Guest Post: The Famous ‘House Special’

The Famous ‘House Special’

Written by A. J. Alexander

A while ago, back in Europe, when I was traveling with a friend, I went for dinner to a restaurant that belonged to a very nice Italian couple. It was in Rome.

You know, when you go to European restaurants, there are these eight-to-ten people tables for tourists, where they place you on, and unless the table is filled up, you won’t get served.

My friend and I had a lot of fun. I don’t belong to the people who always want to eat steak and fries or fish and chips wherever they go. I’d like to know what a country has to offer me. And here it was the same thing.

Confidently I told the waiter, I want to have the ‘house special,’ no matter what it is. He was a bit surprised and asked carefully, “Are you sure?” I confirmed that I was, indeed, very sure.

He brought us soup and salad ahead; then, the entrees were served. My friend got steak and fries, and I got the ‘house special’… it was a bird, a tiny bird. It was lying there, all by itself, on a small white plate.

The little head hung halfway over the plate; one of its eyes was open, one closed, beak, feet, and claws were still entirely there.

So far, I have always taken on every challenge I had accepted, even the ones to myself. But in that particular case, the question was not, would I really go through with this? The question was, “How?”

There is something we all can learn from American ‘Haute Cuisine’… One can eat everything imaginable on Earth, no matter what it is, provided it fits in a bun.

I, therefore, clipped the poor bird’s head between its legs, pressed it a bit flat, took two pieces of white bread, stuffed the bird in between, and started eating. At that point, the conversations in the restaurant had lapsed into almost complete silence, interrupted only by the occasional embarrassed cough. At that point, even my friend didn’t say anything, which I gave her great credit for.

Now, the way things are, as soon as our nutrition passes the stomach, it reaches a, let’s say, ‘portal,’ which allows it to enter the intestinal system. When my portal saw, what was on its way, it immediately shut down. The ‘house special,’ from that moment on, laid there like a stone in my stomach, and started festering.

That chemical process developed resulting gases, which pressed stomach acid back through the ‘cardia,’ the stomach entrance, into the esophagus. A doctor, in that case, would talk about ‘gastroesophageal reflux’; we would typically call it heartburn – or pyrosis.

Try to picture now tiny, about pinhead-sized gas clouds, which are racing upwards, passing the uprising stomach acid towards the exit, in our case, my mouth, where they made themselves noticeable in the form of diminutive burbs.

The combination of these gases with oxygen apparently became an overly aggressive mix that made my friend tell me: “Wwwwoooow… if my eyes wouldn’t tell me for sure that I’m not wrong, I would almost think, you’re dead – for about three weeks.” I sat there, slowly blowing up. At the next chance, I asked the waiter: “Do you, by any chance, have something like a digestive juice?” He looked at me and nodded understandingly. “The ‘house special,’ right?” He then brought me something that looked, smelled, and tasted like a septic tank. I drank that stuff in only two big swallows.

And then, suddenly, all portals in and on my body opened – simultaneously!

That liquid was clearly familiar to the bird because that animal immediately started running. I started running too… as a result, we got to the restroom almost at the same time…

I’ll save you all the gory details of the following happenings – but let’s say we didn’t plan to eat there again anyway.

~ end

(This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.)

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Aurora Jean Alexander is the author of Demon Tracker. She also runs the blog Writer’s Treasure Chest – A blog for authors, about authors, written by an author. Check it out for interesting author interviews, books, and more about the art of writing.

Aurora Jean is one of my oldest and dearest blogging friends. I’m happy to share her work today. As some of you recall she also wrote the popular Short Story Sunday – Tangled Tales featured story: Bernie Showers in France.

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~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

Taking Care of Our Elders: Delivered to Your Door

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. You might be able to relate.

From 2013

Delivered to your door…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My brother Valentine, 13 months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

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

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

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

“No. What is going on?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mom?”

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

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

What Kind of Meat Are You?

From 2015. The kids are grown now but I thought I’d entertain you with this again. Don’t forget to answer the polls.

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Way back when, back before I had teenagers, back before I knew what a blog was, back when Microsoft had Front Page and we did html by hand…

Years ago when the kids were playing Club Penguin I discovered Facebook. I didn’t think much of My Space. Anyway, a family member sucked me into Facebook. Way back then I discovered goofy polls. Mind you this was before cat memes and horrible inspirational quotes took over. This was back when you could easily create your own polls.

I used to LOVE polls in women’s magazines about relationship styles and clothing styles. The polls were fun. The polls always had something to do with relationships or sex or style. It was fun. Admit it – you did those polls too.

One day I sat at my computer, a toddler on my lap, and I tried to make my own poll. It was called “What Kind of Meat are You.” Yes, I did think that was funny. But it was never to be.

Back then blogs were also a mystery. They were difficult and serious or political. Fast forward about a million years. I’m writing a blog. I’m writing. I know other writers. I’ve evolved (thank you WPaD and Becky for your support.)

Hold on for a second…. a teenager needs to use this computer to do her online drivers ed so I’d better cut to the chase. Blogs were difficult and serious or religious. Parenting blogs were HORRIBLE and full of the kind of mom I never wanted to be.

But then I started this blog and discovered that I’m not alone. No, not the Vampire Parenting stuff, but the fact that the world is full of fun and unusual and creative and unique bloggers.

But that takes me back to polls. I was thinking about polls. Let us do some polls RIGHT NOW.

How old are you?

 

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WHAT KIND OF MEAT ARE YOU?

 

Thank you for your time. Your information will not be given to any third parties.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Random Survey #4: What will be in your super bowl (or on your paper plate) this Sunday?

It is Saturday and time for a RANDOM SURVEY!!!!!!

Yes YOU get to tell everyone what you’re going to snack on tomorrow. We all know that the Super Bowl is just an excuse to watch super expensive and hopefully entertaining commercials and EAT. That is why they call it a BOWL.

This Sunday the San Francisco 49ers, GO NINERS, will be playing some team named the Chiefs in the Super Bowl Game.

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That means FOOD. Yes, FOOD and COMMERCIALS. Everyone get ready to watch the Budweiser Horses and get a little wet eyed. And this year there is FINALLY a team, MY TEAM, that I will actually watch play FOOTBALL.

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Anyway, I don’t eat much at these events because I’m a Vampire an a lot of food just makes me sick. But you might be eating some wonderful things. After all the game is just an excuse to eat and drink. It is a celebration of sports, friends, and fun.

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Honey, don’t you need a pot holder? You can tell she is some sort of paranormal person, because otherwise her hand would be burning. By the way I’m making an apple pie AND a cheese cake for the party I’m attending.

 

Answer the survey. You can pick up to ten answers to fill your plate. Woo Hoo. Or leave your favorite food suggestions and recipes in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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Go Niners!

Have fun!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Burning Question #36: Who Will Be At Your Thanksgiving Table?

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Who will be at your Thanksgiving table? I know who will be UNDER my table. But this is about who will be above the table.

Thanksgiving will soon be here. Yes, this week’s Burning Question is about the upcoming holiday. If you don’t celebrate the traditional American (USA) version of Thanksgiving you can still imaging who you would like at your table at any large celebration where there is a lot of conversation and wine. 

Are you tired of the same old Thanksgiving conversations about Uncle Beezie’s corns, or Aunt Lulu’s prize winning rabbit hutches, or why Cousin Karl can’t get his shit together? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to yell, “Shut the fuck up,” before the turkey is even carved?

Just imagine if you could mix it up a little. What if you could add three more new and interesting famous or semi-famous people (animals or Vampires) to your guest list?

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I’ve complied a list of writers, artists, creative film folks, scientists, and others who I think would be interesting. I can’t guarantee they all like turkey, but that’s ok. Everybody can bring their favorite side dishes and deserts to share.

If you don’t know who someone on the list is just look them up. You ought to be able to find everyone if you do the Google thing.

 

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Burning Question #36: Pick Three Guests to Join Your Thanksgiving Table

Hey, if you have room add up to five more guests. The more the merrier.

To tell the truth my Thanksgiving celebrations have been absolutely wonderful with family and wonderful friends. But hey, we always have an open door and welcome new folks at my home.

I’ll have more on Thanksgiving later. In the meantime put in your vote (you can vote multiple answers on this poll) and add your own thought in the comments.

PLEASE add them in the comments below even if you’ve added something to the “other” choice. That doesn’t always show up.

Have fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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A Vampire Roasts Pumpkin Seeds (an easy how-to with pictures)

Juliette Roasts Pumpkin Seeds (an easy how-to with pictures)

At my house, after we carve our Jack-o-Lanterns, we roast the pumpkin seeds.

Contrary to popular opinion Halloween isn’t great for Vampires due to the over abundance of sugar. I’m not kidding. We don’t handle it well. So it makes sense that pumpkin seeds are the perfect Halloween treat (other than fresh blood but that is a different post).

Some methods of roasting pumpkin seeds are full of steps. Well step no more. This isn’t the fox trot or Dancing With The Stars. It is just pumpkins seeds. It is EASY.

Juliette’s Way to Make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Clean seeds after removing them from your pumpkin. Just scoop them out with your hands or a spoon. Remove all the gunk. Rinse them off.
  2. Spray your baking stones or pans. I use either my thousand year old well used black and beaten pizza pan or a well seasoned stone (I used to have a Pampered Chef stone but somebody broke it). I have better pans that I use for other things – but the old ones seem to work better for this sort of thing.
  3. Heat oven to 300 degrees F
  4. For 3-4 cups of cleaned seeds mix in a couple table spoons of olive oil and season to taste. I use a lot of garlic and a touch of seasoned salt. And why yes, Vampires DO eat garlic. But mix up your flavors with herbs, chili powder or Tobasco sauce. Whatever floats your ghost.
  5. Spread seeds on pans (one layer) and bake for 25 – 60 minutes. It all depends on how wet your seeds are. Figure it out as you go along and check every 10 minutes or so. When seeds are dry and crisp take them out. Feel free to taste while you cook (the sign of a good cook). PLEASE keep checking so you don’t burn the seeds. They will be dry and crisp when ready. And I mean dry, not chewy like an apple, but dry like a potato chip.

This isn’t a recipe for the exacting anal cook but it always turns out wonderful pumpkin seeds for me.

Happy Halloween!

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Clean out your pumpkin.

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Carve it. Admire it. Smile because it is so happy and scary!

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Clean your seeds.

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Turn oven to 300 F.

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Season and mix.

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Put seeds in the oven.

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Go admire your Jack-o-Lanterns.

Nom nom nom! Seeds are ready and crunchy and yummy! And good for you!

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Happy Halloween!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman