I never thought much of the fact that our neighbor’s name is Vlad. I’m not sure about the last name, it’s not on the mailbox, but that first name is a pretty good indicator he’s from Transylvania. No big deal, right? I didn’t think so either until his pasty-faced visitor showed up.
She came in around midnight on a Friday, apparently on a late, late flight.
My mother was making sauerkraut in the kitchen. Al and I were watching the old black and white ‘Son of Frankenstein’ with the lights out when the taxicab pulled up. The visitor pitched a fit the moment she stepped out, so we paused the movie and huddled close to the open window by the driveway.
Vlad came out and helped the driver with her bags while she railed on about the horrible smell. She pointed right along the side of our house toward the back, and that’s what grabbed my attention.
“She smells the garlic,” I said.
“What garlic?” asked Al.
Sometimes Al has no awareness of his surroundings. “At the side of the house, just past the garbage cans is my mom’s herb garden, right under the kitchen window. Can’t you smell it? It stinks to high heaven all summer long.”
“I don’t smell it.”
“Okay, but who would be extremely sensitive to it?”
Al’s eyes went wide. Together we said, “A vampire.”
She covered her nose with a handkerchief and hurried into the house. She had several suitcases, one so large it could barely fit in the trunk by itself.
I called Damien and Harry, and the four of us watched the house all day Saturday, but she didn’t come out until well after dark.
“I told you,” I said. “We’ve got to do something.”
Harry held up a finger. “That’s just two variables.” He’s always our biggest skeptic, which is okay, it keeps us grounded.
“She’s pasty white,” said Al.
“That’s right,” I said.
Harry shook his finger. “We need one more, just to be sure.”
Damien shook his head. “In the meantime, she’s going to be out their draining someone of their blood until they’re dead, or worse, making more vampires. We’ve got to have a plan, variable or no.”
We argued for some time, but eventually settled on a plan that would solve both problems—identifying a variable and warding her off from our neighborhood. All we needed was some holy water and Super Soakers.
After digging up all my mom’s garlic to keep for protection, Damien took off to find those kids with the Super Soakers that helped us with my uncle’s mystery map. They’d come in handy so much lately, I was thinking of procuring some for our standard UFO hunting kits.
The rest of us went on a quest for holy water. There wasn’t a Catholic store within walking distance, so we visited Saint Barnabas on Main Street. We each carried a small plastic bottle my dad got for camping stuff, like shampoo, cooking oil, and Yukon Jack.
Inside the vestibule, we peeked into the nave. A few people were in the pews with their backs to us. Harry unscrewed the cap on his container.
“Wait,” said Al. He walked into the center aisle and knelt in one of the pews. He crossed himself, prayed for a moment, then returned. “Just wanted to explain what we’re doing.”
“I think he knows,” said Harry.
We each filled our bottles as we could and took off.
We met Damien back at his house and poured equal amounts of holy water in each of four Super Soakers, then filled them to capacity from the tap.
“It probably won’t kill her,” said Harry. “But it should definitely make her go away.”
When night fell, we waited a few houses down for her to come out. She finally emerged in a long blue dress, pearls, and some kind of white fur around her neck. She took Vlad by the arm as they walked toward his car parked on the street.
We sprang into action, Al and Harry going ahead, pretending to fire back at us, making machine gun noises. They passed Vlad’s car, then circled around it into his yard. At that point, we all converged on the couple.
“Surrender!” I yelled. It was the signal. All four of us doused the woman at the same time.
She let out a scream that made my neck shrink, cursing and raging, she ran back into the house.
“Guys!” Vlad held his hands out. “What the hell are you doing?” He ran back in.
“Definitely a vampire,” said Damien.
“Yep,” said Al.
“Definitely,” I said.
“I concur,” said Harry.
We sprayed the rest of the water all around Vlad’s house and mine, on the walls and in the soil.
The next morning, I saw Vlad spraying off his patio in the back yard, so I leaned on the fence and waved. He turned off the hose and ambled over.
“You guys ruined Cristina’s night last night.”
“I’m really sorry.” I put on my best remorseful face. “I guess we got carried away. Can I apologize to her?”
Vlad shook his head. “Nah. She was only staying two days. She left at four this morning.”
I mentally cocked my arm and fist and thought ‘Yes!’
“I’m sorry we ruined the night for you.”
He chuckled. “It worked out for me. She wanted to go dancing to celebrate after working heads down for two days on a business venture. I hate dancing.”
I chuckled back.
“She was really upset about that dress, though. She said it was her Jovanni, whatever that is.”
Vlad went back to his patio and I went in to finish the report in my notebook. A lot of coincidences. It almost seemed as if Vlad purposely made them up to cover for Cristina’s behavior. I can’t be a hundred percent sure about everything, but I can be sure about one thing. Her scream after hitting her with the diluted holy water was like nothing on earth.
Can that blood curdling screech be accounted for by a woman upset at a little water on her dress? I really don’t think so, but at the bottom of the page for case number thirty-one, I wrote ‘Unsolved.’