RABBIT: CHASING BETH RIDER by ellen c. maze
Book Launch Date Dec. 2009
Chapter Two Javier didn’t ask Simon for his blood tonight. Instead, he spent the entire evening discussing a book the kid was reading. He didn’t understand it all but he enjoyed the passion in Simon’s voice and the sincerity in his eyes as he gave his dramatic narration. Somewhere in the house, a clocked chimed the hour. Javier glanced at his watch as Simon looked at the digital read-out on his bedside alarm clock.
“It’s only three. You’re not leaving are you? You haven’t heard the best part yet.” Simon’s expression was open, his tone hopeful. Javier’s stomach grumbled uncomfortably, but he did not want to interrupt the telling to fill the void. His young friend was sharing with him the strangest tale he had ever heard, often reading right from the book, and so far they had only covered two-thirds of the story. He put both hands into his wavy black hair and massaged his scalp and gave Simon his most winning smile.
“No, I’m not leaving. Go on. What happened next? Did that preacher and his friend escape while the doctor was gone?”
A huge grin spread across Simon’s face and Javier leaned back in his chair beside the youth’s bed to rejoin the tale.
With no true human experience, the plot was difficult for him to comprehend. But the main character’s personality traits mirrored in many ways those of his own people and thus he felt a kinship with him.
In the incredibly strange story, a man who had been a priest was transformed into a vampire by the devil himself. The story took off from there; centuries of killing, pillaging and drinking the blood of hundreds of thousands of men and women—all the while thinking he was doing the will of his God. That is until the priest-turned-vampire met up with the female protagonist and her seminary-going friend.
More than anything, Javier was intrigued by the spiritual struggles of all of the story’s players. The preacher counseled the vampire, but more intriguing than that—he talked to his God all the time. He believed in Him so fiercely, that nothing shook him up. Javier watched this character and marveled at him. Did such faith exist in the world? Did mortals pray to their God so often and with such fervency? And most bewildering of all, did their God pop in to save them as He did in this novel?
Javier didn’t know.
In fact, he didn’t know any gods. He had never been to a church, synagogue, or temple nor had he ever uttered a prayer in a time of need. Yet as his favorite donor sat on his lumpy bachelor’s bed, reading to him from this mortal woman’s novel, something deep inside of him fluttered. For the first time in his long life, Javier experienced a desire to know this God. The sensation was indeed strange but he did not resist.
Instead, he watched Simon’s lips move and concentrated on the words, the syllables, and sentences that built the suspense and cadence the author must have intended. And Simon held nothing back as he recited the passages, allowing his voice to fluctuate with the emotion of the scene. When he reached the Epilogue and turned the last page, it was five-thirty in the morning, and Javier was stunned into silence.
Simon was thoughtfully quiet and he closed the book, set it aside, and fell back onto his bed lengthwise. Javier chewed his thoughts, absently watching Simon watch the ceiling. Only when the clock in Simon’s kitchen rang in the quarter-hour did either of them speak.
“Sun-up in forty-five minutes. Do you want to stay over? I got it all ready for you.” Simon rolled his head to the side to meet his pal’s gaze but Javier’s face was red and his mouth a straight line. Simon sat up and threw his legs over the side of the bed. “What? Is something wrong?”
Javier clenched his jaws together but was losing the battle with the words that wanted so badly to exit. Rakum were not permitted to speak of mortal abstracts. There was no religion among the Brethren. Yet something deep inside of him was proving stronger than the ancient tenets of his people. He looked into Simon’s bright blue eyes and took a deep breath, ready to relinquish the fight.
Javier leaned forward, took his longtime donor and friend by the forearm he normally drew blood from, and asked him point blank.
“Simon, will you tell me about God?”
There. It was out and Javier was mortified. His people did not hold such frivolous and foolish notions. To do so would contradict everything his forefathers had taught him. To do so would nullify his own deity, of which he had always been certain.
Until now that is.
Simon rubbed his eyes. “Well, sure. I mean, I never said anything before because I was pretty sure you weren’t interested in that stuff. Do you want me to start from the beginning?”
“No…” Javier sighed sensing the unpleasant nudge of the sun headed for the horizon. He was exhausted, disgusted and disappointed altogether that he would have to leave without finishing what he had started. But time was up. “No, Simon. I have to go. I’ll come back tomorrow. Same time. Will you be here?”
“Yeah, I’ll be here.” Simon answered softly. “Be safe going home.”
“Yeah. Okay.” Javier stood to his feet and turned for the closed bedroom door.
“Hey, Javier, you didn’t…” In the same soft voice, Simon started to remind his visitor why he had come in the first place, but Javier held up his hand to silence him.
“I know. Don’t worry about it. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
And without another word, Javier slipped soundlessly out of the room and then out of the house, headed for home. He lived only two blocks away and he was grateful for the close proximity as he raced the sun.
At home and preparing to bed down for the day, he thought about the characters from the novel. He thought about the question he had asked Simon at the last. But mostly he thought about the answer…and what it might mean for him, his future, and that of his entire race. It meant something, he was certain. But what? Had any of his brethren read the story? Did it move anyone else and wake something hidden deep inside of them? And was it ultimately going to be a bad thing to wake that part of him up?
Javier slept fitfully and longed for the evening to roll around. To finish what he had started. Perhaps to learn about a God he had never even known existed. One that would care for him and give him purpose. Ironically, he never knew he desired those things until he sat and listened to that silly woman’s book.
Beth Rider’s book.