8. DRINKING BLOOD
As we crouched against the side of the building in the shadows, the rain dripping down onto us, I saw a torch light coming out the end of the bougainvillaea tunnel. I knew then we were trapped. If we wanted to get out we really had to go back through the tunnel, because to go all the way around the huge house in the dark would be dangerous. There were trees, fences, long grass, fallen statues, more bougainvillaea with their thorns, not to mention the bats. Then I saw a second torch light. The first torch moved quickly to the ground, then went out. The second torch came up closer and shone onto the first person. It was Ron Rocco! Apparently Rocco had dropped his torch.
‘Be careful of the thorns!’ Rocco said in a loud voice. Jodie turned her torch on and shone it on the second person’s face, it was George Blare. She then shone it onto Rocco. It shone into his eyes and he turned, ready to run. But George Blare stopped him.
‘It’s the girls.’
‘Y-yeah.’ And they came over to us and crouched down alongside the window.
‘What are you two doing here?’ Jodie asked.
‘We waited to see if you’d chicken out, but when we saw you ride your bikes past my place we decided to go too. Just to show you we weren’t scared.’ But Rocco sounded very nervous, his voice trembling a little, and it was higher pitched. I had never heard him sound so nervous before.
George said, ‘Have you looked yet?’
‘No. Who wants to be first?’ Jodie asked.
‘I will,’ I whispered. I certainly didn’t want to be first, but I didn’t want the boys to ever claim they got to Darkson House and we were sitting there, too afraid to look in the window.
‘Go on then,’ Rocco whispered. ‘It’s midnight.’
I carefully put my head around the corner and had a tiny peek, pulled my head back nervously, then looked again. I could see into the cellar quite clearly. The room was lit up with fluorescent lights. It was not a vampire’s den, but an office. An ordinary office. There was a long table with two desk lamps, a large magnifying glass, and a big grey machine at the end of the table. There were sheets of paper cut into pieces and there on the table was a glass full of “blood”. I stared at it, but it was the can alongside that explained everything. A large can, with a can-opener and on the side it said:
BEST QUALITY TOMATO JUICE Served chilled
That was the “blood”!
‘What do you see?’ they all began whispering.
‘Jodie, you look next. It’s a vampire’s den all right—there’s even a glass of blood on the table.’ I squeezed her hand so she would know I was joking.
Jodie bent forward and looked for a minute. She leant back smiling for the first time that night. ‘That’s hideous!’
‘W-What is it?’ Rocco asked.
‘You’ll have to look yourself,’ I told him. ‘Try not to look at the bodies, they’re gruesome.’
‘Uh, George,’ he said, ‘why don’t you look first?’
‘No. It was your idea Rocco. I’ll … just wait … maybe we should go, someone might ambush us if we stay too long. We’re trespassing you know.’
I said, ‘Don’t worry Ron, we’ll protect you.’ He looked embarrassed; then Rocco gingerly lent forward, eyes bulging, expecting to see a vampire crawling from its coffin. After a minute he pulled back, and George looked.
Rocco said: ‘Well it looks like Mr O’Brien isn’t a vampire. Still it’s a pity we couldn’t get a look at him.’
‘Shh,’ George said. ‘He just walked past carrying a box of paper.’
‘What does he look like?’
‘Just an ordinary bloke who wears a shirt and tie and works in an office.’
‘No pointy teeth?’ Jodie said.
‘Okay, so it’s just an office,’ Rocco admitted.
‘And what about the blood that he drinks?’
‘Tomato juice. Yeah, I had a talk to my father about it tonight. He said the housekeeper didn’t say: Here’s your blood, what she said was: Here’s your bloody mary.’
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
‘Just a drink. You mix tomato juice with vodka, the vodka is clear so it looks like blood. And he told me what he said about using the guillotine to cut the heads of chooks was just a joke, a fowl joke he said. Dad told me a guillotine is just like a huge pair of scissors for cutting paper in a straight line.’
‘Right,’ Jodie said, ‘I think that just about explains everything. Let’s go home.’ We all stood up and moved away from the window. ‘Shhh! Someone’s coming. Turn the torches off.’ And in the darkness we could hear the sound of someone scrabbling about in the leaves.
Out came Snowball; she was wet.
‘Oh thank goodness,’ I said, ‘it’s only a witch!’ The cat came over to me, smoodging against my legs. They turned the torches on again.
Rocco said: ‘What’s that on your face, Jodie?’ He shone the torch onto her cheek. I could see the scratch from the bougainvillaea thorn, and there was a drop of red blood on her skin.
‘Oh it’s blood.’
‘Blood?’ I moved closer to her and took Jodie by the shoulders and put my lips onto her cheek and sucked at the tiny drop of blood. I made large sucking sounds and growled in my throat, but underneath both Jodie and I were ready to burst into giggles.
‘W-what are you doing?’ Rocco said. ‘Stop it!’
‘Delicious,’ I said. ‘I feel so powerful now.’
‘Let’s go home. Come on. I’ll lead the way.’
‘What’s the hurry Rocco?’
‘I’m getting soaked.’
‘Oh, it’s hardly raining. All right, but don’t make so much noise. We’ll stay at the back just in case anyone tries to grab you by the throat from behind.’
The two boys led the way through the tunnel and out past the front steps, down the large path to the huge front gates as though the devil was right behind them. Jodie and I carefully shut the gate without slamming it. Everything was soaked, including our bikes.
The boys were on their bikes and off down the hill without saying another word, they pedalled like mad till they got to Rocco’s house at the bottom of Kruger Street. I rode side by side with Jodie till we met up with the boys.
They were standing next to the low brick fence. Jodie was smiling that little smile again and I knew she was going to tease Rocco. She got off her bike, and put her kick-stand down and said: ‘Well, that was an interesting night, wasn’t it Ron?’
‘You girls have got guts all right. That was scary, wasn’t it?’ But she didn’t answer, just kept going closer and closer to Rocco who looked very, very nervous. He couldn’t move backwards because he was right up against the little brick fence. Jodie was almost touching him and she said in a deep growling voice, speaking slowly: ‘Ron … Ronald … what about a good night kiss from me?’
He was very embarrassed and afraid because of her weird voice. She sounded like a ghoul. ‘Uh, n-not now, Jodie.’ But suddenly she lunged forward, teeth bared like a savage wolf, and brought her lips down onto his neck. Rocco sprang backwards scrambling over the brick wall like she was a vampire about to suck his blood. George Blare hurdled the fence and was at the front door in two seconds. It must have been ajar for it immediately opened and they both disappeared inside and we heard the door click twice as they double locked it.
Jodie and I burst into giggles. I felt that for once we had got the better of both of them. They’d never accuse us of being scared again.
‘Let’s go home and change out of our wet things before Mum gets back.’ And we took off grinning, pedalling home in the dark. Behind me I heard Jodie say: ‘I only asked for a kiss and he ran for his life. I just don’t understand boys!’