Short Story Sunday: The Box In Dave’s Basement

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him.

Coffee with the crossword puzzle, and a little bit of fresh air sounded good. Then Dave, who lived three houses down called to him as he waked by, “Hey, Austin, there’s something weird in my basement. Take a look.”

Austin was both a history professor and a general contractor specializing in historic restorations, so of course he’d check it out. Dave lived in the oldest house on that street, built in 1888. It was a fantastic small Queen Anne, painted shades of blue and cream.  Dave led the way to the back of the dark space to an oblong box.

“I was measuring the room and moved away some lumber that had been here since I moved in and found this,” said Dave. “It looks like a coffin. Do you think I should call someone?”

“Let me take a look. I’ve found these before,” said Austin, taking out his penknife. He slid the knife around the edges of the box to see if there was a latch or any loose spots.

Then all Hell broke loose. Two men, dressed in long black coats, carrying guns and large knives appeared at the door.

“Hey,” yelled Dave. “Get the fuck outta here. I told you guys to stay away from my house. I’m calling 911. I warned you.” Then he turned to Austin. “The bastards were out last week. I told them…”

The men moved closer. Dave continued, “Out NOW.” Dave was a medium sized silver haired average family guy his mid fifties, with some sort of upper management job with the Department of Water Resources. His wife was wife away on a girl’s weekend. His kids were away at college. He’d been working on making the basement into the ultimate man cave over the past few weekends. He wasn’t in the mood for Vampire Hunters.

“Damn it. I said GET OUT you crazies,” Dave yelled.

“Just let us have the box,” said one of the men, a tall shaggy haired guy with some sort of unidentifiable accent.

Austin took a step forward, getting between Dave and the vampire hunters. “No can do guys. You have to go.”

The other man, a bald guy with huge shoulders pointed a gun at Austin and Dave. “Move aside gentlemen.” He then shoved them out of the way and with a swift kick popped open the box.

Inside was the perfectly preserved body of a woman in an old fashioned lace dress. She looked as though she was made of fine leather. A bunch of dried roses were in her hand.

The shaggy haired man lifted a huge wooden stake. Dave and Austin both yelled, “NO.”

Dave jumped on the back of the bald man. Austin knocked the shaggy haired man out of the way.

Suddenly a blinding flash of light and a blast of cold air knocked them to the wall. Two more men appeared at the door, also in black but without the coats. One carried a knife, and the other a whip. The smiled, showing fangs.

“Holy shit,” whispered Dave.

The vampires grabbed the men in the black coats by the scruff of their necks, like small children, and threw them back out into the sunlight. One of the vampires uttered a string of long strange sounding words, and the vampire hunters ran down the street.

The woman in the coffin sat up, and moved her head around.

“Stiff neck?” Austin asked.

She looked at him, surprised. Then she smiled with a slight show of her own fangs. “Yes, thanks for the concern. How long did I sleep?”

“From the looks of your dress, maybe ninety years,” said Austin.

“I guess I missed that party then,” she said with a slight laugh.

“This is too weird,” said Dave as he got up, and crossed the room. He turned on the overhead shop lights and got a good look at his company. “You mean to tell me you’ve been in that box for ninety years?”

The woman just blinked against the light. The two Vampires stood out of the shadows.

“Hey, Austin,” said one of them. “I thought that was you.”

“Pierce,” said Austin. “I had no idea you were a vampire. Small world. Dave, this is Pierce, he guest lectures for me sometimes on nineteenth California government issues.”

“And this is Max, he…”

“Max,” said Austin as he held out his hand. “Good to see you. Thanks for helping out.”

“Austin,” said Max.

Dave looked at the Vampires then laughed. “Pierce. I know you. You were teaching American History at UC Berkley in the late 70’s. I took a couple of classes from you. You look like you haven’t aged a day. How old are you?”

Pierce smiled and shook Dave’s hand. “I’m 171, but who’s counting.”

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him. “You’re all welcome to come.”

The woman’s name is Lily. She had a lot of catching up to do so Dave gave her a pair of jeans and a shirt out of his wife’s closet, and they all headed out for coffee.

That’s all.

~ end

First published here in 2016

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Drive With Marilyn

I’m a little under the weather (even Vampires get under sometimes) so rather than trying to make up something fictional for today, or talk about parenting (my kids are grown now,)  I’ll just tell you a story about my brother Val and me, then give you some high-minded moralistic opinion about the state of American culture.

It was October 1963 and we were driving Val’s black 1962 Corvette down Hwy 395, along the back side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We stopped in the small town of Lee Vining at dusk, wondering if we should stop for the night or keep going.

I got out of the car and looked up at the mountains. After I took off my scarf I held it up and let the breeze make it into a flag. Everything smelled so fresh. The mountains were so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sight.

Val came up to me and took the scarf. He put it over my hair and wrapped it loosely around my neck. “You look like Marilyn Monroe tonight. She was buried in a dress almost like yours, with a scarf like yours.”

Removing the scarf again I looked down at my green dress, then brushed a bit of blonde hair out of my face. Yes, it was blonde at the time fixed in sort of an over teased should length flip. I’ve taken my false eye lashes off as soon as we left Las Angeles earlier that morning.

“How do you know what she was buried in?” I had to ask.

“A friend of a friend went to the viewing,” answered my brother. “She was murdered.”

“Does the friend of a friend know who murdered her?”

“No. He wouldn’t tell me. What a shame. We’ll read about it later. Jewels, she was having sex with everyone named Kennedy and all of their friends. All of them.”

“Does it matter? Does it really matter Val? It isn’t like we knew the woman.”

He ignored my comments. “I feel like I’m in a movies set out here. The obvious choice would be a Western, but it seems more of a mystery tonight. Do you want to stay the night or move on?”

We agreed to stay.  At first we got a skeptical look from the woman at the desk of the Motel when we told her we were brother and sister. Neither one of us wore rings on our left hands. What should she think when two fashionably dressed young people come into a hotel in a mountain town? Plus we came in a sports care. That would be a recipe for immoral behavior in anybody’s book. A man, the owner of the establishment, came in and gave us the key, saying it was obvious how much we looked alike. Some people always have their mind in the gutter.

We went to the cafe next door to get a feel for the place. The view of Mono Lake from our table was unreal as the sun settled down over the mountains. The waitress was friendly and took our orders of coffee and rare burgers. When she came back she told me that the cook thought I looked like Marilyn Monroe. I was polite. Val kicked me underneath the table.

“As soon as we get to Reno I’m finding a salon and switching back to brunette.”

“You’d better get rid of the eyeliner too,” said Val with a wink. “I think she was murdered for sleeping with the Kennedy brothers. Think about it.”

“I’d rather not Val.”

“Do you think Marilyn would have made a good Vampire?”

“The Beatles would make better Vampires. They don’t seem so needy. Honestly would you convert someone as needy as Marilyn Monroe into a Vampire? It would be a disaster then you’d be stuck with her.”

“That might not be such a bad thing.”

“Stop thinking with your…”

“I’m not.”

“Are too.”

“Am not.”

“Val, to be a Vampire one must be fairly independent and strong-willed. You have to be disciplined at all times. I mean, I didn’t know the woman but she wouldn’t have made a good Vampire.”

We picked our way through the food and finished our coffee, then went for a walk down the road. Stopping in a bar we picked up our real dinner for the night. After all, Val and I are Vampires.

The next day we took a leisurely drive with the top off of the car. Once we arrived to Reno I became a brunette again. A month later President Kennedy was assassinated.

I used to get angry at Val for his temporary fascination with celebrity. It started when we where children and he’d pick up bits of information in Harper’s Weekly. From there it snowballed. He couldn’t seem to get enough of gossip and sorted stories about people he’d never met. I’d tell him to read a book and he’d just get pissed off and close up to me. He has backed off but occasionally I’ll catch him catching up on celebrity gossip.

I don’t understand the current fascination with people who are famous for having an unnaturally large number of children (and their disgusting self-serving exploits), or for rich women who are unnaturally made up. If your only claim to fame is the fact that you have a big butt and a rich father why should you get so much time in the news. It isn’t news or even entertaining. It is just stupid and annoying. When I see a movie I don’t want to know about the actors, I want to know about the characters they are playing. That is all.

But it seems the spirit of P.T. Barnum live on in the worst way possible. Some people say there are no more freak shows but it isn’t true. There are plenty of people who are glad to put themselves in the spotlight as freaks.

Thank goodness that isn’t what Vampires do. We might read the gossip but we refuse to be the gossip.

Have a good week everyone. Stay classy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Prisoner of Love

It wasn’t as if Andy had planned on being locked in a basement. No windows. It wasn’t like he’d turn into a bat because he couldn’t do that, but he could make them think he wasn’t there. Or at least he hoped that was true, considering he had no idea who had locked him away.

He thought about the Count of Monte Cristo.

How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.

But unlike Edmond Dantes, Andy didn’t have a mad priest to show him the way to treasure so that he could get revenge on his captor and win back the woman he loved.

Andy thought about the woman he loved for a bit. Did she love him? Or was she rejecting him simply because he was a Vampire and she was not? Or was he just thinking about it way too much.

It would have been nice to be back in his own comfortable home, playing the piano, entertaining friends or curled up in a chair with a good book and a nice goblet of wine or blood or…

A sudden noise brought him out of he reverie. A brick popped out of the wall and a pale hand came through. What could this sudden event of fate mean? Was he to be rescued?

He reached for the hand. It pulled back at his touch.

“You’re like ice,” hissed a quiet voice.

“I run a little cold. Who are you?”

“I am but a prisoner of love.”

Andy took a deep breath, at least a deep one for a Vampire. Why did he always find himself in situations like this with someone who was bat shit crazy?

“Where are we and why? No stupid answers.”

He was answered with silence. That wouldn’t do. Andy went to the hole in the wall and looked through. It was dark but he could see a slight shadow. “Answer me. Where are we? Do you know?”

Something jumped on his lap and shook him awake. Andy let his book (The Count of Monte Cristo) drop and nearly tipped over the goblet on the table next to his favorite reading chair. A small black kitten curled up and started to purr. What a crazy dream. What a strange and bizarre dream he’d had. But he didn’t have a black kitten.

Sitting still and quiet Andy listened for noise of a visitor. He’d hear the slightest breath or an excited heart beat. If they were close enough he’d smell blood.

There was no other living thing in the room except Andy and the kitten.

“Where did you come from dear kitty?”

The kitten only purred. She was tiny, maybe 8 weeks old at the most. A sense of unease overcame him. Someone was in the house. Making his fangs ready he stood and turned around. Standing behind him was a pale form – a woman in a long silken dress and platinum blonde hair. She held out her hand.

“I am but a prisoner of love,” she whispered.

“Is this your cat?”

But Andy never got his answer. She vanished in a wisp of smoke with the smell of sulphur.

The next morning he walked the exclusive old neighborhood and asked if anyone knew who the kitten belonged to. He even put up posters. Nobody had lost a kitten. Nobody had an answer for him.

What is it with Vampires and cats and love? He laughed then said aloud, “If you’re going to haunt my dreams and my house you might as well tell me who you are.”

He felt a cold blast of air then heard a soft laugh then the soft sound of a woman’s voice “When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.”

It was a quote from The Count of Monte Cristo.

A prisoner of love. “Not me,” thought Andy, “not me.”

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My Christmas Necklace – A Vampire Romance

My Christmas Necklace – A Vampire Romance

At Christmas time we usually had friends for dinner. Of course that was last year but let’s pretend things are perhaps a little more normal than 2020. Let me reword that first line. Last year we dined with good friends of ours. It was two couples we’re friends with (they’re regular humans who don’t know we’re Vampires). It is a dress up affair. We have cocktails; take in the theater or a concert, then have dinner and more drinks. And my darling husband Teddy and I get a little blood donation and leave our hosts feeling warm and fuzzy and full of holiday cheer.

I wore a black dress with red heels. It was set off with a gold necklace of delicate flowers with red garnets, enameled holly leaves and seed pearls.

One of my friends commented “You wear that beautiful necklace every year. There must be a story behind it.”

“Teddy gave me this on our first Christmas together. It was his mother’s.” I told everyone the truth, but didn’t tell them the entire story behind it.

It was in the 1880’s. My brother Val and I were young Vampires in London, which was the place to be. It was a golden age for us.

Of course being the young American Vampires we were…we got into a lot of trouble and had way too many adventures of the wrong kind.

So to make a long story short, it was Christmas Eve when Val and I found ourselves trapped in a crypt. Yes, a crypt full of rotting human bodies, not a fit place for any self respecting Vampire of a certain social level. We were of a higher social level. We had class, culture, good looks and money. Most of all we had connections. What Val and I lacked was common sense and experience.

So we’re in this crypt, chased by Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires who were pissed off at us, AND the local police.

We were also trapped. Yes, being the super strong creatures that we are, we could have busted down the door, but that would have done three things. It would have shown a lack of respect for those who were interned in the crypt. It would have made a lot of noise and attracted too much attention. But most of all, we were wearing rather expensive clothing if that clothing were to be ripped it would have drawn too much attention.

So we waited to figure out a plan B or to be rescued. Plan B was our only real option.

Just as we were about to sit on the ground and wait until the next night to break our way out the door started to slide open. We waited, fangs barred, holding on to each other for dear life, yet ready to kill whatever came through to us.

We saw a lone figure shadowed in the doorway.

I could hear a slight hiss under Val’s breath as he readied himself for an attack. Then a voice with a definite American accent said “Valentine? Juliette? Oh my heavens! Is that really you?”

And out of the shadows came Teddy. I hadn’t seen him for 10 years, not since he’d become a Vampire.

We said quick greetings and I asked “What are you doing here?”

He lifted the lid from one of the stone caskets. “This woman couldn’t steal my father’s heart so she stole my mother’s jewelry. I’m here to get it back. I never expected in a hundred years to find you two here.” And with one swift movement he took the necklace from around the neck of a slightly un-fresh corpse and then removed her bracelet and ring.

Suddenly we heard footsteps and saw torches across the lawn. I recognized the voices. “Let’s go. They’re back.” And they were in full force, come to kill the Vampires, who just happened to be us.

We ran down the road as fast as we could. I help my skirt up around my knees and cursed the day I was born a girl. Damn it trousers would have been nice right then.

A cathedral lay ahead, lit up for the Christmas Eve service.

“We can’t go in there,” said Teddy in a panic.

“Why not?” Asked Val.

“Because,” said Teddy “We’re undead. We’re Vampires. We’ll die.”

“We’re not undead. Your heart beats. You have not one but two souls. You are a creature of the night, and this is a midnight service. We will be welcome and blessed for we do harm to no one.”

I grabbed Teddy by one hand and Val by the other and took them into the church. We sat in the back and quietly sang along with our angelic Vampire voices, savoring the candle light and peace of the moment.

After it was over we headed for home, a fashionable and safe house not far away.

“I thought it wasn’t safe for our kind in churches,” said Teddy.

“It usually isn’t.” Val said, brushing off his coat. “But they can’t hurt us in a church. Or at least they do not dare hurt us there. Besides, I like the music. It soothes me.”

“What did you mean about two souls? I thought my soul was gone.” Teddy looked at us in a very serious way.

“Do you think that anyone with so much love and passion could exist without a soul? Oh Teddy, don’t be such a child. We need two souls. One for our own existence and one for our shadow. Didn’t you know that?”

The first rays of dawn arrived as we arrived at the house. Teddy crashed in one of the spare bedrooms. But before he slept, he put the necklace he’d taken around my neck. “My mother always liked you. She would have wanted you to have this.”

I was honored and touched. Since then I’ve worn this necklace every Christmas season.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Oh right, I do have a husband. I write about kids, my brothers, other Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, cats, short stories and all sorts of things. I don’t say much about my husband or marriage.

Today he is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.

He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.

Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy (my husband) decided they needed a tree.

In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.

“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.

“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”

Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.

Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.

Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2021 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.

Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.

And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Trash & Trashed (Vampires and my broken Mac)

So I get a call from my brother Aaron and he tells me that he needs my help getting some sort of creature out from a tight space in an old building downtown. I told him that it is too hot and I’m staying home. I already had to deal with bats in my house and yellow jackets. Bats are one thing, but yellow jackets are the true assholes of the animal kingdom.

He said, “Juliette, darling, you’re so good at getting dried up semi-alive rogue Vampires out of crawl spaces.”

“Call a Vampire Hunter. I don’t want to deal with that kind of trash today.”

I don’t want to deal with any kind of trash any day. I finally got the litter box situation taken care of (don’t ask.) and I’ve got better things to do.

My kids don’t even ask me to do things like this.

I could imagine my brother at his desk in his law office with his sleeves rolled up trying to take care of all of the paranormal problems in Sacramento. If you think politics are already weird, just let me tell you sometime about what you can’t see.

I wish one of my brothers knew how to fix computers. My mouse and keyboard functions are going out even with an external mouse and keyboard. I can hardly finish this post without a million pop ups and letters sailing all over the place. Whole paragraphs vanish. I’ve restarted the compute 2020 is alive and well at my desk.

So with that… I’ve got to go. It took me twenty minutes just to get the last  paragraph down. Any typos are dut to the ghost in my machine.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman