Tommy heard the horn of the hearse honk outside while he was putting on his shoes. He put some cologne on and ran out the door. He could see Merton drinking an energy drink through the window. He hated when Merton drank them. He was already a hyper person. When he had an energy drink in his system, he was pretty much unbearable to be around.
"Damn, you look rough," Tommy said staring at the dark circles under Merton's eyes.
"Long night?" Tommy nudged him slightly and winked.
"Unfortunately, it wasn't one of those night," Merton said, concentrating on driving. "I was up all night and all morning researching."
"Oh yeah? New book?"
"No, I was researching Valda."
"Valda? What's Valda?"
"Not what. Who. Valda is the oldest and most powerful vampire alive and I couldn't find anything on her. Not one piece of information," he said with frustration in his voice.
"Why are you trying to research her?"
"She wants to make a hybrid werewolf/vampire species and she thinks your blood is the key."
"And you know this how?"
"I got an anonymous e-mail warning me about her," Merton lied. He hoped Tommy wouldn't be able to tell. He was a horrible liar. "They said that she would do anything to get you and that we should not underestimate her." Tommy didn't say anything at first. Merton was dying in anticipation of his reaction.
"Hm. Weird. It's probably just a joke. Someone is probably just trying to spook me out of town."
"We should be cautious regardless," Merton said as they pulled onto the school grounds.
"Who would even send a warning like that?"
"I have no idea, just keep your guard up."
Tommy got out of the vehicle and saw Father Steve struggling to lift a speaker onto a cart. "Father, let me help you out with that," Tommy said and lifted it with ease. "Where do you need this?"
"My back thanks you," he said with a laugh. "Right this way." He began walking hurriedly to the stage.
Tommy set it down on the right side of the riser. "Any other heavy lifting?"
"No, I think we're set! Thank you for volunteering today!" he slapped him on the shoulder and pointed with his other hand across the blacktop. "Back there is your booth. You're actually set up right next to Elle's booth."
"Awesome. So what do I need to do?"
"They'll be handing out stickers, buttons and a few other small items. They're selling a few items as well. Just help them out as they need it and be the friendly neighborhood werewolf that you are."
"Do you need me to, uh, actually be the wolf?"
"I thought it would be a nice since you seem to be a perfect spokesperson for the organization," he said with a smile. That smile started to fall when he saw the apprehension on Tommy's face. "Although, I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do. Whatever you feel comfortable with."
"I don't mind, I guess," Tommy said nervously touching his neck. "I just don't want to cause any problems."
"What do you mean?"
"I know that a lot of people aren't happy that I'm back."
"Tommy, when your secret first came out, I'll admit that I was scared just like everybody else. After all, it's human nature to fear what is different. Because I'm a priest, a lot of people came to me searching for answers. I watched every news report, read every book and prayed for how I should address this issue in my church. Then God brought Elle to the church. After speaking to her, I realized you were a misunderstood hero. When I see you, I don't see a werewolf. I see a man who has experienced extraordinary things and as a result, his life seems different. However, it's not that different at all. You are a husband, a father, a member of this community and I fully support you being here."
"Wow, that means a lot, Father."
"I didn't mean to get long-winded, I just want you to know where I stand. Do whatever you're comfortable with today and if anyone has a problem with you, tell them to take it up with me. Okay?"
"Thank you again for volunteering, Tommy. I've got to run."
Tommy walked over to the "Don't Be a Monster" booth where a large man was sitting in a chair getting finishing touches done on his Frankenstein make-up. The costume was impressive and different. Not the typical green skin and black suit you're used to seeing. His skin was slightly discolored but, still a normal pinkish color. He wore a raggedy tan and black long coat and had a giant chain hanging around his neck.
Tommy cleared his throat and the girl applying the make-up made a final touch and looked up. "Hi, I'm Tommy. I'm here to help out."
"Yes, of course. I'm Megan and this is my husband, Sam. Although, today you can call him Frank! We are the co-founders of Don't Be a Monster." Sam stood up and towered over Tommy as he shook his hand.
"Nice to meet both of you. So what do you need me to do?"
"I'm going to be back behind the table selling t-shirts. I just want you and Sam to stand in front and hand out some promotional items and interact with the kids, take pictures and stuff like that."
"Okay, I can do that," he said more to himself than to her.
She looked at her phone and checked the time. "Festival starts in 20 minutes. You'll be, um, ready by then?"
She meant wolfy. He knew she just didn't know how to say it. "Yeah, I'll be ready."