Thursday, January 25, 2024

Garlic and Crosses and Silver Backed Mirrors (Part 2 of 3 Parts) blog post #638

Images Courtesy of Dreamstime:


The Singaporeans were back last week. Welcome, and I hope you stick around for the finale of the story. Speaking of which:

 Vampires? Werewolves? Those are Eastern European things, aren’t they? Not here in America, even frontier America. Or are they? Let’s read on and find out.




The woods always got to me… you know, how dark they were. Out in the field, the sun made the rocks sweat. But here beneath a thick canopy of leaves, the place grew gloomy and held a different kind of heat… close and stifling. I searched the area around the bush I’d seen quake, but I didn’t find a thing out of the ordinary.

Off to the west, I heard a noise like a branch snapping or an acorn falling to the ground. Coulda been natural, or might have been something sinister… like Ma’s vampire or Sara’s werewolf. But I was garlicked to the gills and laden with silver backed mirrors plus a clunky cross around my neck, so I was safe, wasn’t I? Then why was my back puckered like a patch of goose flesh and my breath coming hard?

Then I saw it. A shape, an indistinct form in the gloom. The thing, whatever it was, stared at me a moment before vanishing behind the bole of a tree. I shoulda chased after it, but I turned tail and ran for all I was worth… which apparently wasn’t very much. Not so far as bravery was concerned, at any rate. I was so chicken, I felt like clucking.


Of course, I couldn’t keep my big yap shut and blurted it all over the supper table that night.

“You actually saw it?” Sara asked, her eyes mimicking two the ten pennies I’d managed to save and hide in the toe of a sock.

“Uh-huh. With my own eyes.” I anticipated her next question. “Dunno exactly what I was looking at. Too dark.”

“Describe it as best you can,” my pa urged.

“Dark. Everything was dark. Hair black as that oil you smear on the wagon’s wheels.”

“Was it a man?” Sara asked, her eyes back to normal. “Or a beast or—”

“Best I could tell, it was a man. Leastways, didn’t seem to be four-legged or have wings or nothing like that.”

“Anything like that,” Ma automatically corrected. “Many of them are Romany, and they’re all dark. Black-headed, dark-skinned.”

“Yeah, like that.”

“But what did he look like?” Sara persisted. “Was he ugly like a warlock or—”

“Handsome as a prince?” I interrupted to jab at her verbally. “Dunno. Like I said, it was dark.”

“And you were too scared to notice. Probably went cross eyed,” she struck back, demonstrating her point by crossing her blue orbs and sticking her tongue out the side of her mouth.

“And right that you should be frightened,” Ma interjected. “Vampires are vile and crafty and cannot be trusted.”

“I’ll bet you took one look and ran away,” Sara put in, not about to let me get away with my “handsome prince” remark. “Did you wet your pants too?”

“Sara!” my parents exclaimed in unison.

“You bet I did,” I said. “Ran, that is. Not the other. But he ran first. At least he disappeared behind a tree.”

“You don’t go in the woods anymore,” Ma said in a sharp voice. “You stay in the fields. You keep to the sunshine.”

“Kinda hard to hunt in the fields,” Pa said. “But maybe it’d be best if we went hunting together, Son. So your ma’s right. Stay outta the woods unless I’m with you.”

He didn’t need to tell me twice.

I thought I’d be bothered by dreams that night, but I guess I was tired, because the Sandman came early, and the next thing I knew it was cracking dawn.


Pa and I usually worked in different fields, and two days later, musta been mid-morning when I hauled Cloppy to a halt and held up my hand to shade my vision. Movement had caught my attention. It took a bit of searching before I spotted him. A figure. A human figure stood at the northern edge of the field just outside the tree line… full in the sunlight. Male, from what I could tell. How long had he been there? Apparently, he could handle the bright sun, but for how long? Long enough to lope down here and suck the blood from my veins? He’d have to catch me first. Oh, couldn’t they turn into bats? Wouldn’t have any trouble catching me then. The hair on the back of my neck rose.

But for some reason, I wasn’t afraid… not really, just anxious. Maybe it was the fresh garlic Ma’d fashioned into my amulet. I’d started calling it that instead of a necklace. Necklace was a word Sara’d use.

He watched me watch him for a long moment before turning and entering the forest in a graceful, masculine stride. Recalling my sister’s taunt about running away and forgetting Pa’s orders to stay out of the forest,” I dropped Cloppy’s rein and walked up the hill toward the woods.



Looks like his little sister’s sniping put a little steel in Jamey’s backbone… but is that a good thing or a bad thing. We’ll find out in next week’s finale.

Until then, stay safe and stay strong.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say... so say it!

Please take a look at my BJ Vinson murder mystery series published by Dreamspinner Press. The seven books are a series, but they can be read independently. Better to start with the first, The Zozobra Incident. 

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See you next Thursday,


New posts every Thursday at 6:00 a.m., US Mountain time.

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