Trouble in Paradise

“Teenage Vampires from Paradise.”

Sounds like a great title for a B-grade movie, doesn’t it?

But they’re real.  I seen ’em.

Paradise is a little town in the mountains of Butte County where my ex-wife and ex-kids make their home.  Sometimes, when the madcap life of Solano County grows too frantic, I migrate there and they let me sleep in the dumpster out front.

Nothing much seems to happen in Paradise.

In fact, the most exciting thing that happens in town occurs when somebody manages to spill the salsa at La Comida, a Mexican restaurant of no little repute.  Actually, of no repute at all. (“Look, Zeb, Hank put his godarned elbow in the salsa and spilled it all over the floor.  Somebody better get the sheriff…and the po-lice, too, We don’t know what kinda situation we got developin’ here…”)

At least that’s how it was before the vampires.

I was sitting on the back porch of my ex-wife’s modest home (all homes in Paradise are “modest”) when the vampires arrived, drifting across the back lawn while my ex and I quaffed a pair of Lone Star beers in the 104 degree heat.

One vampire had purple hair, the other a Mohawk.  Both were dressed in black with flowing, red-lined capes and metal-shod boots, each carried a single blood red carnation.

(The carnations, I later learned, had been liberated from a nearby cemetery).

“Hey, uh, whaa…” I asked intelligently.

My former wife, as usual, had the situation well under control and calmly informed me that they were a pair of my daughter’s friends from school.

“They’re into vampires,” she stated casually.

Into vampires…uh-huh.

I remember when high school kids were into surf boards and day-glo posters and black lights and Beatles haircuts and, from earlier generations, Elvis Presley and Hula Hoops – but vampires?

I turned to the two children of the night and, trying to appear casual, asked “Isn’t ait a little bright out here for you, sunlight and all?”

Everybody knows vampires shrivel up and blow away in the presence of sunlight.

“Yeah,” one apprentice vampirette replied, flopping onto the porch.  “I’m dying.  You got a Coke or 7UP?”

Her companion giggled and I knew we were in for trouble.  Vampires who giggle are absolutely the worst kind.  Any vampire can manage an evil smile, a sinister sneer or a sardonic laugh, but the giggling ones are rare.

Things got a little more complicated when my ex-wife told me that one of the future neck biters was moving in with them for the summer.

Great, even I know the only way a vampire can enter one’s domicile is by invitation.  Good going, wife.  Have another Lone Star…

She’s going to have a great time when the Butte County Animal Control officers show up on her doorstep in response to a flurry of neighborhood complaints about bats.

Or when the police come by to ask if she knows anything about an 18th-century coach and four coal black horses rolling recklessly through Paradise’s streets after dark.

And how does she expect to handle the peasants with the torches and stakes and garlands of garlic storming the house just before sunset every night?

What if they run out of silver bullets at the hardware store, I asked her in exasperation.

“That’s for werewolves,” she informed me matter of factly.

The weekend passed without incident, nobody woke up with a sore throat and the peasants didn’t show.

In fact, things began looking up shortly before I left when I offered to fix the vampire-to-be a salami sandwich.

“Are you kidding? I’m a vegetarian,” she responded.

A vegetarian vampire?  There’s hope after all.

Originally published 1987-ish

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