Vlad and Elizabeth had consumed their entire human armies. They never once considered their “nom-nom-nom’s” or victimelor (victim’s) advice about creating armies of the undead that had, for decades, been utilized successfully at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Prince and Countess had “lost” their household staffs years ago. They’d also slaughtered their so-called “friends” and loyal subjects who did no more than plead for their puny lives. Elizabeth asked Lupta if she could “dig up a few distant relatives” after both herself and Vlad had had children long ago, all who eventually “flew the belfry.”

“I’ll see what I can do. I’ve got a line on two of your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandkids who so far are, well, not that great. There are some shadows in their lives. Hmmm, they might have potential. They look like smelly hippies.”

After extensive research, Lupta pinpointed the two youngsters—both living far away, like in, fer sure, sunny Southern California. This looks promising! Both their addresses were listed exactly where the crystal iBall had indicated. And both could be found on the dating site Blacksheepshame.com, “Where the lowest common denominator of psychopaths meet!”

Vlad had a great-grandson, eight times removed, named Jonathan Tepes, a part-time junior college literature teacher, Santa Monica lifeguard, and tone-deaf folk singer. The young man looked very much like Vlad—without the mustache—who also had a striking resemblance to the singer James Taylor—before Mr. Taylor had lost all-his-fuckin’ hair. Blacksheepshame.com also showed that Jonathan had a “history,” a string of assaults on his police record.

Mina Bathory (the Bloody Countess’ great-granddaughter, eight times removed) was a lithesome blonde, age thirty-two, who owned a small cosmetics company. Young Mina also had a passion for guns and was once arrested for “ghoulish behavior” and the illegal trafficking of human organs…(?!) If she were dark haired, Lupta the witch thought, she would look like a thinner Elizabeth. That cute ass nails it. On a dating app description she’d listed herself as “all willowy an’ shit.”

Transylvania needed new blood—now. Lupta would make both of these children offers that they couldn’t refuse. The two young people had never met, until Lupta put her spells in motion one day…

***

I feel so “willowy” today, Mina thought. I’m young, blonde, thin, and springtime fresh! (She wasn’t that young.)

(Imagine, young reader: Can you picture her long fine hair blowing in the late afternoon breeze as she walks along Palisades Park above the sparkling Pacific? Can you see her as she kneels to pick flowers on her way toward her “favoritest” bench overlooking the Santa Monica pier? Oh look! There sits a handsome minstrel!)

Graceful Mina, holding a fistful of traumatized wildflowers viciously torn from their roots, approached the young man in slow motion. The smooth, shirtless, and easygoing young fellow was butchering James Taylor’s hit song, “Laid Back and Cool,” on his guitar beneath an oak tree.

“You sound just like James Taylor!” said the willowy one who, luckily for Jonathan, was also tone-deaf.

“I assume that you mean the young James Taylor, the carefree James with long, thick hair. Alas! Fair maiden! You look just like Gwyneth Paltrow. All willowy an’ shit,” said His Mellowness.

“My name is Wilhelmina Blythe. You, my handsome thirty-something-year-old irresponsible type, can call me Mina,” said the thirty-something-year-old faux Paltrow. “Someday I will be a princess!”

“Aye, my princess, my name is Jonny, short for Jonathan. The life of an irresponsible musician is in my blood. My father, Jonathan Tepes, was also a musician. He too was a talentless irresponsible leech…‘cept he’s bald and old. Observe, dear maiden, I’m lanky and young and cool without a care in the world. I don’t carry a wallet or wear a shirt. You, my dear, look extra willowy to me.” He attempted a few major sixth and seventh chords from a song by Bread. He knew that those soft romantic chords were willowy chick magnetizers.

“I am willowy,” Mina said. “You could blow me away with a fart.”

Jonathan tooted. A breeze ruffled through the green grass. She grabbed onto a nearby tree for safety.

Jonathan smiled. “A fart straight from my heart, dear maiden. I haven’t bathed in a week or washed my underwear in a month. I pray that it doesn’t offend thee. I’ve been living off of the land, our Mother Earth, since this morning.”

The willowy one was holding her breath, deep in thought, recalling a favorite quote. “Das Vaterland,” she finally exhaled to the flowers that she had picked on her way toward the top of the hill. She looked up toward the handsome singer. “‘Once again the songs of the fatherland roared to the heavens along the endless marching columns.’”

“Who said that?” asked Jonny.

“Hitler.”

“I’ve heard that Adolf was a vegetarian. Are you a vegetarian?”

“Mostly. I don’t eat much. If I farted I might…”

“…blow yourself away. I mean, do you eat any meat at all, fair one?”

“I once bathed in the blood of a friend’s placenta after I’d helped her give birth. My guru, Clem Choudhury, suggested it.

“Clam chowder? I love…”

“No, silly. Clem Choudhury, from India. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He was so beautiful. He told me that placenta is good for the complexion. That changed my life forever. Today I have my own business manufacturing my own brand of skincare products.”

Placentae.”

“What?”

“Sorry, the Latin plural for placenta is placentae. During the school year I study language and sometimes teach Elizabethan literature. This summer I’m just a cool, handsome lifeguard in Santa Monica. Can I be your prince, fair maiden? Where would you like to rule, my lady?”

“Hungary. My parents came here from a part of Hungary that is now part of Slovakia. I’ll be going over there soon for business. Someone is very interested in my products. I may look up some of my original family.”

“I may also travel to Europe soon. I’m researching a book and have applied, long ago, for grants. I’m a fan of eighteenth-century Romanticism.”

Shortly after the two young people exchanged emails, Facebook pages, phone numbers, Twitter and Linkedin accounts, and just about anything short of bodily fluids, the afternoon’s peace was shattered.

Two weekend bikers broke the silence of the Sunday afternoon as they approached the hill on a thundering Harley. They both wore blue jean outfits. The woman’s tattoo-covered flab was spilling out of her short-sleeved vest and shorts.

“Oh, look! Grizzly slobs,” Jonathan said to Mina. The motorcycle stopped.

“You talking to us?” asked the not-so-tough-looking male driver.”

“Your biker mama looks like a Salvador Dali painting,” said the make-believe James Taylor to the weekend-biker mama, a sixty-year-old monstrosity with sagging tattoos, named Brutehilda.

“Huh? Did you hear what this motherfucker said to me, Chester?”

“You skinny prick. If I weren’t just a huge, doughy, outa-fuckin’-shape desk jockey with a bad ticker, I’d stomp your sorry ass, punk,” said the lard-ass-on-wheels named Chester. “Nobody talks to my fuckin’ bitch like that!”

“Hey! I was just admiring the old heap’s artwork, man.”

“Fuckin’ punk.”

“He’s gonna be a prince and I’m gonna be his princess someday,” said the willowy Mina.

“Oh reeeeally? You two look the part now. Take my advice, ya better do it while you’re still a stick figure, flower child. That goes for you too, granola breath.”

Mina, always the cosmetics saleswoman, reached into her purse and produced a small jar of cream. “I can perk up that skin for you, ma’am. My name is Mina.”

“I’m Brutehilda and everyone calls this laugh-a-minute turd Chester the Jester!”

“I sell an anti-gravity skin cream that is far more than a simple moisturizer,” said Mina. “It will firm you up. Just rub some there and there…”

The change was magical. Visibly, the sinking ship tattoo on Brutehilda’s arm became buoyant. Beneath the biker mama’s jeans, the weeping willow tattoo on her thigh became a proud oak, reaching toward the sunny warmth of her ‘hoo hah.’

“Keep a sample,” said Mina. “Let me know how it works. My email is on the jar. In a few days I’m off to Slovakia. I got a letter from a woman named Lupta Axe who represents a rich countess. This countess claims that she has found an all-natural ingredient that can rejuvenate not only the skin, but the entire body. It’s supposed to be the real deal.”

“I’ve heard that nonsense before,” said Chester.

“I’m bringing my ingredients to Slovakia. The Countess says that she’ll purchase everything that I can make.”

“Me and the wife here are taking some business associates and some Nordic friends on a bike trip through there and along the Danube in a couple of weeks,” said Chester.

“If this stuff works, I’ll buy everything you’ve got,” said Brutehilda. “Maybe we’ll see you in Europe .”

“Unless the skinny bitch turns sideways,” said her old man Chester.

“Ha. Ha. Don’t listen to the old fool, string bean.” Brutehida’s stood up to stretch her six-foot-nine, no, six-foot-ten-inch frame.

Jonathan stepped forward assuming Mina would need protection against the imposing beast.

“Don’t worry, kid,” said Chester. “Brutie’s as gentle as a bear. She won’t crush your little friend. Besides, there ain’t enough meat on her bones.”

Mina stepped back to look up at her imposing new friend. “Yeah. Maybe we’ll see you around.”

“…and around and around,” said Jonathan. “Around Bruthilda. That would be quite a hike.” He tried to suppress a laugh.

“Orrrrrrrr…unless your dainty T. rex stands in front of the sun and causes a total eclipse,” said Mina with an elbow to Jonathan’s ribs. She couldn’t stop giggling. Neither could Jonathan. “We’re really sorry,” said Mina.

“Hey!” said Chester. “Noooooobody talks to my fuckin’ bitch like that!”

Jonathan sobered instantly and grabbed the neck of his guitar ready for a fight.

Chester broke into a big laugh. “Chill out, boy. I’m only joshin’!”

Jonathan and Mina looked at the mighty Brutehilda for a reaction, knowing that she could have pounded either of them into the ground like a fence post for the way that they were talking about her.

Then they all joined Chester the Jester in a hearty laugh. (Hardy fuckin’ har har.) There was nothing particularly funny said that afternoon in Santa Monica, it’s just that the biker couple had been tooting nitrous oxide (laughing gas or N2O/O2) continuously. Chester and Brutehilda, who had a dentist brother, always inhaled a tankful on Sundays, before they cruised the Pacific Coast Highway.

***

Mina had to rush home to make cream that afternoon. When she re-entered her Venice beachfront studio, she found a large puddle in front of her refrigerator. The electrical plug had been pulled out of the wall. On the floor, next to the plug was an empty package of Witchy Snack’s Wasabi Newt Eye. A witch snack? thought Mina. Meanwhile, Mina’s new skin cream “ingredients” (a drunk who’d been sleeping in the planter outside of her ground-floor apartment window) were rotting and leaking out onto the tile floor.

An old six-shooter, $5000 in bloodstained cash, and a handwritten note from Lupta Axe sat on her white Formica kitchenette table. Who the fute is Lupta Axe? And why did I just say “fute?”

The note read:

I’m so sorry about the mess, deeeeeeearie, but you have to leave Los Angeles. Now. Opportunity awaits you overseas. This gun used to belong to the outlaw Belle Starr in the 1880s. It’s a Colt Single Action Army pistol, custom made for Belle. It always protected her. No bushwhackers ever whacked Belle’s bush as long as she had it on her. Don’t let TSA find it, dearie. There are also three boxes of silver-tipped bullets in the bag. All of the documents that you need have been taken care of by order of the Countess. There will be a taxi waiting for you in Budapest. The Countess’ personal chauffeur will take you to Čachtice Castle in Slovakia. Happy travels! FYI: Fute means “fuck” in Romanian.