Mars was exceptionally bright in the sky last night. The moon was less than full but still exceptionally bright.
This morning I dropped the kids off to school. Garret’s car is in the shop so mom gets to drive. Anyway, I drop them off behind some temporary classrooms (that have been there for 45 years) because Clara doesn’t want to have to walk by the large group of “Stoners” who hang out every morning at the logical drop off point. So this morning she tells me she over heard one of the Stoners saying “That woman stops and turns around every morning. Weird. I guess she doesn’t want to stay here.” They had no idea I was dropping off kids. Sigh.
So the moon, teens, clueless thoughts… what does that all lead to? It made me think of a distant memory of when my brothers Val, Aaron and I were teens.
Go back to 1873. We lived in a city that had regulairly flooded, burned down, flooded again and survived illness and lawlessness and all sorts of disasters. It was enough to make anyone want to leave, but instead people thrived and it grew. Railroads made kings. Agriculture was starting to boom. It was a city with growing art and culture and the new capitol building was almost finished. But to us it was home and our concerns were not those of adults or even most people. We were teens, comfortable in our own skin, a little less Victorian than most our age, a little more independent than most. My brothers and I lived in a tight knit community of Vampires, part of the Modern Vampire Movement. But you already know that.
One night that April, under a full moon, my brothers Aaron (age 17), Valentine (age 14) and I (age 13) were taking a stroll along the Sacramento River. We were always out looking for vagrants and activity from any riverboats. We were on the prowl, three well heeled kids who could use our innocence and charm to get in and out of any situation before our prey ever knew we were there.
With our stomachs full and our dark little souls throughly amused we walked home through a grove of trees on the edge of the riverbank. There we came upon a camp. Two figures were hunched over half a dozen large fish, I believe stripers or maybe steelhead. They grunted and tore at the fish. At first glance we thought they were coyotes or large dogs, but then we realized they were something else.
“Werewolves,” whispered Aaron holding his hand out to signal us to stay still.
We watched in fascination, with a bit of disgust, as the two turned back into their human form – a young man and a young woman. They were about our age and completely naked. He was skinny, unlike my muscular brothers. His skin was pale under the moonlight like the bellies of the fish he’d just devoured. She was also thin with ribs sticking out and knobby joints. Her grayish unhealthy looking skin was covered with red welts. Long dark hair hung below her waist. But what surprised us most was the hairless tail that hung down about 6 inches on the end of her spine.
I elbowed Aaron and he gave me a quick look that said “don’t move.”
“She has a tail,” Val whispered a little too loud. Aaron put his hand over his little brother’s mouth.
The Werewolves put on their clothes, plain and worn compared to our fashionable togs. We had a home and parents. These two were obviously strays just trying to survive their miserable condition.
Val and I wanted to approach the Werewolves but Aaron was against it. He said we should just let them be and they’d be dead more sooner than later. There was a prominent pack of well-heeled Werewolves in town but we had little to do with them and it was obvious that these strays were not part of their pack.
Occasionally my parents would deal with the Werewolves, but always held them at a distance and with considerable contempt. One thing that stood out about the well to do Werewolves was their fondness for velvet. No kidding. Those Werewolves loved their velvet.
This isn’t going to be a moral story where we went back and helped the young Werewolves. We went back and they were gone. None of our friends had ever seen them. We told our parents about them. In turn they mentioned the strays to the pack leader in town and he had never heard of the young Werewolves.
It was just one of those weird things. Ships that pass in the night.
I asked my friend Adam, who is a Werewolf, about the pair when I stopped by his studio this morning (he is a photographer by trade.) He’d never heard of them. The tail on the girl turned out to be something extremely rare, just like a tail on anyone who is remotely human like.
“Why didn’t you help them?” Of course he had to ask.
“I don’t know. We were just kids. We thought they were dangerous. Beside that, maybe they didn’t need or want help. My parents asked around. Nobody knew anything, or if they did they weren’t telling us about it. I’m talking both Werewolves and Vampires. Nobody knew anything.”
I knew there would be nothing online about them but I after I left Adam I checked anyway. There was nothing.
This story has no moral or reason behind it. Just a story of something that happened a long time ago that I’ll tell my kids about and maybe they can find a moral in it.
It might be a mystery forever. But I have a knack for finding people and things so you never know. You never know about anything, not really.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman