Never walk with your keys and your phone in your pocket or you’ll end up accidentally calling everyone on your list. It called my kids and my mom and two of my friends. I blame it on the keys but those kinds of random things just happen to me. My life story is the story of random things.
But one call came in that wasn’t on the list, at least not for today. The soft whispery voice on the phone said, “We need you to help us with a few things. Stop by when you’re out.”
There was no thought that they were 36 miles out of my way. I figured I could make it there and back and…I would have to do most everything I’d planned for today tomorrow.
The curtains were drawn closed, shielding the occupants of the elegant Victorian farm house/mansion from the rays of the daytime sun. An old dog and an even older looking cat (who’d come by from the next farm over) sat sunning themselves on the lawn. A silver truck I didn’t recognize was in the drive.
A slight tinge of guilt comes over me for not visiting since last week. My kids had stopped by for a few hours on Friday. They didn’t have anything to report except how sweet the ancient ones are.
I opened the front door, which was unlocked and called out greetings.
There was no answer. They keys to the car were on a marble table in the front entry. I was shocked considering the keys are usually lost.
I was relieved not to smell anything that could be rotting or dead. It didn’t smell like moth balls or talcum powder either. What I did smell was hops and a malt undertone.
They were in the kitchen making beer. All sorts of equipment was on the counter, only a fraction of it needed to make the beer.
They are the Elders. Eleora with her brown curls piled on her head and tied with a large red bow. She wore some sort of yellow bag like dress with a fancy Christmas apron. Tellias wearing well worn farmer overalls with a wife beater tee shirt with his white blonde hair pulled back with a twist tie (the kind you get on produce.) They look all of 20 years old but they’re ancient. Over 2,000 years old, but who’s counting. And I’ve taken on the role of being the one who checks up on them and makes sure they’re safe and clean and doing ok.
Eleora looked up and ran to greet me. She threw her arms around my neck and started to whistle “Roll Out The Barrel.” Tellias came over and gave me a hug, then held my face in his cold hands and looked me in the eyes.
“I have a lot I need to talk to you about.” Then he stirred something in a large steaming pot, came back and took my arm. “Sit here.” He put a large grocery bag full of newspaper clippings and books in front of me. “Go through these papers. There are some things you might be interested in.”
The infamous newspaper clippings. They always have them. When I refuse they end up being smuggled out in my purse or mysteriously end up in the trunk of my car or in a coat pocket. There is no escape.
“Have you two been eating ok?” I always have to ask. They often forget or get confused and don’t manage to get what they need.
“We had a nice young professor in from UC Davis come over last night. He teaches Food Science. He had him for dinner. He doesn’t have any classes today so after we had dinner we tasted beer all night and asked him to stay.”
Yes, they had HIM for dinner, though I’m sure he thought he’d had an enchanting evening with a young, attractive and seductive young couple who had a passion for organic farming and home brewing.
I went upstairs to check on their guest. A man in his early 30’s was sleeping soundly in one of the lavish guest rooms. He had light brown hair with sunny highlights, broad shoulders and was sort of cute in a boy next door sort of way. There were some slight marks on his neck and wrist, but those would be gone in the next 24 hours.
“Do you know him? I mean, is he a friend of yours or someone you just called because you were hungry?” I asked because there have been problems before with their guests.
“He’s a friend,” said Eleora.
“His name is James. He started coming by when he was a graduate student,” chimed in Tellias.
“He was getting his PhD in something with a long name,” said Eleora.
“He’s a professor now,” added Tellias.
“He teaches and does research,” Eleora said.
“He is a full professor at such a young age. We are so proud of our James. We like him,” Tellias said. “He likes us. He is a friend.”
“A friend.” Eleora smiled and blew me a kiss.
“Does he know you’re Vampires?” I had to ask, so I’d know how to react if I met him while he was awake.
“We’d never tell him that,” said Eleora making a sign of zipped lips.
“He suspects we’re different. But we always have so much fun.” Tellias gave a sly smile.
“So much delicious fun,” said Eleora winking at us.
“He has a nice laugh.”
Their chatter could go on for hours. Sometime I didn’t even stop them if I was busy doing something else or needed a good laugh.
I wasn’t going to lecture them on bringing home guests for dinner. This guy seemed harmless. At least conversation with him would help keep their brains alert and give me a break. And to be perfectly honest, they’d been having guests over for the past 2,000 years. I couldn’t do anything to stop them. At least on that level they usually knew what they were doing.
The thing I do have a problem with is when they do things like call 911 or a plumber or somebody else, someone who isn’t a friend, and call it “Free Delivery.” There was a time when they’d pick transients up on the highway and bring them home. That wasn’t a fun time (click on this link for the entire story).
They rambled on about James for a while, then started to talk about beer and the olive trees and dogs and politics and what color to paint the front door and stories they heard on the radio this morning and a book they wanted me to read and something about college applications that I might want to read since my kids are going to college and the oven and basement lights were out and they needed a new front door mat and the dog had been scratching and Lola had been gone for a month and they didn’t know where Val was and they hadn’t seen as many bats this fall… and they twisted and turned their train of thought in all different directions, repeating and stopping mid sentence to change subject and soon they weren’t even listening to each other.
“Stop.” I yelled. “My head is going to explode. Just one thing at a time.”
“We have a lot on our minds.” Tellias gave me a serious look. “You haven’t been over for almost two weeks”
“I was over 5 days ago.” I told him. “I’m sorry I’ve been busy with the kids and work.”
“I know honey. I just needed some help.”
Tellias asked me if I could design some labels for his beer bottles. No problem.
Then from his pocket he pulled a fancy triple enveloped invitation. I knew exactly what it was. My eldest brother Maxwell was to receive an award, a great honor for a Vampire, one of the highest, and of course they’d been invited to attend, as ancient Vampires and as family.
It would be formal. Everyone would be there. They were excited. Plans needed to be made. He needed a new suit. She needed a dress. They needed my help. I knew I’d find nothing for them to wear in their dusty attic, so we’d need to get them the very best.
“It will be an honor for me to assist you and to sit with you at the event,” I told them. They both hugged me and covered me with light cold dry kisses.
I could hear footsteps coming down the stairs. “James is up. I’ll put on some coffee,” I told them.
Tellias watched me fill the coffee maker with water. “Did you know that the first time I ever drank coffee, I believe it was in mid 1600’s. It was vile. Juliette, I have a few things I want you to read, but first could you let the dog in. Let me know if you think the boards on the front porch look too worn?”
It was an easy visit today. A good visit. But then again, every visit is good when you’re with those you love. They took care of everyone I love, so it is now my time to take care of them, no matter how silly or excentric or forgetful they can by. They carry the wisdom of the ages but they’re young at heart and will continue to dance under the stars as long as they are able.
Now that we’re coming near the holiday season don’t forget to include those who are old or alone. It doesn’t take much to bring someone flowers or a hot dish. It doesn’t take much to add another chair to the table. It doesn’t take much to pick up the phone and call, or send a card, or let someone know that they’re loved.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman