Crawl Space (and Thoughts on Halloween, Parenting, and Vampires)

Crawl Space

I took off my sweater and handed it to my brother Aaron. There was no way I was going to crawl on my stomach under the crawl space of a house with it on.

“So tell me again why you can’t get the bodies out from under the building first?” I had to ask.

“They’re not quite dead yet and they might attack Austin. He’s human, a Regular Human,” my brother told me. Austin by the way is a Regular Human and sometimes Vampire Hunter and usually just a guy who does a great job restoring old buildings that seem to be filled with scary shit like ghosts and old musty Vampires.

And of course Aaron was wearing a $5,000 suit of course he couldn’t crawl under the house.

“You might know them”, added Austin, meaning the creatures under the house.

I almost gave him a fang filled snarl but I just gave him a weak normal girl smile.

Wearing garden gloves I crawled on my  hands and knees over bare dirt.Even in the dark I could see assorted bugs and cobwebs. Rat droppings were scattered around. Why the crap would any Vampire want to sleep under floor boards?

About 20 feet into it I saw the boxes. OK they were coffins.

I thought back of when I was a kid and always the one to crawl under houses and into tight spaces. It wasn’t because I was small. It was because I pretend to be fearless and now it is because I don’t take any bull shit from Shadow Creepers and dusty old Vampires who can’t deal with the modern normal world. We’re not having a Nosferatu and Dracula Hoedown kids, this is the 21st Century.

The lids were on the boxes. I managed to kneel on my knees without banging my head on something and pushed one off. Inside was a male in a pinstripe suit. His face was waxy looking and pale. I noticed sunken cheeks and lips that seemed a little thin. He hadn’t fed in a while. The box next to him contained a female. Skin stretched over her face, a hint of teeth including fangs showed beneath parted lips. Oh come on, all Vampire girls know not to sleep with their fangs exposed. She wore some sort of black dress thing. The scent of rotted roses and cigar smoke came from her box. In the third box…nothing jumped out. It was another male. I recognized the face. His eyes open a bit, yellow green rolls to stare at me. I see recognition in his face; a fact that was once handsome and could be again, but he was so strange, so weirdly in the shadows and cold, not like Vampires I associate with, but like a dead fish.

Then my butt vibrates. My phone. I pull it out. Garrett, my darling son is calling from college. I’m a mom. I must answer.

“Hey mom, what do you call two ducks and a cow?”

“What?”

“Quackers and Milk.”

“Good one. What do you call an Englishman, two ducks and a cow?”

“Graham Quackers and Milk. Love you mom.”

I hear a groan from one of the box. I slap it hard with my hand and hiss at it. The noise stops.

I keep my eyes on the yellow green orbs that watch me as I talk to my son. He rattles on about classes and girls he knows and sings me a song he wrote. He says he goes to the beach almost every day and is going to go surfing on Sunday. He says it is the perfect college for Vampires. He is so excited about school. My heart melts a little.

Then he asks me what I’m up to.

“I’m under a building with three boxes full Shadow Creeping Vampires. You know me, everyday is Halloween.”

“How’d you end up there?”

“Helping your Uncle Aaron and a friend. Long story, but the short version is that I was the only one wearing jeans and I’m smaller than they are so I got elected.”

Old Green Eyes started to sit up. “I gotta go Garrett. I’ll call you back later today.”

“Love you mom.”

“Love you too sweetie pie.” I looked at my old friend. OK he wasn’t a friend. I’d met him before, a long long time ago. “What are you doing here?” I said trying to keep myself from sneering at him.”You look like a fucking Zombie. What is wrong with you people? Have you lost all self respect?”

“Juliette,” he whispered my name in a dry voice, like old coffee grinds and gravel.

“Jasper. That last time I saw you was…1923, New Orleans. What are you doing here?”

He started to tell me something in French that I couldn’t quite make out when I stopped him. “Listen, you have three choices. The first is that you agree to live like Modern Vampires and stop this nonsense of lurking around like you’ve just come out of some creep show. The second is that I leave you to the Vampire Hunters. The third is that you let one of my friends, and I use that term loosely, take you to San Francisco where you can be with others of your kind. But you can’t stay here. We have enough problems in Sacramento without your kind.”

“My kind?” He opened his eyes wide and showed his fangs.

“That is exactly what I mean, you giving me the evil eye and trying to scare me with your ugly mug. You used to be handsome and well, you were never charming but you used to be, well, not THIS.”

I crawled back into the sunlight which was no cup of tea, believe me. I might spend time during the day but the sunshine, especially after the darkness under a house, always comes as a shock. I pulled out my sunglasses put them on then took a deep breath and brushed off my pants. Filling Aaron and Austin in on the situation I told them that I’d let them decide what to do with Jasper and his friends.

