Observations on Louis. Dedicated to Clairey.
Sometimes the very tastiest morsels are gained without such tacit consent, and when it’s something which doesn’t involve any real action, that plunder is better got by stealth rather than open blockade. It can come as no surprise to anyone that I enjoy watching Louis. Who wouldn’t? And most especially myself, given that I plucked him from the brief flush of mortal life to observe for myself at leisure.
He knows I do it and like so many things I do which he finds incomprehensible or simply irrelevant to him, he ignores me and carries on regardless. Ultimately that suits us both very well. I swear he thinks of it as the lesser of what may turn out to be much greater evils and he’s probably right.
Odd, you may think, that I often take on the passive role of observer while he then takes on the albeit rather unwilling guise of corresponding exhibitionist, but so it is, and frequently enough that it is accepted between us as an inevitable part of our existence.
Louis knows that I follow him. For a start, I take enormous pleasure in telling him about it.
What he may not know is how often I have spied on his most intimate moments. I don’t mean only the act of watching Louis kill either, which is, as voyeuristic acts go, the unstoppable gala night of all stolen spectacles, but sometimes it’s just as good to simply spy and let the little bit of distance flesh him out with a new and sensual perspective.
Well, whatever, I just love to do it. What’s not to like?
So let's cut to the chase.
I’ve followed Louis. He doesn’t notice that it’s raining. He doesn’t notice the frank stares which pierce the sheeting gloom here and there or where his feet are taking him. He utterly fails to notice the taxi that has just swerved several feet into the path of anxious traffic to avoid his soft and insular steps, so there’s absolutely no way he‘s noticed me.
And for all the indignant noise he makes when he finds out, I really don’t know that he’d care at all if he did know. Would you, Louis? Do you? Are your protests aimed at my breaching of this lonely sanctity, my insufferable lack of Bourgeois manners or is it merely the echo of the much older game we play, you and I: a familiar lacquer to gloss a deeper burn.
First, let’s pick out these steps from the multitude which is no mean feat despite the fact that there are precious few others trudging through this midnight rain. To describe Louis walking is to recreate an uncommitted wraith. There is a perfect air of stillness about him even as he moves, and this stillness sets him outside of the confines of the enclosing night just as if he inhabits some other more exalted plane which disdains this rough reality, which, of course, he usually does.
He doesn’t look up or down, left or to the right but fixes upon some invisible and unearthly beacon and merely moves closer to it, wherever that might take him. This in itself is an arresting sight. Merely glance and you will miss the significance. You’ve got to watch him for a good ten minutes to notice just how extraordinarily occult this really is. No human being has ever moved like this.
He simply freezes. Yeah right there in the middle of the sidewalk, Louis stops his ghostly and bedraggled progress and though the pause is brief, it’s typically charismatic. The peculiar sense of internal stillness which he possessed as he walked gives way to something a bit different but you have to see his eyes to enjoy the full effect and I know it so well that I can catch the merest glimpse in the mirrored expanse of the black store window beside him to envisage the whole. His eyes are vividly unfocussed, intense and fluid. His very soul animates the statue he’s become and how deeply it burns. It’s a brief moment, you understand, quite disregarded by anyone who passed by, yet if they happen to glance at him they feel unaccountably uneasy.
How did Daniel describe it; inanimate, bleached bone with two brilliant green eyes like flames in a skull, yes, that does describe it perfectly. Louis is intense, cold, deadly; a dispassionate statue unmoved by the world about him, but nevertheless filled with a self-contained well of tormented emotion. That is precisely how he appears to any mortal beings who often feel uncomfortable in his refined and uncanny presence and exactly what makes him endlessly fascinating to watch alone or in their worshipful company. Really, bring on reality TV. It’s dynamite.
There is just a tiny crease of concentration in his brow as he sits, his posture erect except for his head and neck which always a little out of line, always drooping a little as if with the weight of a ponderous duty. One long white hand is slightly curled in his lap, the other flat to the table top, the brightly lit interior of the café on his white skin causing him a moment’s self-consciousness. Precious this, because Louis is rarely self-conscious, though you may think from how he describes himself that he is as jittery as a cat. In fact, he exudes a distant self-possession which is rooted in the fact that he simply doesn’t pay much attention to those around him.
However, on this occasion he is seated in a public place and literally under the spotlight, so it’s a fair guess that he’s either people-watching, that old, old game we all love to play, or he has simply stopped here in order to claim a moment of stillness in which to reflect, but as to what he might be thinking your guess will be as good as mine. What is certain is that he didn’t take refuge from the rain unlike the flustered mortal who all but falls through the door in a wet clattering of shoes and hinges to escape the downpour after him. Louis would think it impertinent to hide from an elemental lashing. He prefers to wade through it like a forlorn water spirit.
However, his clothes are earthly enough to be saturated with water and his hair is dripping a merry tattoo on the wooden floor. He doesn’t look up at the only other occupant of the café who in return has found himself staring pointedly at Louis before taking an adjacent table with a scraping of chairs. After all, you can almost read by the glare on Louis’ chic Gothic white skin, and, it seems, the mortal proceeds to do exactly this, laying a damp paperback on the table while he shrugs off his coat.
Incidentally, it can’t have failed to escape your notice that in order to get this intimate view your hero is standing in the dreary shadows of a typically heavy Louisiana downpour and thus soaked head to toe. But onwards!
As he loosely cups what appears to be hot chocolate, Louis’ fingers move with a slow grace that its impossible to capture in prose. I’m often put in mind of clockwork, ah, no, more of hydraulics. There is a slow inevitability to the action, a perfectly smooth and considered gesture that has little in common with the animal spontaneity of movement. Perhaps it’s something to do with the detached manner in which he watches his own hands move just as if he wonders what they might do next. In any case, he now glances up and for a moment I think he may have guessed my little game as his eyes seem to lock with mine through the glass of the window, but he is merely deep in thought and looking at nothing in particular. I could probably tap dance naked past the glass and utterly fail to interrupt his reverie. In fact, next time I’ll try it. Place your bets.
Our bookish young man tosses his rumpled city guidebook beside the collection of pepper pots and other such spicy necessities which sit like glossy sentinels upon the table top. One upends a crystalline heap and the tiny movement finally attracts Louis’ attention. Contact is made.
Now here‘s the rub. He now takes in Louis‘ contradictory, human-alien aspect, files it carelessly under the unconscious heading of “He doesn‘t get out much,” and first relates Louis to the painted troupe of gothic children who inhabit the streets on any dark night before reconsidering on some sudden, unspoken level. Perhaps he catches the cool and predative beat of Louis‘ utterly extraordinary presence as that simmering gaze of his slides right. Nothing soft or gender-bending about Louis when you look past the delicate slice of cheekbone and slender limbs, ah no, like all of us he gives off a clear thump of raptorial intensity beneath the unconsciously gentle smile that intends to make the lightest connection if only to maintain a safe distance. But our boy here ignores the pulse of primitive instinct and chooses to see a fellow human creature where there is none, sincerity of purpose where there is only strict preservation and mistakes that veneer of dismissive politeness for something warm and amiable. Easily done, this. Even he can feel the thunder of Louis’ soul, that delicious sea of barely contained and excruciating passions. How can he not be human?
I can feel distinctly, that rising discomfort which wars within his flesh, maybe only because I’m a life-long connoisseur and it never fails to delight me, but still, there it is, quite disregarded. By now the mortal man is quite disarmed by that simple exchange and feels empowered to ask Louis some throwaway question which his guidebook to the French Quarter can‘t answer. His accent betrays him as a visitor to the South and as they talk, what about I wouldn’t know and really don’t much care to, I can see the tension subtly diffuse from Louis as he knows with certainty that the man before him with the earnest eyes can now live and the cut of his growing hunger sinks ever deeper.
The sickly-scented steam billows in the draft created by the closing door as the cup is left untouched. Louis is on the move now propelled by something other than conscious thought as if a veil descends to splice him from all awareness. This is where it really kicks off.
Head down. Hair spiked black about his neck in fluid saturation. One arm clutching his coat across his body and I’ll swear he hasn’t even noticed the rain. Louis has given himself over to something deep beyond conscious thought. Here moves one of the most deadly of us all and you’d better believe it.
Don’t be fooled by the touch of vulnerability in his slack mouth. Someone is about to die.