One Cold Winter Night

In the dark night

They listened

For the cry of the wolf

But more

The cracks of twigs

The rustle of leaves

The turn of a door nob

Against the lock

A break of glass

Then the scrape

Of a ladder

Against the house

He hid in the closet

In the space

Behind the walls

Only to be found

Eighty years later

A leather mummy of

A boy

Who wasn’t available

To answer the door

When his sister

Had lost

Her key

One cold

Winter

Night.

 

 

~ end

Short Story Sunday: Driving Home With Superheroes

For some reason graduate students seemed to be decades ahead of undergraduate students, especially freshmen and sophomores. At the ripe old age of twenty three Randy had discovered that the first day of school.

He’d also discovered a small following of younger Vampires who looked up to him like they would their favorite ancient Vampire Uncle.

They also liked Randy because he was unique and exceptionally hip and trendy in his vintage clothing and wavy longish blonde hair.

Before he left home after Christmas break, wearing his favorite Levi big bells, a Heart concert shirt from 1979, and a vintage fringed leather jacket, his dad called him “Fucking Flowers.”

Randy asked what that was all about. His dad laughed and told him that now he was an adult he needed to read John Sanford books starting from the beginning and work his way up to the Virgil Flower books. Randy made a note of it and a plan to stop by the bookstore when he got home.

Being the nice guy he was, Randy had volunteered to give three young Vampire students a ride from Sacramento back to Long Beach. Two, Josh and Winslow were Freshmen. Katie was a sophomore. They’d all packed their clothes, Christmas stash, care packages from their moms, and other gear in the back of Randy’s 2012 Range Rover and headed south an hour before the sun came up.

Randy decided to impart a bit of his wisdom upon the younger minds. “Being a good Vampire is like being a good parent. You must stay relivant. You can’t get behind or you’ll be left behind.”

“I think we need to be like superheroes,” said Winslow, a dark haired young Vampire with bright blue eyes and friendly round face.

“Superheroes? Whys that?” asked Randy.

“You know, because we can do things other people can’t do. Like see in the dark, and make people forget shit, and we’re super quiet, and shit,” said Winslow.

Randy turned down the radio. “The only super hero Vampire that I can think of is Morbius. He was kind of an asshole and not even a real Vampire. Come on guys, you can do better than that. You don’t need a superhero. You just need to be yourself. You already rock at being Vampires. Come on leave the tights to Katie. Girl you rock the tights with those boots.”

“Thanks,” said Katie. She was a small girl with brown hair and freckles. Nobody would ever pick her out for being a Vampire. “I got the tights for Christmas from my grandma. Just like what you said about being relevant. My grandma is relevant. She knows what I like.”

Randy smiled. “If I was a girl I’d wear tights all the time but it has nothing to do with being a superhero.”

“We were thinking about getting some costumes made,” said Josh, a tall kid who spent a lot of time at the gym.

“Dude, you don’t need costumes. Just wear black and jeans that fit. You’re already rocking it. I know you. You don’t need to pretend. You’re already living the secret life. You don’t need to make it more complicated with daytime cosplay. You’re already superheroes.”

As they drove on the subject changed to music, favorite podcasts, dog beach stories, and spilling the tea.

Being a Vampire in the modern world carried certain responsibilities including the usual truth, justice and all of that good stuff. They didn’t need tights or capes. They just needed to keep their mouths shut and do the right thing. That was all anyone could do.

Yes, being a graduate student included being a role model, especially if you were a role model for young Vampires, or anyone else who was just a little bit different, or a little bit confused about growing up and finding their place in the world.

Maybe a trip to the vintage clothing store was in order when they got home. Randy would take all of them. They could find costumes that they could live with. The thought made Randy smile. Fashion was his superpower. That was cool with him.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

Tangled Tales: May Your Days be Foggy and Bite – OR – Hark the Herald Vampires Sing

 

Just before Christmas. She’d broken up with him. Why? Did it matter? Of course it did and she’d made a list of a dozen items, written out in fountain pen no less.

  1. Too young
  2. Too immature
  3. Too happy
  4. Too cute
  5. Too much of a comedian
  6. Blonde
  7. Not serious enough
  8. Likes dogs too much
  9. Dresses funny
  10. Laughs weird
  11. Glass always half full completely full.
  12. Vanilla sex

The last one hurt. The fact that he didn’t like being hog tied or bitten didn’t make it vanilla. It was normal and nice.

And WTF? How could anyone like dogs too much. He didn’t have his own dog. Sure, he’d pet and make cute talk with almost every dog he met but who didn’t do that?

She never seem to have any problems with his age. Randy had just turned twenty three. That wasn’t too young. She was fifty, but that was also young for a Vampire. Since he was also a Vampire he didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. Apparently it did. To her.

Randy walked along the beach, his blond hair hanging in his face, and pulled his bright red and green Christmas cardigan closed. His jeans were black. At least she couldn’t say that was weird.

As he stood in the fog looking out over the waves breaking on the beach he thought about his now ex-girlfriend. She was gorgeous and elegant and serious. She was an extremely serious Vampire. On the other hand he was starting to feel like that writer in Sunset Boulevard, Joe Gillis. She, Karen, his girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, had been his Norma Desmond. Oh boy, she was always ready for her close up. Crazy controlling yesteryear bitch.

Damn, Karen was gorgeous and smart, and fascinating. He watched the waves and tried to talk his heart out of grieving for what he thought he had with her.

No wonder all of the memes were about Karen. Ugh.

He was shaken out of his reveries by a voice.

“Hey Randy. What are you doing here?”

There stood the odd girl Alexis he’d met two years before when they were going to UCB. She had been in his Organic Chemistry class. She was really weird. But she was also a Vampire, and in a world where Vampires are few between he could put up with weird every once in a while. They had coffee together from time to time then both graduated and lost touch.

She was wearing a big oversized cream colored sweater with black leggings, black work boots, and a black scarf. She had a headband over her black hair. It plastered her bangs against her forehead so that they made a straight dark line across her eyebrows. On her lips was burgundy colored lip gloss and on her nails was matching burgundy polish. She was one of the strangest girls he’d ever met but he liked her, as a friend.

“Alexis. Wow,” he gave her a hug. “I’m at Long Beach, graduate school. Getting my MFA in writing. What are you’d doing here?”

She smiled. “I’m getting my MFA at CSU Long Beach in Art. I paint, you know, like on canvas. What’s going on? I mean, you know, you’re standing here in the fog? Did you break up with someone or something? You’re looking kind of lost.”

“You can tell?”

“Dude. Really? Of course I can tell. It seems like overtime I see you you’ve broken up with someone, or more likely she has broken up with you. You’re standing there looking like you lost your last friend. You have a death grip on your sweater, and your shoe is untied.”

“Oh.” Randy bent down and tied his shoe. “Um, you just taking a walk on the beach?”

“Yeah. I love the fog. It’s kind of mysterious. Like the holidays.”

“What makes the holidays mysterious?”

“I never know what’s going to happen. Last year I went home to my parent’s house and nobody was home. I waited for three days and found out they were trapped in a castle in Germany. A bunch of monks were forcing them to make fruit cakes and…”

“Are you making this up?”

“It’s the truth. Cross my heart and swear on a bat. The year before last I got home and my parents were dead. Vampire hunters had gotten to them. My parents even had presents under the tree for me. Damn, I pulled stakes from their hearts and brought them back. It was hecka scary. I’m an only child so they’re all I’ve got. I mean, my parent, they’re really old fashioned Vampires, like some film noir, or even worse, think Boris Karloff or Vincent Price, but I love them. You know I was bullied as a kid, but I worked it out. I did OK. They did their best.”

“Alexis. I am so sorry.”

“After I found them, and got the stakes out of their hearts, and got them some help, I had to do something. Some friends helped me go after them, the Vampire hunters. We dumped the bodies in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park.”

“Oh. That’s brutal.”

“You know, it wasn’t that bad. I was with my friends Olaf, yeah, like Frozen but not Frozen. Olaf is a hecka hot Vampire. And my friend Collette. She is at UCI going to Med school right now. Collette is sooooo smart. She knows how to, well, get rid of people. It wasn’t a big guilt trip. The Vampire hunters were hired organized thugs from Las Vegas,  or at least that is the last place they lived. You know, organized crime and icky shit like that. So, we just buried the bodies, three of them, in kind of shallow graves and piled rocks on the top of them. We used those little folding camp shovels, but that was fine. The coyotes were going to get them anyway so I wasn’t too worried about it.

But we’re walking back to the car and I look up. Oh Randy, there were a million stars in the sky. We just stood there and all started to smile. Then there was this one really bright star. Olaf said hey it’s just like Christmas. Damned if it wasn’t. It was just like Christmas.

We all broke out in a chorus of Hark the Herald . Oh it was wonderful. Then somebody started to clap and we turned around and saw a couple of park rangers. They said we sounded like angels singing under the Christmas star. It was so special. So special.”

“Wow,” said Randy, honestly not knowing what else to say.

“It was great. We sang a few more songs, then we got some blood from the rangers. Don’t worry, they didn’t know. We left them chocolates and wine. Always have chocolate and wine in your car this time of year for people you get blood for. The chocolate helps them recover from the blood loss and the wine is just nice. Make sure it is good chocolate and good wine.”

“So your parents, are they OK now?”

“They’re doing great. I’m headed over to see them tonight.”

“I’ve never had anything like that happen to me. Wow. That is frightening.”

“You’re lucky. My mom and dad are so old fashioned. I keep telling them to stop living like old Hollywood Vampires. Then my dad will say,  but honey we live in Beverley Hills. He is so weird. But he’s my dad so I gotta love him.”

Alexis traced a V in the sand with the tip of her boot. “It was weird growing up as a Vampire. How about you?”

“We lived in the suburbs so it was OK. Nobody knew. Nobody bothered us. My parents were pretty cool.”

“So what’s up with your girlfriend?”

Randy showed Alexis the list.

“What a bitch. You’re better off without her. Seriously dude, you don’t need someone like that. You need people in your life who appreciate you for who you are, not for who they want you to be.”

“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind,” said Randy.

“Hey, you wanna get coffee or something. There is a great little place just up the street. No pressure. Olaf and I are an item so I’m not looking to take advantage, but I like you. It’s good to see you again.”

As they walked up to the street he put on his sunglasses against the morning sun that was starting to show through the fog. Well, stranger things had happened. Thank goodness for that.

~ End

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive
A Vampire Romance

By Juliette Kings

“What a bunch of idiots,” Jamie said to himself as he watched a mob of men run down the road brandishing knives and guns they didn’t even know how to use. They wouldn’t dare use them. Well, maybe they would – that is why Jamie had to hide. Now he was all dressed up with no place to go.

Now what? Maybe a trip to his favorite opium den for an easy meal or a trip to Madam Rosanna’s for a drink with one of her girls. At least the girls were clean and pretty, but the rush of opium infused blood sounded good right now.

Jamie ended up back home to change his bloody shirt. He knew his housekeeper would be able to get the stains out but it still annoyed him.

As he grabbed a new shirt out of the wardrobe the smell of jasmine and roses gently made him smile. He turned around.

“Belinda. What a delight.” She was indeed a delight but he didn’t expect to see her, not here in his house, much less in his bedroom.

The delicious sight in a silk green dress smiled and sat on his bed. “Your housekeeper let me in. I don’t think she approves but then again…” she didn’t finish her sentence but just laughed.

James brushed his lips across hers then slid his fangs across the side of her neck. “She doesn’t approve of you because she doesn’t know you.” His mouth went to Belinda’s again.

“You taste like blood,” she whispered.

“You taste like death darling Belinda.” Jamie took her hand and pulled her up. “I’m getting dressed. Let’s go out.”

They passed into the darkness outside, arm in arm, laughing quietly at their private jokes.

Maybe they’d go to the whore house or the opium den. Maybe they’d go to a musical revue or drop by and see friends. Anything was possible. Together, Jamie and Belinda always had a way of making everything fun – at least fun for them.

They decided on the theater but stopped in front of one of the larger churches in the center of the city. A bride and groom happily rode in their carriage to start a new life together. The bride was dressed in innocent white. The groom was happy and handsome.

Jamie and Belinda stood, arm in arm, and looked upon the happy couple.

“That could have been us,” said Belinda.

“We don’t deserve that kind of happiness,” said Jamie, giving her hand a squeeze.

“Why not? We could get married. We could be happy Jamie.”

“Oh darling, you’d drive me crazy. I’d have to kill you.”

“I’m already dead. Well, sort of dead.”

And under the gaslights by the church Jamie kissed Belinda. “Dead or alive, I love you Belinda. I always have. I always will.”

A cold tear ran down Belinda’s cheek. Jamie led her into the empty church and up to the alter. “Belinda, will you love me and stay with me always?”

“Jamie, will you love me and stay with me always?”

“I suppose. Aren’t we supposed to talk about till death do us part?”

“I didn’t think about that,” said Jamie.

“You wouldn’t now James would you?” She called him by his proper name, the way she thought a wife would.

They left the church and headed back to Jamie’s place. Over a glass of wine they made uncomfortable small talk.

“Will you stay the night Belinda?” He had to ask.

“If you’ll have me. Oh Jamie, we’re so awful. We really are. There has to be more.”

He thought about it for about a second. “Not really. We are what we are. We are who we are.”

Then he took her hand and led her back up to his room.

In the morning the world came alive, but they continued their sleep, wrapped in each other’s cold dead arms, as alive as they knew how to be.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

Short Story Sunday: Grandpa’s Dog

Grandpa’s Dog

“I’m taking him to the vet and having him put down.” Jeff said into the phone.

“No you aren’t.” I said, ready to scream.

“It is cruel to make him suffer like this.”

“He isn’t our dog to put down.” I almost growled at my husband.

“I don’t care. Grandpa will understand. He’s always complaining about how he hates Bruce anyway.”

“The kids will be heartbroken.” I said trying to stall him.

“They’ll understand.”

“What about my mom? She’ll never forgive you.”

“Gretchen, I’m taking Bruce to the vet. I’m sorry.”

“I want to say good-bye.”

“Bruce will understand.” He hung up. Damn him.

Bruce was Grandpa’s dog. He was old. The oldest dog I knew. Jeff thought he was 16. I knew better. Jeff thought Bruce was half wolf and half Alaskan malamute. I knew he was half Irish. Jeff liked to bake him organic dog treats. I knew Bruce preferred bourbon and prime rib. Jeff thought grandpa was crazy to have such a large dog. I knew Grandpa was half crazy and Jeff was right, it was about the dog, but it didn’t have anything to do with its size.

Once a month I kept the dog for Grandpa, while he “Went to the cabin with his old college buddies.” I hauled the dog to weddings, to funerals, to camping trips and hanging around the house. He’d been there for my college graduation, my wedding, for my kids. My mom had watched the old dog before me. My grandma before her.

Of course Jeff didn’t believe anything my family said about the damn dog. He’d spent years hearing us tell bad jokes and tall tales. It was how we spoke, in stories. I blame it on my Southern parents. Jeff just thinks I’m funny. He tells me I should have my own show on cable. HA HA HA. He thinks my family is quirky and quaint. Right now nothing was funny or quaint.

I raced home from the studio. I’m a photographer, mostly editorial, corporate portraits, product photos. Good thing I’m the owner of the business, otherwise I’d never deal with my husband, my children and Grandpa’s damn dog. I would have had the dog with me today but he was too stiff to climb into the car by himself and at 125 pounds I didn’t feel like lifting him today.

Jeff was still at home. I parked blocking the driveway. Thank God the kids were still in school. I have never been so angry with anyone in my entire life. I barged through the door yelling at my husband. “All I asked you to do was check in on him for me at lunch time and you decided to kill him. Well for once in your life listen to me…”

I yelling stopped when I saw Jeff. He had a towel around his hand. He was bleeding.

“The old guy bit me when I was trying to get him out of the house.” he said with a shrug of his shoulder.

I saw Bruce poke his old white muzzle around the corner.

“Why the hell did you have to bite him?” I yelled at the dog. Bruce tucked his tail and cowered. His ribs stuck out from his sides. He looked ancient and pathetic.

Jeff reached out to scratch the dog behind his ear. “Don’t yell at him. It’s like he sensed what I was going to do. Poor old guy was scared.”

“Don’t touch him.” I yelled. I looked at the wound on Jeff’s hand. It was clean. I went back to the dog. “Damn you, after all I’ve done for you.” Bruce looked at me with glassy brown eyes and shook, tail still between his legs.

Jeff put his arms around me “Gretch, don’t get mad at the dog. “

“You don’t understand,” I gasped.

“He’s old and scared.” Jeff said stroking my hair with his good hand. “You know dear, all that dog hears is “Bruce, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah”. He laughed and gave me a quick hug.

I pulled away. “He’s a werewolf.”

“Oh Honey, don’t call him that. He’s just an old arthritic dog. Poor old guy.” He leaned down to touch noses with the dog. Bruce licked Jeff’s face and thumped his tail on the floor. “You aren’t a werewolf are you old guy? You’re just a prince in disguise. You think she’ll give you a kiss?” Jeff started to make kissy noises.

I thought I was going to throw up.

“There’s a reason why we never see Grandpa and Bruce together.” I growled. They’re the same animal. Bruce isn’t 16, he’s 85. ”

Jeff took a deep breath. “I’m not going to put him down. We’ll wait till Grandpa gets home and discuss it with him. Werewolves. That’s a good one. So when you work at night does that mean you’re a vampire?” he laughed again. “You can bite my neck anytime.” He kissed my neck.

I backed away feeling the panic rushing up inside my body. “Jeff, it’s true and now….”

I couldn’t say the words. Now my husband was going to become a werewolf and I’d have one more old dog to take care of.

 

~ end

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Short Story Sunday: Brothers in Arms

And I thought my life was weird, thought Austin after reading a news story about a historian in Russia who was pulled out of a river along with a rucksack full of severed arms. The arms belonged to a former student.

Austin never had any students he disliked that much.

After kissing his girlfriend, who was still asleep, and would be sleeping all day, he wandered down to the local coffee shop. Inside at the back table his friend Aaron was reading and drinking his usual triple expresso.

Aaron glanced up. “Hey. I just ordered you something.”

Janet behind the counter called, “Austin, coconut latte, extra shot.”

Austin picked up his coffee and Janet smiled at him in a come hither way that almost made Austin’s face turn red.

Back at the table Aaron put down his book. “How are you Austin?”

“Good. I’m half way through the semester and haven’t lost any students yet. No failures. The graduate students are exceptionally delightful. Elizabeth is sleeping in my bed as we speak.”

“You’re back with Elizabeth?” Aaron looked surprised. “You know, you aren’t getting any younger.”

Austin looked at his friend. He used to look younger than Aaron and now he looked slightly older. Aaron was one of those guys who never aged, not surprising considering he was a 165 year old Vampire.

Aaron continued. “You turn forty in a few months. If you want to have a family you’d better find a nice woman in her thirties with a ticking biological time clock and settle down. Otherwise you’d might as well become one of us.”

“I hunt Vampires,” said Austin.

“Only the nasty ones we need to get rid of. You know, you could just quite that business and teach history full time.”

“Who would do your dirty work for you? Have you thought about that?”

Aaron shrugged. “You have a point there. Hey, did you hear about that guy in Russia they found in the river with a bag full of arms. I thought about you.”

Austin laughed out loud. Then he thought about the touch of Elizabeth’s cool mouth of his skin, and the fact that she’d read Jane Austin as a child, when the books were new. He thought about all the times he and Aaron had hunted down soulless rogue Vampires. He thought about the cold river and what kinds of things drive men mad. And after that split second of a million thoughts he said, “Great minds think alike.”

Aaron lifted his cup, “Here’s to us, brothers in arms.”

“Brothers in arms,” said Austin, as he reminded himself how normal his life actually was.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

This has been another Austin and Elizabeth story. For more adventures click here. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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