Gordon dresses in traditional black dinner suit, long flowing cape with seventies-style collar and, perhaps somewhat surprisingly given his new image, white Adidas trainers. From a distance his thick, dark hair looks quite trendy, as if created with the latest Surfer style L’Oreal moulding wax, but on closer inspection it’s plain to see he just hasn’t washed it for quite some time and it’s taking on a life of its own. Ordinarily, this would’ve worried him. He’s renowned for being a man about town, well-groomed and one for the ladies. But these are no ordinary times.
Over the last few weeks he’s developed an urge to go shopping in 24 hour Asdas. At first he just visited his local branch in Govan, but as security staff and nightshift shelf stackers grew more suspicious he began travelling further afield and plans to start afresh in Edinburgh soon.
On his first midnight shopping expedition he bought nothing more than milk and a couple of sirloin steaks, which surprised him as he’s been a vegetarian for years. He took those steaks home and stared at them all night. They didn’t move; neither him nor the steaks. In the morning he placed them in the fridge and headed off to work like any other day. But no sooner had he started his car when he felt a prickly sensation on his neck and face. He scratched and scratched but couldn’t get rid of the irritating itch. After ten minutes he decided to turn off the car and return to the house for a sickie. He felt due one after working healthily as a Traffic Warden for the last ten years without so much as a late start.
Since that first trip he’s spent more and more of his time in the clothing section. He enjoys the look and smell of all those stylish garments hanging their full length, doing their thing without a care. He loves caressing the different textures of various materials and listening to the sounds of the hangers running along the pole and crashing into one another. On one occasion, but only the one, he came out his trance-like state when the security guard tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to stop sniffing the ladies underwear. Highly embarrassed, he fled from the Linwood branch almost with the speed and grace of a bat out of hell but stepped on a stray deodorant can and flew more like a middle-aged man who’d stepped on a stray deodorant can. So with ego and elbow bruised he accepted the help of the security guard and exited the store with a half-hearted wave and limped off into the night.
On his return home that night he promised himself that in future he would just walk in, pick up some lady items and casually pay for them as if they were a present for his non-existent partner. Only when he got home would he really enjoy the look and feel of them. Of course, before long he took to start trying them on, which is when he learned he would never fit into a size ten. Over the following several days he worked his way through the sizes until, somewhat disappointingly, he discovered he was a size eighteen. On his next visit he bought a skipping rope and a set of digital bathroom scales that also calculated his BMI.
But no matter how much time he spends in the clothes section he always buys a litre of milk and a couple of steaks. He still hasn’t eaten any but has watched them change colour over the weeks until they smelled rancid and he threw them out.
Today, though, is the first day he’s had to leave the house in daylight hours since phoning in sick that few weeks back. And, if he was being honest with himself, he’s actually very apprehensive about visiting the dentist. He’s never had much joy sitting in that chair; head back and vibrating, mouth unnaturally wide with another man’s hairy hands poking around with a selection of pointy implements and power tools making a variety of scary sounds.
When Gordon enters the torture chamber the dentist smiles from behind his mask. Gordon always knows he’s smiling but can never tell whether it’s a friendly or sinister smile. This usually puts Gordon on edge right from the start. But not today. Today he’s relatively calm and collected which, paradoxically, makes him begin to feel quite nervous. But there’s no time to debate the ins and outs of his fragile and somewhat erratic psychological state.
“Ah, good to see you…eh,” the dentist checks his notes, “eh… Gordon. Long time no see. Just here for a little…eh…check-up?”
“Eh, no,” says Gordon, sounding like a scolded schoolboy. “I’ve been having a bit of toothache lately. Thought it best you have a look.”
“Excellent,” says the dentist, eyes widening and pulling over a tray of shiny, silvery sharp things. “Just you lie back and relax and we’ll soon have you feeling sore, I mean sorted.”
Gordon sheepishly climbs on board the chair and waits for the first buzzing sound of the chair reclining. It doesn’t take long before he gets that sinking feeling. He opens his eyes just in time to see the dentist pull down his big super-dooper light and lean over him with madness in his eyes. With the setting now complete Gordon automatically switches to big Jessie mode and clings to the side of the chair.
“Let’s see now, Gordon. Wide as you can now,” says the smiling dentist.
Gordon opens his mouth as little as possible.
“Come on now, Gordon. You can do better than that. Give me a big aaaaahhh. And wider…wider.”
Gordon’s grip on the chair tightens as he feels the dentist prising his jaws apart. He tries to relax and go with the flow but instinct is telling him to bite the dentist’s fingers off. Closing his eyes and thinking of England doesn’t help either. It makes him want to bite harder.
“Nearly there, Gordon. You’re doing great now,” the dentist lies through his own gritted teeth. “That’s it…Nearly….Nearly…Almost there now….Oh my God. Not another one.”
