Ghost of High School Past

My daughter graduates from high school on June 2. This month has been a whirl of AP tests, college placement tests, robe and yearbook pick-ups, Senior Ball, skate practice ramping up for the Regional and National championships and the list goes on and on and on. Tomorrow she signs up for classes at college. The eldest child who is already off at college is getting worked up for Grad school after he graduates next year.

I’ve started the empty nest post about six or seven times. They were in Middle School and High School when I started blogging. But no matter how old they are I’m still a mom. I’ll always be Vampire Maman. Sigh.

So I’m drinking way too much coffee and trying to write today when I look out into the predawn light and see not one, but five Ghosts out on my deck. There are three men, a woman, and a dog. And don’t tell me that dogs have no souls (because if you say otherwise you don’t know shit about dogs or ghosts.)

I sat as still as death, which isn’t difficult, and watched the Ghosts.

Nigel was there of course. He is always here lurking around and semi haunting me. The woman was willow thin wearing a white sundress with her long brown hair flowing down to the middle of her back. The large black Lab mix stood leaning against her leg. It wore a white bow around it’s neck. Like Nigel, she was young, in her twenties. The tallest of the men had dark hair with gray streaks along his temples. He wore blue scrubs, like a doctor would wear. The other man wore a bright red and blue Hawaiian shirt and shorts. He was a really big guy, not just fat, but big. He must have been about 6’5″. As usual Nigel was in a black dress pants, with a black shirt and black tie.

“So what did they do with your bodies?” I could hear the woman say.

“I was cremated. My wife had me on the mantle for a while until her lover moved in. Then I was dumped in the river during the Salmon run. The salmon part was the kid’s idea. They’re still pissed off at my wife. They found out she had been cheating on me for years before I died,” said the doctor.

“Oh man, that is rough,” said the guy in the Hawaiian shirt. “Cremated too. My family took me out on a fishing boat in the ocean. My son threw up over the edge after he dumped my ashes. Poor guy still feels bad about it. I was laughing the entire time. He’ll be fine, my son Kyle that is. I’m just glad I got to meet my grandkids before I died. How about you Angie?”

“I’m buried not far from Nigel. Roxie here was buried with me. We died together. Car accident. Anybody donate organs?”

The all shook their heads yes.

The doctor had slipped on some blood in the emergency room and hit his head on the side of a table. He’d died immediately. The guy in the Hawaiian shit had been doing some avian research with in Africa contracted a rare brain parasite. apparently Nigel was the only one who was murdered, as least as far as they knew.

The doctor rolled his shoulders and transformed out of the scrubs into a button down shirt and jeans. “Are we the only Ghosts in the class of 77? We’ve lost about 30 people so far. We can’t be the only Ghosts.”

“Deena Adams died of a drug overdose in 88,” said the woman. “Do you know if she’s still around?”

“Do we want her around? She’s probably some pathetic poltergeist, or worse. She was a pain in the ass when she was alive, so do you really want the dead version around?”

“Oh Nigel that is cruel.”

“No, it is the truth. She’d ruin the party for us and try to completely destroy it for our living classmates.”

I realized that they were planning their 40th class reunion.

Nigel looked up and scowled then flipped me off. I went outside and said, “Then get off of my fucking deck. Just you Nigel. Your friends can stay.”

I went back inside and finished up what I was doing. I swear sometimes I wonder what it is with Ghosts.

But I thought of them, the Ghosts, two middle-aged, two in their twenties, and a dog of unknown age, sharing memories of their high school years. Even ghosts have their own kind of catching up to do.

I think about my kids, and even myself thinking back. My children think back on when they were small. I think back when I was their age, then later. I’m one hundred years older than those ghosts out there and I still look back to 1877 when I was seventeen, almost eighteen.

More than anything I’m thinking ahead. What will the future bring to my children who are young adults? I should be thinking of my own future, but after doing that for so many years just don’t do it anymore. Maybe tomorrow.

Nigel did come back later. He stood in front of my bookcases and smiled, his ghost eyes twinkling under his long dark eyelashes.

