Our First Feast

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“I doubt if our parents care what we do, or anything about us at this point,” my brother Val told me. It was November of 1878. I had just turned nineteen and he was twenty. They’d moved to San Francisco, leaving us behind in Sacramento. The house they’d left for us was like a rabbit warren of rooms. Our brother Aaron, aged twenty five, was married and living a mile away in his own brand new Italianate mansion. The eldest two (Max and Andy) had long moved on and were now in San Francisco setting up their glorious careers.

They’d sold the big house we’d grown up in, which burned down as soon as we’d cleared out. I often wondered about that, considering we had been a large family of Vampires and didn’t always do things the same was as everyone else. Our (mine and Val’s) house was built in 1869 with a lot of rooms with no purpose and tall stairs from the sidewalk up to the front door in case it flooded. We had a front porch, a back yard with a few rose bushes, and not much else. It was plain and un-charming.

Val and I were determined to give this house charm. We decorated our modest home with used furnishings and a lot of green and cream colored paint.

After that we decided to do what most young people would do and have a party.

“Should it be all Vampires?” I had to ask.

Val shrugged, “No. We can invite others. We will have to warn our fanged friends to keep to themselves and only drink from bottles we planned to keep well hidden in our kitchen.

I told him not to invite all ladies and he started to argue with me.

“NO,” I said. “You are not going to turn my home into your own personal whore house.”

My brother looked at me as if I’d slapped him in the face. “I would never,” he said. “Never.”

I held my shoulders back and my head high. “Valentine, I will never judge you or be like some warm blooded prude, but I expect a certain amount of modesty and decorum from you.”

“Fine. I will allow you to see my guest list, as I expect you to show me your guest list.”

“Agreed,” I said. “What about food?”

“We need food?”

“Of course we do.”

“We don’t cook. We hardly eat. We don’t have domestics.”

“We could hire a cook,” I said.

“We could.”

“Where would we find one?”

“We could put out a post. Cook wanted for fashionable party. Or we could find Constantine. He knows everyone.”

“And he is always fashionable.”

Constantine was both a Vampire and extremely fashionable but he had just jumped on a train to travel east, then take a boat to Europe to buy art. So we put up our flyer and waited. Soon a small man named Orlando George St. Cloud came to our door. He said he had cooked for the royalty of Europe, the Emperors of China, and the highest of Sacramento high society. We didn’t really believe him but we hired him on the spot.

The night of our party Mr. St. Cloud fixed:

Stewed Eel

Filet of Sturgeon with brown butter and tarragon

Curried Crawdads with spinach

Roasted Capon with creamed trout sauce

Roasted potatoes

Rat tail soup

Onion and walnut tart

Fried chicken feet with olives

Orange milk pudding

Apple pie

Fried frog legs with smoked trout and fiddle head fern sauce.

Roast beef

Head cheese

Blood pudding

Wild lettuce salad

Tomales Bay Oysters on the half shell

Fried eggs with wild mushrooms and boiled wheat berries

Pears poached in wine and honey

Toast points with river clams and fresh butter

Meatballs with wild dill made with ingredients of unknown origin. 

Marrow bones with sage and sherry sauce.

We also managed to acquire copious amounts of alcohol.

Fifty four guests arrived. Nobody went hungry. Twenty were female. Thirty four were male. Twelve, including Val and I were Vampires.

Of course the party was a success. Val did not sleep alone. I watched the sunrise with a dozen people in my garden before going inside, drawing the curtains and sleeping for the next two days. Mr. St. Cloud brought in a crew to clean and lock up.

For the next thirty years Mr. St. Cloud cooked for us when we needed it. He also taught us to cook. He told us, “One day I shall be gone and you will be at a loss.”

I learned to cook everything except the rat tail soup. I never cared for eel. Many of the dishes made me sick but I learned to cook them anyway. Eventually Val also learned to cook, and he even attended classes. We both became experts in cooking for Vampires such as us. We don’t live on blood alone.

