When You Grow Old

It is hot today. I believe it is over 100°F where I live. In light of that hot sizzling fact I’m going to take you with me to a nice cool beach.

When You Grow Old

A short story by Juliette Kings

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.

My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.

I’d been at Bob’s for six months.

“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I was going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.

I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.

Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Josh had fixed dinner.  A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about 3 years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.

I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, I the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”

The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors.  “You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.

It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past 10 years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of its past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.

A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.

“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.

“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”

“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.

“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”

“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a Vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life.

“Bob is happy where he is.”

“I think you’re right.”

We walked more and listened to the waves. Then he kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.

The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly and his relationship with the waves.

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.

He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”

“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”

“You and Stephen can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars shine over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with Vampires. It’s cool.”

And so it was.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon

Memories, the lost of memories, old stories, more on my idiot brothers, and love.

From 2015

Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Eleora couldn’t remember what she did yesterday, but she could tell stories of her childhood in excruciating detail. My daughter and niece sat next to her, holding her small hands in theirs. They looked like three young women about the same age. My Clara is 16, Lauren is 21 and Eleora is, well, nobody knows how old she is. We know Eleora is over 2,000 years old but no exact number has ever come out.

The girls heard stories their parents and grandparents had never heard. These were ancient lost tales that she’d hoarded until she found the right audience.

Tellias, her husband, told the girls to watch if they went outside. Eleora might wander off on her own and not find her way back.

He watched the woman he loved, his eyes filled with pain. Sometimes I’d see a rare bit of anger. Of course there is always love, but with that more often than not pain and frustration.

This was Sunday. We’d all gathered at my brother Aaron’s for our mother’s birthday. All four of my brothers were there (Max, Andy, Aaron and Val), as well as the elders Tellias and Eleora, Aaron’s grown children Logan and Lauren, Great-great-great-great Grandmama Lola and her friend Cody, and our friend Pierce. My husband Teddy and Aaron’s wife Verity were there playing host and hostess as they sometimes do. And of course our parents Jeremy and Samantha.

More friends were to come later at this gathering at Aaron and Verity’s home. Of course we’re all Vampires. It would seem weird to bring anyone else in.

This isn’t like the movies and horror stories where we bring in virgins and babies to feast on. Of course there is blood, but we have it in wine glasses (not big red cups.)

I stood outside under the stars with Tellias and my brother Max.

Max put his hand on the elder Vampire’s shoulder. “Eleora isn’t all there anymore is she?”

“I believe she is there. She just is a bit disorganized. You know, when you can’t find the mates to your shoes and you are walking on a bed of nails so you just hop on one foot and hope you don’t fall. But if you fall it will be into a burning pit of lava. Then you look down and notice your pants are gone and your socks don’t match,” said Tellias. “You need to come by and see us more often Max.”

“I know,” said my brother.

“Nobody knows how long Vampires live. Most of us don’t make it this far given the dangerous nature of our existence. Don’t take your chances. Your day could be tomorrow. Eleora’s could be tomorrow. We never know. But no need to get depressed, none of us are going anywhere for a while. We’ll be around for plenty of birthdays to come. But the more you and Juliette and the rest of you come around the easier it will be for Eleora to straighten out the mess in her mind.”

The three of us stood there for a few seconds. Then Max gave Tellias a hug and walked down into the yard under some trees. I watched him as he took out his phone and made a call.

“He is calling her, isn’t he? He should have made that call fifty years ago,” said Tellias. “The boy never seemed to understand love, even at his age he still can’t.”

I had to smile. Even at the age of one hundred and sixty-six Max still is just starting to understand that ships that pass in the night sometimes never pass each other again.

Tellias took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “I appreciate everything you do for us.”

“I know.” I said. I looked into his crystal blue eyes, in a face that looked no older than nineteen. To think that he had lived in ancient time didn’t seem all that strange most of the time. He’d kept up. They both had. That is what kept Tellias and Eleora young. Nobody would ever have expected them to dry up in a crypt or become ghouls living in shadows. Then again, they gave so much love that the cold dark places the put fear in men’s hearts didn’t touch them.

So stay young. It is easy if you love and let love in. Even if you’re a Vampire. And even if you’re not.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: A Place Between The Night and the Day

Now is a time we all need to take special care with our elders/seniors and others who need extra help. 

I am running a Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. These stories are about my elders Eleora and Tellias, but I know many of you will be able to relate. 

From 2013

A Place Between the Night and the Day

Yesterday a call came in. A small whispery voice, like old tissue paper that had once wrapped up lace and flower petals said, “We can’t find Ginger.”

The conversation continued, or I attempted to continue it. I asked where they’d seen Ginger last and if they’ll looked everywhere. But I got the same answer. “YOU have to come. We can’t find Ginger.”

Ginger is an old dog. She is some sort of medium sized Lab and Golden mix with a few other breeds in there. One day 15 years ago she showed up starving and dirty on the Elder’s farm. She was grown even then and seemed middle aged. Like her owners, Ginger is ancient and confused.

The elders are Tellias and Eleora, two ancient Vampires who aren’t even sure how old they are. He met her when he went to Britian with the Roman Army. That was a while back. Theirs was a story of sweeping epic romance, but now, they were calling me to find their old dog.

I brought the kids with me, 17 year old Garrett and 14 year old Clara. When we arrived, they, the Elders were along. The early morning air was filled with smoke from forest fires in the hills. Eleora was afraid of smoke, so she was out of sorts even more than usual. Back in the days of burning rice fields she’d leave town for the coast.

When we arrived Tellias came out to greet us in an old black tux with no shirt underneath the jacket and bare feet. His blonde hair was covered by an old pith helmet. Eleora wore a halter style sundress out of some ugly brown and yellow batik fabric and red cowboy boots. She carried a large butterfly net and a green glass bowl of dog biscuits. Despite their age and frailties they look as though they can’t be much older than 20.

And it is my job to take care of them and make sure they’re safe and have what they need. It is my job to make sure they don’t do stupid things.

My children and I were showered with hugs and kisses. They usually sang songs to us when we arrived, but this time is was all about finding Ginger.

We searched high and low for Ginger. We called. But no answer.

“We’ve looked everywhere,” said Tellias.

“Everywhere,” said Eleora.

“Everywhere,” whispered Tellias.

So we all searched and called more. After taking a break from dog searching, cleaning up, fixing a few things, and throwing in some laundry that had piled up, we sat down for a few moments. There was a click click click on the floor and we turned to see Ginger looking at us with big brown eyes.

We have no idea where she’d been, but we were glad that she was back. She is covered in hugs and kisses. All is well.

It had been a long week with my work, the kids starting school, my husband’s activities and looking after the Elders. Some say don’t sweat the small stuff but it all seems the same. There is no small stuff or big stuff – just stuff. But it is my stuff. It is my choice to be the one who manages all the stuff and take care of stuff and deal with stuff.

It isn’t that I love the stuff, I love the people who bring the stuff to me.

And in the early mornings between the night and the dawn I am left alone to my own stuff, or what I can clear out of my head and heart. I walk the trails near my house under the oaks, on the edge of the bluffs over the water. I can hear the first birds of the morning and see the last bats of the night. The deer, coyote and bobcats walk at a distance and sometimes let me see them in their own world. The squirrels jump through the trees like crazed acrobats.

I think of everything and nothing. I think of things that I don’t have time to think about when I’m looking for old dogs, lost socks, and lost souls.

My mind wanders the hills far beyond where my feet take me. Sometimes I see ghosts, but even they know not to bother me in my Vampire reveries.

At that place between the night and the day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Frogs, Love, and Hell

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon #2

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

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

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

From the Summer of 2013

Frogs, Love, and Hell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Taking Care of Our Elders Vampire Style (Eleora and Tellias)

Now is a time we all need to take special care with our elders/seniors and others who need extra help. 

I am running a Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. These stories are about my elders Eleora and Tellias, but I know many of you will be able to relate. 

From 2012. 

Taking Care of Our Elders Vampire Style

We’re drove out to the old farmhouse where Tellias and Eleora live. About twice a month Teddy (my husband) and I pack the kids into the car and check up on them.

They’re ancients. Nobody really knows how old they are. They are fragile and need help. They don’t have a family. It is just the two of them.

When we drove up, just before dawn, they came to the door to greet me, thrilled to see a carload of their young Vampire friends.

Tellias was wearing an old workshirt that looked like something a guy working in a garage would wear. The name Greg was stitched on it. Eleora wore some horrible looking flowered dress with a stretched out brown sweater. She had on yellow flip flops that had seen better days.

They both looked pale and malnourished.

“Are you two eating anything at all?” I asked as Teddy took the large cooler to the kitchen.

They told me that their car wasn’t running but it was an excuse. The car was almost new but I was sure they’d forgotten to put gas in it or more likely lost the keys.

I unpacked provisions in the kitchen. They huddled around me touching my back and arms, then stroking my face.

“How long since anyone has been to see you?” I asked.

“Not since you were here. Nobody sees us anymore.” Eleora looked at me with sad round eyes.

“What happened to your clothes?” I asked, almost afraid for an answer.

“Someone stole them. We can’t get to our storage unit or the other houses.” Eleora shifting her feet, knowing I knew she was telling a lie.

“Who stole them? Did you let someone in the house?” I asked.

“We were out trying to hunt.” Tellias said putting his head down, trying to avoid my stare. I suspected they’d gone down to the river to find homeless people and transients to hunt and someone followed them home.

They were two of the oldest vampires I knew, over 2,000 years old. Treasures, but like the elderly of all kinds, they are often forgotten, especially those without children. Soon they fall apart like the past civilizations they lived in.

They both look, at first, like they are 19 or 20 years old. He has pale blonde hair and blue eyes. She is a golden eyed girl with reddish brown curls. They are slight with almost translucent skin.

They used to have a working farm with hired workers but now they leased out the farmland. The two acres around the house were kept up with a gardening service, but nobody was watching the residents. They’d been in and out of Vampire comas for years. They’d lost their confidence. I was afraid they’d lost their hunting skills.

These two were never the fierce Vampires of old tales and modern stories. They were always timid and always got by the best they could by hiding in the shadows and keeping out of sight. They were so sweet and good-hearted that it almost killed me to think of anything bad happening to them.

Teddy came into the room and gave Eleora a gentle hug. “We need to get the two of you better.”

They were slightly out of touch, unhealthy and frightened. It was obvious Tellias was depressed. They were prime targets for Vampire Hunters.

The ancients were glad the children were over. They always fussed over them and told them tales of long lost civilizations that no longer existed and were not yet discovered by historians and treasure hunters.

“We have to move them into town.” Teddy told me where the other’s couldn’t hear.

We dined on blood in beautiful crystal goblets the couple had purchased in the 1870’s when they first built the farmhouse. We talked of friends and relatives and the future.

I didn’t want to leave them. But I’d see them soon. I’m going to get them new clothes and find the keys to the car, and move them into the 21st Century where they belong.

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Motorhome

Motorhome
An Austin and Elizabeth Story

Austin grew up knowing that Grammy didn’t have many filters. She’d say anything she wanted to anyone. Austin’s mother said Grammy had always been rude. Grammy said she was giving out good advice that might make people want to do something about their situations. Everyone was in a situation so everyone was told what they needed to do.

Grammy’s caretaker, a lovely woman named Kayla, had texted Austin the following:

“Just a warning, Grammy is in a mood today. Completely speaking with no filter. We talked to Tom across the street. Grammy asked how they were doing and before he could say anything she said, “well it looks like you and your wife have completely given up on loosing weight.” I nudged her in hopes she would stop but it didn’t work. She then went on to say, “I thought you guys were dieting. Looked like you’ve completely given up on losing weight. Tom was so red embarrassed. I said he is healthy and happy and always smiling, so I told him to have a nice day and closed the door before Grammy could say anything else. I then said “OMG Grammy u can’t ever tell people that they are overweight. Ever. Men or women. It is not to be discussed. Don’t tell women they look pregnant. None of it. She said “Well maybe if I say something that will make them want to lose weight.” I said, “NO. NO. NO. Nothing you say will change them. You’re just being terrible at that point. No more ever.” Grammy’s mind is in it’s own place sometimes. Tomorrow is a new day. I told her she is the cutest sweetest little Grammy in the world. She has to stop thinking and saying such negative things.”

Austin was mortified. Tom had been a good friend for years, and would do anything for Grammy. But sweet little Grammy had a dark suspicious side. She’d grown up in the Deep South where people generally have fewer filters than those from other regions of the country. She’d also grown up in a family of Vampire Hunters. It was in their blood, no pun intended.

When Austin arrived at Grammy’s house he wondered who the old motor home in the driveway belonged to.

Kayla, a rail thin brown haired, blue eyed woman in her forties came out to meet him. She and her college student son Colt live with Grammy and took care of her in her great big family home. At one time Austin had tried to get Grammy to sell her house and move into a smaller house in his neighborhood, just three houses down from him, but she’d have none of it. She’d rather complain about money and upkeep than move out of the house she’d lived in for sixty-two years.

“Is someone visiting?” Austin looked toward the motor home.

“I bought that last week. I’m going to take Grammy on a road trip.”

It was a small 1981 motor home complete with faded orange and red stripes on the outside.

“Wow, look at this thing,” said Austin.

“Come inside. Take a look,” said Kayla inviting him in through the back door.

Grammy was sitting on an orange couch that could fold out into a double bed. There was a table, a small kitchen, four captain’s chairs, and a tiny bathroom complete with a toilet, sink, and a shower.

“Hey, Grammy,” Austin said bending down to kiss her.

Grammy was small, and still quite pretty for an eighty eight year old lady. Her white hair had been done up the day before with pink foam curlers. She wore bright pink lipstick, a pink flowered shirt, and matching pink pants.

Grammy took his hands, “Austin. What do you think of our new castle on wheels?”

“Great,” said Austin. “The orange and red carpet is pretty ugly, but otherwise it’s great.”

“I don’t see any problems with the carpet. It looks almost new to me,” said Grammy. “Now, Austin, are you still seeing that Vampire girl?”

Austin was in love with a woman who just happened to be a Vampire. He knew it wasn’t exactly the right thing to do but…

“But,” he said, “Grammy, Elizabeth isn’t a shadow creeper, or one of those ghoulish undead types. She lives a pretty normal life. You know the kinds of Vampires I help get rid of, and Elizabeth isn’t one of them.”

“You know those Vampires aren’t right. They do nothing but cause problems. Austin you’re an idiot for getting involved with one.”

“Grammy, Elizabeth isn’t that different from us.”

“That’s what you say. But the next thing you know they’ll be coming out of the shadows. I bet you the first thing they’ll do is call the ACLU and get a bunch of lawsuits in place against us normal people asking for rights and then some. Then they call AARP because they’re all older than dirt. You can’t trust them Austin. Listen to me. You are going to have nothing but trouble ahead of you. Nothing but trouble.”

“OK Grammy, I get your point.”

“I hope so. I don’t want you marrying one of those things. You haven’t have sexual intercourse with that Vampire of yours yet have you?”

“Grammy, I’m not going to talk about this anymore.”

“Are you still killing Vampires?”

“Only the ones without souls.”

“Well, how do you know if they have souls? They’re all a bunch of fanged faced liars.”

“Grammy, I know. I’m a Vampire Hunter. I can tell. It’s in my blood.”

“Well, your blood will be their blood if you don’t watch out.”

Kayla, who’d gone inside to make iced tea, came back out with three tall cold glasses full of iced tea with fresh mint. This wasn’t the popular sweet tea, but strong freshly brewed black tea with just a hint of lemon and mint. Grammy wouldn’t allow anyone to ruin her good tea with the addition of sugar.

Grammy took a sip of her tea and said, “I don’t know why your mom and dad had to name you after a city.”

Kayla smiled. “Be nice Grammy. You know Austin was where they fell in love.”

“Well, maybe. But it sounds like a character out of a trashy cheap romance novel,” said Grammy.

And she wasn’t kidding.

Austin had dinner with Kayla, her son Colt, and Grammy. They’d dined on garlic coated shrimp in a pasta, along with mushrooms and more garlic. Grammy always made sure she had garlic in all of her food to keep the Vampires away now that she had retired. Austin knew for a fact that garlic didn’t keep Vampires away.

Conversation became pleasant and without any caustic remarks. Grammy was charming and full of joy. Kayla looked relieved.

As Austin left his Grammy gave him a hug and a kiss. Then she said, “I wish you’d find a normal girl.”

Austin smiled and said, “Normal girl? Grammy, you of all people should know there is no such thing.”

Grammy just said, “pasha,” and closed the door in her grandson’s face.

 

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

Read all of the Austin and Elizabeth Stories (The Hunter Series) from the start.  Click here for the full set.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman