Jac's C.O.S.T.(Coming Out Story Told)
By:Jaquline Alyce Delacroix
It was one-hundred-eighty minutes before the Witching Hour, on the 30th day of the 10th month of the 16th year of the third millennium. Our character, a troubled young man, yours truly, is troubled by all that is going on in his life by the every day ordinary life wrinkles and by more than the strictly mundane. I'm lying awake with the worst seven-word soliloquy ever known to mankind running through my mind,
"Why can't I find a date?" I groan aloud.
"Aawk! Find a date! Find a date!" squawks my pet parrot.
"Shaddup, Merlin, I'm trying to!"
After spending a few moments doting on the subject, I get up and go to the Master Bathroom and spend the next 10 minutes brushing my teeth and giving my beard the appearance of having gotten Freddy Kruger for a barber.
After swearing and looking for my bottle of witch hazel to stem the tide of blood from the numerous small cuts on my face, I decide to get into the shower, so I strip out of the silk judo shorts I employ for pajamas, muttering all the while,"stupid freakin' antique razor...", and press the on button for the shower.
Letting the water warm up, I go back to the mirror to indulge in a little 'reflection'(Sorry, I couldn't resist!). I wipe the toothpaste foam from my lips and gaze at the visage that earned me many admirers in high school and collage but no dates in either of them: Hair, the color of darkest mahogany, shot through with threads of deepest burgundy; Eyes the color of warm honey; sharp and high cheekbones; a proud roman nose; full lips, perpetually ruddy due to my habit of nibbling at them when stressed or thinking; a flawless complexion the shade of dark roast coffee mixed with a touch of the richest of creams... sighing, I slip into gazing into the middle distance beyond my mirror, "Am I too vain? No! of course I'm not... I'm just proud of the looks I have..." To prove the point, and make sure that another birthday has not left its marks upon me while coming, I stare at these features: "No crow's-feet, No laugh lines, No grey hair... I'm still the same old Jac Eugine Twist that I always was! Thank the Gods!" I turn back to depression quickly and resume my gazing at my appearance; "Great hair, good bone structure, nice colouring...Blah, Blah, Blah...And then, of course, there's the scar..." I think wryly.
I bear a scar three-quarters of an inch wide and running from my left collarbone, up over the shoulder, diagonally down my back, to end at my right hip. To some people this would be a horrific disfigurement, maybe even grotesque; to this one person however, it is neither. To me it is a mark of beauty; A badge of Honor; A show of just how much hell a man can harrow; especially if that man is more than mere Man, Is one of the Elite, One of those known as The Djinnmasters.
Shaking my head to clear it, I decide that the shower is probably warm enough to get into, I step into the stall and press the button for the full body jets. As jets of near-scalding water massaged my neck, chest, back, and shoulders, a roar of disbelief echoed off of the milky marble of the shower stall: "I can't believe I'm 26!" I finish up and am still moaning pitiously to myself as I walk out of the bathroom 20 minutes later, smelling of lavender, wintermint and musk.
Toweling my mid-back-length hair, I go to the closet, and pick out from among the 250 sq. ft. of clothing, my outfit for the day and since I work later, it's a clean work uniform: a midnight-blue oxford shirt with the store's insignia; a sword and chalice forming a cross, embroidered on the left chest in scarlet and white thread; navy slacks that were anything but slack on my 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound, V-shaped frame and a pair of black penny loafers. To complete the outfit I go to my jewelry casket and select: a white gold ring set with a ruby 'rose' and two emerald 'leaves' for my left hand, a titanium band set with onyx and pink diamond, etched with a tri-moon for my right hand, and a platnum Mjolnir (Thor's Hammer) set with moonstone and mother-of-pearl, set on a fine silver chain.
I look in the mirror and think to myself, "Hm, I look pretty damn good in this uniform! Maybe the Powers-That-Be will be kind today and give me a birthday presant... preferably of a dateable sort?"
Smiling sardonically to myself I go to the kitchen and start to make a pot of 'lavender luxury' tea. As I filled the carafe, My 'Psy-Dar' gives me a shock as brief as the blast of a .22 on a January morning and as sharp as a newly keened Obsidian scalpel. Sending out a mental 'finger' I meet a well-known set of shields, very well known since I crafted them just a little over a year ago! Laughing, I undo the 9 locks on the door("it's not paranoia if they ARE out to get you...") and open it to reveal, a man the very image of Kipling's version of Shakespeare's Puck. Right down to ears that look pointed, he was wearing a florescent yellow spandex top and black tights about one and a half sizes too small.
"Good evening, Schieszekopf!!" he greets me,
"Hello! Could you turn down the shirt? It may wake the neighbors!" I return.
"OK, Can we call a truce to this little insult tennis match and start Die Kaffeekranzchen?"
"Can I come in? I need to talk to you and maybe get some supper?"
"As our Grammy always says, 'Come quickly, depart safely, and leave some of the happiness you bring!' Come on in!"
"Jac, when have I ever brought anything resembling happiness to this house?"
"Just get in here..."
"Oh my dear Gods! I've been to 'cattle calls' all day, and I tell ya, the only way to make it in this biz is act like a complete schmuck or keep kissing the producer's..."
"Feet!" I interrupted, "keep it clean, Noel, my dear brother, keep it clean! And get in here! You look dead..."
"And you have never looked more alive!"
".. And I've got a feeling that since you've not been to bed yet it won't count as drinking before noon if you try something I've just come up with?"
"Well, if it does, it's five o'clock somewhere! What am I trying?"
"Something I whipped up when someone asked for a mango margarita but had none of the ingredients!" Noel lifted a Styrofoam cup filled with a substance of Icee consistency, orange, and smelling highly of pomegranate, lemon and cherry, and takes a sip.
"MMM! Cool and vibrant, just like me!"
"Noel, would you care for Ein Eppess Essen?"
"Sure! Wotcha got?"
"Well, I was about to make breakfast, so... give me a minute!"
"OK! OK! Jeez! Let's have a nice little myocardial infarction, why don't we?" Noel said under his breath.
"I HEARD THAT!!"
An hour and fifteen minutes later, as we were finishing a breakfast of buckweat blintzes and mixed fruit compote, I turn and ask, "So, why did you come to my house at nearly eleven at night? And don't give me any of that 'I needed supper' crap, because you could have had any of a dozen meals at any of a dozen resturants that you passed to get here. So, what's up?"
"Well, do you remember Dr. Jakeb Everett Ward?"
"Yeah, I remember him. Why do you ask?"
"Because I got a basket of all kinds of crap from him yesterday with a note that you would get one the day after tomorrow. Well, after today, that is...you'll probably get it delivered at work, that's where he sent mine..."
Later on that night, around 1:30am, at Bell, Book, & Candle, the metaphysical shop where I work, I was organizing the tourists' ceremonial robes and checking the stock to see what needed reordering,
"We need more purple-n-red and rainbow... Lords and Ladies above and below, these gods-awful things couldn't raise a single micro-joule of power! And yet, those fools buy them! And for $40 a robe for small through large and $10 more for extended sizes, there's the rent!" I thought to myself, "But in the back are the true Robes for those in The Craft, woven of virgin wool, and these are about as ornate as a monk's habit! Unlike these polyester horrors... oh, well, gotta love the aunts!"
Laughing at myself for using one of my gramma's jokes without thinking, ("Hey Jac, Wadda ya think of this suit?" "That my aunts are coming to town." "What?" "My aunts... Polly and Ester...") I caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye and looked. I thought I was dreaming for a moment, for there, outside the store's front window, was a figure so attractive he was in danger of being mistaken for a Renaissance angel who managed to escape from the stained glass portal, although wearing more contemparary clothes, letting my eyes take him in from the ground up, he was wearing: a pair of cream-coloured calf's-skin boots; a pair of ecru slacks; an eggshell, french-cuffed shirt with a bolatie set with an opal; and a white physician's coat; and with a visage that matched the outfit, so fair it looked as though he had milk rather than melanin coloring his skin. one would normally look washed out in such an outfit, but on the contrary, he looked even more robust for the complexion-matching wardrobe.
For all this though, yours truly notices just two things: "His eyes! O my Gods! His eyes! Eyes that just grab you by the throat and won't let go! And so wise-looking as though he'd been through decades, no, seen centuries pass, and learned from them! Without becoming cruel or bitter! And his hair...! Hair just long enough and silky-looking enough to make anyone, male or female, have their fingers itch to run themselves through it!" and I, being a romance writer in my off-hours, let myself a brief daydream of doing just that.
Then I shook myself and thought to myself: "Oh well, back to business!" I walk over to the door and open it saying, "Hi, I'm Jac, could I help you with anything?"
The gentleman replies in a faint accent that it took me all of a moment to register as French, "Bonjour, Jac, I am Andre Aristade, and if you could recommend someone who would not mind sitting and chatting with a person new to this town, and possibly a good place to eat around here, then you would be very helpful indeed!"
"I believe I could recommend someone, and somewhere. He gets off work..."I look at my watch. "Fifteen minutes ago! Come on, it's an all-night coffee shop down the street. It's called the Kokoa Kobra. Yes, the name needs work but the food is delectable!"
I turn to the rear door and shout "Hey, Leo, I'm off, be back tomorrow!"
"OK, Bye, Uncle Jac!", my nephew calls back.
"Bye, Mr. Twist!"
"That's more like it..." I mutter. "Shall we?" I said to Andre.
