I dropped by my brother Val’s house last night to deliver some amaryllis bulbs. It’s a holiday thing with us. We fill our homes with bulbs that never have flowers by Christmas, then enjoy the spectacular huge flowers around Valentine’s Day. My favorites are the red lined whites. He likes the deep beyond blood red dark ones. Then there are all of the wonderful whites, pinks, reds, and variegated varieties in between. After they’ve bloomed we plant them in our front yards where they bloom in May for years to come. No kidding. Don’t throw those bulbs away. Plant them in your yard. They’ll bloom and get bigger and bigger with more and more flowers each year.
So I drive up in the rain to find Val standing on his front porch smoking. Val never smokes unless something is seriously wrong. I looked down at his feet. He was wearing slippers. A grown possum in a Santa hat was sitting on my brother’s left foot.
“Oh my goodness, a possum. A possum in a Santa hat!” I gushed. It was sooooo adorable.
“He was living under my porch. I started feeding him. He decided to stay. Let’s go inside.” Val put out the cigarette in a Mason jar filled with water, then picked up the possum and opened the front door.
I brought the large pot with the three amaryllis bulbs inside and set it down in the kitchen. One white, one burgundy red, one a variegated candy cane stripe.
“I always wondered,” said Val, who was still holding the possum in the crook of his arm, “how Lois Lane was so stupid. Superman changed his clothes, changed the part in his hair, and put on glasses. That was all, but Lois claimed she couldn’t recognize him. Holy God, in the the comics had her drooling all over him like some crazy woman. It was embarrassing but maybe it was supposed to be super cringy. Or did the writers think all women were that stupid and silly and man crazy?”
“Another reason why more girls didn’t read comics.”
“Who could identify with her? Not many women I know. Then again, I know a lot of women who are always striving to find their Superman. If I was Kent I would have told Lois FUCK YOU BITCH. Seriously, she passed up a great guy for someone who wore a fucking cape. She left Clark for a magician who didn’t have the balls to come out to the world for who he really was. She left Clark for CLARK in tights.”
“Aren’t Vampires like that?”
“No. It isn’t the same thing Jewels. We’re not one off superheroes. At least with each other most of us are open and honest. Of course some of us find that impossible. I don’t need that discussion tonight.”
“Alright, fine, whatever. Who broke your heart?”
“I’m not sure if it is broken or not yet. I’m too pissed off to tell.”
I rubbed the possum on his head. He grinned a toothy smile at me and looked up with dark eyes in a cute way only a possum can pull off.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Kent. Clark Kent. Double Opossum.”
“What do you call him? Kent?”
“Nick. Hence the Santa hat.”
“Little Saint Nick.”
“Yep, just like the song.”
“Who was she?”
“She didn’t like possums.”
“Seriously Val. Have you been drinking?”
“Kind of overdosed on Philosopher’s Blood laced with way too many shots of whiskey.”
“That’ll do it.”
“Esme. You know her.”
“What? Wait? You were seeing Esme? Romantically?” Yes, I was surprised.
Esme had come in and out of our lives since we were teens. She was a few years older than us, born sometime in the late 1840’s. But that is neither here nor there. Esme was smart, stylish, funny, and always the life of the party. One year she’d blow in like a hurricane then leave without a trace, then come back in like a cute playful kitten all cuddly and sweet. You couldn’t help but like her. She was one of those people.
“How serious was it Val?” I asked my brother.
“Not enough to brood over it. OK sure I was out smoking with a possum dressed like Santa Clause but that was about it. I thought for a brief moment…well, whatever. She told me to have fun at Christmas time with my little match girls and that she was going to New York with another guy.”
In the evenings when Val goes out he always scans the dark corners of the downtown streets for homeless teens, children, or women who might need help. He’ll give them numbers of people to call, buy them meals, and even take them to people who can help.
“I don’t do what I do for my own attention. I just do what needs to be done. I know what kind of predators are out there.”
“Screw her then…I mean, you’ve obviously done that, but don’t let it bother you. She doesn’t deserve you if she is willing to just throw you away.”
“It wouldn’t have worked in the long term.”
I put my arm around my brother. “I know sweetie. May I hold Nick?”
Val gently handed over the possum. It took right to me and snuggled up with his head on my shoulder.
“Hey sweet boy. Such a good possum,” I cooed at the animal with the softest fur and the oddly cute face.”
“Did you know Anne Rice passed away?”
“I know,” I said. “She was one of the few writers who didn’t make Vampires a silly mess. She wrote about a lot of other things too.”
“I hear she was a good person too.”
I smiled. I’d also heard that that she encouraged other writers,” I said. “What are you going to do with Nick?”
“Right now I’m going to cut a banana up for him. He loves bananas.”
I had to smile at my brother. Here he was always in control, a cold apex predator of a Vampire, talking about a writer, his broken heart, the need to help others, and feeding fruit to an opossum wearing a red Santa hat.
To me he is Superman without the cape and tights. He is what every man should strive to be.
Wishing you all and peace during this season of hope, and good cheer to all.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman