The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story by Jon F. Merz – Part Nine

The Bakeneko: A Lawson Vampire Short Story
By Jon F. Merz

Part Nine

But even still, visiting with Higashi had been necessary.  At least now he knew who I was and what I was up to.  If someone saw me prowling around town and called him to report a suspicious person, he’d know it was me.  I was comfortable with that.  Especially since that was exactly what I was planning to do.

Niles’ file had mentioned an old woman who had supposedly seen a giant animal lurking in the woods.  And I had her address. 

Outside, the October sky had turned a dark gray as if rains or snow might threaten to ruin the day.  I hurried to my car and took my time driving slowly through the town.  It was orderly, with a few side streets branching off and in short order, I was able to find my way to the old woman’s house.

I felt the first drops of rain as I got out of my car.  Whatever cheeriness this day had dawned with was a distant memory.  The sky looked positively ominous.  And it wasn’t without a small measure of dread that I walked up the carefully raked gravel walkway leading to the wooden house.

As I came up, a shoji screen slid back on its rails and I saw the old woman.  She peered at me with a quizzical look on her face as if to say, “who the hell is this guy?”

But speaking fluent Japanese gave me a definite advantage.  I bowed respectfully and asked if I could speak with her for a few minutes about the recent deaths.

She grunted and the shoji screen closed.  For a moment, I thought I’d blown my chance, but then the door opened and she came outside with surprising agility and speed. 

By the look of her, she must have been over eighty.  Old enough to remember when the US dropped a pair of nukes on her country.  Old enough to still harbor some resentment toward anyone who looked like an American.  Fortunately, I was Canadian.  Or at least as far as she was concerned.

She seemed to glide down the path and stopped just short of four feet away from me.  She wore a loose-fitting shirt, baggy pants, and a pair of simple shoes.  Her hands were wrinkled and speckled with spots while her face was drawn taut over her skull with bright dark eyes that shone with curiosity.

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