Short Story Sunday: Good Bones

The house had good bones. It would stand through a 8.0 magnitude earthquake if there were earthquakes where they stood. The first residents in 1906 had felt the San Francisco quake as well as the one in 1989 but there was never any damage. It was faint, like the ingrained presence of Vampires and Ghosts.

Austin Durant, History Professor, restorer of historic buildings, and Vampire Hunter, had been hired to restore the house, a once lavish structure filled with painted over wood work and seventy five years of unfortunate remodels. He’d brought along Kayden, a graduate student in history who’d been living with him due to the pandemic.

“If these walls could talk…” said Kayden looking around in what must have been at one time a grand salon.

“They can talk,” said Austin as he knocked quietly on the walls as he walked around the room.

“What are you looking for?” Kayden asked.

“Structural anomalies, possible pest damage, previous residents,” said Austin.

“Previous residents? Like bodies in the walls?”

“You never know.”

The two explored the house, Austin leading and answering Kayden’s questions. They’d traced the history of the house back to the original owners in 1889. The home was originally 2,000 square feet, but now it stood at 3,200 square feet with the additions of a large kitchen, sunroom and other undocumented additions.

Kayden opened an old beaten up oak wardrobe in one of the larger bedrooms. “So what if there had been a body in here. You know, like an old body from the 1920’s or something. What would you do?”

“I’d call the police and have them send someone out to take a look and remove it. Of course I’d try to figure out who it was and do some investigating of my own before anyone else looked at it.”

“Have you ever found a body?”

“A few times.”

“Wow, really?”

Austin was ready to tell one of his more interesting stories when he felt the hair on the back of his neck raise and felt a slight chill run through his body.  He turned around   to see the owner of the property standing in the doorway.

Even in the stifling heat, wearing shorts and a casual short sleeved shirt, Constantine Evans looked elegant and put together.

“If you’re looking for bodies or Ghosts there aren’t any in here,” said Constantine.

“Good to know,” said Austin. “Let me introduce you. Constantine, this is Kayden. Kayden, Constantine Jones, the owner of this house.”

“Hi. Great house. Should we have our masks on?” asked Kayden.

“No,” said Constantine. “You’re safe.”

Austin smiled slightly. “Constantine knew the original owners.”

“Wow they must have been really old,” said Kayden.

“Not really,” said Constantine. “The house was fabulous. He died in the war to end all wars, then she sold the place and moved to God knows where. They had such great parties. It was such a shame. The place was never the same after that.” He made a dramatic turn towards towards Kayden. “Now it will be magnificent again, thanks to Austin.”

Austin knew Kayden wanted to question Constantine about what he’d just said and was glad the young man had kept his thoughts on the subject to himself.

“I understand you’re getting a masters degree in History Kayden. We’ll have to talk more. I have so many stories about this house and the city we live in. So many stories,” Constantine said.

“Sounds like a plan. You and Kayden can talk later,” said Austin, “but we have to get going. I’ll go over the final blueprints with you tomorrow. How about I meet you here around ten tomorrow morning?”

“Sounds good to me,” said Constantine now smiling with amused eyes in that way that says I know what you’re thinking and I find it extremely funny.

As they drove back to Austin’s house Kayden talked on and on about how cool the house was. He also talked about how interesting the owner seemed and that he’d like to talk more with him.

Austin kept his thoughts to himself. How could he possibly explain to Kayden that one had to always proceed with caution, especially with a Vampire. How could he even explain to Kayden that there are Vampires.

On the other hand it was 2020. Vampires? No big deal, all things considering.

“Hey Kayden, when we get back to the house there are some things I need to tell you, and show you. You have to first promise me you’ll keep and open mind.”

“Sure. What about?”

“The owner of the house and a few other things. Just keep an open mind.”

“You know me. I’m pretty open.”

Austin just kept driving, and thinking about what kind of can of worms he was getting this kid into. On the other hand, like he’d thought before, it is 2020.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

As We Were: A New Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun

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Ambrotype. Around 1850-54

As We Were: A New Series About 19th Century Photography, Fashion, and Fun

Today is the start of a new series As We Were, a look into 19th Century photography, fashion, and culture. The idea came from my box of ghosts, or that is the many boxes I have full of 19th Century photos that need to be shared.

My regular readers will recognize some of the images, but there are many many many more that haven’t been seen for a long time.

Each 1st and 4th Wednesday I’ll ramble share my photos, along with stories, thoughts on fashion like how bustles and hoop skirts really work, society, and other related subjects. See the list at the end of the post for a better idea of what I’m up to here.

My term box of ghosts comes from the fact that if your turn a daguerreotype image you see the negative form and it looks like a ghost. That is also why these images are extremely difficult to photograph with my iPhone.

Ambrotypes, and later paper photographs are easier to photograph due to the fact they don’t have the negative reflection.

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The Beginning – 1840’s and Early Photographic Portraits

Between 1845 and 1850, Texas and California became part of the Union, along with Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

In the 1840’s Edgar Allen Poe wrote his most famous works, James Marshal discovered gold in California, Mormons founded Salt Lake City, the Donner Party spent a winter near Lake Tahoe, Baseball became a national passion, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, and the 1st Women’s Rights Convention was led by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

If that wasn’t exciting enough, photography became part of our lives.  Anyone could have their portrait instantly taken. American culture would never be the same.

In 1839 the daguerreotype was brought to the United States. The artistic and innovated immediately set up studios so that anyone could have their real likeness captured with a depth and clarity that matched the real world. It was an exact image. It was like magic.

Now it wasn’t just the rich who had their portraits to share to the world. Almost everyone could afford to have their portrait taken.

The expressions on their faces was serious, apprehensive, guarded, or a shy joy. Popular opinion says they did not smile but we know that isn’t true. Smiling in portraits wasn’t always the popular thing to do, and with the long exposure times not always the easiest for the often uncomfortable sitters. After all, sitters were sometimes in an uncomfortable head brace that kept them motionless for the exposure time of 3-5 minutes.

Unlike paper photographs, there were no negatives daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. There was one take. No copies. Each piece was a precious original.

The daguerreotype took us from being anonymous to being forever smiling shyly, in an expression captured forever. We would never be forgotten.

Photography changed society and the way we view ourselves.

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Daguerreotype 1840’s

 

Below are examples of early daguerreotypes and ambrotypes from my collection. Most were taken in the 1840’s, with the exception of a few taken in the early 1850’s.

For an enlarged view click on the image.

In future posts I’ll include other subject matters including animals. Even early on cats, pornography, and photography as art caught on. Cat memes are nothing new. Though many early portraits with cats are blurry due to the fact that cats don’t always listen to the photographer.

 

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The Basics Types of 19thCentury Photos

Daguerreotype

A daguerreotype is a picture produced on a silver coated copper or silvered glass plate. A sensitizing agent of iodine and a developing agent of mercury is used to make the image come alive. I’m not sure how the chemistry works but it does, and it does it with great beauty. The first commercial daguerreotype was introduced in 1839. They became popular in the 1840’s and 50’s. They were last made in the mid-1860’s as paper photos became popular.

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Ambrotype

The ambrotype was created by a negative image produced on a glass plate. The image views positive by the addition of a black backing. Unlike a daguerreotype ambrotypes are not reflective. The photo below is an abrotype you might recognize as Randolpho wearing one of his famous hats.

Ambrotypes were introduced in 1854 and more or less stopped production in 1865.

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Randolpho wearing one of his famous hats. Notice his nicely tinted cheeks.

Tintypes (also know as melainotype and ferrotype)

Tintypes are negative images produced on a thin iron plate then made positive when a think undercoating of black Japan varnish is applied. The wonderful thing about tintypes is that they do not break when dropped. Tintypes are often dark.

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Tintypes were introduced in 1856 and continued to be produced until around 1930. You’ll often find tintypes of vacation spots such as in swimsuits or posed casually with friends. The portrait I use for my blog is a tintype.

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Juliette

Cartes de Vistite  or CDV

CDVs were introduced in 1854 and are PAPER photographs. These are small 2.5 x 3.5 inch photos mounted on 2.5 x 3” cards.  These were extremely popular, especially during the Civil War era. People liked CDVs because they were small like calling cards and easy to hand out to friends and family.

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My regular readers might recognize this fine fellow. Innocenzio D’Antonio: An opera singer and friend of the family.

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Civil War era dress. Check out the beautiful details.

Cabinet Card

When most people think of old photos they think of cabinet cards. Cabinet cards are paper photographic prints measuring 4” x 5.5 inches mounted on a 4.25 x 6.5 inch cardboard backing. These were introduced in 1863 and pretty much stopped production around 1920. Some people collect cabinet cards with fabulous back designs advertising the photographer.

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FabulousSisters

Future posts will include:

  • Civil War Era Fashion including the hoop skirt
  • California portraits
  • Bustle Dresses
  • Hoop Skirts
  • Many many posts on fashions of the 1840’s – 90’s
  • Big hair
  • Children
  • Parents and children
  • Families
  • Grandparents
  • 19thCentury Teens
  • Dogs and Cats
  • Weddings, graduations, and other special occasions
  • Children and toys
  • Tinted images
  • Tintypes
  • Big hats
  • Having fun
  • Extreme Fashion
  • Beautifully unattractive portraits
  • Vampires, Ghosts, and other paranormal issues, with help from Nigel
  • Fabulous Hats
  • Cabinet Card Backs
  • Outdoors
  • RPPC – Real Picture Post Cards
  • Hot Victorian Guys
  • And more

Post Mortem and Erotic photographic images from the 19th Century are popular among collectors and online discussion groups. While there are many interesting and beautiful examples in both genres, I do not collect either of these types of photos and will not be featuring either one in my future posts. 

Remember to come back every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month for another fun installment of As We Were.

If you would like to go back to previous posts (when I have them) there will be a link on the left side blog menu.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. I’d love to hear from you.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Ambrotypes. Sisters early 1850’s. Note the fabulous matching dresses and tinted cheeks. Love these girls.

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Ready for adventure in the 1850’s

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1840’s. Yes, I’m a teenager here with my sister and I’m still bored.

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble (Parenting, Teens and a Little Romance)

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble (Parenting, Teens and a Little Romance)

This post was first published 02/2013. The sixteen year old boy in this post just turned twenty four, but this still applies for all parents, teens, and true romantics.

 

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Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble,

Nereid

Sea Maiden

Poseidon’s loyal helper

Sailor’s guardian angel

Violet beauty

I looked at the note on yellow lined paper written in black Sharpie that I found in the dryer. Fragments of the musings of a 16-year-old boy.

The first line is names of a town not far from where we live, founded during the California gold rush. The rest of it is taken from Greek Mythology. I knew what it was.

It is Ione. His long time friend Ione. Once a funny little fair haired girl, now a leggy and shapely blonde of 16. She is also, like my son, a Vampire.

I unfolded the note more, crisp from the dryer and still warm.

I have known you forever

Since our time began

As babies

Then children of the night

As teens

Now growing into adulthood

Our hearts

Our minds

Our future

Am I to be with you?

My mythical love

My desire

My chance

A kiss from you

And I would be

Happy forever

Ione.

So far, aside from the occasional glances at Vampire girls and life long friendships, he has never set his heart on one, especially not one in his tight-knit social circle of “The Vs” as they call themselves.

Ione is quiet and funny and smart. But don’t piss her off because she isn’t one to forgive or forget anything. She also sees herself in some mythical role as avenging angel, taking on the cause of the bullied, down trodden and anyone in her opinion who has been treated unjustly.

Most people see her sort of an exceptionally smart, brilliant dumb-blonde. Smart and goofy. Sort of like my son’s best friend Randy.

I was ready to pocket the note when Garrett came into the laundry room and said “Give me that.”

“I didn’t know you liked her that way,” I said.

“It isn’t what you think.”

“Did you write it for Randy?”

“No. Don’t’ say anything Mom. It isn’t anything.”

“OK.” I smiled.

And then he smiled the shy way 16-year-old boys do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Ione

Ione

 

And yes, Ione is the name of a real California town that used to be called by some interesting names back in the day.

Maxed Out #6: Lighthouse

Today I’m hosting a marathon featuring my brother Max. As you’ll see today, if you don’t already know, he has all kinds of interesting adventures with women, demons, and just about everything else. I am making an attempt to run the Maxed Out posts in the order in which they were first featured here at vampiremaman.com

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. In the meantime, happy reading, stay at home, wash your hands, and stay curious.

 

Lighthouse

A story I’ve told before. I will tell it again tonight.

1880

He’d been found in the ocean, wearing a formal jacket with tails and clinging to the top of a grand piano. Underneath the man was a large gray wolfhound.

The captain of the ship that had picked him up said that he didn’t seem to remember much, or maybe did not want to remember. The dog, named Delilah, wouldn’t leave the side of her master.

At first they thought it was a ship wreck but it ended up being a complicated and strange mystery. The ship, a 200 ton brigantine had left Port of Talcahuano, in Chile three months before the mysterious man had been found in the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. Not a soul was on the ship, except the Captain who’d been found with a gun in his hand and what looked like a fatal self-inflicted bullet wound in his head. The life boats were still on the ship, as well as a cargo of wine and explosives, and the personal belongings of the few passengers and crew.

A break in an unusually strong and violent series of storms allowed them to dock and drop the man on the piano lid and his wolfhound off at the home of the lighthouse keeper’s family.

The lighthouse keeper checked in on the man who was sleeping in his guest room, dog curled by the bed. He could tell the stranger was wealthy by the quality of his clothing, the expensive watch and ring, and the formal refined way he’d spoken. His locked trunk had been recovered from the abandoned ship and now was at the foot of the bed.

The stranger said his name was Maxwell. He told them to call him Max. The first night there he’d drawn exquisite pictures for the light keeper’s wife of palm trees, and of beautiful women in fashionable dresses, and native women of South America with unusual hats and full colorful skirts. Over brandy he told them that he was 31 years old, born in 1849 when his pregnant mother had come out with his father for the California Gold Rush. Now he resided in San Francisco.

“What is your occupation? “The lighthouse keeper’s daughter Jayne asked the stranger,  fully well expecting him to say he was involved in a rich family business, or lived off of the wealth of his forebears.

He looked at her with hazel eyes, that she would have sworn were dark brown earlier that evening. “I am in law enforcement of a sorts, like detective, or a marshal. I seek out those who are particularly evil. I had apprehended a ruthless and violent fiend in South America and was on my way home. Unfortunately on the ship…” he paused and glanced up for a second, then back at the family of the lighthouse keeper. “On the ship I found myself taken by surprise and overwhelmed. It is a story I will tell you later, but now I must sleep, or I’ll end up under the table here.”

So he retired for the night. That was two days ago. He still slept as quiet and cold as death, but not dead. The dog lay by the foot of the bed thumping her tail whenever anyone came near.

A storm raged outside. The weather didn’t allow anyone to go get a doctor. His wife assured him that the man called Max just needed to rest. It made sense considering the man had been clinging to a piano lid and floating in the freezing ocean for days before he was picked up.

Despite the storm Lighthouse Keeper’s wife climbed up a ladder to fix a shutter that was almost ready to fly away with the wind. As she reached the window the ladder fell and she crashed to the ground below. All went black except the feeling of being carried inside.

Max put her down in a large chair by the fire and took her broken arm in his icy hands. “Close your eyes,” he whispered. She could feel his hands heat up and warm her wrist. The pain turned to numbness. She opened her eyes and could see a look of pain on his face, then he smiled and kissed her forehead.

“You’re arm is still broken, but the bones have started to mend enough for you not to need a splint.”

“You? You healed me,” she said.

“Yes. It is a gift. Keep the knowledge to yourself or people will think we are both insane.” He then touched a forming bruise on her forehead, making that pain, along with the bruise go away as well.

During the night the storm broke up. Sunshine came out between the clouds. Jayne convinced Max to walk down to the docks to pick up some fish for the night’s dinner.

She held his arm as they strolled along the road.

“Your glasses are so dark. I noticed your eyes turned from hazel to brown when we went outside,” said Jayne.

“My eyes are sensitive to the sun. I have three younger brothers, and a younger sister. Two of them have eyes that do the same as mine, that is change color,” he said, then changed the subject. “Do you like living here Jayne.”

“I love my family. I love the ocean. I don’t being in a small town with nothing but fish and lumber. I’d like to see more of the world before I’m expected to find a husband.”

“Do you want to be married Jayne?”

“Maybe,” said Jayne, “I can move to Utah and take two husbands. Women can vote in Utah and Wyoming. Why not here?”

“Because men are ignorant and barbaric my dear Jayne. They’re afraid that if you vote you’ll be smarter and more just than they are. The don’t want to give up their power to someone who might do a better job. By the way, men of a certain faith may have more than one wife but I do not believe a woman is allowed two husbands in Utah. You would have to go to Tibet for that.”

Jayne laughed. “To be truthful, even one husband would be too many for me right now. I don’t need anyone to own me right now.” She tugged on his arm. “You’re so different.”

“How am I different? I’m just like any other man.”

“You healed my mother’s arm. You survived almost a week in the icy ocean’s water hanging onto a piano top with nothing but the clothes on your back and a dog. Your eyes change color. Your skin feels like ice. You are unbelievably attractive. I am stating a fact about your looks. But I only want your friendship. Even with the oddness I like you. I feel as if we have been friends for a long long time. Where are you really from Maxwell? Who are your people?”

He smiled and took off his glasses. His eyes were hazel again. “Where I come from men and women are equal. We live quietly. We live honestly among each other. What I am about to tell you will sound strange, but we live on the edge between life and death. We walk in the world of sunlight, but also walk in the land of the shadows and do not fear death or God.”

“I would like to go there with you. I would earn my way. I could be a lady detective.”

“It is not easy to live in my world Jayne.”

“No world is easy Max,” she said then smiled and pulled the comb out of her hair letting it blow in the wind. “Do you have a sweetheart at home?”

Max hesitated then spoke. “There is a woman I have a strong connection with, but I will never love her.”

“Is she married?”

“No. It isn’t like that. We met when I was at the University. So was she, which is odd unto itself. She knows my thoughts. She knows my desires. But she is not the one. What about you Jayne?”

“I was engaged to a man who knew neither my thoughts or desires, and had no intention on learning either. He thought I belonged to him body and soul, not in the way of love, but as property to be owned and controlled. He was jealous to the point of rage if I would speak with another man. He was even jealous of the boys I teach at the school and demanded I quit my teaching job. I would rather die than live a life where someone else controlled my body, my thoughts, my job, and my every whim. That is why I am no longer engaged to him.” Then laughed and ran to the end of the pier and let the wind blow through her hair and laughed some more.

Max marveled at the way she was so free thinking and full of life. He saw so much death and sorrow in his line of work that now with Jayne he felt renewed. She was sunshine in his dark world of shadows and night.

Hours later in the quiet of the night, the wind died own, and the moon hung in a thin crescent in the sky. Max walked along the beach with his dog Delilah. The taste of fresh blood and wine was in his mouth and the cold comfort of the night had settled into his soul. Delilah ran ahead, then the dog started to bark. Ahead of him Max saw a bloody figure crumpled on the rocks. His heart sank. It was Jayne.

Max picked her up and carried her home. He knew what had happened. She’d gone out to look at the stars and was attacked by a man she’d jilted. She’d spoken briefly about it when they’d walked earlier in the day. She had turned away the advances of a hot headed man who wanted her as his own. In the afternoon the man had walked past them, giving Jayne a look like a mad dog when he saw her holding Max’s arm.

He put her on her bed as her parents and brothers gathered around. As still as death, and as cold as the sea, they watched life drained out of her.

Jayne’s mother put her hand on Max’s arm. “Can you heal her, like you healed me?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I do she will never be the same, not like she was before. She won’t be crippled or lose herself, she will be… she will be like me.”

“Save her, then find the man who did this to her,” said the Lighthouse Keeper.

“You do not know what you ask,” said Max.

“You put a spark back in her eyes I have not seen in ages. Please save her if you can.”

“Let me be alone with her and she will not die.”

In the morning a man’s body washed up on the beach. It looked as if dogs had torn out his throat. His face was a mask of fear.

Two weeks later Jayne kissed her family good-by and went with Max on the next ship to San Francisco.

2017

Max stood in his living room with a glass of wine in his hand as he looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. He couldn’t imagine getting tired of it. He glanced over to see Jayne, wearing a short black dress and looking gorgeous as always, coming towards him. He kissed her cool cheek. She smiled with just a touch of fang showing.

“Are you staying with Pierce tonight?” Max asked.

“Of course I am. I take it Mehitabel is staying here,” said Jayne.

Max glanced at a small pretty woman across the room. He suddenly thought of what he’d told Jayne about her so many years ago on the walk to the docks. Odd that when he was out in the ocean, clinging onto a piano top of all things, he had thought of Mehitabel. He might ask but he was never sure what she would say. No, he wouldn’t ask, he’d just wait to see what would happen, but he was sure she’d stay.

“I’m sure she’ll stay,” he told Jayne.

They talked for a while longer, about work, about friends, and about how the sunset sparkled on the ocean. Max wasn’t always one for words, but he knew that Jayne knew that they’d always be friends. Maybe even before they had ever met.

Then Jayne laughed. “I still can’t believe you were clinging to a piano lid.”

And Max had to laugh along.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Full Moon Marathon: Strange Strangers On A Full Moon Night

 In honor of the full moon and Werewolves I’m running a Full Moon Marathon today. Enjoy, ponder, learn, leave comments, stay at home, wash your hands.

Full moon

Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

Mars was exceptionally bright in the sky last night. The moon was less than full but still exceptionally bright.

This morning I dropped the kids off to school. Garret’s car is in the shop so mom gets to drive. Anyway, I drop them off behind some temporary classrooms (that have been there for 45 years) because Clara doesn’t want to have to walk by the large group of “Stoners” who hang out every morning at the logical drop off point. So this morning she tells me she over heard one of the Stoners saying “That woman stops and turns around every morning. Weird. I guess she doesn’t want to stay here.” They had no idea I was dropping off kids. Sigh.

So the moon, teens, clueless thoughts… what does that all lead to? It made me think of a distant memory of when my brothers Val, Aaron and I were teens.

Go back to 1873. We lived in a city that had regulairly flooded, burned down, flooded again and survived illness and lawlessness and all sorts of disasters (Sacramento of course.) It was enough to make anyone want to leave, but instead people thrived and it grew. Railroads made kings. Agriculture was starting to boom. It was a city with growing art and culture and the new capitol building was almost finished. But to us it was home and our concerns were not those of adults or even most people. We were teens, comfortable in our own skin, a little less Victorian than most our age, a little more independent than most. My brothers and I lived in a tight knit community of Vampires, part of the Modern Vampire Movement. But you already know that.

One night, under a full moon, my brothers Aaron (age 17), Valentine (age 14) and I (age 13) were taking a stroll along the Sacramento River. We were always out looking for vagrants and activity from any riverboats. We were on the prowl, three well heeled Vampire kids who could use our innocence and charm to get in and out of any situation before our prey ever knew we were there.

With our stomachs full and our dark little souls throughly amused we walked home through a grove of trees on the edge of the riverbank. There we came upon a camp. Two figures were hunched over half a dozen large fish, I believe stripers or maybe steelhead. They grunted and tore at the fish. At first glance we thought they were coyotes or large dogs, but then we realized they were something else.

“Werewolves,” whispered Aaron holding his hand out to signal us to stay still.

We watched in fascination, with a bit of disgust, as the two turned back into their human form – a young man and a young woman. They were about our age and completely naked. He was skinny, unlike my muscular brothers. His skin was pale under the moonlight like the bellies of the fish he’d just devoured. She was also thin with ribs sticking out and knobby joints. Her grayish unhealthy looking skin was covered with red welts. Long dark hair hung below her waist. But what surprised us most was the hairless tail that hung down about 6 inches on the end of her spine.

I elbowed Aaron and he gave me a quick look that said “don’t move.”

“She has a tail,” Val whispered a little too loud. Aaron put his hand over his younger brother’s mouth.

The Werewolves put on their clothes, plain and worn compared to our fashionable togs. We had a home and parents. These two were obviously strays just trying to survive their miserable condition.

Val and I wanted to approach the Werewolves but Aaron was against it. He said we should just let them be and they’d be dead more sooner than later. There was a prominent pack of well-heeled Werewolves in town but we had little to do with them and it was obvious that these strays were not part of their pack.

Occasionally my parents would deal with the Werewolves, but always held them at a distance and with considerable contempt. One thing that stood out about the well to do Werewolves was their fondness for velvet. No kidding. Those Werewolves loved their velvet.

This isn’t going to be a moral story where we went back and helped the young Werewolves. We went back and they were gone. None of our friends had ever seen them. We told our parents about them. In turn they mentioned the strays to the pack leader in town and he had never heard of the young Werewolves.

It was just one of those weird things. Ships that pass in the night.

I asked my friend Adam, who is a Werewolf, about the pair when I stopped by his studio this morning (he is a photographer by trade.) He’d never heard of them. The tail on the girl turned out to be something extremely rare, just like a tail on anyone who is remotely human like.

“Why didn’t you help them?” Of course he had to ask.

“I don’t know. We were just kids. We thought they were dangerous. Beside that, maybe they didn’t need or want help. My parents asked around. Nobody knew anything, or if they did they weren’t telling us about it. I’m talking both Werewolves and Vampires. Nobody knew anything.”

I knew there would be nothing online about them but I after I left Adam I checked anyway. There was nothing.

This story has no moral or reason behind it. Just a story of something that happened a long time ago that I’ll tell my kids about and maybe they can find a moral in it.

It might be a mystery forever. But I have a knack for finding people and things so you never know. You never know about anything, not really.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

First posted in 2014

Short Story Sunday: Lighthouse

Today is Sunday and time for another Tangled Tale. Last night my husband and I saw the 2019 movie The Lighthouse. The movie is about two lighthouse keepers, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson), left on an isolated lighthouse on a rock in the 1800’s. It is part art house film beauty, part horror, and a lot of twisted weirdness.

For today I’m rerunning my own Lighthouse story. I posted it back in July but that’s ok. I’ll post it again today.

Lighthouse

A story I’ve told before. I will tell it again tonight.

1880

He’d been found in the ocean, wearing a formal jacket with tails and clinging to the top of a grand piano. Underneath the man was a large gray wolfhound.

The captain of the ship that had picked him up said that he didn’t seem to remember much, or maybe did not want to remember. The dog, named Delilah, wouldn’t leave the side of her master.

At first they thought it was a ship wreck but it ended up being a complicated and strange mystery. The ship, a 200 ton brigantine had left Port of Talcahuano, in Chile three months before the mysterious man had been found in the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. Not a soul was on the ship, except the Captain who’d been found with a gun in his hand and what looked like a fatal self-inflicted bullet wound in his head. The life boats were still on the ship, as well as a cargo of wine and explosives, and the personal belongings of the few passengers and crew.

A break in an unusually strong and violent series of storms allowed them to dock and drop the man on the piano lid and his wolfhound off at the home of the lighthouse keeper’s family.

The lighthouse keeper checked in on the man who was sleeping in his guest room, dog curled by the bed. He could tell the stranger was wealthy by the quality of his clothing, the expensive watch and ring, and the formal refined way he’d spoken. His locked trunk had been recovered from the abandoned ship and now was at the foot of the bed.

The stranger said his name was Maxwell. He told them to call him Max. The first night there he’d drawn exquisite pictures for the light keeper’s wife of palm trees, and of beautiful women in fashionable dresses, and native women of South America with unusual hats and full colorful skirts. Over brandy he told them that he was 31 years old, born in 1849 when his pregnant mother had come out with his father for the California Gold Rush. Now he resided in San Francisco.

“What is your occupation? “The lighthouse keeper’s daughter Jayne asked the stranger,  fully well expecting him to say he was involved in a rich family business, or lived off of the wealth of his forebears.

He looked at her with hazel eyes, that she would have sworn were dark brown earlier that evening. “I am in law enforcement of a sorts, like detective, or a marshal. I seek out those who are particularly evil. I had apprehended a ruthless and violent fiend in South America and was on my way home. Unfortunately on the ship…” he paused and glanced up for a second, then back at the family of the lighthouse keeper. “On the ship I found myself taken by surprise and overwhelmed. It is a story I will tell you later, but now I must sleep, or I’ll end up under the table here.”

So he retired for the night. That was two days ago. He still slept as quiet and cold as death, but not dead. The dog lay by the foot of the bed thumping her tail whenever anyone came near.

A storm raged outside. The weather didn’t allow anyone to go get a doctor. His wife assured him that the man called Max just needed to rest. It made sense considering the man had been clinging to a piano lid and floating in the freezing ocean for days before he was picked up.

Despite the storm Lighthouse Keeper’s wife climbed up a ladder to fix a shutter that was almost ready to fly away with the wind. As she reached the window the ladder fell and she crashed to the ground below. All went black except the feeling of being carried inside.

Max put her down in a large chair by the fire and took her broken arm in his icy hands. “Close your eyes,” he whispered. She could feel his hands heat up and warm her wrist. The pain turned to numbness. She opened her eyes and could see a look of pain on his face, then he smiled and kissed her forehead.

“You’re arm is still broken, but the bones have started to mend enough for you not to need a splint.”

“You? You healed me,” she said.

“Yes. It is a gift. Keep the knowledge to yourself or people will think we are both insane.” He then touched a forming bruise on her forehead, making that pain, along with the bruise go away as well.

During the night the storm broke up. Sunshine came out between the clouds. Jayne convinced Max to walk down to the docks to pick up some fish for the night’s dinner.

She held his arm as they strolled along the road.

“Your glasses are so dark. I noticed your eyes turned from hazel to brown when we went outside,” said Jayne.

“My eyes are sensitive to the sun. I have three younger brothers, and a younger sister. Two of them have eyes that do the same as mine, that is change color,” he said, then changed the subject. “Do you like living here Jayne.”

“I love my family. I love the ocean. I don’t being in a small town with nothing but fish and lumber. I’d like to see more of the world before I’m expected to find a husband.”

“Do you want to be married Jayne?”

“Maybe,” said Jayne, “I can move to Utah and take two husbands. Women can vote in Utah and Wyoming. Why not here?”

“Because men are ignorant and barbaric my dear Jayne. They’re afraid that if you vote you’ll be smarter and more just than they are. The don’t want to give up their power to someone who might do a better job. By the way, men of a certain faith may have more than one wife but I do not believe a woman is allowed two husbands in Utah. You would have to go to Tibet for that.”

Jayne laughed. “To be truthful, even one husband would be too many for me right now. I don’t need anyone to own me right now.” She tugged on his arm. “You’re so different.”

“How am I different? I’m just like any other man.”

“You healed my mother’s arm. You survived almost a week in the icy ocean’s water hanging onto a piano top with nothing but the clothes on your back and a dog. Your eyes change color. Your skin feels like ice. You are unbelievably attractive. I am stating a fact about your looks. But I only want your friendship. Even with the oddness I like you. I feel as if we have been friends for a long long time. Where are you really from Maxwell? Who are your people?”

He smiled and took off his glasses. His eyes were hazel again. “Where I come from men and women are equal. We live quietly. We live honestly among each other. What I am about to tell you will sound strange, but we live on the edge between life and death. We walk in the world of sunlight, but also walk in the land of the shadows and do not fear death or God.”

“I would like to go there with you. I would earn my way. I could be a lady detective.”

“It is not easy to live in my world Jayne.”

“No world is easy Max,” she said then smiled and pulled the comb out of her hair letting it blow in the wind. “Do you have a sweetheart at home?”

Max hesitated then spoke. “There is a woman I have a strong connection with, but I will never love her.”

“Is she married?”

“No. It isn’t like that. We met when I was at the University. So was she, which is odd unto itself. She knows my thoughts. She knows my desires. But she is not the one. What about you Jayne?”

“I was engaged to a man who knew neither my thoughts or desires, and had no intention on learning either. He thought I belonged to him body and soul, not in the way of love, but as property to be owned and controlled. He was jealous to the point of rage if I would speak with another man. He was even jealous of the boys I teach at the school and demanded I quit my teaching job. I would rather die than live a life where someone else controlled my body, my thoughts, my job, and my every whim. That is why I am no longer engaged to him.” Then laughed and ran to the end of the pier and let the wind blow through her hair and laughed some more.

Max marveled at the way she was so free thinking and full of life. He saw so much death and sorrow in his line of work that now with Jayne he felt renewed. She was sunshine in his dark world of shadows and night.

Hours later in the quiet of the night, the wind died own, and the moon hung in a thin crescent in the sky. Max walked along the beach with his dog Delilah. The taste of fresh blood and wine was in his mouth and the cold comfort of the night had settled into his soul. Delilah ran ahead, then the dog started to bark. Ahead of him Max saw a bloody figure crumpled on the rocks. His heart sank. It was Jayne.

Max picked her up and carried her home. He knew what had happened. She’d gone out to look at the stars and was attacked by a man she’d jilted. She’d spoken briefly about it when they’d walked earlier in the day. She had turned away the advances of a hot headed man who wanted her as his own. In the afternoon the man had walked past them, giving Jayne a look like a mad dog when he saw her holding Max’s arm.

He put her on her bed as her parents and brothers gathered around. As still as death, and as cold as the sea, they watched life drained out of her.

Jayne’s mother put her hand on Max’s arm. “Can you heal her, like you healed me?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I do she will never be the same, not like she was before. She won’t be crippled or lose herself, she will be… she will be like me.”

“Save her, then find the man who did this to her,” said the Lighthouse Keeper.

“You do not know what you ask,” said Max.

“You put a spark back in her eyes I have not seen in ages. Please save her if you can.”

“Let me be alone with her and she will not die.”

In the morning a man’s body washed up on the beach. It looked as if dogs had torn out his throat. His face was a mask of fear.

Two weeks later Jayne kissed her family good-by and went with Max on the next ship to San Francisco.

2017

Max stood in his living room with a glass of wine in his hand as he looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. He couldn’t imagine getting tired of it. He glanced over to see Jayne, wearing a short black dress and looking gorgeous as always, coming towards him. He kissed her cool cheek. She smiled with just a touch of fang showing.

“Are you staying with Pierce tonight?” Max asked.

“Of course I am. I take it Mehitabel is staying here,” said Jayne.

Max glanced at a small pretty woman across the room. He suddenly thought of what he’d told Jayne about her so many years ago on the walk to the docks. Odd that when he was out in the ocean, clinging onto a piano top of all things, he had thought of Mehitabel. He might ask but he was never sure what she would say. No, he wouldn’t ask, he’d just wait to see what would happen, but he was sure she’d stay.

“I’m sure she’ll stay,” he told Jayne.

They talked for a while longer, about work, about friends, and about how the sunset sparkled on the ocean. Max wasn’t always one for words, but he knew that Jayne knew that they’d always be friends. Maybe even before they had ever met.

Then Jayne laughed. “I still can’t believe you were clinging to a piano lid.”

And Max had to laugh along.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales