by James Bates
Red Rasberry Sun Tea
I watched the blood swirling around in the sink. "My god, there's a lot of it," I thought to myself. "Way more than I expected." I took hold of the bar of soap, lathered my hands and kept washing them, extra vigorously this time, trying to get more of the blood off. The bright red color running down the drain looked like the aftermath of my ill advised decision to let my son chose the color of his bedroom walls many years ago. 'I'd like blood red, Dad,' he'd said. I had agreed, much to the disappointment of my wife. And anger. I never did get that roller brush clean. And, as I recall, it took three coats of Glidden's Sea Green semi-gloss to cover it all. (Plus the entire next weekend.)
Anyway, the blood wasn't washing away very quickly. Where did it all come from? I'd read a lot of books on crime. In fact, I was sort of a student of the macabre, so I knew that the human body contained around a gallon and a half of the stuff (about the size of the bucket you might use to wash your car) and it seemed like that's the amount I was washing off my hands. Man, I'd never expected there to be so much.
I was in the bathroom, right off the kitchen. The sink was porcelain and the raspberry juice red of the blood contrasted with the sink's sparkling white. I wondered briefly if the blood would stain it. Shit. Once more thing to worry about.
The more I washed and tried to clean my hands, the more of a mess I seemed to be making. Blood was splattering everything: up around the faucets, against the white tile backsplash and down the sides of the sink, dripping onto the pristine white tile floor. Geez, I'd be cleaning up forever.
I glanced in the mirror as I washed. My face looked every bit of its age of seventy-one. My eyes were tired looking, bags drooping underneath. The hair on my head was thin, nearly gone, my beard was wispy and scraggly. I looked the kind of guy who would be washing blood from their hands after committing a violent crime. Not the best image to be confronted with at this stage of my life. Not at all.
Suddenly, there was a pounding on the door. Bam! Bam! Bam!
"Grandpa. Grandpa. What are you doing in there?"
A grin appeared on my haggard face. "There's no one here," I said, talking to the closed door, still scrubbing furiously, "No one here but us vampires."
Giggles on the other side from Lari and Lori, my nine-year old twin granddaughters. It was Thursday afternoon, my day to stay with them after school until my son and his wife got home from work.
Lori called out, "Grandpa, please, please, please, what are you doing?"
"Yeah," Lari said, "Tell us, tell us, tell us."
I decided to come clean (pun intended) and tell them, "I'm washing off that blood we got at the hobby store. I'm sort of making a mess in here."
"You mean fake blood, don't you, Grandpa?" says Lori, "It was fake blood that we bought."
"Let us see. Please, let us see," Lari called out. Then, more pounding. Bam! Bam! Bam!
I could picture them jumping up and down outside the door in joyful glee. It made my heart glad. They were good kids. I cast a quick glance at myself in the mirror. At the sound of their voices, I swear my eyes became brighter and the bags under them seemed less, well, baggy. Even my beard seemed fuller. My granddaughters had that way about them, making me feel younger. (Looking younger? Well, that surely was all in my imagination.)
"Just a second." I grabbed some paper towels from under the sink and dried off my hands, leaving red smears and smudges all over the place. "Come on in," I opened the door.
The girls are identical red heads. They've got long hair, green eyes, freckles, the whole bit. One thing they enjoyed doing together was playing practical jokes. Today after they'd gotten home from school we'd gone to our favorite store, Phil's Magic Emporium, and made some purchases. The plan was that we were going to surprise their parents when they got home from work today with something to do with fake blood. We'd also bought some other things.
The girls looked at the mess in the bathroom and let out a collective, "Yuck!"
"I know," I said, "I think the fake blood is going to be too much of a mess to work with. What do you two think?"
While the girls pondered my question, I finished washing my hands. Then I gave them each some paper towels, got some spray cleaner and we cleaned out the sink as well as everything else within a five foot radius. (I ended up using a lot of spray bleach. A lot of paper towels, too.)
When we were done, Lori said, "I think you're right Grandpa. I don't think Mom or Dad would like the blood."
"But we did get some other stuff at the store. Remember Grandpa," Lari said, starting to get excited all over again.
"Yes, we did. They are so cool. Should I go get them Grandpa?" Lori asked.
I'd been so busy trying to clean up I'd forgotten. I'd let each of the kids pick out something else, just in case the blood idea didn't work out, which obviously it didn't.
I played along, joking with them, "I'm getting old and forgetful. What else was it we bought again?" I scratched my chin to emphasize my forgetfulness.
The girls ran into the kitchen, giggling and pulling me along. On the counter was a shopping bag and they opened it, each taking out a treasured purchase.
"Here, Grandpa," Lori said, holding up a rubber slab of fake vomit.
"Here's mine," Lari said, holding up a clump of fake dog poop.
I laughed. They were just the kinds of things I'd have bought way back when, back when I was their age. God, I loved my grandkids.
I warmed up to the task at hand, "Those each will really surprise your parents," I told them, laughing.
They both grinned back at me, "Will you help us put them someplace, Grandpa?" Asked Lari.
"Please," Grandpa, "Lori said, "Someplace special. Pretty please?"
"You bet I will," I told them, "Let's go find a couple of really good places."
"Goody, goody," they both said in unison.
Then they each took me by the hand and off we went, and all I'll say is this: We were able to find a couple of really good places; their parents were truly surprised later that evening when they got home from work.
Oh, and all three of us are grounded from the Magic Emporium for the next six weeks. But what the heck, it was worth it.
About the author
I live in Long Lake, Minnesota. I enjoy walking, gardening, bird watching, reading, writing, bicycle riding and playing with my fantastic grand kids. I'm retired after working many years as a sales and technical development and training instructor. I have been writing for a number of years: haiku, poetry, short and long fiction. My stories can be found posted on my website: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.