Short Story Sunday: Motorhome

Motorhome
An Austin and Elizabeth Story

Austin grew up knowing that Grammy didn’t have many filters. She’d say anything she wanted to anyone. Austin’s mother said Grammy had always been rude. Grammy said she was giving out good advice that might make people want to do something about their situations. Everyone was in a situation so everyone was told what they needed to do.

Grammy’s caretaker, a lovely woman named Kayla, had texted Austin the following:

“Just a warning, Grammy is in a mood today. Completely speaking with no filter. We talked to Tom across the street. Grammy asked how they were doing and before he could say anything she said, “well it looks like you and your wife have completely given up on loosing weight.” I nudged her in hopes she would stop but it didn’t work. She then went on to say, “I thought you guys were dieting. Looked like you’ve completely given up on losing weight. Tom was so red embarrassed. I said he is healthy and happy and always smiling, so I told him to have a nice day and closed the door before Grammy could say anything else. I then said “OMG Grammy u can’t ever tell people that they are overweight. Ever. Men or women. It is not to be discussed. Don’t tell women they look pregnant. None of it. She said “Well maybe if I say something that will make them want to lose weight.” I said, “NO. NO. NO. Nothing you say will change them. You’re just being terrible at that point. No more ever.” Grammy’s mind is in it’s own place sometimes. Tomorrow is a new day. I told her she is the cutest sweetest little Grammy in the world. She has to stop thinking and saying such negative things.”

Austin was mortified. Tom had been a good friend for years, and would do anything for Grammy. But sweet little Grammy had a dark suspicious side. She’d grown up in the Deep South where people generally have fewer filters than those from other regions of the country. She’d also grown up in a family of Vampire Hunters. It was in their blood, no pun intended.

When Austin arrived at Grammy’s house he wondered who the old motor home in the driveway belonged to.

Kayla, a rail thin brown haired, blue eyed woman in her forties came out to meet him. She and her college student son Colt live with Grammy and took care of her in her great big family home. At one time Austin had tried to get Grammy to sell her house and move into a smaller house in his neighborhood, just three houses down from him, but she’d have none of it. She’d rather complain about money and upkeep than move out of the house she’d lived in for sixty-two years.

“Is someone visiting?” Austin looked toward the motor home.

“I bought that last week. I’m going to take Grammy on a road trip.”

It was a small 1981 motor home complete with faded orange and red stripes on the outside.

“Wow, look at this thing,” said Austin.

“Come inside. Take a look,” said Kayla inviting him in through the back door.

Grammy was sitting on an orange couch that could fold out into a double bed. There was a table, a small kitchen, four captain’s chairs, and a tiny bathroom complete with a toilet, sink, and a shower.

“Hey, Grammy,” Austin said bending down to kiss her.

Grammy was small, and still quite pretty for an eighty eight year old lady. Her white hair had been done up the day before with pink foam curlers. She wore bright pink lipstick, a pink flowered shirt, and matching pink pants.

Grammy took his hands, “Austin. What do you think of our new castle on wheels?”

“Great,” said Austin. “The orange and red carpet is pretty ugly, but otherwise it’s great.”

“I don’t see any problems with the carpet. It looks almost new to me,” said Grammy. “Now, Austin, are you still seeing that Vampire girl?”

Austin was in love with a woman who just happened to be a Vampire. He knew it wasn’t exactly the right thing to do but…

“But,” he said, “Grammy, Elizabeth isn’t a shadow creeper, or one of those ghoulish undead types. She lives a pretty normal life. You know the kinds of Vampires I help get rid of, and Elizabeth isn’t one of them.”

“You know those Vampires aren’t right. They do nothing but cause problems. Austin you’re an idiot for getting involved with one.”

“Grammy, Elizabeth isn’t that different from us.”

“That’s what you say. But the next thing you know they’ll be coming out of the shadows. I bet you the first thing they’ll do is call the ACLU and get a bunch of lawsuits in place against us normal people asking for rights and then some. Then they call AARP because they’re all older than dirt. You can’t trust them Austin. Listen to me. You are going to have nothing but trouble ahead of you. Nothing but trouble.”

“OK Grammy, I get your point.”

“I hope so. I don’t want you marrying one of those things. You haven’t have sexual intercourse with that Vampire of yours yet have you?”

“Grammy, I’m not going to talk about this anymore.”

“Are you still killing Vampires?”

“Only the ones without souls.”

“Well, how do you know if they have souls? They’re all a bunch of fanged faced liars.”

“Grammy, I know. I’m a Vampire Hunter. I can tell. It’s in my blood.”

