This is the last part of the road trip story, however in a few weeks we will have a 6th chapter in Beth's Diary, so stay tuned.
The Road Trip
Part Five - On the Road Again
Josef, Simone and Beth sat quietly at the table and thought about the scene that had just played out. Josef was drinking another glass of blood and the girls continued to sip their glasses of wine. Beth was twirling hers around, smearing the wet spot from the condensation that rolled off the glass.
“Well,” Josef said, finally standing up and heading back to the driver’s seat, “maybe it’s time to get on the road to the park and find our reserved spot. We can hook up to the electrical there and all chill out for a while.”
“Oh, okay,” Beth said, glad that they were going to take some kind of action. She was worried about Mick; it was really hard to keep from going to him. For some reason she could feel his tumultuous feelings. She knew that he was in the freezer, trying to sleep and that he wasn’t managing that very well. It was almost as if she were there with him, tossing and turning. She didn’t understand how she could know this, but she did.
All day long she had felt this connection with him; when he had been happy so was she, when he was angry and frustrated, well she could feel that too. Was this from the little bit of his blood she had drank last night she wondered? Is that part of the implications he had mentioned? His blood didn’t taste like she thought it would, like her own, which had a metallic taste to it. No, his was sort of salty and yet kind of sweet with other flavors in it she couldn’t describe, wouldn’t even know where to begin in fact. It was soothing to her, almost familiar and given the chance, she knew she would do it again.
As the bus started to move again she stared out the window pensively, her thoughts racing wildly through her head. She remembered their conversation last night:
“Are you mad at me, Mick?”
“No baby, no. You did what I didn’t have the courage to do. But Beth, there are implications to this, things we are going to have to talk about, okay?”
She nodded solemnly, but said, “Not tonight though?”
“No, not tonight.
He had almost seemed sad when he said those words to her and while at the time she didn’t think too much about it right now it seemed really important. She also remembered Josef’s strange appraisal of her this morning when they had got on the bus and Mick telling him ‘Not now’. What was all that about?
Did she dare ask Josef to explain? How mad would that make Mick if she did? She frowned and finished the last bit of wine in the glass and got up to rinse it out in the sink, contemplating her next move.
She needed answers, she would have answers. Somehow though she knew she needed to get them from Mick even though she felt that Josef might actually provide them for her if she asked. Well, that could be her backup plan then she decided.
This all seemed to be some big vampire secret, whatever had happened last night. But what did happen actually? Nothing really big she thought. She knew that she wasn’t in any danger of being turned just because she tasted his blood; he had explained the process to her before and she knew that mouthful wasn’t going to do it.
What if it had turned her though? How would she feel about that? Could she see herself as a vampire?
Had Mick ever turned anyone? She had asked him that question one night, but the answer was interrupted. She had always believed, due to his own aversion to being a vampire that he hadn’t ever turned anyone, but now she remembered that conversation and suddenly she wasn’t so sure. What if he had turned someone and it had gone badly, like Sarah? Maybe turnings weren’t quite as easy as they seemed to be.
Would that, could that account for his reticence? She had never actually asked him to turn her, what would he say if she did? And did she want that? Would she ever? She loved him, she wanted to be with him; that much she knew for sure. The question was though, how would she feel in a few years?
The bus slowed down again and she looked ahead to see that they were at the gates of the park. She also realized that she was gripping the edge of the sink so hard that her fingers had turned white. She forced them to relax and felt the warm rush of blood as it flowed back into them and felt the accompanying tingle the sensation brought. If she were a vamp, she would never have that feeling again; but then again, she wouldn’t have to worry about getting sick or dying either. It was a trade off she knew.
Josef paid their fees and got a map that directed them to their reserved space. He guided the bus down the road while Beth and Simone watched the beauty of the park unfold before their eyes. It was magnificent and suddenly all Beth could think about was how happy she was to be here; she hoped that Mick would come around too.
Mick settled into the chill of the freezer and reveled in it. He tried to sleep but it was elusive; he had acted like an ass and he knew it and he owed them all an apology. Josef was just doing what he did best, getting swept away with the new experience and fun of the trip. He was right, normally road trips and vamps didn’t go hand in hand, but this one definitely had possibilities.
He had never been to either park they were going to visit. Vacations when he was a kid tended to be to Sacramento to visit family or day trips to San Diego, to the ocean. During the depression people just didn’t have money to spend on a vacation, you went where you had family and a place to stay.
As a vamp, well, it was the whole road trip thing. He didn’t know for sure, but he’d bet there were no hotels or motels around here with vampire accommodations. Before they left Reno they had gotten a large supply of blood and they had another contact in Vegas where they would stop on the way to the Grand Canyon. Guillermo had contacts in most of the morgues in the western United States so they were covered pretty well.
The other thing on his mind was Beth and their lovemaking last night. She had bit him, drawn blood and drank it. And she hadn’t shied away from the taste of his blood either he realized. Most humans hated the taste of blood, were repulsed by it in fact whether it was vamp blood or human blood. Vamp blood did taste remarkably different than human blood though, so maybe that was part of it.
Josef had known right off this morning, known what had happened. Maybe not the specifics, but he knew that she had drunk his blood and that they were now on a whole different level in their relationship. He had to talk to her about it, explain it because she didn’t understand what this all meant, for him and for her and he dreaded the conversation, would give anything if they didn’t have to have it. But would he change what had happened? No, he didn’t think so. It all scared him, because he loved her so much. He didn’t want to draw her into this monster world that was a part of his life, but now he didn’t really have any choice but to do just that.
He reflected on the whole ‘monster’ thing. He had spent decades feeling like a monster and hiding away from life as was appropriate for a monster. But the thing was, he didn’t feel like a monster, not any longer. He was starting to view himself through Beth’s eyes he realized and she didn’t see him as a monster at all. If she were turned, would he consider her a monster?
He shook his head at that thought – she could never be a monster and she loved him. Did that change everything? Did it change anything?
Mick finally realized that they were parked; they must be at Yosemite now. He was never going to get to sleep, not with the guilt of his childish outburst weighing so heavily on his mind so he climbed out of the freezer and got dressed so he could join them in the galley.
He smelled something cooking, the girls were preparing something for dinner, but he couldn’t quite place the smell. He opened the door and headed out to find all three of them sitting at the table playing cards. Three pairs of eyes looked at him as he joined them and three pairs of lips smiled as well.
“Oh good, you’re up! Deal him in Beth, we’re playing five card stud strip poker!” Josef said, looking at his hand and frowning.
“WHAT? Beth, you’re not getting naked in fr…oh, you were joking weren’t you?” he asked sheepishly. He leaned down and kissed Beth and then pointed to her cards and said, “Keep them!”
She touched his cheek and then ran careless fingers through his curls and said, “If we were playing strip poker I wouldn’t be the one in danger of losing my clothes, Mick!”
“You ever played with her Mick? She’s a card shark, let me tell you!” Josef laughed and said, “Hey, you better go and check your chicken, I think it’s starting to burn!”
“You’re only trying to distract me, but that’s okay, I’m starving!” she told him and got up from the table to check out the chicken that was broiling in the oven. She pulled the pan out and poked at the chicken for a minute then said, “Si, is the salad ready? I think the chicken is.”
“It’s ready anytime. Shall I dish it up?”
“Yes, I’ll get the chicken on the plates.”
“I can’t place the smell of the spices on the chicken. What is it?” Mick asked as he watched Beth lay the chicken on a plate and carry it to the table. Josef had put the cards away so the girls could eat their dinner.
“It’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken, kinda spicy,” Beth told him.
Mick reached for the thermos of blood in the fridge and went to pour himself a glass. He held it up to Josef and pointed at him, wordlessly asking if he wanted some too.
Josef nodded and Mick filled a second glass and carried them both to the table. Beth set the chicken down and then joined them. Before they started eating Mick cleared his throat and said, “I uh, have something I’d like to say to you all”.
Simone raised questioning eyes towards him but Beth and Josef sat there, knowing what was coming. Best to just let him get it out they knew.
“I want to apologize for my outburst earlier. I’m sorry, I was really a jerk. No insult to the chicken,” he said, trying to make a joke out of it.
“Oh, that was lame man,” Josef teased, his eyes sparkling brightly. “But it’s okay; we all have our moments Mick. And we all talked about it, you had some valid points and we need to be more careful.”
Beth took his hand and squeezed it tightly for a moment and added, “It really is okay Mick, we’re not mad, not any of us. Now go ahead and drink your dinner because I intend to eat, I’m starving!”
“You said that once already,” Mick teased, feeling a bit better.
“I know, because it’s true! Now let me eat!”
Later that night both couples were tucked into their respective beds. It was quiet, really quiet Beth realized. When you lived in LA there was always the constant background hum of life surrounding you; you actually tune it out most of the time so much that you forget it’s even there. She couldn’t imagine what it must be like for a vampire with extra sensitive hearing.
