Dancing in the Shadows

“Imagine, Juliette, you’re at a party in the library of Alexandria with all of the authors, librarians, scribes, architects, builders, artists, and craftsmen, and you’re the one dancing on the table.”

Tellias look at me sideways and smiled. He looks like he is only nineteen, but he is older than the Roman Empire.

I didn’t say anything back but I have to admit it made sense in a weird sort of way all things considering. OK not really but I like the way it sounds. I could use a little dancing in my life right now.

He slowly got out of his chair and held out his hands like Fred to Ginger except he was the blonde. “Dance with me my dear.”

With his almost white hair flowing around his shoulders, in a white tuxedo shirt with a zillion little tucks, and black jeans, he waltzed me around the room.

“I worry about you Juliette. You’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

I smiled and gave a small flash of fang, in that way Vampires do to each other, in more of an affectionate way. He’d known me since I was a child. He knows me better than my own parents. Now I take care of him most of the time.

Then he stopped, but still held my hands. “Stop your heartbeat for a few minutes. Hold your breath. Close your eyes. Savor the shadows and the quiet.”

“Then what?”

“Then, dance some more, and write, or draw, or make love to your husband, or fill the bird feeder. Maybe you should go dance on that table.”

I kissed his cheek. “Maybe I’ll just dance with you a little bit more.”

He smiled, and we took another turn around the room.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Empty Nest Brain Drain

Even without any children in the house I find myself in constant motion these days.

My time is like a hole in a low water table area. It is empty but fills up faster than I can dig.

There is work to do, and things to plan, and research to take care of, meeting to go to, other people to see, places to go, animals who are five times more demanding now, and I can’t even seem to think. I’ve spent more time in freeway traffic than I want to think about. On the other hand I can’t complain about the traffic – I could be living in Southern California.

I’m also in touch with my children, every single day. It could be a long conversation or a series of funny texts but I’m in touch.

And you thought Vampires just sleep all day and then rise in the night to go out and find blood. That is like saying everyone else sleeps all night then rise in the morning to find toast and coffee then go back to sleep.

It might be all about the coffee but it isn’t all about the toast or the blood.

Sorry, I’ve got major brain drain right now. Let me get more coffee, go meet with my editor, see some chickens (I’ll post photos) and get back to you, maybe this afternoon.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Red Dress, White Trim, A Dancing Ghost and the Quiet Musings of a Vampire Mom

Red Dress, White Trim, A Dancing Ghost and the Quiet Musings of a Vampire Mom

She was a shining light in the forest, not a ghost who haunts but a ghost who dances to her own music.

I watched from my window as Mary danced in the woods. She wore not clothing of the 15th century when she lived, but a red mini dress with white fur trim on the hem and bell shaped sleeves. A long Santa had was on her head with a fluffy white ball at the tip. Bells adorned the top of her white over-the-knee boots. Her red-brown hair was braided with gold ribbon. When you’re a ghost you can wear what you want, do what you want, dance and love when you want.

That is if you don’t let your own ghosts get in the way. That was Mary.

Had it been any other ghost she would have annoyed the crap out of me, but since it was Mary I was enchanted. She is like a little elf who haunts my kitchen as she sits in front hot cups of coffee taking in the aroma. We chat about romance and fashion. She is a delightful little spirit.

Sometimes she slips and shows her own bloody and mangled murdered form but today she dances with joy to a long lost Christmas song.

A coyote yipped close by, down in the brush and Mary vanished. Damn coyotes. The cats lifted their heads at the noise. My dog didn’t even acknowledge the existence of her coyote cousins. Had it been a Golden Retriever she would have been all over it’s ass, but she had no time for coyotes.

Just as most Vampires have no time for ghosts.

I stood in front of the window with a glass of red wine in my hand watching the rain. My husband Teddy came up behind me and kissed my neck.

“What color do you want to paint the living room?”

“I don’t know. It depends on what color flooring we get,” I said putting my arms around his neck and kissing him.

I know that has nothing to do with ghosts but it has everything to do with how things go around my house. Just little bits, like a fragment of a song or just a small bite of something good.

