Graveyard Lust | By: Dallas Releford | | Category: Short Story - Mystery Bookmark and Share

Graveyard Lust

GRAVEYARD LUST Dallas Releford Jacob Brant could tell a good story, something everybody in Beaver Falls, Tennessee was well aware of. Jacob could say more using ten words than most folks could say with a thousand. On cold winter nights when local farmers gathered around the big pot-bellied stove at Middleton’s General Grocery Store Jacob was the center of attention. He always managed to come up with something new. That was the secret of his immense popularity. Jacob was a storyteller. Someone had once asked him why he didn’t just write all his stories on paper and send them to one of those big New York publishers. Focusing his dark eyes on Neil Simpson who had asked the question, he scratched his full beard as he thought the matter over. In dim light from a 60-watt light bulb that hung from the ceiling, his long dark hair and his beard showed signs of graying. “Because I like to talk. I’m not much at writin’,” he said. “I’m a mortician’s helper. That’s why you like my stories so much. They’re real, just like reading a newspaper.” Even when he didn’t elaborate further about why his stories were real, most folks figured that he was just mixing his daily experiences with tales he had conjured up. Most of them didn’t really care about the source of his material. Jacob Brant was such a good entertainer. Entertainment was what it was all about, wasn’t it? Now, with snow piled up to his knees, cold brisk wind blowing up the hollows, and a savage coldness chilling his soul, Jacob drove his old battered Ford truck down Pine Knot Road dodging every snow drift he could and plowing right on through those he couldn’t avoid. Snow didn’t bother him in the least. It was the sunlight that blistered his frail skin and caused him such great agony. As darkness settled over the snow-covered landscape, he finally made it to town. Pulling into the parking lot of the General Store he was happy to see that many others had taken refuge from the storm within the walls of the old building that had been standing since the 1820s. Andrew Jackson had been a frequent visitor and a pain in the ass to most of the local folk. He would have a good audience tonight. That was fine with him. Anxious to tell them about his latest caper, he parked the truck. Struggling against the brutal wind, he hurried inside anticipating a good time. “About time you got here,” Lonnie Pullman said. “Where have you been, Jacob?” Jacob stepped up to the hot stove and warmed his freezing hands. “Got stuck in a couple of drifts out there. Had to shovel my way out.” Glancing around the small room, he saw about twelve men loitering around the fire, some stood and some sat on straight-back chairs. Beyond them were row after row of shelves containing essential food items necessary for country living. A wide, high table served as the check out counter. “We were just talking about you,” Fred Stanton said spitting tobacco juice into a wood box near the wall. “We been wondering exactly what it is that you do over at that funeral home all day long. We don’t have more than a few deaths around here the entire year.” Someone offered him a seat and he gladly accepted it. Sure he had their attention, he said, “When Mr. Ben Norris, the funeral director hired me, he said I would only be working twenty hours a week. So far, I have never worked less than forty. It’s been a good life.” “What do you do when you aren’t chasing Ben’s oldest daughter?” James Caldwell, a farmer, who raised chickens for his livelihood, asked knowing Jacob got all flustered when someone mentioned his interests in Celia Norris. “I do everything Mr. Norris doesn’t have time to do. I sweep, mop, dig graves and sometimes, he even lets me help prepare bodies for burial.” “You mean you help with the autopsies, exhuming and things like that? Don’t you have to be licensed or something?” Jacob crossed his legs and leaned back. The old wooden chair creaked. “Of course you do, James. Norris paid for me to go to school for eight months. He teaches me everything he can. He says I have the nerve and an eye for this kind of work. And, for your information, Mr. Caldwell, his daughter thinks I would do well in this business.” “Why doesn’t she go out with you?” Claude Naylor, the storeowner stopped helping a customer at the check out counter long enough to wait for an answer. “She is busy studying for exams and getting ready to go to college this spring. Things will change when she finishes college.” Jacob kept his eyes focused on Naylor. He was the biggest gossiper in the county. He wanted to make sure he got the details right. Caldwell smiled knowing it was futile to push the issue further, except he decided to take one more shot at Jacob whom he considered to be an arrogant attention monger. “So, are you saying she’s going to marry you when she graduates?” “Quite possible,” Jacob boasted. “It depends on how much money I can save up before then. That’s why I’ve been working so hard for Mr. Norris.” “Overtime? I thought you didn’t have much work? What do you do, go over to Iraq and ship bodies back to your morgue?” “Something like that,” Jacob said. “Let’s just say that I solicit business from other counties.” “Say, I guess that could be close to the truth. I saw Mr. Norris’s hearse over in Wheatley the other day. Was that you driving it, Brant?” James Caldwell asked. “Nah, I don’t drive any hearses. I think Norris drove over to pick up some bodies that I located for him.” “So, now you’re saying that you’re a body snatcher, is that your job?” Caldwell looked doubtfully at him. “I’m more of an instigator,” Jacob snapped. “I go out at night, locate an unwilling victim, sink my fangs into their neck and then I drink all their blood.” “Sounds like a good deal to me,” Lonnie Pullman declared. “You get supper and Norris gets more business. Say, Jacob can you tell us how you became a vampire?” Sensing the tension building up and knowing everyone in the room was paying attention to him, Jacob stood up and looked around the