He never gives anyone his first name.
Sister Magda, his former wife, now head sister at his church, calls him Renny. He has been the close friend of the cursed Samuel McCord since 1853.
Now, in the year 2005, Hurricane Katrina has gutted New Orleans. Worse, something older than the Earth has been released:
Renfield stiffened as we walked out onto the submerged sidewalk. “Dear God, Sam, did you ever think we’d see our city like this?”
It certainly was a contrast to Meilori’s garden of ethereal beauty. No wonder Renfield was shaken.
I looked at the battered club fronts, the boarded windows, the two-by-four’s driven like crude knives into the very mortar of the buildings, and the crumpled remains of people’s lives floating down the flooded streets.
It was eerie. The utter blackness of a once bright street. The deep quiet of a mortally wounded city.
Renfield and I were standing on the threshold of something that befell every person, every civilization, but with each at a different cost. I moved through the moments but was far them.
And as the night descended, it felt as if I were leaving home. I was swept up in a sense of the missed opportunity, the lost chance, the closed door.
I sighed, “It’s like looking at the hell in the streets of London after the first Nazi bombing in ‘40. The sheer quiet that follows a whole city being gutted, that stillness that comes right before it screams.”
Renfield bent down and picked up a floating child’s doll, its false hair soaked and hanging. Its glassy eyes eerily reminded me of too many human corpses I had seen floating down this same street.
Renfield stroked the plastic cheek softly as if it had been the flesh of the girl who had lost her doll. Closing his eyes, he dropped the doll with a splash that sounded much too loud.
That splash said it all.
The world had always been dangerous and full of fear. It had only been the lights and the illusion of civilization that had kept it at bay.
But the world was patient.
It knew its time would come sooner or later. And in the gamble called life, the House always wins. Renfield looked my way with eyes that clawed at me and smiled as if his lips were an open wound.
“Perhaps that doll will find the spirit of the child who lost it.”
“You and I have seen stranger things, Padre.”
He nodded. “Yes. Yes, we have. I will choose to think the child’s ghost reunited with her doll.”
The thought seemed to give Renfield some small measure of peace. I think Lincoln had it right: we have the peace we choose to have.