“Did you see the ghost darling?” I asked my husband.

He missed her unfortunately. And so we started our evening discussing the news of the day, work, our kids, what color we want to paint the walls, what we’d wear to the next black tie party and other things married people talk about. What? Did you think we talk about spider webs, bats and blood all night? Hardly. We’re no Dracula and Elvira. Nobody we know is that.

Teddy asked me if I was going to tell anymore Christmas stories here. I think I will. I will also repost The Travelers (a Christmas tradition) and some new stories soon.

In the meantime, just imagine a tiny young transparent woman dancing in her red mini dress under the canopy of oak trees to the music of Tchaikovsky and Johnny Marks.

Have a lovely December,

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Don’t Bother Me (I bet you feel the same)

I still own the small adorable house (1,100 square feet) I purchased when Teddy and I first started dating. I don’t live there, but I rent it out to a little nice family. About once a week I get a call, text, or letter from someone wanting to buy it. I always tell them $650,000 cash by Friday, small bills. Nobody has taken me up on the offer yet.

The latest guy asked where I got the price. I responded with, “Dude it is my current selling price. We are in California, plus the property has the added bonus of being haunted. Ghosts cost extra.”

I have to give the guy some credit because he responded with “Good luck! No ghosts for me! I was thinking of $900k; now that there are ghosts I’m not interested.”

What else is going on today?

I’m not seeing any ghosts at my house (where I live.)

I have seen a dozen or so squirrels who no doubt were the ones who took one of my humming bird feeders yesterday. There were also two coyotes out back who had ALL of the neighborhood dogs barking. Something large flew over. I have no idea what it was because I only saw the shadow.

As with most Vampires, I don’t like to be bothered. I let the dog bark and growl at the door. Yes, my dog is a total goof ball filled with sweetness and preciousness, but she is also a ninety pound German Shepard with a loud hell hound bark. Then there is that low growl that would put fear into just about anyone.

Just like the random animals that wander in and out of my yard… wait, that isn’t correct. The animals aren’t so random. I see the same ones every day and every night.

Be it home repair, religion, or anyone asking for money, I don’t like strangers at my door. I don’t like strangers calling me on my phone. I don’t like them sending me mail (traditional or email.)

My twenty year old daughter keeps getting invitations to move into local senior communities. I forward the invitations to her with the note, “Skip college and go straight to retirement.” When she was in high school she was flooded with coupons for baby formula and sent diaper samples.

My husband gets advertisements for burial plots.

My twenty three year old gets mail about gun shows and male “enhancements.” I don’t forward those to him.

We all record everything we watch on TV so we can fast forward through the commercials.

I’ve worked in marketing. I know how it works. Unfortunately things are totally out of control and so random. The invasion of personal privacy is out of control.

That’s all. Now I have to go search for the missing humming bird feeder, and maybe one of my ghosts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

Musings on Pets, Art, Vampires, and Trying to Make Sense of Anything At All.

It started out as one of those days where the dog ate all of the cat food, the squirrels at all of the bird food, the cat tried to eat a bird that flew into my house, I’m trying to take photographs and the fall lighting is all off, then the cat barfed on the carpet. The other cat is asleep out on the deck. He never causes me problems aside from his yearly “I am an idiot and got myself gravely injured again,” vet visit. Today, I am also feeling a great sense of loss that has come over me in a wave.

A sense of loss and melancholy isn’t uncommon for Vampires. I just had to throw that out there.

I put on some sunscreen and decent clothes and went out in search of art supplies. I didn’t need any. I thought it might inspire me to try to put pen or pastel to paper. That is to put it to paper without fear of disappointing myself.

At the downtown art supply shop, the one that had been there for decades, I wandered the isles looking at brushes, textures, tools, and colors. I was drawn to all of the shades of gray, then got sort of perturbed that some asshole decided to write a bad porn book of that name that became oh so popular with bored middle aged women who didn’t date enough when they were single. Still I looked and imagined what I might create.

I felt a cold hand upon my arm, then looked to my left. “Connie,” I said upon seeing my old friend. Constantine Jones, the very one I wrote the story Night Dogs about. He’d told me about that night a few years back. I valued his friendship because he matched my love of art, both in creating it, and in studying it.

“Juliette. Pastels today?”

“Maybe,” I said.

We talked of art and our lives. He asked about my children. I asked him what he was up to. I purchased pastels and paper. He picked up a few brushes and oil paint. Then we walked down the tree lined street to a small independent coffee shop.

As we sat in the shade sipping our coffee nobody would have suspected that we were Vampires who’d know each other for over a century.

No, dear reader, this isn’t a story of fangs, dripping blood, or darkness. All creatures, even the most ardent predators, the lions, the hyenas, the wolves, and the wolverines, still need their times of peace. We are always aware, but sometimes we just need to take a break from what keeps our bodies alive and think about what keeps our passions alive.

Even more so it is the small things that matter. It is things we do for tangible reason like having coffee with an old friend. We talked about art, as kindred spirits do.

Connie touched took my hand in his. It was warm from holding the coffee. I thought how odd that was to have a warm touch from another Vampire.

“Your heart is heavy,” he said to me.

“I don’t know what it is right now,” I told him. “I’m fine.”

“You’re not.”

“It shall pass. I just have too much BS that I have to deal with.” That is true, but isn’t that the case for a lot of us.

Standing across the street I saw a lone figure with dark hair and a black suit with the tie loosened. Connie looked as well.

“A ghost,” he whispered. “Why is he looking over here?”

“I know him. He lives at my house most of the time, but he’s buried near here.” I motioned for my ghost, Nigel, who was an artist in life, to come join us.

I pulled up a chair for a friend that nobody but Constantine Jones and I could see. I ordered coffee for Nigel. He sat in the chair holding the cup and letting the aroma pass through him. He can’t drink it but he can smell it, which is a small comfort for a ghost.

We talked more of art, and the weather, and small things that friends talk about.

After two hours Connie went his own way and Nigel came home with me. As we drove down the freeway Nigel changed the radio station about thirty times. I finally yelled at him to stop it.

And now I’m home. I don’t know where Nigel got off to.

From my window I cans humming birds in the lemon and orange trees. The calico cat sits snoring in a chair. I can hear the other cat scratching a piece of wood outside.

I feel better. Sometimes we just need to get away from ourselves for a while, or at least get into a different place where we can be the selves we need to be, and deserve to be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Little Hagrid, being a Vampire at Halloween, and Friends who aren’t Vampires

Despite the fact that I have become she of the empty nest and have no children at home for Halloween fun, I’m finding myself extremely busy this October.

I’m retelling a story from 2015 today. Last year my husband and I went as Simon and Garfunkel for Halloween. It was absolutely the best, but I’d almost forgotten the time we went as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Maybe this year I’ll finally go as Little Hagrid.


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Little Hagrid, being a Vampire at Halloween, and Friends who aren’t Vampires

“Teddy and I have been invited to a Harry Potter Party. Why in God’s name our friend chose that theme I’ll never know. Anyway, I was thinking I could find some ugly baggy old sweaters and we could go as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. What do you think?”

He looked at me with shock. OK almost shock. He looked at me like I was the weird kid asking him is he ever ate cat brains, or something along those lines.

“I thought about going as Little Hagrid. Get it? Little Hagrid because he was huge and I’m only 5’4″ and Hagrid was about seven feet tall.”

I've got the moves like Hagrid

I’ve got the moves like Hagrid

I could hear the gears turning in his brain. Vampires going to a costume party? Vampires dressing up like Harry Potter characters? Little Hagrid? WTF?

“It is always funny when a woman wears a beard,” I said as I put more drawings out on the table. “Here are the rest of the sketches. If you like them I’ll finish them up.”

Oh right, this is where I back up and tell you what is going on. Dr. Austin Durant, history professor and sometimes weird Vampire Hunter, but all around normal guy, had hired me to create some drawings for him for a book he is writing. He likes my work, plus I lived back then, in the middle of the 19th Century, granted I was a child at the time.

I shouldn’t have asked him about the costumes. Back to the drawing board, literally.

“The Weasleys would be funny,” he finally said. “I could see that. It would be easy too.”

I smiled minus my fangs. We both turned at the sound of a tap on the door.

Standing there, as impeccably put together and flawlessly handsome as ever, was my friend Jack.

“What are you wearing to the Harry Potter party?” I had to ask. He and his wife aren’t Vampires but they’re going too.

“We’re going as Dobbie and Malfoy,” he said with a wink. Damn, that man was handsome, with blood like the finest Cabernet. Obviously Jack isn’t a Vampire, but a dear friend. I’m his Vampire.

“Oh my God, that is brilliant,” I said.

“I’m going to be Dobbie,” he said. Then we both laughed. You have to admit that is funny. Jack is six feet tall after all.

I introduced Austin and Jack. Austin intuitively knew that Jack wasn’t a Vampire. Austin knows a lot of things, but as cocky as he can get he has never really come to terms with the fact that Halloween has come to his life every single day of the year.

About five years ago Austin Durant started restoring historic structures (old buildings) and has since run across all sorts of nasty old things like dead bodies, dried up old shadow creeping Vampires, and ghosts. My brother Aaron, who is an attorney and a Vampire, is Austin’s attorney and in turn hires Austin for various tasks, like removing unsavory things from buildings.

Anyway, enough of background material and back to Halloween.

Jack fawned over my sketches and marveled at my talent. My stomach started to rumble (nobody could hear it but I could feel it.) I’d have to wait for lunch. Lunch was Jack.

Life is full of such moments.

Halloween is almost here and I have yet to figure out costumes, put up decorations, figure out logistics of parties, and most of all think up a yearly Halloween theme for this blog.

In the meantime you can read these wonderful horror anthologies. Available at fine online booksellers.

 

 

Or you can cut and color paper dolls for Halloween.

Ghostie Fashion Paper Doll. Color an Cut Fun.

Ghostie Fashion Paper Doll. Color an Cut Fun.

Or go look for Halloween Hotties.

Pin-Up-Halloween

Jack had to get back to work. Austin looked at the drawings for a bit more. His next class wasn’t until 2:00.  I watched him look at the details I’d added, just small things like a cat sitting in on a roof, or a style of hat.

He looked up and straight into my eyes, a dangerous thing if I’m in the right mood, which I wasn’t. “You could offer so much. You were there. You have gone through history. You’ve seen it your own eyes.”

“Do you think anyone would listen?” I asked him that obvious question. “Nobody cares about history. They would rather keep making the same mistakes over and over. They’d rather do what is easy. They’d rather not know the truth.” I locked his eyes with mine. I could feel him feel a slight panic. That was intentional. He brought out the Vampire in me. You know, I can’t be all touchy feelie nice all the time. “Dr. Durant, I don’t want to end up a dried up husk of a Vampire underneath one of your buildings so I will continue to keep my thoughts to myself.”

Then I thought about my blog… HA HA HA. But I don’t have to worry about you. Out of my seven regular readers at least two of you are Vampires and I’m sure at least one is a Zombie.  Anyway…

“You could share with me, just me,” said Austin.

“Yes, I could. I’ll draw it for you. I’ll tell you my stories so you can get a better understanding, as long as you only use my words for a stepping off point, or for inspiration.”

“Thank you Juliette,” he said to me. He looked calm and cool. I could feel him wanting to sweat it out.

“So what are you going to be for Halloween?” I had to ask.

“I don’t know, maybe a Vampire.” He flashed a dimpled smile. I knew why the girls all liked him.

So that is it for now. Have fun and well, have fun. That is the goal for today. And do something creative. And hug your kids. And talk to them. Always talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Oh, one more thing. For more about Austin and his story see the side bars for the Austin and Elizabeth story links. For more about Jack just search for his name. Yes, this is the old back story ploy not that anyone will really look.

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