Lost Keys and Lies

Every have one of those days when getting out of the house seems nearly impossible?

I couldn’t find my keys this morning and of course I was running late. And no I can’t just change myself into a bat.  That only happens in fiction.

I’m scouring the house but nothing. Then I heard a throat clearing.  I turned around and behind me is the Ghost, damn him, with my keys.

“I believe I have something of yours.” He said that with a nasty curl of his lip then flicked a lock of black hair out of his eyes.

I reached for the keys and they vanished, along with the ghost.

I let out a string of not so nice words (the kind moms pretend not to know) and then tried to sense where he could have gone.

Off of the bookshelf I grabbed the box with all of the spare keys. Does anyone else have keys to cars, doors and safe boxes they don’t even remember?

Anyway I grabbed the spare keys to my car and yelled, “If you don’t give me my keys back I’ll pour a bottle of Pinesol on your grave. I’ll pour a gallon on it.”

Nothing.

“I know where your grave is Nigel. I looked you up. I know all about you.”

I heard a clang as the keys dropped on the tile floor of the kitchen. I picked them up and headed for the front door.

He stood there waiting for me. “How’d you find out where my grave is?”

“I don’t even know your last name. How would I know where your grave is?” I looked at him with such calm as his eyes narrowed and threatened to turn me to ice.

“You’re a Vampire and a liar,” he snarled at me.

“And I’m really good at being both.” Then I smiled and headed out the door.

Anyway, tell your kids that lies and bad words are not acceptable…of course unless you’re dealing with a ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

First posted April 2013

Put A Spell On You

My brother Aaron called. I love Aaron but when he calls it usually means that he needs my help. I’ve got a ghost in my house who is going through a serious bout of depression, I’d promised to stop by and Eleora and Tellias (our ancient elders), and then I had more stuff to take care of with my daughter after school today.

It can be anything with Aaron. A suspicion of time travelers lurking around, a dried up Vampire under a house that needs coaxing out (or worse), a confused new Vampire, a picture to be drawn, research into the odd or unknown, feline behavior woes, Ghost or Werewolf trouble. I never know.

So I asked, “What is it Aaron?”

“I have a book I want you to see,” he said.

“Can you bring it over tonight?”

There was a pause then, “You don’t want it in your house. Teddy is here. We’re at my office.”

Without so much as a thanks see you soon he hung up.

I grabbed my keys, and the dog followed me. Aaron didn’t say no dogs. As I locked the door the air on my front porch suddenly dropped about 40 degrees. Leaning against the porch rail was The Ghost, Nigel himself.

“I’m in a hurry,” I said. “I don’t have time for this.”

He smirked at me and said, “I’m going with you.”

Fine. We all got in the car, the dog in the back and Nigel and me in the front, and off we went, a Vampire, a German Shepard, and a Ghost to my brother’s law office downtown. Of course if anyone saw us they’d just see a brown haired woman in a burgundy colored sweater and a large and exceptionally nice looking dog in a blue sedan. Nothing special or unique here.

We, at least the dog and I, climbed the stairs leading up to Aaron’s office in the converted Queen Anne style house. Nigel was already at the top waiting by the tall front door.

“You know,” he said, “the front porches are on the second floor because the city used to flood every winter.”

“I know I was here,” I said as I opened the door and my entourage followed me in.

We went inside and found the place deserted except for Aaron and my husband Teddy in a conference room. A large, somewhat old book was on the table.

The dog was happy to see everyone. My husband gave me a smile that would make any woman’s knees go weak, and then kissed me. Aaron looked at Nigel then back to me.

“You brought a ghost,” he said.

“I brought a dog too.”

Right off the bat I realized that my brother had a spell book. Yes, as in Witch’s spells.

“What do you think?” My brother carefully opened the book then stepped back.

The pages were bordered with black and white illustrations with a forest motif. I recognized the artist. “Julian Rix,” I said.

“You knew him,” said Aaron.

“I did. He was quite the flirt. This is weird. He’d never deal with Witches,” I said.

Aaron scowled. “That is what I thought too. They must have hired him to do the borders then added their spells. There is no sign of any magic or strangeness in the drawings.”

“You knew Julian Rix? Holy shit Juliette. How well did you know him?” That was my husband.

“Well enough. He and Grandmama Lola were friends. I was around seventeen, maybe eighteen. You were off somewhere learning how to become a Vampire. Val and I had just come back from a trip to New York,” I said. “From the style and subject I figure the drawing were done around 1876 or 77.”

The text was in an odd script, in an odd language I didn’t know. It was written in rust colored and black ink. I ran the tips of my fingers over one of the pages. Then I immediately pulled them back. Son of a bitch, the words burned my finger tips. The rust colored writing was in human blood. Of course it was. I might drink blood but I’d never be so crass as to write with it. God only knows where it came from because it wasn’t from a Witch.

“Where’d this come from?” I asked my brother.

“A client found it in the walls of a house he was restoring,” said Aaron.

I should have known. “It was Austin Durant, the contractor, historian… oh right and Vampire Hunter. What the crap Aaron?”

Nobody said anything. Then Nigel spoke up. I’d forgotten he was even in the room.

“You’re looking at a cypher used by seventeenth century occultists.”

We all looked at him.

“What? Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My girlfriend Mary was born in the seventeenth century. We spent a lot of time looking at old books when we were off haunting a castle in Scotland. She knows about all of that stuff. Hey, it isn’t like we had anything else to do.”

Without touching the book Nigel turned the pages with a raised hand. “If I were you I’d seal this thing back up in the wall, or even burn it. Then again, the illustrations… oh man, if you burned this it would be a crime. Why not just take a blade and cut out the spells. Most of the spells are for weird love potions and revenge potions anyway. Nobody needs that shit. There is also a nasty nasty spell on it and a lock down spell. I’d keep away from this if I were you. Whoever wrote this did not like Vampires.”

I looked at the clock. “We have to go. I’ll do some research and get back to you. Nigel, you may stay if you want.”

He smiled at me, one of those shit eating grins of his, “I know I make you guys uncomfortable, but I might just stay a little bit longer and browse through this interesting piece of history, you know, since it burns your precious undead fingers.”

I left to help the elders with some things, and then go pick my child up from school. Teddy and Aaron assured me they’d lock up the mysterious book in a safe place. I told them to burn it. Nigel flipped me off as I left. The dog wagged her tail and licked everyone on the face.

When I picked seventeen year old Clara up from school she told me all about her upcoming AP testing (Advanced Placement, look it up if you don’t know.) Her teacher asked the kids what they need to do to get ready and write it on the board. Someone wrote cry.

We don’t have time for spells, and chants, and flesh burning texts. All I want are the beautiful borders, and stunning landscapes that are on my wall and not in a toxic book.

Spells are like lies and time travel. They change things that should not be forced to change. They bend the will of one person. They screw with the order of the universe. They are false and steal away choice. Sounds like I’m talking about politics doesn’t it. But seriously, you don’t go where you’re not invited. You can’t force anyone to love or hate. You can’t buy passion.

Julian Rix had his heart-broken by a woman who lived to be a hundred years old. He didn’t last so long. The entire story is all too sad for me, but I doubt if he’d been happy with a love spell. It should have been a shallow love, like a shallow grave that can’t hide the fact that someone was hurt.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going on a college tour, then the dog will take her test in dog school (she failed last week), and then I’ll think of how no spell can being one true love. I know THAT for a fact. Ask my husband about it.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Keys and Lies

I’m on the road… so this is a repost from 2013. It still applies. And you’re right – he hasn’t been around for a while.

 

Lost Keys and Lies

Every have one of those days when getting out of the house seems nearly impossible?

I couldn’t find my keys this morning and of course I was running late. And no I can’t just change myself into a bat. That only happens in fiction.

I’m scouring the house but nothing. Then I heard a throat clearing. I turned around and behind me is the Ghost, damn him, with my keys.

“I believe I have something of yours.” He said that with a nasty curl of his lip then flicked a lock of black hair out of his eyes.

I reached for the keys and they vanished, along with the ghost.

I let out a string of not so nice words (the kind moms pretend not to know) and then tried to sense where he could have gone.

Off of the bookshelf I grabbed the box with all of the spare keys. Does anyone else have keys to cars, doors and safe boxes they don’t even remember?

Anyway I grabbed the spare keys to my car and yelled, “If you don’t give me my keys back I’ll pour a bottle of Pinesol on your grave. I’ll pour a gallon on it.”

Nothing.

“I know where your grave is Nigel. I looked you up. I know all about you.”

I heard a clang as the keys dropped on the tile floor of the kitchen. I picked them up and headed for the front door.

He stood there waiting for me. “How’d you find out where my grave is?”

“I don’t even know your last name. How would I know where your grave is?” I looked at him with such calm as his eyes narrowed and threatened to turn me to ice.

“You’re a Vampire and a liar,” he snarled at me.

“And I’m really good at being both.” Then I smiled and headed out the door.

Anyway, tell your kids that lies and bad words are not acceptable…of course unless you’re dealing with a ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Even Vampires Need a Break

moth

 

I didn’t want to deal with my family. It isn’t that I don’t love them, but sometimes I need a break.

I went to San Francisco for a meeting and didn’t even call my parents or my two brothers wo live there. It was my day in the city, alone, just me and my own business.

At Harrison and 2nd the light changed at the intersection and I headed out across the street with everyone else. A normal move, just crossing the street, when something, somebody snagged my arm. I looked in the face of a man, long, lean, good looking with a dazzling smile. He’d pulled his honey blonde  back in a short tail and a 3 day beard (oh so hip these days.)

“You’re like me,” he said.

“Yes.” Yes indeed. That was all I had to say. He was a Vampire too. I didn’t even notice him in my brain haze of family drama and overwhelming emotional wave of… well, you know, family.

“Let’s get coffee.” He took my hand and dragged me into a parking lot filled with music, food trucks and tables. It was dark, under the freeway and loud. It was perfect. We sat at a bench, coffee in hand, huddled together.

His name was Marcus. He’d been a Vampire since 1971. A few months ago he’d moved down from Seattle with his girlfriend who was also a Vampire. It was for a job, more like minded Vampires and his parents lived in the area. Yes, his parents.

He’d kept in touch with them over the years and now he wanted to take care of them. His parents were progressive in many ways and had accepted the fact that their son was different. Alright, it isn’t that simple. Most people are horrified when they find out Vampires are real, much less somebody they love, or their own child is a Vampire.

Think about it. Can you imagine if your child said “Mom I’m a Werewolf.” That would horrify me to no end. I’d have to accept it. There would be no other choice in the matter.

Marcus told me about his parents with great love and care. They were still living in their own home. They were fragile and didn’t get out much. Driving was a thing of the past. Marcus and his Vampire girlfriend Kate had moved into the neighborhood of 1920’s homes and watched over the two old people.

I told him that I was feeling that no matter where I went, no matter where I was, someone was going to bother me. If I was someplace quiet suddenly it would be full of annoying noises. There seemed to be no place where I could be alone. As I said this the noise around us was like a blanket that kept everyone else in the world out. Nobody knew were were Vampires or different or feeling stress or like we wanted to scream.

We just chatted about the good things. I told him the best places to get blood and spices and what small venues were good for concerts. I told him about the shop with the pug and the white French bull dogs who lived in the front window – not for sale but just to keep the owner company and to look cute. I told him how funny my teenagers were.

In turn he told me about finding a great house and exploring the area. He wanted to know about the culture and the local Vampire lore. He’d heard a lot of it over the years but he wanted to know more.

Marcus was a fairly young Vampire, born in 1948, and like I said, he became a Vampire in 1971. Over the years he’d only met a few of us who were born into it, that is born as a Vampire. He was even more surprised and tickled to find I belonged to one of the “Vampire Power Families” as he called it. Our roots are ancient and the exploits of some of my family members are famous among our kind.

So anyway, to make a short and unremarkable story even longer, we exchanged information and planned to keep in touch. It was really nice to meet him. I know what you’re thinking – the term “really nice” and “Vampire” shouldn’t mix. Hey, if you’re a Vampire you come to appreciate “really nice” and little moments. We all should.

NPR has been running a series of articles on stress this week. I’ve listened but been grateful for the attention Weird Al is getting and stories about science and books. I might be “undead” but I’m not immune to stress and the pressures of everyday life.

Before I left Marcus we grabbed a bite (some geeky hipster programmers he knew) and then walked together to where my meeting was being held. When you’re a Vampire you learn to make quick friendships since there are so few of us. We have to stick together.

So I suppose I must stick to my family. On the way home I stopped by the farmhouse to see check in on the Elders. My brother Val was there already. He’d made sure they’d remembered to turn on the fans in the heat and brought by some cold bottles of blood. They sometimes forget to eat and we worry they’ll go into a Vampire Coma or worse, find piles of ashes where they once stood.

My voice mail was full of messages but I didn’t answer any of them, except to my husband to tell him that I loved him too.

All things considering everything is good. It is better than good. But sometimes a mom just needs some time to be herself. Sometimes everyone needs that.

 

Have a good rest of your week everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

readbyvampires

 

 

Retreats, Re-treats and a Vampire’s Thoughts on Writing

traditional vampire

Once upon a time, I kissed a Vampire. I wore a bustle dress but he did not have wings. It was lovely.

victoiran bats

In popular mythology Vampires have bat wings and turn into bats. Nice idea.

in your room

I was never one for creeping into bedrooms either, of course unless… unless it was a bed I wanted to stay in for a while. Hey, you know, even Vampires multi-task.

So do moms like me. So do most modern parents (Vampires or not.)

I usually don’t comment on the blogs of others… I try not to be rude or snarky (HA HA April Fools on that one) but I just read a blog post about “Writer’s Retreats.” There were thoughts and quotes from “experts.” I have no beefs with the author. She was lovely. I do have it with other things about retreats and “experts.”

Today has been one of those days when I read about “Writer’s Retreats,” and I think of myself and my writing friends and I think “WTF?” I’m f___ing busy. I have an independent mind. I need coffee. I’m a bitch. But…

Perhaps when I was younger but I would have just found love the idea of a retreat. I also would have found the cutest guy at the retreat and slept with him. I would have written a bunch of lofty angst filled crap that nobody would ever want to read. Yes that is blunt. It is. Deal with it. Or I would have instantly gotten writer’s block and totally bored, or spent the entire time trying to impress everyone else there, and maybe drained the blood from the cute guy and left in the middle of the night. Maybe not. It just has no appeal to me anymore. I don’t want to be lofty. I don’t want to be deep. I don’t want to be literary.

So anyway…

What would my retreat be?

My retreat is in those hours before the sun comes up with just the company of my cats and my coffee.

My retreat is in those times when the kids are practicing their sports, or I’m waiting for, well, just waiting for someone or something else.

It is when I walk the dog and let my mind fill with ideas.

My retreat is looking at pictures and art and music. Filling my senses completely full.

My writing retreat is when I lay next to my husband, our arms around each other. I close my eyes and drift off to a place where everything is perfect and as it should be.

Sure I’d like the luxury of spending a lot of money and time off in a cabin in the woods (but not like that silly movie of the same title) with like minds… but then I think not. I’d rather spend the time with like minds that I already know or who live in my circles. I’d rather be with other bloggers and short story writers, those I know and those I don’t know yet, who live in a rushed world with so much variety and activity that they can hardly think, much less escape from it. They’re the ones who inspire me.

My writing friends and my quick messages to them and their feedback is my retreat.

Reading the works of others, no matter what the content, point of view or genre is my retreat.

The joy of learning the craft of writing (the stuff you don’t see here) is my retreat.

I guess I’m just not a follower. There are those who inspire me but I’m sort of old and I have teenagers and life is extremely serious and at the same time so whimsical and funny and amazing that… that if I went off by myself to write I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

I like my alone time. That said, as a writer and an artist, it has to be MY time. My place. My thoughts that rattle around in my brain for hours and days before anything goes down on paper, even if those hours and days are only a split second.

You might not agree with me. I wouldn’t go on a marriage retreat either. I wouldn’t go on a Vampire retreat. I don’t do retreats. I despise the very idea of self-help retreats. Spiritual retreats make me think of cults totally creep me out. But if you like that sort of thing… well go ahead but don’t ask me along. I’ll just smile and say “have a nice time.”

I have to say that my husband feels the same way about these sorts of things. We came into this relationship with this view already. And don’t even get me started on most parenting books, experts, seminars and retreats. My fangs will come out when that subject comes up.

My husband always says “Everything annoys you.”

I respond with, “Why yes it does.”

I’m not going to pretend I’m perfect or my views and life are perfect (like some people in the news) but it is my life and I’m feeling a little snarky right now. My regular readers know I’m usually pretty sweet and sensitive. I am. Really. Most of the time. OK I try.

But I do like TREATS and I like sharing so I guess that could be a nice Re-Treat. A nice bottle of wine, some cheese, some tea or whatever you like… I could go for that. We’d talk about our writing then maybe we wouldn’t. We’ll just end up talking about our dogs or roller skating or books we’ve read or those day-to-day things that make up the contents of good writing (fact or fiction or those odd bits that live in both worlds.) Or you could send me a link to something cool online or a story you’re writing or I could read your book and then you could read mine. THAT is the perfect retreat – to share treats – the treat of our thoughts and creativity.

And to think this was going to be an essay on being a Modern Vampire… oh well.

Have a good week everyone and don’t listen to me if you don’t want to, but I’ll be here if you need me.

And on a serious and thoughtful note… I hope all of you have your own small retreats, those places either mentally or physically that are yours and yours alone.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

clarke dark

Never Shout Never – Absolutely Never

Define and Conquer

I’d picked the kids up last week from the roller skating rink and caught a nice break visiting and singing along with them to fun music from the iPod (Never Shout Never, Coffee and Cigarettes. Always fun and inappropriate), when I pull into my driveway and see that black Mercedes parked in front of my house.

In another life, another time, another moment, my heart would have skipped a beat. Everything in my romantic Vampire soul would have cried “Adventure and Romance are MINE”, followed by “Insanity and Trouble” and the urge to RUN, but at this moment, BUSY MOM, just looked and thought “You’ve got to be kidding?”

My kids are already wondering why my mood is gone.

The last time this person was over my husband gave him the “We’re not going to raise our kids in a Vampire Ghetto” talk. Not “Ghetto Talk” but telling this prominent Vampire that we would not be raising our children in a night-time world of Vampires and darkness. We’re modern Vampires. We don’t lurk around shadows. We don’t lurk. We live in a diverse world. And aside from that, my husband used to be a regular human. But that is another blog post up the road somewhere.

He greeted the kids and they ran upstairs with excuses about tons of homework. I greeted Nathaniel Chase with a kiss on his cold cheek. He took my hands in his and told me how lovely I looked. Teddy had already opened a bottle of wine. I headed to the kitchen to get my own glass of wine, with the intention of joining  the men who were deep in discussion about whatever it is men discuss when my brain is full of kids and work and the 50,000 things the average mom has to do each and every single day rain or shine, dark or light.

I was in no hurry to get my own glass. From the corner of my eye, from the kitchen window, I could see the ghost sitting on my back deck reading a large red book. Nathaniel Chase would be too polite to bring up the ghost. Most Vampires are polite to a fault unless provoked (or with their blood relatives). As I poured the wine I wondered what brought Nathaniel here. It was always something that would turn my world upside down. He always wanted something. What would it be this time. Did he still want to know about Jack the Ripper? Did he want to recruit my son into studying with some old musty Vampire in Europe? Did he want to get information about someone? Or did he just plan on bitching about our lifestyle choices?

I glanced out the window at the ghost. He flipped me off and vanished. I thought about Nathaniel, glossy black hair, slate blue eyes and matching sweater and black jeans with a plaid Cashmere scarf hanging around his neck (you know the kind guys wear now). He could have been the front man of a famous band or a CEO of a Fortune 100 company. He could be whatever you wanted him to be. As a Vampire he was that good. Women’s heads would turn but they wouldn’t know if it was because he was dressed so well or if he was handsome or if he was a creature from another realm. All they were really sure of was that they couldn’t resist him. He could work it on men too (we all can). No regular human could resist Nathaniel Chase.

He’d been around for a long time. I suspect at least 400 years but I never asked. I just knew that it was his job, or he thought it his job, to keep track of what other Vampires were doing. I’m a mom, so had too much to deal with right now without being twisted and turned by Nathaniel Chase. And I could resist Nathaniel Chase. I’d been resisting him my entire life.

I’m proud to be whatever I am and have raise my children to do the same but that said…I don’t want my children to grow up feeling as if the world is not theirs. I don’t want them to live in an antique world of darkness, reeking with the smells of dried blood and fear. I don’t want them to feel as if they are monsters or outcasts.

Nathaniel Chase was always watching me since  I was a child. Nothing I ever did was right. Of course girlfriends and I got into all sorts of silly problems but we were just girls. On the other hand my brother Val and I got into some serious trouble on more than one occasion over the years, but we learned from our mistakes. We were serious successful adults now – not the crazy reckless youthful Vampires of old.

I downed my wine, poured another glass, straightened my shoulders and joined my husband Teddy and Nathaniel in the formal living room. I was ready to take whatever crap he wanted to throw at me and I was ready to throw it back. Never again would I let Nathaniel Chase get the best of me.

It took everything I had (and the wine helped) to keep my upper lip from getting a twitch in it. My head was light. I hated confrontation. I didn’t need it right now.

“So what brings you here Nathaniel?” I asked as I pushed a cat off of the chair and sat down. The cat jumped up into Nathaniel’s lap. Traitor.

“My wife and I are moving here in a few months. Our daughter is 3 and our son just had his first birthday. I wanted to ask you about the schools. I hear you’re the go-to source for all things to do with parenting” Nathaniel answered. My husband just smiled.

As we grow up, no matter how long it takes, there comes a time when we realize that we’ve come into our own. I believe that most people are respected and liked and loved far more than they can ever imagine. I don’t always feel like that, believe me, but all reason tells me to just stop thinking and give myself a pat on my back for doing a good job.

We talked for another couple of hours about kids, schools and the joys and challenges of parenting. And all was well in my world, as the tune to Coffee and Cigarettes ran through my head.

wings

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

This was first posted in February 2013