Musings on Childhood and Hell

A lot of my childhood memories are of me just trying to figure things out.

My mother and I watched a funeral procession when I was almost four. She pointed out the beautiful white horses that pulled the carriage.

I asked what the box in the carriage was. She said a casket. Then she said the man’s body was in it.

His body. I thought about that for a while. If he body was in the casket where was the rest of him. Where did they put his arms and legs and head?

Of course I didn’t ask my mother about it.

I grew up in a Vampire family but nobody in my house slept in caskets or lived in cemeteries. Where we lived didn’t have a lot of history so the cemeteries were fairly new anyway.

We also didn’t spend a lot of time in church. Like I said, I grew up in a Vampire family and in the Vampire community. That said, my brother Val and I were fascinated with churches.

One Sunday when I was about six years old, and Val was seven, we went inside the tent of a traveling preacher. Many people smiled at the two small, somewhat well dressed children who sat quietly in the back. We didn’t fidget or squirm like the other children, but sat completely still and listened in horror as a man in a black suit hollered about sin, damnation and HELL.

When we got home we asked our fourteen year old brother Andy about what we’d heard.
“Where is Hell?” I asked him.

“Hell is where people who aren’t Vampires go when they’re bad,” said Andy.

“I thought bad people went to jail,” said Val, trying to sound grown up.

Andy smiled with just a hint of fang and said, “Bad people do go to jail. They go to Hell after they’re hanged.”

After that Andy took it upon himself to educate Val and me. He read us Dante’s Inferno. I didn’t understand any of it but the pictures were terrifying. We read bits of the Bible. That was also terrifying. Then Andy read us Faust and sang songs from the opera (which was first performed in 1859, the year I was born.) Faust seemed like an idiot to me but I never told Andy that.

Later my parents sat us down and told us about good and evil. We learned of demons and the fallen ones. We learned of angels and what to watch out for. We learned of things that lived in the shadows. But most of all they told us to beware the darkness in the hearts of men, false prophets, and those who use the beautiful cloak of ignorance to blind and control.

As we grew up and grew the wiser I still remember thinking about what Andy said.

They go to Hell after they’re hanged. 

I suppose Hell is whatever you want it to be, and when or where ever you want it to be. But I’m not really thinking about that much, and I don’t think about much of anything Andy says anymore. He’s the crazy one. Don’t take me wrong, I love my musically gifted and somewhat dramatic and romantic sibling.

Over the years Val and I continued to sit in the back of churches and circus tents, I mean church tents, and listen, mostly for the music. Vampires love music of all kinds. We get it where we can.

We also wonder how we grew up to be so normal, but then again, most people get things wrong as children. That I guess is why we’re not born adults.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Halloween is Almost Here

Halloween is almost here

Ghosts and Goblins yell and cheer,

Witches drink their Bat Eye Beer

Halloween is almost here.

Halloween house

At the crack of dawn this morning, actually about an hour before, I looked out on my deck to find two ghosts holding coffee mugs and savoring the first stirrings of the woodland creatures who live in my yard and behind my house (along with the sounds of fire truck sirens, trucks and a random dog bark or two.) I watched my translucent friends put their heads together in close conversation, occasionally laughing or using hand gestures.

These ghosts have discarded any old ideas of white sheets and hollow eyed wails. They leave that for others. Sure they can haunt the crap out of anyone and show their form in death (a rather violent image, especially for the one called Mary) but they usually choose not to.

He has pale skin and dark, almost black glossy hair that layers around his face. She has long reddish-brown hair that she lets blow in the ghostly winds that most of us can’t feel.

If it was any other pair of ghosts I would have chased them off, but these two are mine. At least mine because they live in my space. I usually don’t like ghosts or anything without a body, but there are always exceptions.

I didn’t interfere with their reveries. I’d pick up the cups later. That is the empty cups they fill with their phantom coffee. I had other things on my mind.

Earlier my husband Teddy had come home with a scratch across his handsome face. Three scratches from fingernails to be exact and bites in various places.

He’d been called to see about a rare pocket watch a client of his was looking for. When he arrived at the old Victorian he discovered that the apartment was below street level (the original street level.)

The door was answered by a woman of shocking appearance. She was bloated like a dead thing that had been out in the sun. Her eyes were sunken and rimmed with pale pinkish red. Despite her bony frame the fashionable black dress she wore strained at the seams. White blonde hair tangled around her face. Blood caked around the corners of her mouth and on the cuticles of her fingernails.

He recognized her, barely. In 1934 he’d spent two weeks with her on Catalina Island. People thought she was a film star with her Jean Harlow looks and beautiful clothes. So much for happy memories.

She told him that now she fed on transients and outcasts who wouldn’t be missed. Rather than taking a pint or a quart here and there she sucked them dry. Nobody would miss them or care. It always looked like natural causes anyway. Then she’d sleep it off for a week or two and start again.

Teddy, being the man he is and a Vampire with a social conscience tried to tell her that what she was doing was not acceptable. Bad move Teddy. She attacked him, screeching that she never asked to be a Vampire. She didn’t choose that life. She had become isolated as those she preyed upon.

As she fled into the night the young man who made the nicely decorated basement apartment his home was in a deep sleep. He wasn’t someone off the grid but someone who’d left his bedroom window open and a Vampire climbed in. Teddy had the decency to erase any bad memories the young man might have had. Then Teddy called a Vampire Hunter to take care of his old friend. Teddy didn’t have the stomach to do it himself.

We talked about it for a while and like so many things it just seemed sad. Too many things seem sad.

Halloween is almost here but we’re already up to our eyeballs in scary shit, including a school shooting scare and other stupid stuff.

But then again like all families we’re busy to the point where we can’t stop and even think about anything much. It is like this all the time. Halloween brings a flood of activity. A party at my house on Friday. A party on Saturday. A skate meet on Sunday. A dozen other things including school and work are squeezed in between. Then we start all over again.

But I’ll make it a point to stop and sip my coffee and watch the sunrise.  And tomorrow we’ll carve those pumpkins I’ve been gathering on my front porch!

 

Halloween is almost here

Werewolves howling is so near,

Zombie looking for his ear,

Halloween is almost here.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Dia de Muertos Overload (and ghosts with banjos in my kitchen)

I swear sometimes it feels like…

Halloween is just around the corner. Day of the Dead. Día de Muertos.

Sometimes the dead get too excited about the Day of the Dead. Sometimes the dead can’t wait.

As a Vampire I can see ghosts. I can see them almost all of the time. They’re everywhere, but they generally respect the space of others – especially those who are on the edge of the shadows.

But not this October.

I’ve got things crawling up my walls. Small hominoid weirdness in the form of shadows crawl up the walls and around the ceilings of my breakfast nook. I have no idea who they were or where they came from.

Then there are the 49ers, not football players but the ghosts of old gold miners camped out in my living room playing guitars and things that look like banjos. My house is built right next to a major gold mining area. People who mined gold tended to die young and away from home. Their ghosts linger around looking for comfort. I just wish they’d find comfort somewhere else.

For anyone else, anyone who can’t see ghosts it isn’t a problem. OK it usually isn’t a problem but I want my space back.

I’ve tried to shoo the gold miners away. They just look at me with sad faces and fade away for an hour or two, then I hear the music again. The music is horrible too. They’re going to make my ears explode.

As for the nasty little crawlers, They disgusted and frustrated me beyond just about everything I have ever known.

For the past week I’ve been seeing every ghost except my ghost. That would be Nigel the Ghost. And I can’t forget his charming girlfriend Mary. Nigel isn’t always that charming. In fact he’s a major asshole most of the time, but he is my asshole ghost.

Nigel didn’t come with the house. Neither did Mary but they’re here. We don’t know why, but look up the old blog posts about them.

Anyway, I’ve got a woman with her head in her hands walking up and down my stairs. I’ve got some musicians from the 1920’s hanging out in the kitchen. More just come and go. It’s a mess.

I was at my wit’s end but I had things to do, places to go, people to meet.

When I came home from a couple of meetings I had today the ghoulish gold miners were still playing their mournful songs.

“You guys are worse than leaf blowers,” I yelled at the. “You need to go away NOW.” I showed them my fangs, like that would do any good.

A small dark shadow sat in my kitchen window watching me with dark mournful eyes. I wondered if ghosts could get pink eye because this guy sure did have it.

The woman on the stairs had put her head back on, and she was now sitting on my stairs alongside another woman who had a huge knife sticking out of her chest. Their large skirts covered about half of the stairwell. I walked right through them on the way up to my bedroom. I thought about changing clothes but I had no idea who would suddenly appear.

This is ridiculous I thought. And it was. I mean, who likes a house full of ghosts? Nobody.

Then just about the time I almost felt like screaming in frustration I smelled a hint of red wine, gardenia, and oil paint. Turning around I saw Nigel, The Ghost.

“They’re all gone,” he said, as he rolled up the sleeves of his white shirt. Then he shook his head and let his shaggy black hair fall into place around his pretty but very male face.

“Thank you,” I said.

“Anything for my favorite vampire,” he said with a slight smile. “They think you’re safe, the ghosts do. They think you’ll like them and blog about them. Like all ghosts they’re just a little confused and posts. They just don’t want to be forgotten.”

“That isn’t my problem,” I said.

“Obviously it IS your problem. But I took care of it Juliette. You owe me.”

“Yes, I do,” I said. I also regretted saying that as soon as the words left my mouth.

Nigel came close and I could feel him put his cold ghostly hands on my cold vampire shoulders. He put his face close to mine and whispered in my ear, “Even the most tormented souls long for a champion. Even those who live in the land of nowhere, in the perpetual hell of a tortured soul, and a fractured reality need love and a sense of safety. That is why they seek you out. Don’t be a bitch Juliette.”

Then he kissed my cheek with lips so warm it surprised me, then he stepped back and vanished with a wisp of blue smoke and the scent of pumpkin spice.

I stood for a minute, my mind full of ghosts, and my meetings, my family coming home in a few hours, and everything I needed to do in the next few hours. But I thought before I left home again that I’d share this.

October is here. As usual my brain is full.

And Nigel, if you’re reading this… don’t get too full of yourself.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Fire And The Cool Dark Places Of Summer

With summer we don’t welcome in the fire season, but fire season is here none the less.

I had to go downtown this morning, and from the freeway saw two plumes of fire coming up as if the entire world was on fire or giant pits down to Hell had opened up. From the color of the smoke it looked like grass fires. A larger fire just north of here has burned maybe 12,000 acres. I’m not sure, it keeps growing. We’ll soon start to hear of more fires in all directions. After the devastation last year in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Lake County and other areas in California it seems even more tragic for it to start all over again.

Behind my home we’ve cut back the brush. I’ve cleared my property. We’ve put in fire sprinklers.

As I drove along the freeway looking at the smoke plume in the distance I saw a religious billboard. It just seemed weird, you know the smoke and the message all at once.

This week missionaries and members of several churches (you know who I’m talking about) have been coming around and leaving pamphlets. A few years ago yellow jackets swarmed a nice pair of men who came around to tell me about the Bible. I’m often tempted to tell them we’re Vampires. Not that we’re evil. Oh we are so misunderstood. Another reason why most folks don’t know we’re real.

But back to the nice people who smile and ask me too many personal questions about my beliefs,  what I really need to ask is for them to pray that we don’t have the fire devastation that we have had in the West for the past few years – from Canada to Mexico it has been horrible.

Right now I can smell smoke but I’m not sure where it is from. The sky is too hazy to tell.

When my brother Val and I were teens, around fourteen and fifteen (1873 or 74) we found a way to keep cold in the hot burning summer days.

He stole the key to a church basement (which is no longer there) and a way to get into a seldom used private chapel. Bodies would be put there before burial to keep from rotting so quickly in the summer heat. Also food would be stored in another section behind locked doors.

Yes, it was horrible and wrong for any teens, and we’re Vampires so that even adds more to the wrongness of it all, but we didn’t hurt anyone. Our parents would have hit the roof, but that is another post.

I’d lay as still as death on the cool floor. My skin seemed to melt, not like candle wax, but like burning hard sealing wax. Hair twisted around my neck and clung to my forehead. I couldn’t open my eyes.

