Short Story Sunday: Shrine

Shrine

I remembered how Katrina Olson yelled out at Craig’s funeral, “I hope the Devil enjoyed his barbecue.”

Jeanee Kinley, Craig’s fiancé, started to howl like a cat in a car, tears pouring down her pretty face, as her nose grew redder and redder.

At that point a couple of big guys, maybe fraternity brothers, hauled Katrina out of the church.

I sat looking straight ahead at the casket, all covered with white flowers. I thought about Craig and the time we’d spent together. Part of me wanted to tell perfect Miss Jeanee Kinley that her Craig had never been faithful to her. I wanted to tell her about all of the women Craig had considered his conquests, even after they’d become engaged.

That was forty years ago. We were in our early twenties, ready to face the world with our hopes and dreams.

The casket was closed due to the unpleasant way Craig had died. He’d burned to death. His body was found in the passenger seat of his 1981 Corvette. A lighter was in one hand, a cigarette in another, the door was open, and a charred gas can was next to the driver’s side door. He’d gone up in flames but nobody knew how or why. The back of his skull had been cracked with a blunt object but not enough to kill him. There were also scratch marks on his shoulders. Since he was sitting against the seat his back was spared from the flames that engulfed the front side of his body and most of the car. His handsome face and lush chestnut brown hair had been completely burned off.

I can’t imagine a more horrible way to die.

On the floor driver side floor of the car a delicate silver chain with a tiny bird pendant was found. It had been broken, as if torn off of it’s wearer. Nobody knew who it had belonged to. Jeanee said it wasn’t hers. She’d been in Los Angeles with her mom at some spa. Craig had died in Northern California near the UC Davis campus.

That is where we’d all gone to college.

I thought about Craig and my college days as I drove along the backroads through tomato fields and almond orchards.

My bag was packed with everything needed to our get together. I brought the charcoal and beer. Fresh made brownies were in a bag, still warm from my oven.

When I arrived at the abandoned farm buildings off the side of the road I saw I wasn’t the first one there. Karen, Katrina, and Lydia had also shown up. Greta pulled up in her orange truck right behind me. Several other women waited around a fire this cool summer evening.

Nine women ranging in age from fifty eight to sixty four stood around the fire, building a shrine for Craig. Our friends Dan and Rick were there too, now with white hair, and no hair respectively.

Barbecue sauce, rib rub, garlic bread, lighter fluid, baked beans, and beer surrounded the fire. This was going to be good.

We all talked and caught up as we did every year at this time. We’d done well, despite our misspent youth. We’d grown up to be a college professor, an attorney, a retired Navy officer, a librarian, a museum curator, a high school principal, an antiques dealer, a furniture builder, and other professions that would have baffled us when we where in college.

Dan mentioned how Craig had just finished his first year of law school. Some of the women talked about their experiences with Craig. We all opened drinks, poured shots and glasses of wine and prepared for a toast.

Karen placed a photo of Craig on a holder, kind of on a long stick. Dan placed a model of a 81 Corvette down by the fire.

We lifted our glasses and bottles to a toast. “To Craig, law student, roommate, fellow student, and rapist.”

Then I lit the photograph on fire and we drank, and then had dinner. The Devil’s Barbecue and a fitting shrine for Craig.

I remember that night as I stood bloodied and torn as he laughed in my face just before he lit his cigarette.

My wrists burned from the twist ties he’d put on me so I couldn’t get away from him. Later that night I’d hit him in the head with a lamp, then in a panic agreed to drive him to the hospital. I poured gasoline all over the car and threatened to light a match so he wouldn’t attack and rape me again. Then out in the middle of the farmland I pulled over. I don’t know why, but I stopped. I’d walk home rather than get help for him. He could drive himself to the hospital. He got out of the car and lit a cigarette. I told him to stop. I told him to STOP. I told him to put his lighter away. I begged him. He laughed again and called me a whore as blood ran down my leg and I watched him burst into flames.

I never told anyone it was me. Not a soul.

I looked into the fire fingering my necklace; a small silver bird on a delicate chain, a replacement for the one I’d lost. The yearly shrine to Craig burned bright in the summer night as we all looked on knowing justice was served.

“I love you all,” I said as I looked into the faces of Craig’s victims and their friends.

“We love you too,” said Katrina. Then we did a big group hug. It was nice. Super nice.

Then we grilled some pork ribs, ate our salads and my brownies, and caught up. Most of us talked about our kids, our dogs, and just all sorts of good things about our lives.

Life is good. Yes, it is.

~ end

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer School Daze

My almost 19-year-old daughter Clara is taking a college English Class this summer. They’re reading and writing about poetry and literature. The exact name of the class isn’t important.

Clara: I can’t believe some of the other students.

Me: What happened.

Clara: Some girl bragged about being an English Major, then she said she hated to read. She actually said she hated to read. She just wants to write. She just gushes about how she loves to write. But she hates to read.

Me: But how can she be a good writer if she doesn’t read?

Clara: She LOVES to write. I bet she writes awful fan fiction. She’s that type.

Me:

Clara: shrugs shoulders

Me:

Clara: I feel sorry for the teacher.

Me: Wow. You have to wonder.

Clara: I know.

The moral of this true story is that if you love to read you don’t have to write. HOWEVER, if you love to write you have to read. That is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Live it. Teach it. Preach it.

And keep listening to those kids of yours. They’ll tell you all kinds of unbelievable things. Also, hug a teacher.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

funny_cat_pictures_lolcats_this_cat_is_pushing-s500x485-301701

 

College Life – What I learn from my child

One thing I LOVE about having a child in college is that I learn almost everything my child learns (except the math.)

Ever since Clara, was a preschooler she has always told her dad and I all about what she learned in school. Even when she went on field trips she’d repeat to us what the park rangers, or museum docent said.

Yesterday afternoon she told me about her new political science class (second semester of college started this week.) I learned about the instructor (he used to be a spy, and has two kids.) I learned about how he runs a classroom (no immaturity allowed – he will drop kids who don’t act mature.) I learned what the students will be learning. My child and I talked for about an hour about the two-hour class she’d just finished.

Like I said, this isn’t something new. During the fall semester I learned all about religion, our environment, weird fellow students, art, history, philosophy, and everything except math and Spanish. I did learn all about the math and Spanish classes – the teachers and the fellow students.

I learned who put out tables on campus – mostly political and religious groups. I learned about blood drives, especially after the Las Vegas shooting.

Now the second semester is starting. I’m looking forward to learning about the US Government and Marine Biology.

I’m looking forward to hearing my child’s nightly observations and insights.

I’m looking forward to hearing the passion in her voice.

She knows her parents will actively listen too.

Clara told me that if she tells someone else what she learns it will help her retain the information. True.

My child isn’t one of those brainiacs who always got straight A’s and was wooed by Stanford University or Ivy League schools. But she is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

It isn’t advanced math that will make her go far. She has passion. She has communication skills. Yes, people skills. She listens. She observes. She evaluates. She relates. She sees learning as an active life long skill.

She is my child and I am amazed every single day.

She is also hilariously funny.

Over the years I’ve posted “What we talked about this morning on the way to school” posts. I’ll have to start doing that again. She has her own car now, but we still talk before and after school.

When she leaves for the big university we’ll still talk.

If you get one thing out of this parenting blog THIS is it: Talk with your kids. Listen to your kids. LISTEN. Encourage them to talk to you and with you. Hear their thoughts and ideas. The more you listen the more they’ll want to talk to you.

And you’ll say, “Life is good.”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

By the way we also talk about pets, music, people we know, fashion, beauty products, the weather, movies, Netflix, cat and possum memes, and other daily stuff… but that is another blog post.

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: College Daze

Ninety percent of my time as an undergrad was spent in weird Dr. Harrison’s biochemistry lab. The other ten percent of my time was living vicariously through my roommate Tony, who partied and got laid enough for an entire frat house full of horny guys.

Mavis stood up and stepped away from the keyboard. Earlier in the week she’d dropped her eighteen year old son Axel off at college – the same college she’d gone to. Now she was starting notes for her seventeenth novel in the popular Detective Star Landers Mystery Series.

She didn’t want her son to be like either one of the characters in her novel. She knew he wouldn’t be like Tony, but then again you never really knew what your kids were up to when they weren’t with you.

Axel was the youngest of her three kids. Jared and Zoe were also in college at opposite ends of the state. Axel was in the middle. She went outside with her coffee cup and looked at the backyard the kids had played in for years. Two dogs of unknown breeds were sleeping under the shade of the trees. Both animals were from the county shelter. The kids were helped pick them out. A lot of memories were in that yard and with those dogs.

After making more coffee Mavis sat down at her laptop again. She looked outside through the window and thought of her own college days. She didn’t think about it much. She didn’t keep in touch with anyone. After taking a sip of coffee she started to write again.

He did make time for Darcie. All he had to do was show up at her door and she’d screw him silly. She never expected love. Just friendship and sex. He was always up for that. One night he’d shown up at the little house she’d rented behind a bigger house. It was really more of a shed with a kitchen and bathroom added on to it. Anyway, it was 2:00 a.m. and Darcie was wearing a robe. Her face was red and swollen. It looked like her hands were covered in blood. 

She told him that she’d been attacked by a guy named Clayton Jones. Sure everyone knew Clay. He thought he was God’s gift to women, but slutty Darcie would never sleep with him. Clay called her a whore. She shrugged. 

Darcie had been to a party that night. Clay had tried to get her to fuck him. As always she said no. About twenty minutes after she got home Clay came to call. He beat her up and raped her. When he was done she hit him on the head with a lamp. 

Mavis looked up and rubbed her eyes. Then she started in on her notes again.

He was bleeding. He called her a bitch. She said she’d take him to the hospital. Down the road, behind a warehouse, she covered his car with lighter fluid and dropped a match on it. Poof. It with up in flames with Clay in the passenger seat. She walked home, and that is where I found her, sitting in her robe, covered in blood. 

Mavis saved the file. Then she deleted it.

She sipped her coffee again. Earlier in the week Axel had asked her about her college years. She’d told him it was sort of boring. She liked the classes but didn’t get into the social life part. Then her youngest son asked her if she knew that guy Clay who’d been murdered. She told him no. She didn’t know anything about it.

“You met dad in college. Did he know that guy Clay?” Axel had asked.

“He might have,” said Mavis, then she changed the subject.

She started a new page.

I never told anyone what Mavis did. 

Then she erased that line, and called her husband. Not for any reason. Just to tell him that she loved him. That was all

 

~ end

 

 

 

They grow up – so teach them to laugh.

“She said she used to think he was “the one” then she realized he was just the one she was having sex with. Then he realized it was a mistake, the break up, and him being in heavy like over another girl he met this summer. By then he’d agreed to go to Europe for the whole young vampire Europe things so many of them do. I think he going to do some work with Logan. That is a good thing. They’ll see the real dark side of humanity. I just feel so bad for Lauren. I know she’ll get over it, I mean she was more or less over it in June.”

My sister-in-law Verity was talking about my niece Lauren who is a Senior in college this year. Logan is my nephew who just graduated from law school. John is the ex-boyfriend or whatever he was.

“We all love John. I think Lauren will remain friends with him, but just friends. John is such a dark Vampire, even for our family. Lauren on the other hand is more light and delightful. She is like you and Val, you know, all bright and funny. John isn’t funny. He takes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING so seriously. He is such an alpha.”

I let her ramble about her adult children. They are young adults but adults none the less. They make stupid mistakes when it comes to their hearts. They think they know it all but they’re just learning. They don’t know what to say or how to react to situations. They don’t have the experience to see what they need to see.

It is the same as parents. We don’t know what our children will do once they’ve flown out into the world.

Of course as Vampires they’re a lot more savvy about the ways of the world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel, or desire, or have dreams.

They’re driven to succeed, my children and Verity’s children.

My elder three brothers were driven to succeed (this includes Verity’s husband Aaron.) My brother Val and I, the youngest of the brood, thought we were driven. I’m sure we drove everyone crazy with our misadventures. But we ended up calm and sometimes wise, and thoughtful. I’m still up for an adventure. I’m still fun. But that is because Val and I learned from our mistakes. Just listening to vague old fashioned advice didn’t work for us. We needed to learn on our own. And yes, Val and I are funny. We can be really funny. We’re pee your pants and spit milk out of your nose funny. We’re also Vampires. Contrary to popular belief Vampires and humor make strange and very delightful bed fellows.

But I’ve raised my children to be smart and cautious. I’ve raised them to think before they speak. I’ve also raised them to laugh. I mean, seriously, we’re Vampires so we have to think about these things a lot. One slip of the lips, or anything else, and we’re toast. Do you know how many Vampire Hunters are out there. A lot, and a good 95% of them are whack jobs.

Now what was I going to say? Oh yes, talk to your kids. Talk to them about everything. Make sure you teach them to be safe, and sound, and calm. But teach them to laugh too. No matter what you are or what you do, remember to laugh.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman