The previous section speaks to Saragossa, Sandman's wer-father.

Piper drawing by Oleg Danilevski 1998
Piper drawing by Oleg Danilevski 1998
I have no photo of Sandman/Piper/Jean as he appeared in 1976 – the period covered by the story Saragossa – The Vampire Legacy. This is Danilevski's sketch of how he appeared at that time, based on Laura's description.

As I mention elsewhere, I met Jean Le Doux – whose name means something like, "Gentle John" – in the 1970s. ("Jean" is French, pronounced like "John", but the "J" is like the "z" in the word "pleasure" and the "n" is not really pronounced; it merely nasalizes the preceding "o".) Only later did I learn he is usually called Piper.

Being impressed by his personality, and having had the inestimable pleasure of hearing him play piano, I wrote up some character sketches of him using his "Sandman" name. These did not betray any information I was to keep secret; nonetheless, they were not for public consumption. I did, however, eventually show them to my friend, David Zindell, author of Neverness, for his critical opinion. Later, it was he who first informed me of the existence of Neil Gaiman's excellent series The Sandman. (DC Comics Essential Vertigo.) (This was in 1998 – The series, I think, finished in 1996; I purchased Seasons of Mist – loved it. Hope some day to meet Mr. Gaiman.)

Let this paragraph serve as a disclaimer of sorts. Jean LeDoux – Sandman in these pages – has nothing whatsoever to do with Mr. Gaiman's wonderful character. I regret any confusion the similarities might cause. But the fact is that LeDoux was called Sandman long before either Mr. Gaiman or I was born. And, as Mr. Gaiman would surely be the first to point out, "Sandman" was a character in fiction long, long before he appeared in DC comics. (DC actually had an earlier Sandman series in the 1930s to the 1940s.) Lately Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim novels have come to my attention, but I have not yet had the time to read them. Looking forward to this.

Sandman in music
Sandman in music
The Sandman has made it into songs many times - my favorite is Alan Rankine's 1987 Virgin records version - with haunting, enigmatic lyrics. There are versions by Metallica, America, the Chordettes, Amber and others.

Of course, E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote a well known short story in 1817 called The Sand-Man. And the character existed in common Western culture for very much longer than that. In nursery tales, he is the fairy being that brings sleep to children, making them rub their eyes, itchy with fatigue as though peppered with a magical sand.

LeDoux chose the cognomen "Sandman" for himself partially because it describes his talent for "magically" ushering people to sleep, and partially because it once meant 'emissary', and he is Saragossa's emissary. (I cannot find this definition in any dictionary, even in the OED or MW3rd. But Jean says it had this meaning at one time.)

He was born in 1847 (under the sign of Libra) in the city of New Orleans. His mother was a quadroon – one-fourth black and astonishingly beautiful. At that time, in that city many people who were not of a deep black skin color were called "People of Color" and were not considered black. They might, indeed, have had black slaves of their own. Jean's father was a wealthy white merchant, who kept Jean's mother in her own luxurious house and treated Jean as his son. Jean studied the flute and for a while was a student of Sidney Lanier, now known only for his poetry (The Marshes of Glynn and The Symphony, for instance), but who was the foremost flautist of his time. Before Jean was twenty, he had become the finest musician in New Orleans, especially on the flute. For this reason he earned the nickname of Piper.

In 1867 Saragossa heard him play the flute at the funeral of General Cyrus Hamlin, the son of Abraham Lincoln's first Vice-President, Hannibal Hamlin. For reasons not presented here (if you wish, you can find much more detail concerning this in Saragossa - The Vampire Legacy), Saragossa took Jean as protegé (and, for some decades, lover), later making him his only vampire child.

Together the two of them confronted Dracula around 1900 in England, resulting in a stand-off and a long, long cold war between the two factions. Jean early re-settled in his hometown of New Orleans, and later traveled between Louisiana and Colorado, when Saragossa settled in the mountains above Boulder.

Jean – Sandman – is Saragossa's lieutenant, chief aide, science officer and factotum. In the mid-seventies, Jean formed a stable three-way relationship with Rafael and Laura, who had newly joined Saragossa's staff.

Jean has a healing gift in his hands, as well as the ability to make music magic on the piano and flute. He also sings.

In the mid-seventies he suffered a severe brain injury (at the hands of Dracula), but has essentially made a full recovery, although Lara jokes that he is not the same Sandman as he was before the injury, but she loves the new one just as much as the old one. He does, in common with any master vampire, have the ability to alter his appearance dramatically. When Laura and he first met, she thought him 'unlovely' because he had taken on a strangely grotesque look as an artistic statement. After his injury he changed his appearance (to please Laura) to a more attractive form, but by that time she had decided she liked the old look. He never returned to it, though.

Sandman
Sandman at my house 2004
I took this photo at my house in 2004 just before he, Saragossa, Jon and I made a trip to Brazil. People point out that the door looks warped. That is because I am an idiot with a camera. I have no idea of how to make such an effect on purpose. Something to do with the angle of the lens to the door?

Dracula Woodcut
Sandman in Maresias 2004
I took this during our trip to Brazil, in Maresias. Piper has on a 'pretend-to-be-mad' look because he does not like anybody to take pictures of him (none of the vampires do). He had been thinking about changing his look anyway, so I got two snapshots of him in one month.

The scenery of Maresias got peeled away for various reasons - it cluttered the image.

 

Next we meet the rest of Saragossa's family - whom I am privileged to call friends.