Short Story Sunday: Lighthouse

Lighthouse

A story I’ve told before. I will tell it again tonight.

1880

He’d been found in the ocean, wearing a formal jacket with tails and clinging to the top of a grand piano. Underneath the man was a large gray wolfhound.

The captain of the ship that had picked him up said that he didn’t seem to remember much, or maybe did not want to remember. The dog, named Delilah, wouldn’t leave the side of her master.

At first they thought it was a ship wreck but it ended up being a complicated and strange mystery. The ship, a 200 ton brigantine had left Port of Talcahuano, in Chile three months before the mysterious man had been found in the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. Not a soul was on the ship, except the Captain who’d been found with a gun in his hand and what looked like a fatal self-inflicted bullet wound in his head. The life boats were still on the ship, as well as a cargo of wine and explosives, and the personal belongings of the few passengers and crew.

A break in an unusually strong and violent series of storms allowed them to dock and drop the man on the piano lid and his wolfhound off at the home of the lighthouse keeper’s family.

The lighthouse keeper checked in on the man who was sleeping in his guest room, dog curled by the bed. He could tell the stranger was wealthy by the quality of his clothing, the expensive watch and ring, and the formal refined way he’d spoken. His locked trunk had been recovered from the abandoned ship and now was at the foot of the bed.

The stranger said his name was Maxwell. He told them to call him Max. The first night there he’d drawn exquisite pictures for the light keeper’s wife of palm trees, and of beautiful women in fashionable dresses, and native women of South America with unusual hats and full colorful skirts. Over brandy he told them that he was 31 years old, born in 1849 when his pregnant mother had come out with his father for the California Gold Rush. Now he resided in San Francisco.

“What is your occupation? “The lighthouse keeper’s daughter Jayne asked the stranger,  fully well expecting him to say he was involved in a rich family business, or lived off of the wealth of his forebears.

He looked at her with hazel eyes, that she would have sworn were dark brown earlier that evening. “I am in law enforcement of a sorts, like detective, or a marshal. I seek out those who are particularly evil. I had apprehended a ruthless and violent fiend in South America and was on my way home. Unfortunately on the ship…” he paused and glanced up for a second, then back at the family of the lighthouse keeper. “On the ship I found myself taken by surprise and overwhelmed. It is a story I will tell you later, but now I must sleep, or I’ll end up under the table here.”

So he retired for the night. That was two days ago. He still slept as quiet and cold as death, but not dead. The dog lay by the foot of the bed thumping her tail whenever anyone came near.

A storm raged outside. The weather didn’t allow anyone to go get a doctor. His wife assured him that the man called Max just needed to rest. It made sense considering the man had been clinging to a piano lid and floating in the freezing ocean for days before he was picked up.

Despite the storm Lighthouse Keeper’s wife climbed up a ladder to fix a shutter that was almost ready to fly away with the wind. As she reached the window the ladder fell and she crashed to the ground below. All went black except the feeling of being carried inside.

Max put her down in a large chair by the fire and took her broken arm in his icy hands. “Close your eyes,” he whispered. She could feel his hands heat up and warm her wrist. The pain turned to numbness. She opened her eyes and could see a look of pain on his face, then he smiled and kissed her forehead.

“You’re arm is still broken, but the bones have started to mend enough for you not to need a splint.”

“You? You healed me,” she said.

“Yes. It is a gift. Keep the knowledge to yourself or people will think we are both insane.” He then touched a forming bruise on her forehead, making that pain, along with the bruise go away as well.

During the night the storm broke up. Sunshine came out between the clouds. Jayne convinced Max to walk down to the docks to pick up some fish for the night’s dinner.

She held his arm as they strolled along the road.

“Your glasses are so dark. I noticed your eyes turned from hazel to brown when we went outside,” said Jayne.

“My eyes are sensitive to the sun. I have three younger brothers, and a younger sister. Two of them have eyes that do the same as mine, that is change color,” he said, then changed the subject. “Do you like living here Jayne.”

“I love my family. I love the ocean. I don’t being in a small town with nothing but fish and lumber. I’d like to see more of the world before I’m expected to find a husband.”

“Do you want to be married Jayne?”

“Maybe,” said Jayne, “I can move to Utah and take two husbands. Women can vote in Utah and Wyoming. Why not here?”

