Vampire Road Trips

No, I haven’t been away at some Vampire High Council meeting deciding what to do about nasty Vampires from another tribe, or discussing all of those flea bitten, tick covered Werewolves. Screw that. We don’t even DO THAT. All of the blood dripping lofty ceremony laced fiction out there gets people thinking we’re living in the 15th Century, or all dress like Victorians ALL THE TIME. I’ve been busy and we’re in a heat wave from Hell right now.

We’ll be on not one, not two, but three road trips this summer. The only place we’re not going where it is blazing and stupidly hot is Alaska.

Which brings me to a favorite subject: Vampire Road trips

Some suggest we bring freeze dried blood with us. Yes, that can be obtained by our usual sources but why? First of all we’ll just throw a cooler in the car and keep the fresh stuff on ice. We can also be guaranteed of a steady supply of truckers, hitch hikers, and Airbnb hosts.

The main thing we avoid are hookers in small desert towns (I kid you not.) It is seriously sad to see young women out trolling for truckers in the middle of the day wearing cuts offs, fishnet stockings, and heels. I look at them and wonder, “how the fuck did you end up here?”

We give a nod to the Vampires who live along those mysterious roads that seem to lead to nowhere. We give a nod to the lone Vampires in the small towns scattered across the highways. You know those towns where you wonder what people do there, and why they stay.

We will also stop to see friends along the way, both Vampires and regular folks we know.

All of my bitchiness aside, I love road trips. Driving across country with a kid (even if the kid will have just turned 18) is an amazing opportunity for both parent and child.

On our trips we’ve discussed (in-depth) music, history, art, social studies, geology, zombies, politics, cars, interesting people we’ve known, my own personal history, ways to murder someone when writing a novel, serial killers, movies, relationships, people we know, nature, dogs, cats, current events, and we wonder about things we see along the way.

We’ve seen two exceptionally handsome young men at a rest stop and wondered what two exceptionally handsome young men were doing out in the middle of the desert. We’ve stopped at a giant truck stop sort of place near the Colorado/Nebraska border and wondered where everyone was going. We’ve met a woman who said Lincoln, NE was the largest city she’d ever been to. We’ve seen roadside art, weird mysterious monuments, and a giant crater. We’ve gone to National Parks, and city parks. We’ve driven across Indian Reservations. We’ve driven through small depressed towns, and through some of the most expensive real estate in the country. We’ve been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and stayed with a gay couple there. We’ve been to interesting little coffee houses that serve lavender scented lattes and vegan muffins. We’ve been on roads that seem to go on forever across the deserts and plains. It is hot because it is summer. It is dry because we’re driving through the West, only as far as Nebraska.

We’ll be in Nebraska this year as well. Then we’ll arrive home and a few days later head off for Alaska. But first we have to go to Fresno for an event. There is no other reason I’d go to Fresno. But in defense of Fresno, like all places, we will find interesting things to do.

So take a trip, even a day trip. You’ll learn something, and maybe even see some Vampires. We love road trips. Just don’t expose too much skin or you’ll get either sunburned or bitten.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This guy looks interesting. Let’s show him something REALLY scary!

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Being A Vampire

Down the dark alley they went, a father with one hand holding the smaller hand of a young child, and his other hand gently on the back of an older child.

They went into a door that led into a club, the old kind of club with leather furniture, cigars, and distinguished members.

“Gustaf,” said the father, who was named Duncan, “we need a table. Get the children some pie, apple if you have it. Ice cream with the pie would be even better.”

Gustaf, the old doorman nodded, then winked at the children before he trotted away.

Duncan took his children into a lounge area with a large bar at one end. They sat at a table by a window that looked out onto the lamp lit street.

He got himself a glass of wine at the bar, and lemon aid for the children.

“Are you having pie Daddy?” The younger child, a small boy named Justin, asked.

“Daddy doesn’t eat pie,” said the girl. She was sixteen and named Anna. “Daddy doesn’t eat much food. He drinks blood. You might do the same when you grow up.”

Justin looked sad. “No pie at all?”

“No pie,” said Duncan, “but that is fine because I had more than my share when I was your age.”

Gustaf brought out large pieces of pie to the hungry children, complete with ice cream. He also brought an elegant black glass goblet for Duncan. “I thought you’d like this sir. It is fresh, just caught tonight.”

Duncan thanked the old man and then turned to his children.

“When I was young, and when you were babies, I was like you. When I fell in love with your mother I was like you. Some who tell stories such as mine would have said then everything changed. A lot of things changed, but the one thing that did not change, or will not change is my love for you. I will always love you, with a fierce protective love that will never die, even after we are all dust and our sun burns out into a tiny piece of cold cosmic coal. I will always love you that much.

I will love you until you are old and ancient. I will ALWAYS be there for you. If one day, by chance, you decide to become a Vampire like me, I will help you into the life in the shadows and highlights, and I will support you, and always be there for you.

That is what a father does.

I will be there for your children, your grandchildren, and their children, and for all of have passed down our love over the generations.

Your mother and I didn’t plan on becoming Vampires, but it isn’t something we took lightly. It wasn’t exactly and accident. When you are older we’ll explain, but it is difficult.

What will never change is that we are your parents. You will always be safe and protected. You will always know both light and dark, day and night, life and the edge of humanity. We will do the same for those you love, and those you will one day love in the future.

Our fate is sealed. You have the choice to be whatever you want. We will back you up. We will cheer you on. We will never leave you. But there will also be times when you must make your own choices and decide which paths you will take. We won’t try to stop you unless we see you stepping off of a cliff or into the fires. Yes, I will pull you from the fires of Hell if I have to and smack the Devil himself across the face if I have to. And I will not be afraid. I will never be afraid of doing anything for you. Maybe afterwords, but never before.

Your mother and I died and came back as something else. Friends who loved us brought us back. We are so different, but our love is the same, and maybe even stronger. It isn’t easy, but it is who we are now.

So here we are, and we’ll have pie. The pie is always good here. And we’ll share stories, and I’ll even tell you joked that will make you groan, and stories that will amaze you.

I am not a monster. I am just a dad, like any other dad. I’m just a little different, but that’s ok. Life will never be boring.”

Anna took her father’s hand, “I love you Dad. You seriously didn’t think it mattered to us that you’re a Vampire did you?”

Justin laughed, “more pie for me. I love you Daddy.”

Duncan smiled. Life was good, even when you’re undead.

 

~ end

 

Short Story Sunday at Vampiremaman.com

 

 

 

 

Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

Summer is Here! Bake it baby (or if you’re smart you’ll stay someplace cool)

 

I could wax poetically about temperature but it is in the triple digits farenehight outside. Any wax is going to melt and I’m not feeling too poetic.

Yesterday afternoon, a man came to my church asking about my religious beliefs. I ended up with a brochure about “original sin,” something which I do not believe in. Sure some people are born evil. Some are born without souls, and I’ll freely admit that. I’ve met them. But the average little baby isn’t chock full of sin, like a dead deer full of maggots on a hot summer day, so don’t even make that comparison or even suggest to me EVER that babies are full of sin. Sheesh.

I should have given the poor man a glass of water but he was so crisp and unflappable looking that I assumed he had a cooler in his car (which could have been full of beer and Jello shots as far as I know.)

At the time I was holding a large German Shepard by her collar with the door cracked open. I should have never answered but it is usually a friend or a neighbor when someone comes a calling, especially when it is so stupidly hot outside.

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Vampire Diary: Hot and Cold

Dear Diary,

Last night I attended a party which was given by Vampire friends, a former Count of some now nonexistent country, and his wife who is from another now nonexistent country.

Her name, or what she now calls herself is Angelica. She explained to me that she is repelled by the feel of the body of a warm living human next to her, and no longer seduces her prey in the warmer months. What is it that the teenagers who live in my neighborhood call it? TMI. Too. Much. Information. I was tempted to suggest she bring a thing called baby wipes with her so she can wipe down hot sweaty necks before she eats. I knew she would not understand, or even see the humor in my comment.

I next heard that Angelica was going to bring in live food for us. That would be live people whom some of the younger Vampires call Vamp Tramps. They are those people who let Vampires feed on their blood willingly. Some like the excitement. Some hope to one day become Vampires themselves. I find them distasteful. They are like beggars asking for something they can never have, or whores who never get paid for their services.

I left the party with lie about having a headache. One does not earn the title of King of the Vampires by spending time with crass bores. I like my meals to be quiet, private affairs.

It reminded me of a time, centuries ago, when a wealthy and powerful man brought his daughter to my castle.

“Oh Vlad, King of Vampires, I bring you my daughter in exchange for immortality as a Vampire.”

A frightened girl of fifteen years stood before me. I told her to sit by the hearth and make herself warm.

I faced the father. “What should I do with the girl?”

“Drink her blood. Take her as a mistress until she can no longer take a breath on her own. I have too many daughters, but she is the boldest and strongest. She is a pain in my ass. Take her as my gift. Enjoy her.”

I looked over at my friend Randolpho who was also in the room with me. “Randolpho, please take this good man out to meet some of the other Vampires. I wish to speak to the girl alone.”

When they had left the girl cowered in the chair in which she sat.

“Do not be afraid. I am not going to drink your blood or kill you. I will not keep you as my mistress.” There was still fear in her eyes. I then told her that I would send her to friends in Italy where should could live with artists and eat oranges and live without fear. She could be happy and choose the man she wished to be with.

Then we heard screams. “Your father will never bother you again. His blood will be gone and we shall boil his bones and feed him to the hounds. That is what we do to men who try to barter their children for their own gain.”

She smiled then took my hands. I remember the warmth of her fingers around mine, and how she smelled like lilacs when I gave her an embrace.

“Thank you. You are so cold,” she said.

“Of course, but I will make sure you are never cold.” And she never was cold or unhappy for the rest of her seventy eight years, which was a long life in the 1500’s. We should all be so lucky.

Fifteen years later I spent the winter in Italy at the villa she now owned. We became lovers for several months. She then told me that it would never last because she could never fall in love with a man who was far more beautiful than she was, and for the fact that she was in love with another. They married the following year, and lived a long happy life together.

I heard rumors that her father’s skull was used in the first production of Hamlet but do not quote me on that fact.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Tonight I went to the local pub, owned by a woman named Cassie. We have become friends over the past year, Cassie and I have. I stayed late talking with her at the bar.

“Where is Brody tonight?” I asked about her large black dog who is usually behind the bar with her.

“He ripped a claw out. Poor baby is home wearing the cone of shame,” she said.

“But surely it was an accident,” I said. “One should never shame a good dog.”

“It is a just a joke Vlad. The veterinarian, the animal doctor, puts a plastic cone shaped collar on dogs to prevent them from chewing on themselves.”

There is so much to learn about the complexities of the modern world after being locked in a crypt for three hundred years.

We had a few drinks together and talked about our pets. Since Brody was not in service tonight I offered to walk Cassie the three blocks to her home. She accepted my offer.

She invited me inside. I looked at her and locked my eyes on hers.

“You’re so beautiful,” she said and pulled her shirt over her head, then proceeded to pull my shirt over my head. How I love the modern cotton knit fabric.

“You’re so cold,” she said as she put her arms around my waist and pulled me close.

“You are so warm,” I said, kissing her on her forehead, then her cheeks, then her eyes, and by then she was smiling in a lovely trance as I moved on to her neck. She was a perfect A+ blood type. Even in her trance she let out a slight feminine sigh, and barely whispered my name.

That is one of the wonderful things about being a Vampire in this day and age – we know blood types. We have names for them. What do the young people say? Cool. That is it. It is very cool. The blood is hot, but the expression “cool” means it is something wonderful.

I left Cassie and Brady asleep with sound dreams of all things good.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

It is now considered summer as the month of June passes by. When I was young we did not wonder why the weather changed. It just did. There were seasons. Some said it was the Gods, but we did not believe in the Gods of those who came to judge us. They told us we would be damned so we drained them of blood. If you can’t beat them eat them. I know the new expression is “join them” but why? They had too many Gods, like what they call Super Heros now. Nobody has time for men in tights (see I make a joke.)

So now the sun comes up and I will sleep. Yesterday I had a dream of a warm body next to my cold side. I woke to find the two cats curled up by my side.

I thought about many years, in fact centuries ago when I was awakened one morning from great commotion at the doors of my castle. I pulled on a robe and went to see who was there. A group of men, twenty of them, stood with swords drawn and grim expressions on their faces. They wore white robes with red crosses stitched on the front.

“Who are you and what do you want?” I heard my friend Randolpho ask them with his fangs out.

One man took a step forward. “We are the Knights Templar.”

I came out from behind my Vampire guards and could hear the Knights Templars gasp in unison.

“Please,” I said. “Put down your swords. We have no need for that here. I am Vlad. How may I help you?”

Then they all went down on one knee and bowed. To make a long story short they were under the false assumption that I, Vlad King of the Vampires, was an angel. It might have been my long blonde hair around my shoulders, or maybe my beautiful face, or just what do they call it, my magnetic charm. I do not know why, yet I was quite amused.

Then my sister came running out and a few of them almost fell over. I later learned those men, for whatever foolish reasons had taken vows of celibacy but upon seeing my sister they all became overcome with a sort of brain fever of wonton love for her.

I invited the men into my realm. The leader, a man called John, asked if they could keep some of their items in my castle.

“I would be honored and your treasure would be safe,” I told him.

Then from his coat John pulled an old goblet and handed it to me. “This is the cup from the last supper.”

“I see. I will have dinner prepared for you and your men tonight. You may all have new cups tonight.”

John then looked upon me with compassion and passion in his face. “Vlad, this is the cup which held the blood of our Lord.”

I could feel the cup getting hot in my hands, enough to burn an ordinary man. I smelled it. Yes, it had contained wine at one time, but no real blood. I later learned the blood was symbolic.

“The cup is the most holy of relics,” said John. “Would you keep it safe.”

“I will,” I told him.

He also asked me to keep a chest with something which I now believe to be an old radio receiver.  I hope if he ever comes back that he will be able to find tubes. I will send him to eBay.

The Templars stayed for four days then left. I locked their treasure in a room underneath my castle. They never came back for it. It was not like now where I could text them or sell the items on Craigslist.

Now I still have those items in my basement at my home in America. I doubt if the Templars will try to look me up. They are long gone. With no women in their lives they had no children to come get their things. Maybe I will get out the cup and polish it up. I could always restore the radio or whatever that thing is. I will look into it. Maybe there might be a YouTube video explaining it. One never knows.

~ Vlad

 

 

 

Jury Duty

Friday was High School Graduation. Saturday was, well, Saturday. We spent Sunday with Wonder Woman (I wish they’d just call her Diana and forget the Wonder Woman title.)

Monday was jury duty.

I’ve been getting out of jury duty for years on the excuse that I had child care issues, which was true. Now it is summer. I work from home. My kids are out of school. They drive. No excuses.

Even as a Vampire I believe in my civic duty and in our justice system (I bet you didn’t think I’d bring up the Vampire thing did you?)

So yesterday morning came. I knew what I’d wear. Conservative but comfortable business wear. A royal blue blouse, black slack, black flats, a white sweater, shiny brown hair slightly flipped up, black marcasite jewelry, easy on the eyeliner. Once I got there I saw that most people had come in jeans and were more on the comfort scale than I was.

I first stopped for coffee at the corner donut shop. This was not one of the awful national chains (aka Dunkin Donuts which sells something called coffee that resembles dirty pond water and I wish had not opened in my neighborhood) but a small family run place with a funny name (Ducky’s Donuts) and friendly young owners. The coffee is in pump containers, and you have to get your half/half out of the fridge yourself. As always the coffee was excellent. No donut – just coffee, but I hear the donuts are great.

It took me a little over an hour to get to the court house. Morning traffic from my house to downtown was heavy but more than I expected. But hey, one has to see the bright side. I took a less traveled road through Midtown to Downtown and got a great morning view of the Capitol building (yes, Sacramento.)

And this was my day:

I arrive at the court house. Then I waited in a line to sign in. We were all told not to sit on the benches or tables outside of the court house because homeless people camped out there at night and the clean up crew couldn’t guarantee how clean anything would be. A judge explained the reason we go to jury duty and the history of it all. It was nice. He also said to send in any suggestions and thoughts to the court. I read about 100 pages in my book (John Sanford, Escape Clause. Extremely entertaining), then I pulled out my iPad and watched videos on YouTube about cats, deep sea creatures, deep sea mysteries, why dogs turn their heads when you talk to them, and a super lame high voiced silly British comedian I’ll never watch again (a lot of British humor seems so old fashioned to me these days.) We were excused for lunch and I almost stepped on a condom on the courthouse steps. Then I saw my husband at the lunch break and asked him how to quickly light a car on fire, what fuel to use, etc etc etc. He didn’t bat an eye because I’m always asking him stuff like that. No, I’m not going to really light a car on fire, I’m just writing about it. He doesn’t read what I write but is always willing to give technical advice. Went back to the court house. I dozed in my seat. Looked out the window and counted palm trees (about five from where I sat.) Read another chapter in my book.  Several people around me mentioned that they’d finished their books. Everyone started talking to each other. Sat for another hour, closed my eyes and figured out how to smash a guy in the head, get him to his car, drive him four or five miles away, light the car on fire, walk home, then have a horror writer in Canada tell an old friend of mine (under a full moon by a camp fire on a beach) how such a sweet woman could be such a cold hearted killer, but hey, the guy deserved it, and it fits into the novel I’m working on. Then at 2:00 my jury group was excused. Jury duty done for another 18 months.

Needless to say my experience was nothing like the movie/play Twelve Angry Men. It wasn’t even like Witness for the Prosecution. It wasn’t like a Vampire movie either. It was real but not gritty or dramatic. It just was.

Luckily there was no traffic on the way home, except right before my house in the never ending messy three miles of road construction. When I arrived home I helped the girl child find her shirt for the senior trip (high school graduates, not old folks) to Disneyland. They should have arrived at the Magic Kingdom about an hour ago (it is now 8:08 a.m. PST.)

All of this reminds me that despite all of the political assholery going on right now, we have a system that works. Juries are picked. People are allowed a fair trial. People participate. People gather peacefully. This isn’t about politics. It is about what is right.

So that is all I have this morning. I’ll need about another gallon of coffee and maybe even another hour of sleep before I get going on today’s agenda…

Have a great day everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman