Old Customs Reinstated
May 1, 1992
Janette applied the finishing touches to her evening attire, fixing her earrings and smoothing her unruly hair with a velvet ribbon. She had slept longer than intended after the club had been busy into the early morning hours. Lots of mortals had exhausted themselves on the dance floor, celebrating the arrival of May – or Beltane as those of Irish origin used to call the night of April 30. Funny, how mortals always required an excuse to indulge instead of doing as they pleased whenever they felt the urge.
The sun had already set over an hour ago as Janette opened the door to the side alley in order to step out for a quick errand before resuming her nightly routine as the owner of a night club. As she turned to lock the door behind her, she stopped in her tracks and stared in disbelief at the sight that greeted her. About six feet off the ground there was a large birch branch attached to the building’s downspout. It was decorated with coloured ribbons and a red heart. Janette levitated in order to take a closer look at the wooden heart attached to the centre of the twig. Upon discovering her name neatly carved into the wood, she smiled, recognizing the offering for what it was: A maypole, secretly mounted by a suitor while she had been asleep.
It had been almost two centuries since she had last seen one like this. Since the custom was unique to scattered areas in Germany, she had never expected to see one in Canada, let alone dedicated to her. At that time Lacroix had taken them on an educational trip across Europe to visit cities of Roman origin. While they were staying in Cologne, she and Nicolas had observed the male local population attaching decorated maypoles to the houses of their sweethearts. How sweet of Nicolas to remember and to revive this custom here to declare his devotion.
After his initial visit to the Raven which effectively rekindled her longing for him, she had rarely seen him. He only dropped by when he needed information on one of his police cases. She had almost expected him to move on again after his loft had suffered major fire damage a couple of weeks ago. But then she became aware of his growing attachment to the local coroner and assumed that’s what kept him here. Knowing from experience how these attachments usually ended, she resigned herself to wait and be there for him when it was over and he wallowed again in his guilt.
But now there was the maypole. Had she misjudged Nicolas’ feelings? Did he consider having her back in his life? The maypole seemed to indicate it if she remembered the symbolism correctly. With a huge smile she went about her errand.
* * * *
June 1, 1992
Janette took special care with her attire tonight. According to the maypole custom, her suitor should arrive tonight in order to retrieve the pole in exchange for a favour. Much to her disappointment, Nicolas had remained absent during the previous month. If the maypole had prompted any change in her love life, it was that none of the younger vampires dared to approach her in a romantic fashion anymore. A side effect she had mixed feelings about. Many of the young ones had already backed off after Nicolas’ first visit to the club. Now the maypole seemed to have sealed his claim without the necessity of personal attendance.
After applying lipstick, Janette stepped into the side alley. A moment later Nicolas dropped from the sky.
“I take it, my visit isn’t unwelcome,” he said almost shyly.
“It is most welcome, mon chér,” Janette replied and smiled as he reached for her hand to brush a kiss upon her skin. “Yet, I’m curious. Isn’t your coroner friend more entitled to be the recipient of your maypole?”
“Are you suggesting I should put a maypole on her balcony and receive a bottle of beer from her brother in return? I don’t think that would go over well,” Nicolas made a face. “Not that they would be familiar with the custom anyway.”
“Contrary to me who knows exactly how to bestow a favour.” Janette pulled his head toward her and kissed him deeply. His eyes glittered golden as they separated. He levitated and detached the pole from the downspout. With a careful tug he removed the heart and handed it to her with a slight bow. Then he vanished into the sky, taking the pole with him.
Janette remained in the alley and heaved a deep sigh, knowing she would never be able to let him go.