He held her hand and listened as she told her story.
“I…can’t…if I die…my body…I’ll be…put…in a freezer…nobody will get….me”
She’d come from across the street where she’d lived for almost twenty years. They’d become friends, sharing glasses of wine on their decks, discussing keeping up their Victorian homes, and everything else under the stars.
Tonight she’d somehow made it across the street. He’d let her in and tucked her into the comfortable bed in his guest room. She could barely walk, barely breath, and barely speak, but he managed to make out her story.”
“I grew up in a place where poetry had to rhyme. Romance always ended in a wedding. Divorced women were predators out to steal husbands. Women didn’t buy their own homes. It was all about waiting for a man. Tonight you’re going to be my man, but not that way. I hope you don’t mind.”
“It will be an honor to be your man tonight,” he told her.
“I’m divorced. My kids are in college. I can’t die of this. If I go to the hospital I’ll die alone. If I stay home I will die. My body will be taken to a storage freezer. My kids won’t know what to do. Their father is worthless. He isn’t in their lives. Will you make sure my children will be alright. They know you. They trust you.”
“I’ll make sure they’ll always be alright. Your children will be safe. You’ll be safe. You aren’t going to die.”
“Aren’t you afraid you’ll catch this from me?”
“No,” he said. “I am not afraid. I won’t catch it. I can’t catch it.”
She gave him a weak smile, knowing he wouldn’t catch it. Then she coughed again with tears of fear and frustration.
“I’ll make it better,” he said. “Is that what you want?”
She closed her eyes as she thought about her choice. As she tried to speak nothing came out. Then she squeezed his hand, and looked in his face.
Brushing her hair out of his face, then off of her neck he said, “Alright. Here we go. Next week we’ll be having wine on your deck and forgetting you were ever sick.”
The next morning she felt like she was having the worst hang over of her life, but the cough was gone. Her sense of smell was back. She laughed.
He came in with a cup.
“Coffee?” she asked.
“Spiced blood. You’ll need it.”
In these times we all need to take care of others. Wear your mask. Check in on those who are alone or might need extra help. Stay safe.
I used those words today to describe an amazing friend who despite all odds, all, well everything shitty that can be put in front of someone, sees all of the beauty and joy that surrounds her.
We should all strive to go through our journey with such courtesy and grace.
My daughter sent me photos today of her lithop plants. Lithops are succulants. Some people call them living stones, or baby toes. When they bloom we are graced with daisy like flowers. When they reproduce they split, like boulders in a slow moving glacier, and new babies form from the middle.
We should all try to be like lithops. When we feel like we’re being split in too many directions. Just start something new and bloom. It sounds easy, but ask a lithop and I’m sure you’ll get a different answer. It isn’t easy but it is worth that huge breath of fresh air and peace of mind you’ll eventually get.
Never give up. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Be kind. Check your temper. Talk to your kids. Stay in touch with friends, especially those who might be alone or need extra help. And of course, kiss a Vampire. Seriously, you need to kiss a Vampire.
Despite the unusual heat it still feels like fall. The cool mornings and placement of the sun triggers that fall feeling I love so much. The bird songs are also different with the transition between the birds who fly to the South and those who winter over here.
Yesterday it was hot and dry. I can’t remember a 90°F day in October.
The only leaves that are falling are on the oak trees that just turn brown and dump into my driveway. All of the other trees are still green. At least the trees are green. Everything else is brown. The photo here is from a walk I took yesterday with my dog Alice.
Thoughts come to Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and birthdays. We already celebrated my mother’s 491st birthday. Next comes my brother Val on the 22nd, and then mine on the 23rd. That doesn’t include the dozen friends who also have October birthdays.
This morning I was cleaning off the back deck. Don’t raise your eyebrows, Vampires have to take care of their homes just like anyone else, especially now that we’re all staying home a lot more.
As I swept dirt and leaves off of the top deck down below on the construction of the lower deck I heard a “What the hell? Are you trying to kill me?”
I looked down to see Nigel the ghost standing there.
“Oh shut up, you’re already dead. It isn’t like anything is going to hurt you or even fall on you,” I said.
“Come down to the lower deck,” he said.
“What so I can listen to your insults?”
“No,” he said with a quick smile. “So I can make you feel like the seasons are changing.”
Construction is going on so the stairs are gone. By the time I went inside, through the garage, and out back to the construction site I could hear music. A band, literally a band of ghosts were on my partially built deck playing, Tahiti: A Summer Night At Sea.
Nigel held out both of his hands just like Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. “Dance with me,”
I was wearing dirt covered jeans, wet flip flops, and a worn out tank top without a bra. “Not now Nigel.”
He took my hands and suddenly I was in a sea foam green dress with a light twirling skirt, my hair was in a riot of curls fastened with a diamond clip, and my feet were bare on a floor of sand.
I found myself being led around the deck, expertly stepping around any tools left out.
“For a Vampire you have absolutely no rhythm,” he said.
“I never said I could dance,” I said.
Suddenly he stopped and we were back on the deck, and I was in my old dirty jeans again. Nigel glanced at the ghostly guitar player.
He started to play, Autumn Leaves.
“Let’s try this again,” said Nigel.
“So any plans for Halloween?” I asked.
“Some major haunting. It will be awesome.”
“Anyone in particular?” I had to ask.
“I think I know who killed me.”
“What?” I stopped. Nigel pulled me close. He seemed exceptionally cold, and that is pretty cold considering I’m a Vampire. Then again it it was HOT outside.
“Don’t stop. Yes, I remembered her face. It was the last thing I saw as I lay there in under the shower with my skull smashed open.”
“She? It was a woman?”
“Yes, but I don’t quite remember who she was. My memory sort of went to hell after she killed me. So what are you doing for Halloween?”
“Nothing at all?”
“What about your birthday?”
“I’m going to the art museum. It will be the first time since it closed in March.”
“Ohhhh I should go too.”
“You might as well considering it’s your birthday too. I have four tickets but since you’re a ghost you won’t need a ticket or a mask for that matter.”
He smiled. “I’d be 61 if I wasn’t dead. Hey, can we stop by my grave. It isn’t far from the museum. On my birthday people leave letters and drawings there. Some of them even pour Whiskey and wine on my grave. You know, sharing a toast to me. I bet my body is completely pickled by now and no doubt looking almost as good as the day before I died.”
Then he stopped, and the music stopped. “It is so damned dry around here. But do you feel like it might be fall yet?”
“A little,” I said.
I looked up and saw my husband Teddy on the top deck waving down. Nigel waved up and yelled, “be a good Vampire and take her someplace cool.” Then he vanished before I could tell him thank you for the short escape.
That’s all. Nothing else happened. The ghosts all vanished. Teddy and I went inside and caught up on our day and our kids, and the usual Vampire news.
I didn’t suddenly see any fall leaves fall out of the sky, but my trees are full of green oranges and lemons that will be ripe in December or January.
Happy fall everyone and happy haunting.
Wear a mask
Don’t be a dick
Talk to your kids
Check in on those who are ancient or need extra help
The Ghost gave me a little bit of a smile with a cold chill that went with it. “I like how you wrote that down for me, all poetic like. You know, my story and your simple words.. You have a talent of making a complicated story simple in sort of a bad free verse way. I like it. The fact that you’re a Vampire doesn’t even figure into it.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment Nigel.” I told my Ghost.
When one lives in the presence of a Ghost you do things for each other, like write down verse and banter about life and death and more so the in-between areas where we exist.
“I’ve really missed him,” said Nigel.
“I know,” I told him, “I know.”
We talked of the woods, rock climbing, long-lost friends, and of course what we’re doing for Halloween. Just like normal folks, then again, this is normal… at least for me. You know, poetry, Ghosts and Vampires.
“I don’t care what they do but they start to mess with the food supply it pisses me off.”
I listened as my friend Howard ranted about people who don’t wear masks and believe in conspiracy theories.
We have friends who believe they can use the situation to their advantage but I’m with Howard on this one.
Howard is a big guy with big shoulders, big hands, big feet, a big voice, and big brown eyes and nobody in their right mind can resist those big brown eyes. He can also be incredibly scary if he wants to be. Nobody messes with Howard. So when Howard says wear a mask you wear a mask.
“I don’t want to go out to get something to eat and end up killing someone because they have a weakened system to Covid-19. People don’t just get over this thing. There are long lasting effects. Mental too if you think about it. This thing hits hard and scares people, not just people who get sick but people who live with them. Stress sours everything and everybody. Seriously, stress is a total appetite killer for me.”
As I listened to Howard I thought about how stupid some people were equating mask wearing with their rights. Rights for what? The right to make someone else sick? The right to get sick? What is so difficult about a mask? It isn’t like the old days where you had to be the same religion as everyone… oh, right, there are places where that is still expected. I’m sure some of the people protesting masks are like that thinking that thoughts and prayers and waving their hands up in the air will save them. Fat chance. Howard and I have been around for long enough to know that will never happen. You have to save yourself. You can’t depend on anyone or anything else to do it for you.
“Why do we always end up taking care of things? You know we always do. What makes it a real pisser is that they never even know.”
“That isn’t a bad thing Howard. Would you want them to know?”
“I see your point. You going out tonight?”
“I’m staying in. Just got a case of blood from Dave’s Bottle Shop. I got the good stuff. What to say in with me.”
“Sure. Thanks. I didn’t want to deal with anyone tonight anyway.”
So here we were, just two Vampires hanging out at home like everyone else. Weird times, but we’ll get through it. At least I hope we will.
“What do you plan on doing with them?” James leaned back in his chair and downed his wine.
“I’m not sure,” said Andrew. “I’ve never had an infestation this bad before.”
“You should just kill them. I’ll help you.”
“They’ve already ruined the rugs in the living room. Damn it James, you were with me when I purchased the Turkish Kilim. I’ve had it for eighty years. I loved that rug.”
“I know a guy who might be able to fix it. He can do wonders with blood stains.”
“It isn’t the stains. Look at the holes in it. Totally ruined.”
James stood up and walked around the rug. “I think we should kill them and dump their bodies in the bay. Or I know a guy who can do that for us.”
Andrew stood in front of the window looking out at rain coming down on his back garden. This was his home. It was his sanctuary. “I should have never opened the front door without looking first, but I thought it might be a neighbor or delivery.”
James came over and put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Damn Vampire Hunters.”
Andrew signed and said. “James, why don’t you call your guys. All of your guys. I don’t want to deal with this.”
“Good idea. No need to have to change our clothes. By the way I love your sweater. Cashmere?”
“It is. Soft as my cat. Shawna gave it to me.”
“Good to see you’re finally dating someone with good taste.”
They both looked up. The scratching and muffled screams started again.
Andrew picked his keys up off of the table. “Lets go to breakfast. Solid food sounds good this morning.”
“I know what you mean. I over did it on the blood last night. Holy crap did I ever over do it. I could use some coffee. Bacon too. We have to have bacon.”
“Bacon is always good. Call your guys on the way there. I’ll leave the back door open.”
No need to explain anything else except that friends are always there for each other. That is always a good thing. xoxoxo