“Parrain? Can I ask you something?”
Tiefer looked up from the fish he’d been cleaning on top an ice chest out on the wharf. He was in charge of Jehan and his flu-ridden brother while their mother was out of town all weekend until that evening, caring for her parents. “You just did, p’tit.”
Jehan folded his arms, shaking slightly, his fists clenched. “I’m being serious.”
“Mais, fine.” Tiefer put the filet knife down, still kneeling beside the chest. “Shoot.”
“What the fuck are you?”
His godfather had the appearance of an old painting – not a painting of a man over a certain age, mind, but a youthful one perfectly captured in time and immortalized with paint and canvas, the image ever unchanging even when the varnish yellows and the canvas pulls taut as years go by. It was uncanny, really, though of course no one seemed to mind or even notice at all (perhaps it was his prematurely white hair that made him seem older.)
That’s what had raised Jehan’s suspicions at first. He’d come across a picture of his baptism seventeen years ago: his mother and late father smiling as Fr. Tiefer, his godfather and presider at the sacrament, poured water on his forehead. His mother, like all mothers do, had aged since then, but his godfather looked exactly the same. At first, Jehan had simply shrugged it off: obviously, losing the love of her life and raising two boys almost entirely alone did not do the bags under his mother’s eyes or lines on her forehead any favors. Yet Tiefer was older than his mother. Much older. (Jehan had learned that and a new word years ago when he’d overheard his father and Tiefer talking one night: apparently, according to Tiefer, his mother was–or rather had been–jailbait.) Good breeding didn’t get anyone that far and Jehan sorely doubted his godfather could even lay claim to such a thing.
But of course Jehan couldn’t just ask his mother, his poor sweet mother who worked herself to the bone so that him and his brother could have a happy, healthy, almost-normal childhood like everyone else even without their father (God rest his soul) in their lives, why she looked as old as if not older than his allegedly forty-eight year old godfather. You just didn’t do some things.
Nor could he ask his mother who so very dearly loved Tiefer, the man who had been his late father’s best friend and who had done so much for her and for their family and who in Jehan’s mother’s eyes was practically a living saint, his poor sweet deluded mother, why it was that Fr. Emilein Tiefer, a habitual smoker and allegedly forty-eight year old man with a habit of never refusing a drink, could not only physically overpower him, a mostly physically healthy seventeen year old, on a regular basis but also constantly go more rounds than and outlast him, an admittedly horny hormonal teenage boy, in bed.
(Because that would mean telling his mother, his poor, sweet, stupid mother, that Tiefer had been sexually abusing him ever since he was twelve and, well. You just didn’t do some things.)
So Jehan waited. And watched. And made note of how often, when they were in bed together, Tiefer used a knife on him to split his skin and let his blood flow and how frequently Tiefer cleaned the blade with his tongue and kissed the wound (and always wanted more, as if he craved it, as if the food he regularly consumed were made of nothing but cotton candy); of how close Tiefer’s fingers would get to the holy water but never touched it when he made the sign of the cross upon entering church; of how his lips never seemed to touch the chalice and how he always used an altar cloth to hold the consecrated host – the host which he always seemed to ‘take’ when kneeling behind the altar, a motion that hid to the congregation whether he’d actually taken it or palmed it, a motion that any of the altar boys would have missed if they weren’t looking (but Jehan most definitely was.) And Jehan realized things weren’t adding up.
Or, rather, they were adding up, in their own terrifying, insane, inhuman way.
“I said what the fuck are you?”
Maybe it was stupid, Jehan realized, as his godfather whom he had known for seventeen long years, whom he had practically been raised by, with whom he routinely (albeit not totally willingly) shared a bed, stared at him blankly. Maybe he was going mad. Monsters weren’t real – the only real monsters were flesh and blood humans. Maybe everything he’d thought and planned was for nothing.
Maybe he shouldn’t have asked his abusive godfather what the fuck he was while he was using an incredibly sharp, incredibly lethal knife.
“Should’ve known it’d be you.” Tiefer huffed with the inconvenienced air of a child caught sneaking dessert, wiping his gorey hands on his dark trousers, staining them. “You really are just like your daddy.”
Or maybe, Jehan realized at the same moment he felt his stomach drop through the floor, his godfather was a fucking vampire.
“Mais yeah, boy, why you think he’s fuckin’ dead?”
“Wait–you killed him?!”
Tiefer frowned.“Well I didn’t mean to rip his throat out but accidents happen. You know I love your daddy–he even gave me his blood–but he was gonna tell, he was gonna ruin everything I busted my ass for!”
“But they said dad drowned! You, you found him…” Jehan’s eyes widened. His body trembled and he had to – had to – keep his fists clenched, his being composed. “You fucking put him there!”
“Drove him out past town, to the house I took you that one long weekend – you remember that, don’tcha p’tit cher? – and tied his body under the pilings for a few days until the bayou rotted him nice an’ good, then made it look like he’d had an accident fishing further up the bayou. Real easy when you know what you’re doing.”
Tiefer rolled his eyes. “Thought you figured that out already. Ain’t that why you’re here?”
“I…” It was, it had been, he even had something of a plan – he just hadn’t expected to need it. “I thought…”
“You thought you were crazy?”
“That or wrong.”
Tiefer laughed, sitting down fully on the wharf and leaning back. “You fuckin’ came out here, fuckin’ dick half hard an’ guns blarin’, with the goddamn balls to ask me what the fuck I am, and you weren’t even convinced? Fuck, maybe you ain’t as smart as your daddy after all!” He paused, eyes still alight. “Then again, Nate did think I was a rougarou at first so maybe none of y’all got much brains to pass ‘round.”
“You still haven’t answered my question, parrain.” His tone surprised even him.
It definitely surprised Tiefer whose expression soured. “Boy, I don’t gotta do shit for you!” he barked. “Go ‘head, my sweet stupid little boy, tell yo’ parrain what the fuck you think he is.”
It sounded as stupid aloud as it did in his head all those times he’d thought it, but his plan hinged on it, and by the way his godfather’s – the monster’s – sneer faded, it wasn’t as stupid as it sounded.
“Well. You ain’t wrong,” he said, finally, as he stretched his legs out, crossing his ankles, and fished for a cigarette in his pocket, before snapping: “Go get me my lighter. ‘S on the kitchen counter.”
“…is that supposed to be an answer?”
“Get me my lighter.”
“Are you a fucking vampire?!”
Fuming, Jehan turned and went back into the house. Minutes later, he returned, lighter in one hand, the other still clenched. Tiefer remained where he sat, his unlit cigarette between his lips. Jehan held out the lighter and got a stare in return.
“I got your damn lighter.”
“Yeah.” Tiefer took the cigarette from his mouth. “I can see that.”
“I want answers.”
“And I want a blowjob an’ world fuckin’ peace. Gimme a fuckin’ light.”
“Not until you tell me everything.”
“Light then answers, babydoll,” Tiefer said, uncrossing his legs. “C’mon, you know you can’t tell a good story without a smoke.” He slid the cigarette between his lips and waited, splayed on the wharf.
Tentative, Jehan stepped forward between his legs and leaned forward, flicking the lighter. Tiefer watched him, unblinking, as he lit his cigarette, slight tremors–from fear or anger, it was hard to tell–causing his hand to shake. Once the cigarette was lit, Jehan stepped back, about to pull his arm away, and found himself in a vice grip. Tiefer’s fingers circled around not the wrist whose hand held the lighter but his clenched fist. Twisting his wrist and tugging him down, Tiefer pulled Jehan in his lap, grabbed him around the forearms and chest and held him still, cigarette undisturbed.
“So,” Tiefer hissed around the cigarette clenched in his back teeth, his lips ghosting the back of Jehan’s neck, incisors grazing flesh, “what’ve you been keeping from your dear parrain?”
“Don’t look like nothing. I won’t ask again, Jehan.”
“I told you–fuck!”
He forced Jehan’s wrist back as he took the cigarette from his lips, taking a long drag, before letting go of Jehan’s wrist and putting the cigarette out on his hand, forcing a yelp from his mouth and his hand to release its grip. A communion wafer fell to Jehan’s lap.
“For someone so hellbent on answers, you sure seem confident with your Dracula guess, boy.”
“You weren’t taking it. I saw– in Mass, you never – at least, you look like you never–”
“Fuck, you really do got some huge fuckin’ balls if you thought you could just waltz on up here, boy, an’ take me out with a fuckin’ cracker,” Tiefer sneered and kissed the back of Jehan’s neck, the hand that had held Jehan’s wrist patting his chest lightly. “Well. Not literally. You’re kinda small. Not that I mind.” His hand slid down Jehan’s stomach and between his legs. “It’s actually a turn on…”
“You want answers, I want something too.”
“I gave you a fuckin’ light–”
“And then I had to waste it because a certain ungrateful fuckin’ brat who fancies himself a goddamn demonslayer right here decided he was too good to obey his parrain.” He relaxed his grip some, both hands coming down to undo the fly of Jehan’s jeans. “So what’re we gonna do ‘bout that, hmm?”
Jehan’s hand found the handle of the filet knife and he plunged it backwards, driving it deep through Tiefer’s right eye and dragging it down, the blade sliding through his skin like butter and lodging in the delicate bones and tissues of his eye socket. Tiefer howled and released his godson, his fingers scrambling to grab hold of the knife and staunch the flow of dark blood that was streaming down his cheek and into his mouth, staining his yellowed teeth a rotting crimson. Jehan scrambled to get out of his godfather’s grip and turned around only to see Tiefer’s good eye on him and mouth split into a nasty, bloody grin.
“My poor, sweet Jehan…” Tiefer’s lips curled into a pained snarl as he slowly pulled the blade out, gore and blood hitting the wooden planks with a wet, fleshy plop. “This really must be new to you…like your first time all over again, ain’t it?” Even before the tip of the blade slid out of the wound, the flesh and sinew had already begun repairing itself. “Don’t worry.” He stood up and dropped the knife, stepping slowly towards Jehan. “I’ll be gentle.”
