The air shivers. The leaves turn. It's the spring of our fall into autumn.

I'm at the grocery store. Aisle 5. Eyeballing cans of kidney beans. Maybe I'll buy. Maybe I'll wait. Time is not on my side. Is it ever on anybody's side? Guy beside me is also eyeballing cans of kidney beans. He's over 6 foot, short shaped hair, face by Donatello, built. This is one seriously good looking dude. He doesn't slip on slippery slopes.

"So, which brand of beans do you like?" The words come out of my mouth. I've never before asked another man his brand of kidney beans. But with this dude... Whatever brand he's using... I want. I am confident his brand will recalibrate my life. I slip on slippery slopes.

He turns to me. His eyes are watery and red. He sniffs. Once. Twice. Breaks into a cry. Soft cry. This is one seriously upset dude.

"I'm sorry. I'm a mess." He says in a soft voice.

I hand him a serviette from Starbucks which I keep in my pocket for the unclean moments in the disapora. "Thanks." And that's when I notice something odd about his teeth. He's got canines way longer than normal and they look super sharp. The only people who have such teeth are lawyers and vampires. He didn't have blood dripping from his mouth so I figure he must be a vampire.

"You're a vampire," I say.
He nods. Sniffs. Wipes his eyes. Cries again.

"Anything I can do?" I say. 

"I'm okay. I'll be fine."

He looks me in the eyes. I feel like I'm staring into the face of a wounded lamb. A wounded lamb that, it so happens, can drain all the blood from my body in about 3 seconds. This vampire is not going to be fine. He looks in serious pain.

"I hurt." He picks up a can of kidney beans, turns it around in his hand and puts it back on the shelf with the side of the label sticking out. That's when I notice he's done the same with a whole row of cans.

"You do hurt," I say.

"That hurt," he says.

"No, hey, I mean, I was just acknowledging your pain," I say. "You wanna talk about it?"

"The world is harsh. People are harsh," he says.

"Yeah. They can be," I say. "My name's Alan."

"Burton. Burton Shine." We shake hands. He starts crying again. A passing shopper stares. I glare at her. "Hey, you've never seen a vampire cry before?" The shopper scuttles away like a crab.

"Alan, what do you think of my garden?"

"Excuse me?"

He indicates his arrangement of kidney bean cans on the shelf. His garden. "Should I grow other varieties?"

"Would you like to grow other varieties?"

"Yes," he says. "Chickpeas will go well with the kidney beans. Especially in the spring." He takes cans of chickpeas from a lower shelf and 'plants' them amongst his 'garden' of kidney bean cans.

"Is there anybody you want me to call? Because..."

"I have nobody. Except for you, Alan. And my garden." Burton goes back to tending his 'garden'.

Excellent. I've picked up a new friend. A depressed vampire.

"You know if you've got stuff to do..." he says. Tears well up in his eyes.

Yes, I have stuff to do. My life. But he looks so vulnerable. How can I abandon him?

"Nothing important really. So...your garden. It's really coming along," I say.

"My garden bores me," he says. "I am feeling a bit peckish."


"Hungry," he says.

I know what peckish means. I just don't like where this is going.

"Do you think you can get me something to eat?" He says.

"Sure, egg salad sandwich be okay?"


"Tuna salad?"


"Chicken salad?"

"Human salad. Minus the salad," he says.

"You want me to get you a human. Can't you get one yourself?"

"I have no energy. I'm depressed," he says. Tears return.

It occurs to me that Burton the vampire might also be Burton the emotional vampire. I have experience with emotional vampires. Having blood drained would be less painful. In order to extricate myself from this situation I will need to be an emotional vampire slayer.

"Burton, look at your garden," I say. We both look at his 'garden' of cans on the shelf. "Would you say your garden is an act of creation?"

He runs his hands across the 'flowers'. "Yes, definitely. An exquisite act of creation."

"Would you say creation requires energy? Positive or negative." I say.

"Um, yes, I guess," he says. The tears have dried up.

"So it took energy for you to create your 'garden'," I say. "Maybe you're not depressed at all."

"What do you mean?" He says.


"Maybe?" He says.

" spotted me when I came into the store. Used your vampiric powers to eyeball this chili recipe I had in my hand. Knew I needed kidney beans, and that I wasn't the kind of person who boils kidney beans from scratch, so I would have to go to the canned food section. Saw me pick up a grapefruit that had rolled away from an elderly person and put it back in her cart. Came to the canned kidney bean section and set up your 'garden' before I got here-. See where I'm going with this?"

Burton's mien changes. The colour returns to his cheeks. He looks... embarrassed.

"Alan, you are like a miracle worker. I came here depressed. But after talking with you, I feel energized. Not all people are harsh. Not you. Thank you." He extends his hand. I shake it because...he is one seriously charming vampire. "I will never forget our encounter. I will grow. I will be a better vampire." I almost want to give him a hug. But those incisors... "Take care," he says and leaves.

I feel drained. Quickly touch my neck. Emotionally drained.