Short Story Sunday: Stumped

Short Story Sunday

Stumped

 

I just got done removing a stump from the back yard and I’m sitting down to a beer and the game when the doorbell rings.

My wife is out shopping and the kids are off with friends. I’m enjoying a little quiet time, just me and the TV.

I answer the door, and there is a guy about my age standing there. He looks like he just came out of GQ Magazine with a jacket, perfect jeans, wearing shoes that costs as much as my house payment. His features are like an Italian Model or a Movie star, that sort of pretty but manly look that women go nuts over. His hair is perfect, thick and silver. He’s wearing a Rolex Submariner. Nice.

He gave me a pretty serious look then said, “I’m sleeping with your wife.”

All right, I wasn’t expecting that one. He then looked me up and down like he was waiting for me to beat the shit out of him. I’m a big guy. Not big and fat, but 6’4″ with a lot of gym time. I used to play football. This guy wasn’t small but I had a good five inches on him and maybe sixty pounds. He looked like a runner or one of those freaking guys who rides a bike in neon colored spandex shorts.

Honestly I should have beat the shit out of him, but that isn’t my style. I just went numb. Heather and I had been together for 20 years, married 17 of those years. We have two kids and a house and friends and … we were one of those perfect couples. You know, we laugh a lot and say the same thing at the same time. That sort of perfect. We hold hands and … I thought things were fine.

Sure she’d put on some weight and had a hard time dealing with her body image. Sure she was over worked with her job and the kids and with me. Sure she was stressed, but who isn’t? But… this handsome, obviously wealthy guy was standing here telling me that MY WIFE was sleeping with him.

He started talking about passion… her passion. Sure we had passion. That morning I’d almost been late for work because of her passion, our passion. But he got into details of fetish stuff he’d do with her and how he made her scream the way I never could. I had no idea she ever wanted any of that stuff. I sure didn’t want it.

Then, as I stood stunned, he talked about her beauty and how smart she was and how I could never ever appreciate her. He said the kids didn’t need her as much anymore, he said she loved him.

I could feel my body start to shake. My world was imploding around me. My throat was tight. I thought I was going to vomit on his expensive shoes. Finally I said something. “Does she know you’re here?”

Mr. GQ glared at me and said, “I’m taking her away to live the life she deserves.”

“Do you love Heather?” I asked. I had to know. I knew the answer but I wanted him to tell me.

His eyes opened as big as dinner plates. “Heather?”

“My wife,” I said.

“Your wife isn’t Allison?”

“Heather.” I grabbed the wedding photo off of the hutch in the front entryway and put it in his face. “Allison lives next door.”

“Uh, sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t go next door. He just got in his car and drove away. About 20 minutes later the front door opened and I heard a familiar voice, “Honey, I’m home. Did I miss anything?”

“No, just got the stump out and I’m watching the game. Hey, Heather, did I tell you that I think you’re beautiful?”

“Sure. Thanks for getting that stump out. Will you help me with the groceries?”

I follow her outside and she gives me a little smile, the kind she always does when she has something smart to say. “You know, you’re the only man I ever loved.”

I grab a couple of bags. “Good to know. Love you too.”

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Make Me Comfortable

My husband Teddy can talk to anyone about anything. He is so good with people. He always has been.

I love to watch and listen as he makes others comfortable and engaged. He makes everyone feel as if they are interesting and important.

Every woman feels beautiful and fascinating in his presence. Every man feels as if he has a life long friend.

I on the other hand tend to be more quiet and reserved around those I don’t know, and even those I do know. But I too can fascinate.

I don’t know where this one is going, I have stuff to do and I’m waiting for my nails to dry because the entire weekend is just one social event after another. The past few weekends have been like that. That is a good thing.

It is a good thing that Teddy will be along.