Jehan lunged for the knife but Tiefer kicked it off the side of the wharf and it sank down, fast. Scrambling, Jehan’s hand closed around the communion wafer he had dropped as Tiefer grabbed for him and he shoved it into his almost-healed eye, grinding the host into the wound which split open, immediately, blood pouring fresh and hot.
“You fucking bastard!”
Tiefer violently scrubbed the blood and crushed host from his sliced eye, blood trickling down into his mouth. The wound had mostly closed but the host had left its mark: his eye was damaged and the skin would be scarred. Half-blind, Tiefer grabbed Jehan by his shoulders, nails digging into his skin through the thin material of his shirt, and slammed him down onto the splintering wooden planks, pinning him under him.
“Let me go!”
“You’re fucking lucky I don’t rip your fucking throat out right here, boy!” Tiefer spat, his own blood dripping from his lips as he tightened his hold on Jehan’s thin shoulders, bruising him. “But what a waste that would be…” He leaned down and kissed Jehan, teeth scraping his lips and blood dripping from his marred cheeks onto Jehan’s, who turned his head in a vain attempt to pull away. Tiefer only kissed him harder, pressing against him.
“Please don’t–” Jehan gasped once Tiefer pulled away only to kiss his throat, his teeth dangerously sharp and the threat still hanging heavy in the air. And if he really was a vampire… “Please–what’re you going to do…to me?”
Tiefer sat up, straddling Jehan’s hips, and his lips split into a nasty, bloody grin. “Nothing I haven’t done to you already.” He kept one hand squarely on Jehan’s chest, holding him still with a strength no human should have had, while the other wrenched open the fly to his jeans and shoved them down. “But after your little stunt, I really ain’t in the mood to be gentle…”
Despite it being broad daylight, Tiefer took him against splintering wood and covered in drying blood, hellbent on forcing from Jehan every choked sob and plea he could. If anyone had come up the bayou and passed by or if Jehan’s brother, sick with the flu, had wandered out onto the porch or out the front door in search of his brother or guardian, they would have been caught; at this point, however, their sordid intimate secret seemed so infinitely small. He had his teeth at his godson’s throat and both of their blood in his mouth and his secret laid bare and irretractable (both inevitabilities and yet regrettably so soon) – that fact that his cock was deep inside of his own pseudo-son hardly mattered to Tiefer (not that it ever really mattered before, in the moral sense.)
“Get up.” Tiefer’s voice seemed a mile away to Jehan who lay there, aching, spent, face wet from tears and blood, his gaze somewhere far off, until a hard slap dragged him back to the splinters digging into his back and bite marks along his throat and semen dripping out from between his thighs. “Up.” He was already standing, clothes straightened up and neat (albeit bloody), with an expression that seemed to alternate between disgust and impatience. “C’mon, Jehan, you said you wanted answers, yeah?”
Jehan nodded weakly and slowly picked himself up, fumbling with his clothes. Tiefer grabbed him by the wrist, ignoring that his pants were still undone, and dragged him up to the house. “Go clean yourself. I’ll get your clothes.”
“But what if my–”
“Your brother seeing you like this won’t matter. Now go.”
Silent, Jehan obeyed, hobbling into the house and down the hall to the bathroom. Tiefer went to Jehan’s bedroom, grabbing a spare change of clothes that he set aside, along with a few more changes of clothing, and a duffle bag he had under his bed. Shoving the clothes inside, he left the bedroom and dropped the bag and the spare clothes outside the bathroom. When the shower turned off, Tiefer handed Jehan his clothes, and began packing his toiletries. Once Jehan was dressed and Tiefer had finished packing and returned, having thrown the duffle bag into the back of his truck, he led Jehan down the hallway to the bedroom where his brother was fast asleep.
“You wanted answers, yeah? You wanted to know what I am?”
“Then let me show you.”
Tiefer slaughtered Jehan’s kid brother in front of him, draining him of blood and leaving his corpse mangled where it lie in the boy-sized bed. They waited together for Agnes to come home; Tiefer was kind enough to slit her throat with the sharpest knife in the kitchen the second she walked in the door, far before she could ever see her second-born’s body, and left her mostly intact and with dignity. “She was my friend,” he said just as simply as one would comment on the weather as he placed her body gently in her bed, almost like she had fallen asleep. The image of his mother, peaceful, merely asleep if not for the gash in her throat, stayed burned in Jehan’s mind as they drove off in Tiefer’s truck further and further way on down the road, just far enough out of town, towards the house that Tiefer had taken him to once before on a long weekend where he had raped him over and over and could have left him, could have killed him – where he had killed his father years earlier – where he didn’t want to imagine how many people met their deaths.
“So,” Tiefer’s voice, heavy from the fresh cigarette he had dangling between his fingers on the steering wheel, cut through the static of his mind and the mindless hum of the radio, “do you know now what the fuck I am?”
Jehan didn’t reply. He knew what Tiefer was; somewhere in his mind, he had always known what Tiefer truly was underneath it all.
Tiefer was a monster.