THE noxiously cheery tune of “1985” by Bowling for Soup taunted Elliot from the open door.
He hadn’t been in the best of moods to begin with. It had rained all week and suddenly, the day that he’s supposed to move into the halfway house, the sun decided to make an appearance. Hunched over in his dark coat, baseball cap, and sunglasses, Elliot looked shifty to say the least. Then there was a problem with the train five minutes after it left the station. The passengers were stuck sitting motionless for twenty minutes while the mechanics did their work, and the kid behind him got a nosebleed. It was the most uncomfortable trip of his life, and Elliot had lived through the 60s.
Now, to put the rotten cherry on top of this monumentally bad day, he was trapped outside in the sun holding his suitcase, staring down a smug werewolf that was leaning nonchalantly against the door jamb and blasting terrible music. The old Elliot would have throttled the mutt as soon as he was able to get his hands on him. However, the new and improved Elliot was more evolved than that; he was above his temper. Plus, this werewolf was the most terrifying person Elliot had ever laid eyes on. The beast sported hideous scars on every inch of exposed skin, the worst of it around his mouth. It gave him second thoughts about starting a fight.
The werewolf refused to invite Elliot inside. They had been caught in this standoff since he rang the doorbell ten minutes ago. If this day got any worse, he would find a way to stake himself through the heart.
“Do you really want to start off like this, pooch?” The werewolf said nothing in reply, just kept grinning. Elliot dropped his suitcase on the sidewalk and crossed his arms. “Just you wait,” he said under his breath.
“You think you can take me?” the mutt asked, looking amused.
“Everyone has to sleep,” said Elliot darkly.
“Yeah, including sober vampires.”
Drat, he was right.
Just then their human supervisor, Rudy, chose that moment to walk into the front yard from around the side of the house. He carried a pair of pruning shears. The scrawny guy looked like a giant stick bug, wearing clothes that were a size too big and walking in such a way that emphasized the fact that he was all elbows and knees. As soon as he spotted Elliot, he smiled.
“Oh good, you’re here. I was beginning to think you slipped off the wagon and ditched us. Heh, heh.” The awkward chuckle petered out. Elliot wasn’t impressed, especially since the werewolf seemed to be tickled pink.
“I’ve been on the wagon for three years,” he deadpanned. “My train was delayed.”
Rudy blushed and stuffed his hands into his pockets, making his shoulders hunch and giving him the appearance of having no neck. “Right, sorry. Stupid comment. I wasn’t thinking.” Elliot nodded, and the human seemed to recover his composure. “Why don’t you come in?”
Elliot stooped to pick up his neglected suitcase, but when he tried to follow Rudy, he still felt repelled by the open door. The vampire cleared his throat and caught his supervisor’s attention. “Would you mind turning that question into a definitive statement?”
The werewolf chewed on his scarred lip, trying hard not double over busting a gut. Elliot ground his teeth and wondered if saddling the mutt with a shock collar would be crossing a line. He eyed Rudy’s bony frame.
Yeah, he could probably get away with it.