Around midnight I got a call and a bad feeling.
The whispery voice on the other end said “Come now. Come now. We need you now.”
It was the elders Vampires Tellias and Eleora . The very old and fragile ones who live alone on their old farm by the river. Their judgment is sometimes off in the modern world. Confusion and fear set in at times so I must be available to help. I gathered up my family (13 year old Clara, 16 year old Garrett and my husband Teddy) and we headed out not knowing what to expect.
Tellias met us at the door, his face looking gaunt, his pale hair hanging around his shoulders. He wore a black smoking jacket and black tuxedo pants. Flip flops were on his feet. He could pass for 19 but he is much much older than any of us.
“I can’t get her out,” he said to us. He voice was a dry and raspy whisper.
Teddy put his arm around Tellias “Where is Eleora?”
Tellias led us to the basement. We went down the stairs and found her trapped behind a large fallen shelf.
“I couldn’t get her out. The shelf is metal. I couldn’t cut it.”
Her eyes were closed, her skin cold. A small whimper came out of her when I touched her hand and said her name. Then she was quiet.
Teddy, Garrett and I lifted the shelving off of the small form. Teddy lifted her, as if she weighed nothing, and brought her upstairs. He laid her limp body on the couch in the main parlor.
“When did this happen?” I looked at Tellias hoping for a straight answer.
“I don’t remember.”
“Try to remember.”
“ Is it Thursday?”
“Today is Sunday.”
She’d been trapped for almost a week.
I took him by both hands, “how did it happen?”
“She was looking for rats. She thought she heard some. She hates rats. You know she hates rats. She went into the basement to kill them all, every one of them and climbed the shelf to get to the rafters where the rats live. You need to kill the rats Juliette. You need to kill them for Eleora. Those rats…those rats are really bad rats.” He trailed off sounding frail, confused and ancient.
Tellias leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. A tear came down across this lovely face. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what has happened to us. You know we haven’t always been like this.”
I remembered when they were vibrant and strong. The house was new and the farm was thriving. They’d throw lavish parties and people would come for miles around. She’d wear silk dresses with huge bustles, her hair piled high on her head. They ruled the world with style and grace. Now they were isolated, lonely but too proud to reach out or ask for help.
“You should have called someone.” I heard myself lecturing but I couldn’t help it. “You should have called John next door.”
“I was afraid to tell John.”
“He would have been angry.”
“John has never had an angry day in his life. He loves you two like his own grandparents.” I just wanted to scream but kept it to myself.
Nobody said anything for a long time. Garrett and I tried to comfort Eleora. Teddy sat silently with Tellias.
It was an hour before sunrise when Clara came in with the neighbor, our old friend John.
“I saw Clara out crying by the car and asked her what happened,” said John. “I don’t know why Tellias never asked for help. How bad is it?”
John, now 62, had grown up next to the elders. His family had a long history with his Vampire neighbors. He knew us and who we were. I knew his family going back to the 1860’s. There were photos of me as a child in his family albums.
After explaining and discussing the situation with John he went over to Eleora.
“I can help her. Just give us some time alone.” He looked grimm as death itself.
“ We can’t ask that of you,” I said. We’ve helped John’s family for generations and his family has been close to ours but I’d never ask for what he was willing to offer.
“Don’t argue with me. The bottled stuff won’t work.”
He showed us out of the room. An hour later he came to get us. I looked at the marks on his wrists and covered them with a towel filled with ice.
“I can’t thank you enough John.” I took his hand in mine. It was hot to the touch as people often are after they give blood.
John put his other hand over mine. “You know I’m always here for you Juliette. How long do your people live?”
“Yes, how long do Vampires live?”
“I don’t know.” Honestly, I don’t know, nobody knows.
“How old are Tellias and Eleora?”
“Over 2,000 years, at least they’ve been together that long.”
“Christ almighty,” John whispered under his breath.
“Before Christ. Maybe a few hundred years before Christ, maybe more.”
“Considering you all live so long, why is it that I’m always feeling like I’m the adult when I’m around you?”
I shrugged, feeling like I was 12 years old.
“John, if you ever come over here and find clothes with a lot of dust or ashes…”
“I’ve seen dead Vampires Juliette. I know you just combust. That isn’t going to happen to these two.”
We talked some more and then John left us alone with the elders.
I found Tellias alone in the kitchen. Putting my arm around his slim waist I asked “You ok?”
“No, but I’ll be fine. I think John is in love with her. He always has been. Since he was a boy. They all fall in love with her.”
“I know sweetie, but you have her heart.”
A tear ran down his face and I held him tight.
Over the next few months John will check on the elders a few more times a week. We’re setting up a special signal light in case there are problems. My brother Val and G-G-Grandmother Lola will be staying with them on and off for the next few months to help out. Lola might even move back into the smaller house on the property for a while. She is old but not ancient or frail like they are.
My kids are pretty upset but I know they’ll be a big help. Our elders might not be around forever. We never know how long any of us will be around, so we’ll treasure each and every day with everyone we love, be they Vampire or regular folks.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman