Short Story Sunday: Dog Park

Dog Park

“Come with me my love on an adventure that will surpass all adventures,” he said to her with his rich masculine voice, and his dreamy brown eyes.

This was not the adventure she had expected.

She looked at her dog, a five year old, ninety-six pound German Shepard named Joe. “I suppose you want me to take you to the dog park.”

“Yes, come with me my love and I will chase balls, sniff butts, and act a fool, and you my love, my only, my queen can take me there.”

“Because you can’t drive.”

“I am but a dog. You are a woman of great power and the keeper of transportation.”

She heard a noise and turned her head. Joe turned his head at the same time.

Her husband stood in the doorway to the kitchen where she and Joe were talking.

He gasped as he looked at his wife and dog. “Joe can talk?”

“Yeah, and he can hold three tennis balls in his mouth at the same time. He’s a smart dog. Put your shoes on if you want to go with us.”

~ End

Short Story Sunday: Shelter

Constantine never cared what anyone thought, until now. Now he wanted everyone to think good things. That was odd considering he was a Vampire.

Life was easy when in almost any setting one was always the best dressed, the best looking, the most charming, and the most knowledgable on almost any subject. It also didn’t hurt to be a four hundred year old Vampire, but that was besides the point. Constantine had always been the most at almost everything.

On Thursday night he’d walked home after having drinks with friends, and of course drinking from friends. A few blocks from his home he’d stopped. Normally he wouldn’t have but the burst of cold air, the flashing lights, and police tape made him curious. It was really the blast of cold air that had made him stop. Someone had died. A few ghosts from a hundred years back had stopped to look as well. They met Constantine’s gaze and just shook their heads.

He took a step towards the ghosts. “What happened?”

“Murder,” they whispered, then they vanished into the dark night. Then he heard a woman’s voice whisper, my babies, my babies.

The following day he found out that a woman was murdered by her boyfriend. Restraining orders obviously were of no use. She had no children, no family, and not many friends. She’d worked as a paralegal and walked to work. Everyone liked her. She was a always cheerful but was sort of a loner. Her name was Keera. She was thirty-six. The man who killed her had gone back to his own home and killed himself.

My babies, my babies.

Saturday afternoon brought hail. It also brought a flat tire. It was more than just a flat. The entire tire rod had busted.  Constantine stayed in his car (of course he was waring an expensive suit and forgot his umbrella) and waited for a tow truck. His friend Robert said he could be there in an ninety minutes. Then he looked up and saw he’d broken down right in front of the city animal shelter. He could wait there. After the car had been towed he ran to the the shelter entrance.

The last time he’d had a pet of his own was in the 19th century. Apollo was a white and brown speckled English Spaniel. He’d missed the dog, a goofy faithful friend. Sometimes even Vampires needed some one goofy in their life even if that friend was a dog. Since then he hadn’t had time for a dog. There was too much fur, too much time, too much everything with a dog.

As he waited for Robert, Constantine looked at all of the dogs, happy to see him, all saying take me home through their barks and yips.

At the back of one the enclosures curled up together in a dark ball of fur were two dogs. At first he’d thought there was only one massive brown and tan dog they were so close together. They didn’t jump up. They didn’t bark. The larger dog, a German Shepard lifted it’s dark head and looked at Constantine with dark almost human eyes. Next the other dog, a Black Lab, with a spot of white on it’s chest, looked up, then hid it’s head again in it’s companion’s fur.

My babies, my babies.

“These dogs came in a few days ago. Their owner died. No family. Nobody wanted them. We’re asking that they stay together but it’s hard to place two adult dogs together,” said a shelter volunteer, a small middle aged woman with a kind face. “The Shepard is six. Her name is Jewel. The Lab, Cole, is only two. They’re inseparable.”

“I’d like to meet them,” said Constantine. He noticed the woman eye his suit. “I’m not worried about the fur.”

As the volunteer opened the door of the cage the dogs stood. They both came up and wagged their tails. The German Shepard peed on his shoe, not as an aggression, but in joy and excitement. Cole the Lab rolled over so his belly could be rubbed.

He looked up and saw a ghost. A woman with brown hair, and large brown eyes set in a round face. “My babies,” she said as she faded out of his sight.

“They belonged to the murdered woman,” said Constantine.

“Yes. It was so tragic.”

“How long will they be here before, they’re… put down.”

“Two weeks.”

“I’ll take them.”

“Both of them?”

“Both of them.”

An hour later Robert was laughing and telling Constantine how crazy he was. “Two grown dogs. Whatever you do don’t give them human blood.”

“They’ll have dog food. Won’t you?” Constantine said looking into the back seat where the two dogs sat close together. Jewel turned her head from right to left as she listened.

Robert stopped at the large pet supply story where they picked up dog beds, leashes, toys, and lots of dog food.

Later, on Saturday night, Constantine sat on the couch and read. Jewel put her head on his feet. Cole jumped up on the couch and curled next to Constantine.

“Do you miss your mom? I promised her I’d take good care of you,” he said to the dogs.

Jewel looked up at him and turned her head, then she jumped up on the couch on the other side of Constantine and put her head in his lap. Cole wagged his tail and licked Constantine’s hand.

His friend would say he was crazy. The last thing he needed was two large grown dogs. But maybe that was exactly what he needed.

The wind blew outside and the rain pounded the windows.

Thank you.

The wind whispered to him. Thank you.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Saturday (a short story)

Saturday is here once more. Due to a busy schedule with wonderful, amazing, lovely old friends, and a busy weekend looming I’m reposting a story about our favorite Vampire Hunter, Austin Durant.

I could post for Cat-Ur-Day but I can’t find my cats. So without any more silly explanations…

Saturday (A Short Story from The Hunter Series)

Austin Durant was spending Saturday morning with a pot of coffee and a folder full of research materials. His mind was on the article he was writing, but also on the end of the school year, his latest landscaping project, and his girlfriend Elizabeth.

He stopped at the sound of the doorbell, then sent to answer. He hoped it wasn’t anyone trying to sell him anything. Two large men, dressed in black, stood at his front door. No clipboards.

Austin looked them up and down. “I’m going to assume you’re not from the Sanders campaign,” he said.

The men pushed their way through the door. Austin backed away.

“I don’t know why you guys even bothered to knock. Can I get you anything?” Now more than anytime he wished his old German Shepard Dogs Lucy and Mina were still alive. They would have ripped these guys to shreds, or at least barked a lot. After three years he still couldn’t bring himself to get another dog. But this wasn’t the time to reminisce about lost loves – he had Vampires in his house.

Who would have thought that Vampires would be at his front door at 2:37 on a Saturday afternoon in May? Sure, alright, he was a part-time, sometimes Vampire Hunter, but not on Saturday afternoon. The plan was to do a little work on an article about the California art colonies in the 1880’s, then do a little yard work, then go over to his sister’s house to eat tacos and watch Dead Pool.  Such is the life of a single History Professor slash Vampire Hunter.

“You know guys, this is a bad time for me. Why don’t you come back later, say in about a hundred years.”

The Vampires stepped forward baring their long sharp fangs. Austin started to calculate in his mind how to distract them so he could get his sword. Then the doorbell rang.

Austin put his hand up. “Excuse me for a minute guys.”

The Vampires stepped back and withdrew their fangs.

At the door stood Austin’s fifteen year old neighbor Ryan. A tabby cat with white paws stood next to him.

“Hey, Ryan. What’s up?”

“I, um, forgot my key to my house. My mom said you had a copy.”

“Sure, wait a second.” Austin looked at the Vampires. “Don’t even think about it.”

He got the key from the kitchen drawer and brought it back to Ryan. The boy thanked him then looked inside the door.

“Seriously dude, you have some creepy friends.”

“They’re not my friends,” said Austin. “Just some guys dropping off some stuff for a research project.”

“Uh, thanks for the keys.”

Ryan and the cat left and Austin turned his attention back to the Vampires. “OK guys, time to go. I have things to do, places to go, tacos to eat, and if you don’t get the hell out of my house I’ll add Vampires to kill to my list. Got it?”

The Vampires showed their fang again. Then the doorbell rang. The Vampires stepped back into the shadows.

Austin opened the door. Dave the mail carrier stood there with a package. “Hey, Austin, I just need a signature.”

“Good, I’ve been waiting for this,” said Austin as he signed the deliver slip. It was a packet of letters from the artist Julian Rix to a woman who would eventually break the artist’s heart. Austin put the letters on the table in his entry way and turned his attention back to the Vampires.

“Sorry about that. I told you this was a bad time,” he said to the Vampires.  “What do you guys want? I don’t have all day.”

The two Vampires showed their fangs and stepped towards Austin. “Listen, I don’t want any trouble. I don’t have a problem with you. I don’t even know you. In fact, my girlfriend is a Vampire.”

The Vampires hissed through their fangs, then stopped. There was a soft knock at the door.

Austin stepped back. “Excuse me, somebody is at the door.”

At the door Austin’s neighbor from down the street, a guy named Bob stood with a clip board. “Hi Austin, I have the petition to close the street on the Fourth of July.”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it. Just let me know what I can do to help.”

“Sure thing,” said Bob. “Feel free to invite your friends.”

Austin looked around to see the Vampires had moved just behind him in the entry way. “Sure thing. Hey guys, you’re invited. Bring your favorite pot luck dish and some sparklers. It will be fun.”

After Bob left, Austin turned his full attention back to the Vampires. “I know you didn’t come here to borrow a cup of sugar. What do you want?”

The Vampires showed their fangs. “No, I’m not going to do this today. You’ve already waited almost an hour of my time. Either I kill you, you kill me, or you leave. What is it?”

The doorbell rang again. “Shit,” whispered Austin. He opened the door. There stood two college students with a clipboard. “Hey, I know you. How’s it going Tiffany?” The girl was in his California history class.

“Dr. Durant. I didn’t know you lived in this neighborhood. We’re here for the mayor’s campaign.”

“Good for you. I encourage everyone to be politically active. I think a few other groups will be out today as well.”

“Cool.”

The kids talked with Austin about politics and school. All the while Austin could sense the Vampires behind him, lurking in the shadows of his living room. He then wished the kids good luck as they went on their way.

He turned back to the Vampires who were now looking at his book shelf and talking quietly to each other.

Austin approached them. “So do you want to do this or not?”

“You have all of Steinbeck’s books, I’m impressed,” said  the taller and paler of the two Vampires. “Too bad I have to kill you.”

Then the door bell sounded again. Austin went to the front door. His neighbor Joe who lived behind him was there.

“Hey Austin. I’m fixing the fence so Sammy and Shadow can’t get out. Do you mind if I go into your yard for about a half hour?” Sammy and Shadow were two shaggy dogs of unknown breeds.

“Sure, I’ll help you out. Give me a few minutes. I’ll meet you in the back yard.”

Austin turned to the Vampires. “Guys, we’re going to have to do this later.”

The Vampires looked at him with frustration on their pale faces then slipped out the front door and vanished into the cloudy afternoon.

Well, this is the first time I’ve killed a Vampire with boredom, thought Austin. Then he put on his shoes and work gloves to meet Joe by the fence.

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

The 2019 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts at the Crest Theater

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For years we’ve looked forward to watching the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts. Well, I have to say the selection this year was quite unexpected. That isn’t a good thing either. The real show was watching the stunned movie goers stagger out of the theater shell shocked and depressed.

One had a slightly bitter sweet message, but the rest were just depressing and somewhat disjointed.

Skin (United States)
The was the only American film in the group. It was sort of a skin-head white-trash revenge film. It was squirmy and uncomfortable with a totally unrealistic ending that sort of wasted the message of the movie. We came up with a lot of much better endings and resolutions.

Marguerite (Canada)
This was a bitter sweet story of an elderly woman and her caretaker. The message was about missed love and understanding. It had a bitter sweet ending. This was the only one that didn’t make me want to cry, scream, or throw something.

Madre / Mother (Spain)
A woman gets a call from her small child. He is alone on a beach. He can’t find his father. Twenty minutes later they are still on the phone and the tension is high. PANIC time. No ending. Seriously, there is no ending. It was like the start of a movie but nobody was allowed to see the rest of it.

Fauve (Canada)
Two typical funny kids (think of the boys in Stand By Me) go exploring what looks like some sort of mining operation. Bad things happen. I had tears in my eyes at the end of this one. It was well done but odd and disturbing.

Detainment (Ireland)
If you want to have your heart and gut torn out watch this half-hour film  based on transcripts of police interviews with Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the English boys who were convicted of torturing and murdering two-year-old James Bulger in 1993. I was in tears after this one too. Yes, it was done well. Yes, it might just win. No I wouldn’t see it again.

I would not show kids any of these films. I wouldn’t recommend this group to any of my friends.

On the way out my husband, daughter, her boyfriend, and I discussed all of the live action shorts we’ve seen in the past. Never have we seen such a depressing selection. And most live action horror shorts I’ve seen are 200% better than any of these. And I don’t like most full length horror films so I’m not playing favorites on the genre. I’m just saying these films kind of left me feeling dead, and that’s coming from me.

We watched the movies at the wonderful Crest Theater in Sacramento, California, a restored movie palace of a bygone era. That made it worth while.

 

 

The Crest Theater was also the inspiration for my story “A Night at the Crest.” Maybe one day I’ll make it into a short film, or maybe a full length movie, or into a full length book (my original plan.)

A Night at the Crest

A Story from Marla Todd  (Juliette Kings)

Dallas Andrews was performing at the old Crest Theater in Sacramento. Jonathan Ward’s soon to be ex-girlfriend Beth told him that this guy was hot. Andrews could actually communicate with the dead. Dallas Andrews said angels walked among them. He claimed to see angels all around him 24/7.

Andrews was the darling of the clairvoyant, medium, mysticism, aura generating followers of spiritual awakening. He had been featured on most major network and cable television stations. He did radio shows, graced the covers of magazines and now was packing in full houses on a nation wide tour. He followed in the footsteps of Casey and Nostradamus. His book was on the best selling nonfiction lists.

Jonathan had tried to talk Beth out of it. He told her the guy was a fake. He told her that all of these guys were fakes, but she insisted. She told him it would be fun and enlightening.

“It would be fun and enlightening to stay home and watch The Wizard of OZ.” he replied, but she wasn’t going to budge.

Jonathan Ward, founder and editor of the West Coast Review, was 5’10 with broad shoulders on his medium build. He was in good shape for someone his age, which appeared to be somewhere in his mid 40’s. According to his drivers license he was 46. His sandy brown hair had soft grey streaks at the temples. His eyes were framed with long thick lashes. His prominent nose was straight and narrow, but it fit with his oval face. He was good looking enough to get noticed by women but not enough to stand out in a crowd, unless one noticed his almost unnerving pale ice blue eyes. He had almost a perpetual and too quick of a smile. “Always amused” is how he was often described.

His companion Beth McAllister was knock down drop dead gorgeous and she knew it. Aside from her occasional bizarre and childish fascinations with freaks like Dallas Andrews, she was also brilliant. Well, most of the time.

Beth chattered away as they entered the lobby of the Crest Theater. Her stiletto heels clicked on the floor. Jonathan always thought of it as her mating call. He slid his hand down over her perfect behind. She promptly slapped it away. “Who do you want to contact?” she asked.

“Judy Garland and Billie Burke.”

“No, it has to be somebody you knew.”

“There are no dead people I want to talk to.”

“Maybe Dallas can contact your parents or your brother.” She said gently.

“They have unlisted numbers”

“You aren’t funny.”

“Bitch.” he whispered then kissed her on the mouth and led her to their seats.

As they made their way through the crowd his eyes met a well-dressed, slightly handsome, thirtyish man in the lobby. Jonathan was sure it was a plant; someone sent by Andrews to listen in to the conversations in the lobby. “My brother was blown to bits in Afghanistan. Pass that one on to your boss.” The man looked calm but Jonathan knew he’d unnerved him.

The restored art deco movie palace was the perfect place for the grand show of bullshit he would witness tonight. The lights dimmed. A woman in a long green dress played a traditional Irish harp on the corner of the stage. At the other corner was a plainly dressed woman signing for the deaf.

“I bet there isn’t one deaf person in this theater.” He said to Beth. She rolled her eyes at him and squeezed his hand. The lights came up on the stage. The crowd cheered. Jonathan sat back with his arms crossed, glaring at the stage.

Dallas Andrews walked causally onto the stage dressed in a white silk shirt, cream colored tie and matching cream colored dress slacks finished off with tan Italian loafers with tassels. He was in his mid-to-late thirties with wavy dark hair and boyish good looks. He smiled sweetly at the audience showing off perfect dimples, practically glowing with goodness and concern.

“How innocent, how angelic, how phony” thought Jonathan.

The audience clapped until Andrews blushed on command and told them to stop. Jonathan glanced at Beth. She was transfixed. He had lost her, to Dallas Andrews, at least for the next hour.

The man in white told his story with all the passion of the finest bard or worst televangelist, depending on one’s point of view. It was all bullshit about dead friends and relatives who’d ended up with tragically only to “speak” to Dallas through his new found gift.

Dallas ended his touching life story with “We can all be at peace with those we love who have passed over. I knew at that time I had to help others to find that peace and end the pain and worry.

It is a selfish thing that we expect the dead to contact us. It isn’t easy for them. But I’m trying to make it easier, as their go between. I channel. I am the messenger. I am merely a vessel to bring the message of love from the other side.”

Jonathan said nothing as the audience sat transfixed. He jotted a few notes then put his pen away. The night might not be a complete waste of time if the timing was right.

Andrews proceeded to ask questions of tearful audience members who wished to hear from departed loved ones.

“I’m hearing from Mary, Martha? I also see black and white. A nun. A policeman.” Andrews said in the most gentle and concerned voice.

“I can’t fucking believe this.” Jonathan swore under his breath. The people around him glared. He ignored them.

They heard from a dead son killed in a car accident, a recently departed grandmother, a young wife who died from cancer, a career Army officer killed in Iraq. Jonathan’s heart broke for those who came looking for answers and the hope of any small comfort. He took notes while Beth wiped tears from her face.

After about 90 minutes Andrews opened up for questions and answers. When called on, Jonathan stood up with his usual amused smile. “Be nice” Beth whispered.

Dallas Andrews saw a familiar face. He knew who the middle-aged man in the expensive black suit and distracting ice blue eyes was. Then he noticed the incredibly beautiful brunette sitting next to him. Dallas smiled sweetly at Beth, catching her off guard. She smiled back then blushed. With any luck he’d she’d be at the reception afterwards and after that in his suite at the Hyatt Regency across the street.

“Yes, you had a question.”

Jonathan addressed the clairvoyant. “You actually see angels? Show me who the angels in this room are?”

Dallas smiled and nodded “You won’t be able to see them. They are spirits who reveal themselves to me, but they are here, all around us. Open your heart and you’ll feel their presence.”

Jonathan didn’t like the answer “Tell me Mr. Andrews, are your angels from heaven or are they from someplace else? It’s often hard to tell the difference.”

The room hushed. Dallas Andrews was obviously annoyed by this man. “I sense you have a troubled soul.”

“You don’t know the half of it.” Jonathan replied in disgust.

Andrews gave a sympathetic smile and help out his hands, palms up. “Let me try to help you find out where your demons come from.” His voice was soothing as if talking to a troubled teen.

Jonathan almost laughed. “Oh you’re good. You’re very good. Mr. Andrews, where I come from we have words for people like you. A few that come to mind are liar, con man, cheat, and oh yes, more importantly sinner.”

“What is your name?” asked Andrews trying to keep his composure.

“You know perfectly well who I am.” thought Jonathan. He smiled at the man on stage. “Jonathan Ward, West Coast Review.”

Dallas Andrews pointed at Jonathan then put his finger to his chin. He smiled again. “I thought I recognized you. You’ve seen with your own eyes, heard with your own ears the news I’ve brought to these people tonight. Mr. Ward, humor me for a moment. Think of someone you’ve lost. Your parents were from Alaska. They died in a plane crash, you and your siblings survived. Would you like a message from your parents?” he asked raising an eyebrow at Jonathan.

Beth took Jonathan’s hand. He gave it a quick squeeze and let go. Parents my ass. “Why should my dead mother contact you, a stranger, when she could contact me directly?” he asked.

Dallas toned down his voice. He turned up the gentleness and compassion. “You block out the passage for her to travel with your negativity.”

Jonathan only glared. “You found the information about my mom from the bio on my web site. You’ve been following my stories for the past year.”

“You must have great pain in your heart” replied Dallas in a comforting voice, as he put his own hand over his heart.

“How do you know my mother is really dead or even has a soul?” Jonathan shot back sarcastically.

“I speak with the angels.”

“Really? You not only see, but you also speak with angels? That is truly amazing.”

“It is a gift, a blessing.”

“It’s a lie.” said Jonathan calmly as Beth sunk lower in her seat.

Dallas Andrews smiled sadly “Ladies and Gentlemen, this reaction is common from skeptics. There are angels all around us.”

“Show me.”

“There’s one right next to you.”

Jonathan ignored the comment. “Dallas, do you believe in God?”

“Of course.”

“Do you believe in hell?”

“I believe in the intrinsic goodness of all mankind. So, no, Mr. Ward, I don’t believe in hell.”

“You will Dallas, believe me you will.”

Dallas lifted his chin in defiance. “Is that a threat?”

“No Dallas, it isn’t a threat. It’s a statement of fact.” Jonathan said cooly.

“What in your opinion is hell, Jonathan?” asked Dallas slowly and deliberately as if he was ready to pull out the big guns.

“I’ll give you a tour,” Jonathan thought to himself. He wasn’t going to take the bait. “I’ve seen enough. Good night Dallas. Don’t forget to check out next week’s issue of the West Cost Review for the end of this riveting story.” Grabbing Beth’s hand, he started to make his way to the back of the theater. Beth stopped and turned back.

“Just like Lot’s wife.” He whispered in her ear.

She pulled her hand away and hissed “Asshole.” He stopped by the exit door and faced the stage.

Dallas Andrews had already started to have a violent seizure. Then he started to scream and fell to his knees holding his head in his hands. Soon he’d feel pain like he’d never felt before. It was an ugly way to end the evening, but the man had to be stopped. Jonathan couldn’t kill, but he could do an amazing amount of damage to the living. Maybe, with any luck, Dallas Andrews would get the message and change his ways.

Jonathan smiled slightly and narrowed his eyes “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Amen.” He said quietly to nobody in particular.

Beth looked at him with wide eyes.

He scowled at her “What? Don’t look at me like a frightened cat. I told you he was a fake.”

“Jon, we can’t just leave.”

“Sure we can. There isn’t anything we can do here except be in the way.” He took out his phone and dialed 911. “My name is Jonathan Ward. I’m at the Crest Theater on K Street. Sacramento. Dallas Andrews is having some sort of attack. Horrible convulsions. Oh my gosh, I think he passed out. Please, he needs help. I’m not sure…there’s a doctor or someone up on stage with him now.” He paused “Yes…you’ve had other calls…help is on the way. Thank you. Thank you so much.”

Beth stood in shock. “Oh no, oh no.” she whispered, her eyes still on the stage.

“Let’s go darling.” Jonathan told her grabbing her arm like a vice and practically dragging her out of the theater. She passed a few of her wide-eyed friends, but he didn’t let her stop. She’d be blabbering all night to them about poor Andrews. He wondered how someone as smart as Beth could be so gullible and stupid when it came to crap like this.

They walked across the Capitol Park to his car. Beth was livid.

“We should have stayed. I bet you made him have an aneurism with your stupid questions. I can’t believe how rude and mean spirited you were to him. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life.” She tried to stop him but he kept walking.

He gave her a disgusted look. “I was rude and mean spirited? At least I was telling the truth.”

“No, if he dies it will be your fault.”

“How will it be my fault? Should I have asked for his medical history before I asked him any questions?”

She grabbed his arm. “Aren’t you concerned at all?”

He stopped and pushed her hand away. “Tell me why I should be concerned with a fraud like Andrews? Enlighten me?”

Beth was livid. “Dallas isn’t a fraud. What I saw tonight was real.”

This was going nowhere. Jonathan changed his tone. He ran his hands down her arms and gently took her hands. “Dear sweet Bethany. It wasn’t real.”

“You never respect anything I say or feel.” She cried trying to pull her hands away. “What about his visions from his cousin and dead girlfriend? He couldn’t have been making that up.”

Jonathan held on tight. “His cousin Joyce died when he was two years old. Andrews had seen her once. And there was no girlfriend Patty. She was a girl in his dorm who died of leukemia. They knew each other but they never went out.”

“He might have loved her. He might have cared for her.”

“No Beth, the guy is a liar and a fraud.”

“You don’t know that.”

““Listen to me. Remember the first time you saw the trunk that belonged to May Woosley, in the Sacramento History Museum? You were on a field trip with your nephew’s 4th grade class.”

Beth blinked, her voice turned shrill. “What are you talking about?”

“Let me jog your memory. May died in 1879. She was just a little girl. On the advice of a clairvoyant, like Andrews, her mother sealed a trunk full of May’s belongings in the wall of their home. Mrs. Woosley spent the rest of her life searching for a message from her daughter because she’d listened to the words of a con-artist rather than listening to her own heart for healing. The trunk wasn’t found again until 1979. When you saw it in the museum you cried. You went home and cried all night for the little girl and her family.”

“How did you…that was 5 years ago, before I even met you. I never told you about that.”

“You didn’t have to. Beth, don’t you see. You knew Mrs. Woosley was lied to. Dallas Andrews lies to people too.”

A tear rolled down her cheek. She backed away. “How do you know these things? You always know things.”

“I observe and I guess a lot.” He wiped the tear away and kissed her. “See, you aren’t as tough and shallow as you pretend to be.”

The fog had rolled leaving the night air with zero visibility. He took her hands and wrapped the car keys around them. “You’re driving.”

She took the keys knowing full well that he was practically blind on clear night and completely blind in the night fog.

“Could you even see Dallas Andrews on the stage.”

“I could see enough. Let’s go.”

“If you could have seen his face.”

“I saw his face clear enough to know every single thing he said was a lie.”

She adjusted the seat and glanced over at him. “You’re such an asshole.”

“Just drive.”

“Where are we going?”

“Your house.” Her house was closer and he wouldn’t have to drive her home in the morning.

“You expect me to let you…”

“I love you Beth. Nothing, including your faith in a charlatan like Dallas Andrews, is going to change that. Not now, not ever.” He took her hand and whispered, “You are my soul. And despite the fact that you drive me absolutely crazy, I need you.”

Another tear rolled down her cheek as she drove in silence.

When they got back to her house and made love to her like she was the last woman on earth. She asked him again about the long thin scars on his back. He told her for the 100th time that he didn’t remember how it happened. It was during the plane crash when his parents died way up in the Alaskan wilderness, hundreds of miles from anyone. So final. So tragic. It made for a good story, even thought it wasn’t true.

Beth’s amazing body was as fake as the con man he’d just put down. Beautiful store bought breasts, a dazzling smile of the best veneers money could buy, cheek implants and a slightly smaller and straighter nose than nature had given her, violet colored contacts covering her hazel eyes, the trendiest hair colorist in town, a sprayed on tan, artificial nails and a toned body thanks to grueling sessions with a sadistic personal trainer named Bruce. Jonathan thought wistfully that there was an entire generation of American men who had never felt a real female breast.

The sad thing was that at 38 Beth would have been lovely without most of the work. At least her heart was real, despite her tendency to be shallow and superficial.

He knew he scared her. The only reason she kept him around was for the great sex and his political connections. What a joke – there were no real “best” connections in Sacramento or anywhere else for that matter.

Jonathan knew the best people to know where those brilliant folks who stayed away from the media limelight, away from the cultural and political wanna-bees. He often thought, “Give me the rocket scientist next door over those who claimed they partied with Arnold and Jerry, or knew the more influential elected officials and developers at the state capitol. Give me my own friends; the mom who writes historic romance novels, the high school science teacher, the master gardener and the emergency room doctor. These were the people who really know what it is like to be alive and human.”

The next morning the fog had been replaced by a grey drizzle of rain. He left Beth’s in his silver Jaguar XJR, heading off to the airport to pick up Lorna. A few years his senior, she was a golden haired, blue eyed living Barbie doll. She lived in Malibu with a view of the ocean. Tapped into the spiritual rhythm of the ocean, she fit right into the affluent new age lifestyles of her neighbors. They had to be some of the most entertaining and shallow people he’d ever met.

