So I’m chatting with Kent, one of the ever-so-regulars at the Starbucks in Eagle Rock, when a new guy sidles in and plops down in one of the easy chairs next to us.
No, he wasn’t buying anything to eat or drink, so, even though, at first glance, he looked like your average Joe, I wondered if he might be one of the homeless who frequently hang out in this neighborhood and at the Eagle Rock Starbucks.
The stranger interjected at one point, saying something appropriate, I can’t remember what, but he worked his way gracefully into our conversation. He started off casual, friendly… I figured, maybe he’s just an ordinary fellow.
Then he started talking about the parking lot he slept in last night; how it was a beautiful night to sleep outdoors, but how “The cold from the concrete really gets to ya – chillin’ ya to the bone. Not like in the laundry room at the church that I normally sleep in.”
Then it got weird. As Kent left to use the restroom, the stranger leaned toward me, and began talking,
“You want to be sure to sleep where you know people.”
“I’ve tried to sleep in Glendale, but…” He shook his head. “Don’t do it. It may be just a mile from here, but the cops’ll bust your ass there, fast, for anything. I tell ya what—”
This is when he stopped and leaned in, speaking conspiratorially.
“I don’t know what you believe, but … there’s vampires in Glendale. Hell yeah there are.”
That last part was him reacting to my flimsy effort to look nonchalant.
He goes on: “You can smell them. They smell … not human, see? … they smell like … like embalming fluid. You smell that, and you better just get the hell outta there.”
Kent’s return from the restroom gave me a chance to change the subject. Abruptly.
As I did, the stranger slumped back into his chair and got very quiet, obviously displeased that the conversation had gone elsewhere, and that I had purposely taken it there.
A few moments later, the homeless stranger suddenly shot out of his chair, strode out the door, and then dove over the railing. He took off running. Like a bat out of Transylvania. Just gone.
My guess? One of us smelled like embalming fluid.