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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2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

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. 

Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope

A Ray of Hope

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of fifteen he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Smoke River

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Saturday before last my husband Teddy and I took our boat out on the Sacramento River.

Nobody else was out there. Hardly anyone else. Despite it being a holiday weekend everyone stayed home due to the smoke.

We just didn’t think about it. It had been so long since just the two of us went on a boat ride for no reason that we just did it.

Several miles up river we stopped at a familiar pier. My brothers and I jumped off this pier, or at least the first pier that was ever here. About ten different piers have been here since, brought down by floods, winter frost, blazing summer heat, errant boats, and age.

Eleora and Tellias stood on the end of the boat dock and waved at us. Eleora, in a full flowers skirt, a yellow blouse and a worn orange sweater danced around with a purple scarf. like Isadore Duncan. Tellias stood smiling with one hand in the pocket of his black tuxedo pants, and waved with the other hand. He wore a lime green tee shirt with a pattern of black roses. They looked like a couple of teenagers or college students. But they’re neither. Nobody knows exactly how old these ancient Vampires are. Over 2,000 years – that we know. They don’t talk about it much.

The helped us tie up the boat and lent us hands. As always they gave us hugs, lots of kisses, and sang us a welcome song. Today is was a strange sort of a haunting gothic punk version of Moon River. I never question their choices. Today I even sang along as they danced around Teddy and me giving me light kisses and taking my hands. Teddy just smiled and unloaded a couple of bags out of the boat of things we’d brought the Ancient ones. We didn’t bring gifts because we had to. We brought them because sometimes those who are older than us forget things, or need things, or need help.

Then they took our hands and led us up the lawn to the path that went through the orchard and to the Queen Anne style Victorian they live in.

Our conversations went away from the smoke and to Thanksgiving plans.

My husband’s mother had a deep set belief that there was something morally wrong with a woman who could not cook. She equated not being able to cook with being a prostitute.

In fact she once said (according to my husband) “If you’re going to marry a woman who can’t cook you might as well marry a whore. At least she’d be good at something.”

Actually I doubt if she ever said that out loud but I know she thought it.

That said, in 1875 Teddy became a Vampire so marrying a woman who could cook became a moot point. I can cook, but then again I do a lot of things one does not expect from a Vampire. We all do. We have to blend in.

Up at the house my brother Val was waiting in the kitchen with a nice chilled bottle of Poet’s Blood, and a bottle of Angel’s Envy Bourbon to wash it down with. We sat on the back porch and talked about the fire, Thanksgiving plans, the rest of my siblings, and my children.

Thanksgiving will be a good day. A day of love. A day to truly be thankful, in a world that seems to be increasingly full of sorrow.

Some things can be fleeting, like the overly wrought emotions of family relations, especially this time of year. It makes one grow weary of the pointlessness of it all. The way people hold grudges and hate – and hold fast to traditions that only make one feel controlled and not loved.

So we gather with friends, those who wish to be with us for no other reason than that they enjoy our company – and we theirs. Family can be like that as well, if they allow it. If they dare.

In the Vampire world we tend not to keep grudges for they last far too long and do far too much damage. No need to fight when the sun comes up each and every single day and gives us a new opportunity to take a deep breath and let go. And in the night we see our light, the beautiful stars that will last on for a billion years after we’re all gone. And it humbles us and makes us realize what really matters is our love and our companionship and our memories – that is the good memories. The others, the bad memories, should be banished from our lives.

So tonight we shall toast our glasses filled full and laugh until our sides hurt. We’ll listen to the stories and funny jokes from the young ones and we will celebrate all that we are truly thankful for.

Including our Regular Human friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I am thankful for all of my readers. xoxoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (A Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman