She was not perfect in her vigilance,
and now she sways like a drunkard.
He will not need that eye she took from him--
the Vampire Hunter sees in only one direction anyway, lackey that he is;
Besides, she gifted him a second mouth by opening his cheek,
so that he can spout doubletalk twice as fast.
She was not vigilant, and he struck at her a dozen times.
Now, his silver dagger hangs from her side like hideous jewelry--
with each step, it scrapes her black heart, and her lung has collapsed.
She and the Hunter now go their opposite ways, like idiot lovers,
bleeding, dizzy, diminished.
In her favorite shape as a black panther, she limps toward the coffee shop,
unable to use one front leg.
She lurches, stumbles, sees three of everything,
leaving a trail of blood down the sidewalk behind her.
Weak and compromised, she can't hold the shape shift,
and pitches into an alleyway as herself, on knees and one hand,
hearing passing college boys say "drunk bitch" and laugh.
Had the Hunter's aim been truer she would be dust--
as it is, she will die here in a few decades or a few minutes.
again she is up, thinking of her kitten friend Giuseppe Verdi, and she weaves and gasps her way to Danny's.
With the weight of her sluggish, cold-fingered body, she pushes open the door,
then lurches hard sideways, smashing the glass.
She falls and lies there like a broken figurine in a pile of glitter.
Chloe and the Succubus drag her inside and put her in a booth.
An enormous street person badly in need of a bath gets up from a nearby table and approaches--
it is Grigori Rasputin and they have met before.
"Little One," he says, laying his huge hand on her head. "You will not die."
Behind them, God the waitress looks on.
Perhaps she sent the Hunter.
Perhaps she called Rasputin.
Perhaps she is only a waitress, watching it all unfold like the rest of them.
From her back, the lights of Danny's look like the aurora to the Queen of the Vampires.
She thinks of the time she saw the Dead, and gave Jerry Garcia just the slightest nip on the throat,
but it seems so long ago now,
and nobody would want to hear about it again,
even if she could still talk.