From then on Val and I have both welcomed guests of a wide variety to our homes to celebrate friendship and love.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and welcome in the holiday season (which started on Halloween.)

Cheers to all,

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Vampires, Party Favors, Family, Friends, Thanks, and a Recipe for Swiss Chard.

Vampires, Party Favors, Family, Friends, Thanks, and a Recipe for Swiss Chard.

Back in the 1880’s around the time of Jack the Ripper, my brother Valentine and I spent some time in London. We were in our 20’s out having fun and getting into more trouble than I want to mention tonight. There, in London, we met another young American Vampire, named Pleasant Van Dusen. Pleasant and I became lovers. He was handsome, cultivated, fashionable, sexy, and I hate to admit, but a bit more of an asshole than I needed. But at the time we worked well together, especially with the party scenes of both elegant Vampires and warm blooded folks.

We were young. We were Americans. We were full of too much joy and light for most Vampires we met there. Truly, we were, and of course the others, the English, and European Vampires found us extremely fascinating.

On cold November evening, dressed in our best formal party wear Pleasant and I attended a party that was promised to be spectacular. Upon entering the ball room of the beautiful mansion we were greeted with the sight of a low table about ten feet long, covered with all sorts of food. There were cakes, berries, apples, pastries full of cream and more fruit, chicken pies, tiny roasted potatoes, breads, and muffins of all kinds. Around the table sat at least two dozen small children, dressed in frilly fancy clothing, eating away without any adults saying no.

Of course not. The only adults in the room were Vampires, and the children were very warm blooded.

Pleasant and I looked at each other, then looked again at the children. This was not what we expected. The host and hostess greeted us with a giddy excitement that was unusual for English Vampires of the time. They had obtained two dozen children from different sources. It would be such a rare and wonderful night of feasting after the little darlings were done with their own party.

I have to say that by different sources I mean children of the poor, without parents, or with parents who were more than willing to sell their own children to well dressed, attractive people with a lot of money. These Vampires, I found later, had their sources. There was no shortage of children to be purchased – no questions asked.

Pleasant smiled and introduced me to his friends. They were lavish with their attention on me, especially after they realized that I was one of those rare Vampires who was born a Vampire, not made one after the fact.

To make a long story short, sort of, when the time came to pick a child and feast upon it’s young and delicate blood, I feigned illness. A blood bourne disease, no doubt from an opium user or some other drug, Pleasant explained to them. As we were ready to leave, coats in hand, the host handed us two bundles.

“One of each. A boy and a girl. Consider them party favors,” said our host.

In our carriage on the way home we discovered we had a skinny baby girl of about eight months, and a talkative boy who said he was four years old.

The boy said he lived in a house with his father and five or six women. He didn’t know which one was his mother. He said a pretty woman, with pretty clothes, who smelled like flowers, gave his father real money, then she took him to the party. Before the party a group of maids gave all of the children baths, then put them in clean fancy clothing. It had been great fun with more food than any of them had ever seen.

We arrived back at the house I was sharing with my brother Val.

We told our story to Val, who was both disgusted and amused.

“What are you going to do with the children? You know we can’t keep them,” said Val.

“I don’t know,” I told him.

Then Pleasant, in typical Pleasant fashion, said, “I don’t care what you do with them but you need to get rid of them as soon as possible.”

“Me?” I asked.

“Yes, you Juliette. I have to get something to eat before I starve to death. I’ll be back in a few hours.” And with that Pleasant Van Dusen left into the night in search of fresh blood, but not from children.

Val glared at the door. “Typical Pleasant. Of course he left those children with you.”

“Am I going to live you now? Are you going to be my new parents?” The boy called out.

“I think I know someone who might take them in. She doesn’t have children her own. God knows she and her husband have been trying. This might just be a blessing in disguise,” said Val.

“Are you her Vampire?” I asked my brother.

He smiled. “Yes, I am her Vampire. She owes me.”

Val and I gathered up the children. The boy said he was called Billy. The girl had no name. I held her tight against me. She was so warm, and smelled like a bit of heaven.

We dropped the children off at the home of Val’s friends, a lovely women called Lillian and her husband the Marquis of Lampeaus.

Val spoke to them while I kept the children quiet. He used his powers of persuasion to convince the childless couple  to keep the children as their own.

Like I said, I’m trying to keep this story short.

Right before dawn Pleasant came back into the house. He made love to me in my bed, his hair smelling cigar smoke, his breath of fresh blood. He brought me a bottle of Poet’s blood, the first I’d ever had.

Then he said, “Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We should celebrate, with Val and maybe a few other friends.”

And so we did.

And we continue to, but now I’m married to Teddy, and Pleasant Van Dusen is with someone who fortunately is not me.

Occasionally, like on Thanksgiving, we, Vampires eat things that are not blood, or things that go with blood. One of these is Swiss chard.

Way back in 2012, I shared a recipe for my Thanksgiving Swiss Chard. It is a good source of something green for your belly (and heart.)

Juliette’s Swiss Chard (Originally from Uncle Rico)

  • About a half pound of bacon (or more to taste, use whatever kind you want but a good thick cut pork bacon works best for me)
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh lemon juice (about 1/4 cup) or balsamic vinegar (cranberry flavored is nice)
  • 1-4 table spoons fresh garlic chopped – to your own taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One onion – chopped sauted until translucent.
  • Hand full of roasted chopped walnuts.
  • 4 bunches Swiss chard, cut in 1 inch pieces. It is up to you if you include the stems (I don’t, some do). I also add in a hand full of flat leafed kale and sometimes some spinach.

Put some olive oil, a couple of table spoons of the stuff, in a large skillet and heat it up nice and hot. Throw in the garlic and chard and crumbled cooked bacon. Or you can forget crumbling and just cut the bacon into small pieces BEFORE you cook it.

Toss it all around until the chard starts to wilt a little. Throw in about a table spoon of butter, the onion, and a little bit of the bacon fat (optional). Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then drizzle with the lemon juice or vinegar, season with salt and pepper. Some people like to add some Tobasco sauce – that is up to you. Top with walnuts. Taste as you go to make it just how you like it. Simple and easy. That’s all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. And yes, the children lived long happy lives with their new parents. They really did.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Bring Your Own Bags

Dear Diary,

I wore black jeans, a blue cotton sweater over a black tee shirt which accented my golden hair and blue eyes. I might be slow about modern culture but I have never let go of my sense of fashion.

In the days, before I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years, I would have worn high leather boots, leather, lace, and velvets. My hair would have been long past my shoulders. I would have even had a cape. Over the past five years, in this new century, I have learned to be less complicated. My hair now is almost long enough to pull back, but that will soon change. I am feeling like having it shorter, maybe for the Thanksgiving feasting time at the end of the week. I must call Katie who will do wonders with my hair.

An odd thing happened tonight. I was out shopping, as even Vampires do from time to time, I have learned. In the parking lot, for I can drive, as I got my bags out of the trunk of my car, a figure approached me. Holy Mother of all Vampires, and the Demons who reside in Hell, it was my old rival Magnus.

Magnus ruled a swatch of sorry burned out lands south of where my Vampire Kingdom was, for once a long time ago I was the King of Vampires. He stood before me, all in black, black hair blowing in the wind, black leather jacket, tight black pants, black boots, and all accented his pale, almost snow white skin. Despite his ugly attitude, Magnus was always handsome, but never as handsome as I am and would never be considered cute. I have not seen him in at least four hundred years. Another four hundred without him would not hurt my feelings.

“I have come for you Vlad. I have come to finally take my revenge upon you,” he said in a deep voice. His brown eyes darted to the bags I was holding in my hands. I closed the trunk of my car.

“What are you doing?” Magnus demanded.

“Thanksgiving is at the end of next week. I am going to Trader Joe’s then Whole Foods to get items I need to put together an appetizer plate. I was invited to the feast by a friend. Now if you will let me pass.”

“What is in the bag?”

“Nothing yet. Do you not know that we must have reusable bags now? This is California. We care about reusing our resources and our environment.”

Magnus let out a low grown and squinted is eyes. “You have become soft,” he said.

“I see you have not evolved,” I told him. Evolved is a new word I like to use a lot. It came about right after I was entombed for three hundred years against my will. Missing the three most evolved centuries that I can think of has left me at somewhat a disadvantage, but not always.

“I have come for you Vlad,” he said. “I burn with a drive to destroy you and all you ever stood for.”

“The difference between us Magnus,” I said to him, “was that I was driven by passion, while you were driven by hate that ate away at you until what little bit of a soul you still had escaped your heart and was emptied out of your foul smelling boots like sand.

“Where did your passion get you?”

I shrugged my shoulders in a gesture of thinking I don’t care what he thinks. “I am happy, something a Vampire like you will never feel.”

He grabbed the bags out of my hand.

“Do not take the bags. Damn you Magnus. I need those. My cats enjoy hours of fun playing in them.”

“Who are you meeting with?”

“Maybe some vegetables and cheese, or some a nice local Zinfandel,” I said in an attempt to confuse him with my humor. My humor frequently confuses people.

“Who invited you? You are nobody,” Magnus yelled at me. He has always been extremely rude.

“Friends. You do know what friends are I assume. But then maybe not. You always were quite unpleasant.”

“You have changed Vlad.”

“No shit Sherlock,” I said. I do not know what that means but my Vampire lover Gillian says those words when something is extremely obvious.

His face turned into a mask of rage, lips curing back showing freakishly long fangs.

And as my twenty year old friend Kylee would say, I said, “Really Magnus? Really?”

Magnus stepped closer, and pulled a long knife out of thin air.

“It is actions such as this Magnus,” I said quietly, “that kept you in a disheveled run down ruin of a castle with a motley crew of mercenary Vampire ghouls rather than having your own legitimate Vampire Kingdom as I did.”

Magnus stepped closer, not snarling like a wolverine. I stood my ground, and spoke quietly as I would to a child.

“Put down the knife. Put down your anger. This is not the time or place for violence.”

Then the bastard lunged at me slicing my arm, and my favorite sweater. I looked down at my now unraveling sweater and the blood dripping down my arm then  I grabbed his wrist with one hand, and his neck with my other hand. Even with a deep cut on my arm, Magnus was no match for me as he dropped the knife, and gasped for air. His eyes turned blood red, then black, then solid white. I did not let go. He tried to lung up and bite me but my grip was too strong as I slammed him to the ground.

“You need to go away Magnus. You need to go far far away. I may not have my castle anymore, but I am still the Vampire King.”

I could feel his skin turning as cold as ice in fear as I tightened my grip around his throat. He attempted to rip my hair with his free hand, but that quickly stopped when I told him, “I will drain your body of every drop of blood, then spit it out in the street to be washed down to the sewers, leaving you an empty husk to be eaten by rats. Then again, Magnus, even rats would find you bitter and tasteless, just like your over blown personality.”

Just then a woman with a teenaged boy walked by. “Oh my God,” she called out. “Do you need help?”

I lied, “I have called 911. Go inside where it is safe. I know this man. He is insane and will be soon locked up and in a safe place with caring people. Do not worry about the way he looks. He always likes to wear Vampire fangs to scare people. He is always in a Halloween mood.”

The boy looked with wide eyes. He would have a story to tell for the rest of his life. The mother and son moved on. “Have a nice Thanksgiving,” I called to them.

“Now for you Magnus,” I almost growled at him. “You are to leave here and never bother me again. If I hear you are bothering anyone else, be it Vampire or warm blooded people I will hunt you down and you will never taste blood again. Do you understand.”

I let him go. He got up to his feet. “Go,” I said. Then he ran to a black car, the kind they call, what is it, a muscle car, and drove away too fast. I secretly hoped he would get a ticket. We were in the town of Folsom so the chances were high that he would.