“Because men are ignorant and barbaric my dear Jayne. They’re afraid that if you vote you’ll be smarter and more just than they are. The don’t want to give up their power to someone who might do a better job. By the way, men of a certain faith may have more than one wife but I do not believe a woman is allowed two husbands in Utah. You would have to go to Tibet for that.”

Jayne laughed. “To be truthful, even one husband would be too many for me right now. I don’t need anyone to own me right now.” She tugged on his arm. “You’re so different.”

“How am I different? I’m just like any other man.”

“You healed my mother’s arm. You survived almost a week in the icy ocean’s water hanging onto a piano top with nothing but the clothes on your back and a dog. Your eyes change color. Your skin feels like ice. You are unbelievably attractive. I am stating a fact about your looks. But I only want your friendship. Even with the oddness I like you. I feel as if we have been friends for a long long time. Where are you really from Maxwell? Who are your people?”

He smiled and took off his glasses. His eyes were hazel again. “Where I come from men and women are equal. We live quietly. We live honestly among each other. What I am about to tell you will sound strange, but we live on the edge between life and death. We walk in the world of sunlight, but also walk in the land of the shadows and do not fear death or God.”

“I would like to go there with you. I would earn my way. I could be a lady detective.”

“It is not easy to live in my world Jayne.”

“No world is easy Max,” she said then smiled and pulled the comb out of her hair letting it blow in the wind. “Do you have a sweetheart at home?”

Max hesitated then spoke. “There is a woman I have a strong connection with, but I will never love her.”

“Is she married?”

“No. It isn’t like that. We met when I was at the University. So was she, which is odd unto itself. She knows my thoughts. She knows my desires. But she is not the one. What about you Jayne?”

“I was engaged to a man who knew neither my thoughts or desires, and had no intention on learning either. He thought I belonged to him body and soul, not in the way of love, but as property to be owned and controlled. He was jealous to the point of rage if I would speak with another man. He was even jealous of the boys I teach at the school and demanded I quit my teaching job. I would rather die than live a life where someone else controlled my body, my thoughts, my job, and my every whim. That is why I am no longer engaged to him.” Then laughed and ran to the end of the pier and let the wind blow through her hair and laughed some more.

Max marveled at the way she was so free thinking and full of life. He saw so much death and sorrow in his line of work that now with Jayne he felt renewed. She was sunshine in his dark world of shadows and night.

Hours later in the quiet of the night, the wind died own, and the moon hung in a thin crescent in the sky. Max walked along the beach with his dog Delilah. The taste of fresh blood and wine was in his mouth and the cold comfort of the night had settled into his soul. Delilah ran ahead, then the dog started to bark. Ahead of him Max saw a bloody figure crumpled on the rocks. His heart sank. It was Jayne.

Max picked her up and carried her home. He knew what had happened. She’d gone out to look at the stars and was attacked by a man she’d jilted. She’d spoken briefly about it when they’d walked earlier in the day. She had turned away the advances of a hot headed man who wanted her as his own. In the afternoon the man had walked past them, giving Jayne a look like a mad dog when he saw her holding Max’s arm.

He put her on her bed as her parents and brothers gathered around. As still as death, and as cold as the sea, they watched life drained out of her.

Jayne’s mother put her hand on Max’s arm. “Can you heal her, like you healed me?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I do she will never be the same, not like she was before. She won’t be crippled or lose herself, she will be… she will be like me.”

“Save her, then find the man who did this to her,” said the Lighthouse Keeper.

“You do not know what you ask,” said Max.

“You put a spark back in her eyes I have not seen in ages. Please save her if you can.”

“Let me be alone with her and she will not die.”

In the morning a man’s body washed up on the beach. It looked as if dogs had torn out his throat. His face was a mask of fear.

Two weeks later Jayne kissed her family good-by and went with Max on the next ship to San Francisco.

2017

Max stood in his living room with a glass of wine in his hand as he looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. He couldn’t imagine getting tired of it. He glanced over to see Jayne, wearing a short black dress and looking gorgeous as always, coming towards him. He kissed her cool cheek. She smiled with just a touch of fang showing.

“Are you staying with Pierce tonight?” Max asked.

“Of course I am. I take it Mehitabel is staying here,” said Jayne.

Max glanced at a small pretty woman across the room. He suddenly thought of what he’d told Jayne about her so many years ago on the walk to the docks. Odd that when he was out in the ocean, clinging onto a piano top of all things, he had thought of Mehitabel. He might ask but he was never sure what she would say. No, he wouldn’t ask, he’d just wait to see what would happen, but he was sure she’d stay.

“I’m sure she’ll stay,” he told Jayne.

They talked for a while longer, about work, about friends, and about how the sunset sparkled on the ocean. Max wasn’t always one for words, but he knew that Jayne knew that they’d always be friends. Maybe even before they had ever met.

Then Jayne laughed. “I still can’t believe you were clinging to a piano lid.”

And Max had to laugh along.

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

How to write a response to a love letter (which is more fun if it isn’t addressed to YOU)

How to write a response to a love letter (which is more fun if it isn’t addressed to YOU)

Part One: How to Write A Love Letter

How would I write a love letter?

As if I’d tell my teen that. Teens usually know but forget as they grow old and fearful.

I would write it by hand on a yellow legal pad with pencil. I would write it over and over until it was exactly right. Then I’d get a fine piece of stationary and write the perfect letter with perfect script.

There are different kinds of love letters. There are those that say:  Hey, I really like you a lot, lets get together. There are love letters that are heart breaking and say: I’m lost without you. There are those that say: You are the one, the only one, the absolute only one. And there are those that say: After all these years together I love you still and always and forever.

It is simple really.

  • Don’t sound desperate. That will turn someone off like a box full of baby rattlesnakes (I’ve been wanting to say that for a while).
  • Simple is good.
  • Poetic is always good.
  • The truth is good.
  • Don’t talk about YOU. Talk about the one you love.
  • Talk about US.
  • Abstract is good if it isn’t totally cryptic.
  • Using quotes from others is ok too if you are at a loss for words.
  • Write it and wait.
  • A good love letter is like wine; it needs to sit for a bit. Write it and wait. Then after you’ve waited look it again.

But that isn’t really what this is about…

Part Two: How to write a response to a love letter (which is more fun if it isn’t addressed to YOU)

I’m not the kind of person who spies on my spouse or kids. I don’t go through drawers (but I will go through an attic) or personal papers. I won’t even read your email or go through your phone. It just isn’t good to pry.

BUT that said…there are situations where ALL BETS ARE OFF.

In a little over a week my romantically minded, smart, funny and handsome son Garrett will turn 17.  His best buddy Randy is throwing him a bash and they are all going to dress up. Top hats, tails, ball gowns, the works. But it is all vintage. The girls are at the vintage and thrift stores or raiding their mother’s closets. The boys are looking at what their fathers and grandfathers have plus raiding the thrift stores and vintage shops.

Garrett came downstairs in a beautiful long black coat. It came almost to his knees, beautifully cut. He looked so handsome, so much like his father.

“Dad said I could wear this. What do you think?”

“Wow. Perfect.” I remember long ago when my husband Teddy wore that coat. It was long before we married, in another time and place.

“Look what I found in the pocket.” Garrett held out a pale cream-colored envelope.

Inside was a note written in a beautiful script.

March 20, 1889

My Darling,

The sun shines but brings nothing so warm or bright as my memory of your kiss. Last night under the stars of heaven I thought I’d been taken by an angel. Yet, when I opened my eyes it was you with your arms around me. Your kiss took me away from the common world into the world of Venus and Mars.  My heart quickens at the thought of you. The sound of your voice, the touch of your hand, your lips on mine.

My love, my life, my always.

Meet me tomorrow at the gates of the cathedral.

Until then my love,

Always and forever.

Mary

Oh my.

The three of us looked at each other then for no reason we started to laugh.

“So if you have to respond what would you write?” I asked this of my kids knowing they are always up for a creative challenge.

Thirteen-year-old Clara went first.

Dear Mary,

I’m in love with someone else. She is totally clueless to how I feel. She is the only one I want to hunt with. She makes me laugh. She is beautiful. I want her to be the mother of my children. I won’t have the courage to tell her for another 100 years. Sorry. Go find yourself a nice guy.  I might be good looking but I’m a real pain in the butt. Most exceptionally good-looking guys are like that. We all think we’re “all that”. You don’t want a guy who thinks he is “all that”. Give it a few months and you won’t like me anymore.  I bet you’ll hate me. Besides, I hate to break this to you but if you haven’t figured it out already I’m a Vampire. 

You ROCK Mary and I know you’ll find someone better than I can ever be.

Theodore

Next Garrett read his letter aloud.

Dear Mary,

Your beauty lights up a room,

Both beauty of your body and soul,

Forgive me for being so forward,

To dare say,

You are dear, so dear to me.

But I must protect your heart,

And speak the truth,

I am a man of the shadows,

And would kill your sunshine,

And your glowing light and spirit.

I would never make you happy.

I will always treasure our time together.

You are beauty and light that I would never be able to hold.

Fly free Mary. Fly free and find love where you deserve it.

In the light,

In the sun,

With someone who can love you

The way you deserve to be loved.

Always in my heart,

Theodore

By then both of my children were laughing so hard they had slid off the couch and were on the floor.

So I wrote my response.

Darling Mary,

I would run my hands down your bare shoulders then kiss your beautiful neck. I would slowly undress you and gaze upon your beauty in the moonlight knowing that you are mine alone. I will take what I desire, but leave you with more than you could ever imagine. When you gasp your little sighs of pleasure I will sink my fangs into you and drain your blood from your body. I will fill your soul with dark carnal thoughts that will drive you insane and ruin you for any other man. Then I will leave you begging for more, never to see you again. So Mary, forget me, unless you want a life of ruin and insanity.

T

I folded that one up because there is no way I’d read THAT to my children.

I started over.

My dearest Mary,

I have not been honest with you. I have a wife and three children in America. I respect you too much to make you my mistress or even be your close friend. 

I am sorry.

~ Theodore

We heard a loud engine and then the loud stereo. Teddy (Theodore) was home.

We didn’t tell him why we were all smiling but he liked way the jacket fit Garrett.

“Who is Mary?” Garrett asked his father. Clara started to giggle.

I put my arm around Teddy’s waist and handed him the letter.

“Mary? Oh right, she was a girl I met at a party in London. Pretty girl and insanely wealthy. She had a crush on your Uncle Maxwell. What, you didn’t think she wrote that letter to me did you? It was for Max.”

“What happened?” I asked in anticipation of a good story.

“Nothing. I never gave it to him. She didn’t know he was a Vampire or anything other than he was a charming man with an air of danger about him.”

“What happened to her?” 13-year-old Clara had to ask.

Teddy smiled. “Mary met the love of her life a few weeks later and lived a long and happy life.”

Which goes to show that sometimes the best love letters are those that are never sent.

And, proves once again that being kissed by a Vampire isn’t a bad thing. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(This was first posted in 2013. This brings more traffic to my blog than any other post. Stay safe. Stay in love. Get your shots when you can.)

Phantom Thoughts and Rogue Memories

Phantom Thoughts and Rogue Memories.

My brother Max is having not dreams, but memories of places and events that aren’t his.

At the same time he can feel others thinking about him. He is a receiver. So am I.

It is one of those odd things that we don’t tell anyone else about.

The memories are a mystery. We’ve compared notes and we can’t figure it out. Who sends us memories from places we’ve never been or memories of things we’ve never done.

The other types of thoughts are straight from a known source.

Max and I stood out on the deck the other night looking into the fog. “She is thinking about me right now. I haven’t seen her in years but she has been thinking about me a lot lately.”

I didn’t tell him to call her or drop by her house. It wasn’t the right time. It wasn’t his call to make. But when she thinks of him he knows it. He never wonders if she loves him or really even cares. It just is what it is. He is flattered and charmed if nothing else. That is it.

I told him about the bridge again. It was a large bridge that fell during rush hour 50 years ago. I wasn’t there but I remember it from the eyes of a young man who was in a blue car. He was in the water. A woman helped him out. His wife was frantically calling on the phone to see if anyone knew where he was. That is all I remember. I thought it might have been from a book or a movie, but the memory was like my own.

Max dreams of maps and lying as still as death on the bottom of the ocean. I dream of cars falling off of narrow mountain roads and big ugly fish.

We don’t talk much to others about our dreams and phantom thoughts and rogue memories.

I’m sure you have things like that too – another life built on fog and emotion and strange things that fly by like ghost ships or long forgotten songs.

No matter what it is always good to have someone to talk to, who doesn’t think you’re nuts.

Max left this morning before the sun came up. I will miss him, but he’ll know when I’m thinking about him.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First published here January 2015

Short Story Sunday: I’ll Take Care of You

I’ll Take Care of You

The headache was real. He opened his eyes and squinted at the sun coming through the window and tried to remember what had happened the night before.

“Oh you’re up. Look at the sunlight. Tell me how you feel.”

“Like I’ve been hit by a truck.”

“Do you feel alive?”

He looked at her sitting in a navy blue wingback chair wearing nothing but a smile and black silk stockings held up by red garters. He thought of her as a girl, not from her age but by the way she acted. She had been cute for a while but the cuteness became annoying and practiced.

He got out of bed and looked for his robe. She watched him with a smile on her face that was part wonder and part greed. Memories started to come back. Against his better judgement he’d taken her home and to his bed. Then she’d poured something she said was wine, but it obviously wasn’t.

“What did we drink last night?”

“What did you drink Andrew darling. I gave you an elixir to life. I gave you a tonic of love. I gave you light and love?”

He didn’t even respond. The sooner he got her out of his house and made coffee the better. Finding his robe he headed to the kitchen.

“Do you feel different?” She got up and followed him down the stairs.

“Other than feeling like shit?”

“Today is your new birthday. You’re mortal again.”

It suddenly occurred that she’d given him some sort of potion. “Jen, I can’t be cured. There was nothing wrong with me.”

“You were a Vampire.”

“I’m still a Vampire.”

“You’re walking in the sunlight. See it comes through the windows and you aren’t burning.”

“I’ve always been able to walk in the sunlight. Whatever you gave me didn’t work. It never works anymore than me giving you something that would turn you into a dog.”

“Give me a chance and I’ll take care of you Andrew,” she said clutching at his arms.

He pried off her hands and whispered under his breath, “Yes, and I’ll make sure to take care of you.”

Escorting her to the door, the Vampire told her to not come back – but he knew she’d try. Jen never took no for an answer. He compared her to a bad rash, that is if he’d ever had a bad rash.

Nobody would believe her tall tales of dating a Vampire. She was a groupie, a fan, a follower who didn’t know how to be an adult or find real love. It wasn’t like he always knew how to find real love, but at least he wasn’t going to let anyone change him for it.

Picking up the phone he made a call. “You know, I really don’t have the stomach for killing her right now. Any suggestions?”

His friend paused on the other end of the line then said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of her.”

After getting off the phone Andrew made a blood and strawberry smoothie hoping it would clear out some of the toxic effects of whatever the Hell Jen had given him.

Jen told everyone her family had always been around Vampires, kind of sort of, but she’d just discovered her ability to pick them out about 10 years ago. She’d clamped onto Andrew about a year back after seeing him sing with one of her favorite bands at a local club. She’d spotted him and found out all of the details about his life through mutual friends. Her immaturity was charming at first and kind of cute but now it just grated on Andrew. He ran his hands through his hair and wondered why he’d brought her home last night. Oh right, blood and sex. That always does it.

Then again, Jen thought life should be a cross between a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie and Twilight. Holy crap. The woman was delusional.

Jen sat alone in her San Francisco apartment and thought about her beautiful Vampire lover. Giggling at the thought of his cool skin and hot kisses and wonderful techniques as a lover. He knew all the tricks. She imagined living with him in his beautiful St. Francis Woods home.

Last night she’d offered him not just her body but her blood as well. Last of all she offered her heart. As far as she was concerned that was a sealed deal. She was part of him now. He’d never get rid of her.

A year passed and Andrew had all but forgotten about that night with Jen. Occasionally one of his friends would bring up the story of the toxic brew and laugh about it.

“Don’t laugh, it could have ruined my voice,” Andrew would tell them half serious and half joking.

“What ever happened to her?” They would always ask. Andrew would just shrug.

A hundred miles away, locked in a room with no sharp objects Jen sat rocking on the bed speaking of her Vampire lover and how he’d return for her. Andrew said something under his breath about taking care of her. So she waited not knowing that he already taken care of her, quite nicely.

~ End

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Dead or Alive – A Vampire Romance

Dead or Alive
A Vampire Romance

By Juliette Kings

“What a bunch of idiots,” Jamie said to himself as he watched a mob of men run down the road brandishing knives and guns they didn’t even know how to use. They wouldn’t dare use them. Well, maybe they would – that is why Jamie had to hide. Now he was all dressed up with no place to go.

Now what? Maybe a trip to his favorite opium den for an easy meal or a trip to Madam Rosanna’s for a drink with one of her girls. At least the girls were clean and pretty, but the rush of opium infused blood sounded good right now.

Jamie ended up back home to change his bloody shirt. He knew his housekeeper would be able to get the stains out but it still annoyed him.

As he grabbed a new shirt out of the wardrobe the smell of jasmine and roses gently made him smile. He turned around.

“Belinda. What a delight.” She was indeed a delight but he didn’t expect to see her, not here in his house, much less in his bedroom.

The delicious sight in a silk green dress smiled and sat on his bed. “Your housekeeper let me in. I don’t think she approves but then again…” she didn’t finish her sentence but just laughed.

James brushed his lips across hers then slid his fangs across the side of her neck. “She doesn’t approve of you because she doesn’t know you.” His mouth went to Belinda’s again.

“You taste like blood,” she whispered.

“You taste like death darling Belinda.” Jamie took her hand and pulled her up. “I’m getting dressed. Let’s go out.”

They passed into the darkness outside, arm in arm, laughing quietly at their private jokes.

Maybe they’d go to the whore house or the opium den. Maybe they’d go to a musical revue or drop by and see friends. Anything was possible. Together, Jamie and Belinda always had a way of making everything fun – at least fun for them.

They decided on the theater but stopped in front of one of the larger churches in the center of the city. A bride and groom happily rode in their carriage to start a new life together. The bride was dressed in innocent white. The groom was happy and handsome.

Jamie and Belinda stood, arm in arm, and looked upon the happy couple.

“That could have been us,” said Belinda.

“We don’t deserve that kind of happiness,” said Jamie, giving her hand a squeeze.

“Why not? We could get married. We could be happy Jamie.”

“Oh darling, you’d drive me crazy. I’d have to kill you.”

“I’m already dead. Well, sort of dead.”

And under the gaslights by the church Jamie kissed Belinda. “Dead or alive, I love you Belinda. I always have. I always will.”

A cold tear ran down Belinda’s cheek. Jamie led her into the empty church and up to the alter. “Belinda, will you love me and stay with me always?”

“Jamie, will you love me and stay with me always?”

“I suppose. Aren’t we supposed to talk about till death do us part?”

“I didn’t think about that,” said Jamie.

“You wouldn’t now James would you?” She called him by his proper name, the way she thought a wife would.

They left the church and headed back to Jamie’s place. Over a glass of wine they made uncomfortable small talk.

“Will you stay the night Belinda?” He had to ask.

“If you’ll have me. Oh Jamie, we’re so awful. We really are. There has to be more.”

He thought about it for about a second. “Not really. We are what we are. We are who we are.”

Then he took her hand and led her back up to his room.

In the morning the world came alive, but they continued their sleep, wrapped in each other’s cold dead arms, as alive as they knew how to be.

~ end

My Own Vampire (A Christmas Story for 2020)

No amount of coffee could help Austin Durant out of his funk. Everyone knew Austin as a history professor and restorer of historic buildings. Only a few knew he was also a vampire hunter. 

A visit to his Grammy usually cheered him up. Grammy always knew what to say. He fixed her a plate of Christmas cookies he’d baked the day before and drove over to her house. He told her he’d be there in the morning with muffins, but he needed his sleep.

“Sorry I’m late Grammy,” said Austin. “I got a call last night about a job. I had to take it.”

“What kind of job? Teaching? Construction? Vampire hunting?”

“Vampire hunting. I hate doing this around the holidays Grammy, but it was bad. I couldn’t say no.”

“You look like crap. What happened?”

“Since the pandemic lock-downs in February there have been a lot of similar suicides. It is always some guy who lives alone. It is always someone who is depressed and hurting.”

“Go on,” said Grammy. “Tell me about this vampire.”

 “She finds them on dating aps.”

“What’s a dating ap?”

“It is a computer program, an application where people post photos and information so they can meet.”

“For sex?”

“Sure, usually, but not always. Anyway, she goes online…”

“On her computer?”

“Yes, on her computer. She finds guys who are lonely and alone. Then she goes to their house for what the victim thinks is going to be a hot night with a hot girl. A day, or week later, the guy is found in the bathtub with his wrists slit. It is clearly a suicide due to loneliness or whatever.”

“You want a beer?”

“Sure. Sometimes she stays and has sex with them then kills them. Other times she just kills them. The worst thing is… she goes on Facebook…”

“I have a Facebook account.”

“Right, she goes on their page pretending to be the guy right before she killed him and talks about being depressed and lonely. She talks about not wanting to spend Christmas alone. She pretends to be the guy she just killed. Then she fills up a cooler with his blood, puts him in the tub, and turns on the water so whoever finds him assumes all of his blood went down the drain.”

“She sounds like a creeper to me. Did you kill her?”

“Yeah, I did. I got in contact with her. I asked if she wanted to hook up and had her meet me in that house over on 37thI’m doing the restoration on.”

“What did she look like?”

“Gorgeous. She had on a tight red dress and a Santa hat no less. But there was no life in her eyes, and her skin had that sort of chalky dry look a lot of them get if they haven’t fed for a while. I told her I wasn’t looking for anything except sex. She was fine with it. I took her to a bedroom and killed her, for a second time.”

“How?”

“I held her down and cut out her heart. She didn’t have much blood in her so, you know, there wasn’t much of a mess.”

“So why are you looking like you lost your puppy? It isn’t like she had a soul.”

“I checked in her purse. Her name was Sandy. She was born in 1960. I looked her up. She disappeared in 1981. It was always assumed she was murdered considering the amount of blood found in her bedroom. December 13, 1981, she lost her life, and her soul. The thing I killed wasn’t her, but it carried around her wallet for thirty years.”

“I hope you hid the body.”

“She kind of dried up and looked like she’d been dead for, well, thirty years. I took her to a field and called the police with a burner phone. Forensics will show she has been dead since the day she vanished.”

“Her family will be sad, but relieved. Believe me, I’ve been through this more times than I want to think about.”

“Grammy, I don’t know why this one hit me so hard. It wasn’t like she was the kind of vampire we don’t kill.”

“Speak for yourself young man.”

“Ones with a soul. They’re not all ghouls without substance.”

“So they tell you.”

“So you’ve told me.”

“I’m not dissing on your cold blooded friends. I’ve got vampires of my own. I bet you didn’t know that. That’s right, you just think I’m a crusty old lone vampire hunter. Let me tell you a story. Bring me another beer too. Did I ever tell you how I met your Grandpa Joe?” 

“No, you did not.”

“Well, I’ll tell you now. It was December 23, almost Christmas Eve. I was driving down the road and almost hit a young woman walking along the edge. Holy crap balls, she was wearing a torn party dress with her coat over her shoulder, and tears in her eyes. She said her boyfriend had dumped her on the side of the road when she broke up with him. So I took her home. No big deal. 

The next night I was sitting in a bar. It was 1950 but it wasn’t all June Cleaver and all of that bull shit. Some of us had lives. I was twenty one and a free American so I thought I could do whatever I wanted to do. I was also one bad ass vampire hunter by then. God damn I could pick them out no matter how hard they tried to hide from me. There I was sitting at the bar chatting up a couple of nice young fellows, not really looking for trouble. You know Austin, even then I was hunting more than my share of vampires. Sometimes a girl just needs a night off. You know, cute blue collar guys. When this man comes in an sits next to me. I can feel the cold and believe me it wasn’t from the open door. 

Damn, if he wasn’t the best looking thing I’ve ever seen outside of a movie theater. He looks at me with big brown eyes, then those eyes start to turn dark. If I hadn’t been in a public place I would have either run or jumped his bones then killed him.”

“Granny!”

“Oh, come on Austin. I was young once. Don’t think you’re the only one who has rolled in the hay with vampires. Stop interrupting me. So, I asked him what he wants. His eyes turn a hazel green and I almost swoon, but then get my wits because that is what vampires do. They seduce like nothing else. Damn. I resist. He smiles. Then he thanks me for giving his daughter a ride home the night before. His daughter. Before then I didn’t even know vampires have children. 

Then he says, I know you’re alone this Christmas. You want people to think you’re tough. You’re a vampire hunter so your blood should be as cold as mine, figuratively speaking. You’re alone. Your man dumped you for a woman you considered a whore. Your family is all gone. You’re too proud to reach out to any of your fair weather drinking buddies.

Before I could tell him he didn’t know what he was talking about, even though everything he said was the truth, he handed me a card.

Thomas Kent
Poet

And there was an address. It was the same beautiful home I’d dropped his daughter off at the night before.

Come over later tonight, he said. 

What do you mean by Poet? I asked. I wasn’t nice about it either. Who the hell puts Poet on their business card?

He leaned in close to my ear and said, it means exactly that.

I nearly froze to the bone, but damn it he was attractive in a way I couldn’t explain. I was drawn to him, not in a romantic way, but in a warm way, like going to a Christmas party with Champagne and really good chocolates, and you’re wearing the perfect dress, and it looks damn good on you. I’d already killed nearly three dozen of the blood sucking ghouls in my short life, but this was different.

You’re different Thomas Kent, I said to him.

He smiled without a hint of fang. I have a soul, he said. In fact, I have two souls.

Austin squinted at his Grammy. “You didn’t know there were different kinds of vampires?”

“Not back then. Like that girl you saw last night. She was nothing but a shell. But Thomas Kent never lost his soul, but holy bat shit the man was still a vampire. I’d never encountered one of them before. By them I mean his kind.”

“Did you go to his house?”

“Of course I did. If you get an invitation from a vampire it isn’t always the best idea to turn it down. I would have killed them all if they’d shown any aggressions. Don’t look surprised grandson, I was the best there was back in the day.”

“I know you were Grammy.”

“I went to the house, which is in a beautiful part of town, you know where it is. I got up to the front door and looked at the card to see if I had the right address. It had been raining the night before and I just dropped the girl off. It was the damndest thing. As I stepped up to the front door the address vanished off of the card. Completely vanished. 

Some stiff man in a dark suit, I think he was the hired help butler kind of guy answered the door. I wanted to call him Count Orlok but held my tongue. Thomas Kent came up to me with his hands out and let me into the room. His daughter stood by the fireplace as beautiful as any living woman. The most wonderful Christmas Tree I had ever seen was there, decorated all in silver and gold. The place was beautiful, not the usually dusty creepy vampire lair I was used to. I would have lived there. 

Then Thomas takes me aside and says to me it would be so easy to turn you from vampire hunter to vampire tonight. I know you like what you see.

Then he smiled at me flashing a hint of fang. I was ready to pull out my dagger, when just like in some stupid movie, the doorbell rang, and the butler brought in a tall young man. He had that cute boyish look with dimples and light brown hair that was just a little too long. The guy wasn’t a vampire, that was clear. He put out his nice warm hand and introduced himself as Joe.”

Austin stopped her. “Grandpa? That was how you met Grandpa?”

“That was your Gramps. He had no idea vampires even existed. He had no idea there were people like me who roamed the streets at night keeping everyone safe from ghouls and shadows. 

Later that night, after wine and a lot of interesting stories, Thomas spoke to me in private. He thanked me for helping his daughter and told me he’d always have my back. He said I will be your vampire. If you help a vampire it will always be there for you.” 

Austin raised an eyebrow. “Did he? Was he always there for you?”

“I don’t know. I never saw him again after that night. I married your Gramps three month later. Damn I miss him. It has been ten years and it feels sometimes like he died yesterday.”

“I miss him too Grammy. I miss him every single day.”

“I gotta ask you Austin. Do you have your own vampire?”

“I think I have a few.”

“Good to know. Still if I were you I wouldn’t trust them too much.”

“I never put down my guard Grammy.”

“Good. You know what else?”

“What Grammy?”

“They have the prettiest Christmas trees.”

“Good to know Grammy. I’ll keep that in mind the next time a vampire invites me over at Christmas time.”

They had another beer and Austin took a nap on Grammy’s couch. Her old cat curled up by his side, keeping eye open, only as the cat of a vampire hunter will do.

On the way home that evening Austin thought about Sandy and how difficult it must have been for her family never knowing what happened to her. He smiled thinking of my own family, and of his own vampires. Like his family, they watch his back. And as their human he watched theirs. 

Instead of going home he stopped by his on and off girlfriend Elizabeth’s house. Grammy was right about the Christmas Trees. Elizabeth’s was spectacular covered with glass ornaments shaped like every sort of animal and sea creature on earth. 

Later as they cuddled on the couch watching LA LA Land for the 4th time he kissed her cold lips. 

“Will you be my vampire Elizabeth?”

“I’m already your vampire Austin.”

“Good to know. Love you baby.”

She nuzzled his neck, nipping him with her teeth. “Love you too. Merry Christmas.”

~ end