“Little Lumpkiss,” Phil said. “What exactly did you not understand?”
“Should I read it again?” Larry asked.
“No!” cried Phil and Lorraine in unison.
Pop shifted in his seat, scratched his behind, and snored.
“Sweetheart,” Larry said. “Don’t you see? Archimedes used his werewolf powers for ill and it caught up with him. It ruined his life and the lives of so many others.”
“I bet this didn’t even happen,” Whitney said. “It’s just a load of crap that supernatural parents spew at their kids to make them behave and act human.”
Larry gasped. “Blasphemy!”
“It’s real,” Phil said. “I should know because I was…”
“There?” Lorraine asked.
“You’ve sat through me reading this book on how many times and never volunteered that information?” Larry asked.
“I don’t know,” Phil said. “The Little Lumpkisses never questioned it before. They usually either listened intently or fell asleep. I suppose they’re getting older.”
“What was it like?” Whitney asked.
“Even worse than the book describes,” Phil said. “I was never one to miss a good war but I wish I had missed that one. The sight of all that spent flesh, the smell of the hot sun beating down on ogre guts and the worst of it is I had to buy a whole new wardrobe after.”
“That was the worst of it?” Lorraine asked.
“You know I’m nothing if not a fashionista,” Phil answered.
“Fine,” Whitney said. “It happened. But if you ask me, supernaturals got the short end of the stick.”
“What makes you say that?” Larry asked.
“Humans were just as responsible for that war,” Whitney said.
Larry and Lorraine looked at Phil. “Eh,” the vampire said. “She isn’t wrong. Both sides worked themselves into a speciesist frenzy had one or the other come to its senses, all those lives could have been saved.”
“OK,” Larry said. “But by giving up their powers, supernaturals have been able to stop another war like that from ever happening again.”
Whitney took on a school marmish tone. “They stopped another war from breaking out between humans and supernaturals, but they didn’t stop war. How many wars have the humans started since then? And how many supernaturals posing as humans died in those?”
Phil looked at Larry. “She’s got you there.”
“She does not,” Larry said. “Young lady…”
“No,” Whitney said. “I’m supposed to feel bad because I was born a werewolf, as if I had a say in the matter, just because some dumb werewolf a thousand years ago did some stupid things that caused a war, but Hitler killed how many humans and no ever thinks that maybe humans need to take a step back?”
Larry looked at Phil. “Was Hitler a human?”
“In the physiological sense,” Larry replied.
“Martin Luther King said to judge a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character,” Whitney said. “Had he known about supernaturals, he probably would have added a line about how you shouldn’t judge us based on our powers but what we do with them. Just because one werewolf did bad, doesn’t mean all werewolves do bad.”
Larry stammered and stumbled for a response. “That’s just…uh…maybe…ok…but…alright, sit back, sweetheart, I’m going to read it again.”
“No!” Phil and Lorraine said.
“Little Lumpkiss,” Phil said. “In your dear old dad’s defense, you were, earlier this evening, talking about ripping about bank vaults and glamouring music company executives.”
“Hypothetically,” Whitney said.
“It’s all fun and hypothetical until some poor, defenseless human gets eviscerated,” Phil said. “And trust me, it’ll be fun in the moment but after you’ve had time to think about it, you won’t be proud of what you’ve done. I wasn’t always the happy go lucky insurance claims adjuster of the year, sixteen years in a row that you see before you.”
“We know,” Larry said.
“Boy, do we know,” Lorraine added.
“See?” Whitney said. “You changed for the better. Supernaturals are capable of positive change.”
“I only changed after a thousand years of self-reflection,” Phil said. “After allowing my powers to lie dormant for so long, I realized what it was like to be an ordinary dope who has to schlep through life just like anyone else. Suddenly, all those victims I bit and drained of blood weren’t just random snacks. They were people. People who had hopes and dreams and ended up selling them out to take some crappy job similar to insurance claims adjusting. All those people I glamoured out of their money were ruined and now that I know what it’s like to make a buck the honest way, I sympathize. My modest home next door is a hovel compared to the palaces I’ve lived in, but I appreciate it more because I earned it honestly and the thought of losing it makes me weep because the idea of having to start all over from scratch frightens me, even though I have to do it every forty to fifty years or so, whenever everyone around me starts asking too many questions. And the woman I glamoured into sleeping with me? Well, fun as that was, I realize now I was using those women as objects. Once I cut out the hypnotism cold turkey, I was able to actually start talking to women. I found out what makes them tick. I learned to put myself out there, to be vulnerable. I learned what it was actually like to love. I’ll take one Lorna Hutton over a thousand glamoured women any day of the week.”
Larry pointed to Phil, then looked at Whitney. “See that, Whit? Fitzpatrick is a cautionary tale. Live a good life. Do unto others as they would do unto you. Don’t end up like this bum.”
Lorraine clutched her pearls. “Larry!”
“OK,” Larry said. “Maybe ‘bum’ is a bit much. Sorry, Phil.”
“It’s not the worst thing I’ve been called,” Phil said.
“Is he a bum though?” Whitney asked.
Phil sighed. “Like all those alcoholics in those meetings, child, I’m trying to sort out what I have the power to change for the better, and what I can’t. That which I can change for the good I will try to do so. That which I can’t, I must learn to let go and believe me, when I go to sleep, I am reminded of the many lives I ruined and how it’s too late for me to fix them.”
“But think of all the lives you could save now!” Whitney said.
“Come again?” Phil said.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick,” Whitney said. “Earlier tonight, you said that the plague almost wiped out Europe, all because bad leaders were too busy screwing the world up and that made it so that all the smart people didn’t have enough time to think about how to build a toilet.”
“I suppose I did,” Phil said.
“I got what you meant,” Whitney said. “Things aren’t the best they could be, but they’ve gotten a lot better in the past century. The better place the world is, the more time people have to devote to fixing the world’s problems.”
“An accurate statement,” Phil said.
“So,” Whitney said. “What if supernaturals were allowed to use their powers for good?”
“What’s that now?” Phil asked.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick,” Whitney said. “What if the cure for cancer is so complex that it could never be figured out by a human mind. What if, and follow me on this, it required the mind of a three thousand year old vampire, a being who has had the time to train in multiple professions, obtain tons of advanced degrees, has been a doctor in past lives and, oh, I don’t know, can coordinate the efforts of research teams all around the world because he speaks every language?”
Phil appeared lost in thought. “Huh. Out of the mouths of babes.”
Larry snickered. “Fitzpatrick curing cancer. That’ll be the day.”
“Maybe he couldn’t cure cancer,” Lorraine said. “But maybe his skills aren’t being put to their best use as an insurance agent.”
“Claims adjuster,” Phil said.
“Whatever,” Lorraine said.
“Dad,” Whitney said as she looked at the TV. The movie was over and a special report about the Iranian hostage crisis was on, though the volume was still low. “What if a werewolf could sneak into a place like that, shred all the bad guys and lead the hostages to safety?”
“I don’t think one werewolf could take on every Iranian revolutionary, dear,” Larry said.
“Fine,” Whitney said. “A pack of them then. One werewolf on the battlefield is equal to what, twenty human soldiers? How many lives could be saved if werewolf soldiers could be allowed to fight as werewolves?”
“Not gonna lie,” Larry said. “Korea would have been a lot easier.”
Larry looked at Phil, then back at his daughter. “We should know because we were both there.”
“Would construction projects take less time if ogres were allowed to work on them?” Whitney asked. “How many steel beams could they carry?”
“A lot,” Phil said.
“And goblins and trolls,” Whitney said. “They uh…uh…”
“They don’t have much in the way of innate skill but I’m sure they could be put to use somewhere,” Phil said. “Though you’d have to get goblins to stop staring at people with their bug eyes and trolls to stop demanding that everyone solve their riddles three.”
“I bet we haven’t even scratched the surface of what witches and warlocks could do. Think about everything that the world is missing out on, just because supernaturals are being held back from reaching their full potential,” Whitney said. “Just as past periods of strife kept humans from reaching theirs.”
“I’m convinced,” Phil said.
“You are?” Larry asked.
“That Lorraine had an affair because this girl is too smart to be your daughter, Lawrence?” Phil said. “Yes.”
“You know, Phil. You think you’re funny but…”
“I jest,” Phil said. “I’m convinced that one fine day, at some point in the distant future, supernaturals will have sufficiently atoned for the sins of their ancestors and that by learning to get by without their powers for so long, they will be able to be trusted with the awesome power that comes with them. When that day comes, it would be foolish to stand in the way of the help that supernaturals could provide.”
“Thank you,” Whitney said.
“But that day isn’t here yet,” Phil said.
“It isn’t?” Whitney asked.
“No,” Phil said. “Little Lumpkiss, the time period we are living in, right now, is the first time that doesn’t completely suck. It could be better. Much better. But I’m seeing something that has never happened before and that’s people, in large numbers, standing up and calling for equal rights for others. Humans standing up for others who are not like them. Humans stepping out of their comfort zone and demanding the government protect people of different races, religions, creeds and genders. We’re just at the beginning but so far, it’s a beautiful thing. Add supernaturals to the mix and all the progress the humans have made might be lost and don’t forget that this progress helps supernaturals who live as humans.”
“What about supernaturals who can’t pass for humans?” Whitney asked. “How much longer can we expect them to live in the dark?”
“I don’t know,” Larry said. “These are questions that are even beyond my seemingly limitless powers of comprehension.”
The vampire stood, stretched and yawned. “Well, if you’ll excuse me Lumpkisses, that’s enough education for one evening. I must try to get a few hours of shut eye before I wake up, toss on three overcoats and a ski mask just to walk outside during the daylight hours and go to my desk, where one elderly Mrs. Gertrude Sinclair will no doubt call me for the fourth day in a row and chew my ear off about how the accident she was in was the other guy’s fault and if I think she’s going to pay a deductible after all of the on time payments she’s made since 1952, I can go straight to hell. Good evening, my favorite family. Thank you, Lorraine, for the blood, and Lawrence, for the amusement.”
“You’re welcome, Phil,” Lorraine said.
“I’d say come back anytime,” Larry said. “But I probably wouldn’t mean it.”
Phil grabbed the place where his heart had turned cold and black and pretended as though an arrow had just shot it. “Zing!”
The vampire patted Whitney on the head. “Buck up, Little Lumpkiss. Your day will come.”
The house guest stepped into the kitchen and was about to leave when Larry called out to him. “Hey Phil!”
“Yes?” Phil said.
“Be useful for once in your life. Dish out a couple scoops of cobbler and give it to those two dimbulbs in the garage, will you?” Larry asked.
“Sure thing, Lumpkiss.”