WHEN YOU GROW OLD
A short story by Juliette Kings
“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.
My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.
I’d been at Bob’s for six months.
“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I was going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.
I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.
Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Josh had fixed dinner. A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about 3 years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.
I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, I the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”
The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors. “You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.
It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past 10 years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of its past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.
A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.
“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.
“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”
“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.
“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”
“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a Vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life.
“Bob is happy where he is.”
“I think you’re right.”
We walked more and listened to the waves. Then he kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.
The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly and his relationship with the waves.
“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.
He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”
“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”
“You and Stephen can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars shine over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with Vampires. It’s cool.”
And so it was.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman