Delivered To Your Door

Delivered to your door…

I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.

Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.

I was three years old and he someone throwing me up in the air and I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

His hands are warm and I cling to him to put my ear next to his chest and hear his heart. I hold him tight feeling the heat radiate from his body. I keep laughing. He is so different from everyone else I know.

Thirteen years later, he takes my hands, I laugh. Then my best girlfriend says “He’ll marry me and I’ll be his wife forever.” No way would she get the most handsome man in the world to marry her. I laughed in her face and everyone yelled Happy New Year. Someone lit up lights to spell out 1865. We were in California and in love with men we have silly school girl crushes on. Who cared about the war? We were safe.

I woke in a cold sweat, on the back deck, my book on the ground, the cat staring at me. I heard my son’s voice.

“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.

My brother Valentine, thirteen months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.

I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”

“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.

“No. What is going on?”

My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”

I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”

Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.

Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.

They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.

Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.

“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.

“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.

I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.

“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.

“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.

“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.

“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.

“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.

“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.

“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.

“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”

Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”

Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”

“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”

“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.

“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.

Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”

“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.

Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”

“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.

I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.

“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.

They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.

In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.

Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.

I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”

“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”

I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.

In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.

Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”

Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”

We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.

Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”

“I just worry about you two,” I told him.

“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”

“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.

Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”

I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…

“Mom?”

I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.

I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

First posted in 2013. If figured since we’re all getting so much take-out and delivery these days that I’d post it again.

Vampire Hunters and Social Distancing

I swear people are stupid. On my way out today I saw so many people at the park I pass on the way to the freeway. A State Park ranger was driving down the street so I knew by the time I got home they’d all have warnings to keep their distance.

On April 1 my brother Aaron dragged me convinced me to go with him to visit the Vampire Hunter Austin Durant. One of Aaron’s Vampire friends had an old house out in the middle of nowhere up in the foothills near the town Murphy’s that he wanted to restore. Unfortunately the place was infested with a group of Shadow Creeping Ghouls, that is Vampires who have no souls, no couth, and are pretty much worthless disgusting predatory vermin.

They aren’t like us.

This group of Shadow Creepers had been slinking out at night and going to Stockton to attack people in their sleep, especially in homeless camps and other areas of more concentrated transient populations. They had to be stopped.

It isn’t unusual for Aaron to drag me along on these adventures, and I use the term adventures lightly. I am small and can fit into tight spaces. I know how to deal with old dried up rogue Vampires who aren’t Shadow Creepers, and have a pretty good track record. More often than not just using my mom voice does the trick. But you know, I hate it. I hate the work. I hate the smells. I hate the way the fumes and dust makes me cough for days on end.

So back on April first we talked to Austin. Then I went home and forgot about it. Yesterday Aaron called me. After I did my best not to use multiple bad words on the phone I agreed to help out.

After a ninety minute drive through the hills of the California Gold Rush Country, which is more or less most of Northern California, I arrived at the old ranch. I have to admit it was beautiful out there. Lupins and California Poppies covered large swatches of fields and hills. New green leaves had sprouted out on the oak trees. Hawks and Turkey Vultures dotted the sky.

The gate at the end of a gravel drive was already open. I blew past a No Trespassing sign and drove about half a mile until I could see a large farmhouse in the distance, next to a large barn and a couple of other outbuildings. At one time it must have been a beautiful home with a large veranda circling the lower half and gables on the top windows.

My brother Aaron stood in front of the house next to Austin. I noticed both were wearing bandanas around their faces.

Over to the side, were everyone had parked, next to a black truck was a big brown eyed guy wearing a face mask. He had on jeans, and a gray unzipped hoodie with a San Francisco Giants tee shirt underneath. Like most guys these days his hair was sort of shaggy and pretty close to almost pony tail length.

I got out of my car.

“Are you Juliette?” He didn’t hold out a hand or step forward. Good man.

“You with Austin?” I asked.

“Yes. My name’s William.”

“You’re a Vampire Hunter?”

“Yes.”

“Where’d you come in from?” I asked.

“Lodi.”

“Are you the back-up?”

“The infestation was worse than Austin thought it would be. Why’d they call you in?”

“Same thing. I told them not to call me.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“I told Austin that if this went sideways I’d turn him into a Vampire.”

William laughed a big hearty laugh right from his belly.

“So, William, what do you do when you’re not hunting down ghouls?”

“Wine. We grow grapes. We’ve been growing for years. My sister and I took over from our grandparents and now we’re starting a winery. We don’t have a name yet and the first batch is in barrels now. We started with a red mostly Zin mix and a Chardonnay.

“Wow. That is so cool.”

“Your brother told me you’re a graphic designer. Maybe we can talk about labels when this is all over.”

“Sure, that would be fun.” Seriously. It would be fun.

“So how long have you been a Vampire?” I knew William would ask. They all ask.

“Forever,” I said. He gave me a sideway look. “One hundred and sixty years. Aaron and I were born like this.”

“No shit. That’s pretty rare.”

“It is. I have three other brothers too. Anyone else coming?”

“No. We’re it. No large groups allowed these days.” He laughed again and adjusted his mask.

At least he didn’t tell me you don’t look like a Vampire. He knew most of us look like everyone else. Just like I knew he wouldn’t be dressed head to toe in black, wearing a huge leather duster, with a knife strapped to his leg and a squirt gun full of holy water. He might have had a carry permit for a gun or a knife, but I didn’t see it.

Aaron came up to me  and elbow bumped, not like we need to do it. He gave me a mask.

“There is some nasty stuff in there. You’ll definitely need this.”

To make a story that might make a great horror flick short, we cleaned the place out. It was nasty and dirty work. It’s a good thing we all brought a change of clothes and bags for the dirty ones. I swear if the brush/forest fire threat wasn’t a real thing I would have suggested we just burn the house down.

Aaron and I don’t know if we could get any kind of Covert-19 virus but we don’t know if we can carry it on us either. Even if you aren’t sick you still have to social distance. You don’t know what might be on you.

  • Keep social distancing
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Hug your dog
  • Text, call, Zoom, FaceTime, email, and otherwise stay in contact with others. Stay in touch with your kids, your family, your friends, and anyone you know who might be alone or in need.
  • Stay positive
  • Stay creative
  • Watch birds
  • Read a book
  • Stretch
  • Stay safe

We’re all in this together. We really are.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Maxed Out #8: Baker Beach

Max heard the Nessun dorma ringtone and groaned. It was his brother Andy. It was an emergency. He could sense it.

He picked up and listened.

“Max, thank God you’re there. I’m by Baker Beach. Some asshole redneck in a truck sideswiped me. The car is totaled. Can you get out here? Right now.”

Max untangled himself from the woman next to him and sat up. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine. Like I said, the car is totaled.”

“Call AAA. I’ll call Uber and get you a ride home.”

“You don’t understand man. I have someone locked in the trunk and he is pissed off.”

———-

Andy watched at the back end of his car became even more mangled by the violent pounding from the occupant he’d locked in the trunk. The noise was even worse.

“Stop it NOW,” he yelled, “or I’ll drain every drop of blood from your body, stuff your pathetic putrid smelling carcass and sell it to the highest bidder.”

Than banging and howling stopped right at the moment Max drove up.

He got out of the car. A woman got out of the passenger side. Like Max, she was dressed in black from head to toe.

“Mehitabel, you look beautiful. What are you doing with my brother?”

She smiled and kissed Andy on the cheek. “Glad you’re not hurt. Who do you have in the trunk?”

Max went over to Andy’s car and kicked the bumper. The mangled trunk lid popped open.

“Holy fuck,” Max swore under his breath.

Mehitabel put her hand over her nose and mouth to keep out the stench. “Andy, this isn’t good.”

“I know, this is bad,” said Andy. “But it isn’t every day you find a Sasquatch.”

——————-

After the car was towed and the sun started to come up, the three Vampires stopped at their favorite diner for breakfast. They’d all had their fill of blood the night before but coffee and eggs sounded good right then.

“Is this the fourth or fifth car you’ve totaled this year?” Max took a sip of coffee and shook his head at his brother.

“Second this year,” said Andy. “Hey, it wasn’t my fault.”

Mehitabel looked at the brothers. “So do you think he’ll be alright?”

“The Sasquatch? I don’t know. As long as he stays out of the city I think he’ll be fine,” said Max.

“This is San Francisco. Nobody would notice him,” said Andy.

Max smiled and put his hand on Mehitabel’s knee.

“You guys should get married. I’m serious,” said Andy.

Mehitabel almost spit out her coffee. Max took his hand off of her knee, then thought better of his action and put his hand back on her knee and gave a small squeeze. The waitress came by and poured more coffee.

I guess the moral of this story is that as long as you are always there for each other, don’t ask too many questions, and keep love in your hearts life will be good.

_____________

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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