I had to go home and take a shower and scrub my skin off with steel wool, or at least that is how I was feeling. The image of his eyes stuck in my brain like Poe’s Tell Tale Heart story.

“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

His eyes will haunt me for sure. Maybe I’ll check on him in a few months time, out of morbid curiosity. That is, if the Vampire Hunters or other creatures don’t get them first. There are Shadow Creepers who seem so vile, but then there are other Vampires who I don’t even dare name or ever seek out for any reason.

Like I’ve said, Halloween is never far from my reality.

I called Garrett back. He listened to my story. I didn’t make it into some cautionary tale or anything like that. We just talked. He told me that I was the most awesome mom ever.

So anyway, that is what I did today.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Online Bullies & Monsters Among The Writing Community

This is from one of my favorite writers and friend Nathan Tackett:

Ah yes, the internet – where spineless cowards bark with hateful intention. A terrible situation recently came to light where a fellow artist/author was berated with a vile string of ‘go kill yourself’ comments just because they used stock photos in their work. Guess what?! The individual actually DID try to take their life. Luckily, they didn’t succeed and are recovering.

Artists. We are a sensitive bunch and one can never tell what demons we may be fighting under the poetry and prose. I have seen several situations lately where artists have been trolled to horrible ends. We can do better.

Unfortunately, we live in an atmosphere were shit slinging is commonplace. Weak-minded creeps throw around words like ‘cuck’ and ‘snowflake’ and ‘nazi’ without a second thought. Somehow, this has become an accepted language of the new era. We can do better.

I fully support the first amendment, but I don’t support your right to be an asshole. Unfortunately, the school bully sits safely behind a virtual wall of anonymity. We can do better.

It’s time we start calling these slugs out. I support all of my artistic folk. Whether you’re a best-selling author, or an understood misfit. You can always sit next to me.

~ Nathan Tackett

 

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Thank you Nathan.

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Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Dear Vampire Maman Readers,

More and more I am hearing horror stories of gangs of bully trolls out of online writing groups terrorizing authors by leaving horrible reviews on Amazon and other online book dealers. They also troll blogs, and any social media outlet they can get to. They gang up and go in like blind fire ants killing anything in their way – never thinking about what they are doing.

I have seen this happen to more than one author in my circles.

Don’t get caught up in the group-think mean mind-set. Be an ADULT. Be a professional. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t be a horrible bad person. Don’t get all butt hurt over NOTHING. 

DON’T BE A MONSTER.

THINK before you post.

Stand up against the trolls who troll our fellow writers and artists.

WE CAN DO BETTER.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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For more about Nathan Tackett’s work CLICK HERE. And for a great short story from Nathan CLICK HERE.

All About Tellias and Eleora (Senior Citizen Vampires): A New Page

I’m a mom so I take care of my children. Like many others (and I know more than one of my readers) I also have seniors in my life who need my help. Even Vampires can be among the “sandwich” generation.

Over the years I’ve been writing about the ancient Vampires Tellias and Eleora. They look young, but they’ve been around for centuries. Sometimes they need a little extra help.

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family near. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

I’ve created a new page with links to posts about taking care of, and loving the elders in my life. Sometimes it is magical, sometimes it is rewarding, sometimes it is frustrating, sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is a learning experience, sometimes it just is what it is. Maybe you can relate.

We’re Vampires but we aren’t all that different from your family and friends.

To view the page with all of the links about Tellias and Eleora (and sometimes Great Great Great Grandmama Lola) CLICK HERE.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Five things you need to know if you’re a Vampire, or an Adult.

This morning my young friend Cody stopped by. I call Cody my new Vampire. It has been four years since he became like us, a Vampire. All in all he has adjusted beautifully to his situation. Consider that remarkable considering he didn’t want to become a Vampire in the first place. He took an alien situation and made it his own.

This morning there was something different about him. Cody was agitated. I have to admit that I was sort of distracted by his new look. He’d always been a sharp dresser but today he’d gone out full-blown hipster. Like my brother Max, Cody had grown a beard this year. Thank goodness it was short and enhancing rather than distracting. He also had grown out of hair and had a man-bun thing going. The rest of him was covered in black jeans, a black vest and a white shirt. His ears were pierced but no gauges. I swear his eyelashes looked longer.

“I like the look Cody.”

“Tell me the truth. Why was I turned into a Vampire?”

“Are you having problems?”

“Not really but that isn’t the point. Do you know what it is like going out with friends and spending the entire time wondering what their blood tastes like?”

“Of course I do, but that isn’t your problem Cody,” I said calmly, keeping my voice low and steady.

“Can you even imagine…”

I cut off my 35-year-old friend. “It was that or death. You would have died Cody.”

“I did die.”

“And now you’re alive.”

“I’m not human anymore.”

“You’re better than human,” I told him. He gave me one of those looks I get from my own teenage children.  “Don’t play the poor me card Cody. You’re lucky to be here. More than lucky.”

“Where is she?”

Sooner or later I knew that would come up. Raise its ugly head is more like it. His ex-girlfriend Jen had staged a car accident while seeing friends she knew were Vampires. Off the cliff they went only to be rescued by well-meaning Vampires. It was a complete cluster F. Besides that Jen had got to be the most annoying creature I’d ever met. I have no idea what Cody ever saw in her. Anyway, Cody was given to me to train and look after. Jen, well, nobody talks about Jen.

“I don’t know where she is Cody. Maybe she’s in Russia with that Snowden guy. Maybe she went to Disneyland. I don’t know.”

He curled his lip about to show some fangs to me then he stopped. Yes indeed my little Vampire was growing up.

“It is all Jen’s fault. She used me.”

“That was four years ago Cody. Get over it. You’ve done great. You’ve moved on.”

We went on for a while about Jen and what had happened and the future. This was the first time he’d ever shown such uncertainty in his situation. It was almost as if he’d gone a step or two back. It was like having another son.

It made me think about being a Vampire and even about being an adult. Change happens. Sometimes those changes are huge. There comes a time when everyone has to grow up, accept who they are and take responsibility for their own existence.

Rule #1: You are responsible for yourself.

There is nobody to blame but yourself. Or nobody thinks a victim is attractive. After the age of 24 you can’t blame anything on your parents. You’re grown. Everything is on you.

Rule #2: Manners.

Use them. No self-respecting Vampire wants to spend their existence around the uncouth trash of the world. If you don’t know about good manners then learn about them. Ask a friend to teach you. Google it. Good manners will open doors faster than anything I know. Good manners will kept you fed.

Rule #3: Learn how to dress.

Are you really going to wear that? Learn how to dress and groom yourself like an adult. You’re a Vampire but Halloween is only once a year. Now is not time to let your freak flag fly. Tight black dresses at the drug store, red lined capes before midnight and blood stains are not acceptable. You’re a Vampire not a political statement or even an expression of your own self. Show some class. You can be unique but tacky is NEVER an option for all adults (Vampire or not.)

Rule #4: Look Forward

Look back occasionally but always look forward and always know where you are right now. I was at a party a few years back that a lot of people in their 80’s and 90’s were attending. One of my more human friends asked me if the old folks all talked of the good old days. I told her that they talked about the future. They talked about environmental issues, politics and their own plans for the future. Many of them were on the edge of one hundred years. The reason they were still glowing and thriving is because they looked forward – not back.

So warm blood used to run through your veins. Now it doesn’t. Get over it. Move on. Look forward.

Rule #5: Own it.

Whatever you do – Own it. Be in charge. Grab your chances and opportunities without doubt or fear. There are always set-backs. You’ll have centuries of set-backs but you’ll have centuries of even more triumphs. Own your space. Own yourself. Own your path. If someone says you can’t do something it is your job to prove them wrong. If you don’t own it you might as well just crawl into a crypt.

 

Cody calmed down and helped me finish up a job. Sure he is 120 years my junior but we’ve become fast friends. I’ve watched him grow up and from what I see he’ll do fine. He’ll do more than fine.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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Deliberate Parenting

Don’t parent with your eyes closed. Don’t wake up surprised one day when it is too late.

I raised my kids deliberately. I raised them not to be bully bait. I raised them to be confident. I raised them to fly with their own wings and pursue their own interests. I raised them to think. I raised them to see the big picture. I raised them not to be stupid or sheltered. I raised them to question what they hear and see – even if they see and hear it from me. I raised them to realize that one day they’ll have to make it on their own and that they’ll have to fight tooth and claw.

They know how to come to their own conclusions. They know that reputation is everything. They know that being fair and good and standing up for what is right and good is everything.

They’ll be far better people than I will ever be.

They aren’t perfect, but at least they have a chance.

I don’t always agree with them but at least we discuss it and as a parent I have the last word, period.

And they still cuddle with me and need me. We’ll always have fun.

Don’t parent by accident. Do it deliberately.

I’ll say it is important for your Vampire kid, but it is important for all kids, even Werewolves and especially regular human kids.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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The very old and fragile…love, life and ashes

Around midnight I got a call and a bad feeling.

The whispery voice on the other end said “Come now. Come now. We need you now.”

It was the elders Vampires Tellias and Eleora . The very old and fragile ones who live alone on their old farm by the river. Their judgment is sometimes off in the modern world. Confusion and fear set in at times so I must be available to help. I gathered up my family (13 year old Clara, 16 year old Garrett and my husband Teddy) and we headed out not knowing what to expect.

Tellias met us at the door, his face looking gaunt, his pale hair hanging around his shoulders.  He wore a black smoking jacket and black tuxedo pants. Flip flops were on his feet. He could pass for 19 but he is much much older than any of us.

“I can’t get her out,” he said to us. He voice was a dry and raspy whisper.

Teddy put his arm around Tellias “Where is Eleora?”

Tellias led us to the basement. We went down the stairs and found her trapped behind a large fallen shelf.

“I couldn’t get her out. The shelf is metal. I couldn’t cut it.”

Her eyes were closed, her skin cold. A small whimper came out of her when I touched her hand and said her name. Then she was quiet.

Teddy, Garrett and I lifted the shelving off of the small form. Teddy lifted her, as if she weighed nothing, and brought her upstairs. He laid her limp body on the couch in the main parlor.

“When did this happen?” I looked at Tellias hoping for a straight answer.

“I don’t remember.”

“Try to remember.”

“ Is it Thursday?”

“Today is Sunday.”

“Tuesday.”

She’d been trapped for almost a week.

I took him by both hands, “how did it happen?”

“She was looking for rats. She thought she heard some. She hates rats. You know she hates rats. She went into the basement to kill them all, every one of them and climbed the shelf to get to the rafters where the rats live.  You need to kill the rats Juliette. You need to kill them for Eleora. Those rats…those rats are really bad rats.” He trailed off sounding frail, confused and ancient.

Tellias leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. A tear came down across this lovely face. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what has happened to us. You know we haven’t always been like this.”

I remembered when they were vibrant and strong. The house was new and the farm was thriving. They’d throw lavish parties and people would come for miles around. She’d wear silk dresses with huge bustles, her hair piled high on her head. They ruled the world with style and grace.  Now they were isolated, lonely but too proud to reach out or ask for help.

“You should have called someone.” I heard myself lecturing but I couldn’t help it.  “You should have called John next door.”

“I was afraid to tell John.”

“Why?”

“He would have been angry.”

“John has never had an angry day in his life. He loves you two like his own grandparents.” I just wanted to scream but kept it to myself.

Nobody said anything for a long time. Garrett and I tried to comfort Eleora. Teddy sat silently with Tellias.

It was an hour before sunrise when Clara came in with the neighbor, our old friend John.

“I saw Clara out crying by the car and asked her what happened,” said John.  “I don’t know why Tellias never asked for help. How bad is it?”

John, now 62, had grown up next to the elders. His family had a long history with his Vampire neighbors. He knew us and who we were. I knew his family going back to the 1860’s. There were photos of me as a child in his family albums.

After explaining and discussing the situation with John he went over to Eleora.

“I can help her. Just give us some time alone.” He looked grimm as death itself.

“ We can’t ask that of you,” I said. We’ve helped John’s family for generations and his family has been close to ours but I’d never ask for what he was willing to offer.

“Don’t argue with me. The bottled stuff won’t work.”

He showed us out of the room. An hour later he came to get us. I looked at the marks on his wrists and covered them with a towel filled with ice.

“I can’t thank you enough John.” I took his hand in mine. It was hot to the touch as people often are after they give blood.

John put his other hand over mine. “You know I’m always here for you Juliette. How long do your people live?”

“Vampires?”

“Yes, how long do Vampires live?”

“I don’t know.” Honestly, I don’t know, nobody knows.

“How old are Tellias and Eleora?”

“Over 2,000 years, at least they’ve been together that long.”

“Christ almighty,” John whispered under his breath.

“Before Christ.  Maybe a few hundred years before Christ, maybe more.”

“Considering you all live so long, why is it that I’m always feeling like I’m the adult when I’m around you?”

I shrugged, feeling like I was 12 years old.

“John, if you ever come over here and find clothes with a lot of dust or ashes…”

“I’ve seen dead Vampires Juliette. I know you just combust. That isn’t going to happen to these two.”

We talked some more and then John left us alone with the elders.

I found Tellias alone in the kitchen. Putting my arm around his slim waist I asked “You ok?”

“No, but I’ll be fine. I think John is in love with her. He always has been. Since he was a boy. They all fall in love with her.”

“I know sweetie, but you have her heart.”

A tear ran down his face and I held him tight.

Over the next few months John will check on the elders a few more times a week. We’re setting up a special signal light in case there are problems. My brother Val and G-G-Grandmother Lola will be staying with them on and off for the next few months to help out. Lola might even move back into the smaller house on the property for a while. She is old but not ancient or frail like they are.

My kids are pretty upset but I know they’ll be a big help. Our elders might not be around forever. We never know how long any of us will be around, so we’ll treasure each and every day with everyone we love, be they Vampire or regular folks.

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Have a good week everyone and don’t forget to tell the people you love that YOU LOVE THEM, and don’t forget to check in on those who need a little extra help and care.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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