My Dork Embrace
DOUG SAID, "Hi," and the girl turned. The perfect girl with red hair and a nearly empty cup of yellow beer turned and looked at him. He tried to relax his eyes, take all of her in at once—the blue belly shirt, the bottomless cleavage—without appearing to ogle. He didn't know her or practically anyone else at the party. She didn't know him. She wouldn't have any reason not to talk to him.
She found a reason. Look—it was all there on her face. She'd seen through his disguise—the hair gel, the too-tight shirt from Apparel Conspiracy. He was a completely surprising form of life, something that should not be at a party, shouldn't be addressing her. A gorilla maybe, frantically signing Koko want kitten. Koko want kitten.
"What?" she said. Not superinviting.
"Hey. I'm Doug."
She seemed hesitant to give her name, like she might get it back with gunk on it. But then, "Carrie. My friend's coming right back."
"That's . . . cool. So what school do you go to?" he asked. Not that he knew any schools in San Diego.
"Garfield," said the girl, but as she did so she arched her neck to look over his shoulder. Her long, soft, beautiful neck. Koko want kitten.
"It's . . . kind of crowded in here," said Doug. "Don't you think? You want to go outside? Get some fresh air?"
"I'm waiting for my friend," said the girl. And then her whole posture relaxed, and a sudden brightness in her eyes told Doug that she'd just seen this friend, the friend was close, like the friend had just pressed the button on her key chain that made the headlights flash and the locks pop.
"Just for a second," said Doug. "Really quick. I want to show you something."
"No, it's not like . . . Just trust me . . . Come outside . . . It's totally amazing . . ."
The friend was back. The friend was right there, and Doug heard himself say, "I'm a vampire."
Both girls stared at him for an airless moment, possibly deciding how they were going to take this. Funny or Scary? Funny or Scary?
"A creature of the night," Doug continued. "Cursed like Cain to wander—"
"Aren't you a little fat for a vampire?" asked the friend.
Funny it is, then. Doug sighed. "I guess."
"Oh, my god, are you one of those comics convention people?" asked the friend. "Paul said there wouldn't be too many of them."
"Look, sorry," said the girl, the girl whose name Doug had to admit had already escaped his mind. "I'm here with my friend. Maybe someone else will go see your comic book thing." They turned to leave.
"I wasn't trying to show you a comic book!" said Doug as he followed them. "I'm a vampire! I'm a fat vampire, okay? I was trying to lose weight before I got bitten. Now I'm screwed."
The girl faced him. A second or so later her friend realized she was walking all by herself. She clucked her tongue and came back.
"Why are you screwed?" asked the girl.
This was something. Not really the topic Doug wanted to talk about, but at least they were talking.
"I'm . . . cursed," said Doug. He was going to have to come up with another word for cursed. "For all eternity, always alone, never able to quench my dark—"
No, he could see in her face he was losing her. Something else.
"Look," he said, "vampires don't change, right? I'm never going to get any older, and I'll always look like this. Short. Doughy. You know I haven't had anything to eat or drink except blood for the last month? And nothing. No change. If I can't lose weight on an all-blood diet—"
"So is that why you wanted me to go outside with you? You were going to attack me?"
"No! No, I—"
"You were going to drink my blood?"
Doug dropped his eyes, but then he was just staring at her bare belly, at the hypnotic whorl of her navel that would certainly bewitch him, make him stupid with want. He glanced to her right and noticed a few bystanders were listening, their conversations ebbing away. Beautiful people with faces like flowers, turning slowly to bask in someone else's blazing embarrassment.
"Only if you wanted me—"
"What?" said the friend. "We CAN'T HEAR YOU."
"Only if you wanted me to," said Doug. "I just would've showed you my fangs and then . . . maybe you'd be, you know"—when he finished the thought it was barely there—"into it."
"Okay, time to go," said a really tall guy who came out of nowhere. He grabbed Doug's arm and escorted him, backward, stumbling, toward the door.
"Don't be too mean to him," the girl called after them. "He didn't do anything."
Don't be too mean to him, thought Doug. Not TOO mean. He was fifteen years old, he would always be fifteen years old, and it was possibly the nicest thing any girl would ever say about him.
The foregoing is excerpted from Fat Vampire By Adam Rex. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
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