Thursday, March 26, 2015

Our Vampire Gets Jerusalem Fever... 3/27/15

The next night, Jonathon went to see the basket weavers, three ladies from the Carolina Sea Isles who made 'Moses Baskets' for him on a regular basis, at least since the Second World War. They shared an old Victorian in University City, not far from the Penn campus. Once they were nurses, now they bring sweet grass to life. You can buy it in The Reading Terminal Market. They bring it up for crafters... artisans skilled in the ways of long ago.  Miss Aggie, the oldest of the three, knows Gullah and not just a phrase here and there. She's conversant and fluid in that Old English-West African dialect once spoken by many people, regardless of background all up and down The Low Country. I won't go into the particulars. You can google those.

The second sister, Miss Lena, brought out the baskets, three, cradle shaped, high sided, vessels with handles woven in on both sides. She said - Look how the colors dance all around. Got green and tan and that red-brown color everybody likes. Nice grass this year. I must say. I can smell Daufuskie Island. (sniffs again) That is Daufuskie Island. Don't you think so, Bessie?... Bessie, the third sister goes - What are you talking about? I told you it smelled like Daufuskie Island. You got nasal polyps. You don't smell nothing.... Then she makes eyes at Jonathon. Miss Bessie likes the vampire visitor. She knows about him. They all do, only being polite, well bred ladies, they never think about it. Well, almost never. Back when they were nurses, Jonathon used to bring 'booster shots.' That's what they called them.... tiny little test tubes from an old toy chemistry set... maybe two inches long and a quarter inch wide. Sometimes he'd bring two. Once in a while three. Each filled with fresh, hot, potent vampire blood. You could hide it in gravy real easy. Mix it up in the mashed potatoes. Aides didn't ask any questions. Nurse'd say - Here, Frances, let me give Mrs. Lowy her tonic. Then, tap-tap-tap, in it went. And Mrs. Lowy got all lively again... giggled, made 'eyes' at people and everything. Did anybody do bad? You tell me?

Then they sat and visited for a while. The second one, Miss Lena, brought out homemade dandelion wine. Got the greens from The Reading Terminal Market too. Bring 'em down from the Poconos, but that's later on in the season. I don't know where they get 'em from now. Jonathon didn't want any at first, because sometimes dandelion wine has residue and to a vampire, that can be very distressing. But they assured him it was suited to his 'special condition,' so he downed a small, cordial glass, had a refill and said it was good. Jonathon was very fond of the three sisters. In truth, they were approximately ninety seven years old. But friendship with a vampire has its benefits and they did not look a day pasted seventy five. In return for the sweet grass artistry, he gave each a high grade, two and a half carat, pear shaped diamond ring. Figured they'd sell two and share the third.

He took a taxi back to the townhouse. Could a sublimated, but didn't want to contaminate such spiritually symbolic cargo with vampire magic. Had the driver leave him off on the corner (this one wasn't a 'familiar') so he wouldn't know exactly where the night-folk lived.

When Edith saw him enter the kitchen and put the baskets on the counter (each stacked neatly into the other) she said - Uh oh, Passover coming. Look at them beautiful 'Baby Moses Baskets!' What you gonna put in 'em?.... Jonathon ran his fingers over the neat, tight rope-on-rope pattern and said - Oh, the usual, candies, jellies, chocolates, maybe a few special things......

Last year you put ten thousand dollars in each. You gonna do that again? - she asked.

But he just shrugged and went upstairs, where he locked himself into the music library that was also a chapel and listened to Mendelsohnn's ELIJAH, The Passover Oratorio, in its entirety.... Then he squeezed his eyes shut tight til they bled.....

Annie peeked out of her room. She heard the music. She heard his voice.  Sarah was already listening by the door. The unusual, little girl said - Is he OK?..... Sarah whispered - Yes, shhh. Go to sleep. 

When vampires pray, vampires pray.

You know... he leaves those 'Baby Moses Baskets' around town. If you're in Philadelphia during the Easter-Passover season... keep your eyes open.

<more next time>


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