So after I completed my obligations towards my bitch of a sister - delicious, by the way - I was finally dragged off by Donnie to that damned meeting...
I was so not looking forward to this. Donnie was leaving me no choice. I will admit I slumped in the passenger seat of his tweety-bird yellow car and nursed a pout all the way there.
"There" turned out to be a lugubrious warehouse in the least reputable part of town. The dank and dreary exterior was a contrast to the irritatingly cheery decor of the meeting room: Bright yellow walls, with painted gigantic white daisies with pink centers, and checkered lime green and white linoleum on the floor. Nice...White lights blazed down, supposedly to banish the dark shadows of our vampiric nature.
There was a semicircle of chairs and on the side, a long table offered snacks and drinks. But no blood. Not a drop.
The other members of the group were already sitting, brooding or slumping in the chairs according to their style or nature. Donnie steered me to a chair and parked me, folding his long frame into the seat next to me.
On the other side sat the Hulk, or his paler brother by another mother.
The guy was huge, ugly, and really built. He had long straggly not-too-clean blond hair and freaky eyes.
I smiled. "Hi" I'm Greta! I'm a vampire!"
He grinned and exposed gigantic teeth in a distressing state of decay and a pair of very nice sparkling fangs.
"Hi! I'm Gries. I'm a Viking berserker. I'm also a vampire." His voice was nice and rumbling, soothing. He extended a giant hand and shook mine. "Welcome, Greta...To a fucking shitty immortal life."
Oh God it was delicious! At the first touch of my lips on her wrist, of my tongue greedily lapping up her blood, Rosa had gone quiet, wide-eyed and dazed - like the druggies you see in their heroine haze, slack-lipped on the metro steps. I slurped noisily, and she moaned.
Oh this was so GOOD! I was about to latch on and really suck up that juice, when a hand gripped the back of my neck and lifted me off Rosa, as easily as you'd lift a kitten from a bowl of milk.
I, however, am not a kitten. I turned hands crisped and extended into claws, mouth wide open, lips pulled back from my bloodied teeth...I caught a fleeting glimpse of myself in the mirror, swollen-eyed and raging in Donnie's hands. "NO!" I was screaming, the taut wiry tendons standing out like guy-ropes on my neck.
Donnie's voice was low and calm. "No, Greta, stop." He shook me gently. "Stop." Geeky, spindly Donnie had a remarkable strength in those thin hands. "This is not who you are. Stop."
I dangled from his hands limply. I raised my head and faced myself over his shoulder in that hall-mirror. The sassy, sexy woman who'd come down the stairs was gone. I looked like a harridan.
The blood was smeared down my cheeks and across my incisors like cheap lipstick, my eyes were bulgy and blood shot, veiled by some monstrous lust. My hair straggled in a tangled sweaty dark veil, strands sticking to the blood drying on my cheeks. Thankfully, I noticed in passing, not a drop of blood spoiled my pristine white shirt. I had not spilt a drop. Waste not, want not, Mom always said.
Donnie saw the blood-madness recede and gently lowered me to my feet. "Donnie.." I whispered, but he had turned away, was leaning down to examine Rosa's wrists.
I saw his nostrils flare, and his lips tighten, but he spoke to her softly. "It's alright..." He looked over at me."What is her name?"
"Rosa, you will be alright." He spoke without turning his head."Get me some towels please, Greta. Then call an ambulance."
I nodded numbly, and walked to the linen cupboard in the downstairs bathroom. Towels were stacked there, neat as you please. Mute evidence of my barren life. Who else had time to color code towels?
I hesitated a second. Top of the pile was this really delicious set of deep-pile Egyptian cotton towels that I had paid the earth for... I pulled three towels from further down. Discount-store stuff in a deep red that would not show the stains.
I hurried back and found Donnie French-kissing Rosa. KISSING?
"What are you doing," I screeched, "Are you some kind of perverted freak?" Donnie straightened up and stared at me coldly.
"I'm cleaning up your mess, Greta. Now she won't remember what happened here...What you were doing." He took the towels from my hands and gently guided Rosa towards the kitchen."Now, call 112 and go wash your face before they get here."
Suitably chastened I did so. I dialed the number and a calm female voice answered. "Please send an ambulance..." I rattled off my address.
"Tell me Ma'am, is someone hurt?"
"My sister, Rosa, tried to kill herself."
The calm voice asked for details, and told me "Help is on the way! We are also alerting the Police."
Police? Ah...A suicide attempt. Damn. A rape, a murder and an attempted suicide at the same address in 78 hours. And if Rosa blabbed about Frank, the Police might take a second look at his death. I would now have MOTIVE, and I certainly had opportunity.
I went into the bathroom and carefully washed my face. I brushed my teeth and combed back my sweat -damp hair. My eyes were still odd in some way I couldn't define, but since I'd just had my baby-sister bleed all over my gardenias and my entrance, that was understandable.
I was composed, and silently composing a suitable greeting when I heard Donnie open the front door.
I came out and stood by as two men with a stretcher jogged into my kitchen. I heard one of them say to Rosa: "Whot now, luv? Whot yu go and do this for? Pretty thing like yu! Yu goin to be just fine, yu are!" The voice was kindly. cheerful. Rosa mumbled some unintelligible reply in a groggy voice.
"Yu take any pills, luv? Yu tell ol'Barney here, Donna be ashamed. I know yu in pain."
Rosa sobbed something snottily, and the men emerged with her. Then the Police arrived. Double damn!
One of them had been present at Frank's murder scene as a first responder. Oh this was just perfect...
Glancing down I noticed some blood I'd missed crusted deep in the creases of the knuckles of my right thumb. Unthinking I stuck it in my mouth and sucked at it.Yum.
Donnie started talking to the Police.
"I came to pick up Mrs Valginsky - it was her husband's funeral today - and just as we were leaving this lady arrived...Mrs Valginsky's sister."
The Policeman nodded and jotted things down. He looked up at me. "My condolences Ma'ma." I nodded and tried to look as mournful as possible with my thumb stuck in my mouth.
"Who are you, sir?"
Donnie fished out his wallet and handed it over for the second officer to peruse.
"I'm Mrs Valginsky's sponsor..." He nodded meaningfully, "Hard day, lots of stressors, I was escorting her to a meeting." The two men looked over at me again, then back at Donnie.
"All right then, we will take it up with Mrs...?" They looked expectantly at me.
I dragged that delicious thumb reluctantly out of my mouth. "Schultz, Rosa Schultz." I squeaked.
Wonderful. From ravening monster to thumb-sucking alcoholic dweeb.
I was discovering I was a talented thespian indeed!
Except that I WAS a monster AND a thumb-sucking-dweeb..
I ducked into a shower did the soap on a rope thing, then shimmied into a pair of jeans and a long sleeved crisp white cotton shirt. After a look in the mirror, I slashed on a defiant red lipstick, stepped back into my heels, and draped my gran's opera length pearls around my neck.
Out of habit I had tucked my hair back behind my ears, I tossed it free and tousled it. THERE!
Not cover-girl material, but not house-wife/mid-life drab either! A woman with experience, and a dash of classy sass... Yes! That was the new Greta Schultz!
I was in the hall when the door bell clanged. Donnie!
"Hi!" I cried eagerly...and found myself looking at Rosa. She was looking the worse for the wear. Weeping and dripping tears and snot in equal measure and exuding a most tantalising scent!
"Greta!" She whined, "Save me!" And the stupid bitch extended her upraised wrists to me. Slashed wrists, dripping ruby-red aromatic blood.
A surge of heat blasted upwards from my stomach. I lunged at her, dragged her inside.
"I slept with him, with Frank...I...I..." She was crying hysterically, "I loved him! I loved him! I can't live without him!"
I smiled despite myself: "You may not have to!" I said and licked my lips.
Isn't life just wonderful? Who would have though you could get vampire take-away delivered right to your door just like Tele-Pizza?
The coffin containing the mortal remains of Frank Herbert Valginky trundled in eery silence through the velvet drapes and onto its mysterious disposal in the crematorium.
The mourners did a sad little shuffle dance called the the "weep them and leave" and departed with astonishing speed.
Soon there was only me and Sheila. May had taken charge of her grieving mother; and Rosa having early on run into a possible source of consolation in the person of Frank's partner...
Once we were alone, Jonathan Stell stepped up and approached us looking sad, sober - and very sexy.
"Ms Schultz, Miss Valginsky, allow me to extent to you once again my sympathies. You will have heard a hundred comforting words today, but none will have been very consoling at all," he paused and took Sheila's hand, "The pain does lessen, my dear, and that dizzy sense of disbelief will fade."
Sheila nodded, her eyes brimming with tears. It struck me once again that we were living two very different realities. Sheila had just tragically lost a doting and indulgent father whom she had adored; I had joyfully disposed of an abusive, cheating lying bastard who had ruined my life.
Both were true perceptions, grounded in palpable and concrete experiences. How easily conflicting truths entangled in the dark and sticky mystery that was a human heart.
Jonathan Stell turned to me and inclined his elegant head. He did not touch me, or take my hand. If he had the sizzling electric desire between us would have been enough to light up a Vegas neon sign.
Even tear-blind Sheila would have noticed that, and though my daughter was a permissive - not to say militantly promiscuous woman - watching her mother and a stranger groaning and groping at each other's groins in the aftermath of her father's funeral would have been a perverse betrayal...
"Ms Schultz, I will call you for the arrangements with regards to Mr Valginsky's remains and the...paperwork."
"You will need some additional documents to present to Mr Valginsky's insurance broker and Social Security - I would presume Mr Valginsky carried life insurance?"
"Yes...No...To be honest I have no idea." I hadn't thought of that. "Yes, please do call..."
We said our goodbyes, and drove home in silence. "Want me to stay Mum?" Sheila asked.
"No sweetie. You go home and get some sleep. I will call you tomorrow." We did the usual mother/daughter hug and kiss, and the moment she was gone I was calling Donnie.
"I'm bloody starving! And not for fish and chips! Where are you? I need to feed!"
Donnie's voice was surprisingly calm; "You ate - glutted in fact - two days ago. You can't feed for the next two days."
"Are you KIDDING me?" I screeched in fury, and realised that this strange almost-emotion of desperate hunger was not quite my own. My symbiont was demanding supper.
"I'm picking you up in half an hour. We are going to a meeting."
"Yes, at the VA - Vampires Anonymous. You have to learn to control that craving, Greta. You must master your affliction, or it will master you and you will become a murderous monster."