“Where’s the hybrid?” asked Lorna

“Dropped it off for new tires.” He thought of Lorna and her unrelenting social conscience – knew he should have driven the hybrid, then shrugged it off. This weekend he wanted style not substance. In a few hours all the substance he could ever want was going to be shoved down his throat.

“What are you listening to?” she asked in disgust when he started up the car.

“Metallica.”

She turned it off. “Have you heard today’s news yet?”

“No. I’m clearing my mind today. No radio. No TV. No newspapers. No Internet. No phone.”

“Tell me what happened last night?”

“Beth broke up with me. She said I was too intense. I recall she used also used the words weird, asshole and insensitive. Lots of tears so I think there’s a good chance she’ll take me back.”

Lorna grabbed his wrist like a vice. “What happened with Dallas Andrews?”

“Let go, do you want me to wreck the car? Where did you hear about Andrews?”

“NPR, Morning Edition. CNN. Fox. LA Times.”

“Was my name mentioned?”

“They said that in the process of being interrogated by you, Andrews had a violent seizure. He is now is now seeing visions of hell and keeps mentioning your name.”

He changed the music to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons “Funny guy that Andrews. I heard the story on the way to the airport. Didn’t realize Dallas Andrews was so popular.” He said giving Lorna a wink. “Grab my phone, it’s in the glove box. Check my messages.”

Lorna’s beautiful mouth turned into a slight smile as she listened to the messages. Jonathan thought it was almost a snarl. “You have 22 messages. The first three are from your office, CNN and Beth. She’s hysterical. The rest seem to be people wanting to talk to you about Andrews.” They headed down Hwy 50 towards the hills. “What are we going to do with you Jonathan?” she asked rubbing his neck with her left hand.

“Don’t do anything with me” he answered quietly. “Just let me do my job.”

They went up the hill towards Sutter Creek, to Ruth’s Ranch as he always called it, for the annual, get our heads screwed back on, clear our brains, find peace, drink a lot of great wine and solve all our problems retreat. He was looking forward to it. The past few months had been a major drain on his mental and emotional resources.

He loved the drive through the rolling oak forested hills. He spent every weekend he could with his cousin Ruth. But this weekend might be rough. He was going to ask his family about his latest job offer. This was his dream job. He’d all but signed the contract. Everyone would be there to give him their own jaded opinions. Most wouldn’t be too thrilled.

He looked over at beautiful golden Lorna dozing in the seat next to him. She was his older sister, his mentor, the one who kept him grounded. He imagined her with a halo and beautiful wings spread out in shining glory. Then he wondered if she was sleeping with her new best friend, a plastic surgeon named, Dennis O’Brian. Denny, as she called the man was nice enough, but suddenly Jonathan felt like he wanted to beat the crap out of the guy if he ever touched Lorna. Then he’d torture him and flay off his skin leaving him a quivering mass of, well, whatever. He had to stop being so protective of his sisters.

Jonathan’s mind skipped back Dallas Andrews. He felt sick to his stomach. It had been unpleasant business, but somebody had to do it. After all it wasn’t easy being angel.

Copyright Ó 2013 Marla Todd

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~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Stumped


I thought it would be fun to start off the new year with a fun short story

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

Christmas Message From Ambrose

Thank you Amy Karian for a fun Christmas story. I’m sharing this for my readers! It is too good to keep to myself.

cosistories

Ambrose stared at the microphone. “You’re kidding, right?”

Barbara patted his back. “Don’t worry. You don’t even have to touch it. Just talk into it.”

He shook his head. “I’m going to break it somehow. I just know it.”

“Stupid.” Robin said. “How you gonna break a microphone? You plannin’ to bite its neck or what?”

Ambrose shot a quick glare at Robin. “Technology and I aren’t friends.”

Isellta tilted his head and blinked quickly. “But what is it?”

Robin smiled at the fey. “It’s a microphone.”

“Microphone. Micro. Phone. Mi. Cro. Phone?” Isellta shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

Raven sighed. “I am unsure why I must be the one to explain this, but very well. A microphone is a device that amplifies the human voice to make it carry further than it normally can travel. In this case, however, we are using it to amplify Ambrose’s voice so…

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