Inside of Trader Joe’s the woman and her teenage son approached me. She looked at my blood soaked sleeve.

“Are you ok? I’m a nurse. You need to get that cleaned up.”

Then next thing I know she is in the bathroom cleaning up my wound. She mentioned how cold I was and told me to get to the hospital. I held her hand in mine and thanked her.

“You are a good person. Thank you,” I said, and gave her a quick hug, which thrilled her because, well, just because.

I could hear others around saying how sweet she was and how cute and hot I am. I do not understand cute or hot. I am cold since I am a Vampire. Kittens are cute and I am a grown man. I do know that I am more attractive to most so I will take it all as a compliment.

If one helps a Vampire and shows kindness towards a Vampire, then the Vampire will always make sure you are safe. The Vampire community will make sure her boy is safe when he goes off to the university and that she will always be without harm. Most people do not know that, even when they do have a Vampire watching over them.

Now I am home, and after putting away the groceries into an empty refrigerator I will pour myself a glass of wine, call my cats to play with the reusable bags, and think about how truly thankful I am.

I am a Vampire. I might be cute. I am also thankful.

~ Vlad

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

 

This has been the 54th installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To catch up on all of Vlad’s Vampire Diary entries click here.

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A particularly ill-tempered Ghost – or – Don’t forget your paranormal friends during the holiday season)

“I remember my last Thanksgiving. I was dead a week later.”

I looked up from my work at Nigel the Ghost. He’d materialized in the chair across from me in the breakfast nook. Today his black hair was in kind of a side bang across his blue eyes making him look like he was getting ready to sling his guitar over his shoulder and go play in a Punk Pop or New Wave band somewhere. He was wearing a white shirt with a black vest, and black tie looking rather somber.

When someone tells you something like that words often are difficult to find, especially if it is a particularly ill-tempered ghost.

So I asked the first question that came to mind. “Did you ever figure out who killed you?”

“No. Not a clue. It still pisses me off. I was in the shower and then nothing. Blood running down the drain and the side of my skull was bashed in.”

“How long has it been?”

“Thirty three years.”

There was a pause. We looked at each other but nobody said a world. I could hear the clock ticking, and the dog no doubt doing bad things in the back yard like digging a hole the size of Lake Tahoe.

“I hate the holidays. And you’re a Vampire, here forever, and you don’t even eat Turkey.”

“Turkey isn’t really a Vampire kind of thing Nigel.”

“So what do you eat? Small babies? Unsuspecting travelers from other states?”

“Were you this rude when you were alive?”

“No, but I’m doing my best to haunt you with my rudeness since I know I can’t frighten you with loud noises and flying furniture.”

I got up and went to the kitchen for more coffee. I’d made a note to my self to go to Dave’s Bottle Shop later because they are having a huge sale of Poet’s Blood and Philosopher Plasma. I can get 20% off of case price. That also includes wine. In the meantime I had a ghost to deal with, or not. I didn’t have to deal with him.

For as long as I’ve known him I’ve come to expect him to be especially assholish around November and December.

“We could visit your grave if you like. Do you want to watch a movie? I could check Netflix.” I said. “All the new Christmas movies are coming out now.”

The room grew cold. He brushed his hair out of his face and glared at me.

“What do you want from me Nigel?” I asked.  “You know I’m a Vampire. You know I don’t particularly like Ghosts.”

I got half and half out of the refrigerator, and poured it in my coffee.  Nigel followed me. He leaned on the kitchen counter.

“I can see right through you,” I said.

He slammed his fist on the counter, making the entire house shake. “Oh, now you think you know my motivation. Just because you’re a Vampire…”

“No, I can see right through you. You’re transparent. I can see the dog looking through the sliding glass door.”

He lifted his hand and the door opened letting a muddy dog inside. She went to her dog bed and curled up. I turned away and the dog jumped up on the couch and pretended I didn’t know.

I looked at the mud on the carpet.

