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

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: A Werewolf’s Train to Nowhere

In honor of last night’s full moon…

A Werewolf’s Train To Nowhere

 Right after I’d graduated from college (the first time) from one of the rare Universities (now a well respected and famous school) that accepted women I took a trip across country on a train to meet my brother Val. He’d gone to New York City without me, leaving me, a young woman, unescorted. I would have done fine on my own but back then, in 1881 young women, even Vampires, didn’t travel alone.

I got on the train on a dark full moon night and made my way to my car. I was to share a car with several other students and some sort of chaperone. What I found was three young men dressed in rather garish suits of the latest fashion (or so they thought) and nobody else. Two had short beards, again, the style of the time. I recognized one from school. The train started to move. There was no getting off. OK I could have jumped, but I was in a long dress with a bustle no less and jumping wasn’t a practical option. Contrary to popular belief I couldn’t turn myself into a bat and fly away. So I stayed. They were horrible the entire time making crude jokes and being as vulgar as they could be. They insulted me for being a Vampire, calling me dead and cold and well, they were vulgar to say the least. I was in Hell and ready to get off of the train.

I sat took claim to a settee with a small table and tried to ignore my garishly dressed companions. A young woman climbed aboard and the three men cheered. She was dressed as garish as they were in the most stylish of gowns but it was a bright orange color with brown beaded trim. Her hair was as orange as the dress and piled high on her head. That included a lot of fake hair to go along with her real hair.

She eyed me up and down. “Who invited the Vampire?”

“I’m Juliette,” I said to the Werewolf girl. Holy crap I’d been stuck for a cross-country trip with four Werewolves. Every muscle and bone on my body tightened up. I wanted to scream. Instead I just kept my place in my corner while my companions made as much noise as they could laughing out loud and of course the alcohol and drugs came out. Of course.

Just as the parting whistle blew the door opened again and in stepped my friend Pierce. Finally, another Vampire had arrived, and a strong protective one at that. His father owned the train car and I didn’t even put the two together. Pierce was a friend of my brothers Max and Andy. At age 28 (born in 1848) he was the oldest of our group. We made quite a contrast in our highly fashionable yet subdued attire compared to the flamboyant brightly dressed Werewolves. We were also a lot quieter.

The Werewolf girl who was named Phoebe gave Pierce a long hard look then smiled and licked her lips. Pierce is attractive with a narrow face, a sensuous mouth and dark heavily lashed eyes. Of course she noticed him. She’d no doubt try to have his clothes off, have her way with him then tear his throat out. Well, maybe not, but I didn’t want him to get her claws into a friend who was almost like a brother to me.

The males were Luke, Seth and Eldon. I’ll never forget their names. They were rude and loud and young. Had they been Vampires I might have thought they were fun, but since they were Werewolves I thought they were disgusting. Phoebe was just as bad with her crude laugh and dirty jokes.

Pierce and I played cards and stood on the back of the train in the night air. We mostly talked. I asked him about people we knew who’d gone out into the world – the young Vampires we’d grown up with. Pierce was on his way to New York. I was on my way to New York as well to meet my brother Valentine. After that we’d board a ship to London.

Conversations with the Werewolves were in bits and pieces of insults and crude jokes. Pierce’s father did business with their families. To keep the peace and keep favors in check he’d offered to let the young adults of the pack to ride with us. Also, by being with Vampires the Werewolves were more likely to behave themselves. At least that is what everyone thought.

On the second night, after a half of case of Champagne, the young Werewolf men, Luke, Seth and Eldon stripped naked right in front of us and said they were going out for a run. Phoebe decided to stay in. They ran out and I could hear them up on the roof of the train car howling, then down a side ladder and they were gone. Phoebe sat by the window looking at the full moon. She’d taken off her jacket and bodice down to a short-sleeved lace covered blouse. Long dark hair sprouted on her arms and hands. Her fingers grew claw like. Fur grew down the side of her face. She ignored us as a low growl came to the back of her throat as she watched for her pack mates.

Peirce and I watched three huge wolves run along the side of the train. The moonlight reflected off of their silvery gray fur. They were beautiful.

Then we heard horrifically loud shots. Our fellow passengers a few cars down were shooting at the wolves. Pierce ran out of the car. I could hear him shouting for the men with the guns to stop. Phoebe started to scream and scream and scream.

The next day we heard news of three young men found dead by the side of the tracks. The story was they had been drinking and had a fight on the top of the train and fell off after shooting each other.

I will never forget holding Phoebe in my arms and rocking her, trying to tell her that everything would be alright. I knew it would never be alright but I said it anyway.

For the next week as we made our way across the country she’d howl mournfully at night. The passengers said the train was haunted. I knew they’d brought on their own ghosts when they killed the wolves for no reason.

