the dead always want us to join them


I remember the view from a grave. Cartoon stars spiraled in front of my eyes when I hit the damp soil at the bottom. Up there on the faraway earth, past six feet of square muddy wall, a man and a boy stared down at me—my brothers, Gary and David, both laughing. Until I slipped and fell into the grave, we had been setting up the graveside for a funeral. Gary, 11 years older than I, worked for a funeral home; more than once in our childhood, David and I rode with him to pick up a corpse. I remember coming in the back door of a funeral home around midnight—the glare of fluorescent lights on stainless-steel tables, the smell of antiseptic, and another odor underneath. Only once did I actually zip up a body bag over a dead man’s nose. Once was enough. These mostly forgotten memories returned after I was invited last year to edit an anthology of vampire stories. “Vampire stories?” I repeated. Despite a secret fascination with werewolves—something strikes home for me about the need for anger management to keep you from going all beastly during a crisis—I had never really been a fan of vampires. I wasn’t reading the Twilight books or watching True Blood. I never even read Interview With the Vampire—even though I dated a psychic vampire back in the early 90s—and my Tom Cruise allergy kept me from the movie.

more from Michael Sims at The Chronicle Review here.