Short Story Sunday: Sunday Coffee

I saw something on YouTube in a church where little children were speaking in tongues. I’d love to see that. Seriously. I can hear them saying, “Mama I spoke in tongues, can we go to Dairy Queen now?” or “Daddy, I rolled my eyes back real far. Can I play with the rattle snakes now?”

Delilah sat with a glass of unsweetened iced coffee, listening to people who sat around her. She loved eavesdropping.

“Sandy said her daughter Kylee called her everyday from college and cried. Kylee is so lonely. I asked her if any of her daughter’s friends from high school were there and she said no.”

“Oh my God, that sounds like something Kylee would do. She has been posting all over social media pictures with friends. She’s having a great time in college. “

Be it a coffee shop, a church, or any public place, Delilah would sit and listen, and wait.

There are so many homeless camps by the river this summer. They’re ruining the area around Gateway Park.

Delilah listened. There was an opportunity, then again she would only go there if she was desperate. She texted a friend who liked things a little rougher than she did.

She smiled at a nice looking man who got up to leave, with his book and coffee-to-go refill. He smiled back. She’d seen him there before. It was an opportunity. She knew he’d walked. She knew he lived close by, in a neat little Victorian house, with a cat, and nobody else. They chatted. She walked with him. Fall was coming soon. She could smell the pumpkin spice in his coffee. He was telling her about his garden. She said she’d love to see it. Then she smiled and thought of the taste of pumpkin spice. Maybe. When one was a vampire you never knew what you’d hear or taste next.

~ end

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Summer TV Update (with Vampires, guilty pleasures, cooking, movies, AGT, and more)

Fall is just around the corner. I know that because I am painfully aware that books for the fall quarter for two college aged kids will run around $1,600 – $2,000, maybe a little less if they are lucky enough to get used books. But on a good note, the summer TV season is still in full swing.

I know I’m not the only person on the planet who is NOT watching Game of Thrones. I was turned off the first season by all of the gratuitous doggy style sex in every single episode. Really? Come on folks mix it up. I think that is an HBO thing. Seriously it gets annoying after a while (like after the first five or six times within an hour.) There were also a couple of other annoying things. I tried to read the first book and couldn’t get through it due to the writing style. It was well written, but I just couldn’t get into it. Hey, I have read a lot of fantasy, more than most, and a lot of difficult literature (which I loved) but I couldn’t get into Game of Thrones. Sort of like I can’t get into any Wally Lamb book (sort of like waiting in Hell, I mean on hold with any technical support department with any cable company, phone company, or eBay.) But if you like it then go for it. Have fun. As us Vampires say, “sink your teeth into it.” And there are dragons. Dragons are always exceptionally cool.

I also don’t watch Dr. Who. Never have. Never will. I will not discuss the subject. Period.

By the way, I have a funny bit. This morning my husband answered the phone at some early still-dark hour. He said, “Microsoft Technical Support,” and presto – the caller was gone. HA HA HA. I love that man.

So what stupid things have I been watching this summer? Not a lot. Mainly movies. Mainly small indie films. I’ll do another post for summer theater films (maybe) later. This is what I’ve watched and highly recommend that I’ve seen on cable.

Juliette’s Short List for Summer Movies You Can Watch On Your TV or Computer:

  • The Fundamentals of Caring
  • Shimmer Lake
  • I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
  • Tangerine

Note: All of these are small Independent films. Good stuff. None of them will make you want to strangle me after you see them. Please see the ratings and descriptions before you watch them with kids. 

 

The Bachelorette

Late one night, while I was alone, I discovered The Bachelorette. I discovered Rachael. Who couldn’t love Rachael. She is a beautiful, lovely, charming, sweet woman from Texas.

I usually don’t get hooked into this stuff but I did. I watched it in secret without family or friends. I wouldn’t admit to anyone that I was following Rachael’s adventures. But I couldn’t stop watching it.

You know, if it was a guy picking out a girl from the usually room full of chicks in too high of heels and too tight dresses I wouldn’t have watched. But this was different. This was so different. I’m not going to even try to explain today. Maybe later. Not today (I have stuff to do and need to finish this post.)

She started out with about thirty guys who all wanted to marry her, or at least get the chance to find out if they wanted to marry her. Each week she’d give a rose to the guys she wanted to keep in the running. The guys all stayed together in a stable, I mean house. Some were nice. Several were real douches. Some spent their time back stabbing other guys. That got them nowhere. In the meantime Rachael went around the world having romantic adventures with the fellows and FINALLY picked the last THREE. Oh what a heart break and what a sweet ending.

She picked…one of my favorites…the right choice… Bryan. Woo Hoo. I wish them a long happy life together.

I hope it works out for them when reality sets in. You know the reality I’m talking about. How will they handle it when one of them gets sick our injured? How will she deal with his weird high school friend Kyle? What about their morning routines, holidays, decorating styles, views on how they’ll raise their kids, where they’ll raise their kids, morning coffee breath, what they watch on TV and a variety of weird things? Life after dating can get complicated – yes, that is what marriage is. Marriage is rewarding but it isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work, and it isn’t always romantic.

I still can’t believe I got sucked into this. Awww, must be the romantic in me. Hey, Peter, dude, you blew it.

America’s Got Talent

This is my flagship show. What I mean by that is that when I first started this blog back in 2012 I started blogging about this show every single week during the summer. All of us (me, family, friends) would gather around and watch. I publish comments from the peanut gallery – unfiltered and unapologetic. The honest truth. The show is good this year and now in the judges cuts for the top acts. I’ll be posting on it again… and YES WITH COCKTAILS. Do a search for previous blog posts on this show.

I have to add one note about this season’s “golden buzzer” choices. A small girl with a big voice sang a lovely song and received the “golden buzzer.” My daughter looked the girl up on Google and found that she’d been in talent shows all over Asia. No wonder she was so good on stage, so slick, and utterly fantastic in a practiced and staged way. Her parents have made her into an industry – starting with what they named her (after a famous singer.) Unlike many of the other children we’ve seen on the show I feel this child is exploited by her parents. There is nothing natural about her. This isn’t talent. This is force fed performance – like a trained dog or monkey. She is their cash cow – raised to be a cash cow. By the time she is 23 she’ll be washed up, but who cares – mom and dad can retire in comfort. It is too bad the guest judge who pressed the golden buzzer couldn’t have seen through the blatant exploitation of a small child.

Vampire Cocktails – two parts mixer, one part blood. Cheers. And never drink and drive.

Next Food TV Star

This season had a bunch of likable folks (except two who were just annoying.) In my opinion it was the best season ever. They are now down to the last three. All men. All fun. All guys you’d want to hug and have as neighbors. All great. My bets are on Jason, a wonderful guy from Tennessee with an accent that will melt your heart away. I could just eat him up. This man can cook and entertain. Let’s see what happens.

If you don’t want to win on this show do the following:

  1. Refer to yourself as “Mama” something.
  2. Talk non-stop about a distant country you identify with, that nobody has ever heard of, even though you are 5th generation American. Then rather than educating us, and sharing with us the wonders of your beautiful family culture, be so confusing about it that nobody knows what the crap you’re talking about.
  3. Be totally clueless in the kitchen.
  4. Show the other contestants how ignorant and helpless you are.
  5. Act surprised that you’re going to be on TV and have to talk about your food.
  6. Don’t know what a vanilla bean looks like.
  7. Make the other contestants want to cry when they are paired up with you.
  8. Don’t follow directions.
  9. Act like a Martha Stewart wannabe.
  10. Make some sort of shrimp and grits for every single challenge. Yes, we know you’re from the South, but I know damn well that folks from the South eat a lot more than grits.

Preacher

I love this show. I fucking love this show.

Life Below Zero

I’m hooked. Love Sue. Love the others too. But I wish they’d show more than just hunting and fishing. I’d like to see other aspects of their lives as well. We get a hint, but I’d like more. OK I admit, I watch for the foxes at Sue’s and the puppies with everyone else.

Forged in Steel

People make knives. No drama. They are craftsmen and women. They are awesome. Wow. Check it out.

Ink Master

Yes, we’re watching this weird and wonderful train wreck of a show. This year is a team effort (teams of two in competition against each other.) There is less drama and better ink than on previous shows. Thank you producers for raising the bar a little. And did I say better artists? Yes, they’re better than we’ve seen in years. Like most shows this is just something we watch together, talk about while we watch it, and don’t take too seriously. It is family time. Don’t like to watch it alone cause it just wouldn’t be fun. And Dave is still hot.

If this Vampire wants to tattoo your image on his arm…you’ll have to check out his entire body first. Hey, look at the Vampire Maman tattoo (yes, he has a tattoo.) Is that me on his arm? Hell yeah!

 

So have a nice week everyone, and try to get outside too. Have fun – as only the summer can give you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Road Trips

No, I haven’t been away at some Vampire High Council meeting deciding what to do about nasty Vampires from another tribe, or discussing all of those flea bitten, tick covered Werewolves. Screw that. We don’t even DO THAT. All of the blood dripping lofty ceremony laced fiction out there gets people thinking we’re living in the 15th Century, or all dress like Victorians ALL THE TIME. I’ve been busy and we’re in a heat wave from Hell right now.

We’ll be on not one, not two, but three road trips this summer. The only place we’re not going where it is blazing and stupidly hot is Alaska.

Which brings me to a favorite subject: Vampire Road trips

Some suggest we bring freeze dried blood with us. Yes, that can be obtained by our usual sources but why? First of all we’ll just throw a cooler in the car and keep the fresh stuff on ice. We can also be guaranteed of a steady supply of truckers, hitch hikers, and Airbnb hosts.

The main thing we avoid are hookers in small desert towns (I kid you not.) It is seriously sad to see young women out trolling for truckers in the middle of the day wearing cuts offs, fishnet stockings, and heels. I look at them and wonder, “how the fuck did you end up here?”

We give a nod to the Vampires who live along those mysterious roads that seem to lead to nowhere. We give a nod to the lone Vampires in the small towns scattered across the highways. You know those towns where you wonder what people do there, and why they stay.

We will also stop to see friends along the way, both Vampires and regular folks we know.

All of my bitchiness aside, I love road trips. Driving across country with a kid (even if the kid will have just turned 18) is an amazing opportunity for both parent and child.

On our trips we’ve discussed (in-depth) music, history, art, social studies, geology, zombies, politics, cars, interesting people we’ve known, my own personal history, ways to murder someone when writing a novel, serial killers, movies, relationships, people we know, nature, dogs, cats, current events, and we wonder about things we see along the way.

We’ve seen two exceptionally handsome young men at a rest stop and wondered what two exceptionally handsome young men were doing out in the middle of the desert. We’ve stopped at a giant truck stop sort of place near the Colorado/Nebraska border and wondered where everyone was going. We’ve met a woman who said Lincoln, NE was the largest city she’d ever been to. We’ve seen roadside art, weird mysterious monuments, and a giant crater. We’ve gone to National Parks, and city parks. We’ve driven across Indian Reservations. We’ve driven through small depressed towns, and through some of the most expensive real estate in the country. We’ve been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and stayed with a gay couple there. We’ve been to interesting little coffee houses that serve lavender scented lattes and vegan muffins. We’ve been on roads that seem to go on forever across the deserts and plains. It is hot because it is summer. It is dry because we’re driving through the West, only as far as Nebraska.

We’ll be in Nebraska this year as well. Then we’ll arrive home and a few days later head off for Alaska. But first we have to go to Fresno for an event. There is no other reason I’d go to Fresno. But in defense of Fresno, like all places, we will find interesting things to do.

So take a trip, even a day trip. You’ll learn something, and maybe even see some Vampires. We love road trips. Just don’t expose too much skin or you’ll get either sunburned or bitten.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This guy looks interesting. Let’s show him something REALLY scary!

 

 

 

 

Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

Summer is Here! Bake it baby (or if you’re smart you’ll stay someplace cool)

 

I could wax poetically about temperature but it is in the triple digits farenehight outside. Any wax is going to melt and I’m not feeling too poetic.

Yesterday afternoon, a man came to my church asking about my religious beliefs. I ended up with a brochure about “original sin,” something which I do not believe in. Sure some people are born evil. Some are born without souls, and I’ll freely admit that. I’ve met them. But the average little baby isn’t chock full of sin, like a dead deer full of maggots on a hot summer day, so don’t even make that comparison or even suggest to me EVER that babies are full of sin. Sheesh.

I should have given the poor man a glass of water but he was so crisp and unflappable looking that I assumed he had a cooler in his car (which could have been full of beer and Jello shots as far as I know.)

At the time I was holding a large German Shepard by her collar with the door cracked open. I should have never answered but it is usually a friend or a neighbor when someone comes a calling, especially when it is so stupidly hot outside.

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Making Salsa, a Story of Friendship, and Vampires…and a Ghost.

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As you know, most Vampires don’t live on blood alone. Every year I make salsa. Not just a bowl of peppers and tomatoes on the table, but a full blown canning operation.

I don’t have an exact recipe. Two parts tomatoes, one part onions, a bunch of peppers to taste. Splash in lemon juice and/or vinegar needed acid. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and other spices.

This time we roasted the peppers, and some of the tomatoes for a brown salsa. We also roasted corn and added black beans for a batch of what we call Cowboy Salsa.

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For the first batch I packed up my gear and went over to my neighbor (and friend) Kelly’s house.

There is something about taking fresh, organic, good for you vegetables and spices, mixing them all together and coming up with something so amazing and crazy delicious that, well, it always makes me feel good. I’m jazzed.

Nigel the Ghost followed me over to the canning party. He looked in pots and explored around the room. Nobody saw him except me. Eventually he sat down in a chair and closed his eyes.

Usually Nigel is wearing a black suit, but today he was wearing a black tee shirt and jeans. I glanced at two long bloody gashes, one on each wrist going from his hand towards his elbow. As soon as he noticed I’d noticed the gashes closed and vanished. He straightened up and said, “It isn’t what you think. Someone did this to me after I died.”

Oh. I was the only one who could hear him.

“What are you doing here?” I mouthed the words.

“What are you doing here?” he asked with a nasty smile.

Kelly’s mother came over to help. She is a small woman, still beautiful at age 86. Everyone calls her Granny. I even call her Granny. With arthritic hands she slowly peeled blanched tomatoes and kept up with the conversations.

Kelly went down out to the store to get more canning jar lids. Granny motioned for me to come closer.

“You’re a Vampire aren’t you? Don’t worry I won’t say anything.” Her strong Southern accent accentuated the word “I”. Ahhhh won’t say anything.

I didn’t even know what to say. It is always somewhat of a shock when someone knows what I am.

Granny continued. “There is a ghost here too. He is sitting right over there in that chair. I can’t see him clearly but his shadow is there.”

“Kelly never mentioned a ghost,” I said. “Does she know I’m a Vampire?”

“No, no, no, not my child. She doesn’t believe. My children tell me to stop my crazy talk when I talk about ghost and folks like you. So I don’t say anything to them. My husband never believed in any of it either. So I just keep my mouth shut.”

“Let me tell you a story. A true story. Give me your hand. Nice and cool.”

And Granny told me her story.

“Papa, that is what we called my grandfather, had a friend named Mr. Ross. Every Friday night Mr. Ross would come over and he and Papa would sit on the front porch and talk until almost the morning. My Mama would always make them iced tea with no sugar and sugar cookies. Mr. Ross would always have a half of a cookie and no more. He was handsome like a movie star and always made Mama laugh out loud. Mama never laughed so it was like a miracle every time he came over.

Mr. Ross and his wife, Mrs. Ross, had moved to town about ten years before. They’d fixed up one of the old plantation homes. Made it into a showplace.

Mrs. Ross never came over to the house with Mr. Ross. One day Mama told me to deliver a half a dozen eggs over to Ross Plantation House. We raised chickens and eggs for extra money. Anyway, I took them up on my bicycle to see Mrs. Ross.

The house was beautiful with big oak trees and white columns. It wasn’t as big as some plantations houses but still impressive. It was called Wind Rose Plantation back before the war between the states. So I peddled my bicycle up to the house and knocked on the big door. I expected a servant to be at the door but it was answered by a woman so stunning that I just stood staring. She had wavy black hair done up in a pearl clip and the most beautiful blue silk dress I’d ever seen. Her face was that of an angel or a movie star.

It was 1943. I was fourteen years old and hadn’t seen much of the world outside of my hometown. I’d only been out of Louisiana once and that was to Arkansas. 

Mrs. Ross invited me in for a glass of iced tea. Her maid came in with the tea. The maids name was Addie. She was a white girl. She was an albino too. I don’t think I ever heard her say more than two words.

So Mrs. Ross and I sat in her cool parlor sipping tea. I didn’t know what to think at first but she made me feel relaxed. I’d been shy my whole life. I never said much of anything to anyone, but there was something about Mrs. Ross that made me want to talk. After that I kept coming back to visit. Mama didn’t mind. In fact she thought Mrs. Ross was a good influence. Mr. and Mrs. Ross didn’t have any children so I figured she was lonesome.

As far as anybody knew Mr. Ross didn’t have a job, but the seemed to have plenty of money. Nobody ever saw them at any church. Mrs. Ross hardly came out during the day.

One day I showed up and found Mrs. Ross in the kitchen with two colored women. One was tall and pretty as a princess. Her name was Ivie. The other one was a heavy set woman with a happy face. Her name was Liz. They were busying themselves with jars and slicing peaches. 

Mrs. Ross smiled at me and for the first time I saw her fangs. I asked her what was wrong with her teeth and she told me she was just happy. Then just like nothing was out of the ordinary she and her friends told me all about Vampires. I told them I’d seen ghosts before. I’d known something was different about Mr. and Mrs. Ross but after that day I could always spot a Vampire. 

I also found out that Mrs. Ross had the given name of Joan. Ivie and Liz were not domestics who’d come in for the day. They were friends going back over 150 years. That day I learned that Vampires like you, are pretty much friends with anybody. That girl Addie was the only domestic I ever saw and it turns out she was a Vampire too. Can you imagine? That pale girl. I couldn’t imagine her ever biting into a neck or wrist. No indeed.

I asked them, Mrs. Ross and her friends, “do you drink blood?”

“Only from those social climbers in the Rose and Ivy Club and their wealthy cheating husbands,” said Mrs. Ross. Then all three women laughed and laughed and laughed. Then Ivie said, “And don’t forget the good Reverend Rich, the hypocritical old bastard.” Then they laughed again.

So we canned peaches and the gossip flowed like syrup. I’d never had better peaches in my life, then or now. After that I could pretty much spot a Vampire too, black or white. Night or day.

A few weeks later Mrs. Ross gave me a ruby necklace. She thanked me for being her friend and made me promise to move on out of the small town I lived in.

I still wear the necklace. Somehow it makes me feel safe. She said she and Mr. Ross were moving on. I never did find out where they went. She never told me. Papa would talk about it. Mama didn’t know either. 

Now I’m canning again with a Vampire. How about that? And that ghost you brought with you. He is a feisty one isn’t he? I can’t see him very well but I can feel him.

Juliette, if you ever come across Mrs. Ross let her know I’d like to see her again. If it wasn’t for her I’m sure I would have stayed in that small town and married some small minded man, or else been a pathetic old maid.”

By the time the story was over Kelly had returned with the lids. We canned thirty jars of salsa in three flavors.

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When I finally made it home, after our kids had also come in and out, plus dogs and cats it was good just to rest for a minute.

I plan on asking around about Mr. and Mrs. Ross. I’ve no idea who they are.

Nigel suddenly appeared in front of me. “The salsa looked great. I wish I could taste it. And by the way, I did not cut myself. I was murdered. The cuts were post-mortem.”

“You already told me that Nigel. Hey, did you ever hear of Mr. or Mrs. Ross?”

“That was before my time Juliette. Way before my time. I wasn’t even born until 1959. I never knew any Vampires before you. Now if they were ghosts I might be able to help you. Hey, the canning was cool. I never did that. Nobody in my family ever did that. And you know I died before I was old enough to start getting back to my roots or thinking about salsa. Very cool Vampire. Very cool.”

And it was cool. Spending time together, sharing stories and just being together.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Follow me on twitter: JulietteKings@vampiremaman

Musings on a Summer Afternoon

Like a typical Vampire, my brother Val doesn’t always sleep in his own bed at night. In fact, he doesn’t sleep much at night these days. In summer his schedule reverses to the nocturnal due to the heat… anyway he was here this morning.

We sat over coffee on the back deck talking about life and blood stains and the general state of things. It was one of those mornings when we could tell we were by water. I was wishing it was the ocean but no such luck. I love those cool and slightly overcast mornings that seem to pass all too quickly.

It was a good think he was here because I’m in one of those states again where I am feeling overwhelmed with too much to do. I might be a creature of the night but I still have things to do. I still have to sleep.

Val’s presence forces me to stop and, well, stop. All parents out there know what I’m talking about.

“Clara is so grown up,” said my brother to me.

Clara (now 16) was in the car with me yesterday afternoon. While waiting at a light we witnessed huge black puffs of smoke coming up from a car in front of us.

Clara asked, “What is making that smoke?”

“Maybe a truck or an old junker car,” I answered.

“I’d never go out with a guy who drove a car that smoked like that. What a jerk. I bet he thinks he is so cool. I bet his dick is a whole two centimeters long. What a dick head, or as you would say mom, a fuckwad.”

“Yes,” I told my brother, “she is so grown up and such a sweetheart.”

Val went on for a while, updating me on his life. His friend Lilly was moving to Chicago for a job. He’d miss her laugh and her rare A- blood. He told me that even in the hot weather he’d wear shorts but never dress shorts made out of slacks fabric. I agreed. Short dress pants are fine for small boys but not for Vampire males. We talked about our parents. Dad’s 478th birthday was coming up. What would we do about that?

I haven’t even figured out my husband’s birthday next week (166.)

Val gave me a sideways look. “You seemed stressed.”

“Too much is going on.” I didn’t go into detail because he wouldn’t understand.

Garrett came out with coffee in his his favorite mug, (with a picture of a Maxfield Parrish girl on it) and sat down with us. I could smell the cinnamon he always sprinkles in it.

“Uncle Val. Good to see you,” he said so all grown up. At nineteen he is almost six feet tall – no longer my little boy.

We all talked more about college plans for next year, travel plans for the weekend, and other things family talks about.

I told them to visit. I had things to do. So I did things.

It had been days since I had any decent blood and now I had a house full of people. I made an excuse to go out and left.

A lunch date with my friend Jack made me feel better. It made him feel better too, minus a pint of blood. I went home feeling as if I’d cheated on everyone. But they all have their own lives. That said, I’m the crew. I’m the support team. I’m the mom. I am the keeper of socks. I’m the holder of hands. I am the giver of hugs. I am the one who will be there to rip out throats and bring nightmares upon those who threaten harm.

I thought about when Val and I were teens so long ago. We were always in motion from one crazy, comic, weird situation after another. And we both lived to see the light of day and the rise of the moon.

So now I look forward to the rise of the moon and Jupiter shining large in the sky next to Venus. I look forward to the eyes that shine in the night and the soft wind through the trees. I look forward to being with those who need me, even if I don’t get a minute of my own time.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman