Bourbon Street Christmas

Author's Note: Sharing this little story-in-poem is becoming a winter holiday tradition of mine. I wrote it on a lark a few years ago, and while it started out a little silly, I actually liked the story that unfolded. It is, of course, shamelessly adapted from "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Silly & serious by turns, I hope it amuses you as much as it does me. The Vampire's Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, and along Bourbon Street, The vampire was searching for someone to eat. The shops were all quiet, having closed for the night, But the vampire was restless and hoped for a bite.

The partying crowds had all cleared away, Heading home to prepare for tomorrow's big day. The streets were now empty and nobody stirred. The vampire walked, whistling, but nobody heard.

He stopped for a moment in the pale streetlamp's glow And the only thing sparkling was the light scrim of snow. When off in the distance, a strange sound was heard. The vampire froze, listening, and breathed not a word.

He thought he heard weeping, but he could not be sure. So he ran toward the sound. He took off in a blur. Far away in an alley, a girl sat and cried, Huddled close to her mother, who sadly had died.

The vampire stepped softly, staying out of the light. In silence he pondered the poor child's plight. The track marks were clear on the mother's thin arm, In a fit of despair, she had done herself harm.

As he watched from the shadows, he felt mounting rage. The child was a bare five or six years of age. "I might not be Christian," he thought in his head, "But today's not the day to mourn someone who's dead."

He paused but a second before he stepped near. The little girl jumped and looked up in fear. "I know what this seems like," he said with a smile. "But ruining your Christmas is just not my style."

He bent to the child and held out his hand. "This once, you can trust me. I'll help if I can." The look in his eyes made the child feel bold. She soon clutched his fingers, so pale and so cold.

They walked through the streets toward old Jackson Square. He thought he could leave her in the church that stood there. At Saint Louis Cathedral where they held midnight mass, The light flooded warmly through scenes of stained glass.

The vampire's steps faltered the closer he got. He felt his skin prickle and sting and grow hot. A cross in the window shone forth with the light, And it took all his courage to not flee from the sight.

"You see those big doors there?" he asked, cringing away. "There's safety within and a place you can stay." The little girl seized him, unmoving as stone. She wept and she wondered, "Must I walk in alone?"

Reluctant to face what he knew did him harm, He nevertheless took the small girl by the arm. He moved slowly forward, though each step was a strain, And he struggled to hide from the girl all his pain.

At the top of the steps, he reached out for the door, With his flesh nearly singeing and his fingers so sore. As he pulled the door open, they were both bathed in light And the sounds of the hymns flooded out in the night.

They stood in the threshold, the vampire and child, His face a rictus, hers sweet and mild. The priest at the altar stopped short in his prayer. He could hardly believe who he saw standing there.

Years ago, as a boy, he had seen such a fright, Wandering the French Quarter alone in the night. He had been drawn by the sound of a poor woman's screams And the face of the vampire had since haunted his dreams.

Now that same monster stood unchanged by the years With a girl in his clutches and her face streaked with tears. The fiend stared at the priest with his eyes glowing red. Then he pushed the girl forward in an instant and fled.

His good deed accomplished, through the dark streets he ran, And he tried to ignore the harsh burns on his hand. His courage had cost him. The thirst raged like a storm. And he thought to himself, "Hope the mother's still warm."

--M. Belanger

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