Short Story Sunday: Night Dogs

Tangled Tales

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

 

 

 

Trained

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I won’t come when you call me but I still love you so much.

I came downstairs in the wee hours of this morning to find my brother Max making coffee. Being the eldest of my four brothers, and my husband’s best friend since childhood Max frequently crashes at my house when he’s in town.

“Watching Queer Eye?” I asked. Max usually wears all black being the brooding alpha male Vampire he is. Today he was wearing tan shorts with a button down multi-colored flowered shirt, a gray sweatshirt and red Vans without socks.

“Very funny Jewels. Yes, but no tha.” he said. “Coffee?”

Max poured two mugs full before I could answer. My German Shepard Alice nudged him with her squeaky dinosaur toy.

“Is she crate trained?” Max asked me.

“She isn’t anything trained,” I said. My dog has gone to dog class. She knows what all of the commands mean and then some. But she does what she wants. All I ask is that she doesn’t pee in the house.  “She goes to her bed when I tell her to,” I said.

Max is getting married sometime next year. I wonder how trainable he’ll be. I know crate training won’t be an option.

“Do you go to bed when you’re told to?” I asked.

He smiled. “Rarely. I’m housebroken too, if you’re asking.”

I looked at the long dark red scar on his arm. “Does it still bother you?”

“No. Not often. I’m not letting the demons get the best of me.”

I thought both mentally and physically but I didn’t voice it.

“Where are you and Mehitabel going to live after you get married? Your house is practically haunted.”

“Funny coming from my sister who has a ghosts in her house.”

“My ghosts are harmless.”

He shrugged.

I glanced out the window and could see Nigel The Ghost flipping me off from my back deck.

“Max, what if you have kids? You can’t have a baby in a house with demons?”

“I’ll get to that when the time comes.”

I can see why he doesn’t want to move to his home with a grand view of the Golden Gate. He has been there since the 1930’s. But no matter how much you like where you live you don’t need to share demons with your children.

We talked some more about marriage and my kids, and our niece and nephew (our bother Aaron’s grown children.) More coffee too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Below is the original post about Max’s demons. As a side thought: Don’t let your demons get the best of you. You don’t need to be carrying that poison around inside of you.

Demons

I’ve had several posts mentioning Demons, especially concerning my brother Max. A few years ago I visited him at his house in San Francisco. Our parents and brother Andy, also live in the City by the Bay. I’m the one everyone calls when things get weird. Max is single and lives alone, and I’m also married to Teddy, his best friend since childhood.

Anyway, this is why we don’t like Demons around, at least one of the reasons.

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My eldest brother Max, for those of you who don’t know, is one of those alpha Vampires who hunts Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires and all sorts of nasty evil and just plain annoying creatures and things that go bump in the night. He is a hunter and sometimes a killer – that said, he and his associates protect us all from things we shouldn’t need to deal with.

Max looked like Hell warmed over. He’d been out on a call and found himself up against a group of Demons. Yes, that kind of Demon – nasty and evil, no doubt straight from Hell and running rampant trying to cause problems anywhere it could.

Teddy still has the cold hard fear of Demons. That isn’t a bad thing. We don’t like them. They’re creatures that don’t derive from humanity but like goblins, have no problems pretending they derive from humans.

A long nasty deep pair of scratches ran across Max’s arm. There was no sign of healing on the ugly red marks. He’d been cornered and put up a fight before his back-up team arrived. The Demons were taken care of but not first without doing damage to Max and who knows who or what else.

Late into the night we talked over several bottles of wine and blood. Our brother Andy came by as well for a few hours to visit. Max was restless the entire night. Just before dawn we all retired to spend a rare day sleeping (Teddy and I live during the daylight due to school hours.)

I was awake before dusk. It was a beautiful clear day. From the back window I could see a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay going out into the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. No wonder Max loved living here so much.

In the kitchen making tea I discovered Max’s old friend Celeste. She was beautiful beyond compare, wearing nothing but a pair of black lace panties and a magnificent seal skin coat. That wasn’t unusual because Celeste is a Selkie. On the land she is a women and in the ocean a seal. I was and wasn’t surprised to find her there. Max says he won’t mingle with those who aren’t like him, but I know who his friends are. I have no problems with Celeste or her kind.

Celeste rolled her shoulders and told me about my brother. “He called me last night. Said he needed some distraction. You know how Max is. His brain just gets full or he gets bothered and doesn’t know what to do about it. You know, Juliette we’re just friends with benefits. I just fuck him and talk. Nothing else. You think I’d be crazy enough to fall in love with a Vampire? Not on your life. Just friends. Always just friends.

Celeste then put a wedge of lemon in her tea and continued, “There is someone else, a Vampire girl he has a strange sort of bond with, but he doesn’t want any emotional entanglements with her. He was afraid she’d be too much for him, for his heart. I’ve never seen a guy try to logic and think his way out of falling in love like Max has this time.”

I saw a long burn along Celeste’s arm. “Oh that. I brushed against Max’s arm where the demon scratched him. Damned if it didn’t burn me too. The salt water will heal it. But you need to check in on him. He’s in pretty bad shape. The Demons really got to him this time and not just physically. They really fucked with him big time,” she told me in her whiskey and silk voice.

I took her arm and looked at the burn. It was hot to the touch. I spit on my finger and rubbed it along the burn.

“It stopped hurting. Thanks,” she said with a smile full of sharp white teeth. It was a smile that she won’t show a Regular Human. I have to admit I was flattered.

After a bit more small talk she left and no doubt went back into the Pacific Ocean and turned back into a seal.

I went upstairs to Max’s room. He was asleep, curled in soft gray blankets wearing a black silk robe. I took his arm and looked at the deep scratches that had turned an angry blackish red.

He opened his eyes. The usual blue gray hazel had turned dark, almost a dull black. I could tell he wasn’t well.

“I saw Celeste. She is worried about you.”

He gave me a “join the club” look. He didn’t need to say it out loud.

Taking his arm, I put my hand over the poisoned gashes and saw the ugly face of the Demon who clawed him.

“Don’t little sister. You’ll get sick,” Max said.

Ignoring him pricked my finger with the tip of my fang and let a drop of blood fall on his wounds. I put my hand back on his arm and willed the poison away.

Yes, I did end up making it to the bathroom before I threw up and almost fell over from my head spinning, but I was fine after a few minutes (ok hours). The poison wasn’t meant for me so I was fine – bothered but fine. It could have stayed with Max for weeks or even months. It could have set him back into a spiral of depression and hopelessness that if not taken care of could have done permanent damage. Demons are like that. They’re horrible evil things.

I kissed his cold cheek and left my brother to sleep.

When someone you love is poisoned by Demons you need to help them get through it – no matter what kind of Demons. They do a lot of damage, but it can be fixed. Demons hate any kind of love or understanding and will poison us against it. So we fight them. And those like Max fight them so they can’t hurt anyone else.

Like I’ve said, when you’re a Modern Vampire every single day has the potential of being weird, but we do what we can do avoid it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black and White Morning

My morning on my deck in black and white. A calico cat. A black, white, and tan dog. The woods. A raku tile. Some plants.

Sometimes I sit on my deck and realize that nothing is ever completely black or white. It is mostly gray and lovely.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Thank you Cee for this challenge. https://ceenphotography.com/2018/09/06/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-open-topic-6/comment-page-1/#comment-179724

Don’t bring me your dog… and other parenting stories.

Teddyanddog

I grew up in a household with a lot of pets. I remember one summer when we had two wolfhounds, a medium sized black dog of questionable lineage, three cats, an eighty year old parrot, and a cage full of mice. Outside of the house were three horses. There were also five children. Four boys. One girl.

It was 1867. My brother Aaron, the middle child was the most responsible and serious of the lot. He was eleven at the time, and feeling as if he was living in the shadows of his eldest brothers. He was also tired of feeling responsible for his younger two siblings. The wolfhounds belonged (if they could belong to anyone) to our eldest brother Max. The black dog was the family dog. The three cats belonged to themselves, but spent most of their time with me. The parrot was named Louis and was just there for the summer while it’s owner (Tellias) was traveling.

Anyway, to make a non-story short, one day Aaron came home with a Pug. It was adorable. He’d found out that Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale, two gentlemen who shared a fashionable home and had no wives, had a litter of puppies. Aaron took it upon himself to bring one home without the permission of our parents.

My mother told Aaron to bring the puppy, now named Mercutio, back to Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale. Our father said we had to defer to my mother. He was of no help. So we started to yell loudly that it was so unfair and that we loved Mercutio with all of our cold little Vampire hearts. Max, being the eldest and for some reason my mother’s favorite, put in his opinion that we should keep Mercutio. So my mother gave in. I think the fact that my brother Andy told my mother that Aaron would never forgive her. So we kept Mercutio who was a fine dog and a grand addition to our household.

Fast forward to 2018. We’ve had four dogs since my children were born. We had two dogs when we started to have children. Then we had one dog for 12 years. Now we have one dog. We also have two cats. One dog, two cats. I’ve avoided the never ending revolving door of rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and other small caged creatures.

Before I became a responsible adult, and before my brothers became responsible adults we thought we were responsible enough to have pets. We adopted cats and dogs then after a few years they somehow ended up with our parents. At one time the family home contained six dogs, eight cats, and no children.

Looking back, as a parent, I told my children NO. Don’t bring me pets.

A lot of young adults start to collect pets as soon as they move out of home. Unfortunately shelters are full of these pets. As kids move around, as young adults do, they find themselves unable to keep their animals. That is where the parents come into the picture. Just drop the critters off with Mom. NO.

A dog is a 12-16 year commitment. A cat can live for twenty years or more. I can’t stress enough that having a pet is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for a life – the entire life – of a living creature.

Sure dogs and cats are fun. I love my dog. I love my cats. That said, I don’t want anymore right now. I’m at full capacity. There is delicate social balance. If one of my kids brought in another animal at least one of the cats would start having behavioral problems. The amount of fur in the house would be almost too much for me.

Beside that it is just irresponsible for young adults to start collecting animals. At a time when they need to be able to get out and explore, or move someplace else and find new opportunities, a pack of dogs, or two or three cats will just home them down. And it is unfair for the animals, and unfair for the parents who end up taking the pets in. No animal wants to be re-homed.

And while I’m on the subject of pets…if you or your children adopt any dogs or cats PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Do not let your son equate his dog’s balls with his own balls and is misplaced manhood. It is not the same with dogs as with humans. The only balls your dog needs is tennis balls.

Before your children move out, have that talk about pets. You’ll be glad you did. My parents wish they had.

And that concludes my public service announcement.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Girl with Dog

Midweek Summer Reading: Suspect

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I first experienced Suspect by Robert Crais as an audio book. My husband is reading it now, and I plan to read it again when he is finished.

Most of us know Crais from his Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series. This is a stand alone book with an entirely new cast of characters.

Below is the description from the the Robert Crais web site:

LAPD cop Scott James is not doing so well. Eight months ago, a shocking nighttime assault by unidentified men killed his partner Stephanie, nearly killed him, and left him enraged, ashamed, and ready to explode. He is unfit for duty—until he meets his new partner.

Maggie is not doing so well, either. A German shepherd who survived three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan sniffing explosives before losing her handler to an IED, her PTSD is as bad as Scott’s.

They are each other’s last chance. Shunned and shunted to the side, they set out to investigate the one case that no one wants them to touch: the identity of the men who murdered Stephanie. What they begin to find is nothing like what Scott has been told, and the journey will take them both through the darkest moments of their own personal hells. Whether they will make it out again, no one can say.

The fact that I’m diving into Suspect for a second time says how good it is. Robert Crais gets into the soul of Maggie the dog. It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always feel good. Read the book. You’ll be moved.

For more about Robert Crais go to: http://www.robertcrais.com/books/book_suspect.htm

I love this book.
Buy or borrow Suspect and look at the photos below of my German Shepard Alice.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Solstice

Summer Solstice

Summer Pinup

 

Today is the first day of summer. It doesn’t mean we’re going to have a chanting ceremony to ancient gods or seek out rocks to hug. We’re Vampires, so we’re not chanters. The first day of summer means the Giants are playing the Padres tonight.

This morning was special. I took the dog out at 5:00 a.m. this morning. The sky was just starting to light up. Just as the sun showed itself over the edge of the hills I heard an eagle cry out. Welcome summer.

Welcome a new day. Welcome 100 degree F plus weather.

My dog has gone into a deep depression because I no longer take her everywhere with me. She doesn’t understand that it is too hot to leave her in the car, even with the windows rolled down. Poor baby.

We will do what we must do to keep cool, just hoping that nobody will end up being trapped under cool crawl spaces, only to have someone (me) rescue them fifty years later. I stress this because when my brother Aaron and his “friend” Austin come across some dried up old Vampire I’m the one they call because they’re too big to get up under there.

“Never volunteer to crawl under a house,” I tell my children. “Unless it is someone you know. But it won’t be someone you know because you’ll make sure all of your friends are smart enough not to do anything like that.”

Summer is a time for night walks, and night swims. I wish it was also a time for night blooming flowers but not so much in my yard. Of all things, I am a collector of day lilies. I’m also growing sunflowers but don’t expect blooms until September.

In the meantime here are a few of my blooms. Vampires are fantastic gardeners. I bet you didn’t know that about us. We feed our plants with water and great amounts of love from our cold unbeating hearts.

 

 

We think of a lot of things in the summer. Two of those things are frogs and heat. 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 – like a great big bull frog. 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 105 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.

If you have anyone in your world who is elderly, or otherwise needs help, please check on them in the hot weather. Make sure they are getting plenty of liquids and are staying cool. Local park and recreation districts often have events, such as free movies, during the week for seniors and others. There are also libraries and other public places people can go to for a few hours to read and cool off. Our you can check and make sure your loved one has turned on the air conditioning. Depression era babies who are now elderly often refuse to turn on the air conditioner because they’re afraid it might cost a few extra pennies – even if they can afford it. PLEASE convince them otherwise.

If they’re vampires they’ll just dry up, but that is a fairly easy fix. If they’re regular humans they could become extremely ill or die.

So please. Check in on them. Call them. Take them out for ice cream. Show that you care. It could be a matter of life or death.

Also, remember when it is blistering hot outside your dog’s paws will burn on hot streets and sidewalks. Take your pooch out in the mornings or evenings, or get it booties. Nobody needs a trip to the veterinarian.

Summer is here. It is a time of summer love. It is a time of fun. It is a time for vacations, breaks, and concerts in the park. Enjoy it for what it is. But shouldn’t we just be enjoying everything for what it is. OK not everything. No. Not everything. But you know what I mean.

Awww man, it’s time for summer music and a road trip.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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