I should have a big flashy post today because it is Halloween. Unfortunately I’ve been spending the day trying to get blood stains out of my favorite shirt and out of Teddy’s leather jacket. I’m also polishing my scratched up boots. Damn it. We’re also trying to locate my brothers Val and Andy who were with us. Teddy and I were running so fast we just lost track of them. I’m sure they were smart enough to call an Uber or Lyft and get back to Val’s house, or somewhere. Sometimes I don’t know about those two. Another night in the life of Vampires. Plus a huge group of Ghosts are gathering down the street in the park. Not always a good sign. I don’t even want to think about what the Witches down the street might be doing. Trashy bitches.
False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby
As a child Bronagh would get up each morning and go to school. There she’d figure out ways to escape through day dreams and long lone walks around the school ball field. In her more lucid and social moments she’d be trying to ignore the nonstop bullying from the group of smirking thugs who ruled the school. Having a different name in a universe full of Debbies and Nancys and Susans made one stand out. It made one get picked on along with being small, plain and quiet. Her family was also considered weird.
Her father was a large loud Irishman with a thick accent and her mother was a small pale elf like German woman who’d lost her family in the war, then ended up in a group home for lost children. The Irishman and the German girl met in a bar, got married, moved to America and had too many children and didn’t do things like other families. They’d sit up all night and play cards and smoke and drink too much. Then they’d tell stories of ghosts and werewolves and violent relatives who didn’t come to America. They’d sing loud songs and walk around their backyard in their underwear. Sometimes the intensity of the couple frightened the other families of their normal middle class community.
Bronagh was never mistreated at home but she never felt too connected to her family either. She loved them but she didn’t want to live with them or be like them.
She struggled in school but in her secret world she was smart and would one day be beautiful and successful. Nightmare sessions in front of the class unable to do a math problem while other children jeered made her imagine a different life. At that point she started to keep secrets.
Nobody ever knew what she was feeling or thinking. She gave away nothing by her expression or words. She lived in two worlds – one on the outside and her own world inside.
She grew up, went on to high school, made friends, grew into a beautiful young woman, made straight A’s and never looked back.
Then she went to college and found herself on too many long walks alone, but that was OK. She was used to that. Friends came and went. There were always good times to be had but she never stayed close to anyone. She graduated and had plans but her life seemed to be one big black hole that sucked the life out of every idea, every relationship and every job prospect. All of her choices sucked. It was as if everything she touched turned to garbage. It was garbage that couldn’t even be recycled. It was toxic waste.
Time passed and roadblocks grew higher and doors slammed in her face. She found herself with a college degree, a shelf full of books, a stray one-eyed tabby cat she named Toulouse, and nothing else.
One day she decided that one of two things needed to happen. She either needed to die or fall in love. Nobody would ever love her she decided, so she set a date to end it all, that is if nothing happened.
She grew numb.
One day she forced herself to go the large university library to research jobs and graduate schools.
On the first floor she ran into an old party friend Cindy. Beautiful lucky Cindy was going off to her dream job in Los Angeles. A huge engagement ring sat on Cindy’s finger. Cindy’s clothes were beautiful and obviously expensive. Joy radiated out of her, not for material reasons but because she was just where she wanted to be. Then again Cindy had been born where every girl wanted to be. Cindy was that kind of girl. Bronagh gave Cindy a hug and wished her the best.
Then she saw a guy she’d had a one night stand with talking to a biology professor she’d had. Ditching them she went up the stairwell to the second floor to take refuge with some art books. There were always too many people from her past she didn’t want to deal with.
On the second floor, as she left the art section, she ran into a man she’d been passionately in love with. She smiled with a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe he’d finally feel the same longing she did. He was glad to see her. He was glad to tell her that he was getting married – to somebody else. He asked her if she still had the cat. She thought he thought she was an idiot. She lied and said she had a boyfriend and great job prospects. Someone she really liked had dumped her the week before. She’d been fired from a job she’d held for a month. It didn’t matter. He’d cheated on her anyway. Being young and miserable with no prospects is no fun even when you don’t feel bad about telling lies.
Feeling numb she looked at college catalogs, made notes about graduate school requirements then go up to walk and distract herself. It was time to look up poisons or just sit down and die and turn into a mummy that someone would find in 50 years or so behind a stack of books nobody ever read.
In the deep darkness of the ancient basement stacks she accidentally tripped and fell into the arms of a young man. It wasn’t that kind of fall into your arms. It was more of the kind of “I noticed you were looking up poisons,” kind of falling to his arms. He noticed in a big way. Poisons were not the kind of things pretty girls, or anyone not doing medical research or writing crime novels usually looked up. She said she was writing a story. He knew she was telling a lie but he let it pass.
She had iced herbal tea with him in an earthy crunchy little coffee shop and they talked about all sorts of things. His name was Val, yes, that Val, my brother. His delightful friend Alonzo joined them.
That was 38 years ago. She still remembered the purple skirt and white lace top she was wearing. On her feet were gray flats. Val was wearing jeans and a black tee. Alonzo wore a red vest and a white button down shirt. His dark hair curled around his ears. It was weird how she remembered the details. She clicked with Val and Alonzo. They didn’t judge her. But they were not like the predators she’d met who wanted to lure her into schemes and religions and cults and plans that she didn’t want to be part of.
They became friends and she became one of them – one of us. A Vampire.
I know it sounds weird but she tells such a glum story. Bronagh is the funniest Vampire I’ve ever met. Yes, we have a sense of humor. You can’t live as long as we do and not.
Bronagh thinks about things too much – old things, things that happened, the guy in the library, the guy who dumped her, people who had been to her, a friend who died when they were young. But then not really, not lately. She used to sometimes wonder what life might have been like had she not become a Vampire.
Becoming a Vampire wasn’t what solved her problems. Having some support and encouragement and sheer tenacity is what got her out of her gloom. Long story. Hard work. Creative thinking. Love. Humor. She shrugs it off.
She’ll laugh and talk about how handsome Alonzo is but that she married him for his sense of humor. She’ll tell you about how he proposed to her while they walked under the stars on a windy beach. She won’t tell you about the times she was so unhappy and lost. Those dark times were such a small portion of everything but still, it makes a mark.
Alonzo had a past so full of nightmares that he was glad to become a Vampire and live in a world of calm control and find some measure of peace. I’m just glad to have them in my life. Maybe I’ll talk Alonzo into telling me a few stories.
Halloween is almost here and all kinds of ghosts are coming out of the woodwork. Let’s just keep most of them tucked away. We don’t need to deal with them or let them bother us.
Alonzo just shrugs and laughs off anything from his past. Bronagh does the same for the most part. They’re just like any other couple, only they’re Vampires. They believe that what they is due to divine intervention and it happened for a reason. Maybe. Maybe not. I’d like to think it was meant to be. OK it was meant to be.
And the odd thing about this story is that the old one-eyed tabby cat Toulouse is still alive at 39 years old. Of course, cats aren’t supposed to live that long but sometimes, well, all Vampires know that there are things we’ll never be able to explain.
Things that go bump…on Halloween Morning (or Life of a Modern Vampire Mom.)
In the wee hours of the morning, before the sun came up, before I’d finished my first cup of coffee my phone made that little annoying ping noise that indicates a text message.
It was my brother Aaron, the middle child, of my Vampire Family. I’m the youngest, but who’s counting. I just had my 158th birthday. Aaron is 164. Anyway, we’re young as far as Vampires go, but we’re established. We’re cool.
So I get this text.
Aaron is an attorney with a twenty person law office housed in a 4,000 square foot downtown home he purchased in 1898. He stood on the front porch in jeans and a flannel shirt. No suit yet. It is Halloween anyway so he could put on a beard and be a lumberjack for the rest of the day for all I knew.
He gave me a hug and a kiss on my cheek, then thanked me profusely for coming.
“Where is your Vampire Hunter?” I asked him. He has a guy named Austin he works with on occasion for removing unwanted soulless Vampires (who are not like us because as you know we have two souls and we’re not dead yet.)
“He has an early class this morning. I didn’t want to wake him. You know how they need their sleep,” said Aaron. Aside from hunting dried up Vampires, Austin teaches history at the local University. He isn’t a Vampire so I guess he needs his beauty sleep more than I do.
“You know you would have called me anyway,” I said.
“You’re so good with them Sis,” said my brother with a sparkle in his cold blue Vampire eyes.
I looked at my brother with squinty hazel eyes. “You’re afraid of them. Admit it.”
“You’re better with them than I am.”
“You’re an alpha male Vampire. I’ve seen what you can do.”
“You’re a mom.”
I give him the look. You know that look that all wives and mothers instinctively give the men in their lives. But he had a good point.
“Alright,” I said. “Show me where they are.”
As we walked inside I immediately heard the scratching and sounds of, I don’t know, snorting and just weird obnoxious noises, like when you have someone annoying in a cubicle next to you and they’re eating loudly, sucking snot, and tapping ALL DAY LONG (I have friends with that problem, not me thank goodness.”
“In my office,” said Aaron.
I walked up the stairs to his office. It was a beautiful space in a room with a round turret in the corner and original stained glass windows. Sitting at Aaron’s desk was a haggard looking Vampire with oatmeal colored skin stretched over a narrow skull, oily black hair, and red eyes. He wore a long black coat and a black baseball cap. A woman stood behind him. She was wearing some sort of weird red lace dress and a nasty looking old monkey fur coat. There was no beauty left in her sunken in face. Greenish blonde hair was piled in a sloppy bun on top of her head. Another man, with gray skin that looked like cracked leather leaned against the window sill. He wore red jeans and a tight black tee. His orange hair hung in dreadlocks down to his shoulders. Round black lensed glasses sat on his nose.
The all flashed their fangs at me and hissed. I could smell their breath. Rotted meat and cat pee. They were so nasty.
“Good morning to you too,” I said to them. “Looks like you’re all ready for Halloween.”
They hissed again.
“Get the Hell out of here or very bad things are going to happen to you.”
“Money first,” said the one sitting at Aaron’s desk.
“NOW,” I said in my strongest mom voice. “OUT.”
They all sat up with wide eyes.
Yes, they were terrifying, but hey, they are also disgusting and stupid and have no business asking for money or anything else. I knew who these three where.
“I know where you live. I know who you hang with. Come around here again and I’ll call the REAL Vampire Hunters. They’ll put stakes in your dead hearts and cut your heads off. So get the fuck out NOW.”
They stood up and slowly crept out hissing at me as they passed. I barred my own fangs, which were longer and whiter than theirs will ever be. They jumped aside. I could feel their fear.
I never understood the whole scary horror movie Vampire thing. Sure they can scare teenagers and children, but they can’t scare a mom. Nobody can scare a mom.
“And clean up,” I yelled at them. “You look like a bunch of meth heads. No self respecting Vampire would look like you. You’re a disgrace. All three of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves. It is Vampires like you that give us a bad name.”
Then I pulled the female aside. “Get yourself some nice clothes. See what I’m wearing. It was easy to put together and you’ll be more comfortable. I know today is Halloween, but just today. And get some moisturizer for that face. You don’t HAVE to look like crap. And you’ll eat better and feel better if you look better.”
Vampires don’t have to dress like ghouls. It is ok to dress like girls.
She looked at my clothes then reached out an touched my sweater. I pushed her bony hand away. “You need to go.”
I watched them file out past my brother, get on their bicycles and ride off.
“Wow. I tried for an hour to get them to leave,” said Aaron, obviously impressed. “They’re such assholes. I was afraid they’d trash the place. I don’t know how I’m going to get the stench out.”
“They’re so dead they don’t even think like adults anymore. It is like dealing with a bunch of middle school kids.”
“Wanna get coffee?”
“Sure,” I said. By then it was 5:30 a.m. and we both knew the little coffee shop around the corner would be open.
So now the only monsters I might see are the neighborhood children who are going to knock on my door tonight. I’ll pour a goblet of spiced blood, dress up the dog, and hand out candy. Oh, I have to carve my pumpkins too! I’ll post photos.
Halloween candy Olive oil (the good kind, don’t get the cheap stuff) Toothpicks Gin Garlic stuffed olives Fresh basil Red bell peppers (2) Green bell (2) Apples Pasta (nothing flat. Get a shape.) Bleach (3 one gallon bottles) Rubber Gloves paper towels Large plastic garbage bags Matches Lighter fluid Drain cleaner
Stop by the hardware store and pick up some drop clothes, duck tape, a couple of hacksaw blades (to fit the old blue handle) and a 50 pound bag of lime. Love you. xoxox thanks.
Eric looked at the grocery list his wife had given him. Sometimes he asked her about the lists but he knew she’d get mad. Then he wondered if it was Duck Tape or Duct Tape. Was Duck Tape a brand. His daughter had talked about making a prom dress out of duck tape. Then he wondered who his wife was going to kill this time.
She was landscaping the yard. They were grilling a lot. She was going to paint the bathrooms. She had a list of people she thought the world would be better off without.
He thought of the box of newspaper articles his wife had kept. One was about a Girl Scout in troop 455 who had died when she fell into a pit toilet on a camping trip. His wife had been part of troop 455. One article was about a fifteen year old girl who’d vanished on a trip to the lake. Another was about a young man, a promising high school foot ball player, who lost his legs when a metal bookshelf in the library fell on him – a shelf that had been previously bolted to the wall in a section about ancient history that was rarely visited, except by this one boy who was a young scholar in Greek and Roman history. And yet another article was about a girl who vanished after going to the rest room at Senior Ball – the same year his wife was a senior in high school. The final article was about a woman his wife used to work for. She’d jumped out of the 5th floor of a building they’d been working in. On the way down she hit two people on the ground. All three died. Nobody knew why she’d jumped. She was known as rising star in her field and up for a promotion. After the funeral his wife took over her boss’s job.
Then he remembered that his son told him not to get any gross Halloween candy or every kid in the neighborhood would think they were uncool.
Eric was shaken out of his thoughts when his phone vibrated. There was a text from is wife.
Working late. But I think I’m getting the VP job. Have a feeling Bob might be going away. xoxox
He’d pick up some flowers on the way home too, just to keep his wife in a good mood.
Revelries of Night – Quiet Musings on Halloween and Vampires
Max was brooding. It is what my eldest brother does best.
I’d come home and found him sulking in my living room on the red couch brooding over a book on the symbolism of art.
“Why does everything have to be so complicated? Why can’t a dove just be a dove, or a sunset just a phenomenon based on the rotation of the earth?”
“You sound like Andy,” I told him. Andy is another brother of mine who likes to wax poetically 24/7 and imagines himself deep. Andy is deep and it works for him. It just sounds weird and uncomfortable when Max does it.
His two giant wolfhounds, along with my sled-dog-mongrel lay sprawled in carpet of dogs at Max’s feet.
I invited Max for Halloween. I thought a quiet night of little monsters and our usual gathering with friends and kids and non-Vampire folks would do him good. Or it would make him want to crawl out of his skin but I didn’t care. I went over to my big brother and rubbed his shoulders. “Relax. You’ve been under a lot of stress too. We all have. Watch the game with me.”
I knew Max was missing parties at home due to the fact that we KNEW the Giants would win the World Series (3rd time in five years) and Max lives in San Francisco. I knew he didn’t care about some stupid female in f-me shoes. So we watched the Giants win and wondered how many little baby boys would be named Madison and Hunter in 2015. Just a couple of Vampires hanging out on a Wednesday night before Halloween.
Oh come on, we’re really not that horrifying. Sure we have some amazing dental work that we use to suck blood out of living humans, but nobody is the worse for it, well, not usually. Our hearts don’t always beat, but they do love. We’re cold, but then again we don’t get all sweaty. We can give people nightmares and hide in shadows and make you forget whatever we want you to forget. I can even suck out your soul but that is usually more trouble than it is worth. Really, trust me on that one.
My husband Teddy was at Kings game (Basketball. Of course they didn’t win. They never win.) My 15-year-old Clara came down to join us after the game. She told Max about all of the stupid stuff going on at school.
I know, I should have some sort of awful HORROR story this time of year. But this is our time to just relax. The holidays are coming and the cold weather and THAT is when things really pick up for us.
I let Max go on about all of the Demons and Zombies and Vampire Hunters and Crazy Ass Rogue Vampires and assholes he had been dealing with at work. He is one of the ones who takes care of all of those things. Not “take care” as in nurture, but “take care” of as in “get rid of.”
On his arm is an ugly fading scar from a Demon scratch. In his heart, be it ever so still, is a will that can’t be broken by anything that might come his way in the shadows he protects.
You should thank him for that. Max and those like him are the reason Regular Humans only have to deal with their own evil and not that of our kind, or those who aren’t Regular Humans or any kind of human.
He and his teammates are the reason why Halloween is relatively safe and sane and fun… the ghosts and ghouls know there will be dire consequences if they show their real faces.
I’ve so many calls to make before tomorrow night and so much to do. Clara is driving me crazy with requests for EVERYTHING (as teenagers do.) As a mom, even as a Vampire mom I feel a need to keep everyone safe and happy. That is, easier knowing that those like Max have my back.
If you’re a Regular Human, on this Halloween thank those who have your back and will risk their lives for you.
Max and I talked through the night about everything under the moon and stars. We watched the ghosts dance later under the oak trees as the bats danced above in the air. As the dogs slept we laughed. I got Max to laugh, something that has seemed rare lately.
In the morning, this morning, to the sound of garbage trucks (yes it is garbage day) we went outside and watched sky show it’s lights just before the sun came up. Max put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze.
“So what’s next?” I asked him.
He smiled showing a bit of fang. “Halloween my dear Juliette, Halloween!”