Je m'appelle Justine. I was born in Paris in 1832 to a French mother and American father. My father left when I was two. He left my mother and me with nothing but a mountain of debt. My mother was forced to sell her flesh so that we would survive. After a few years of being un putain de la rue, she met a man who liked her well enough to give her money so that she could open her own brothel. When I was twelve, she put me to work. I hated the men who fucked me; with their dirty hands and hairy bellies and rank breath. When I turned sixteen and nothing had changed, I had my heart set on killing myself.
Then he came. Tall, handsome, and clean. There was something different about him. It wasn't just his looks that set him apart; there was something in his eyes--a gaping mystery that I could not comprehend at my age. He was the only man who saw that I deserved better than the life I was leading.
When he first came in the room, I opened my legs as I had always done. But he didn't touch me. He didn't even come toward me. He just looked at me with those dark eyes and told me to close my legs, that he wasn't there to hurt me. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Get out! Degage!" I screamed. When I realized he wasn't lying, I cried. His kindness was too much for me. I cried as he held me like the father I never had.
After I had no more tears to shed, he told me his story. He called himself Dema. He said he was born in Latvia many, many years ago. When he was about my age, a strange man came to kill his father, who was a notorious alchemist specializing in poisons. The man tied Dema and his mother to a post, forcing them to watch as he hung his father from the ceiling, tortured him, skinned him alive and let him bleed to death. Dema watched in horror as the man raped his mother and killed her. However he spared Dema for his own purposes, giving him power in exchange for his devotion and loyalty.
Since then he has been roaming all over Europe, seeking suffering children. He uses his power to release a select few from their misery--those who are prepared and deserving. He first saw me when I was about five, begging for food in the streets. I was not ready then, he said. He was just passing through at the time and couldn't stop but he vowed to himself that he would return to see that I was safe. He said, "I know that you are safe now; you have your mother, a place to live, enough food and money, but I can see that you are not happy." He told me he could offer me a better life. All I had to do was trust him, and he would grant me power and love and endless adventure. "Do you want that?" He asked. As I was planning on dying, I had nothing to lose. "Yes," I said. He whispered promises in my ear--that he would protect me, that I would never be hurt by men again, that I could have all the pleasures in the world without the pain of humanity. Then he brushed my hair aside and leaned in as though he were going to kiss me...
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my neck. I let out a little scream. It was akin to the pain I felt between my legs when I lost my virginity--an acute pain that dissolved into pleasure as it rushed through my veins. Then I felt something warm trickling down my neck, like a man's sperm running down my thigh. He licked my neck before I had the chance to wipe it away. Then gingerly he turned my head, looked into my eyes and kissed me. I tasted blood on his lips. Though it was my blood, I felt euphoria mingle with despair, as my heart crushed in sweet longing for him and thirst for that intoxicating red elixir of life...
To be continued...
Meanwhile, read my impressions of Halloween in last year's column.
There are a few editorial errors in the first paragraph:
"While Eve offered an apple to several salivating Adams, but nobody bit—as far as I know. However, there was at least one vampire victim in addition to myself and the Sea Nymph was nearly devoured by a delicious French creature in a black robe."
It should be:
"Eve offered an apple to several salivating Adams, but nobody bit-as far as I know. However, there was at least one vampire victim, while I, the Sea Nymph, was nearly devoured by a delicious French creature in a black robe."
Perhaps you will see me and Dema tonight, wandering through downtown New York City, seeking lost souls to satisfy our lust. I will be wearing a Victorian cape, and the corset and bloomers I was wearing the night he came into my life, the night I crossed over...