“What?” I said.

“Nothing,” he said. Then he vanished without so much as a wisp of mist. That’s a ghost for you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Put A Spell On You

My brother Aaron called. I love Aaron but when he calls it usually means that he needs my help. I’ve got a ghost in my house who is going through a serious bout of depression, I’d promised to stop by and Eleora and Tellias (our ancient elders), and then I had more stuff to take care of with my daughter after school today.

It can be anything with Aaron. A suspicion of time travelers lurking around, a dried up Vampire under a house that needs coaxing out (or worse), a confused new Vampire, a picture to be drawn, research into the odd or unknown, feline behavior woes, Ghost or Werewolf trouble. I never know.

So I asked, “What is it Aaron?”

“I have a book I want you to see,” he said.

“Can you bring it over tonight?”

There was a pause then, “You don’t want it in your house. Teddy is here. We’re at my office.”

Without so much as a thanks see you soon he hung up.

I grabbed my keys, and the dog followed me. Aaron didn’t say no dogs. As I locked the door the air on my front porch suddenly dropped about 40 degrees. Leaning against the porch rail was The Ghost, Nigel himself.

“I’m in a hurry,” I said. “I don’t have time for this.”

He smirked at me and said, “I’m going with you.”

Fine. We all got in the car, the dog in the back and Nigel and me in the front, and off we went, a Vampire, a German Shepard, and a Ghost to my brother’s law office downtown. Of course if anyone saw us they’d just see a brown haired woman in a burgundy colored sweater and a large and exceptionally nice looking dog in a blue sedan. Nothing special or unique here.

We, at least the dog and I, climbed the stairs leading up to Aaron’s office in the converted Queen Anne style house. Nigel was already at the top waiting by the tall front door.

“You know,” he said, “the front porches are on the second floor because the city used to flood every winter.”

“I know I was here,” I said as I opened the door and my entourage followed me in.

We went inside and found the place deserted except for Aaron and my husband Teddy in a conference room. A large, somewhat old book was on the table.

The dog was happy to see everyone. My husband gave me a smile that would make any woman’s knees go weak, and then kissed me. Aaron looked at Nigel then back to me.

“You brought a ghost,” he said.

“I brought a dog too.”

Right off the bat I realized that my brother had a spell book. Yes, as in Witch’s spells.

“What do you think?” My brother carefully opened the book then stepped back.

The pages were bordered with black and white illustrations with a forest motif. I recognized the artist. “Julian Rix,” I said.

“You knew him,” said Aaron.

“I did. He was quite the flirt. This is weird. He’d never deal with Witches,” I said.

Aaron scowled. “That is what I thought too. They must have hired him to do the borders then added their spells. There is no sign of any magic or strangeness in the drawings.”

“You knew Julian Rix? Holy shit Juliette. How well did you know him?” That was my husband.

“Well enough. He and Grandmama Lola were friends. I was around seventeen, maybe eighteen. You were off somewhere learning how to become a Vampire. Val and I had just come back from a trip to New York,” I said. “From the style and subject I figure the drawing were done around 1876 or 77.”

The text was in an odd script, in an odd language I didn’t know. It was written in rust colored and black ink. I ran the tips of my fingers over one of the pages. Then I immediately pulled them back. Son of a bitch, the words burned my finger tips. The rust colored writing was in human blood. Of course it was. I might drink blood but I’d never be so crass as to write with it. God only knows where it came from because it wasn’t from a Witch.

“Where’d this come from?” I asked my brother.

“A client found it in the walls of a house he was restoring,” said Aaron.

I should have known. “It was Austin Durant, the contractor, historian… oh right and Vampire Hunter. What the crap Aaron?”

Nobody said anything. Then Nigel spoke up. I’d forgotten he was even in the room.

“You’re looking at a cypher used by seventeenth century occultists.”

We all looked at him.

“What? Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My girlfriend Mary was born in the seventeenth century. We spent a lot of time looking at old books when we were off haunting a castle in Scotland. She knows about all of that stuff. Hey, it isn’t like we had anything else to do.”

Without touching the book Nigel turned the pages with a raised hand. “If I were you I’d seal this thing back up in the wall, or even burn it. Then again, the illustrations… oh man, if you burned this it would be a crime. Why not just take a blade and cut out the spells. Most of the spells are for weird love potions and revenge potions anyway. Nobody needs that shit. There is also a nasty nasty spell on it and a lock down spell. I’d keep away from this if I were you. Whoever wrote this did not like Vampires.”

I looked at the clock. “We have to go. I’ll do some research and get back to you. Nigel, you may stay if you want.”

He smiled at me, one of those shit eating grins of his, “I know I make you guys uncomfortable, but I might just stay a little bit longer and browse through this interesting piece of history, you know, since it burns your precious undead fingers.”

I left to help the elders with some things, and then go pick my child up from school. Teddy and Aaron assured me they’d lock up the mysterious book in a safe place. I told them to burn it. Nigel flipped me off as I left. The dog wagged her tail and licked everyone on the face.

When I picked seventeen year old Clara up from school she told me all about her upcoming AP testing (Advanced Placement, look it up if you don’t know.) Her teacher asked the kids what they need to do to get ready and write it on the board. Someone wrote cry.

We don’t have time for spells, and chants, and flesh burning texts. All I want are the beautiful borders, and stunning landscapes that are on my wall and not in a toxic book.

Spells are like lies and time travel. They change things that should not be forced to change. They bend the will of one person. They screw with the order of the universe. They are false and steal away choice. Sounds like I’m talking about politics doesn’t it. But seriously, you don’t go where you’re not invited. You can’t force anyone to love or hate. You can’t buy passion.

Julian Rix had his heart-broken by a woman who lived to be a hundred years old. He didn’t last so long. The entire story is all too sad for me, but I doubt if he’d been happy with a love spell. It should have been a shallow love, like a shallow grave that can’t hide the fact that someone was hurt.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going on a college tour, then the dog will take her test in dog school (she failed last week), and then I’ll think of how no spell can being one true love. I know THAT for a fact. Ask my husband about it.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Juliette: Parenting, Ghosts, and Change

Ask Juliette is a somewhat regular Thursday feature at vampiremaman.com

I answer real questions from real readers. If you have a question feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me at juliettevampiremom at gmail dot com

Before we get to today’s questions I have an observation…

This morning while I was out in my neighborhood walking my dog… it was an attempt to train the dog, which is sort of working. Anyway we walked over to where the Bald Eagles are nesting. Due to the influx of asshat photographers who feel as if they are gods and have a right to pester the poor new parents, the park service has put us signs telling everyone to stay away from the eagles and not bother them. Yes, there was a woman hauling a ladder out to where the eagles are.  I was ready to go out and scream at her. I assume somebody already did because I haven’t seen her around in the past few weeks. There has also been people climbing the fence (which was put there to prevent idiots from falling off of the steep bluff.)

In the wee hours of the morning my dog and I were alone with the eagles. I watched as they flew from the lake to the nest with fish. The babies flapped their small brown wings and hopped about the nest. As I walked home up my own street, my husband was driving out. He stopped and told me one of the eagles was flying over our house, about twenty feet from the deck.

I thought about the eagle parents. No parent likes to be pestered or watched when they are with their kids. Seriously, no matter what species someone is just let them alone in peace. Don’t bug them or pester them with advice. Don’t invade their privacy in order to get your daily cute fix.

Dear Juliette,

Why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Why must they haunt the living?

As most of my regular readers know, there are a few ghosts who regularly visit me at my house – mainly Nigel and his girlfriend Mary.

So why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Because they’re frustrated. They live in a world where they cannot participate. They’re reminded daily of what they are missing out on. For example Nigel’s 40th High School Reunion is coming up. He missed his ten-year reunion by a year. He is haunted by the thoughts of what could have been. He is angry because he never got to see his career progress, he never got to fall in love and get married, he never got to be a dad. He can’t even have a dog as a ghost, unless some dead dog attempts to latch onto him, but that rarely happens. What bugs Nigel the most is the fact that in the reunion program he’ll once more be listed with those who have also died since high school graduation. Only he can’t even see them because that isn’t how the ghost world works. Even the dead have left him behind.

Ghosts are trapped. They’re pissed off. They can’t communicate with most people. Nobody understands what it is like to be dead. So they hang out with Vampires, most of whom have died but are back in their bodies – so that even pisses ghosts off even more.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t be hating on ghosts. Sure they’re obnoxious but have some understanding and sympathy.

Dear Juliette,

If I became a Vampire would anyone be there to help me adjust? Would I have to be shown how to suck blood out of people or would it just come naturally? Is there training for new Vampires?

Yes, unless you end up being a soulless Shadow Creeper someone will be there to help. We have a wide ranging support system for those who have just become Vampires. A range of issues have to be taken into consideration when one becomes a Vampire. Did you become a Vampire of your own will, or was it thrust upon you? That makes a big difference on how you’re going to react to the change. You know, anytime someone makes a profound change, be if biologically, or mentally, there are going to be adjustments. It isn’t always easy.

One of the hardest things to deal with isn’t sucking blood, but keeping your existence as a Vampire secret. You can’t tell anyone, or at least those who will in turn tell others. We don’t have a lot of rules. We don’t have many consequences to our actions except maybe forcing someone to become a Vampire, or telling someone about us.

But sure, there are people here to help. I’m one of the go-to folks for helping newbees. Like with most profound changes, everyone is different.

 

Dear Juliette,

What’s up? What are your plans for the blog?

What?

Dear Juliette,

Why are Vampire men so damn sexy?

Sigh. Survival my dear. Survival.

 

Dear Juliette,

I just wrote a novel. I believe it is quite good, but none of my family and friends will read it. I need feedback. Now what?

If you want some feedback go online and reach out for beta readers. Most authors find that often family and friends aren’t interested in your work, especially if it a genera they don’t usually read.

Find a writing peer group either online, or with one of your local writing groups. Don’t get mad if someone reads your book and doesn’t fawn all over it. It is better you hear what you need to hear now – rather than getting a bad review or zillions of rejection letters later.

Also search blogs for like-minded individuals you think might enjoy your book, or have good, honest, educated input.

Another suggestion is to make a list of questions for your Beta Reader. Do they connect with the characters? Do the plot twists make sense? Ask what part they like best or least, and why.

Good luck.

That is all I have for today. If you can add to any of these answers please do. Everyone can always use a second opinion. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

An Afternoon Haunting Over Coffee (With A Ghost)

Some are haunted by the thoughts of “what if.”

Some are haunted by loves lost and missed opportunity.

Some are haunted by terrors in their closets, that come out at night and stare at the foot of their bed with lifeless black eyes, and claws like razors.

Some, like me, are haunted by another kind of ghost.

This afternoon, as I was working on an outline for a book, I heard music coming from the family room of my house.

Telegram force and ready
I knew this was a big mistake
There’s a fine line drawing
My senses together
And I think it’s about to break
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

Nightshades on a warning
Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

I looked from where I was sitting in the breakfast room to see a figure singing and slowly swaying to the music. Black shining shaggy hair came down to the top of his shoulders, hiding the collar of his white shirt. He turned and glared at me. The music stopped. His form went in and out of an odd translucent state. I hate it when they do that. I hate Ghosts.

Then he started to talk. “You’re writing. How quaint. Well, maybe it isn’t so quaint considering you’re a blood sucking cold as death Vampire. Have you prepared your speech for the National Book Awards yet?”

“Go away Nigel,” I said to The Ghost.

And he continued to talk. “You should write something edgy that you can make into a movie. How about a powerful handsome black man, played by Michael B. Jordan who marries a beautiful blonde played by Jennifer Laurence. He promotes one of his younger men, played by Zac Efron over an older man. The old guy, that would be Robert De Niro, gets pissed and makes the Michael B. Jordan character think Jennifer Laurence is having an affair with the young guy and…”

“Othello.”

“I know, I know, but do a new twist on it. Make everyone black except make Othello white. Othello sounds sort of Italian. He could own a chain of successful upscale restaurants. You can add in a character called Mama Othello. Kathy Bates. It would be great. You could get the current pop-star-de-jour to do the music. Someone like Ariana Grande.”

“Go away Nigel, you’re bothering me.”

“Good. That was my intention.”

I continued to work on my writing trying to ignore him.

“I need coffee.”

I ignored him.

“Coffee would be nice. You could have some too. Heaven knows you could use it.”

I continued to work.

“You could write a book about a widow who goes to live in a big house by the ocean that is haunted by a handsome ship captain. The ship captain falls in love with her, but she lives in real world, and he tells her to find someone with a real body. And she writes. She writes his story and doesn’t have to move back with her horrible in-laws from Hell. Then she gets involved with some married shit for brains asshole. She goes home and finds out that her daughter knew about the ghost all along, then she dies and is with the man she loves, you know, the ship captain. It is so sad and romantic, kind of like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Did you know he went to the same high school as your kids? Not the ship captain, but Sparks. Lynn Anderson the singer went there too. Tom Hanks, Hill Harper, and I also went there. I went there too. Did you know that?”

I continued to ignore him.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It is one of your favorite movies. About a GHOST no less. You’re such a fucking hypocrite, even for a Vampire.”

I continued to try to write.

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. You like Ghosts. Admit it.”

“Enough. I’ll make coffee.”

“Thank you.”

“By the way, I hate Ghosts.”

“I am not particularly fond of Vampires.”

We sat at the table and watch the rain with hot mugs of coffee. Nigel put his face over the mug and took in the scent. I drank mine with half and half.

He looked down at my pad of paper where I made notes. I use both computer and yellow legal pads.

“Do you think you’ll ever…” he started to say something.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I like it.”

I looked up. He locked his eyes in mine.

“This is good Juliette.”

“Thank you,” I said, and finished my coffee.

“You should…”

“Don’t.” I shook my head and looked away.

“Fine. But don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t you ever say I did not tell you,” he said.

Then he smiled and vanished in a gray wisp of smoke, that smelled like coffee and the ocean.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Who and what haunts your days, nights, and even your coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

Go Pee Pee

At 3:29 a.m. I took the dog out to go pee pee.

To make her go fast and get it all over with I have to say, “go pee pee” in a high shrill voice while trying not to wake my neighbors up.

It is as still and quiet as death out, but the dog and I both know we’re being watched by creatures of the night.

So I was outside in a robe and bare feet not really caring because A) I’m not cold, and B) Nobody can see me, and C) I don’t care if they see me.

Then I see a familiar figure standing in the middle of my street (which is really a private drive for seven houses.) He flips me off, which is his usual asshole move. I swear, nothing ruins a nice quiet evening faster than a Ghost.

The dog and I went inside to find Nigel (The Ghost) sitting on the couch in my living room.

“I have a question for your advice column Juliette. Do Vampires go pee pee,” he asked me.

“I’m not even going to answer that,” I told him.

He didn’t smile or laugh. That is almost as rare as seeing a ghost. To tell the truth seeing Ghosts isn’t rare for Vampires, but I usually don’t interact with them. They’re vile creatures for the most part.

“Don’t you have someone to haunt?” I asked.

“Only you,” he answered.

“I’m going to make coffee,” I told him. “Do you want some?”

“I can’t drink it. I’m a…”

“Ghost. I get it. You’re a bitter, obnoxious, annoying Ghost. I’ll give you a cup and you can smell it,” I said.

“Um, sure,” he said.

“Were you this annoying when you were alive?”

“Of course, only everyone thought I was charming,” he answered.

In the kitchen we sat over coffee and small talk, and the dogs and cats who also see what others cannot.

Wishing you all plenty of sleep, and coffee, and dogs who go pee pee outside rather than inside.

~ 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.