We walk to the coffee shop down the street and in the next four hours go through every topic under the sun, as well as 4 pots of coffee and 3 pounds of baked goods between us. When I look at my watch I thought it had stopped, and when I looked out the window my heart almost did! Dawn had nearly come and we were still talking.
"Andre, are you aware that we've been talking for four hours?"
"Sacre Merde! Really? Well, I am sorry to have kept you, but thank you for a glorious first day in town and I hope you do not think me too forward but could I see you again?"
"OK, two things: one, why would you think that forward? And two, I'd love to! Meet me at the store tomorrow?"
"C'est très bien! Vers 23 l'heures?"
"Je ne vous verrai ensuite."
At precisely 9:45pm, Noel was walking up to the shop, and noticed that the door had a sign on it 'doorlock broken, please come in'. Coming into the shop, Noel gave a whistle that would have been the envy of every rancher ever born.
"What in the Gods' names was that?" I shouted from the backroom. "No, wait, Let me guess, Noel?"
"Right! Now get out here! I have something for you!"
I came out muttering under my breath, "...stupid mother-loving son of a...What?!" I snapped.
"Do you remember our convorsation about Dr. Ward?"
My temper cooled faster that a cup of molten steel thrown into a vat of liquid nitrogen, at the mention of my favorite teacher.
"Because he left a present for you with the doorman."
"How do you know it's from him, for me? It has no card."
"One, we were his two favorite students, you taking gold and I silver, two, look at the hand writing, and three, I have mine!"
"Oh, wait! It does have a card!"
"Well, read it!"
"OK, here goes...'Dear Jac, I hope you remember me as well as I remember you, of course, I could never forget my favorite student, and just to show my appreciation for you attending my class, here are some trinkets to remind you of my classroom and a few other things I thought might be needed in the future; first, a pointer from my classroom,if you'll look closely you'll see it has been hand crafted from yew to remind you that knowledge, although a strength may be poisonous, next; some candles, to remind you to that the path of knowledge although walked by many needs illumination, third; a silver teapot to remind you that 'knowledge is worth far more than silver or gold', fourth; some salt to remind you to preserve the relationships you have, for they are there but an instant before they are gone. Fifth; a bit of incense to help 'send all your troubles up in smoke', and last, a set of dressing gowns; because you deserve it and "all work and no play makes Jac a dull boy"!. Hope all is well and may you all Blessed Be,Dr. Jakub Everett Ward, PhD, MD, BD, etc, etc, etc.' Noel, please tell me you didn't..."
"Jac! For the Gods' sake! Only two people know I'M a Wiccan, so what makes you think that I'd throw you out of the broom closet!?"
"I wasn't accusing you, I just wonder how he picked the cardinal colors of Wicca for the candles; and gave me a stick of one of the most magical of all woods that is in essence a wand because look, it wasn't cut, it was broken; a silver teapot that is over 200 years old and yet never been used, and thus meets the definition of 'virgin silver',..."
"Wait, How do you know it's over 2 centuries old and it's never been used?"
"it has the date it was made stamped here on the bottom and the inside is shined better than the outside... who shines the inside of their teapot, may I ask?"
"No one. Ok, go on..."
"...Salt, which is used in almost every cleansing and purifying spell; incense of the kind only used by the Followers, and a set of Robes! One for each of the eight Esbats and a normal Ritual Robe. Not to mention he closed the letter with a Pagan sign-off! And we both know full well he was Jewish!"
"Just Dr. Ward I guess...."
"Yeah..." I said with a tone that implied the rest of the thought...'yeah, and maybe monkeys will come flying out of my butt too.'
At 11 pm, Andre saunters into the shop and calls "Mon ami, Commet Vous?"
"I'm back here! Let's go!" We stroll back to the coffee house, and I order, "One of the bottomless carafes and a deluxe sampler please...oh, hey Granny Annie!" I cry, "I forgot you worked here, too!"
"Hey Jac, I'll be with ya in just a sec," my grandmother calls out in a slightly smokey mezzo-saprano, "Yo, Jimmy! I'm punching out! OK... Let's go back here, we just had a reservation cancel...Come on..." We go back to a party room and sit down.
"Grammie, this is Mr. Andre Aristade, Andre, this is Annabelle St. Clare, my grandmother..."
"Actually, it's Dr. Andre Aristade, but I never insist with my patients, so, why should I with my friends? A pleasure, madame...May the flames of your soul always match the hair on your head, may the pools of your eyes never be disturbed by the storm of ill news, and may the fates cross our paths again..."
"Pleased to meet you..." said Annabelle.
"Jac...Ou est l'toilettes messieurs?" Andre whispered in my ear.
"Troisieme porte sur le cote droit," I whisper back
"Merci!" Andre says sotto voce as he leaves.
"So, who's the hottie?" asks Annabelle.
"Well, first of all, he's a newbie to town and two, you're not so bad yourself....flaming hair, eyes as blue as two pools of water, a body like a living barbie even at your age... You're perfect!"
"Jac, you've got a tongue in your head that could fertilize 40 acres...I love it...but what about him?... if you describe a mere mortal like me that kindly, how about an angel like him?"
"How about you describe him...go on..." I tease.
Just then, Andre walks back in, "You have the most beautiful decor here..."
"On second thought.... never mind...." I mutter to Annabelle.
"I'm sorry, did I interrupt something?"
"No, but I believe I did, I'll leave you two to talk... Andre, are you all right? You look kind of pale."
"Yes, I'm fine, but if you could help me to a chair..." Andre says weakly, "Eh, merde..." He mumbles under his breath.
"He's fainted....help me to the table..." I say.
Annabelle and I lift him to the table and I undo the top button on Andre's dress shirt so he could breathe a bit easier, then run my hand through Andre's hair to brush it out of his eyes. I feel a prick near my wrist and then everything goes black as I pull the cut back, I knew no more because I was feeling the most severe carnal pleasure in my entire life, it blocked out everything, until...
I came to, with a bandage on my wrist and Annabelle sleeping in the next booth, a cup of tea forgotten on the table beside her.
"Ohhh, what happened??", I moaned.
"Non! No talking right now. You've had a severe shock and fainted, and I tell you now as friend and medical doctor that if you so much as try to speak, I'll be forced to sedate you. Now... Annabelle, Annabelle! Wake up, dear, you go on home, I'll lock up and stay with Jac..."
"OK, if you're sure... Night, guys...." Annabelle yawned, leaving the keys on the table as she left.
When she had left Andre turned and said "I know you have a lot of questions so please, ask! I just wanted to answer one on one..."
"OK, first, ette vous Les Vampyre?"
"Oui, that is why I fainted, lack of blood; You fainted because I over did it on the 'Keeper's Touch' a moment ago..."
"I'm sorry, what? 'The Keeper's...'What? Oh, what I felt? It's to make sure that your dinner doesn't get away before you get what you need, huh?"
"Yes, it is the coin with which we buy our meals, one of the only things that makes the feeding humane...if you can call it that... We vampyres have powers that allow us to get our meals; the strength of a demigod, lightning quick speed, vision twice as keen as an eagle's, and we make no more noise than the smallest of rodents when we move. Then there are the powers of the Keeper's Touch, and the Breath of Dreams. These are the powers of all vampyres but only the evil among us use them all, there are those among us known as the Sworn, who use merely the last two to feed, and only these at the volunteer's request."
"Well, could you tone it down next time, it's a little hard on the donor..."
"Yes, I'll try..." Andre said sheepishly, "I have more control when I am aware..."
"Which you weren't..."
"No, I wasn't, and I'm ashamed to have done that, I have taken an oath to never force someone to allow me a meal..."
"Well, you weren't exactly awake to ask my permission, so, it's fine."
"Truly? Thank you. There aren't many people who would willingly have a vampyre make a meal out of them, let alone unwillingly, and then forgive them for doing so...You've quite a trusting nature to be able to do that."
"Yeah, well...thanks. Hey, what time is it?"
"About an hour before dawn, why?"
"Well, I need to get home and feed my parrot...and you need to find someplace to stay for the day, right?"
"Well, I feel like I've just donated about 2 liters of blood and I don't think I can get home by myself, and since you need a place to stay, how about coming over to my place and playing nursemaid/house guest? I need someone to talk to besides my parrot, anyway..."
"Well, if you are sure...OK! A creature like me needs all the allies he can get. And do you know how long it's been since I've been to a friend's house?" Andre asked excitedly.
I chuckled and said, "Well, come on then, help me up. I've been laying here a while, it feels like..." Andre came beside me and helped me slide to the floor where, upon trying to stand and walk, I promptly fell into Andre's arms.
"Merde..." Andre muttered, "I guess you walking is out of the question. That's fine, I'll carry you home. Where do you live?"
"There's no need..." I protested. "Just gimme a minute and I'll be fine."
"I believe the expression is 'the hell you will'?" Andre said kindly but with a bite of impatience, "You can't even stand, let alone walk...I'm carrying you and that's final." Andre said this as he lifted me in to his arms until I rested with his shoulder-blades against Andre's left arm and knees against his right, and started toward the door.
"...Whoa! Gods above and below, you're strong!"
"Indeed, I am. I told you before, we vampyres have the strength of demi-gods. I could easily toss you from hand to hand like an apple, or crush you by being too energetic with an embrace, but we can temper that strength, bring it down from the blow of a falling mountain to the finesse of a surgeon; from crushing you, to gently wiping the hair out of your eyes..." Andre said as he brushed away my bangs. "Now, which way is home?" he asked as he carried me down the hallway and out the front door.