Nigel ignored the mud. “May I please have a cup of coffee? It would calm my nerves.”

The Ghost sat down at the table with me and held his hands around the hot mug. He took in the smell of the coffee he couldn’t drink. “Thank you. I feel better now.”

He didn’t apologize for his rudeness or the mud. That was fine with me. I don’t expect much from any Ghost, especially Nigel.

He looked up at me and gave me a half smile. “So are you going to blog about how diverse the paranormal community is, and how we all get along, and how everybody should be like us?”

“Nobody reads my blog or listens to me Nigel,” I said.

“It was a stupid idea anyway. Mind if Mary and I come hang out with you on Thanksgiving? How about the entire week when your kids are home from school?”

“Sure, that would be nice. Everybody likes Mary,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said. “Please note Juliette that I did thank you. This is for Mary as much as it is for me. She likes you.”

Mary is Nigel’s Ghost girlfriend. Long story short, she was murdered in 1701 or sometime around then. They’re a good match. He is sweet when she is around. Love will do that, even to a surly perpetually pissed off ghost.

My family is used to Ghosts. We don’t always like them, but we accept them, as long as they don’t throw furniture around.

I’m never sure what the head count will be for Thanksgiving. All are welcome, even if we aren’t all exactly the same. And even if we are.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 
coffee

Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

The Beach House

The Beach House

First published in November 2014. A Vampire Story about holidays and our usual weird stuff… 

My brother Val and I had gone to the beach house for Thanksgiving. This was 1944, before my marriage or children, when it seemed it was always just my brother and me, plus assorted friends and lovers.

Our brother Andy (Andrew) was somewhere in Europe in a USO show. Our eldest brother Max and my future husband Teddy were in London doing something secret for the American Government. Our parents were in Washington DC.

Nobody knew where our brother Aaron or his wife Verity were. They were the traditional ones who always stayed on the safe predictable road to anywhere – now we had no idea where they were. The last time anyone heard they were in France, but they could have been anywhere. They could have been dead or worse captured but we stopped guessing.

Valentine and I had our fill the night before in San Francisco. The clubs were full of servicemen on leave and women who were tired of waiting for their men to come home and people who had nothing to do with the war or missing love ones. Val was also on leave from his position in the Army – watching and finding out secrets. Vampires are good for that. Almost too good. But we had to get involved. We had no other choice. This was the world we lived in and our country too. It was our home.

We watched the fog roll in as the sun went down over the Pacific Ocean.

A car drove up to the house. We weren’t expecting anyone.

It was Nathaniel Chase. Even back then he was over 400 years old but didn’t look a day over 35. A small black cat followed at his heels.

“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in San Francisco,” he growled without so much as a hello to us.

“We’re not supposed to be anywhere, at least not until after Christmas,” said Val.

“I thought you were in Canada, or Hawaii or someplace…,” I started in on him until he put his hand up for me to shut up. I knew the gesture well. He’d been cutting me off my entire life.

“Valentine, please get my bag out of the car for me. Juliette I need your help, come.” He headed down the hall to the far bedroom.

Under his coat his shirt was soaked with blood. I couldn’t tell if it was his or if it belonged to somebody else.

I helped him out of his coat and then the suit jacket and shirt underneath. He’d been stabbed several times. “My heart…was nicked. I’ve lost a lot of blood…a lot.”

I held out my wrist. “Take mine. It will seal your heart.”

“I don’t know…Juliette…”

“You’ll die.”

“No. You can bring someone in later.”

“You will die. Take mine. Regular blood won’t help. You know that.”

A regular human man would have died with his injury. He’d been stabbed in the heart, not just a “nick.”

He took my wrist and sank his fangs into it. Not much happened.

“Just take my neck,” I told him and started to unbutton my shirt. “Don’t say no. You’ve done more for me than I can count. I owe you.”

Asking another Vampire to bite your neck is extreme. It is also something that happens in risky sex. It is something you don’t do lightly or with just anyone. There can be consequences.

I put my hand on his chest where the knife entered. Then I leaned in close, cold skin to cold skin and put my other hand at the back of his neck. “Take my blood Nathaniel.”

He pushed my hair aside and put his mouth on my neck. He had my blood and my feelings, my memories, my heart and everything I kept close. I could feel him searching and wanting then blanking it all out. He wasn’t interested in sucking out my souls or knowing my secrets or being my lover.  I’d done this before but it wasn’t to save a life. It was to satisfy a lover, another Vampire in passion and …whatever. But this was intense and in that realm. I felt drained. I was drained literally.

Nathaniel pulled away and lay back on the pillows. His eyes were closed. He took my hand and entwined my finger in his. We sat for maybe an hour as still as death. I brushed my lips against his cheek. He opened his eyes and gave me a slight smile. “Thank you. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry.”

Over the years he’d always been the one to save Val and me. So many times we’d strayed and he was there to get us back on track. He was always there to scold us and keep us in line. So many times I resented his presence and wished he’d go away forever.

I went out to the deck where Val sat with a bottle of wine and a cigar. He looked at my neck. “I gave him blood. Nothing else.”

My brother gave me a hug. “Thank you dear. Listen, the couple down the road are having a party. We can head on over and get you settled again. If Nathaniel needs more tonight we’ll have it.”

So we walked half a mile down the road watching the stars and listening to the waves crashing against the beach. I told Val that I knew who injured Nathaniel but it was taken care of. We were not the ones to extract vengeance. Someone else would do that. It isn’t what Val and I usually do, unless forced of course.

Nathaniel stayed with us for the rest of the month. We spent Thanksgiving having a fire on the beach, just the three of us and Nathaniel’s black cat. Val and I were 85 and 86 at the time but Nathaniel still saw us as silly teens, or at least he saw us as still needing guidance.

Eventually we were all reunited with family and friends.

Anyway, that was a long time ago. It was a time I rarely even think about anymore. Now that my own children enter adulthood I think of more things from my current life. I hope their lives are calm and without trauma. That won’t be the case, but I’d like to think it would be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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A Tale of a broken down car on a not so lonely road.

It was 1932 and my brother Val and I were driving home for the holidays. We decided to drive rather than take the train. It provided us with more freedom and a chance to see some of the back roads of America. In 1932 almost everything was a back road compared to now.

Let me back up a bit. I told a version of this story, about six years ago, without as much detail.

Anyway, we packed up and took our Packard Dualcowl Pheaton on the road. What possessed me to wear silk and fur is beyond me now, but that is just how we did it in those days. Val as always looked dapper and totally relaxed. Val and I are less than two years apart in age and act and look too much alike to be taken as anything other than brother and sister.

Over the years Val and I have had a lot of adventures together, starting when we were children. In the 1860’s and 70’s we pretty much ran the streets as young Vampires anytime we could get away. Sometimes our brother Aaron would be with us. Rarely would our eldest brothers Max or Andy be with us. We saw people nailed to floors, public hangings, fights, and acts of violence that made no sense what so ever. We spied on artists as they painted or had affairs, or did both. We saw dog fights, cat fights, rode on trains and horses, and tried to do things that, as Vampires, were nothing but trouble for us but well worth the effort. We saw Werewolves, Ghosts, and some things we still haven’t been able to explain. We helped the helpless and even exacted revenge where it was appropriate. We kept secrets that we still keep.

So there we were, in 1931, driving on an dirt and gravel road with no name, across the edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on trails that are older than old when something in our beautiful car blew smoke and sputtered and stopped.

It was night, which is no big deal for us. We could see the eyes in the woods. No big deal. Woodland creatures respect as they respect all predators. A couple of bears came cautiously close, black bears. We started to sing and the animals left. No need for bear spray.

“Now what?” I asked my brother. I was absolutely starving and needed food badly. Sure in a pinch an animal would do but human company would be nice. More than nice.

We walked down the road for a mile or two when we could smell the scent of human kind in the air and saw lights through the trees.

Then sounds. Mournful singing. Singing in weird monotone voices, pitched high and ancient sounding.

There were old songs handed down from generation to generation without benefit of written music or any written word. I was sure most of the singers couldn’t even write their own names. I remembered ancient ones singing songs like that when I was young. They were songs as old as the mountains and older than the memory of men.

These were people who had mined, and farmed, and settled the remote edge between California and Nevada. It was a place of unmatched beauty, wonder, and mystery. It was also a place where it cold snow any minute, a face I reminded Val. I did not want to be stuck in the snow and have to wait for someone to dig me out in the spring.

We came to a white washed clappard building, not a church because there was no steeple or cross. It was a meeting house. In neat black script above the door was written Oak Hall – Welcome All. The door opened and an arm motioned for us to come in.

The room was full of folk, plain folk of all ages, singing with unified voices songs of the hills. They sang of life. They sang of lust and greed. They sang of love. They sang of  the spirit that is deep in us all. They sang of all that they knew.

Then they looked at us in their basic work clothing. We were rich city folk, like two people who’d just come off of a movie set. We might have well been John Barrymore and Greta Garbo.

The man who waved for us to come in took us to a table near a stove with a pot of coffee, and a table with cakes and cookies.

“Our car broke down about a mile back. Is there a mechanic in the group who can help us? I can fix a tire or replace a belt but this is beyond my expertise,” said Val.

“The fancy Packard?”

“Yes, that is us. Wrong car to take on a cross country trip.”

“Mrs. Jeeter over there, the one in the blue dress, said she saw you and your wife drinking from a flask when you were pulled over earlier today, between here and Bodie. She said she was surprised you weren’t driving all zigzaggedly. Don’t worry about her, everybody around her partakes every now and then. We don’t care what the government tells us what to do.”

“My sister. This is my sister, not my wife. This is Miss Juliette Todd. I’m Val Todd.”

The man held out his hand, “John Cutter. Glad to meet you. Now that I look at you a bit more I can see how you look alike. Come on in and warm yourself up. We’ll have someone come out and look at your car in a bit.”

Another man, a giant of almost seven feet tall came up to us. He was wearing a black suit with worn work boots. “Don’t be afraid,” said the tall man who was obviously one of their leaders. “We know what you are. You’re people of the night. Show us your fangs.”

Val and I froze as they gathered around us. Then when our fear built up they started to sing.

We are all different
Children of the Earth
God’s blessing
On us all
God’s blessing
On us all
There is no evil
Only fear
There is no evil
No evil here.

Then they sat us down and offered us their wrists. They told us stories of Vampires and Werewolves, of Demons and Ghosts. They told us of all creatures and of their vision of all living in unity. Two of them admitted to being Werewolves. They all had stories of Vampires who’d rewarded those who had helped them.

They said they’d welcomed us because we were lost. They invited us to join them at their Thanksgiving table. There would be fresh turkey and greens, cornbread and black eyed peas. There would be pie and root vegetables found in the forest. There would be kinship and understanding.

We stayed for the feast. And we talked of their kin and traditions. We also told them of our family.

They all wanted to touch us. They all wanted to share their blood with us. We sang the songs with them into the night. We learned their songs and they learned a few of ours – or at least some popular songs of the day.

Val and I slept through the day, and when night came again they walked us back to our car, which started just fine.

I think about those people with their calloused hands and bright eyes. I think of their mismatched untrained voices that sang in unison like an unearthly wind or a chorus of lost angels.

And to this day Val and I are thankful. We never could find that road again and nobody we ever talked to knew of these folk we spent our Thanksgiving with. I’m sure they were real and not just ghosts in the woods. I’m sure this Thanksgiving one of their great grandchildren is listening to the story about the time those rich Vampires came to visit.

Thanksgiving isn’t just about who you want to be with, but maybe who you need to be with. We’re thankful for all of them. And thankful for the haunting memories of music and fellowship. Most of all we’re thankful for good intentions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers.