Last night it was pouring rain when I got the call.
A whispering voice, like silk against silk said, “come quick, come quick.”
I didn’t ask why because I wouldn’t have received an answer. I called my brother Val and Grandmama Lola. Neither one of them picked up.
The call could have been for anything. It could have been a death or it could have been missing car keys. Either way when Tellias calls me in that tone of voice I have to go, because that is what you do when the elderly folks in your life call in obvious distress. I’ve had too many of those calls to take anything lightly.
All three of us, husband Teddy, teenage Clara, and myself got into the car and prepared for a long night. As I got behind the wheel I told my husband and child that I did not want to hear political talk or any other “let us all annoy Mom as much as we can” subjects.
The farmhouse was dark.
Teddy got a care package out of the trunk. I’d quickly gathered a few things together before we left. I never know when the elderly Eleora or Tellias have eaten or if they’ve kept staples on hand. I also brought a water filter because I’ve wondered about the stability of their hundred year old plumbing.
The porch light came on. Eleora and Tellias came out smiling and singing Willcommon from Cabaret. They always sang a welcome song but we never knew what it would be.
“What’s wrong? Tell me why you called,” I said, taking their hands.
“I have a some articles and stories you need to read,” said Eleora, handing me a large envelope overflowing with bits of paper.
“She has coupons too,” said Ellias.
“Lots of coupons. I know you use a lot of these things,” said Eleora.
“You need to read her articles. She read every single one and picked it out for you. You might have missed something on the radio,” said Tellias.
“The radio. You only listen to the radio so you might have missed something important about college, or the elections, or the economy, or farming,” said Eleora. “And I have a lot of coupons I want you to look at.”
“She has a lot of coupons for you,” said Tellias. Then he squeezed my hand and gave me the look. It was that look he gives me when he wants to speak with me along.
“Clara,” I said to my sixteen year old daughter, “take Eleora into the kitchen so you can spread the stories out and take a look at them. OK honey, I think she’d like that.”
Clara took Eleora’s hand and led her away. I could hear Eleora chattering away as they went down the hall.
I turned to Tellias. “What is it Tellias? What is wrong?”
He threw his hands up. “Eleora is cheating on me. I know she is.”
“Sweet Jesus,” said Teddy under his breath.
“No, it isn’t him,” said Tellias. “It’s someone local. Someone here. I know it.”
“Tellias,” said Teddy, gently but firmly, “stop.”
“I’m concerned Theodore. You don’t know what it is like to have your heart ripped in two, at least not lately,” said Tellias. “For years and years, centuries, eons, their eyes all go to her. They can’t help it. They all want her. She is still beautiful. Look at her.”
“Darling Tellias,” I said. “Eleora only loves you.”
“Love yes. Lust is another thing,” he hissed.
“Who would she see? You two hardly ever go out,” said Teddy.
“We go out. Sometimes. In the night,” said Tellias.
“Does she go out alone?” I asked, knowing that she didn’t.
Tellias hesitated. “Well, no, but I go out alone.”
“She isn’t entertaining anyone when you’re away, I should know,” said a voice from the doorway. It was Great Great Great Great Grandmama Lola who was much younger than Eleora and Tellias but still ancient. Of course she could pass for a graduate student or young professional woman with her long brown curls and trendy clothes.
“Dear Juliette it is good to see you,” said Lola, as she put her cool hands on my face and kissed my cheeks. “I don’t know if you knew this but Henry the VIII was obsessed with Elora. Tellias was a nervous wreck. I kept reminding him that Henry was disgusting, and a warm blooded mortal, but Tellias wouldn’t hear any of it. Too bad because the court was pretty crazy and the perfect place for a clutch of Vampires to hang out in.”
“So what happened?” I had to ask. This was a new story to me.
“We all moved to Italy. It wasn’t a bad thing for any of us. Tellias always kept his Roman connections so it worked out well for the next fifty or so years.”
Tellias frowned. “Until Raphael… She was his Vampire.”
Lola shook her pretty head. “Oh come now Tellias she never made love to the man, just bit his neck. There is nothing wrong with that.”
“No, he never painted her. She just posed naked,” said Tellias.
“That was me Tellias, not Elora. I also did Archbishop of Canterbury right before we left England, but there were oh so many handsome warm blooded men in Italy that I never missed England. Not for a second,” said Lola, flipping her hair away from her face.
There were always a lot of TMI moments when Lola was around. Oh the joy of being around ancient Vampires.
“Lola, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your habits,” said Tellias.
Lola crossed her arms and scowled at him. “Please don’t. I’ve watched my first husband burned to the stake, and watched the second one get sealed up in a crypt. I can do as I please. I’ve deserved little fun. I’ve earned it Tellias.”
Tellias continued to scowl. “I raised you not to be so indulgent with your prey.”
“Darling, you’re like a father to me, and I appreciate the sentiment, but not all of us are lucky enough to have the same partner for almost 2,000 years.”
“I’m going to the kitchen,” said Teddy who’d once more been subjected to my clan.
“What’s in there?” Tellias asked.
“Clara, Eleora and hopefully whiskey. You can continue discussing playing with your food without me,” said Teddy as he made his way down the hall.
I turned back to Tellias. As ancient as he is the old Vampire looks all of nineteen years old. I brushed his white blonde hair behind his ear and said, “Eleora loves you and only you.”
He started to speak again and I put a finger on his lips. “No. This is all in your imagination. Of course everyone falls in love with her. Eleora is silly and beautiful, but she is yours. All yours Tellias.”
He looked defiant, then said, “You need to read those articles Eleora clipped for you. I think she printed a few off from the computer too. Just look over them. Amuse her.”
Lola had vanished into the kitchen with the rest of the family. I gave Tellias a hug. “We brought you a case of Astronomer’s Blood, the kind you like. Dave’s Bottle Shop is having a sale for the rest of the month so let me know if you need anything else.”
We joined the others who were now laughing at Clara’s high school stories.
I know I was sort of blowing off Tellias’s concerns. Sometimes he thinks Eleora is unfaithful. Sometimes he thinks he needs to contact the Roman general he used to work for as a soothsayer. Sometimes he is just fine. But I try to listen. Just like I’ve stopped telling Eleora to stop giving me articles and coupons. If it makes her happy then I’ll be happy to humor her.
Outside I could see the lights of my brother Val’s car pull into the driveway.
I always tell everyone to listen to their kids. Listen to the ancient ones in your life as well. Their concerns are real, even if those concerns might not seem so real to you. If you don’t listen you might miss something important.
Take care, and call your mom, or someone who might be alone and need to talk.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman