By Eliot Li
The East Bay Yeti stands in the parking lot outside Bondage-A-Go-Go. His hairy fingers cradle a jar filling with crimson fluid. He waits, bloodied hand trembling, as the Vampire emerges from the dance club, flickering lights and beats escaping from the door. The Yeti’s pulse quickens.
Days earlier, in the hills above Pleasanton, the East Bay Yeti sat in his yurt with his laptop. He surfed Yeti diaspora chatrooms.
“How the cruelty of humanity has filled me with hate,” user Ozamash728 posted from Branson, Missouri, echoing the collective alienation and loneliness among Yetis scattered about the world.
The East Bay Yeti understood. Last week, he’d been picking wild strawberries along the banks of Shadow Cliffs, when a human hiker spotted him, screamed, and started hurling rocks.
Only under the protective shroud of night did he felt safe to venture into town, and gaze from a distance through the windows of candle-lit restaurants, people in suits and sequined dresses, lifting melted cheese from porcelain tureens. He wondered what it would be like, to rest elbows on a tablecloth and sip French onion soup, in the company of a friend.
“We were once mighty and feared,” Ozamash728 wrote. “We murdered sherpas. Set villages on fire. White snow dripping red.”
This kind of talk, this nostalgia for the violent past, sent a chill up the Yeti’s downy spine.
To comfort himself, he took a jar of strawberry preserves from the kitchen shelf. He dipped his finger, tasted the sour sweetness, and remembered how he and his mother would mash freshly picked strawberries together with their knuckles. In the years since she’d passed, it took him a while to get the balance of lemon juice, sugar and salt just right. But now it was perfect.
He wrote back to Ozamash728. “I feel your isolation, your despair, your anger. But please don’t hate.” He thought of the night club, the one in San Jose. “There are places we can go, for solace.”
The East Bay Yeti has no dance moves, but he doesn’t feel self-conscious. At Bondage-A-Go-Go, everyone is dancing alone, in each darkened corner of the converted warehouse. The other dancers sway and pick at invisible tulips, eyes closed, dressed in spiked black leather, body-hugging latex, or burgundy Victorian corsets, swathed in droning goth music. Here, the Yeti can raise his furry arms up to the laser lights, and dance the sprinkler, his jagged teeth gleaming in his gaping jaw. And nobody screams. Not one skewed glance in his direction. He’s just another dark reveler among all these beautiful, ghastly, lonely folk. It fills him with an exhilaration so overwhelming, that in between songs, he slips outside, peels open a fissure in his soul, and unleashes a guttural howl to the star-filled sky.
Tonight, there’s a Vampire on the dance floor. In a stiff black cape, pasty face, the tips of fangs pressing into his lower lip. The Vampire mouths the electronically distorted vocals to Skinny Puppy’s Dig It, hand outstretched, over searing chainsaw guitar chords and flesh-beating drum strikes. Scalpel slide, dark eyed shawl, blood-bespattered maw. The Yeti has no idea what the lyrics mean. But as the words pour forth from the lips of this magnificent Vampire, who shimmies up close to the Yeti, arms twirling, he feels something like a chemical reaction inside himself. He wants to make a connection.
What would a Vampire like to have from a stranger, as an offering?
Not flowers, not a silk tie. Nothing bought.
Something real. Something from the heart.
In the parking lot, the Yeti opens the trunk of his junkyard car, grabs an empty glass jar he keeps for stashing smooshed strawberries from the lake.
Vampires, like Yetis, with a taste for blood.
He pulls a knife from his pocket, and empties his wrist into the jar, white fur dripping red, low pitched whimper through his jagged teeth. He waits for his new friend to come out.
The Vampire rips a piece of fabric from his cape, wraps it around the Yeti’s wrist, staunches the bleeding.
The Yeti feels like such a fool, as Vampire fidgets with the fake plastic fangs he took out of his mouth. Yet Vampire—or Doug, as he now knows—still sits next to him on the hood of his car.
Doug works in accounting, at Safeway’s corporate headquarters.
The Yeti buries his thick wrinkled face in his hands.
“Hey, it’s alright,” Doug says. “Let’s get you to the hospital.” He touches the Yeti’s knee. “I’ll drive.”
Eliot Li lives in California. His work appears in SmokeLong Quarterly, CRAFT Literary, Pithead Chapel, Atticus Review, trampset, and elsewhere.