Short Story Sunday: Shelter

Constantine never cared what anyone thought, until now. Now he wanted everyone to think good things. That was odd considering he was a Vampire.

Life was easy when in almost any setting one was always the best dressed, the best looking, the most charming, and the most knowledgable on almost any subject. It also didn’t hurt to be a four hundred year old Vampire, but that was besides the point. Constantine had always been the most at almost everything.

On Thursday night he’d walked home after having drinks with friends, and of course drinking from friends. A few blocks from his home he’d stopped. Normally he wouldn’t have but the burst of cold air, the flashing lights, and police tape made him curious. It was really the blast of cold air that had made him stop. Someone had died. A few ghosts from a hundred years back had stopped to look as well. They met Constantine’s gaze and just shook their heads.

He took a step towards the ghosts. “What happened?”

“Murder,” they whispered, then they vanished into the dark night. Then he heard a woman’s voice whisper, my babies, my babies.

The following day he found out that a woman was murdered by her boyfriend. Restraining orders obviously were of no use. She had no children, no family, and not many friends. She’d worked as a paralegal and walked to work. Everyone liked her. She was a always cheerful but was sort of a loner. Her name was Keera. She was thirty-six. The man who killed her had gone back to his own home and killed himself.

My babies, my babies.

Saturday afternoon brought hail. It also brought a flat tire. It was more than just a flat. The entire tire rod had busted.  Constantine stayed in his car (of course he was waring an expensive suit and forgot his umbrella) and waited for a tow truck. His friend Robert said he could be there in an ninety minutes. Then he looked up and saw he’d broken down right in front of the city animal shelter. He could wait there. After the car had been towed he ran to the the shelter entrance.

The last time he’d had a pet of his own was in the 19th century. Apollo was a white and brown speckled English Spaniel. He’d missed the dog, a goofy faithful friend. Sometimes even Vampires needed some one goofy in their life even if that friend was a dog. Since then he hadn’t had time for a dog. There was too much fur, too much time, too much everything with a dog.

As he waited for Robert, Constantine looked at all of the dogs, happy to see him, all saying take me home through their barks and yips.

At the back of one the enclosures curled up together in a dark ball of fur were two dogs. At first he’d thought there was only one massive brown and tan dog they were so close together. They didn’t jump up. They didn’t bark. The larger dog, a German Shepard lifted it’s dark head and looked at Constantine with dark almost human eyes. Next the other dog, a Black Lab, with a spot of white on it’s chest, looked up, then hid it’s head again in it’s companion’s fur.

My babies, my babies.

“These dogs came in a few days ago. Their owner died. No family. Nobody wanted them. We’re asking that they stay together but it’s hard to place two adult dogs together,” said a shelter volunteer, a small middle aged woman with a kind face. “The Shepard is six. Her name is Jewel. The Lab, Cole, is only two. They’re inseparable.”

“I’d like to meet them,” said Constantine. He noticed the woman eye his suit. “I’m not worried about the fur.”

As the volunteer opened the door of the cage the dogs stood. They both came up and wagged their tails. The German Shepard peed on his shoe, not as an aggression, but in joy and excitement. Cole the Lab rolled over so his belly could be rubbed.

He looked up and saw a ghost. A woman with brown hair, and large brown eyes set in a round face. “My babies,” she said as she faded out of his sight.

“They belonged to the murdered woman,” said Constantine.

“Yes. It was so tragic.”

“How long will they be here before, they’re… put down.”

“Two weeks.”

“I’ll take them.”

“Both of them?”

“Both of them.”

An hour later Robert was laughing and telling Constantine how crazy he was. “Two grown dogs. Whatever you do don’t give them human blood.”

“They’ll have dog food. Won’t you?” Constantine said looking into the back seat where the two dogs sat close together. Jewel turned her head from right to left as she listened.

Robert stopped at the large pet supply story where they picked up dog beds, leashes, toys, and lots of dog food.

Later, on Saturday night, Constantine sat on the couch and read. Jewel put her head on his feet. Cole jumped up on the couch and curled next to Constantine.

“Do you miss your mom? I promised her I’d take good care of you,” he said to the dogs.

Jewel looked up at him and turned her head, then she jumped up on the couch on the other side of Constantine and put her head in his lap. Cole wagged his tail and licked Constantine’s hand.

His friend would say he was crazy. The last thing he needed was two large grown dogs. But maybe that was exactly what he needed.

The wind blew outside and the rain pounded the windows.

Thank you.

The wind whispered to him. Thank you.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Lost Keys and Lies

Every have one of those days when getting out of the house seems nearly impossible?

I couldn’t find my keys this morning and of course I was running late. And no I can’t just change myself into a bat.  That only happens in fiction.

I’m scouring the house but nothing. Then I heard a throat clearing.  I turned around and behind me is the Ghost, damn him, with my keys.

“I believe I have something of yours.” He said that with a nasty curl of his lip then flicked a lock of black hair out of his eyes.

I reached for the keys and they vanished, along with the ghost.

I let out a string of not so nice words (the kind moms pretend not to know) and then tried to sense where he could have gone.

Off of the bookshelf I grabbed the box with all of the spare keys. Does anyone else have keys to cars, doors and safe boxes they don’t even remember?

Anyway I grabbed the spare keys to my car and yelled, “If you don’t give me my keys back I’ll pour a bottle of Pinesol on your grave. I’ll pour a gallon on it.”

Nothing.

“I know where your grave is Nigel. I looked you up. I know all about you.”

I heard a clang as the keys dropped on the tile floor of the kitchen. I picked them up and headed for the front door.

He stood there waiting for me. “How’d you find out where my grave is?”

“I don’t even know your last name. How would I know where your grave is?” I looked at him with such calm as his eyes narrowed and threatened to turn me to ice.

“You’re a Vampire and a liar,” he snarled at me.

“And I’m really good at being both.” Then I smiled and headed out the door.

Anyway, tell your kids that lies and bad words are not acceptable…of course unless you’re dealing with a ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Blood Oranges: Doodles #1

My husband and I were watching a movie and, well, I’m got bored. There was a pencil and paper handy, so I started to doodle.

This is Friday, so I’m wondering what to do for the next 50 Saturdays.

Blood Oranges: Doodles with Juliette

So here we go. Blood Oranges #1

Blood Orange 1_ 3-16-19

If you have a doodle to share let me know at juliettevampiremom@ gmail.com

In the meantime I’m going to whip up some silly doodles for no good reason, for the next 50 weeks. Maybe I’ll even add in a poll or two.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Ghosts In The Attic

In the wee hours of the morning my brother Max came over and crashed at my place. We built a comfortable room for him in the attic where he can stay whenever he finishes a job in our neck of the woods and doesn’t want to drive all the way back to the city. Plus sometimes he just likes to hang out with us.

He staggered downstairs and joined me in the kitchen where I was making coffee.

“Put a shirt on,” I told him as he stood there in nothing but a pair of draw string pajama pants.

I know he’s my eldest brother but he still needs to put a shirt on. I have four older brothers. I insist they be on their best behavior around me. Usually they are.

“You have ghosts in the attic,” he tells me, as if I haven’t already discovered it on my own.

“I know. They’re all over the place. I can’t do anything about it.”

“I don’t remember this many ghosts when we were children.”

“We lived in a new city Gold Rush boy.” Max was born in 1849 in a ship somewhere in San Francisco Bay. Now he drives an SUV and still doesn’t like ghosts. Most Vampires don’t like ghosts. They don’t care for us much either. I pretty much don’t care either way anymore.

“Damn, every time I was just about to drift off they woke me up with their whispering and horrible music,” said Max

“I’ll see what I can do for the ghosts in the attic. We rarely go up there so, anyway, I’ll put something up there to repel them, or just yell at them. They hate it when I yell at them.”

Max pushed his sleeves up and poured a cup of coffee out of the French Press. I could see the ugly scars from Demon scratches and bites.

I worry about Max but he’s a survivor. He survived the Titanic. He survived more bat shit crazy girlfriends than I can count. He survived being shot twice by Vampire Hunters. He has survived demons, angels, fallen angels, ghosts, jealous boyfriends and husbands, and all kinds of weird stuff. He survived the drama of living in three different centuries. He survived having four younger siblings who aren’t exactly serious when it comes to being Vampires. OK maybe Aaron. Aaron is serious about everything but that is a different blog post.

I glanced out the window and could see about half a dozen ghosts sitting on my back fence with black umbrellas in the rain. They watched a lone coyote walk across the meadow underneath the oak canopy. Their sad eyes looked up at me in unison. I pulled the blinds closed.

Max sat down and started to talk about his girlfriend. They talked about where they’d live after they got married. They decided to keep both of their houses, at least for now. She lived in Monterey. He lived in San Francisco. Maybe they’d get married in July. Max had a lot of questions for me. He wanted my opinion.

I listened, but kept glancing over at a small transparent ghost of a child jumping on the couch in the next room. I mouthed the words, “go away.” It stuck out it’s tongue, turned it’s eyes black and vanished.

Max look at me funny. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just thinking maybe you should have the wedding in one of the art museums. Are you getting married in San Francisco?”

“I was thinking Carmel, or Monterey,” said Max.

Out the kitchen window a ghostly bride with a slit throat and a bloody white dress floated past the window. I closed that blind and poured Max more coffee.

“Either one would be beautiful,” I said as a bloody hand came up out of the garbage disposal. I turned on the water and the garbage disposal switch. The hand vanished.

“I can’t believe I’m finally doing this. A hundred and sixty nine years old and I’m finally getting married.”

“I’m so happy for you Max,” I said as I heard the faint sound of an accordion coming from the formal dining room. “Excuse me Max. I’ll be right back.”

In my dining room I found a group of five musicians and a female singer in a dress with a huge bustle and low neckline. She carried her big blue eyes in a jar and held it up so she could see me.

“We’ll do his wedding for cheap,” she said with a gap toothed smile. The band started to play Ode to Joy.

“Go away,” I said. “All of you,” I yelled. “Go away. I swear to God you all know there are only two ghosts I allow in my house, and that is on a good day. ALL of you need to leave right now our I’m finding your graves and piling them with moth balls and dog poop.”

The ghosts looked at me with fading eyes then vanished, along with their music. A glance out the window showed no signs of ghosts. I didn’t feel their presence anywhere in the house.

“Moth balls and dog poop. That’s pretty harsh baby sister.” Max had come into the room.

“Sorry Max, sometimes when it rains they gather. There are a couple of cemeteries, actually three of them on the other side of the river. I think they just get water logged, or maybe come up from the clubs that used to be along the river banks. They know I can see them. It’s kind of like dogs. They want my attention even when they aren’t mine.”

“Weird.”

“I guess. If you say it’s weird it must be weird.”

Max excused himself and went back upstairs to sleep a bit. Apparently the accordion had kept interrupting his sleep.

Back in the kitchen another man, one with shaggy black hair and a smirk on his face waited for me. “You’re not going to throw dog poop and moth balls at me are you?”

“No Nigel,” I said. “I’m not going to throw anything at you.”

He got up and poured a cup of coffee and set it on the table then sat down to smell it. “You know I only come here for the coffee.”

“Sure, and the company.”

“I’m the only ghost you like. And Mary of course. Everyone loves Mary.”

“I don’t always like you Nigel,” I said. “But you’re my ghost.”

“And you’re my Vampire,” he said.

We didn’t talk about Max and his aversion to Ghosts.

I don’t live a double life. I’m a mom. I live a triple quadruple life. Husband, kids, siblings, elders, pets, ghosts, etc… I take care of everyone.

You know how it is. Don’t we all.

“At least your closets aren’t full of skeletons,” said Nigel.

“Not too many,” I said, and poured yet another cup of coffee.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storm

I never realized that the high rise downtown held the Federal Courthouse, art, poetry, and historic displays. There are also incredible views, even in the storm. Yes, I was there yesterday afternoon.

Even with the Federal Government shutdown there is still almost no parking to be found on the downtown streets. I finally found a spot near the old rail yards. The old rail yards is a yet to be developed area that used to be, well, rail yards. Old brick building still stand waiting to become trendy and useful again. Acres and acres of land waits for something, or maybe nothing. I’d like to see just a big park. Tracks still go out in all directions.

The active rail station is also near by taking commuters to the Bay Area and to far off places. I’d say exotic but only because it sounds more fun. Right now taking the train from Sacramento to Reno is the only way to go. I think the highways are closed this morning due to snow. If they aren’t closed it is painfully cold and slow. Over the past 24 hours the snow has come down not in inches but in feet. Dozens of feet.

Anyway, the only parking I could find was about five, maybe six blocks away, over an overpass that went across the old rail yard and tracks. On the wide sidewalks of the cheerfully designed urban bridge were homeless structures made of shopping carts, blankets, tarps, and bicycles. Across the way, and below, under more underpasses, and along walls were more homeless staked out in small groups of two or three, waiting out the storm. They’re just waiting out life. Just waiting.

I walked over the bridge, bundled up in my wool coat with my big blue umbrella. Within about a half minute I was soaked. My pants were soaked. My feet, through my boots, were soaked. Granted my boots are Doc Marten’s but they’re a heavy canvas. I should have worn my leather boots. My coat was soaked.

Ghosts stood on the bridge, on the side with the two homeless forts. They looked at me with blank eyes that stared out of gray holes in their heads. Two wore baggy suits and looks contempt. A woman in a long dirty blue dress with a bustle stood alone. Three Chinese ghosts huddled with quilted coats and  long pigtails.

I walked on. I hate ghosts. A gust of cold wind hit my face along with about a gallon of water. A ghost stood in front of me. She wore a sort coat, open with a short orange dress underneath. Her feet were bare. Long dark bangs skimmed the top of her eyes.

“Are you here to feast on the almost dead below?” She pointed down to the homeless camps. “Will you take them?” She pointed to the blanket and tarp fort across the street by the bus stop.

I tried to walk on but she followed me making hissing noises. I stopped despite the storm.

“There are already Vampires down there but I am not like them. Let me be,” I said.

“They will be found dead and cold, and nobody will know,” said the Ghost.

“Not because of Vampires,” I said and walked past the Ghost.

I know the kind of Vampires who are down there. They too live on the streets, or roam the streets then after feeding go back to the cold dark places they call home. They take what they need – blood and nightmares.

I am not one of them.

This morning I’m watching my cat, his fur wet, drinking fresh water from a bowl. My dog is curled in her bed. There are no Ghosts in sight, not yet.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Passings in the Night

Passings in the Night

The plan tonight was to share some Vampire tales and adventures and truly funny things, but plans change.

Tonight I saw The Ghost, Nigel. He wore an impeccable black suit, his hair was a perfect glossy black and all in place. He motioned for me to sit with him out on my back deck under the cold night sky.

His eyes met mine and he told me a story.

“I died December 3, 1986. I normally wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of my own death, but, it was the strangest thing, I was standing out in the woods, not doing much of anything. When you’re a ghost you don’t do much of anything. Anyway, I was out in the woods and a woman came towards me. She was smiling at me and I knew things about her. Her life had taken up where parts of mine had stopped. Then her life stopped December 3, 2013.

She looked at me for just a moment in passing. It was dark but I could see the light coming over the horizon. She asked me who I was and if we knew each other. I told her “I don’t know you, but we’ve loved some of the same people.” I turned her in the right direction.”

Nigel stood up and looked up at the stars, hovering in and out of a transparent state. Then he came close to me and made himself look as real as a live person.

“I couldn’t go with her. But I sent a little bit of my love along, I hope. Well, I know I did. Don’t look all sad. I’m a ghost. These things happen. Hey, nobody should die alone. She left surrounded by love.”

“Who was she?” I had to ask.

He shook his head slightly. “I don’t know. But we loved the same people, just not at the same time. I loved them first, then she loved them after I was gone. I have a feeling she was better at it than I was, or most people for that matter.”

There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but tonight was not the time to ask or to try to get answers.

Love is a force that we can’t explain or quantify. It goes beyond worlds, beyond sorrow and beyond grief.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted December 2013 – In memory of Julian Elsworth and Lil Longshore.

 

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