Mandy and Lulu Go to Walgreens

Okay, so like, this whole thing goes back to 1996. It all started when Lulu told me she didn’t know what a vaccine was, and I was like, Oh my God, Lulu, you haven’t had your shots? And she was like Mandy, I am vampire, I have been shot at many times. And I was like Oh my God Lulu I can’t believe you’ve been biting me and you haven’t had your shots, you were literally alive when the rabies vaccine was invented, were you living under a rock? And she was like No, darling, I was living in big mansion sucking blood of local virgin farm boys. You know how she’s so earnest about these things. It’s cute, but so irritating.

​So anyway, last night I take Lulu to get our booster shots, right? She was all like, Mandy, vaccine is witchcraft, and I was like, Yeah, but you like witchcraft, and she was like, Yes, but when will I sprout bat wing? And I think she’s actuallydisappointed that hasn’t happened. She’s been all like, Why should my arm hurt if it is not becoming wing? 

​I know. I know. 

​So we’re checking in to the pharmacy, and obviously the pharmacist has it bad for Lulu on sight—I mean, who wouldn’t? Lulu was in her Victorian mourning attire and she looked so hot—but, ugh, let me tell you, this is the last time I let Lulu be in charge of making appointments. 

​The pharmacist was like, Lucrezia… the… Defiler? 

​And just, ugh. Ugh! I’ve told her a million times that she can’t go by her vampire moniker in human society, but whatever, I step in, and I’m like, Actually, it’s French, so it’s pronounced Taydayfeelay. So Lucrezia gets checked in, no problem, she gets her shot, everything is cool. Then it’s my turn, same deal, we’re good. 

​But then. Then. As I’m putting my jacket on. This old man shows up. And he asks the pharmacist if they do Covid testing. And the pharmacist is like, We’re sold out of home tests. And the old man is like, But do you do the tests in store? And the pharmacist is like, Yeah, and the old man is like, Can I make an appointment? And the pharmacist is like, You have to make an appointment online, and the old man is like, But I don’t have a computer—and oh my god—oh my god—the pharmacist actually says, to a guy who’s at least eighty, who just needs a little help, Then go to the library. And then the pharmacist walks away! 

​Jaw. Dropped. 

​Like, I know pharmacy staff are totally overwhelmed. They’re already working with limited resources. I know. But also, like, isn’t the whole situation kind of massively screwed up? The way we erected a gigantic barrier of access and infrastructure to just make an appointment if you think you’re sick? During a pandemic? We basically abandoned people who aren’t tech-savvy. Or who don’t have access to technology. It’s totally wrong. Lulu only knows how to use a computer because I told her it was witchcraft, which really incentivized her to take a class at the local community college, and she still types with one finger and constantly asks me how to copy and paste. And, like, I’m sure a librarian definitely would have helped him, but the library closes in the afternoon now because of staffing shortages and budget cuts, so this guy was going to have to wait until tomorrow.

​Not gonna lie, I was so shocked and so angry that I was just standing there, but Lulu was like, Sir! Sir, my wife, she help you with appointment. 

​And you should have seen how relieved he looked. I actually felt worse. But obviously I pulled out my smartphone like, Yeah, let me get your info, and I’m plugging his name and birthdate into the Walgreens website, and do you know when the next available appointment was? Do you know when the next available appointment was? 

​Next. Week. 

​So obviously the next thing I do is I try CVS. Rite Aid. Urgent care. I call some of the independent pharmacies in town. None of them have any appointments for tests. And the old guy—his name is Bill—Bill is like, Thank you so much, thank you for trying, thank you for your time, like he’s bothering us, or like this is his fault, and I’m like, No, Bill, it’s not a problem, we really want to help. Except I’m starting to feel like we can’t help. 

​But Lulu. Oh my god, Lulu. Lulu is like, Bill, I do test for you. Look into my eyes. And she does her whole hypnosis thing. And then she bites his wrist. And I’m like, Lulu! We are in the Walgreens parking lot! Babe! There are cameras! And she’s, like, slurping on Bill’s wrist, right out here in public, until finally she stops, and she’s like, Yes, he is positive. 

​And I’m so mad. Not at Lulu, or at Bill, I’m just mad, at the whole thing. This is actually what started the argument way back in 1996 in the first place. I was really worried about blood borne pathogens, and Lulu was like, Mandy, I do not think vampires get virus, and I was like, You are single-handedly turning our relationship into one big OSHA violation! And I wouldn’t let her bite me for a solid month, because, like, ew! Unvaccinated biting! Ew! And then she was finally like, Fine, Mandy, for you I get shots. 

​Anyway, Lulu does her hypnosis thing again, and she’s like, Bill, you had little nose bleed from Covid test, you are positive, but this is okay, because Mandy and I, we take care of you. So now tonight Lulu and I are bringing him groceries. Obviously I wish we could go over during the day, but, you know, the whole sun thing. But! I called him twice today (on his landline! A landline!) to check in and he says he’s feeling okay, and he is just so nice, we talked for an hour about all different kinds of stuff, and I think I have a new grandpa. I know. I know.

Honestly, Lulu and I have been talking about it, and we have this really great idea, but you have to swear not to tell anyone, because it’ll like, sort of violates the vampire rules of secrecy. Lulu is feeling very passionate right now about grass roots organizing and community outreach, so we’re thinking we might actually go door-to-door and do the bite-test for people. For free. Lulu is really good at the hypnosis thing, so like, we’d be totally safe, and plus, we could actually manage to get people to follow quarantine orders. I know. And if that works, who knows—Daddy won his reelection campaign, so I might be able to get Lulu on T.V. Can you imagine if she was able to do a mass hypnosis event to get people to follow the rules? I mean, she’s never tried a mass hypnosis event, but she’s amazing. She could totally do it. And like, I know this whole thing will be super good PR for when the Council decides to go public, but it’s totally more about doing something good for our community and giving back. And it was all Lulu’s idea. Can you believe it? After three hundred years I think she finally found her purpose. I am so proud of her.


A writer of fantasy, surrealism, and magic, Maggie Damken has published work in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Baffling Magazine, other magazines, and several anthologies. You can follow Damken on Twitter @shelleyisms for more strange content.

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