Suddenly an icy cold shroud covered me. I sank into the floor even more. A relief to my burning Hell had come.

I could hear my brother Val laughing.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “I thought I was going to absolutely melt.”

Val lay down on the floor beside me and pulled the icy wet sheet over the both of us.

“I hate the heat,” I said to him.

“I know you do,” he replied.

We lay in the dark, on the cold marble floor. The triple digit summer air encased us, drying out the wet sheet. I hooked my index finger with his as we lay as still as death together, trying to find some comfort.

With my eyes still closed I could hear footsteps coming into the room. I couldn’t will myself to move. I was so hot and so uncomfortable.

I’m not a creature who has a wide range of temperature control. The heat makes me want to hibernate or go into a coma.

I could feel someone lift the sheet from our still faces. We opened our eyes wide, not with our natural color, but with solid black. You know, the old black-eyed children trick. It works every time.

A gasp and a cry filled the air, then the sound of the poor lady running away from us.

Val threw back the sheet and propped himself up on his arm. Looking towards the doorway he laughed. “She thought we were dead.”

“And so we are, well sort of,” I answered looking at his pale face, made even paler by the dark hair falling over his forehead.

Today, about ninety summers later the heat still shuts me down. My daughter mentioned that today.

“Dad said you never did well in the heat.”

“No. I don’t.” And that is true as I sit here burning up with my hands sticking to the computer keyboard.

Every single summer the heat rises to triple digits F-ing Farenheit. And every single summer the hot walls of heat hit me so hard that every cell in my body wants to shut down. It should be no surprise, especially since I choose to live here. Then again, it is hot everywhere in the West, aside from the coast and the mountains. Maybe one day I’ll pack up and move, but until then, there are wet sheets and ice.

Oh, one more note, as a public service announcement. When it gets hot PLEASE make sure your dogs don’t end up with burnt feet. If it is too hot for you to walk on the hot pavement with bare feet it is too hot for your dogs. My friend Amelia in Las Vegas used to put booties on her old dog for walks in the hot desert neighborhoods. And triple check their water – cat water too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Don’t ask me…Vampire Fun and Games

My phone made a meowing sound. That’s my brother Aaron’s ringtone.

“Hello,” I said. I wondered what he wanted.

“Juliette, how’s it going?”

“I’m not crawling under any houses or going into any basements for you.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because whenever you have to get rid of, or otherwise deal with dried up musty old Shadow Creeping Vampires you call me to do it for you.”

“Juliette…”

“Isn’t that what you have your Vampire Hunter for?”

“I’m not going to ask you to kill anything. Well, not technically. You know what I’m asking. You and Val are the best. He’s on his way over right now.”

“Does Val know what you want Aaron?”

“No, I neglected to tell him.”

This reminded me of an event a few months ago. One of my daughter’s good friends from High School started sending her fervent religious materials and calling her about church events and sin and it was strong and negative. My child was offended and told her friend that she was offended and then told him to never call her again. He was such a nice kid. I’d hoped they’d stay friends.

So when my brother Aaron calls me to do something I’d never ask my kids to do I sort of cringe. There are some things I did in my past, with and without my brothers, that I would never want my children to do.

One of those things is converting regular people into Vampires. And the worst thing about it is that my brother Val and I are the best. Yeah, I don’t talk about that a lot on this blog, you know the whole Vampire thing.

We’re the youngest two of five siblings. Val and I are little more than a year apart. Aaron is five years older than me. Then there are the two older brothers who are eight and ten years older than me. I don’t want to get them involved with this at all because one knows everything and can be a real asshole and control freak. The other is just, well weird and always defers to the eldest when things turn stressful. Either that or he’ll tune out and find some back door to sneak out of.

Our brother Aaron is smack in the middle. I’d like to smack him right now.

Then he said, “Do you mind stopping for coffee on the way?” Then he proceeded to give me an order for six different cups. It made me wonder who would be there.

“Do you want any pastries?” I had to ask in my most snarky voice.

“Very funny. Just get here soon baby sister,” he said. Vampires don’t eat pastries. I wish we did but we don’t.

So to make a long story short I showed up at the Victorian house we all still own in the middle of downtown.

