The Tidy Habits of Veronique Galan

Submitted into Contest #65 in response to: Write about a vampire or werewolf who moves into a quiet suburban neighborhood.... view prompt

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Suspense Transgender Speculative

Maybe this time...

Maybe I can blend in, regroup, and learn to let go.

The quiet streets of Millersrun, with their colorful Victorians and thrift shops show the vulnerability of this small city. I find comfort in this, as it mirrors my own situation, both currently and historically. I find no peace in high-end, pristine cities where everyone is beautiful and has a full family. I tend to look for a mix...some diversity, some sense of a struggle, and hard work.

To keep myself out of the news, I have to change my name every seven or so years. I used to do so every twenty or thirty years, but with the sophistication of technology, I would be too easy to track. It doesn't matter how I avoid social media, use of technology, close relationships, or long term employment.

I pull up to my new home; a mid-sized, dove-grey Victorian with purple and fuchsia trim. How I hope I am not triggered by my many former selves! For I was born and raised in a home similar to this one, and though it was much grander in size, and without the granite and minimalist drapes, the feel of it pulls me back into my childhood, despite that being over 130 years ago. But it is as far back as I can remember. Yes, back then, I was a very different person.

Perhaps as different as one could be.

I was raised as Bert Florille. My French-American family made a decent living on the making of soaps, fragrances, and lotions. Many years later, I am still a part of this original heritage. Every thirty years, I sell the company, and reinvest the profits. When my name changes, I have to go with a new investment group. The group that asks the least amount of personal questions wins my business!

But I am getting ahead of myself. First, I need to move in, settle, and meet a few of my new neighbors so as to not look too different.

Because there is nothing more curious than a transgender vampire from the Victorian age living in a Victorian home; am I wrong?

There is another reason I picked Millersrun, another reason on why I need to get myself settled right away.

It's because of him. And her.

He has lived here nearly eighty years, and she is from here.

It's time I did something about this old grudge.


Jack Tullaye was about eight years older than me. No one in my family knew where he came from, and no one asked. He was French, he lived in the Garden District in New Orleans, and that's all that mattered to us. Jack was one of us. You have to know that in the late 1800s, you were most comfortable with people who were exactly like you...at least, on the surface. As I unfortunately found out, Jack was nothing like my family.

At the time, he was thirty, and I was twenty-two. We were men with heavy expectations placed on our narrow shoulders, and because of this, I felt a connection. He had not yet settled down with a wife, and to be honest--I could not see myself having a family, no matter what society said. I just didn't feel it was in me to do so. Jack and I spent many nights in many taverns talking it over. We met fascinating women who shared our beliefs, or perhaps they were saying that to fit in with us in the moment.

One particular woman was Veronique Galan. I never got her full story, but she claimed to be a woman uninterested in what society wanted out of her. She enjoyed late nights, and afternoon breakfasts. Despite society disapproval, she and Jack began a relationship. Almost as quickly as it started, Veronique disappeared. Jack waved it off as something that was "tres Veronique"; as if disappearing was just an act of whimsy.

Two weeks after her disappearance, I heard a knock on the door of my family's new soap shop that we had just opened. It was hardly dark, not even 7:00pm, on that balmy, September evening.

It was very strange to see Veronique outside my shop. Stranger still was the fact that she had been missing. I still see her clothing; a rosy thin, lace dress with silk underneath. Completely scandalous and overwhelmingly exciting for a young man, especially since she was not being chaperoned at this hour.

Without a thought, I let her in. The smell of her violet perfume filled our small store. Her eyes were panicked, sorrow had somehow set in. But before I could ask what was wrong, she showed me her neck and more slowly, partially disrobed to reveal her other bite marks. I almost fainted, I had never seen so much unexposed flesh on any women. I closed my eyes, unable to speak to her brazenness. Finally, I tried asking her what happened, just so she could say something and unburden herself.

"I can't speak of it." Her voice was thin and whispery, a chill now spilled out into the room. She placed ice-cold hands on my chest, and pushed me to the back room. Any sense of modesty was now forgotten and put away.

Panicked and unprepared, I listened. I could have ran out, I could have pushed my way out of there, but some foreign feeling of desire and excitement presented itself in the next span of ten minutes. Silk, violets, pent-up emotions.

Was she pregnant? Did she need a decent man to save her from a social disaster? Was she doing this to trick me, entice me into a life with her? Whatever anyone wanted to call this, it was working. Yes, I can marry you. I will give you whatever you like if we do this...whatever this is called.

In the midst of this reckless feeling, I felt as if I had been pierced. From ecstasy to pain...the pulse in my neck was slowing. The next moment I could account for was when I laid in her bed, which was nothing more than a burgundy velvet pillow that had been overstuffed with feathers. Her eyes flashed red, and she said that this was all due to Jack.

I was mad at Veronique; so absolutely mad, but I grew to love her as she did me. But life with her was hard. We had a few passionate years, and this was the best we could do. We looked for Jack, and if she was hurt, I was all the more. I felt betrayed by him, even though she got to me first. I felt as though if I had not met Jack, I never would have become this vampire.

With all name changes, my careers, my personalities...I have decided that I cannot rest until I find him. I have been so intent on it that I have become her: Veronique. And if she is still around...still using that old, classy French name, then good for her, but how dull! As for me, my dark hair is streaked with blonde, my frame is still small, and my implants are modest at best. I always had small hands, and average features...physically becoming a female wasn't that hard. But to dress as a Victorian prostitute? How unbecoming. And besides...today's sexy is different. It's high-waisted jeans with an upper belly exposure, as opposed to corsets...although the tiny waists and the hourglass look is still very much in vogue.

But emotionally...I am wrought. I tell myself that this is just a phase, that in two hundred years I could become bored again. Then, I can remake myself into something completely different...and I can get "Veronique" and "Jack" out of my system; and let go of this century-plus-old grudge. But before that happens, I have to entice him.

When my hair hangs in my face a certain way, one cannot tell that I once lived as a male. I style it this way on purpose, and though it is inconvenient as I unbox and rearrange my possessions, I keep it as such. Something in my soul tells me that I will suffer to become a female, but that the process will one day comfort me. The struggle will be worth it.

I glance outside my bare bedroom window and I see a woman in a wheelchair as she holds her groceries.

It's so easy to forget the struggles of others as we obsess over our own.

"What a woman!" I think to myself. She has to power operate the chair with one hand, and use the other to manage her bag and groceries, which takes extra effort. There is something unexpectedly familiar about her.

When I look back again, I see him.

Jack is looking up and into my window.

Where is the woman in the wheelchair?

The wheelchair sits idle, abandoned on the sidewalk.

I walk towards the window, momentarily confused. Jack is wearing women's clothing, his hair is blonde...I think I may be in a time warp, confused about my past, or having a block of some kind. I run down the narrow, steep stairs, almost falling. I peek outside narrow windows, and I see that he is on my porch. Loose jeans, cropped top. I open the door.

"Jack?" I say, quietly. This is probably no longer his name.

"Bert?" He asks, shaking his head.

Luckily, I had my porch furniture out and ready to use. Had I not sat down, I would have fainted, just like the time Veronique came into my shop. I sat down on a rose-printed couch, and Jack did as well. The strangest moment of deja-vu was now very real--we were back in New Orleans, and he was visiting me at my family's home. We often sat out on the front porch before the mosquitos came. We were young, inexperienced men.

"Your name is now Veronique, as I have come to find out."

I nod my head.

"And you?" I ask, eyeing the choice of make-up.

If you want to get a vampire's attention, this is one of many ways. Steal her identity, her name. She will be outraged; even if it's a name she no longer uses. It's like marrying your friend's ex-husband. It's just plain wrong, especially when there are so many other choices. She'll come for you, but the police won't.

"I did the same thing you did. I too have the name Veronique Galan."

Without thinking it through, I feel my buried venom rise to my words. Years of compressed feelings unleashed themselves with no compromises. "Why would you?" I spat. "I mean, you ruined her, and she ruined me. You ran off like a coward!"

My few words held such hatred for the individual I had once felt so close to. There was so much I wanted to say. But it would take time. I couldn't unleash everything on "Veronique" right now. It would take hours to go through it all.

"Is that what you think happened? How about you running away with her, while she left me in her apartment to nearly rot after she attacked me?" Veronique, who was once Jack, turned her back away from me. "She attacked both of us, and probably blamed the other! I'm sure we weren't her first!"


So here we sit, two transgender vampires, sitting with a grudge as old as time between us, from generations no one in our neighborhood has ever seen. Had I misunderstood what happened between Jack and Veronique so long ago?

That's the understatement of the year.

Or the century, rather.

"Can we go out, and talk about it?" I asked Veronique. "I noticed many taverns we could choose from."

She chuckles. "They are called bars...not taverns. You are showing your age. But.. your blonde hair is an improvement."

"I'll get my purse." I'm not trying to overdue it. Of course, Dior and Chanel are my preferences. Accessorizing for me was the easiest part of this journey. So many wonderful pieces to choose from.

"And I'll need my wheelchair. I roll up to everything in this neighborhood." Veronique stands up and I then notice a prosthetic leg. She manages well enough to walk nearly 50 feet, but no more than that.

Soon, we are settled in the Miller's Nest. We order the same soup, and drink ice water. I ask about the wheelchair and what led to it.

My alter-ego, my vampire twin takes a large breath. She looks down at her empty plate, and I can feel the sadness surrounding her words.

"The bite was so bad, my leg became infected. It led to an amputation."

"From...that long ago? From Veronique?"

I am sitting there in shock. Bites always go bad; otherwise, we would not be vampires. But we are normally not mangled or disabled permanently. Veronique must have had a unique hatred for Jack. It makes my perceptions of what happened seem ridiculous, so one-sided.

"And you thought you had a grudge?" Veronique smiles at me, raising her perfect eyebrows.

How long we will wait for the original Veronique? In my dreams, she still wears that rose lace gown. Her face is hideous, her bones jut through her skin. She is far past the ability to care for herself, having hurt centuries of men such as us.

"Halloween is in several days," I mention.

We will find a cozy bar, give her the best seat in the house, and recount the old days, as well as her tidy, formidable habits of blaming her victims for her crimes.

"And her coffin?" Veronique continues, rolling her eyes. "Lined with rose lace and silk. So tacky. You'll see."

I catch my breath. "When?" I ask with hesitation.

"Tonight."

My eyes widen with fear, I start fumbling with excuses. I am not ready to confront all of this, not all at once! I thought I would have weeks, months even, to prepare! But this has all taken place in a matter of hours.

"It's too late, Bert-Veronique. She knows you are here, she won't wait until Halloween. She'll want to see you tonight, violets and all."

I pay my tab, I grab my purse, and run out of the restaurant. I yell an apology over my shoulder. Being a vampire is crazy, becoming Veronique is a challenge, but moving in and facing my attacker/turned lover is not something I'm willing to do. There is no coming to terms, no understanding. I'm simply not doing it--not for now, at least!

By the time I run home, I see Veronique coming down the sidewalk in her wheelchair. I jump into my car, and I speed away.

I will worry about my new home, my grudges, and the color of the silk lining in Veronique's coffin in the weeks to come. As for now, I am focused on finding a hotel. I think there is one on Main Street, and so I drive in that direction.

But I start to feel queasy.

It's the scent of violets.

I try to open my car window, but the controls are jammed.

The scent of violets now fills my small, compact car. I pull off to the side of the road so that I may open the car door and force some cold air inside, and as I do, red eyes flash in my rearview mirror.









October 26, 2020 12:02

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2 comments

Writer Maniac
02:32 Nov 05, 2020

Woah! I loved the story, and how suspenseful it was! I especially love the ending, where Bert just gives up, but then is met with the one person he didn't want to meet! Absolutely love this story!

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Ari Berri
16:48 Nov 02, 2020

Nice story! I love the cliffhanger at the end.

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