Her name is Radu and she lives down the street from my Grandmother's house.
Radu and my Grandmother are friends and have been friends for over 50 years. They've traveled together, gone shopping together, done all those old lady things together like drink tea and take in the odd bingo game together.
And while my Grandmother has aged gracefully her friend Radu has not. In fact, Radu has not aged at all.
Recently her hair has turned gray, and there are traces of wrinkles around her eyes and near her mouth, across her forehead. Laugh lines I think they're called. I'm pretty sure that like the streaks of gray the lines are cosmetic.
Convincing but cosmetic.
Radu is patient and kind and sometimes when she thinks no one is looking her eyes flame orange. It's enough to give you a heart attack, but once you get use to it, it's not so bad. Because freaky eyes or not, she's Radu.
She's Radu who can do magic tricks, can guess what the faces on cards are before you turn them over, who sings loudest of all even though she has an awful voice and is tone deaf as well.
My Grandmother's best friend Radu who I've known for all my life.
Last Halloween though, I met the real Radu.
I was walking to my Grandmother's house instead of driving because it was a pretty Autumn evening, there were wonderful Halloween decorations in almost every yard and the children in their costumes racing around the streets was magical, fun.
It made me wish I was young enough to Trick or Treat again.
It was about a block away from my Grandmother's house that I noticed the figure in the black coat. The coat was long and had silver buttons down the front. The person wearing it had long black hair and was powerfully built with wide shoulders and because the jacket was form fitting I could see the arms were muscular too.
Was it a light from a passing car or maybe the light of the bright Harvest Moon when the clouds moved away from it’s face that cast enough light for me to see a set of flaming orange golden eyes from across the road? I don't know.
But I saw them.
They were Radu’ s eyes, but the figure, it was all wrong. Radu was an average sized woman with shoulder length hair. The person I saw looked like they worked out, that they were built as the saying goes, to inflict some serious hurt.
It wasn't her, I told myself because those eyes I took for Radu’ s lacked her humor.
I turned away and started to walk. From across the road the figure dropped back but I could hear it walk across dried fallen leaves.
Then the air turned cold and I could hear what I thought was something from behind me taking a long deep breath. Then my head was pulled back and the sky disappeared behind a terrible face. It was a blank pale face, its eyes were black and empty and it had far to many teeth.
Horrible pointed teeth.
And before I could cry out, strike out something knocked me aside and it was on my attacker. There was a growl, tearing sounds and both figures seemed to be embracing. Then one stood and the other fell to the ground.
When I stood I was looking at the figure in the black coat with the silver buttons.
Its face was heavy, the jaw was heavy, the brow bone was heavy and close up the figure was even more imposing then it was from across the road.
It was Radu of course and if I were to say what her now changed face reminded me of it was animal like...wolf like almost.
She couldn't speak well; it was as if she weren't use to talking. " You have to watch out for those Vampires Sarah. They're nasty things. "
Then she reached down for the dead man and nodded up towards my Grandmother's house. " Time for you to go, time for me to eat. Yes? "
All I could think to say was, " Happy Halloween Radu. "
She tossed the figure over her should and walked away from me, towards the cemetery.
Singing... off key of course.