Vampire of the Avalon

There really was one of those vampires in San Francisco in those days. In those days there was one of everything. I would have verified it except I got distracted. My best friend was the one who told me about this vampire. My friend was now a hippie society lady. Lauren was very beautiful and her blond hair was long enough at the right time and her aura, fairy child, enveloped everyone for all those years.

Lauren had heard the tale of this vampire fellow and seeming him one day on the streets made her shudder and whisper it to me. He was a vampire, a devil person, and he had driven his old lady mad and she was in an institution. But he just walked around normally because not many people knew about it. He certainly looked normal to me, short, pale-skinned, ponytail, beard, nothing strange, but of course I didn't get a chance to see his eyes from across the street. Did he see us talking and staring? He acted not. He was the mailman for our neighborhood, very cool he was.

Lauren said he worked on the light show at the Avalon Ballroom and we decided to try and see him in a mirror there. Big Brother was going to be there that night and we could go and expose him to ourselves and know for sure, him touching people's mail. It was very exciting. We didn't even have time to get dressed up, we rushed to the bus. I took my lipstick which had a little mirror on it to watch what you were doing.

It was a good night and things were humming along. Big Brother's set would be next and I wandered around very nervous about what we were doing there. I watched the puppet show upstairs for a while, I was the only one watching, it was a very complicated dialogue. I didn't get it. So weird to think it was Dimitrius in there making puppets jump around and his ex-wife one of my good friends and I stood there knowing why they broke up. There were egg rolls and fruit and tables and chairs to lounge on the balcony all around to watch the show if you didn't want to dance or were dealing. There was the ladies' room which was always jammed and feeling like the Forties debutante ball, everyone shimmering and beautiful to themselves in the bathroom mirror.

Lauren and I felt sort of strange, not with men, we just wanted to find out. Down on the dance floor we mingled around. The light show was on now to the music, playing on the ballroom walls, antique movie clips, pictures of flowers and sea creatures and mountains with bubbles and swirls over the top all moving around, pulling you around. It came from the balcony where the light show guys were working their equipment, their eyes always on the walls. The vampire was there right in front, short, gentle-looking. I felt foolish to peek at him in my mirror now.

We were far away to the opposite wall. I turned my back and held up my lipstick and tried to find him. But I couldn't. Between us and him was a strobe light hanging down flashing. And the music and color and walls moving around and I couldn't get him in view over my shoulder. I decided to go closer but Lauren was afraid. When I got almost right under the balcony where he was, it put me under the influence of the strobe. I turned up the mirror and caught my own reflection it it. I blew myself right away.

My face looked very ghastly, I was a lizard woman, my freckles were luminous splotches, my eyes were laser beams, painful. It was a blow, a second ago on the other side of the room I was in control, looking fine, now I was a variegated creature. People dancing nearby would flash on me and say nicely, wow, you sure look freaky, isn't it weird? But I was learning to be pretty rational and strong in those days and so it didn't destroy my head. I began to dig it, to see me in the glass a stranger, a friend, a reptile. I smiled and laughed, dancing around to the light and the lipstick and Lauren came over and said did you see him, and I said no, I forgot. We looked up and he was gone.

Phyllis Fisher
Mt. Charleston, Nevada

from: The Rolling Stone magazine write-in on the Sixties,1976

a second ago on the other side of town