Werewolves and Vampires are predators but even we don’t partake in the senseless of killing animals for no reason other than target practice.

Pierce and I related the story to others but over the years we’ve kept a lot of the details to ourselves. It seems like so long ago. It was a long time ago. A long long time ago.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Short Story Sunday: Smoke

Smoke

The sky is gray with smoke, the same color as the dove sitting on the back deck rail.

I’m not just saying that to be literary. The sky IS the same color as the dove. It isn’t clouds. It’s smoke from the summer fires.

I watched him through the window as he watered the garden. He was doing it all wrong but I wasn’t going to tell him.

My mind wandered to where I would go if I could go somewhere else. It wasn’t like the movies or books where I could go home to some idyllic small town. This was home. There is no extended family. There is no family at all to speak of.

I imagined the winter when we didn’t have to water the garden and everything was green.

A house on the beach where the cool winds blow away the heat and the smoke and the smell of death in the basement.

My husband waved at me.

“Did you put on sunscreen? You need a hat,” I called to him.

“I’m coming inside right now,” he said with a smile.

I saw a bit of fang flash when he smiled. He’d do that when he wanted me to smile back. Smiles had been rare these days.

I remember the fires of long ago. I remember the screams. I remember the cheers as bodies exploded and cracked. I remember the horrible smell. And I remembered to tell my children to never tell anyone who or what they are or they would face the flames.

The sliding glass door opened and he came in with an armful of roses, zinnias, and sunflowers.

“Our harvest today. Get a vase my love. We’ll bring the beauty out of the smoke.”

I smiled and took the flowers and he kissed me.

It wasn’t a smoking hot kiss but that isn’t what I wanted or needed.

All sI needed was a cool kiss from a man who loved me, and maybe eye drops.

Yes, I needed eye drops. Then I closed my eyes and thought of the waves and the cool sand between my cold Vampire toes.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Lizbit

Lizbit. Oh Lizbit.

Elizabeth opened her eyes. Oh man it had been a hot day. Sitting up from where she was laying on the couch she looked around. Nobody was there.

Lizbit.

Nobody had called her that since she was a child.

It was her sister who’d died in childbirth at nineteen. It was her two teenage brothers who’d perished in a fire. It was her other sister who’d been murdered by a jealous lover and left in a ditch under a winter hail storm.

The other siblings, the remaining three, another sister and two brothers, had lived long successful lives.

Elizabeth had run away from an engagement to a man she didn’t love and she become a Vampire. It seemed like a good choice at the time. Almost two hundred years later it still seemed like a good choice.

Lizbit.

Her phone buzzed.

“Hey baby,” she said.

“Hi beautiful,” said her boyfriend Austin from the end of the magical line that allowed them to speak from far away locations.

“Are you coming over?”

“On my way.”

“Drive safe.”

“I will. Love you. See you soon.”

“Love you.”

She put down the phone and went in the bathroom to brush her hair. Austin wasn’t a Vampire but she still loved him. Maybe one day she’d convince him to take the step… maybe.

Lizbit

There was no reflection except her own in the mirror.

Lizbit

She turned around.

Her dog walked in and looked up with dark brown eyes. His tail wagged unconditional love.

“Hey baby. I love my good boy.”

Lizbit.

The dog barked. She looked around and saw nothing.

“I don’t have time for ghosts tonight,” she said aloud. “It is too hot and I’m too tired. You made your choices, I made mine.”

Lizbit

“I have a dog. I’m in love. Just be happy for me. Just go away.”

She opened a bottle of wine, checked to see what was on Netflix, and waited for Austin to arrive. There were no more voices. Just the sound of the dog eating it’s kibble and the sound of her heart that had just started to beat for the night.

~ end

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Mere Mortal

Leaving her lover’s bed she pulled on one of his shirts and went downstairs, past his piano, past the sleeping cats on the couch, and out through the French doors into his garden.

A layer of fog covered up any stars she might have seen in the San Francisco sky. That didn’t matter. Shawna had come out to think and reflect.

What a wonderful romantic weekend it had been with her lover Andy. They’d been on and off for over five years. He was a tall handsome Vampire of 166 years, and looked like he was maybe 34 at the most. She was 58, going on 39. Hard work and good genetics had kept her looking young, but damn it, this was too weird.

She closed her eyes and was taking in the scent of the blooming roses when she heard a low growling noise. She turned and saw a horrible sight.

A man, if she could call it that, stood before her. He was at least seven feet tall with long dark hair surrounding a narrow face with sharp features that at one time might have been attractive if not for the silvery blue hue of his skin and glowing red eyes. As she stared too shocked to say anything, or even move, he spread huge leathery wings out from his back. All she could think of was how his leather jacket was constructed. Were the wings inside with a pocket or outside of the jacket?

“Beware the forces which you know not of,” he growled in a death metal kind of voice.

“I dig up dinosaurs for a living. I know about…” she said not even knowing what to say. She DID dig up dinosaurs for a living. Lately she’d switched gears to her first love which was giant ice age mammals, but for some off reason it always came back to dinosaurs.

“You know not of the forces that bind the society in which you tread,” growled the winged guy, whatever he was. “You are but a mortal woman.”

“Who sent you here. Is this some sort of joke? Seriously I do dig up dinosaurs. I raised two sons who are now successful adults who respect women, despite the fact that their father was a cheating dirt bag. I grew up in a time when women were not expected to have careers, but I was, am successful in my field. Don’t you give me that mortal woman shit.”

“You are a weak mortal woman.”

“Fuck you asshole.”

Shawna was pissed off. She wasn’t a large woman but she was strong. So when the winged demon stepped towards her claws out she picked up an iron patio chair and clocked him across the side of his head. He fell to the ground.

“What the…Shawna,” said a voice behind her. There at the French doors stood her love Andy. He looked at the demon man sitting on his patio. “Who are you?”

The creature stood, then staggered back, eyes glowing. He growled then flapped his large leathery wings and flew into the night sky.

“What was that Andy? What was it? Who was he?” Asked Shawna.

“I have no idea who he was. I don’t know, maybe a fallen angel. A demon maybe,” said Andy.

The sky started to turn light as the sun began to rise.

Andy put his arms around Shawna. “You want coffee?”

“Sure. That would be great.”

“Sorry about that.”

“It’s ok. I’m a mom. I can deal with shit.”

Andy kissed her, out on the porch, under the foggy dawn sky, with the smell of roses and sulphur in the air.

Sure she was a mere mortal but life was good.

~ end

Short Story Sunday: A Better Place

The dogs were huge. The male weighed 170 pounds. The female was a mere 120 pounds. They padded silently behind her as she walked home from the bar.

Mehitabel had gone out for a bite to eat with the dogs due to the fact her boyfriend Max had left them with her while he finished up a job. He’d be back in a few hours. It was odd to call him her boyfriend. It was odd to think she was engaged to him. Everything was odd so she thought as she walked along in the cool night air.

At the bar she’d spoken to some nice young men who’d walked down by the beach with her. She put her fangs to their wrists and taken about a half pint of blood. They’d been scuba diving earlier that day. She could always pick up on divers due to their oxygen levels, and the salt on their skin. All they would remember was the pretty young women with the two giant dogs who’d showed them the trail to the beach.

As she got closer to her house she heard loud raspy laughing behind her. She turned around and saw them. Witches.

These were not nice ladies who get energy from crystals, or read tarot cards, make healing lotions, and try to conjure up spirits from the earth. These kind of Witches were the trailer trash of the paranormal world.

Mehitabel knew that six months earlier the one named Blanche had charged ten-thousand dollars to give a woman’s ex-husband’s new wife breast cancer. The other, a Witch who called herself Tourmaline would make love potions that would cause the unwitting recipient to fall in love, but always loathe themselves for falling in love with someone they found repulsive.

Both Witches wore tacky tight dresses with too much cleavage, too much make-up, and too much bleached blonde hair that reminded her of fried onions. They toddled on six-inch heels, while walking along with their back sides sticking out in an unnatural way that made Mehitabel think of stink-beetles.

“Hey, look,” said Blanche in a gravel and honey voice. “It’s the pretty little Vampire. What are you up to tonight?”

“Show us those fangs,” said Tourmaline.

Mehitabel whistled to the dogs, then kept walking. She could hear the click of the Witch’s heels as they followed behind her.

She took a deep breath and stopped her heart beat. Then she slowly turned around. “Ladies, stop following me.” But the Witches were gone. All that was left was the smell of sickly sweet perfume and sulphur.

A half hour later, with her door locked, Mehitabel fed the dogs, then poured herself a glass of wine.

Love potions. She couldn’t even imagine forcing someone to love her. Then there was the revenge spells, meant to do nothing but harm to the innocent. Blanche and Tourmaline had ruined hundreds of lives and caused so much pain over the past thirty years. She should have killed them there on the spot. She could have. The dogs could have.

She woke with the touch of cold lips on hers, and a hand gently lifting the tilted wine glass out of her hand and put it, and the book she was reading, on the table. Max, the man who loved her, without the aid of potions or spells, smiled at her. She glanced over and noticed he’d put his gun on the table.

In the morning there was news of the bodies of two women on the beach. They’d each been shot once in the head. Their bodies were drained of blood and set on fire. The smell of sulphur and roasted flesh filled the air. Toxic fumes sent two detectives to the hospital.

Mehitabel put her arms around Max and pulled him close. A good Vampire was hard to find. She kissed his handsome face, closed her eyes, and smiled to sweet dreams of making the world a better place.

 

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman