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The Vampire of Geranium Way

The moving truck came in the middle of the night and was gone before the first crest of the sun rose over the distant mountains. A small girl by the name of Vanessa Peters watched the moving crew move impossibly fast as they unloaded large antique furniture into the house in the middle of the lane. She told her mother of the truck, the men who moved so fast they were a blur. Her mother placated her with many uh-huhs and wows as the Vanessa babbled on over her pancakes and orange juice. Her fathers eyes twinkled as he listened, hiding his face behind the newspaper to keep from showing his daughter the laughter.

Mrs. Peters bent down to kiss Mr. Peters, and whispered against his cheek, “Such an imagination.”

“Such a fun age,” Mr. Peters responded.

It wasn’t until Mr. Peters left for work that he realized that Vanessa’s ramblings about her midnight witnessing weren’t necessarily the remnants of a fantastical dream. For, there, in the driveway of 418 Geranium Way, was a sports convertible, gleaming black in the morning sun. He called his wife to tell her that someone, indeed, had moved into the house in the middle of the lane in the middle of the night.

Mrs. Peters called every Mrs. in the neighborhood and by ten in the morning, they all stood on the sidewalk, across from 418 Geranium Way, discussing the new neighbors that no one had yet seen. At eleven, a woman exited the front door and marched across the street, a wide smile stretched across her pale face. She wore skirt suit in a dark red that looked beautiful against her ghostly skin and dark brown curls. The lipstick shade matched perfectly, the eye makeup was understated. She accessorized with plain gold jewelry at her wrist and ears, and a strand of white pearls that held a heavy red jewel.

Mrs. Peters stepped forward and offered her hand to the newcomer, who shook it readily. “Hi, I’m Lillian, I live in 421, just there kitty corner to you,” Mrs. Peters said.

“Elizabeth Sutton. It’s nice to meet you. You all bring out quite the welcome wagon,” Elizabeth gestured at the group of women. Her face was calm and pleasant, the smile still plastered in place, but there was something sarcastic in her tone. As if she said “I see you being nosy, now knock it off.” A flutter of unease drifted through the group, though they laughed easily and smiled at the newcomer.

“Forgive us. It’s just not often that people move in in the middle of the night,” Mrs. Peters said. Her face also stayed pleasant and welcoming, but her tone said just as plainly “Don’t act like you have something to hide and we won’t be nosy.”
“Ah yes, I suppose I can understand the confusion. My husband and I work nights, so we’re used to running everything on a night schedule. It’s just easier to maintain our equilibrium that way,” Elizabeth explained.
“And what is it you do for a living?”
“Lucas and I own and run The Chat Noir,” Elizabeth said to many gasps, a few titters of excitement, and even one or two signs of the cross.
The Chat Noir was an exclusive club downtown, where one could meet exotic people and watch exotic performances. The clientele tended to be rich, elite, and entertained by a little danger, which is exactly what The Chat Noir offered. For a rather hefty cover charge, one could meet a vampire or were-anything of the flavor you chose. You could have dinner with them, dance with them, watch them dance, or even, some said, be their dinner. It was all perfectly legal. But it was also all perfectly scandalous to the women who lived on Geranium Lane.
They gathered later in Mr. and Mrs. Peters’ living room. Vanessa was supposed to be upstairs playing in her room, away from the women. “So the adults can talk,” her mother had said. But she sat now at the base of the stairs, listening to the voices grow higher, some with excitement, others with panic.
“Imagine!” Exclaimed Mrs. Reisen from down the street. “A vampire! Right her in our neighborhood.”
A thrill of excitement ran up Vanessa’s spine and she quickly retreated up the stairs to her room, where she took up post at her window to look at 418 Geranium Way. The house looked no different than it had the day before. It still stood pale blue and tall on in its manicured lawn. To hear the women talk in the living room below, one would have thought that the house had turned black and sprouted gargoyles.
A movement in one of the windows caught Vanessa’s eye and she gave a hoot of excited delight to see a small girl, probably about her age, waving at her from that window. Vanessa waved back and set to scheming, figuring out a way to make sure she got to be friends with the girl in the vampire house, so that she could meet the vampire of Geranium Way.

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