Here in the park all the human’s could hear was the soft sounds of the night around them; cicada’s buzzing occasionally, an owl hooting every once in a while and once or twice a dog barking from somewhere among the campers. There was also the slight electrical hum of the bus, but it was amazingly quiet.
Mick was curled up with Beth in the single bed in their room. Later he would move to the freezer but right now he was exactly where he wanted to be; holding Beth close to him. He listened to her gentle breathing and the comforting patter of her heart and sighed with pleasure. What would it be like when he didn’t hear that anymore?
“Mick,” Beth started, “Last night you said there were implications to…”
Mick leaned down and kissed her, silencing her words. “Beth, baby we need to talk about this, we really do but it’s not anything that can’t wait until we are back in LA, okay? Here, well, Josef can hear us and this is a private conversation. Do you understand?”
She nodded silently and then kissed him, her mouth opening under his, inviting him to delve into her waiting mouth. The kiss went on and on and finally Beth broke away, panting slightly. “So, I guess he can hear this too, huh?” she said as she snuck her hand down and stroked his hardened length.
“He’s uh, a little occupied right now, probably won’t pay much attention to us, if we’re really quiet!”
“Well, it’ll be tough but let’s see how quiet we can do it!”
The next morning Beth rolled over in the bed and realized that Mick had moved to the freezer at some point during the night. She stretched, a smile curling up the corners of her mouth as she remembered their lovemaking the night before. It was kind of like being really young and not wanting anyone to catch you she thought with a laugh.
She stood up and looked down at Mick for a moment, still sleeping peacefully. She kissed two fingers and laid them on the glass above his face, feeling an overwhelming love for him. She couldn’t imagine her life without him; she hoped that she would never have to.
After sliding on her robe she quietly opened the door and slipped out into the hallway. It was still quiet in the bus so she used that opportunity to get into the bathroom and take a quick shower. Four adults and one bathroom proved to be a bit challenging; you bathed in shifts she thought with a grin as she turned the water on and stepped into the lukewarm stream of water.
Her morning ablutions were necessarily short but it still felt great to be squeaky clean. She wrapped herself in a towel and used another to wipe the steam off the mirror. She looked at herself carefully, trying to be objective about her appearance. At 27 she thought she looked pretty good; if she were turned soon she would always look like this. She’d hopefully look okay in a few years too but she didn’t kid herself, she wouldn’t look this way forever and sooner or later they were going to have to talk about all this.
If it were only that easy though…
A little later Beth was dressed and already drinking her first cup of coffee when Simone emerged from the bedroom. She grinned sleepily and headed straight for the coffee pot. Beth had set an extra cup on the counter for Simone and she watched as Simone filled it and then made her way to the table to sit down.
Simone yawned sleepily and gently blew on the cup she held between both her hands. The steam curled upwards off of it and dissipated as Simone blew on it. She yawned again and laughed.
“I really did sleep last night. I think it’s just that we’re out here and it’s so quiet, plus, I have nothing to get me moving here, I mean no job to rush off too. I sort of feel displaced, you know? Isn’t it driving you crazy?"
“Nope! I’m enjoying every single moment actually. It’s so beautiful here and I can’t wait to explore it all. When is the rental car being delivered, do you know?”
‘Um, I’m not sure. Sometime this morning though.” Simone stared out the window for a moment and asked, “Is that El Capitan out there?”
Beth smiled and said “No, that’s Half Dome. See how part of the mountain just seems to be missing?”
“Yes, I see. Well, I know there are lots of things to see and I know that Josef is excited to do it all.”
“So is Mick. He’s never been here before which I find amazing, since he is a native California boy.”
Simone nodded and then finished the last drink of coffee, tipping the cup up to get it all. “Well, I think I’ll go and hit the shower before the guys get up. See you in a few!”
Beth booted the computer up to read the morning news and was engrossed in a story about a family that was missing in San Bernardino when Mick came into the room, stopping to kiss her on the top of her head before he got a glass of blood. He sat down next to Beth, reading over her shoulder and she glanced at him and grinned.
“What?” Mick asked, seeing the sparkle in her eye.
“I had fun last night! It was almost like we were teenagers trying to sneak around so our parents wouldn’t catch us!”
“Baby, if that is all I have to do to put that smile on your face I’ll gladly do it again…and again, and again!”
She laughed, that funny little laugh she had where she bites her lip and scrunches up her nose. He loved that smile; it was reserved for only the happiest of moments, like now. He wished he could see her smile like that all the time.
Josef came down the hallway and sat down at the table, blinking at the bright light that streamed in through the windows. He grimaced and said, “You know, I’d like morning a whole lot better if they weren’t so damn bright!”
“That’s the whole point of morning, Josef,” Beth teased. “You know, the sunshine chases the dark away. Happens pretty regularly, you just don’t ever see it!”
“Hmm, yeah well if you say so. Mick, we need to empty the uh, waste tanks today I think. They said it wasn’t hard.”
“They?” Mick inquired.
“Yeah, the people I bought the bus from. You just hook the hose thing to the collar thingy on the storage tank and turn the valve. Has to be done every few days, especially with all four of us showering and stuff.”
“Well, let’s get it done early so we can explore the rest of the day, okay?”
“Okay, as soon as I’m showered. There’s a book thing with instructions in the storage compartment in the driver’s console. We’ll read it for specific instructions.”
Mick nodded and went to get it while Josef was in the bedroom getting ready for his shower. Mick read it and agreed that it didn’t look too difficult and spent some time looking at the other information in the book. This was really a complicated machine he decided a bit later, shaking his head. Glad he didn’t have to take care of it!
After Josef and Mick had both showered they went out to tackle the storage tank situation. Beth watched them from outside and they struggled to get the outside storage door open. Simone was still inside, putting makeup on but she was really missing a show, Beth thought.
“C’mon, how the hell hard can it be to get the damn door open?” Mick said, holding the book and trying to follow the instructions. Josef stood by watching with curiosity.
“Do you suppose it’s stuck?” he offered. He watched Mick jiggle the handle, the handle that refused to turn.
“Okay, the book says to turn the key and then push the lever in before turning! I did that!” Mick said, smacking the door in frustration. It popped open, almost as if it was mocking him and he ran his fingers through his hair, ready to scream.
Josef peered into the compartment where the hose was stored away and suddenly backed off. “Whoa, what is that smell?” he asked.
Mick wrinkled his nose, catching a whiff of the odor that came from the outflow hose. “Holy sh…” he started to say before Josef said, “Yes, that’s the word!”
“My God, Josef can’t you pay somebody to do this?” Mick was turning green and they hadn’t even turned the valve to start the flow yet.
Josef had backed away, shaking his head as if trying to clear it. “I don’t know, man, they didn’t say it would smell this bad…”
”Josef, get your ass over here and help me. Let’s just get this done!”
Josef approached again, his pale face growing even paler as he got closer to the storage tank. “Oh Mick, man, I don’t know!”
“JOSEF!” Mick yelled. He turned his head away and Beth saw his shoulders scrunch up as he gagged.
Beth couldn’t really smell anything but supposed that super vampire noses were getting the full noxious odor effects. She tried to hide her smile as she watched the two men wrangling with the hose and then trying to get it attached to septic system. Both of them were gagging and retching, trying to hold their breath as they worked.
They finally got the hose attached to the tank and went to turn on the valve so the tank could drain.
Mick turned the valve on slowly, watching to make sure that it didn’t leak. When it looked good he opened it up all the way and retreated over to the table where Beth was sitting.
He drew in a couple of deep breaths as if trying to clear his head of the noxious smell. “How can you sit here and smell this and not get sick?” he asked.
Beth touched her nose with a finger and said, “No vampire nose here, can’t really smell much!”
Mick just shook his head and muttered something under his breath. Beth asked him what he had said and he turned to look at her and repeated, “I said I’m going to kill Josef for this, wait and see!”
Finally the tank was empty, the hose was back in the storage compartment and the door closed and locked. Both men still looked a bit green as they went inside to wash. Mick commented that there wasn’t enough soap in the world to get rid of the smell and Josef agreed.
Simone came out of the bedroom, flawlessly made up and smiled at the group sitting in the lounge. “Hey Josef, I have a new perfume! Come and smell it!”
Josef rolled his eyes and groaned. The day could only get better – at least he prayed that it would.
The rental car arrived an hour later and they group happily hopped in with their maps of the park in hand, eager to start exploring. They saw all the sights in the next 5 days and it was with a bit of sadness that they got ready to leave for the Grand Canyon the next morning.
As they got everything stored away and Josef signed the papers to return the rental car he remarked, “We had better empty the storage tank again before we leave in the morning!”
Mick groaned, Beth laughed and Simone couldn’t figure out what was going on. But it was okay, the next stop was the Grand Canyon and it was going to be beautiful!