crowded room. The wind whistled outside casting a chilling affect on the listeners. It was just the kind of night Jacob loved to tell a good story. Knowing they thrived on fear and dread his stories instilled in them, he made his best effort not to let them down. They were just like all the others. They loved to be terrified and chained to what Jacob had once told them was graveyard lust, the incessant thirst to be scared out of their wits. Jacob was a master at infusing terror in others. He could tell by the way they looked at him. They loved it as much as he did. Almost. “Now, you’re wanting to know the secret of my success and I’m going to tell you,” Jacob promised. “After all, haven’t I always told you the truth?” “That’s questionable,” someone in the back of the room said. “We have heard so many of your stories that we’ve grown used to them. Anyway, how did you become a vampire?” “Celia Norris,” Jacob said and sat back down in his chair leaving his audience to ponder those two words. Celia Norris. “Celia?” Lonnie Pullman jumped to his feet and stared down at Jacob. “Damn, Jacob. You can’t expect us to believe that Mr. Norris’s daughter is a vampire, now can you?” “The prettiest, most kind woman in the county,” someone yelled. Jacob didn’t recognize the voice. He did feel anger in the air around him. “Yeah, and she wouldn’t have anything to do with the likes of you either,” someone else bellowed. With clenched fists Lonnie stood looking down at Jacob. “Now look here, Brant. This farce has gone on way too long. I mean, we all enjoy your stories, but when you try to tell us that Celia Norris is a vampire, well that is going just a little too far. I wasn’t going to tell you this because I didn’t want to hurt your ego, except I have been dating Celia for seven months now. She’s a sweet, nice girl.” Jacob froze. Could this be true? Then he relaxed. He knew the reason she was dating Lonnie. “Have you slept with her yet? Of course you haven’t because if you did sleep with her you would have two fang marks on your neck and you’d wake up every morning so weak you couldn’t put your underwear on without help.” Lonnie gasped and was tempted to defend Celia’s honor until he realized that Jacob had once been in the French Foreign Legion. “Okay,” he said. “Let’s assume she is a vampire—and I’m not saying she is—but how did she get to you, sleep with you?” “Well Lonnie, that was the story I was going to tell you tonight. However, it looks like we have gotten ahead of ourselves, so I will have to tell you the condensed version.” “That’s fine with me,” Lonnie said. “Just be careful about what you say about Celia. She’s special.” “That she is,” Jacob agreed. “She’s particularly special to me.” Before Lonnie could protest Jacob continued. His audience was extra attentive tonight. “It began this way,” Jacob added pulling his chair into position so he could see all his fans. “After I had been working for Mr. Norris for a while Celia and I became great friends. I was surprised when she allowed me to take her to dinner. I soon learned that she was very proud of her father’s work. She told me that if I wanted to get anywhere with her I would have to work hard and respect the family tradition. Part of her family ritual seemed to be taking her lovers to the graveyard where her father proudly buried all his clients. This normally occurred on the second date, except Celia told me that since she was fond of me and the moon was out, she was willing to make an exception.” Jacob paused. Everyone was silent. They wanted to know what happened next. “Go on,” Lonnie stammered. “I want to hear the rest of this garbage. When I tell Celia about this she’ll laugh her head off.” Jacob ignored him. They were mesmerized by his story just as they always were. His hesitation while trying to organize his thoughts gave Lonnie the opportunity he needed. “Okay, let me help you along. You had dinner, you took a moonlight stroll to the cemetery and then what happened?” “Well, Celia explained that if I wanted to romance her that I would have to make love to her on her grandfather’s grave under the moonlight. While running her fingers through my hair, kissing me and seducing me she totally convinced me that it was the right thing to do. She called the tradition the Graveyard Lust and said I wouldn’t regret it. Before I knew what happened she led me to an old grave and we made love. The climax came about when she bared her fangs and sunk them into my neck. I woke up next morning feeling like I had been drunk. The sun was shining, the birds sang and my neck was terribly sore. Celia was gone.” “So you run around the county at night sucking blood from people until they die and then Norris buries them. You’re damn crazy, Brant. I enjoyed your story, but where does Celia fit into all this?” Lonnie seemed sarcastic although doubt about what he had been told showed on his pale face. “She helps me,” Brant answered. “We’re never far from each other.” He spoke as if he were part of a mad dream. Before Lonnie could respond a stone the size of a human fist came crashing through a window allowing wind and snow to enter the warm room. Lonnie stepped back horrified as two enormous black bats flew in surrounded by large snowflakes. Circling over human heads for a couple of minutes, they finally landed on the floor. Three seconds later, Mr. Norris and Celia stood facing them with human bodies, bat eyes and bat wings. Fangs bared and hands poised, they surveyed their latest victims. With more victims and graveyard lust on their minds, they smiled as Jacob walked over and joined them. Jacob opened his mouth wide and smiled exposing long sharp fangs as his eyes turned red. Throwing his head back, he screeched like a bat. Addressing his horror-struck audience, Jacob said, “Well, folks, I would like to thank you for listening to my stories all these years, but I’m afraid that it’s time to harvest this crop and move on to another one. As far as my stories are concerned, I can only say that it is the end for you all. The End
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