“Well, your blood will be their blood if you don’t watch out.”

Kayla, who’d gone inside to make iced tea, came back out with three tall cold glasses full of iced tea with fresh mint. This wasn’t the popular sweet tea, but strong freshly brewed black tea with just a hint of lemon and mint. Grammy wouldn’t allow anyone to ruin her good tea with the addition of sugar.

Grammy took a sip of her tea and said, “I don’t know why your mom and dad had to name you after a city.”

Kayla smiled. “Be nice Grammy. You know Austin was where they fell in love.”

“Well, maybe. But it sounds like a character out of a trashy cheap romance novel,” said Grammy.

And she wasn’t kidding.

Austin had dinner with Kayla, her son Colt, and Grammy. They’d dined on garlic coated shrimp in a pasta, along with mushrooms and more garlic. Grammy always made sure she had garlic in all of her food to keep the Vampires away now that she had retired. Austin knew for a fact that garlic didn’t keep Vampires away.

Conversation became pleasant and without any caustic remarks. Grammy was charming and full of joy. Kayla looked relieved.

As Austin left his Grammy gave him a hug and a kiss. Then she said, “I wish you’d find a normal girl.”

Austin smiled and said, “Normal girl? Grammy, you of all people should know there is no such thing.”

Grammy just said, “pasha,” and closed the door in her grandson’s face.

 

~ End

Read all of the Austin and Elizabeth Stories (The Hunter Series) from the start.  Click here for the full set.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Don’t Forget

“I need to talk to you about some things. Come quick,” the soft whisper came over the phone this morning.

“What’s up?” I wasted my words as usual.

“Come now.”

When seniors call it could be anything. Someone could be dead, or a water pipe could have burst, or another male, Vampire or a regular guy, could have flirted with Eleora. I never knew what Tellias wanted, and he would never tell me until I arrived. Or he and Eleora might just be lonely.

When my sixteen year old daughter Clara and I arrived Tellias was waiting on the front porch. It was already almost 90 degrees outside. Hot weather is bad enough, but for those as old as Tellias and Eleora is can be absolutely miserable. He wore a Hawiian shirt that looked like it was from the 1950’s with red plaid Bermuda shorts, and yellow flip flops. He’d pulled his long blonde hair back into a braid tied with a purple bandana. Eleora came running out in a yellow halter style sun dress from the 1980’s with her reddish brown curls flying behind her. She grabbed me in a hug and practically lifted me off of the ground. She and Tellias started to sing a happy song in a language I didn’t know, and kiss Clara and me on our cheeks, and took our hands to lead us inside.

Eleora and Tellias look to be all of nineteen or twenty but they’re much older. They’re older than anyone I know. They’re senior citizens, and I love them dearly.

I asked them if they’d eaten lately. They had. I asked if they were feeling alright. They were, despite the heat.

After tall glasses of iced ginger blood with sprigs of mint, Tellias finally told me what he needed.

“I need help with my new car,” he said, taking me by the hand and leading me to the door. We talked as we walked out to the barn.

“But Tellias,” I said, “you know more about cars than I ever could.”

“My darling child, you forget that I was born in BC, and that doesn’t mean…”

“I know, British Columbia.” That is an old joke. Tellias was born sometime in the first century BC and lived through the heydays of the Roman Empire, until he met Eleora in what is now England, but I’m not exactly sure of an exact date or place of his birth. I know it wasn’t Canada.

“I can’t figure out how to get my car to work with my phone. I need you to help me sync it up so to speak.”

“Did you read the instructions?”

“Well, no, but I knew you have the same kind of automobile as I do. I know yours is a 2012 but it is the same basic principle.”

“Nobody at the dealer showed you?”

“I didn’t ask. By the time the damn thing was paid for and all the paperwork was done Eleora had nearly drained the poor young salesman of blood, along with half of the service staff… you know how it is.”

This is typical of our conversations. Like a good young Vampire of only 156 I didn’t flinch or argue the point. I asked him for his keys. He gave me a puzzled look.

“Juliette, just a moment dear, I’m not sure where I left them.”

We spent an hour looking for the keys. He eventually found them in his front pants pocket.

In the cool barn I synced his phone to the system. Tellias could now play his eclectic mix of music and podcasts, and of course make hands-free phone calls. Even as a Vampire I savored the new car smell. Then I realized something else.

“Tellias,” I said, “you didn’t tell me you have bought a hybrid.”

He smiled with his usual boyish charm, “I figured if I’m going to be here another 2,000 years I might as well try to keep the place clean.”

Next to the new car was a 1931 L-29 Convertible Coupé that looked brand new, along with a stunning 1936 Auburn 654 Cabriolet, a well used 1958 Ford truck, and the red 1964 Mustang Convertible. Eleora’s little white Miata was parked in front of the house. She’d left the top off and a family of possums had moved into the back seat (but that is a blog post for another day.)

We spent the next half hour talking about mostly nothing as the neighbor’s cat meowed and wound herself around our legs. We walked back to the house feeling the heat like only Vampires can feel the heat.

Once inside the questions and banter started.

“When are your parents coming to see us?” Eleora asked.

“They never see us anymore,” said Tellias.

“Never,” said Eleora.

“We used to see them all the time,” said Tellias.

“We’d do anything for them,” said Eleora.

“Anything,” said Tellias. “Now they don’t need us.”

“We’re just old,” said Eleora.

“We’re obsolete, like a couple of old cars,” said Tellias.

“A couple of old junkers,” said Eleora.

“Like so much trash to be forgotten,” said Tellias.

“Forgotten by everyone,” said Eleora.

“Do you know where I put my keys?” asked Tellias as he checked his empty pockets.

“I love the both of you more than you can ever imagine,” I said.

They both hugged me. Clara joined in. They said they knew we loved them. I can’t answer to the actions of others and what they do, or who they do it with.

Clara and I stayed another hour then we drove home in silence, just listening to the radio.

Summer is here. Check on those who are frail or alone. Make sure they are cool. Make sure they have food. Make sure they have hugs and a little conversation. Make sure they don’t feel obsolete.

The weekend is here. We’ll go out and partake in what Vampires partake in, but even we want to know that someone cares. We want to know that we’re not forgotten like old headstones in an abandoned graveyard. Warm blooded regular people need that too. So don’t forget. It is easy to put someone who isn’t shiny and new from your mind. You’re busy. But don’t forget. Don’t forget.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Clipped Coupons and Clipped Hearts (Living With Elderly Vampires)

Last night it was pouring rain when I got the call.

A whispering voice, like silk against silk said, “come quick, come quick.”

I didn’t ask why because I wouldn’t have received an answer. I called my brother Val and Grandmama Lola. Neither one of them picked up.

The call could have been for anything. It could have been a death or it could have been missing car keys. Either way when Tellias calls me in that tone of voice I have to go, because that is what you do when the elderly folks in your life call in obvious distress. I’ve had too many of those calls to take anything lightly.

All three of us, husband Teddy, teenage Clara, and myself got into the car and prepared for a long night. As I got behind the wheel I told my husband and child that I did not want to hear political talk or any other “let us all annoy Mom as much as we can” subjects.

The farmhouse was dark.

Teddy got a care package out of the trunk. I’d quickly gathered a few things together before we left. I never know when the elderly Eleora or Tellias have eaten or if they’ve kept staples on hand. I also brought a water filter because I’ve wondered about the stability of their hundred year old plumbing.

The porch light came on. Eleora and Tellias came out smiling and singing Willcommon from Cabaret. They always sang a welcome song but we never knew what it would be.

“What’s wrong? Tell me why you called,” I said, taking their hands.

“I have a some articles and stories you need to read,” said Eleora, handing me a large envelope overflowing with bits of paper.

“She has coupons too,” said Ellias.

“Lots of coupons. I know you use a lot of these things,” said Eleora.

“You need to read her articles. She read every single one and picked it out for you. You might have missed something on the radio,” said Tellias.

“The radio. You only listen to the radio so you might have missed something important about college, or the elections, or the economy, or farming,” said Eleora. “And I have a lot of coupons I want you to look at.”

“She has a lot of coupons for you,” said Tellias. Then he squeezed my hand and gave me the look. It was that look he gives me when he wants to speak with me along.

“Clara,” I said to my sixteen year old daughter, “take Eleora into the kitchen so you can spread the stories out and take a look at them. OK honey, I think she’d like that.”

Clara took Eleora’s hand and led her away. I could hear Eleora chattering away as they went down the hall.

I turned to Tellias. “What is it Tellias? What is wrong?”

He threw his hands up. “Eleora is cheating on me. I know she is.”

“Sweet Jesus,” said Teddy under his breath.

“No, it isn’t him,” said Tellias. “It’s someone local. Someone here. I know it.”

“Tellias,” said Teddy, gently but firmly, “stop.”

“I’m concerned Theodore. You don’t know what it is like to have your heart ripped in two, at least not lately,” said Tellias. “For years and years, centuries, eons, their eyes all go to her. They can’t help it. They all want her. She is still beautiful. Look at her.”

“Darling Tellias,” I said. “Eleora only loves you.”

“Love yes. Lust is another thing,” he hissed.

“Who would she see? You two hardly ever go out,” said Teddy.

“We go out. Sometimes. In the night,” said Tellias.

“Does she go out alone?” I asked, knowing that she didn’t.

Tellias hesitated. “Well, no, but I go out alone.”

“She isn’t entertaining anyone when you’re away, I should know,” said a voice from the doorway. It was Great Great Great Great Grandmama Lola who was much younger than Eleora and Tellias but still ancient. Of course she could pass for a graduate student or young professional woman with her long brown curls and trendy clothes.

“Dear Juliette it is good to see you,” said Lola, as she put her cool hands on my face and kissed my cheeks. “I don’t know if you knew this but Henry the VIII was obsessed with Elora. Tellias was a nervous wreck. I kept reminding him that Henry was disgusting, and a warm blooded mortal, but Tellias wouldn’t hear any of it. Too bad because the court was pretty crazy and the perfect place for a clutch of Vampires to hang out in.”

“So what happened?” I had to ask. This was a new story to me.

“We all moved to Italy. It wasn’t a bad thing for any of us. Tellias always kept his Roman connections so it worked out well for the next fifty or so years.”

Tellias frowned. “Until Raphael… She was his Vampire.”

Lola shook her pretty head. “Oh come now Tellias she never made love to the man, just  bit his neck. There is nothing wrong with that.”

“No, he never painted her. She just posed naked,” said Tellias.

“That was me Tellias, not Elora. I also did Archbishop of Canterbury right before we left England, but there were oh so many handsome warm blooded men in Italy that I never missed England. Not for a second,” said Lola, flipping her hair away from her face.

There were always a lot of TMI moments when Lola was around. Oh the joy of being around ancient Vampires.

“Lola, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your habits,” said Tellias.

Lola crossed her arms and scowled at him. “Please don’t. I’ve watched my first husband burned to the stake, and watched the second one get sealed up in a crypt. I can do as I please. I’ve deserved little fun. I’ve earned it Tellias.”

Tellias continued to scowl. “I raised you not to be so indulgent with your prey.”

“Darling, you’re like a father to me, and I appreciate the sentiment, but not all of us are lucky enough to have the same partner for almost 2,000 years.”

“I’m going to the kitchen,” said Teddy who’d once more been subjected to my clan.

“What’s in there?” Tellias asked.

“Clara, Eleora and hopefully whiskey. You can continue discussing playing with your food without me,” said Teddy as he made his way down the hall.

I turned back to Tellias. As ancient as he is the old Vampire looks all of nineteen years old. I brushed his white blonde hair behind his ear and said, “Eleora loves you and only you.”

He started to speak again and I put a finger on his lips. “No. This is all in your imagination. Of course everyone falls in love with her. Eleora is silly and beautiful, but she is yours. All yours Tellias.”

He looked defiant, then said, “You need to read those articles Eleora clipped for you. I think she printed a few off from the computer too. Just look over them. Amuse her.”

Lola had vanished into the kitchen with the rest of the family. I gave Tellias a hug. “We brought you a case of Astronomer’s Blood, the kind you like. Dave’s Bottle Shop is having a sale for the rest of the month so let me know if you need anything else.”

We joined the others who were now laughing at Clara’s high school stories.

I know I was sort of blowing off Tellias’s concerns. Sometimes he thinks Eleora is unfaithful. Sometimes he thinks he needs to contact the Roman general he used to work for as a soothsayer. Sometimes he is just fine. But I try to listen. Just like I’ve stopped telling Eleora to stop giving me articles and coupons. If it makes her happy then I’ll be happy to humor her.

Outside I could see the lights of my brother Val’s car pull into the driveway.

I always tell everyone to listen to their kids. Listen to the ancient ones in your life as well. Their concerns are real, even if those concerns might not seem so real to you. If you don’t listen you might miss something important.

Take care, and call your mom, or someone who might be alone and need to talk.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

True love keeps you young forever!

True love keeps you young forever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing your happy

vm_rick

 

I had to bring the Elders back to my house for the next two days because of “issues” at their home.

I’d thought it would be a pleasant afternoon, but it wasn’t.

Eleora wasn’t her usually happy self. Tellias was moody.

They just sit. I speak. They answer like moody teens with monosyllabic mubblings.

Then they start to complain. Not about me, but about everything. I will not let them watch the debates tonight. That will make all of us grouchy.

Then they smile and thank me for letting them stay over.

Maybe it is just me today with plans made, that are now unmade.

“Did you get a tree up yet?”

“NO,” they say in unison. They say they have no friends so they won’t be putting up a tree. I tell them that they are being silly. Then they start to complain about my brother Val who lives with them part of the time.

I asked them about Val and they shrug.

“Where’d you lose your happy?”

They glare at me.

Ancient Vampires are a lot like ancient regular people.

Maybe it isn’t them. Maybe it is me. Maybe a little bit of both. Maybe we’re all just out of sorts. Maybe it is them. Maybe I just need to take a walk.

I look out the window hoping The Ghost is out there. No such luck. At least he would have been a distraction.

The cat comes in and they light up like Christmas trees. Oh the cat. Then Clara comes home from school. She is sixteen. They light up. Everyone is happy.

They’re tired of me. Sometimes I feel like the novelty wore off a hundred years ago.

I made a place on the couch between Eleora and Tellias and sat. I put a blanket over our legs and the cats began to pile on, purring and kneading with their paws.. Then we watched the debates and talked through it all. Maybe it was worth watching something that could be potentially weirder than three Vampires sitting on a couch in the light of a Christmas tree watching Republican Debates. I mean really, what could be weirder? OK I can think of a lot of things.

 

Then again, we’re all together. What could be better.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Iareseriouscat

 

 

When You Grow Old (a very short story)

When You Grow Old

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.

My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.

I’d been at Bob’s for six months.

“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I’m going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.

I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.

Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Bob had fixed dinner. A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about 3 years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.

I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, is the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”

The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors.

“You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.

It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past ten years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of it’s past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.

A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.

“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.

“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”

“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.

“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”

“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life forever.

“Bob is happy where he is.”

“I think you’re right.”

We walked more and listened to the waves. Then Stephen kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.

The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed, I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly, and his relationship with the waves.

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.

He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”

“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”

“You and Steve can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body, but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with vampires. It’s cool.”

And so it was.

 

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Note: You might have read this story before. It is one of my favorites so I’m going to share it with you again. 

Science Fiction and… maybe not.

You never know where creative ideas are going to come from. I’m around teens a lot. Teens belch. Write what you know (so I write about teens and Vampires) but sometimes we can be inspired to write something new. I’ve never written any real hard-core science fiction. So on the drive home from skate practice yesterday I thought of a story and told my 14-year-old daughter and sounding board Clara.

My idea:

There is a planet with two different forms of life. The first form of life belches a lot. They belch out gas that the second form of life need to live.

Clara looked at me and said “Mom that isn’t one of your best efforts.” Then in a deep strong Southern accent she says, “Bob come over here and belch in my face so I can keep living.”

“I was thinking they were more like toads or something.”

“Mom, that is so lame.”

Later I told my husband who respond with “That is really bad.”

So much for being the next Philip K. Dick. Maybe on a good day I might get close to H.G. Wells. That would be a really great day.

Friday morning could have been out of a science fiction story…

Being with the elderly is always interesting. A little bit of time travel, a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of “I’m too old to give a shit about what anyone thinks” attitude. The attitude is what makes being really old so delightful.

I stopped by to see the Elders. They’re ancient Vampires. Nobody is quiet sure how old. They look like they’re around 19 or 20 but they’ve been around since before the birth of Christ. It is my job, now with the help of my brother Val, to look in on them and make sure they’re ok.

When I arrived they fluttered around me, giving kisses and hugs. They sang a song to me Irving Berlin’s “I Love to Have the Boys Around Me.” Yes, they’re pretty random, but also exceptionally sweet.

Eleora had her long reddish-brown curls up in a loose bun and a most interesting outfit. She’d taken one of those old lady track suits. You know the kind I’m talking about – velourish fabric pants and top, always matching, usually in bright colors. Always monochromatic. Eleora rarely wears trousers (what she calls all pants.) But she wanted that track suit. So she made the pants into a skirt. Remember those skirts in the 1970’s made out of jeans? The legs were split and usually patchwork fabric (yes, like a quilt) was a large triangle in the front making a swell skirt. Well, Eleora had done that with her track pants. It was a riot of colors and patterns all in reds. She was so happy twirling around for me.

So maybe I don’t need science fiction to be weird. Sometime I just need my own life, which is always weird and astounding and fantastic and full of astonishing things I could never imagine.

It is a coolish Saturday and I’m going off to downtown to have more adventures – with a car full of teens no less. Vampires on the go. We’ll see what happens.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

vampire space