Annika couldn’t stop crying for at least an hour before she composed herself. I always hated it when women cried. Being my betrothed only made it worse. It was excruciating.
I wanted to ask over and over again what was wrong, but frankly the way Grandma Sissel apparently could appear and disappear without the slightest whisper of a foot on the ground or shadow at the door, I didn’t want to know.
Finally she said, “Grandma told me to tell you everything.” Sighing, she added, “that was the last thing she told me to do, well she also told us to get married tonight.”
“What?” I couldn’t decide if I should try that one over again perhaps yelling this time or with a posh British dialect. The whole thing was beginning to freak me out. Irrational, I could feel that my mind was racing in too many directions at once and falling all over itself. And clearly the James Mason impression I had in mind was a bad idea.
“Before we go to Vegas, I have to take you to work for a few minutes. To explain . . .” and she cut herself off in an obvious way. Her voice squeaked up to little girl and reverted to a Swedish accent as she added, “to explain everyting.” and she started crying again.
“Oh God, if you’re listening, I could use a little help about now for what to do next because the hop on a slow boat to Antarctica option is really starting to sound appealing.” I don’t remember if I’d said that outloud or not. I thought not, but Annika answered that if I hadn’t been a prayerful person for a lot longer than just tonight, it might take more time to work up to answers like that.
“Anyway, I’m your answer so he’d tell you to stick with me anyway because I’m the only one that can get you out of this mess.” We were driving now and I was as punch drunk as she was, I should not have been behind the wheel.
“Mess, what mess?” I asked.
Annika screamed at me, “You’re married to a mother sucking vampire you stupid idiot!”
I slammed on the brakes. My eyes were closed. The car started sliding sideways. I felt the wheel jerk under my hands which were glued tight to it. My arms wrenched with it. My right shoulder is still not right. Skidding to a stop not far from the curb, I looked at Annika and wondered how she could be so strong. “Yes, I’m a vampire too.” It was a simple enough confession. “So is Grandma Sissy.”
“I would have taken Grandma Sissy for a witch, but I” and I stopped to choose my words, though I couldn’t think of anything better to say than, “but I wouldn’t have thought you were anything but the young beautiful bride to be that you are.” She actually blushed. We switched drivers and headed out. As she drove I finally thought to ask, “so who else is a vampire, is the president a vampire?”
“Ha! No. But since he’s middle eastern and African he may be a conjurer or at least he could be. Actually with vampires, it’s a Swedes only club . . .” Annika paused for a moment, “Martin is one too.”
“Hmmpf, that figures,” Martin struck me as a used car salesman, “so he’s a vampire for both your wallet and your neck.”
“I can’t believe this.” She had crinkled her forehead and snorted her nose again. “Look, I don’t much like Martin, he’s an ass, but he’s family, and by this time tomorrow, he’ll be your family, or more specifically he already is.”
“What do you mean?”
“Anita is my mother.” I believe I fell asleep about then. When I awoke I was parked in the Helix Grossmont Hospital lot downtown, bottom level. Seated in the passenger seat again I could see the window had a light fog with a small patch of frost on the glass nearest my face. Pulling my cell phone I was about to call Annika but there she was standing beside me.
“Why am I so tired?” I asked.
“It’s part of the process, that’s all.”
“The being married to a vampire process?” I asked.
“No, the becoming a vampire process.” Annika tried to smile but failed and her face contorted into a halfsmile on the left half and a frown on the right half. She looked away from me for a moment until she could get it right and face me again.
“So we live in day, don’t sparkle and don’t burn in the sunlight, but we apparently turn into Popsicles when we sleep, we’re Swedish and at least one of us is very very old, did I miss anything?”
“Well, you’ve scratched the surface.” She stared at her comfy white shoes and said, “Yes, we’re Swedish, but only the direct descendants of King Numfår the Gentle and his wife Bothilda can become vampires. And even then, not all of us inherit the ability to become a vampire. I’ve been waiting for such a long time to become your wife and now I can’t because that bitch beat me to it.”
“So, I’ll divorce her.” I had to take a minute to rub my eyes.
“It’s not that easy, we vampires mate for life.” Tears started rolling down her cheeks again. “It’s till death do you part, and we don’t die . . .” Annika gulped back tears. “But Grandma told us to get married so we’re going to Vegas and she said she’d take care of it somehow.”
“Didn’t you say she was your mom?” I asked. “Ya, just said as I was falling asleep, you said she was your mom.”
“I was hoping you’d forget that. But there’s something else . . .”
“Til death? But she’s your mom though, right?”
“Death yes, mom yes. But there’s something else I have to tell you.”
“So how long have you been stalking me?” I asked.
“I don’t really work in the cafeteria?” She said.
“You said you’ve been waiting for such a long time to become wife, how long was that?”
“I’m actually a doctor, I received my phd in microbiology and immunology from Stockholmsuniversitet and my MD from Yale.”
“When did you do all that? And were you already stalking me when all that happened?” I asked.
“I work here as a nurse in the phlebotomy lab keeping track of all of the A-B Negative patients and patients whose parentage runs back to Sweden.”
“So, tell me. How old are you?”
“96 and and a half. Listen, I’ve got to run upstairs and grab a couple of things we’ll be needing for the trip to Vegas. I’ve been stalking you since your grandparents.” And her voice squeaked out, “Sorry. Just stay here and rest, I’ll be right back.”
So, there I sat. I thought of her reflection in the TV Screen yesterday morning, and looked in the mirror, yup, I was still there. No invisible mirror man for me. We live in light, you can only become a vampire if you’re a Swede, and only a specific parentage from Sweden can ever be vampires. My approximate percentage of Swedish blood couldn’t be more than about a fourth, so even the President could have been a vampire if his non-African half had been my cousins.
Sleepy, I leaned the chair back and yawned. I could see my breath. We turn into Popsicles when we sleep, and she tracks A-B negative patients. She’s an older gal. I’m married to her mother who is a black haired golden eyed teenager. And I’m about to marry the daughter in a civil ceremony, does that make me a polygamist?
I still didn’t know if we drank blood, or ate meat. My tummy was saying, I could really go for a BK teriyaki burger with a strawberry shake.
Were we undead? Maybe all those cows and sheep really were our cup of tea.