A thirty something couple greeted us. Aaron claimed he’d known them for a while. They’d been thoroughly vetted. He thought they’d be good Vampires. Whatever. I knew I’d be the one who’d end up helping them through the transition.

My great great great great grandmama Lola was there as well. She was uncharacteristically quiet. On the other hand she looked quiet lovely in a flowered sundress covered by a denim jacket. At six hundred and seventy five years she still looks like a twenty six year old young woman. Val and I kissed her cool cheeks and thanked her for being there. You know, just in case. God only knows (or maybe not) how many Vampires she has brought into the world.

Val and I asked the obligatory questions. Do you understand that you’ll be dead for short time before we bring you back. Do you know there is a risk of losing your soul? Do you understand what it means if you lost your soul? Do you know there is a huge risk death, as in final death? Do you understand that you will need to consume human blood to survive? Do you understand that you will have to actually bite into a live human body every once in a while? Do you understand that you will outlive everyone you know? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will not be immortal? You can die. Someone can kill you. You can suddenly die for no reason as well. Do you understand that this can’t be undone? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will ALWAYS be a Vampire?

I didn’t ask, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

There was more but I won’t go into that right now. Actually there is one more item that Aaron, Val, and I stressed more than the other points. “Do you understand that if you tell anyone, or show anyone what you have become that you will die in an extremely unpleasant way.” That is one of the ugly points of being a Vampire that I don’t cover on my nice humorous feel good parenting blog. We don’t take blabber mouths lightly.

“Want to go to Target with me when we’re done here?” I asked Val.

“Sure,” he said. “I need shampoo.”

“I hear you’ve never lost anyone,” the woman said to me. “How many have you converted?”

“How many Vampires have I made?” I glanced at Val. “A lot.”

Val just smiled. Asking a Vampire how many people they’ve turned into Vampires is like asking someone how many sexual partners they’ve had. It is something you just don’t ask anyone.

Then we did what needed to be done. Lola had agreed to stay for a week to help with the transition. It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. Aaron was going to stay at least for a few days, but he lives walking distance away so it isn’t a big deal.

I watched him as he took off his Hermes tie and rolled up the sleeves of his custom made shirt. Always the best dressed Vampire in the room. I love Aaron but I wish he’d occasionally relax (and I don’t mean just rolling up sleeves.)

Val and I ended up finding a dark neighborhood bar and sat for a while doing shots of tequila. We talked about our three elder siblings. It wasn’t all bad. A lot of it was. At least they respected us for our talents.

Then we wandered around Target for about two hours laughing and filling our basket full of all kinds of fun stuff. My kids would have been proud of us, just because of how much fun we were having.

And now I’m home with nobody but my cats and a dog. The husband and still at home child are away. The other child is living far far away. OK, only about six hours away but that is really far if you’re a mom.

I’m not even sure that I’ll tell them what I did today. They won’t approve, or they’ll have questions I don’t want to answer. Everyone has strong opinions on the matter. Vampire families are like all others – we all have strong opinions.

So that was my day. I’m tired and… sometimes when you’re a mom you just don’t need to be bugged. And sometimes when you’re a mom you just want to smile and listen as your family gathers around in the evening and forget your day. Even if you’re a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette by the window

 

 

 

 

 

She Taunts Me – Sleep, Ghosts, and Vampires

Sleep

It is like the ghost that haunts me

Only worse.

The ghost will listen to me.

Sleep never does.

She taunts me

Like a woman who wants to seduce my husband.

She gives him slumbers so peaceful

So silent and lovely.

She taunts me and pulls my dreams to tattered bits

Then keeps me awake for days on end.

My slumbers end in a dark prison room

Always cold

Always alone

Always awake.

We’re not  friends Sleep and I.

I used to think it was my nocturnal nature,

But now I know it is because

Sleep hates me for something I did

In the past 

And fired up her jealous heart

To the point where she is only thinking of revenge.

_______________________________________________

I fixed a pot of coffee,

As Nigel the Ghost said, “Sleep doesn’t give a crap what you do Vampire. You’re too busy and you drink too much coffee.”

Maybe so but I’m not going to admit anything to a ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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