Thursday, December 01, 2011


(Short story by Chua Kok Yee from Without Anchovies)

I suspect my boyfriend, Joe, is a murderer.

That said, it does not diminish my love for him. Nothing could ever come between us, because we are the same person inside two separate bodies. If you flip my body inside out, you will find Joe. We were born for each other. His passion for horror books and movies matches mine. We both love spicy Indian cuisine more than our own ethnic Chinese food. His music hero is Kurt Cobain while I idolise Layne Staley. T-shirts and jeans are our clothes of choice. But the most compelling argument is the fact that both of us are insane.

Our love story began in an act of mutual madness.

One evening about two years ago, I went to the McD near my workplace to buy dinner. It was late, so only one counter was open. In front of me, in the queue, were an iPod-listening teenage girl, a man in office attire and a middle-aged lady. The middle-aged lady was at the counter, taking forever to make up her mind. She pointed to the Big Mac set-meal, but changed her mind four seconds later. After a pause of fifteen seconds, she asked the boy if he knew what kind of fish they used for their Filet-O-Fish. The boy shook his head. Another forty seconds passed as the lady studied the menu.

Damn it! It’s just dinner. You’re not choosing a husband! I cursed silently.

“Do you know if the beef is from India, or if it’s local?” she asked. The boy said he had no idea. “Aiya, you should know your products lah. How’re you supposed to sell anything if you don’t know this and don’t know that?”

“Oi! Can you hurry up? You ask too many questions; this is McD’s, not an Italian restaurant!” a male voice boomed from behind me. He was a short, stocky guy, in his mid-twenties, his forehead furrowed above his thick, dark eyebrows. He would have been a handsome man, if not for the thin beard and unkempt hair. I had not noticed him before. Let’s be honest, how many of us ever care who is behind us in a queue?
The lady turned around and shot him a poisonous glare.

“Just wait for your turn, young man!” she said, before returning to the counter boy. She pointed to an item on the menu and nodded her head. As the counter boy was keying in the order, she glanced over her shoulder.

“Wait, I have changed my mind again. This may not be fine dining, but a paying customer still has a right to do that, doesn’t she?” Her voice was raised, no doubt, with the intention of irritating the guy behind me.

“What a bitch!” I murmured.

She turned around with hands on her hips and glared, “What did you just say, young lady?”

“I said you’re a bitch, you bitch!”

The two other people ahead of me in the queue quickly shuffled aside, leaving a direct path between the lady and me. We stared one another down with steely eyes. I felt like a gunslinger in a cowboy movie.

Without warning, I raised a middle finger at her. Her head jolted backwards as if she had been shot! I gasped in surprise when I saw her nose bleeding. For a second, I thought I had poked her with an invisible beam that had shot out from my finger. The lady’s eyes bulged in shock, but before she could open her mouth, another splatter of red landed on her forehead. She yelped, and raised her arms to protect her face. But it was too late to prevent another splash hitting her eyes. The last shot forced her to clutch at her face as she screamed.

“Take that, bitch!”

It was that guy who had scolded the lady earlier. He poured a dollop of chilli sauce onto his hand, and flung it at the lady. With a grin, I snatched the bottle from his hand and emptied the sauce on the lady’s hair. She slapped and clawed wildly at us, and screamed for help. Everyone around us simply stood there in disbelief. As the guy and I raced out from the McD’s laughing, the counter boy smiled and gave us a double-thumbs up.

That was the first time I met Joe. We moved in together three weeks after the incident.

About six months ago, we saw a movie about vampires and werewolves. The movie was so cool, we could not stop talking about it. In bed later that night, we debated on the virtues of these creatures. Joe preferred werewolves as he thought they were strong and passionate. I disagreed, saying that vampires were elegant yet dangerous, hence much cooler. For hours we preached and tried to convert one another until, in the end, we gave up. Joe said he would remain a werewolf, and would still love me even if I wanted to be a vampire. Like a horror version of Romeo and Juliet, he said. We had the best sex ever that night.

Since then, we have been playing our roles in earnest. Joe has grown his beard thicker and his hair longer. During a full moon, he would sit next to our bedroom window and howl. He would then rip off his clothes, and prowl around our apartment with shoulders hunched over, snarling. More often than not, he would pounce on me after that. Of course, he never hurts me, not that much anyway, and I do enjoy the occasional rough love-making.

For my part, I have changed my job, and opted for the graveyard shift. I now work at a 24-hour call centre. This way, I can sleep during the day and come alive at night, like a vampire. I have painted my nails black to match my attire. Besides staying out of the sun, I am double-dosing on skin-whitening moisturiser for a paler look. I have even filed my teeth to create ‘fangs’.

Joe works regular office hours as a merchandising manager in a shopping mall, thus we see one another only from six to nine most evenings. This limited time together makes us miss each other more, and this makes our relationship more passionate.

I do not profess to know the clinical definition of insanity, but after living on this planet for twenty-five years, I do know that Joe and I are different from most people. We do not care much about other people’s expectations and opinions. Our life is ours to do as we please, and the last thing we want is an ordinary life. We make outrageous plans and play crazy games, like this vampire-werewolf love stuff, to make our lives interesting. But I never expected Joe to elevate it to such an extreme level.

The first murder was a few months ago. According to the newspaper, a thirty-year old woman jogger was found dead in a recreational park in Petaling Jaya. There were so many bites and scratch marks on her body that the police initially suspected that she had been attacked by a wild beast. Later, an autopsy revealed that the victim’s heart was missing. The case remains unsolved, but not much attention was paid to it after a while, and everyone thought it was an isolated incident.

Alarms bells went off when the bodies of two more victims turned up in a similar conditions in the following months. An investigative reporter from a local newspaper noticed a pattern in the murders; all of them were committed on a full moon night. The reporter dubbed the serial killer ‘The Full Moon Monster’. Despite the teeth marks and saliva stains all over the victims’ bodies, the police have not found a lead.

Tonight there will be a full moon. I have taken a day off from work without telling Joe. He comes home at six-fifteen with packets of briyiani rice and chicken masala for our dinner. We are halfway through eating when he suddenly jumps onto the chair, and howls.

“Oh, no! You are turning into a wolf!” I gasp in mock horror.

“Grrrrllll …”

“Don’t come near me!”

“Ggggrrrrrllllll ...”

Joe begins to undress. I run screaming from the dinner table into the living room. We race each other around the furniture, before he eventually catches me. When he pins my arms to the floor, I sink my fangs onto his forearm.  He lets out a deep grunt and bites me back on the side of the neck. It sends warm tingles down my spine, arousing me. I thrash about in protest for a few seconds before relenting, and letting my big, bad wolf have his way with me.

Later, as I lie spent on the sofa, he goes into the kitchen and returns with a glass of my favourite drink. I take small sips; savouring every drop in my mouth. Its tangy taste invigorates me, and I pull Joe closer to kiss him on the mouth. He pulls away; telling me I should be getting ready for work as it is already seven-thirty.

“I’m on leave today,” I say.

His eyebrows come together for just a fraction of a second, but that is enough for me. I am convinced my sudden day-off has intruded into his plan for the evening. Joe shrugs, before pressing his lips against mine. The kiss is devoid of the usual passion and enthusiasm, so I push him away. We stare at one another briefly in silence.

“I think you should stop it. It’s too dangerous,” I say.

“Since when has kissing become too dangerous?”

To let him know I am serious, I do not respond to his teasing by pinching his arm as I usually do. The smile drops from his face.

“You know about the killings, then?”

“I’ve suspected.”

“Yeah, I did it. But I prefer to be known as ‘The Werewolf’, not that lame ‘Full Moon Monster’!”

“But why?”

“Because that’s the nature of werewolves. We love to hunt and kill.”

“I can understand that. But why did you have to cut and take out their hearts? Was it for me?”

He does not answer me.

“Was it for my drink?”

Joe nods. “Removing them is the quickest way to collect blood.”

At that moment my love for him becomes so strong and intense that it makes my body shiver. With my arms wrapped around his neck, I shower his face with kisses.

“I love you, Joe.”

“I love you, too, dear.”

“Please don’t go hunting anymore. It’s too dangerous. You might get caught. I don’t want to ever lose you.”

“I have to, dear. You need fresh blood; you’re a vampire, remember? That’s the best way to get it.”

I say nothing, and pull his head to my chest. I know I will never love any other person in this world, or even beyond this world, as much as I love him. Could there be another love story that surpasses ours? I doubt it. Nothing will ever be as great as the crazy, burning love between this vampire and her werewolf.