Blackwood farm, p.47

Blackwood Farm, page 47

 part  #9 of  The Vampire Chronicles Series


Blackwood Farm

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  PATSY WAS in the front bedroom across from mine, and as soon as we reached home, Cindy, our beloved nurse, went up to attend to her, to make certain she had taken her medicines and to give her some sort of mild tranquilizer. She was soon in an official Blackwood Manor flannel nightgown with no intentions of going anywhere, though when she saw me pass the door to my room she screamed at me that I had made her nauseated by dragging us all to the cemetery "at midnight. "

  It was not yet midnight.

  As for Goblin, everyone knew the danger. I did not have to tell Jasmine and Clem to look after Jerome, or tell Nash to keep his eye close on Tommy. Everyone knew what Goblin had done to Aunt Queen. Even Patsy believed it and Big Ramona was now her companion and guardian.

  No one was to climb the staircase alone. No one was to react with panic to the breaking of glass. Everybody was to remain within the house, in pairs or threes, including me, who had my "two friends" visiting in my private parlor.

  And they were waiting for me just as they had promised. We clustered around the center table, Merrick, Lestat and I, and Merrick, a tall, very lean woman with almond-colored skin and full dark hair, who had taken off her white scarf and her big glasses, immediately began to talk.

  "This creature, this ghost that's haunting you, he's related to you by blood, and the connection is more than important. "

  "But how can that be?" I said. "I've always believed him to be a spirit. I've been haunted by ghosts. They declare who they are. They have histories; they have patterns. "

  "He has a history and a pattern too, believe me. "

  "But what is it?" I asked.

  "You have no idea?" she probed, looking me in the eye as if I was concealing something from myself perhaps.

  "None whatsoever," I replied. I found it easy to talk to her. I felt she would understand. "He was always with me," I said, "from the beginning. I thought that I created him almost. That I drew him to myself, out of the void, and developed him in my own image. Oh, I know he's made of something. Ether. Astral particles -- some form of matter. Something, yes, something that obeys natural laws. Mona Mayfair explained to me once that such spirits have a nucleus, a kind of heart, and a circulatory system, and I understand that my blood feeds that system now, and that he's becoming stronger and stronger as he draws blood from me after I feed. But I've never had an inkling that he was the ghost of somebody. "

  "I saw him in the cemetery," she responded. "Just as you did. "

  "You saw him before our crypt? When I went to take the roses?"

  "I saw him before that," she said. "He was very strong there. Tarquin, he's your twin. "

  "Yes, I know, my absolute doppelg?nger. "

  "No, Tarquin, I mean he's the ghost of your twin brother, your identical twin brother. "

  "That's impossible, Merrick," I said. "Believe me, I appreciate your wanting to attack this problem head-on, but there's a very simple reason why that can't be so. There are two reasons, actually. "

  "Which are?" she asked.

  "Well, first off, if I'd had a twin, I'd know. Somebody would have told me. But far more important, Goblin writes with his right hand. And I've always been left-handed. "

  "Tarquin," she said, "he's a mirror twin. Haven't you ever heard of them? They mirror each other exactly. And there's an old legend that argues that every left-handed person is the survivor of mirror twins, one of whom perished in the womb, but your twin didn't perish that way. Tarquin, I think we need to talk to Patsy. I think Patsy wants you to know. She's weary of the silence. "

  I was too shocked to speak.

  I made a little gesture for patience and then I stood up and beckoned for them to come with me.

  We crossed the hall. Patsy's door was open. Her room didn't have a parlor like mine, but it was spacious and beautiful, with a regal bed done up in blue-and-white ruffles, and a blue silk couch and chairs before it. She was sitting on the couch with Cindy, our nurse, watching the television while Big Ramona sat with her embroidering ring in one of the chairs. The volume of the television was so low it seemed unimportant. Big Ramona rose to go as we entered. So did Cindy.

  "What kind of invasion is this?" Patsy asked. "Hey, Cindy, don't you go without giving me another shot. I'm sick. And you, Tarquin Blackwood, half the time you don't know I'm alive. When I die, are you going to drag everybody to Metairie Cemetery at the stroke of twelve?"

  "I don't know, Patsy," I said. "Maybe I'll just strangle you and dump you in the swamp. I dream about that sometimes, murdering you and dumping you in the swamp. I dream I did it. You tasted like cotton candy and candy apples, and you sank deep down in the green water. "

  She laughed and shook her head as she looked at me and at my two friends. In her long white flannel nightgown she looked particularly thin, which worried me for her. And her blond hair, so often teased, was brushed out and hung down in waves, making her look young. Her eyes were big and hard.

  "You're so crazy, Tarquin Blackwood," she sneered. "You should have been drowned when you were born. You don't know how much I hate you. "

  "Now, Patsy, you don't mean that," said Cindy, the nurse. "I'll be up to give you another shot in an hour. "

  "I'm sick right now," said Patsy.

  "You're loaded right now is what you are," said Big Ramona.

  "Can we talk to you for a little while?" asked Lestat. He gestured gently and she motioned for him to sit beside her. He settled there and actually put his arm along the back of the couch behind her.

  "Sure, I'm glad to talk to friends of Quinn's," Patsy said. "You sit down, all of you. It's never happened before. Nash is so stuck-up, he calls me Miss Blackwood most of the time. Jasmine can't stand the sight of me. She thinks I don't know that black bastard of hers is your child. Like Hell I don't know. Everyone in the parish knows. And she runs around saying, 'He is my son' like he came from a virgin birth, can you imagine? I tell you if that child's father had been anybody but you, Quinn, it would have been out with the trash, but it was little Quinn who got into Jasmine's panties and so it's just fine, according to Aunt Queen, just fine, let the little bastard have the run of the house, it's just --"

  "Come on, Patsy, stop it," I said. "If anybody hurt that child's feelings, you'd be the first to stick up for him. "

  "I'm not trying to hurt him, Quinn, I'm trying to hurt you, 'cause I hate you. "

  "Well, I'll give you some real good opportunities to hurt me. You just need to talk to me and my friends. "

  "Well, that will be a pleasure. "

  Merrick had taken the chair in which Big Ramona had been sitting, and all this while she had been studying Patsy, and now in a low voice she introduced herself by her first name and she introduced Lestat also.

  I sat down beside Merrick.

  Patsy nodded to these introductions and said with a searingly vicious smile, "I'm Tarquin's mother. "

  "Patsy, did he have a twin?" Merrick asked. "A twin that was born at the same time he was or moments after?"

  Utter silence fell over Patsy. I had never seen such an expression on her face. It went blank, yes, with a combination of stupefaction and dread, and then she screamed for Cindy. "Cindy, I need you, Cindy, I'm panicky! Cindy!"

  She turned this way and that, until Lestat placed his hand firmly on her shoulder. He spoke her name in a whisper. She appeared to look into his eyes and to lose her hysteria as if it were being drained out of her.

  Cindy appeared in the door with the syringe poised.

  "Now, Patsy, you just hang on," she said, and then she came forward and, sitting on Patsy's left, she very modestly lifted the gown and gave Patsy a shot of the sedative in her left hip, and then stood there waiting.

  Patsy was still looking into Lestat's eyes.

  "You understand," Patsy said. "It was the most pitifulest, terriblest thing --. " She shuddered. "You can't imagine. "

  Without taking his eyes off Patsy, Lestat told Cindy that Patsy was fine n

  Patsy turned her eyes to the Oriental rug and she appeared to be tracing its patterns. Then she looked up at me.

  "I hated you so much," she said. "I hate you now. I always hated you. You killed it. "

  "Killed it! How --?" I was stunned.

  "Yes," she said. "You did it. "

  "What are you saying?" I asked. "How did I do that?" I wanted to probe her mind, but I'd never used that power with her and some profound inveterate distaste kept me from doing it.

  "You were so big," she said. "You were so healthy, so normal. Ten pounds, eleven ounces. Even your bones were big. And then that other little one, my little Garwain, only three pounds, and they said he had given you all his blood in my womb, all his blood. You were like a vampire baby drinking up all his blood! It was so awful, and he was so small. Just three pounds. Oh, he was the most terriblest, pitifulest creature you ever saw in your life. "

  I was too amazed to speak.

  The tears were rolling down her cheeks. Cindy took out a clean Kleenex and wiped them away.

  "I wanted so badly to hold him, but they wouldn't let me," Patsy went on. "They said he was the donor twin, that's what they called him. The donor twin. He gave everything. And there he was, too tiny hardly to live. They put him in an incubator. They wouldn't even let me touch him. I sat there in that hospital day and night, day and night. And Aunt Queen kept calling me and telling me, 'This baby at home needs you!' What a thing to say to me! Like this tiny little baby in the hospital didn't need me! Like this little pitiful creature in the hospital didn't need me! She wanted me to come home and give my milk to a ten-pound monster of a baby. I couldn't even look at you! I didn't want to be in the same house with you! That's why I moved out back. "

  She wiped angrily at her tears. Her voice was so soft. I don't think human beings could have heard her. I'm not sure Cindy who sat right beside her could hear her.

