Chuck the Elf (A Holiday Tradition)

This is one of my absolute favorite Christmas stories EVER – of ALL TIME. For an 8th year, I am honored to share a Christmas Story from my dear friend David Hunter. Prepare yourself for a real Christmas treat with this Holiday Classic! David’s work is also featured in the WPaD anthologies. ~ Juliette

Chuck the Elf

By David X. Hunter

I was born in the Bronx way back in 1902.

St. Anne’s orphanage was the only home I ever knew till I went north years later. The place was crazy; a lotta little midgets running around makin’ a lotta noise. I guess I was one of ‘em, except I was no midget – I was an elf. I stayed in that place for 30 years until they figured out I wasn’t no kid! So I packed my shit up and hit the road. I joined the army for a while, got into some action at Omaha Beach even. After dat, I never trucked with the military much.

I joined the circus for a while – but the bearded lady and I didn’t get along. The fact was, I couldn’t stand life on the road livin’ wit all them freaks – I was longing for a fambly, if you get my meanin’.

One night, Christmas Eve if you gotta know – I was on the roof of my tenement building because my landlady didn’t like my cigar smoke. She always whiffed it through the vents and complained so I went up on the roof. I was feeling lonesome as hell too, wit the snow fallin’ and all streets quiet and empty. To be honest, I crawled out on the ledge. I was thinkin’ of just ending it. I was just a lowly Elf, livin’ off racetrack bets and scroungin’ for handouts.

I was a Bronx kid, though. I couldn’t do it. Plus, that street looked like it could hurt a guy real bad falling from dat height.

I went back on the roof and finished my stogie, lookin’ up at the twinklin’ snowy sky. It was damned cold. I never felt so bad in my whole life.

I saw sumpin’ then, over the East River. Looked like plane or some kinda flying object. I tracked it for a while and realized it was comin’ right towards me! I ran back and ducked behind a ventilator shaft.

I heard bells, and some guy yelling. I heard da soft thump of somethin’ landing.
Now don’t get me wrong – I ain’t no pansy or nuthin’ – but this was strange. I can deal with stormin’ a beachhead and all, but the unknown always unnerves me, y’know?

I peeked around the corner an I saw animals or somthin’, shakin’ snow off themselves. Everytime they did that, bells would jingle. There was some fat shmoe sittin’ in a red sled too. All of a sudden I hear my name!

“Charles! Charles! Come out from behind there!”

There was a silence as I was trying to figure out what to do.

“Who wants ta know?” I said after a while.

I peeked over my hiding spot and saw the lard-ass comin’ towards me. He was big – triple my size – but I figured if I bit his knee caps the odds would be evened out.
He stuck his head around the vent, and stared right at me.

“Charles! I found you!” he said. He had dis soppy smile on his face, what you could see of it anyway with that friggin’ large white beard.

“Listen Mack …” I started to say.

“Charles! You must come with me! You don’t belong here. You belong up at the North Pole with the others!”

I looked at dis guy and thought he was nuts. “You shittin’ me?”

He straightened up and crinkled his nose.

“I’m afraid I’m not! You are an Elf, of the elfus smallicus genus. All my staff up at the North Pole is comprised of Elves. You see, you were given up for adoption by mistake.”

I looked up at the guy, and I could see he was tellin’ da truth. Others like me? Elves? For true?

Dat was the one and only time I cried – at least since that time I pooped my pants back at the Orphanage and the sister swatted me a good one.

“Come! You can help me give out presents tonight, then we can take you home,” he said. He wedged his large ass back into the sled, and I followed. There wasn’t much space between his girth and all them sacks’a toys for me to sit, but I managed.

He tole me about his toy making racket and all the right-offs he got for it. Pretty slick, I had to agree. We shot up inna sky and I was dubious about them moose things haulin’ us up into the stratosphere and all, but they maintained a good speed, except for the turbulence which I didn’t care for.

All night long we delivered them friggin toys, all over the damned world, Australia, England, and places I never hoid of, like ‘Canada’. I was so tired by the end, I thought I’d collapse. But this guy, Santa, he had a mini bar in his sled and I had a few shots of whiskey. We delivered our last toy to some kid in Montana – a train set. We went down the chimney (I still couldn’t get over goin’ down them tings!). I was placin’ it under the tree when I heard a noise. I look over and see the kid peeking around the corner at me.

“Ain’t polite to stare, kid,” I said. “Murry Christmas.”

Da kid scampered off.

Not even ten minutes into our journey north I was out like a light.

So, I went to the North Pole. I met my mom! Saw all the udder elves like me. It was a happy homecoming, I gotta say. Still, I miss New York sometimes, even though I visit occasionally. I miss the smell of the Hudson, the rude people, the street vendors selling junk, Coney Island hot dogs, the racetrack, all of it. But it ain’t so bad up here; got lotsa snow, plenty of fresh air, and the pay is good. Made foreman a few years ago; I’m in charge of making them iPad thingies. Big responsibility. The uniforms could use some revamping, but y’can’t have everything, am I right?

I guess I didn’t do so bad after all, y’know?

The End

As Bright As A Star In An Ancient Sky

As Bright As A Star In An Ancient Sky

The voice on the phone whispered, “Are you coming over today?”

Why Tellias always whispers on the phone I will never know.

“I’m on my way,” I said. “I’m stuck in the never-ending construction, but I’m on my way.”

“Good,” he said in a papery thin voice. “I have a lot to tell you.” Then he hung up.

A 2054 year old Vampire can have a lot to say, so I picked up a case of Poet’s Blood at Dave’s Bottle Shop.

When I arrived at the Queen Ann style farmhouse Tellias and Eleora were waiting for me on the front porch. Tellias was wearing tuxedo pants, a slate blue work shirt with the name Jose stitched on the pocket, and yellow flip flops. His pale blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail. Elena was wearing white Go-Go boots, a red mini skirt, a black fake fur vest, and an orange and pink polyester double knit blouse with bell sleeves. She also had a Santa hat on her head, with masses of reddish brown curls falling down her back. They look like a couple of teenagers who’ve been shopping at the local vintage flea markets, but they’re ancient. They’re old people.

They both danced around me, giving me kisses and singing Christmas songs. On the door was a giant wreath covered with holly, red apples, and black spiders Eleora had made years ago from ribbons and pipe cleaners.

They took my hands and brought me into the house. We sat by the window with a view of the orchards draped in fog.

Eleora busied herself with making Christmas animals out of ribbons and pipe cleaners, while Tellias told me a curious tale I’d never heard before.

“Juliette, when I was young, you know I grew up without parents of my own. I’ve never been sure of where I was from. The Romans took me in. I grew up in a temple, treated like a magical demigod. I’ve been called the child of Jupiter, or Mercury, or Apollo. Usually Apollo. It doesn’t matter now. When I grew older I went along with the military because I could heal, and they didn’t think I could die, and I was a magical being, at least according to them. Life was good. Lap of luxury. 

I went to Britain and met Eleora, as she stood on the edge of a cliff dancing by herself and singing. But I had to go back. It was a difficult time. A difficult time for me. Interesting too.

That time, all I could think about was her. She wasn’t the first of my kind I’d met. The other Vampires weren’t like me. They were dark without joy.  Eleora was nothing but joy. I met other beings too. Not Roman gods, but others… demons, angels, werewolves, others. 

I had to go back to Rome. I’ve told you I saw the star. You know the one they call the Christmas star. I was traveling with my freeman Felix, and a couple of slaves. We couldn’t find a place to stay. I could have but I wanted to keep my people with me. 

There was a barn where there appeared to be a party. Inside were a couple of boys with their sheep. A young couple with a baby was huddled in a corner. Three rich guys in garish clothing were hanging out with their servants. All of the animals, from my horses, to camels, to dogs, and sheep. A few others were there as well. It was cold that night. In the 40’s I think. I greeted the others, and got a lot of stares. Here I was, pale and blonde, with a white and gold fur lined cape. Even my people were dressed better than anyone else.

We settled in next to the young couple. The child was only a day or two old. The girl, the mother, who was only fifteen, was ill. You see, it was a horrible time to be a woman, even more horrible than when you were a girl Juliette. She was full of fever and infection. I put my hand on her forehead and took the illness away from her. It took me an hour to recover. The rich party guys gave me wine thinking it might help. The girl smiled and thanked me, as did her teenage husband. 

I took off my cape and put it around her shoulders. From my packs I took other blankets and warm furs and gave them to the husband and baby, then gave some to the Shepard boys. 

It was like it had been so many times and would be so many times in the future. Help was needed and I needed to help. 

I heard a noise on the roof, then looked to the doorway where another person had just arrived. He was tall and muscular with a face almost as handsome as mine. I knew him. He’d checked in on me since I was a child, but not always as a friend.

“Why’d you help them?” He asked me that without so much as a greeting.

“I didn’t have parents and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about it,” I said. 

“You lived in luxury. You have everything you wanted.”

“I was a pet.”

“They think you’re a demigod,” he said with a laugh at the end of his words.

“I am not a demigod. I see this family, this tiny young family…” I suddenly didn’t want to talk about it. “Gabe, you can go away now. I’m done with you. You can’t tell me what to do or how to feel. You can’t take my soul because it is mine. You could kill me if you wanted to, but I know you won’t. 

I am not like them, but I am not like you. I am not like a demon. I am… I am of this place, of this Earth, and only now do I feel I am of someplace. I am in love, something so rare in this world. I see this young couple and their child, so in love. It isn’t arranged. It wasn’t make by someone else…”

“It was made by someone else Tellias,” said Gabe. “It was something beyond either one of us.”

“I don’t believe in the Roman Gods,” I said. 

“I’m aware of that. It wasn’t some guy who turns himself into a swan to get laid,” he said getting a little bit testy. 

“I don’t care Gabe.” I told him,  “The girl is going to live and raise her son with his father. They will grow old in their love. They will thrive in this stinking, horrible, loveless world.”

“We’ll see,” he said.

“Yes, we will. I have to get some food. Unlike you I’m not make of some sort of ethereal dust. I’ll be back here in an hour,” I told him. I half expected him to follow but he hung out on the roof of the barn making sure nobody would bother the occupants. Everything with Gabe is always vague. 

When I got back, my belly full of blood, and my arms full of food for the others, and I mean everyone who was there that night, Gabe was waiting for me.

“Tellias you know you aren’t like the others. You weren’t created by…”

“What molded from mud or dust, or out of a random body part like all of your bedtime stories? No Gabe, I’m of this Earth. Yes, THIS EARTH. I don’t fit into your mold because I’m not like them. I’m not like you either. I’m not an angel or a demon, or a warm blooded human. I don’t follow your rules. I’m not motivated by vengeance or power.”

“What are you motivated by Tellias?”

I didn’t answer him. Once inside I passed out the food. I held the tiny infant while his parents ate. 

“Fill the world with love and wisdom. Understand the value of peace and of life,” I whispered to him as he wrapped his tiny finger around my thumb. Then I whispered, “An angel is on the roof watching over you. I don’t know what that means, but don’t let him down. He’s a son of a bitch you don’t want to mess with. But on the other hand he’ll have your back. And kid, be good for your parents. You can’t even imagine how much they love you.”

Gabe put his hand on my shoulder. “I’ll watch over them now.” 

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” I told him.

The next day I left with my man Felix, and my two slaves. I gave a few coins to the shepherd boys, and gave my contact information with the rich guys who were keeping us laughing with their puns and trivia games. 

For the young couple with the baby I hugged them and told them that their child was special. I told them to keep tight, and to hold onto love, no matter what anyone told them. The World was a changing place and I told them their generation would be right in the center of it. I told you the same thing when you were young Juliette. I told it to your children. God knows, it is changing for your kids.”

Then he leaned back in the chair and rubbed his eyes, and said nothing for a while.

I kissed his cheek then helped Eleora hang the funny Christmas animals on the Christmas tree.

After a while Tellias came over and put his arms around Eleora and me. “Dear Juliette, will you be here for Christmas Eve? I invited Gabe.”

Eleora took my face in her hands and kissed my cheeks. “You all must come! Especially your wonderful children.” And she danced around the room humming a long lost Christmas song.

Wishing you all peace and love, no matter who or what you are. And in small ways of kindness and caring we can make the world, or at least our own small corners of the world, as bright as a star in the ancient sky.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Christmas Orphans (a short random tale)

Christmas Orphans (a short random tale)

“Why do I have eyes of different colors? The brown eye is my own. The blue eye is a different story. I plucked it from the freshly dead body of a young Irish nun. She’d killed herself because she had a vision that the child she was carrying, the child of the handsome young priest, was the Antichrist.”

“Why were you there Uncle Jeff?” A young voice in a hushed whisper asked.

“Because, my dear, I was the handsome young priest. That was before the life I live now. But I still see visions of angels and of a family in a warm embrace of love, then the fires of Hell with dancing devils and…”

“JEFF. STOP IT,” I yelled. “You’re going to give them nightmares.”

I know better than to ask my crazy brother to tell Christmas stories to my children and their young cousins.

“But, Simon, the stories are true,” my brother said as if he believed what he was saying.

“Kids, don’t listen to him. He’s blowing stories out of his…out of his ears.”

“Did I tell you about the time I met Santa Claus?”

“Jeff, no more storytelling.”

“It was the winter of 1969.”

“Jeff you were a toddler in 1969.”

“You have no idea how old I really am. Brother I have secrets that will make your head explode. Now children, the rest of the researchers on the Arctic research station had died of a mysterious illness. Then the giant polar two ton bears came. I’ll never forget the sound of them crunching on the bones of my friends.”

“Giant two ton polar bears?”

My brother and the children ignored me as he continued his tale. “I wouldn’t let them eat the dogs so we took off with the sled north, following the stars. Frozen and hungry, my body could take no more. Out of my blue eye I could see my angel Bernadette, the nun I’d loved. Her visions…”

“Jeff!”

“Then I heard bells. Not big bells like the Liberty Bell, but small happy bells. A lot of bells. I thought I was in a dream. My dogs huddled close. Then we saw them. The Zombies…”

I went to the kitchen for a beer. My wife and Jeff’s weird Goth girlfriend were talking about how to make the perfect prime rib.

Spotting my sister Libby out on the deck I went out to join her.

“It’s cold out.”

“Cold but not as weird as it is inside.”

“Do you think there is any truth to his stories.”

“I don’t know. He has memories of before we were found. All the records still say we were abandoned at the rest stop outside of Barstow. Nobody came forward to claim us. We’re related for sure, the DNA tests prove that, and we look like each other  but…”

My sister shrugged. “I did more research but didn’t find anything. Nothing. It is like we were dropped by aliens.”

“Or Santa Claus.” I said.

We were found on Christmas Day, three tiny children. Our dad was the highway patrolman who found us. Jeff was the oldest, then Libby and I was just a baby. The doctors figured Jeff was around three, Libby maybe two and I was a newborn. We were all wearing hand knitted Christmas sweaters and red Santa hats.

Our life was happy and normal with our new parents. They loved us unconditionally. They still do.

I never thought about who might have left us at the rest stop with typed notes saying “Merry Christmas. Please keep us together,” pinned on our sweaters.

Libby and I went back inside to catch the end of Jeff’s story.

“In the morning Santa and I sat on the beach listening to the crashing waves. I passed him the bottle of whiskey we were sharing and he put his hand on back and said “Good job son, good job.”

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: The Cabin

Dad would walk ahead of us with the saw as we followed behind like troopers with the snow up to our knees. We’d been doing this since we were kids. It was a lot of work but always worth the effort, not so much in finding the perfect tree but in the time we spent together.

We were in search for the perfect tree. 

My brother Rod stopped and pointed. “What’s that? I’ve never seen it before.”

Through the woods was an old shack of a cabin.

“Let’s take a look,” said Dad.

The cabin looked as if nobody had been there in a century. The nails were square. The roof sagged. Dad and Rod pulled the door open.

Inside it was a time capsule into the 19thCentury. A table and four chairs were in front of a wood stove. A bed stood in the corner with a mattress covered with a red and green quilt. Jars of food canned years ago sat on the shelves in a small kitchen area. 

On the table was an envelope. I picked it up. On the front someone had written in a beautiful scrawling hand: If you are here read the note within.

I pulled out the paper and read aloud.

November 29, 1878

Welcome to the way station of the lost, the found, the curious, the tired, the cold, and the historians of time.

Make yourself comfortable. Take what you need. Leave what you don’t need. Leave extras if you have extra. 

I only ask you to leave this space with thoughts of love, hope, and good thoughts for other travelers who pass this way.

May many blessings come your way. 

TK

It looked as if this letter hand been read by many over the years. Others had left their comments on the back of the letter and on a second sheet of paper inside. 1880, 1897, 1906, 1918, 1920, 1937, 1943, 1972, 1999, 2001, and now 2020.

We took nothing, but left our initials and the date on the back of the letter. My dad pulled a extra pair of socks out of his pocket and left them there with a note saying wear these if your feet are cold or wet.

“When your grandkids are older you’ll have to bring them back here Dad,” I said.

“Yes, indeed,” Dad said.

As we closed the door and hiked off into the snow I looked back to see a man wave from the cabin. I almost called out then he waved back then vanished into the air as if he had never been there. Maybe it was just my imagination. I don’t know.

This year, with so much uncertainty treasure the mystery, the joy, the love, and the hope of the season. 

No matter where you are find your little cabin of peace and giving.  Believe.

~ end 

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Today my husband Teddy is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.

He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.

Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy decided they needed a tree.

In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.

“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.

“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”

Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.

Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.

Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2019 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.

Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.

And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

time for christmas

 

The Travelers A Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope

A Christmas Tradition at Vampire Maman

The Travelers

A Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope
from Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman

The night was falling on the travelers, Daniel and his son Tad and daughter Ada. They had to stop before the dark of night and freezing snowfalls. The father and his children were finally going home, from the broken dreams of gold to the city where Daniel had found a job in his profession of typesetter and reporter. When his wife had passed on he followed his dream to the California gold fields taking his teenage children with him. For good or bad they’d made the new state their home.

As the snow began to fall they came upon a cabin, the door boarded up from the outside, the windows shuttered. It looked deserted and like shelter for the night. Dan and his son pried the nails off of the boards, which secured the door and went into the two-room structure. Inside was a cozy room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a wall full of books. Dan sent Tad out to bring in firewood.

Ada went to the bedroom and called her father. On the bed was a man, still as the night, cold and pale as the snow. In his arms, wrapped in blanket was a tiny girl in a red velvet hat, a scarf covered up most of her small face. She was also still and pale.

Ada’s heart sank. The poor souls in the bed looked to have passed on. But why were they trapped in the cabin? Had they been sick? Why were they not buried with a prayer and the proper respect? The man’s coat was obviously expensive and of the finest materials. His boots were of the most beautiful leather and style. His face was handsome and refined. Ada took off her glove and touched the back of her hand to the man’s face. He was indeed cold as ice and still as death. She called in her father.

“I know this man.” He said. “A fine man. A poet. I heard him read when I was in San Francisco. What a tragic pity to find him here with his child.”

The looked upon the bodies of the father and child when they saw the slightest movement and the man opened his eyes.

“My daughter, please help her,” whispered the man on the bed.

Ada took the girl in her arms. She weighed almost nothing. The child let out a sigh. Ada brought the girl into the other room and sat in a rocking chair by the fire Tad had built. The girl started to move and put her face against Ada’s warm neck. Ada soon fell asleep with dreams of flowers and all things good.

In the morning the poet and child were gone.

The travelers found box covered with red paper. In the box was a golden heart and a note to Ada.

Dearest Ada,

This heart belonged to my dear wife who was murdered by villains of the vilest kind. Please wear it knowing that you will always be loved and you will always be a part of us.

TK

On the table in the front room was a bounty of food. Where had it come from? There were fresh baked goods, milk and juice, exotic fruits, sausages and chocolates. Under small quilted cozies were pots with fragrant tea and coffee. Another note was slipped under the teapot.

Daniel read the note aloud to his children.

My heart thanks you for your generosity.

You saved our lives.

You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.

You never judged us.

You never feared us.

The love between parent and his children is burned into your heart like the fires that burn in the heavenly stars.

My daughter and I will never forget you.

Your children and their children and their children will always be safe and watched over and kept from the harm of wicked men. I owe and promise you that.

Never fear the night or the darkness for we will always be watching your back.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

~ Thomas Kent

As the travelers ate they talked of the sweet dreams they’d had the night before, along with stiff necks they had that morning. Daniel and his children  spoke of Mr. Kent and his precious daughter and wondered why they’d been trapped in the cabin.

Many many years later after a long and wonderful life full of romance and adventure, Ada fingered the heart, which she still wore. As she took her last breath she said, “I have never known fear, only love”.

An ocean away Thomas Kent felt an icy wind, then hope and gratitude in his cold Vampire heart.

~ End

 

ParrishCabin_Travelers

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman