| Colice Marrow sat quietly in his velvet chair. The room in which he was at was finely furnished with expensive couches and fine-oil stained chairs. The beautiful red carpet, luxuriously spread throughout the room, was comfortable beneath his feet. All around the room were pictures of past relatives, all framed with golden or silver borders. Colorful vases and ornaments occupied polished wooden shelves and desks. Among these, some smaller pictures of a family member or two sat peacefully on the desks. The walls that were wrapped around the room were stunning white, unmarked by even the slightest speck of dirt. Even the fireplace, which sat in front of Colice’s velvet chair, did not show any sign of wear or tear. It’s blazing fire cast an eerie glow upon the walls of the room, turning them slightly orange.
Colice blinked once. The fire flickered in front of his eyes, as if dancing without music. He began to go into trance, swaying his head lightly back and forth in rhythm of the fire. He didn’t blink, and his face was tinted orange from the blaze. He sighed once before looking up at one of the framed pictures on the wall. It held an older man, in his mid 80’s, holding a professional stance. He looked like someone important, rich, and overpowered. Colice sighed again and looked back down at the fireplace.
Suddenly, the doorbell pierced through the air. Startled, Colice shot a glance at the front door. It was an oak door, with two entrances, and a silver handle. Unsure what to do, he continued to stair at the double doors. Again, the doorbell rang, echoing against the walls. Colice slowly stood up, his fine black suit, pants, and shoes gleaming brightly from the fire, and walked to the door. His stance was upright, strait and tall, with light steps that were barely heard. Upon arrival of the door, Colice reached out and pulled the door open. In front of him were three friendly looking people, all with a smug grin on their faces. One was a man in his 30’s, slightly taller than Colice, wearing a black cowboy hat, wranglers, and a leather jacket. Beside him, a younger woman, possibly in her late 20’s, was wearing a yellow flower spotted dress, with two skinny shoulder straps holding it in place. In front of both of them, a young boy, maybe 10 years old, was gripping his mother with a mix of fear and curiosity in his face.
“Welcome friends,” Colice forced a friendly smile, “I don’t believe we met before, am I correct?”
The man stepped forward with one hand stretched out, and the other taking his hat off for manors.
“I don’t reckon we have, good sir,” the man shook Colice’s hand, “the name’s Kris Beeter, and this is my wife, Jill, and my son, Donny.”
He pointed to each of his family members accordingly, while they too nodded their greetings. Colice didn’t say anything, but instead stayed quiet. Kris cleared his throat once before continuing.
“And your name is?” He raised an eyebrow as he put his hat back on his head, “We’re new ‘round here, you see. We’re you’re new neighbors!”
Colice blinked once before looking over the family’s heads. Behind them, a large moving truck was parked beside a house at the end of the block. He brought his gaze back upon the three people.
“Well, nice to meet you,” Colice bowed his head, “please come in. Make yourself at home. I’ve just started to make dinner…”
“Now now good sir,” Jill stepped forward, “I don’t want us to be any trouble to you or your family. We can do fine without any food.”
Colice smiled back, then reached out and lightly touched the top of the young woman’s hand.
“I insist you eat,” he cast his gaze upon all three of the family members, “there is enough for all, if not more.”
Jill nodded in return and stepped past Colice. Following close behind were Kris and Donny. Once everyone was inside, Colice closed the door quietly behind them.
“Please have a seat,” he beckoned toward the fine-oiled chairs, “and forgive me for my rude introduction. I’m… not used to company.”
The three family members began to walk to their seats, all of them looking around the room in awe. The flickering fireplace threw beautiful shadows upon everything in the room, including the faces of the people. Kris leaned down to whisper into Donny’s ear.
“Now don’t be fooling around, you hear?” he instructed his kid, “This is one of those fancy houses we don’t see often. These are the places where manors are priority number one!”
Colice, overhearing Kris, couldn’t help but smile. He padded off toward the kitchen door, which was painted white and had an oval stained-glass window in the center. He opened the door and disappeared around the corner, leaving the family alone in the living room.
“What a beautiful house,” Jill sighed deeply as she continued to glanced around the room, “and to think, this is just the living room. Think of all the rest of the house!”
Kris nodded in agreement as he sat down on one of the chairs.
“Oh wow!” he exclaimed as he slid his hands down the armrests, “Look how polished it is! Look at it!”
Jill sat down in one of the chairs as well, seating Donny on her lap. Her eyes lit up in fascination.
“They feel good too!” she remarked, turning her head toward her husband, “I do believe we need to get ourselves some of these sometime.”
Kris chuckled slightly, shaking his head.
“Not us, honey,” he looked back at Jill, “we still have to pay for our house. The darn thing cost us more than we could ‘ford! Maybe after our payments for the house are done and gone.”
Colice came back out the kitchen door carrying two silver platters. Each one had glass wine cups and small plates of food. He handed the plates out to everyone, and the wine cups to the adults. On a desk near Kris was a fine wine bottle, with a cork that seemed untouched. Colice popped it off and poured the small glass cups halfway to the brim, and then seating himself on his very own velvet chair.
“Thank you kindly,” Jill bowed her head to Colice before taking a quick sip of the wine, “I really enjoy your home Mr… um…”
“Mr. Marrow, if you please,” Colice finished for Jill, “again, I beg your forgiveness to my terrible greeting.”
“Nonsense!” Kris also took a sip from his cup, “You are about the first person I have met with such great manors. There are not many people like you, ya know?”
Colice smiled, and he too took a sip of wine.
“This is my first time around friendly faces,” Colice looked down at his red wine, “I never knew there were people who appreciated petty things like manors. There are not many people like you, either.”
Kris looked at Colice curiously.
“Didn’t your family members appreciate you?” he raised an eyebrow, “My father did a fine job with me. I reckon he could cheer up even the darkest of hearts.”
Colice frowned. He looked away from his wine and up at the large picture above the fireplace. The same man he saw before, proper and upright, sat within the silver frame. His wrinkled 80-year-old face looked scoured, as if something was always wrong.
“No, he never did anything for me,” Colice looked back down at his wine cup, “he was not someone people liked to talk to.”
He looked away from his cup and then at Kris.
“If anything, he was nothing of a father to me,” Colice sighed, “everything I did he disliked. If I cleaned the bathroom, he always found a speck of dirt that I missed. And if he didn’t find one, he made one. He always had to have a reason to punish me.”
Kris opened his mouth to speak, but stopped himself. The group ate their meals and sipped their wine until nothing was left. Everyone remained quiet for several minutes later, just watching the fire burn brightly against their skin. Suddenly, Donny, who was sitting on the red carpet, piped up.
“I hope your wife doesn’t get mad at us for eating your food,” he looked up at Colice, “I don’t want anyone to get mad.”
Colice smiled slightly. He looked down at the kid and sighed.
“Don’t worry, young one,” Colice breathed, “I don’t have a wife to worry about. Nobody’s going to get mad.”
Turning back around in his chair, Colice noticed Kris shift in his seat uncomfortably. Beside him, Jill swallowed slightly.
“You don’t have a wife?” Kris looked at Colice, “Did… something happen? Did she pass away?”
Jill flashed an urgent look at Kris.
“Kris Beeter!” she narrowed her eyes at her husband, “You should know better than to bring something up like that!”
“No no,” Colice interrupted Jill, “he was just curious. Indeed I have had a wife before. She passed away a few months ago.”
Jill glanced at Colice with a new look of sympathy in her eyes.
“Oh, I am so sorry to hear that,” she frowned, “was she in an accident?”
Colice was silent. Jill covered her mouth, and Kris gave his wife a long look. Everyone was quiet, with only the fireplace crackling to break it up.
“Yes…” Colice swallowed hard, looking down at the fire, “she was in an… accident… so to say.”
He blinked a tear out of his eyes. It wasn’t enough, for more began to trickle down his cheek. He closed his eyes and waited for the tears to cease. After a few minutes, he opened them again, and wiped the small streams off his face.
“I… don’t wish to talk of it,” his voice cracked, and he tried looking away from the fire, out into space, “I guess… I guess I still haven’t gotten over it…”
More tears came down his cheek. He tried to wipe them away, but more replaced the others, and he was eventually overwhelmed by sad thoughts. He broke out sobbing, his head buried in the palm of his hand. Jill stood up slowly and looked at Kris.
“I… I think it’s best if we leave now,” Jill cleared her throat, “it was nice meeting you, Mr. Marrow.”
Colice stopped crying, but still didn’t look up from his hand. Kris didn’t budge from his seat, and continued to look at Colice.
“Come on Kris,” Jill frowned, “we got to go now.”
Kris stood up slowly and padded away toward Jill. Together, with Donny following close behind, they made their way to the front door. Kris stopped, turned around toward Colice, and then back at Jill.
“Honey?” Kris licked his lips, “I was thinking…”
“No!” she hissed through clenched teeth, “We don’t have room in our house! We don’t even have our furniture in yet!”
Kris put up a hand to stop Jill.
“I understand that,” he swallowed, “since we have no furniture in our house right now, I just thought we might be able to stay here for the night. Think about it… it’s about nighttime, and it would be better than renting a hotel…”
“Kris!” Jill threatened, “I said no! What I say…”
“PLEASE!” Kris insisted, “It would be good for Mr. Marrow as well. He needs some company now more than ever. Wada you say?”
Jill opened her mouth to reject, but stopped. She gave Kris one long look before slowly nodding her head. Kris began to smile.
“Thanks a bunch, honey!” he smiled before turning back toward Colice, “You won’t regret it!”
He jogged over to the sitting Colice and stopped beside his chair. Kris leaned over and slowly tapped Colice’s shoulder. Colice looked up out from under his hand and at Kris.
“Mr. Marrow sir?” Kris cleared his throat, “Me and my wife were wondering if… maybe… we could stay at your house for the night? We won’t get in the way, and we really need somewhere to stay until our house is furnished.”
Colice continued to stare at Kris.
“Please?” Kris forced a smile, “We would really appreciate it.”
Colice slowly began to smile, unsure if he heard the man correctly. He stood up, reached out with one hand, and shook with Kris.
“Why of course you can, my friend,” he smiled even more, “I would love to have you stay.”
Kris smiled back, and turned back toward Jill. He gave her a thumbs up, and Jill rushed over to her husband.
“Thank you so much!” Kris bowed his head to Colice, “You are mighty nice to complete strangers.”
“No,” Colice shook his head, a smile still on his face, “I am nice to friends.”
Kris and Colice let go of hands, and Donny grabbed Jill by the leg.
“Where are we to sleep, Mr. Marrow?” Jill questioned, looking around the room for doors, “Do we have our own room?”
Colice smiled and pointed toward an oak door.
“Through there,” he nodded, “you can set your beds up now if you’d like. Make yourself at home.”
The three family members nodded their thanks and walked up to the door. They opened it up and disappeared behind a corner. Colice sighed with a smile still on his face. He turned away from the door and toward a window in the wall. It was covered with beautiful linen shades. He walked up to it and pulled the string to role up the shades, letting the moonlight flow into the room. Suddenly, he felt a strange tingling sensation in his hands.
“Wha… what the?” Colice looked down at them in shock. His gaze then shot up at the moon.
“No…” he shook his head, “not a full moon tonight! Anytime but tonight!”
His whole body began to sting, as if thousands of needles were being jammed into his bare skin. He clenched he teeth together in agony, and his teeth began to lengthen into sharp, pointed fangs. His nails grew longer, and began to sharpen at the ends. Colice could feel the hair on his back and arms grow longer, and his ears reshape. He closed his eyes as hard as he could. He cried out in one last breath.
“Forgive me, my friends.”