  "I sat there in that hospital day and night," she said. "I begged them to let me touch that tiny little baby, and don't you know he died in that machine with all those tubes and wires, and monitors and numbers clicking. He died! That little baby, that poor little Garwain, my Little Knight, that's what I called him, Garwain, my Little Knight, and then they let me hold him, when he was dead, that poor tiny infant, I held him in my arms. "

  I had never seen her like this, never seen her cry such tears, never seen her in such abject sadness. On she went:

  "And we had a tiny coffin for him, a white coffin, with him in a white christening gown, all nestled in it, poor little thing, and we went to the Metairie Cemetery, all of us, and Aunt Queen, for the love of God, why on earth did she bring you out there, and you were screaming and hollering and carrying on, and I hated her for bringing you, and she kept saying that you knew that your twin had died, you felt it, that I should hold you, can you imagine, that I should hold you, and there was my little Garwain in the teensy white coffin, and they put him in the grave and I had it carved on the stone, 'Garwain, My Little Knight,' and he's in there now, in his own little place. "

  The tears flowed down her cheeks. She shook her head.

  "Don't you think they moved him for Pops' and Sweetheart's coffins, or Aunt Queen's. No, sir. They did not. " She shook her head resolutely. "There are eight slots in that mausoleum, and they did not move him. I saw to that. And I never, never went back to that crypt since the day we buried him until tonight and only because Aunt Queen left it in Grady Breen's hands that I was to get a bonus check if I attended her pitiful stupid funeral. And Grady Breen tipped me off. He gave me a photocopy of the will last night, like I told you, because Aunt Queen said he could do it.

  "Now talk about a bribe. If that isn't the limit. And she knew how I felt about that place, she knew, it was her who made me vow I'd never breathe a word to you, that nobody would ever tell you that you had sucked all the blood out of that child, that little three-pound donor child. Like you were the one who had to be protected. Poor Quinn. God help you that you did that, you damn son of a bitch. You don't know what hate is, unless you know how I hate you. "

  She sobbed into her paper tissue. Cindy was distraught. She rose to go, but Patsy pulled her down. Patsy's trembling fingers clung to her. Lestat's hand closed over Patsy's left shoulder and gently held it.

  "Garwain," said Lestat. "And when Goblin began to appear, did it ever seem to you that it might be the ghost of Garwain?"

  "No," she said sullenly. "If it had been Garwain's ghost, it would have come to me because I loved it! It would never have come to Quinn! Quinn killed it! Quinn took all Garwain's blood. Goblin was just Tarquin wanting a twin because he knew he should have had one, and he killed one, and so he made up Goblin out of nothing, and he used all his craziness to do it. He was crazy from the start. "

  "No one thought it might be the little one's ghost?" Merrick asked very gently.

  "No," said Patsy in the same sullen voice. "Garwain, my Little Knight -- that's what's written on the stone. " She looked up at me. "And how you screamed at that funeral! How you screamed and screamed! I didn't even look at you for a whole year. I couldn't stand it. I only finally did because Aunt Queen paid me to do it. Pops wouldn't give me a nickel. Aunt Queen paid me all the time you were growing up. It was a clean deal. Don't tell you about the twin, don't make you feel guilty about the twin, don't tell you you killed the little twin, and she'd take care of me, and she did. "

  She shrugged. She raised her eyebrows and then her face relaxed somewhat, but the tears still fell.

  "Aunt Queen gave me fifty thousand dollars," she said. "It wasn't what I wanted, but she gave me that to get started, and to hold you, and so I did. Just one time. And she got Pops and Sweetheart and everybody on her side. You were the one they cared about. Don't ever tell Quinn he had a little brother who died. Like I didn't have a son? Don't ever tell Quinn about little Garwain. Don't ever let him know that he drained all the blood from that helpless little baby. Don't ever tell Quinn that awful story, like it was your story. And so now you come in here and you ask me, did you have a twin. You want to know, and Aunt Queen's dead, and thanks to Grady tipping me off about the bonus and what was in her will, I know it's got nothing to do with telling you anything. So there you have it. And I guess you know now. You know why I've hated you all these years. I guess you can figure it out finally. "

  I rose to my feet. As far as I was concerned we had discovered what we wanted to know. And I was too shocked and exhausted to say a word to Patsy. I hated her as much as she hated me. I hated her so much I couldn't look at her.

  I think I uttered my thanks, and with my two friends I started to leave the room.

  "Don't you have something to say to me?" Patsy asked as I reached the door.

  Cindy looked so miserable.

  "What?" I inquired.

  "Can you imagine what I went through?" Pasty asked. "I was sixteen years old when that happened. "

  "Ah," I replied, "but you're not sixteen years old now, that's what matters. "

  "And I'm dying," Patsy said. "And no one in all my life has ever loved me the way that people love you. "

  "You know, that's really true," I responded, "but I'm afraid I hate you the way that you hate me. "

  "Oh, no, Quinn, no," said Cindy.

  "Get away from me," Patsy said.

  "That's what I was doing when you stopped me," I answered.
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