Sunday, January 31, 2016


The vampire, Jonathon speaks --- I have so many stories to tell. In 1832 I almost immigrated to California. This was about eleven years after Mexico gained its independence from Spain. The new government, influenced by both the American and French Revolutions, set out to do great things. The Catholic missions were forcibly broken up into what was known as 'ranchos.' Each mission became three or four vast holdings awarded to privileged families, much as earlier European warlords created baronies. And I almost got one. They knew me in Madrid. Some de Macabeas had remained in Spain. They feigned adherence to Catholicism and rejection of Judaism. You know. You've heard stories of The Inquisition. But if people were discrete... attending Mass... observing the appropriate holy days... contributing toward the construction of great basilicas there, as well as in the New World and careful with their servants, they could survive. After a time it felt natural ... Un cuerpo ... Un coracon... pero dos creencias...One body... one heart... but two faiths.... Many homes had two kitchens and two dining rooms. There was la cucina catolico y la cucina judio... the Catholic kitchen and the Jewish kitchen. Usually, the Jewish kitchen was a more interior room as was the space used for Jewish devotional purposes.

Well, I kept in contact with the de Macabeas of Sevilla. At first I was 'the cousin' from Provence, over the border in France and then the cousin from other places, for there were Spanish diasporas all over the world, even in Muscovy. The feeling for Old Iberia is very strong. Many exiled, Spanish Jewish families never gave up the keys to la casa vieja in Spain. Many homes today in Israel or Chicago, or Manila have an ancient wooden box and in that box rests heavy, iron keys. The memory lives on.

It came to be that one branch of the la familia de Macabea was offered a rancho near Santa Barbara a beautiful place, laced with orange groves and avocado farms. There was a massive residence, a former bishop's palace... red tiled roof... thick, stucco over adobe walls. In a very real sense, a continuous style all the way from Moorish Spain. They, the family, wrote to me, in Philadelphia, asking that I make the journey and take up residence. For a while I considered it. But three thousand miles (and that's in a straight line) cross country was an impossibility back then. You have to remember that wagon trains and The Pony Express came after the 1849 Gold Rush. The First railroad, The Union Pacific, wasn't established till 1867. What could I do, pay familiars to guard my casket in a rickety flat boat? Go down the Ohio river, to the Mississippi, then across the Gulf to Corpus Cristi and up the Rio Grande?... How could I transport my wealth? Checks didn't travel well. Neither did gold bars.  Who would I 'cull' along the way? You know what would have happened? Somebody would grow suspicious. Somebody would try to kill me, but I'd have to kill them first and then I'd be on the run, moving among the Indians, like a windego, or spirit of the night... An adventure? Of course. Enough for countless dime novels and penny dreadfuls. I might have enjoyed it. You've heard of my forays into the Eurasian Steppes and other places?

But I did none of that, though I did send two casks of gold to Cadiz so other de Macabeas might make the trip. They sailed to Panama, then part of the new nation of Colombia, went overland across the isthmus, onto another ship and up to Santa Barbara. Some died along the way... an old abuela (grandmother) and a little baby... Such things happened. Today, that branch of my people own land up and down the Pacific Coast, including three choice properties along 'The Queen's Necklace' in Malibu. A certain Sonny de Macabea has connections in Hollywood. If something doesn't break for Billy soon, I'll see what he can do. Look, I'd like it to happen too. We'll see.

How I digress. Vampires are like that. We're really reticent creatures... able to take care of ourselves, but due to the circumstances of our existence, we don't like to push.

Edith saw the 'dog.'... She saw the coyote and she recognized it as a coyote. Jersey Pines people know. She whined at the front door, begging for food. It was light out. I was sleeping. Edith sensed she had a purpose, so she let her in and fed her. Then she put her in the laundry room tub and gave her a bath. That's when she saw the collar. That's when she noticed the bullet. How compliant the 'dog' was. Edith whispered - I can smell The Pines on you. The hound kissed her and whined.

She was all groomed and curled up on the rug by the time we came down. Conrad was scared.... Is she like a wolf? -he asked....No, she's not a wolf. Well, I suppose she's like a smaller wolf. They say gray wolves and coyotes can breed. They have bred. I've seen big coyotes in The Pines. - said Edith.... Will she bite me? - the skittish vampire continued... Of course he knew she couldn't kill, or hurt him, but Conrad hates pain, so he had to know.... Edith said - Why don't you hold out your hand and see?.... The 'dog' kissed him.

Sarah and Billy took to her right away. She was grateful for the attention. The young vampire woman ran out and bought her a rawhide chew toy. When she got back, Billy ran out to get a leash, so they could walk her. When he came in, he saw me examining the bullet on her collar..... What's that? - he said..... I wasn't sure, but two seconds later Edith's cell phone rang. It was someone from The Pines... She said - Yeah, she's here, all prettied up and fed... Then I knew. The 'translation,' the secret arcane words chanted by the little homeless girl a few nights ago was inside. Where else could it be, but that little artillery shell?

And, to be truthful, I didn't want to know...

<more next time>

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