ANDROCLES HAS 99 PROBLEMS AND BEING ALONE ISN’T ONE
Dear Principal Bardsley,
It is with a heavy heart that I am writing in response to the letter my colleagues and I received regarding the children in our care. It pains me to learn that there are concerns over the emotional well being of our charges.
There had, indeed, been concern expressed by not just one, but two teachers upon review of the teenagers’ holiday essays. Androcles shook his head. It seemed there was always some problem or other to fix these days, and it always had to do with the new vampires. It seemed that the youth of today did not know much about the art of emotional restraint…they blew up and broke down at the drop of a hat, and made sure that everyone in the near vicinity knew about it. Apparently the youths in his care had seen fit to air each and every one of their petty grievances in the academic essays they turned in to their teachers. In fact, they had stopped just short of actually announcing the fact that they were of the undead, blood-drinking variety…
I do, however, think that it must be taken into account that these children are in our care to begin with due to their precarious mental health and tendency towards questionable behavior and emotional outbursts. The essays seem to highlight tensions within the homes and families of our charges, more than any fault in our care. With, of course, the exception of Raymond and Skylar’s alleged romance (which I assure you is untrue) and their feuding (which is really more playful than dangerous).
He, of course, was not about to mention the fact that over the past couple of weeks, their feuding often led to physical violence, especially given the fact that it was in no way dangerous to an immortal being. At least, the past three days, they had been willing to sit at the same dinner table. Parker had, for whatever reason, been doing a lot of sighing and moping though, and Androcles did not really have any idea why. So he had decided to just leave the boy alone.
As for the other incident, the pepper spray injury at the Halloween party hosted here at the manor, I am pleased to hear that the young lady will be quite alright. The pepper spray has been confiscated and we have taken measures to ensure that no similar incidents occur in the future.
Fortunately, Jessica’s parents had decided not to press charges, which, in all honesty, seemed to Androcles like the right thing to do. After all, it had not been Juan’s fault that the girl had gone barging into his room like that. Juan, of course, had been more…sensitive…than usual and had barely come out of his room, except for meals.
I would also like to express just how deeply remorseful Juan is regarding the entire incident.
In closing, we send our gratitude to you and the rest of the school’s staff for your concern and attentive care of the children. As always, we invite you to contact us with any further concerns.
(On behalf of Revamp Manor)
Androcles frowned at the letter; he really hoped she didn’t contact him for a good, long while. In fact, after all of the damage control he had found himself doing lately, what he really felt he needed was a vacation.
At that moment, Raymond appeared in the doorway to Androcles’ study. “Hey, Andy. You’re needed in the living room.”
Androcles sighed; what had happened now? “Coming, Raymond.” He had all but given up on reminding everyone that his name had never been, nor would ever be, Andy.
When he arrived in the living room, it seemed that everyone was already gathered there, and, at least for the moment, all was calm. Which, he feared, might actually be worse, somehow…
“What’s going on?” He asked as Raymond steered him to a seat next to Renata. She seemed to be equally confused by the situation. Also, he really didn’t like the odd smile Ophelia was giving both of them.
“Oh, well, I’m so glad you asked!” Skylar said, glancing over at Raymond. “We all decided that you and Renata have been so awesome and amazing and all to us, so we are going to give you a present!” She beamed sweetly at them.
Something wasn’t right here, but Androcles wasn’t sure what it was yet…well, besides Ophelia’s smirk and the fact that Skylar and Raymond appeared to have temporarily ceased their efforts to maim each other.
Renata, on the other hand, didn’t seem to think anything of it. “Oooooh!” she squeaked in excitement. “A present? Oh, I do love surprises!” She tugged on Androcles’ arm, “don’t you just love them too, Andy?”
“Not generally speaking,” he murmured, pulling free, “just what exactly is this surprise?” He looked from face to face, noting that Parker was as miserable as ever, “And whose idea was it?”
Raymond shrugged and glanced over at Skylar. “I guess all of ours, really, though I’d like to think that I had a lot to do with it…”
Skylar cut him off, “Sure, whatever; anyway, we have all decided that what you guys really need is a….” She drew a deep breath, and Androcles almost cringed waiting for whatever it was she was so happy to announce. “Romantic Getaway!!!” She flung her arms wide in her enthusiasm.
Androcles felt trapped. He couldn’t see any possible way to get out of this, and they were all expecting him to smile…
“Just in time for Valentine’s Day!” Skylar squealed.
What he really wanted to do was run, but that was out of the question, seeing as Renata’s grip had once again found his arm and she was waving it up and down in her excitement.
“Oh, I do believe this is the happiest day of my life!” she cried, beaming around the room at everyone. “Well, of course with exception to that wonderful day we met, but Andy, aren’t you just so thrilled? What have we done to deserve such an outpouring of love?”
Androcles gathered himself; hadn’t he just been thinking about the need for emotional restraint in times of crisis? He smiled as calmly as he could at Renata. “Well. I was just thinking that I…we…could do with a vacation a few minutes ago.”
“You were?!” tears filled her eyes, “Oh, Andy.”
“Thank you, children,” Androcles continued, “Ophelia,” he gave her a hard look. He made a show of being deep in thought. “Though, are you all sure you will be alright with us gone?” He gestured towards Juan, who appeared to have begrudgingly come out of his room and was currently curled up in one of the armchairs, holding his whistle tightly. “Ophelia, I would hate to think of you having to oversee everything all by yourself.”
Parker seemed to perk up momentarily. “Oh, yeah, Ophelia, maybe they should stay.”
Ophelia completely ignored Parker, and her smirk grew larger as she waved Androcles off. “Don’t you worry about a thing, Androcles. I admire your…selflessness, however, I assure you I have everything in hand. I’m sure we’ll find that we hardly even miss you for two and a half days.”
Androcles sighed; he really didn’t see any way of getting out of this. The only other person in the room who didn’t seem pleased about her response was Parker. Oh well. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. And it would be nice to get away…
“Then, it seems that everything is settled,” he said, forcing a smile. “I suppose we’d better go get packed.”
They had their bags packed and in the car by the time the kids got home from school the next day…Androcles insisted on waiting to make sure that no catastrophe had taken place. He was a little disappointed in the teens’ good behavior. It was a terribly inconvenient time for them to start. And Ophelia had been the most annoying of all, hovering all day long, practically gloating that she had gotten her way; of course Renata just assumed she was being nice.
“Alright!” Ophelia beamed as she opened the car doors for the both of them, “Have fun, you two! And I promise, nothing will pull you back early. Nothing at all.”
“Oh, thank you so very much, Ophelia!” Renata hugged her, and Androcles just barely got a little satisfaction out of Ophelia’s discomfort. “And thank you too, children! I just cannot tell you how much this means to us!” All of the teenagers received bone-crushing hugs as well, and Androcles noticed it was the first time Parker had smiled in a few days.
“Well, off you go then,” Ophelia shooed them to the car and Androcles got behind the wheel, realizing that he couldn’t put it off any longer. “And don’t you worry about a thing when you get there, it is all pre-booked and paid for! The children thought up wonderful activities to keep you two occupied!”
“Oh, it all sounds like so much fun!” Renata cried.
Fun, wasn’t quite the word Androcles would have used, and he was more than a little worried at what the teenagers might have signed them up for.
And then they were on the road to Virginia. (Yes, Ophelia had conveniently failed to mention until that afternoon that they were going to have to drive one state up. At least it was only about a two and a half hour car ride.)
Being stuck in a car with Renata for even just two and a half hours was not Androcles’ idea of an ideal way to spend the remainder of his afternoon, but he tried to make the best of it. He tried turning on the radio, even though he wasn’t too enthusiastic about much of the modern music there, but every love song that came on seemed to lead to a twenty minute discussion about feelings with Renata, and he eventually turned it off.
These were the sort of moments when Androcles could almost regret how it had all ended up. There had been plenty of times that he had regretted turning Renata at all, but…he had been so lonely and, ever since then, being alone was decidedly not one of Androcles’ problems.
It had been Candlemas when he first saw Renata–or Festa Della Candelora as it was known in Florence. In those days, Androcles did not often get the opportunity to socialize, and he was drawn to the massive crowd winding through the dark streets, with only their candles to light the way. Seeing as the candles were supposed to ward off evil spirits, Androcles had not been able to take part in the procession. He could only come so close to the crowd. Renata had noticed him standing in the shadows, and had smiled at him. “There are still candles inside,” she nodded towards the church, “join us!”
He could only shake his head and smile a little sadly, “Thank you, but I can’t.” She had said she was sorry, and then was gone. Androcles hadn’t imagined that he would ever see her again.
Of course, he had seen her again, and when he had made the fateful decision to turn her later, he hadn’t realized fully just how much of her he would be seeing for all of eternity. He had tried to part ways with her more than a few times over the centuries, but she always found him. Always. So, here he was, stuck in the car with her for another ten miles until they reached their destination and began their romantic weekend getaway, compliments of Ophelia and the teens.
He had never been more ready to get out of a vehicle, when they finally pulled up to the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Williamsburg Resort. The Valet took their keys and another hotel employee put their luggage on a cart, and they made their way to the front desk.
It wasn’t long before they were all checked in, and the woman at the front desk smiled warmly at them. “Let me guess, honeymoon?”