at Walden Pond. There's a reason you're not locked in a forbidden forest, hunting game at night. There's a reason you haven't gone all unabomber in a shack. Is it because you love them—people, humans?
Don't kid yourself. This whole time, it's been the smell. Fear, sex, sweat, tears. You were just hoping for a drop, weren't you—and congratulations. You got it. Are you happy now? . . . Perfectly happy?
The kid's got blue blood. There've been Wyndham Watchers all the way back before you were just a young whipper-snapper, sucking at your maker's teat. Funny, though, how color really doesn't matter. It all runs red when two men fight over one woman. It all runs red when a man's throat gets slit and he's lying in the bushes bleeding because you couldn't—wouldn't—find him. And it still ran red for you, you carcass, when he cut you open and ripped from you the only heart you have that actually beats, the one that wrapped baby-fat fingers around yours and gurgled in his sleep.
He should be brackish. He should be bitter with your resentment of him and you should be tasting hate. Instead, he tastes like life. He's only human, nothing more, but it's been so long for you and you have been so cold. He is hot, healthy, pumping into you, and his gift is heavy enough to overcome the weight of a thousand fathoms of ocean.
This play-act of that old cliché—that blood is thicker than water (and thicker than Lilah's, too, apparently)—makes you remember: this is what family is for. Or haven't you noticed how much he is giving, how freely? Would your own son have offered, were you dying at his door? You lap and lick and suckle and he tastes so fresh and pure that you know, in that instant at his wrist, that he is yours—your family, and more. There could never be bad blood between you.
In the end, this is what love really tastes like: fear, despair, sorrow, rage.