The Cleaner (or Mom Will Always Clean Up The Mess.) 

Now, especially since my children no longer live at home, my brother Aaron thinks I’m on call 24/7 just for him. 

I got a call early early early this morning, around 4:00 am. “Jewels, I need you to come out to a site with me and look around. It’s the old Pear complex,” he said.

The Pear complex was a rambling old warehouse, office building, and fruit packing plant, set on about 5 acres. It had been abandoned for about 30 years, maybe longer. “No,” I said.

“Why not?” Aaron asked.

“Because you’re going to ask me to crawl into small dark spaces to extract nasty filthy things that I just don’t feel like dealing with today. Don’t you have professionals to do your dirty work for you?”

“I’ve called the professionals. I just wanted you out sort of as a consultant. Please Juliette. My favorite sister.”

I am his only sister. He is the third of my four elder brothers. 

“Fine,” I said, “but I’m not getting dirty. Why do you always ask me to clean up your messes?”

“They aren’t my messes. The reason I ask you is because you’re the best at cleaning up such things.”

I didn’t respond to that. I was too pissed off.

When I arrived Aaron was there wearing a suit that probably cost more than my car. He gave me a cold kiss on my cheek and brought me around to where the rest of the crew was waiting.

Austin Durant, history professor, historic restoration expert, and Vampire Hunter was there, along with William from Lodi.

We all greeted each other politely.  I’d met William once before. He was a huge guy with a quick smile, big brown eyes, and shaggy brown hair that reached his shoulders.

While Durant and my brother spoke in private I visited with William.

“Do you just hunt Vampires or other things as well?” I asked him.

“I hunt Vampires, but mostly I call myself a Crypto Hunter. You know, unidentified creatures and monsters mostly. You know, like The Witcher, only better looking.” Then he laughed out loud at his own joke.

Then someone drove up with a brand new 2022 e-tron Audi GT. It was black and quiet, and extremely expensive.  Austin Durant walked over to the Audi and like a gentleman of old, opened the door and helped out the woman inside. She was tall (taller than me) and elegant, wearing a black pencil skirt, black heels, a hot pink wrap around blouse, and a black and white checked jacket. She was Elizabeth, a local Vampire and attorney, and on and off again girlfriend of Vampire Austin Durant. 

Austin gave her a kiss on the cheek. She turned and kissed him on the mouth. It seemed they were slightly more on right now.

“She looks as if she owns the place,” I said to my brother Aaron.

“She does,” said Aaron. “She wants to restore the building and make it into a winery and artist spaces.”

“Why does that not surprise me,” I said. “Then why couldn’t she and Durant just do this on their own?”

“You know I always get called in on these things. It is my specialty,” said Aaron who is an attorney for all things concerning Vampires and removing ghouls and whatevers from spaces they shouldn’t be in.

We all went inside a large cavernous space that might have once been a warehouse, and Aaron led us to stairs that went down into an unknown dark space.

“Is there electricity?” William asked.

“Yes,” answered Elizabeth.

“Good. Let’s get some lights on down there,” said William.

At that point William and Austin put on their gear; knives, pepper spray, stun guns, and a long whip for Austin.

“I can feel them down there,” said William. “They’re sleeping pretty deep. There is something else down there too. Maybe just a regular person. Hmmmm. Weird.”

“I feel it too,” said Austin. “And it isn’t good.”

They sounded like they were out of a B horror movie. I was ready to find a place to sit down when Austin looked at me and said, “You coming Juliette?”

“No,” I said.

“We need you on this one,” said Austin.

“Why?” I asked, refraining from dropping any F bombs.

“Because I feel like somebody is down there who needs our help. You’re a Vampire and a mom. I need both right now. I don’t think this will just be an extermination.”

“Fuck,” I said under my breath. “OK. I’ll go, you owe me.”

Luckily I was wearing jeans and a black tee shirt. I took off my black blazer and left it with Aaron. “Don’t put this down on anything dirty,” I said.

Down in the basement was a maze of old desks, chairs, file cabinets, and hundreds of boxes of long expired cans of pears. 

I was starting to sense what William and Austin had been talking about. I could also smell a putrid scent of rotted flesh, mixed with a cloying scent of sandalwood and patchouli. There was also a faint scent of something I knew William and Austin couldn’t smell. It was fresh blood, still pumping through the veins of a living human.

Austin had already taken out his whip and had it ready just like Indiana Jones. William carried a large knife. I just had my wits to protect me, and an arsenal of mean insults to throw out if all else failed.”

We had flashlights just in case the lights went out. I can see fairly well in the dark, but the other two, not so much. After about 15 minutes we heard them. Then around the corner we saw where they’d made their lair. Four beds were set up in a cross shape, the heads in the middle with the feet facing out. These were tall lavish antique headboards with insanely over the top tacky black and red velvet covers. In the beds slept four bodies that looked serenely human, and even but my companions and I knew were soulless shadow creeping ghouls. The stench was almost too much to take. I thought of pulling a mask out of my pocket but decided not to in case I needed to show my fangs or you know, do other Vampire things.

To make a long story short, because this is a blog post and I have other stuff to do this afternoon, the soulless ghoulish ones scrambled out of their beds and charged towards us with long fangs ready to bite. William fought them off and broke them like rag dolls.

One of them fell. Another tripped over it and pulled the fallen one’s head off and threw it at Austin. The head exploded on Austin’s shoulder like a ripe melon in a shower of dust and black tar like threads and goop. 

William, who had taken out the other three was covered in dark blood and who knows what else.

As they evaluated the situation I looked around. There were bits and pieces of what looked like remains of lives around – things like books, and photographs, cell phones, wallets, car keys, and envelopes.

I went into a closet off of the main room. There sitting in the corner, hiding in the dark, was a young man. He must have been maybe 18 or 19 at most. He had red hair, and a dirty but nice face. His jeans and sweatshirt were dusty, and his shoes worn out. I crouched down next to him.

“We’re here to help,” I said.

“They took me. They were going to eat me, or kill me, or something. Oh my god it was horrible.”

“I’m Juliette. What’s your name?”

“Dylan. Dylan White.”

“Do you have a family member I can call?”

“No. My step-dad and mom kicked me out. I didn’t have any place to go. Then, then, the monsters brought me here.”

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen. They kicked me out when I graduated from high school last summer. I was living with a friend but he moved in with his girlfriend cause of Covid so I ended up in my car for a few nights before I could move in with my friend Noah.”

I pulled out my phone and called my brother Val. I explained to him what was going on. Val is connected to what I would call the lost souls of the world who need help getting their lives going, especially young people. Yes, Val is a cold and unflinching Vampire like the rest of my family but he said he’d help Dylan.”

Dylan picked up and backpack and a black case. “This s my flute. They let me keep it. My grandfather gave it to me. I can play. You know, like Ian Anderson.”

“Austin over there, the one who looks like a male model, is a college professor. He can help you get hooked up with some schools and maybe even a music program. Would you like that.”

Dylan nodded as tears fell down his young cheeks.

We found out later that the Soulless shadow creeping Vampires were preying upon the homeless, drifters, prostitutes, and anyone who was alone, keeping them, feeding off of them, then dumping their bodies in isolated places and in the rivers. They had an old orange creeper van parked outside. We called the police to come check it out. In another room we’d found photos they’d taken of their victims and even a list of names. 

There was no trace of Vampire bodies for anyone to find. The fingerprints in the van and basement would lead to nothing. We told Dylan to be truthful in his description but not to mention how he was rescued or the fight.

“This stuff is like tar,” said Austin, checking the glue like putrid smelling gunk in his hair.

William looked down at the stains on his skin and clothing without much hope.

“Let’s all go over to Austin’s house when we’re done here. I can get all of the stains out and get that horrible brain crap out of your hair,” I said.

“You can get all of it out?” Asked Austin.

“Absolutely and we won’t have to cut any of it off. Don’t look so surprised. I’m a mom. I can get any stain out of anything. I have pets too. If I can get skunk and cat pee out of stuff I can get Ghoul brain stench out.”

Later, around noon, when all of the dirt and nastiness was off of Austin and William we talked for a bit about what we’d seen.

Then I asked Austin, “Are you and Elizabeth back together?”

“On and off,” he said.

“Don’t get all insulted about what I’m going to say. You are a regular guy born in the 1980’s. She is a Vampire born in the first decade of the 19th Century. I know she is charming, and sweet, and lovely, but dude, you have to think about this. I know you want to get married and have kids in the worst way.”

“How do you know that?” Austin asked.

“I’m a Vampire. I know these things. I can get in your head. So here is the deal. You need to either break up with her for good, find a nice 30 something woman who makes you laugh and warm all over, get married, and have a kid or two. Or you need to become a Vampire, marry Elizabeth and have a little Vampire kid or two. It is either or. You can’t have both. You have to choose what world you want to live in.”

Austin looked at me, then looked down at his hands.

“Scrub your fingernails with Oxyclean. It will get the rest of the black out. Do it before your next class so you won’t gross any of your students out.”

I went home and played with my dog, then worked in my yard a bit.

Luckily I didn’t get anything gross on my clothes, but if I did I know I could have gotten it out. 

So stay safe everyone. Where a mask where it is still required. Talk to your kids. Love your children. Love your pets. Check in on those who are alone, elderly, or need extra help. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. And kiss a Vampire (you’ll thank me for it later.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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