A Foot in the Door

Victor stepped out of the town car, smoothed the lines of his suit, and signaled the driver to go. In front of him was a single block of Maple Hill Street. There was nothing special about Maple Hill. That was the point. It was just your average block of homes in your average suburb. This was only going to take five minutes, ten tops. He was going to go to the first house, get invited in, drink the blood of everyone there, then have that fresh-faced piker Theo killed for making excuses.

“You don’t know how hard it’s become. You get all your meals brought to you. These younger humans don’t trust anybody. You can’t just walk up to a house and get fed anymore.”

Excuses! When he was a young vampire he never went hungry. If these new bloods thought it was hard to get a meal it was because they weren’t trying hard enough. Theo was currently chained to Victor’s desk back in his penthouse office, and Theo was going to bring one of the humans in the first house back with him. Shove it in his face. And then kill both of them.

The first house on his right, on the corner of Maple Hill and Orange Blossom (such colorful names and not a single orange or maple tree in sight!) was a small ranch house. A starter house. He was sure to find a young family there. Mother and father in their twenties, maybe early thirties if they had had a few setbacks, and three or four children running around. If Victor was lucky, one of the children would answer. They hardly ever needed a reason to invite a stranger in. But even if one of the parents answered, he was sure he could work his persuasive skills and be inside in no time.

Victor did notice that there were three cars parked in the driveway, and another out front on the street, but thought nothing of it. Bridge night, perhaps, he thought, as he reached the front stoop. With a pale hand, he knocked on the door. And waited.

And waited.

When he realized no one was coming, he took a step back. There were lights on behind the drawn blinds. And all the cars. They must be having a good time in the kitchen, too loud to hear the knocking. Victor leaned in and tilted his good ear at the door. There were no sounds of people playing cards. He could hear a television, and some faint clicking sound he couldn’t identify. As he listened, he knocked again, harder this time.

“Who the fuck is that?” said a young male voice, close enough to be in the living room on the other side of the door.

“I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting anybody. You?” Another young man.

“No.” The sounds of someone shifting around on a couch, and then the first young man was calling out. “Hey, anybody order food or something?”

Two other voices, both male and young, called back negative answers from deeper in the house.

“Probably some kid selling magazines or religion,” said the second voice. “Ignore it, they’ll get the hint eventually.”

Victor leaned back and snarled. ‘Get the hint?’ Maybe they would be the ones getting the hint once he lit their house on fire and-

Despite not having to breathe, he took a breath anyway. He needed to get a grip. This was obviously an odd house to start with. Four men all living together, when by now they should have had their own families and homes? There was something hinky happening in there. Maybe it was a good thing they hadn’t opened.

Victor turned back to the road and began looking at the next house. The entire street was starter houses. But, as he was now noticing, each house had multiple cars in front of it, just like this one. He adjusted his suit and set his jaw. One of these houses was going to let him in.

It wasn’t the house across the street. Or the one next door. Or the one across the street from that house. He could hear people inside each one. Too many people. No children. And no one answered the door. No one even thought about it, from what he could hear. Victor scowled. What was this country coming to that no one even opened their door to their neighbors anymore?

He stepped up to the fifth house. His expectations had reached a dizzying new low but he was going to see this through, damn it. He knocked lightly, not expecting much. So little, in fact, that he hadn’t even bothered to listen inside, and was nearly rocked on his feet when the door actually opened.

The young woman on the other side of the threshold had pink hair and an earring in her nose, like a bull. She had a smile when she opened the door, but after looking Victor up and down it faded.

“Where’s the food?”

Victor’s own smile faltered. “Food?”

“Yeah, food. Aren’t you with GigPigs?”

“I have no earthly idea what GigPigs even is,” Victor said.

The woman shrugged. She still had a hand on the door, like she would close it at any minute.

“I guess you’re pretty well dressed for a delivery driver. What do you want, then?”

“I was hoping to discuss an opportunity with you,” Victor said. Finally. The other houses had him at a loss, but it had just been a string of bad luck after all. It felt good to slip back into the old routine, one that had kept him fat and happy for years before-

“An opportunity? What the fuck does that mean?” the woman asked.

She might as well have slapped him.

“Well – you see – I…I mean…it’s a wonderful…if I could just come in.”

“Nah, I don’t know you. Who goes around at night with ‘opportunities?’ Put that shit on the internet.”

Victor had never been talked to like this. His desire to put his hands around her neck was cutting off any other rational thoughts. But as long as she was inside the house, and he was outside, it wasn’t going to happen.

Relax. This has happened before. And you have one other trick up your sleeve.

It was a cheat, really. But it worked, so in the end, who cared?

“Yes, you’re quite right. Can I leave a business card with you, then? It will have my…webplace, and you can see what I’m talking about.”

The woman shrugged again. “Whatever, yeah, sure.”

Victor reached into his front pocket and began to hand the little card to the woman. Just as she was about to take it, though, Victor dropped it.

The currents made it land inside the door. No matter. This plan worked no matter where the card fell.

And there she went, instinctively picking it up. She had the card in between her fingers. She was standing. She was holding the card out to him, and now Victor would say the words that would get him in the door.

“Thank you.”

“No problem.”

The door slammed in his face before Victor could say anything else, and he found himself gaping at a wreath that seemed to be made out of tiny green puppets and brightly colored chopsticks.

No problem.

No problem??

What happened to you’re welcome? In his night and age, when someone said thank you, you said you’re welcome. What kind of rude response was no problem?

Frustrated, hungry, and above all angry, Victor stalked down the walk to the road. These young people, they were the problem, not him. As much as it pained him to think, Theo was right. They were going to have to change tactics. From his breast pocket Victor pulled out his cell phone.

“Bring the car back around. We’re done here. No, just me. Yes, Theo was right. Make sure you tell him that before you kill him.”

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