First we have to get a few things straight about vampires. Sunlight doesn’t kill them. If it did, so could moonlight because the light from the moon is simply the sun’s reflected light. Garlic doesn’t bother them nor do crucifixes. In fact, Vampire Nuns are positively awash with crucifixes and other religious icons and they aren’t bothered by them in the slightest. They can be killed, however.

A stake pounded through their heart will kill them. But then a stake pounded through anybody’s heart would accomplish the same thing. And if you’re caught staking a vampire you’ll end up looking at premeditated murder charges. It’s best to avoid trying to become a fearless vampire killer unless you have plenty of money and a really good lawyer.

The main thing all the books, movies, and TV shows got wrong is that… Vampires Don’t Drink Blood.

I know. Shocking, isn’t it? It’s so disorienting to realize the movies lied. Here’s another shocker: Vampires don’t kill people.

“But…but…” I hear you sputtering. If Vampires don’t drink the blood of the living or drain their victims to make more vampires … what is it that they do that has garnered them such an evil reputation?

They don’t want to kill you. They don’t want to drink your blood.

They just want to eat your fear.

Which, as far as I know, is pretty damn evil and perfectly legal.

But now we have to go back to 1957 when I was 6 years old, to get the rest of the story.

I was lined up, in alphabetical order, with a bunch of little kids in the hallway of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic school ready to file into the classroom to begin Grade One. The boys wore a uniform of salt and pepper corduroy pants, white shirt, and a grey sweater. The girls wore a dark grey skirt, white blouse, and a grey sweater. We all looked like we were auditioning to be in a black and white movie.

As we entered the room we were told to take our seats as quickly as possible. We were then told to fold our hands on the desk and look to the front of the room. And that’s when I got one of the biggest shocks of my young life. Standing in front of the blackboard was a figure dressed all in black. Her face was visible but the rest of her was draped in black. I had seen my first Vampire Nun.

I can’t tell you a thing that happened in the year I spent in the first grade. I don’t remember a second of it. What I do remember is being scared out of my wits by the Vampire Nun. Nothing specific… just the daily dread of Monday through Friday. She had The Look that would make your knees freeze and your liver quiver. I can’t tell you how I got out of the first grade but I obviously did. Next year would be different. I was going to be in Grade Two and no longer in the clutches of Sister Mary Scared Me Half To Death.

The next fall, all the kids were lined up in the hall ready to file into the second grade room. I looked up and saw the nun that I had in grade one walking down the hall. I immediately thought in horror that she would be teaching me again for the second grade, and for the first time in my life I fainted


How weird do things have to get to make a little kid faint in the school hallway? Vampire Nun weird that’s how.

I came to in the school nurse’s office and she walked me back to my classroom. With steadily mounting dread I approached the room and peeked inside. The Vampire Nun was gone and in her place was what I can only describe as an angel.

She was young, dressed all in white, and spoke with a lilting Irish brogue. She radiated kindness. She was an angel and I was in second grade heaven. But it was not meant to be.

I don’t know how it happened, but for some reason I could read well above the rest of the class. And because of this it was suggested that I skip Grade Two and go into Grade Three. No one asked me, so it was a done deal. I didn’t want to leave my Angel-Teacher but by the next Monday I’d be a third-grader.

I almost was looking forward to it until I opened the door to the classroom. And there were all my bad dreams come true. My first grade Vampire Nun teacher was now teaching grade three. But unlike the first grade, I remember what happened in Grade Three. Every damn moment. It Was Horrible.

I skipped into third grade because I knew how to read – but I didn’t know how to do anything else. And the Vampire Nun knew this. She’d stand right next to me in arithmetic class and breathe deep my anxiety, fear, and confusion. These were the only times I saw her smile.

I had a pretty good handle on the multiplication tables but everything else was a terrifying mystery.

Fractions! Numerators! Denominators! And to make matters worse they are all called integers. What does that even mean? What are these things? Just when I thought I couldn’t sink any further… enter Long Division.

I’d see kids go up to the blackboard and seemingly perform magic tricks with the chalk to come up with the right answers. The only thing I could do with a piece of chalk was to draw a pretty good picture of Popeye.

Regularly, I was told to stay after class so the Vampire Nun could help me. She would stand beside my desk and go through the motions and tell me to finish the problem. I never understood what she was doing or saying so I could only guess at an answer. Instead of getting angry and frustrated she would smile, breathe deep my anguish, and go through the problem again without any further explanation.

It was ghastly.

But like everything else… if it could get worse… it did. It began with the Vampire Nun stating:

There are Two Cars. Car A, travelling 70 miles per hour, leaves Westford heading toward Eastford, 260 miles away. At the same time Car B, traveling 60 mph, leaves Eastford heading toward Westford. When do the two cars meet and how far from each city do they meet?

My answer was that I needed more information, like why were these cars racing toward each other if only to meet in some fiery head on collision somewhere between Westford and Eastford?

And the Vampire Nun Smiled, took a deeeeep breath, and told me to stay after class.

But the scariest Tale of Terror she ever told was during a dark February afternoon. She closed the shades on the large windows plunging the classroom into almost complete darkness. She turned on a flashlight and held it under her chins so we could see the scary light and shadows of her face. Then she said:

Imagine a steel ball the size of the planet earth.

Every thousand years a sparrow flies down and sharpens its beak upon the huge steel ball.


And then flies away.

Another thousand years pass and the sparrow flies back and sharpens is beak again.


And then flies away.

And by the time it takes that sparrow to wear away that immense steel ball to nothingness … That would be … ONE DAY IN HELL!

The Vampire Nun didn’t end her Tale with a witch’s cackling laugh. She just smiled, turned off the flashlight, and took in huge deep breaths because this for her was an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of terror. All the children were afraid and all their fears were good to eat. Then she turned the lights back on, opened the window shades and wished us all a nice weekend.

I visited my old elementary school back in the 70’s. I walked up the street across from the convent and waited for the church bells to ring, calling the nuns to their noon prayer. The nuns started filing out from the convent and walked to the adjoining church. They were all wearing white billowing habits except for one at the end of the line who was wearing black. It was my Vampire Nun. She was still alive, proving the Vampire’s axiom, Eat Well… Live Long.

Before she entered the church, she turned and looked across the street where I was standing. She pointed at me … smiled … and breathed deep.

There was still some fear left she could sip from me.

Regards from Beautiful British Columbia,



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