The Ice Age
‘town’ consisted basically of one main street. There were a couple of diners, a gas station, a library. A knitting shop. I passed a couple of clothing stores that looked like they hadn’t changed their window displays since the 1950s. The mannequins were dusty, and looked even more tortured than usual. Never mind about the clothes.
    I had breakfast at one of the diners; eggs on white toast, bottomless coffee. I deliberated on pancakes, but wasn’t happy enough. Nor was I feeling sorry enough for myself to warrant cheering up via comfort food. I had what I deemed a man’s breakfast, minus the bacon (too salty, and pigs are just so damn loveable). Then I went and sat in the library.
    I found a book on Egon Schiele, sat at a table and looked at the pictures. Egon is Gunther’s favourite artist. He took me to an exhibition of Austrian expressionists on one of the rare occasions we stopped in a city. He’s pretty good at locating retro movie theatres, too. He likes to try and get us a cultural fix every now and then. We once found an arthouse cinema in a town so tiny all it seemed to have in it was this cinema. We saw Betty Blue. Now there’s a chick who latched onto a man and was truly crazy. I’m not that out there. Besides, I didn’t feel like I was latching on until after the fact. Seems to me like I was invited.
    I sat there and read about the life of Egon Schiele. He and his wife both got sick and died young. His artwork must have been pretty shocking for his day, because it’s semi-pornographic by today’s standards, but then, what a fucking bunch of prudes everyone is today. I don’t think Egon would have cared either way. In his words (written in calligraphy on the inner sleeve of the book), ‘Art cannot be modern; art is eternal’.
    I find Egon Schiele’s paintings to be a touch haughty. I can see why Gunther likes him. But out of all those old expressionists, I like Richard Gerstl, who committed suicide young and left barely any work behind to show for it. Gunther says I have highly advanced tastes. But it’s pointless to write about art when it’s not there for people to see.
    Checking the motel again for signs of Gunther was a compulsion I tried to but could not resist. I meandered a little, but there was no point in kidding myself, I really wanted to just make a bee line for the room, so that’s what I ended up doing.
    He was sitting up in bed with his ankles crossed, smoking a joint. He hadn’t even bothered to take off his shoes. But then, in a dump like this, who cares?
    â€˜Have a good time?’ he droned, evenly. Goddamn the King of Cool. I just looked at him.
    â€˜Spend all the money?’ Just as cas.
    â€˜No,’ I stammered. ‘Some of it. I had eggs.’ I shrugged. ‘And stuff.’
    He smiled graciously. I knew he could tell I was upset. And it seemed like such a weakness, all this raw emotion of mine. He beamed down on me from that filthy rooms-by-the-hour motel bed, looking like someone had stretched a Buddha. All long and thin, exuding calmness, kindness.
    He handed me the joint, in a slow fluid movement. I took it, and flopped down on the bed next to him. We both stared straight ahead in silence. God knows what he was thinking; I was wondering where the fuck he’d been these past few days. He couldn’t possibly have dames everywhere. Besides, I don’t think Gunther’s libido’s all it used to be. He keeps to himself, and I coax him out.
    After we’d passed the joint back and forth and I’d had several good tokes, it struck me how perfectly the vampire scenario explained the unexplainable absences. If I had to duck out and slaughter some semi-innocent victims for the purpose of sucking their blood, I wouldn’t tell my loved ones, either.
    We switched the TV on and watched the news. Some little girl had gone missing in the next town over. And the next county had been

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