On my way to Attleboro
A tale of a vampire hunter, a barn owl and couple in love
The New England crisp air in the late fall always puts me in a serene state. Especially at night. The moon hiding behind tree branches. The cool wind whistling in my ear. There is beauty in darkness. Tonight is a example.
Tonight is also the night I have been called to home of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Waite. The Waites have procured my services at twice my full fee. An emergency as the courier so thunderously explained to me. He stopped me as I was on my way to Attleboro. " The Waites need of your help my good sir....they will pay twice your usual fee". "Twice my fee? Well I suppose I can delay my next destination by a day or two." My services are expensive and as of last year in great demand.
"Knock, knock". It is dark, but the moon light as my torch and I can make out the form of the lion’s head bronze door knocker. "Knock, knock". No one home? I will try one more time. This time with a little more vigor. " KNOCK, KNOCK "! Suddenly I hear a whooshing behind me. " Oh bloody hell"! I fall on my ass.
From the worms eye view, I see a barn owl, making a late dinner of a whiskered critter. I must get myself together. For a man of my reputation and profession cannot be seen startled by an owl. I get myself up and gather my attaché case. Storming off the property. There is an inn just up road I will find lodging for the night there and back up Attleboro in the morning. "Mr. Beckett"! A woman dressed in the most colorful mantua screamed. But a face that looked like it hadn’t had a wink of sleep in days. " Mrs. Waite I presume?" " Yes, I am. We heard you knocking on our door, but we’re not sure if it was safe to open until we saw you walk down the road. Please come in and we can discuss our situation and we can pay you".
We enter the house, it is pitch dark. " I will light a lamp, Mr. Beckett one moment".
She lights an oil lamp and it illuminates a beautiful house. A chesterfield sofa of the finest quality, drapes of the best linen. A large exquisite walnut wood table at the center of the main room. " Mr. Beckett, please sit down. My husband will be down in a minute". I place my attaché case on the table. My case is adorned with a crucifix on its front. The light from the lamp and candles dance off its reflection.
"Mr. Beckett...(cough). A pleasure to meet you. Your reputation precedes you my good sir". Mr. Waite says as he comes down his elegant staircase. " I wish it could’ve been under other circumstances, but a man of your profession is only seen under dire situations". He hands me a bag of gold coins. "This should more than suffice". I look in the bag and it is 4 times my fee. " Thank you Mr. Waite. Now let me know, how can I help you?" He looks up at me, with worn out eyes and the smell of whiskey coming off of him. " Mr. Beckett, you are New England’s most famous expert in vampirism and hunter. My daughter has been stricken with this malaise. Have you ever heard of this ailment to be cured? This is our daughter, we cannot have her hunted by the people of this village!" I open my attaché case. There is a bible, various wooden and silver stakes. Holy water and the side compartment I have small jars of alchemist potions for curing vampirism if caught before the next new moon. " When was your daughter stricken with vampirism?" " We believe it was 2 weeks ago. Margie started first showing signs then. It started with her eating raw beef and then she started hiding all our crucifixes... that was just the beginning." She said as tears streamed down her face. " What was the last incident before she disappeared"? I asked. " John our courier came to us and told us she flew out of her bedroom window one evening as he was fetching some supplies from the store." I don’t know if she can be cured. Flying is a sign of a maturing vampire. I will not tell them this yet, they are quite upset as it is. " Can I see her bedroom" ? I ask with urgency. Only 2 nights before the new moon.
I enter her bedroom. It stunk of rotting beef and other indescribable odors. The bedsheets soaked in crimson. I take my trusty attaché case and click a lever on the handle. A mechanical antenna with various tools comes out. I use my state of the art optical loupe to look at the fibers of the sheets. Seems not to be very viscous in texture as blood can dry. But rather lightly stained. As if the crimson stain evaporated most of its constitution. Right next to my state of the art optical loupe I have a fabric scraper. I scrape material from the sheets. I put the sample by my nose to catch what scent I will appear. Ha, as I thought. This was not blood, but rather wine she had poured over her sheets. I examine the rest of the room. She had hid rotting beef in various compartments in her room. This was masking the smell of wine from the sheets. Quite a good tactic I must say.
I come down the stairs. The Waites with their heads down. " Mr. and Mrs. Waite, I need to speak to your courier at once. We only have 2 night before the new moon. I need to gather all the information needed if I am to find her." " He lives not to far from the inn down the road. " she said with a glimmer of hope in her eyes.
I am back in the cold air on my way to see about this courier. The life of a vampire hunter. You know if you don’t stop and smell the cold mist, the night will pass you by. I get to the home of the courier. "Knock, knock". No answer, I guess the theme of the night. Ok one more time but with more vigor. " KNOCK, KNOCK!’
You guessed it a whooshing behind me. I was ready this time. Our barn owl. Getting seconds on some sort of amphibious critter. This time I lock on him. He heads to a barn, well he is a barn owl. The barn is right behind the courier’s home. I stealthy make it to the front. The barn doors are locked. Lucky for me my trusty attaché case has the gadget just for these type of situations. I quietly open the doors. I make my way in. It is very dark in there but there is a feint candle light at the end of the barn. I get to the source of the light and I find a few bails of hay and John the courier and Margie the vampire asleep. You can guess by now she isn’t really a vampire. My guess is that their love would not be approved by the Waites. John being from a poor station in life. So they eloped. Eloped to this barn.
" Wake up you two." John jumps up and puts his hands up. " Mr. Beckett?" Smiling I say " In the flesh. You know I have to take Margie back to Mr. and Mrs. Waite." With his eyes welling up he says " l know" Margie looking petrified screams " I won’t go!" I explain the situation and how distraught her parents are and how they paid me a small fortune to get her. " I will make this right for both of you, vampire hunters honor. I am a man of my word". They look at each other and embrace.
Back at the Waites residence. I explain, " You see they love each other very much, that’s why they did this." Mr. Waites in shaky voice. " That is ok. My Margie is back. All is forgiven. Your reputation does precede you Mr. Beckett."
My chance to make it all right for John and Margie." " Your quite welcome Mr. Waite. I should be on my way. I have to be in Attleboro in the morning. One last thing before we part. I would give John a chance with Margie. He might be worth more than you think. Good night Waites."
Before I head into the inn for the night I stop off at John’s for a minute. " Mr. Beckett, am I in more trouble"? As he opened the door. " No, it’s all straightened out. Now listen here my good boy. Take this. " I hand him my small fortune 4 times my fee. "What’s this for ?" John asks. Smiling I say "A little something to get you started. So Mr. Waites see’s you can take care of yourself and Margie. It’s the 1790’s now my boy. Start a business or something like that. Just don’t go into the vampire hunting. "