The dentist releases Gordon’s mouth and steps back. Gordon feels a wave of relief mixed with confusion. It’s over. He’s survived without the need to be injected with anaesthetic, being drilled or poked, or having bitten the dentist. But something strange has obviously shocked the dentist. Gordon tries to sit up but the chair is still fully reclined and he doesn’t have the abdominal muscle strength he’d had as a young athlete. He gives up after one attempt.
The buzzing sound and floating sensation bring him back to a more upright position from where he can see the dentist standing a little distance back.
Gathering himself, Gordon clears his throat, cracks his jaw and asks. “What’s the damage? Am I going to need a lot of work done? Do teeth have to come out?”
“Well,” says the dentist, also gathering himself and clearing his throat. “It’s not quite as simple as that.”
Gordon lowers his eyebrows in confusion but this causes the dentist to shuffle back a little more and usher his assistant into the reception area.
“Give it to me straight, Doc? Am I going to need falsers?”
The dentist gathers himself a second time and, showing his professional side that years of training and experience have harvested, arms himself with the baseball bat he keeps in the surgery for those who refuse to pay.
“There’s only one way to put it, Gordon,” he says, perfecting his grip on the titanium-lined aluminium bat which has never met a baseball in its short life. “I’m afraid to say you’re becoming a vampire.”
“I know it’s a bit of a shock. But there’s really nothing to worry about.”
“Nothing to worry about? How can you say that?”
The dentist, looking more relaxed now the truth is out and he hasn’t been attacked, moves forward and places a caring hand on Gordon’s shoulder.
“Well, it used to be quite rare, but that was back in the day. It’s really becoming very common now. In fact, there’s actually a great vampire scene going off nowadays.”
“A scene? What are you talking about?”
“Well, I treat about ten vampires from this area. And I know all the other dentists in the area have about the same number on their books.”
“So what are you saying? The place is crawling with vampires?”
“Well, not exactly crawling, more flying. Not everyone can fly though; only those that are prepared to put in the hours of practice.”
The dentist removes the disposable bib and helps Gordon out the chair, supporting him when his legs almost give way.
“Try not to worry about it too much,” says the dentist in an upbeat manner. “Try to think of all the advantages.”
“Advantages?” says Gordon, still trying to gain enough composure to stay upright of his own accord.
“Yeah…Like being immortal…Hunting virgins…Stylish fashion.”
“Whoah! Hunting virgins?” says Gordon, eyes lighting up as his mind races ahead to good times.
“Yes, exciting isn’t it? You’ll have to do something with your hair though. And trainers are definitely not allowed in any of the clubs.”
“But why me? Why now?”
Confident that Gordon can now stand unaided, the dentist lets go of his arm and returns the baseball bat to its home on the wall just below his framed Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training.
“Well, there’s still a lot of research to be done in that area. But so far it looks like it just happens.”
“Yes. A bit like some people develop an allergy to nuts. I can see that your teeth haven’t fully grown yet, so I’m assuming you’ve not actually attacked anyone yet.”
Gordon’s face reddens more in embarrassment than anger.
“No, I’ve never attacked anyone in my life.”
“Well, don’t worry about that for now. You’ll develop killing instincts soon enough.”
“But I don’t want to kill anyone.”
“Ha ha ha! Yes, that’s what they all say to begin with. Trust me; you’ll soon get the hang of it. I treat one guy here who’d never even raised his voice before. Now he’s a killing machine. Did you see the headline in last week’s paper?”
“The one about the two teenage girls on the farm?”
“Yes, that’s the one. He’s off his head that boy when he goes off on one, but in here he’s always as nice as pie. You couldn’t meet a nicer guy.”
“So, if you know about all these…eh…vampires, why don’t you tell the authorities?”
The dentist moves closer to Gordon and says in a hushed tone. “Are you kidding? If I grass on my clients they’d hunt me down. I might do a great job on their teeth and charge them reasonable rates, but no-one likes a grass, do they?”
Gordon shakes his head.
“So what should I do for now, while I wait on my teeth to grow fully?”
“Just go home and put your feet up. Try practising making scary faces in the mirror, and give yourself an accent for effect. Not eastern European though. That’s just a cliché now. Make an appointment to come back and see me in four weeks for a check-up. And try to stay out of trouble.”
Feeling slightly more at ease with his situation, and with growing confidence in doctor/patient confidentiality as well as the wealth of knowledge seemingly possessed by his dentist, Gordon decides to open up some more.
“Eh, okay, I can do that. And what about the women’s clothes thing? What should I do about that?”
“What women’s clothes thing?” says the dentist, lifting his head from his notes.
“Eh, nothing. Never mind. It doesn’t matter.”