Passings in the Night

Passings in the Night

The plan tonight was to share some Vampire tales and adventures and truly funny things, but plans change.

Tonight I saw The Ghost, Nigel. He wore an impeccable black suit, his hair was a perfect glossy black and all in place. He motioned for me to sit with him out on my back deck under the cold night sky.

His eyes met mine and he told me a story.

“I died December 3, 1986. I normally wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of my own death, but, it was the strangest thing, I was standing out in the woods, not doing much of anything. When you’re a ghost you don’t do much of anything. Anyway, I was out in the woods and a woman came towards me. She was smiling at me and I knew things about her. Her life had taken up where parts of mine had stopped. Then her life stopped December 3, 2013.

She looked at me for just a moment in passing. It was dark but I could see the light coming over the horizon. She asked me who I was and if we knew each other. I told her “I don’t know you, but we’ve loved some of the same people.” I turned her in the right direction.”

Nigel stood up and looked up at the stars, hovering in and out of a transparent state. Then he came close to me and made himself look as real as a live person.

“I couldn’t go with her. But I sent a little bit of my love along, I hope. Well, I know I did. Don’t look all sad. I’m a ghost. These things happen. Hey, nobody should die alone. She left surrounded by love.”

“Who was she?” I had to ask.

He shook his head slightly. “I don’t know. But we loved the same people, just not at the same time. I loved them first, then she loved them after I was gone. I have a feeling she was better at it than I was, or most people for that matter.”

There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but tonight was not the time to ask or to try to get answers.

Love is a force that we can’t explain or quantify. It goes beyond worlds, beyond sorrow and beyond grief.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted December 2013 – In memory of Julian Elsworth and Lil Longshore.

 

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Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (A Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Desert Winds

On the edge of the Sandia Mountains, My friends Amelia her husband Raul and I drove down the gravel road to the home of Ximena, an ancient woman who mostly lived in solitude with the company of the birds and the wind.

Ximena’s home was a large old adobe structure rimmed with bells and bushes of purple flowers. She greeted us at the door, as always wearing a long colorful skirt. Her black hair flowed down her back almost to her knees. Dark eyes smiled at us in a welcome greeting, as did her fangs. She is almost as ancient as Tellias and Eleora, and like them Ximena looks like a young college girl.

We came into the main room. Walls lined with books and crystals flanked part of the room with windows on the other side looking towards the mountains. We could smell the dried chiles rastas hanging in the kitchen. A red shouldered hawk perched on a wooden chair. It called out when it saw us.

“Maria, you still sing so sweetly,” I said to the bird. She gave me a cold stair then allowed me to pet her feathered head.

Maria the hawk had been around since I was a young woman, more than a hundred years. I wondered at times how she could live so long, then I stopped wondering and chalked it up to magic, love or pure mystery. It is what it is. That is how things work here in the land of magic.

A youngish man with dark hair and eyes like Ximena, but pale skin, came into the room. He was introduced to us as Kyle. But he wasn’t like us. I could feel his warmth as soon as he walked into the room.

Kyle was a man of many talents. He was a photographer, a teacher, a writer, an engineer and apparently a lover. After talking over wine and a light diner we also discovered Ximena’s young friend was also extremely opened minded.

He was also a young widow. One night left him alone with his dreams dead, but he kept going and kept at least a portion of the dreams and spark alive.

While Raul, Amelia and Ximena went to a back room to examine some old maps or something, Kyle and I went out to the porch. Bats flew about as the sounds of the bells filled the air.

Kyle asks me about my husband Teddy. I smiled shyly and told him how we’d met as kids and fallen in love a hundred years later. I think I’d always been in love with my husband on some level.

Then Kyle spoke of his lost love. “After Kayla, my wife, passed away everyone kept asking me if I’d go back. Over and over they’d ask the old what if question. You know, you can’t go back. I can’t bring her back. I will never forget her. She is part of me, but I live in the world of the living.”

“No ghost?” I had to ask (always thinking of obnoxious Nigel)

“Only a Vampire in the Southwest would ask that,” Kyle answered with a knowing smile.

“A Vampire anywhere would ask that. Don’t get me started on the ghosts I see all the time.”

“No ghost. Kayla moved on the night she died. That is a good thing.”

“Yes it is. You’re a wise man with a loving heart. In some circles that is a rare thing.”

He leaned against the rail. “I don’t know you except by reputation but I want to ask you a few thing, or at least see how you feel about a few things.”

“Okay,” I said.

“I’m in love with Ximena. I know what she is. I know how old she is. It doesn’t matter.”

I shrugged and laughed. “My 500 or so year old Grandmama is in love with a 35 year old. What are you, about 38?”

He smiled. I was correct. He was 38 and absolutely a delight – young, yet years ahead of most men his age.

“Dear Kyle, you also want me to tell you if I think it would be wise if you became a Vampire? Right?”

He smiled an uncomfortable hot blooded smile.

I said to him, “Kyle, you are in love with the cold wind under the moon and the sprint of night. She is an amazing being. I’ve always admired her. If you feel you can make a life out here with her then do it. But don’t lose yourself in her. Always be who you are, even after you become a Vampire. That is the only way it will work. If you try to be too much like her she will leave you, because she fell in love with you, not with herself.”

Raul and Ximena came out to join us with wine for Ryan and spiced blood for the rest of us.

Ximena whistled and Maria the red shouldered hawk came and landed on a table next to her hand. Ximena gave the bird a piece of meat she took from a bag in her pocket.

Into the night we talked until the sun came up and created unbelievably beautiful light and shadows on the mountains.

I could hear the wind whispering to the lovers:

The light

in dark eyes

promises kept

forever and

again

in our hearts

we love

we laugh

and we learn

to do it 

all

over 

again.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires

Quotes about Life, Love, Art and Vampires from Vampire Maman (things I’ve said)

Our old friends

 

The only thing a man should wax is his car.

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I was so angry I could have killed him… then I remembered he was a Vampire.

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The closest I get to a true religious experience is when I’m in the presence of art

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I can explain the wonder and awe and feeling of being so complete and one with the universe when I’m in the presence of art. It is time travel for the soul. It is the essence of being. It was something that transports.  It is like a high that no drug can match. It is magic.

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There is something romantic about most art as well, or at least the art I’m attracted to, be if figural, landscape, modern or ancient.

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When I pass him he always puts a hand on my waist or back. He takes my hand when we walk or sit anywhere. We don’t even have to talk, but we do talk. We talk a lot – all the time. We never run out of things to talk about. We’ve been together for a long time and have our banter down to an art. It delights most and some find it extremely annoying, but it is what we do. And a lot of that conversation/banter is about art.

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Val always says “love isn’t a physical thing. It is a meeting of souls. Be it friendship or romantic lovers, it is something we can write about and dream about, but we can never truly explain or define it.”

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Just shut up and give it a rest.

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“What are you?” I asked him that question surprising myself that I didn’t ask whobut what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

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I will be with you even when we fall apart and our body parts trail behind us…and there is nothing left except our love. ~ From a Zombie Love Letter

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You’re the warm summer breeze against my skin. You’re a warm embrace on a cold winter night. You’re the hot in my chocolate. You’re the key to my lock. You’re the one who knows the punch line.

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Eleora quietly got out a few plates. “I was 300 years old before I tasted cheese.”

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As a Vampire you are a born liar (like a cat.) That isn’t a good thing or a bad thing. It is just a thing. Just like being a writer – you tell a certain truth, even if it might be the truth, say in an alternate universe. You’re only a liar if you tag your work “non-fiction” or if you’re an asshole, but that is another story. Ask Oprah about it.

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Everybody loves to hate on people who write about Vampires.

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Most Vampire Hunters will be heard in hushed whispers or desperate cries “Don’t look into their eyes or they’ll have you.”

Most Vampire Hunters are idiots but it is true about the eyes. The mirror to the soul and the entrance to all of your wildest dreams and most dreaded nightmares.

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But I stayed. I held him close, because sometimes just something warm is nice. He turned me around to face a mirror. His image was clear. My own Vampire image was a shadow or like a ghost. It was like the image in a daguerreotype that vanishes when turned or shown in the sunlight.

“Look at my eyes, in the mirror and I’ll become clear.”

We stood there looking at each other in the glass, so different, yet connected in our weird way. My image became as crisp as his, as so did my nerves.

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People won’t admit they read poetry and are moved by it…but late at night they go on the internet and search it out. It is like pornography. I’m dead serious (no pun intended). It is a need that most people will not dare admit to.

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“I’m a realist. You aren’t a Vampire. You have no idea what we can do to people.”

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In big and little ways the ability to change directions and go from one extreme to another without missing a beat is what life is all about. Old and young and all of us in the middle – it is what we do. It is who we are.

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You never know who will be there to help. You never know but sometimes it might seem like a miracle or something you won’t be able to describe. But there are those who will help – more than you think.

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I don’t really believe in fate, not much. None the less, when good things happen or bad things are avoided treasure that. Most of all you should treasure those precious folks that make up your life.

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So what happens when she breaks up with you and you get all butt hurt and can’t stand to see her face but you know you’re going to keep running into her for the next 200 years?

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Lucy,
I’m tired of being pursued by sluts like you who cheat on their boyfriends. You took me to your bed when you knew another man was in love with you. Shame on you. Tell the same to that little trollop Mina.  And tell Jonathan that Mina isn’t as innocent as she acts.
Drop dead,
Dracula

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Three Vampires and the ghost driving into the night on our way to kill Rogue Vampires singing along with the soundtrack of Across the Universe.

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“Souls are cheap and keeping them is expensive,” he hissed in my ear with nasty wake-the-dead breath.

We all need our dogs.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Burning Question #4: Is Love Blind?

Once again you get to baffle your brain, and your heart, with another BURNING QUESTION.

Today I will ask the Fourth (4th) of FIFTY (50) BURNING QUESTIONS.

YOU will provide the answer. YES YOU. Please comment as well if you want. I encourage it.  Don’t just click on this page and run away. Don’t just click on “like.” DO THE POLL below.  These questions are important.

Burning Question #4: Is Love Blind?

Sure you can be like the folks who marry for money in exchange for being a bird in a guilded cage, or you could be like everyone else marry for poor worthless love, or is it something else?

But seriously do you just jump? Is love blind, or is it looking forward with wide clear eyes. Does love make the whole world seem like beer goggles 24/7? Or does love give you a single minded clarity? I have no idea. You tell me.

 

~Thank you and I’ll see you back here for BURNING QUESTION #5 next Saturday.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Now look at the dog and the orangutan and listen to Sammy. Seriously have you ever seen anything so cute? I was talking about the animals but Sammy is pretty cute too (and OMG that voice.)

 

Frogs, Love, and a Rain Swept Night

All night we’ve had thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. Hours later my back deck is still hail. In the creek and field behind my home the frogs are singing with loud clear voices, calling for romance. Pick me! Pick me! Oh let me prove that I am the amphibian of your dreams. Thousands of little frogs, so small that one could be comfortable sitting on a quarter, are belting out love songs as fierce as any Rock-n-Roll idol.

I love the frog music. I love the sound of the rain. I love the thunder and lightning.

In a land where drought is more of normal state of things, a week of storms is a wonderful and magical thing.

Frogs never worry about expressing their love. They aren’t shy like their human neighbors.

My husband sings in the shower. A happy feeling of love always fills my heart when I hear him doing that. He doesn’t know it. And we might be a bit cold blooded sometimes but we’re no frogs.

In 1868 my two older brothers (Max and Andy) were more or less out of the house. That left twelve year old Aaron, nine year old Val, and seven year old me.

We’d read the story of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mr. Mark Twain, and we’d decided to have our own frog jumping contest.

At the time the city of Sacramento was being torn up in order to raise the streets to protect us from future floods. The railroad was also tearing things up. We didn’t care. In the middle of the night we left our home in search of large frogs. I wore some of Val’s old pants so I wouldn’t have to bother with getting a skirt caught on anything.

Through the mud and dirt three vampire children headed towards the river as the sun set over the distant hills. We could see the light of boats as we took a dirt path down to the water. The passengers waved back at us as we jumped and shouted to get their attention.

Val found some pennies on the beach. I picked up a few clam shells and put them in my pocket. Aaron had forgotten about the frogs and was loudly reciting the battle speech from Richard III (yes, the one from William Shakespeare) as he stood on the edge of the water looking into the sky.

Then we heard the sound of applause and looked up to see a group of men at the top of the embankment cheering on Aaron.

My brother continued his grand speech after which he bowed, and the three of us ran off laughing into the night.

On the way home we looked into windows of businesses and homes, laughing the whole way. We saw cooks, and lovers, gamblers and quiet readers.

When our parents arrived home they found us clean and playing cards. We gave them angelic smiles.

Our mother smiled at us, showing a little bit of her lovely Vampire fangs. “Did you hear the frogs tonight?”

“Yes,” I said, “and tomorrow we’re going to catch our own frogs and have a race.”

“We’ll see about that,” said my mother with wink.

The three of us never did have a frog race, or a frog jumping contest, but we did catch plenty of frogs after that night.

A few years ago I took my own children out to the vernal pool near our house where the seasonal rains create a froggy paradise. It is a regular version of Frog Bachelorette. Or at least it amuses me to think so.

So once again the sun will come through the clouds, and the sounds of birds will replace that of frogs, and maybe even with our feathered friends love will also be in the air.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman