When we get back from church, the living room curtains are closed. A vampire is sitting on the couch with the remote, checking out the different channels like he’s never seen cable before.
Mámi asks who invited him in.
“Not me, it must have been Emily!” Junior says.
Whenever Junior does something and gets caught, he always blames me. And Mámi always believes him because he’s the boy and he’s her favorite.
“It wasn’t me!” I say. I hear the whine in my voice, but I can’t help it. Junior never whines—he doesn’t have to. Everyone loves him. The girls at school think he’s so cute. He looks good on the outside but he’s rotten on the inside, like a bad peach.
The vampire ignores us, like nothing we say or do matters because it’s his house now. He’s watching a baseball game and eating chips with salsa. At least, I hope it’s salsa.
Pápi walks in from the kitchen carrying a cup of coffee. When I sprained my ankle, Mami made me go to church the next day, but Pápi hasn’t been for months, not since he hurt his back at work. Every week when she asks if he feels well enough to come with us he says yes, but when he stands up, he winces until Mámi makes him sit back down and brings him the Vick’s Vaporub. If vampires were afraid of menthol the way they are afraid of garlic, we would all be safe.
“So you’ve met Adriano!” he says.
“You!” Mami says. “You invited a vampire into our house?”
“What do you mean vampire? He’s my cousin!” My father has never met someone he isn’t related to. He talks to strangers for hours until he figures out how. Adriano is probably his uncle’s wife’s sister’s daughter’s best friend’s brother.
“Look at him!” Mámi shouts. The vampire is wearing a black cape and his skin is pale as the sugar Pápi’s putting in his coffee. Every time his team makes a good play, the vampire shouts, opening his mouth so wide you can see his fangs.
Pápi leans closer and whispers, “He may be gay, but he’s family.”
“He’s not gay, he’s a vampire!” Mámi says. Then she looks at Adriano again. “Okay, he might be gay, but he’s definitely a vampire.”
“He’s not staying in my room,” Junior says.
“Well he can’t stay with me!” I say. “I’m a girl and he’s a boy.”
“But Pápi says he’s gay, so that doesn’t matter.”
“Not gay,” Adriano says. “Bi-curious.”
Pápi looks confused, but none of us are going to explain.
“How could you ask him to stay without talking to me first?” Mámi asks to change the subject.
“You’ve got it all wrong mi corazón! That’s not what happened. We were out of coffee, so I ran out to the store and when I came back, he was already here!”
“Then who invited him inside?”
Mámi’s chihuahua Lily runs into the living room, barking. Pápi calls Lily the queen of the house. She bites anyone she doesn’t know. And me. Never Junior.
“Who’s a good girl!” Adriano says as she jumps into his lap.
Mámi looks at the dog door—small for a man, but large for a bat.