We’re always close. His hand is never far from mine. Even when he is across the room I feel his presence. We talk to other people but we’re never apart. Sometimes it almost seems like we’re the most romantic when we’re not alone. I don’t mean gross or overt public displays of affection, but the need to feel safe. Or maybe just to bounce ideas off of each other, or show each other off (look at my fascinating and funny spouse.)

We’re one of those couples. In a more mature way.

My existence isn’t perfect. But as with our parenting philosophy we don’t take our marriage or romance for granted, or by accident. We try to make things happen, not happen to us.

Just like advice for raising kids the same goes for all relationships.

Talk with the people you love. LISTEN to them. Make it safe for them to express themselves. Laugh at their stupid jokes.

In our wedding vows we added “play.” Yes, we make sure we play.

We have our disagreements. We’ve had our fights. I’m always sort of weirded out by people who say they’ve never had a fight with their spouse, or a disagreement.

But we’re together, as partners.

I’ll be once again fascinated this weekend as he makes everyone else feel fascinating.

And as I walk by in a crowded room he’ll hook one of my fingers with his, or put a hand on the small of my back, and whisper an observation in my ear that only I will understand.

I have to go. My nails are dry. I have to get ready to go.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

How to write a response to a love letter

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, let’s 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.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Note to my readers: How to respond to a love letter (which is more fun if it isn’t addressed to YOU) was first published in 2013. To this day it remains the most popular post, year around, on Vampiremaman.com. 

 

 

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I don’t always post a lot about my husband Teddy. With the kids off from school, home from school, and keeping us busy, I haven’t had much time to even think about writing. OK I have thought about it but just enough to put down some notes here and there. Through everything, kids or no kids, Teddy is always here for me.

In the season of cold and love, I’m sharing a story I’ve told before.

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

My eldest brother Max (10 years my senior) had asked his best friend Teddy to escort me home from the theater one evening. It was 1874. I was 15 years old.

“Your hands are so cold,” he said as he helped me up off of the muddy street onto the boardwalk.

I gave him a coy smile. “I have a cold heart sir.”

He laughed. I never called him sir. He offered me his arm.

I gladly took his arm. “Your hands are positively burning. What sort of fire stirs your soul tonight?” That was pretty forward but I didn’t care. I was floating with the joy of being a flirt and having no brothers or parents around to stop me.

“You’re not like the other girls.”

“No I am not.”

“You’re an impish little thing. It will take a man with a quick wit and a good sense of humor to woo you Juliette.”

“Ahhhh, but you forget I have four older brothers. I pity any man who would have to deal with them.”

“They’ll love any man who is truly in love with you Juliette.”

“I doubt that Teddy.”

Then he stopped and faced me. “I have some news. A secret if you can keep one.”

“Your secrets are always safe with me.”

Teddy had a large smile on his handsome face. “I’m getting married.”

My young Vampire heart literally stopped dead. My head started to spin, but I managed to smile because like all Vampires, I was a natural liar. “Oh Teddy. I’m so happy for you. She really is lovely.” I knew the young woman. She was lovely.

I wished I could just turn to putrified slime and slip into the dirt like the dead in the cemetery but instead I found a dark place to curl up in for the rest of the night. Teddy would now be lost to me forever. No more laughing at silly jokes with him. No more having him give me sly smiles. No more watching him and my brother Max in awe as they turned from boys to real men.

Teddy would be moving on to the world of married men where there was no room for girls who laughed too loud and talked too much. There was no room for Vampires. Sure, once I was older and became an icy cold elegant woman like my Vampire mother I could entertain Teddy and his bride, but until then it was over. He might has well have died – at least that is what I was feeling in my cold quiet teenage heart.

Teddy had no idea how different any of us were. He had no idea that his father’s business partner was a Vampire. Teddy had no idea what a Vampire was.

While they were away to college Teddy never really questioned why my brother Max would go out in the middle of the night. He imagined it was a woman who had captured Max’s eye, or gambling or just a restless spirit. Like all of us, Max was brilliant at hiding his true nature.

The young woman of good breeding whom Teddy had become engaged to was sweet. That was her only attribute aside from being considered unusually pretty. She wanted nothing more in life than to be the wife of a successful man. The fact that Teddy was the most handsome human I’d ever seen in my life, interesting, smart and funny was just an added bonus. Other than the fact that Teddy thought she’d be a good match there was nothing remarkable about her. Good breeding. Good reputation. Good girl. I didn’t even think about passion. Thinking about that would be almost as bad as thinking about my parents having any kind of passion (remember I was 15 years old.)

Teddy’s love wasn’t out sucking blood out of people in the middle of the night. She was in bed alone dreaming of angels and kittens, or saying her prayers. She was the kind of girl he dreamed of and I am sure he dreamed of her at night.

I wished I was like her. I wished I was sweet and warm like a her. I touched my icy hands against my cheeks and closed my eyes and then wiped away cold tears. No amount of wishing could make me warm. No amount of wishing could make me walk in the sunshine without dark glasses or a parasol. No amount of charm or wit could make him continue to be buddies with me, a girl who lived in the shadow of the night. He’d never love me.

I found my brother Val and told him the news. Val, who is only 16 at the time, thought I was being silly. He didn’t understand. He was a boy. Teddy could still be friends with a boy.

Max came up on the roof where I ended up that night. He sat next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. “Teddy is like family. He’ll still be here for a long long time. With any luck he’ll live a long life and we’ll always be able to watch over him and protect him.”

I closed my eyes knowing it was a battle I couldn’t win.

“Listen Jewels, part of growing up is letting go, that means letting go of everyone else who is growing up and moving on. It won’t just be Teddy. All of us will have to go out in the world and make our way. We’ll all find love. We’ll find it with people like ourselves, other Vampires. People move on, but the human heart, and our hearts have a great capacity for love. You have to treasure that love because as we move on, they, the regular humans grow old and they die. I’ve seen Mother and Father mourn the loss of their friends in the worst way. We’ve mourned the loss of friends in the worst way. But Teddy isn’t dead. Be happy for him. He’ll still be my best friend. He’ll still be your friend.”

We sat on the roof until the sun came up and talked of life and love and loss.

A year later Teddy died and didn’t die. He became a Vampire (not from anything we did and very much against his will.) The wedding never happened. After that we all went our separate ways and had our share of love and adventure and friendship.

After Teddy acclimated to being a Vampire we became great friends. Twenty years ago we got married. That isn’t typical of anyone, but then again, not much is typical in my life.

As my own children become older and closer to being adults they’ll have to deal with friends moving away, getting in relationships and changing in ways they can’t imagine. Some friendships will last those changes, but many won’t. The fact that we can’t always predict these things doesn’t make it any easier, but at least we can talk with our kids about these things. We can be there when they need someone to talk to. And that day will come.

I have been fortunate to have friends who’ve been in my life since those days when I used to sit on the roof of my parent’s house and ponder the meaning of life. Sometimes my friends would sit on the roof with me. Sometimes my brothers would join us. We’re not sitting on the roof anymore, but we’re still talking and laughing and having warm hearts to go with our cold hands.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted February 2014

Short Story Sunday: The List

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
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.

 

~ end

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Grandpa’s Dog

As long as we’re on the subject… Happy Sunday and Happy October. I have a short favorite for you.

Grandpa’s Dog

 

“I’m taking him to the vet and having him put down.” Jeff said into the phone.

“No you aren’t.” I said, ready to scream.

“It is cruel to make him suffer like this.”

“He isn’t our dog to put down.” I almost growled at my husband.

“I don’t care. Grandpa will understand. He’s always complaining about how he hates Bruce anyway.”

“The kids will be heartbroken.” I said trying to stall him.

“They’ll understand.”

“What about my mom? She’ll never forgive you.”

“Gretchen, I’m taking Bruce to the vet. I’m sorry.”

“I want to say good-bye.”

“Bruce will understand.” He hung up. Damn him.

Bruce was Grandpa’s dog. He was old. The oldest dog I knew. Jeff thought he was 16. I knew better. Jeff thought Bruce was half wolf and half Alaskan malamute. I knew he was half Irish. Jeff liked to bake him organic dog treats. I knew Bruce preferred bourbon and prime rib. Jeff thought grandpa was crazy to have such a large dog. I knew Grandpa was half crazy and Jeff was right, it was about the dog, but it didn’t have anything to do with its size.

Once a month I kept the dog for Grandpa, while he “Went to the cabin with his old college buddies.” I hauled the dog to weddings, to funerals, to camping trips and hanging around the house. He’d been there for my college graduation, my wedding, for my kids. My mom had watched the old dog before me. My grandma before her.

Of course Jeff didn’t believe anything my family said about the damn dog. He’d spent years hearing us tell bad jokes and tall tales. It was how we spoke, in stories. I blame it on my Southern parents. Jeff just thinks I’m funny. He tells me I should have my own show on cable. HA HA HA. He thinks my family is quirky and quaint. Right now nothing was funny or quaint.

I raced home from the studio. I’m a photographer, mostly editorial, corporate portraits, product photos. Good thing I’m the owner of the business, otherwise I’d never deal with my husband, my children and Grandpa’s damn dog. I would have had the dog with me today but he was too stiff to climb into the car by himself and at 125 pounds I didn’t feel like lifting him today.

Jeff was still at home. I parked blocking the driveway. Thank God the kids were still in school. I have never been so angry with anyone in my entire life. I barged through the door yelling at my husband. “All I asked you to do was check in on him for me at lunch time and you decided to kill him. Well for once in your life listen to me…”

I yelling stopped when I saw Jeff. He had a towel around his hand. He was bleeding.

“The old guy bit me when I was trying to get him out of the house.” he said with a shrug of his shoulder.

I saw Bruce poke his old white muzzle around the corner.

“Why the hell did you have to bite him?” I yelled at the dog. Bruce tucked his tail and cowered. His ribs stuck out from his sides. He looked ancient and pathetic.

Jeff reached out to scratch the dog behind his ear. “Don’t yell at him. It’s like he sensed what I was going to do. Poor old guy was scared.”

“Don’t touch him.” I yelled. I looked at the wound on Jeff’s hand. It was clean. I went back to the dog. “Damn you, after all I’ve done for you.” Bruce looked at me with glassy brown eyes and shook, tail still between his legs.

Jeff put his arms around me “Gretch, don’t get mad at the dog. “

“You don’t understand,” I gasped.

“He’s old and scared.” Jeff said stroking my hair with his good hand. “You know dear, all that dog hears is “Bruce, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah”. He laughed and gave me a quick hug.

I pulled away. “He’s a werewolf.”

“Oh Honey, don’t call him that. He’s just an old arthritic dog. Poor old guy.” He leaned down to touch noses with the dog. Bruce licked Jeff’s face and thumped his tail on the floor. “You aren’t a werewolf are you old guy? You’re just a prince in disguise. You think she’ll give you a kiss?” Jeff started to make kissy noises.

I thought I was going to throw up.

“There’s a reason why we never see Grandpa and Bruce together.” I growled. They’re the same animal. Bruce isn’t 16, he’s 85. ”

Jeff took a deep breath. “I’m not going to put him down. We’ll wait till Grandpa gets home and discuss it with him. Werewolves. That’s a good one. So when you work at night does that mean you’re a vampire?” he laughed again. “You can bite my neck anytime.” He kissed my neck.

I backed away feeling the panic rushing up inside my body. “Jeff, it’s true and now….”

I couldn’t say the words. Now my husband was going to become a werewolf and I’d have one more old dog to take care of.

 

~ end

Juliette aka Vampire Maman