Vampires seem to be très chic these days. I have not succumbed to the mania for these delightfully sanguinary creatures, but I have, on the other hand, succumbed to a desire – not for blood- but to simply to reread some of my favorite 19th century novels. One of these is Bram Stoker's Dracula. The edition I have is pretty old and a little funky, as you can see from the cover illustration. I bought it new, and the flap says that it cost 60¢, which will give you an idea of how long I have had it.
I love scary books, and this is one of the creepiest and scariest. I don’t like violence – just scary by atmosphere and innuendo. And I like them best if I am reading then in the perfect environment. When I was married, it was not as fun to read a frightening novel if my husband was snoozing next to me, ready to save me from any danger which might be lurking between the pages, so I saved my scary books for the nights he was out. Then I would set up everything – Rebecca tucked in bed, lights off all over the house, phone turned off, and so on, so that I could delightfully terrify myself. It doesn’t take much. I recall reading a Mary Roberts Rinehart novel – very tame by today’s standards – and having to go around checking the locks on all the doors, turning on all the lights back on, and enticing Rebecca and Bobby, the dog (who was not normally allowed on furniture), into the bed with me. This was not hard to do, and the Bobby and I agreed not to tell Dennis about it when he returned home.
Last evening when I left work at nearly midnight, the weather was lovely. It was fairly warm and there was a little drizzle, but not enough drizzle to actually get one wet. I was anxious to get home, to bed, and back to Dracula. I read a few pages, and got to the bit where Johnathan Harker, imprisoned in Dracula’s castle, woke up to find three very pale, very beautiful women with “great dark eyes, that seemed almost red, brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips” drooling over him, and arguing as to which one of them got to have the first go at him. I nearly jumped out of my skin. Just then, the heavens opened, a torrent of wind and rain came crashing down, whipping the tree branches about, and clattering against my window. Perfect! Now in the light of day, those three ladies seem a little silly, but I am sure that when I get home from work tonight, they will not, and I will have another opportunity to terrify myself into an ecstasy of fear and trembling.