Short Story Sunday: Shelter

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

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

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

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

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

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

My babies, my babies.

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

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

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

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

My babies, my babies.

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes. It was so tragic.”

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

“Two weeks.”

“I’ll take them.”

“Both of them?”

“Both of them.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The wind blew outside and the rain pounded the windows.

Thank you.

The wind whispered to him. Thank you.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Stories We Shall Never Tell

In the dark

We ran through the streets

Slick with rain

Back alleys

Darkened windows

Broken glass

Rats

The smell of decay

And death.

Then into grand mansions

We’d fly

Cloaks off

The rustle of silk

A white tie

A flash of fang

The smell of wine

Cigars

And blood.

We were young

Carefree

With stories

We shall never

Tell

Our own

Children.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

History

“I was tired of Rome. When the first opportunity came up to go to Britain I took it. It was sometime around 78 or 79 AD. My timeline is a little fuzzy on that. I had no idea where I was going or that I’d meet the love of my life and some of the best friends I’ve ever had there. There was nobody like me in Rome. I was alone. I’d always been alone as long as I could remember, since I was a small child. I’d met other Vampires, but they weren’t like me. They were distant and fearful, living in the shadows. I was almost a demigod. Imagine that, and here I am, an old man, living on a farm by a river in California.”

Tellias didn’t look like an old man. He looked about nineteen or maybe twenty. Today Tellias was wearing yellow flip flops, black tuxedo pants, an orange and brown work shirt with the name Lloyd embroidered above the pocket, and his 1966 Rolex Submariner. His white blonde hair was tucked behind his ear.

We were in my brother Aaron’s office,  a restored Italianate mansion built in the 1870’s. Aaron has a law practice. Today his cohort and friend (if you could call it that) Austin Durant was there. Austin Durant is a history professor but he also restores old building. He is also a Vampire Hunter. This is where it can get complicated.

Durant works with Aaron to rid the world of Shadow Creepers, the Vampires who have no souls, and/or no redeeming value to society. They’re the ones who can’t control themselves, cause problems, or just fill out walls and craw spaces with their dried out crusty nasty barely animated corpses. Sometimes I begrudgingly help them out.

I know, I’ve been distracted… I’d stopped by with Eleora and Tellias, the ancient Vampires that I keep an eye on. My great great great great Grandmaman Lola was also along.

Austin was enchanted by the stories. When I first met Austin he tended to be a little tense being the only non-Vampire in the house, but by now he knew we wouldn’t harm him. Why would we?

I went to the kitchen to make tea, and check my email. Eventually Austin met me in their. I poured him a cup and we chatted a bit while we watched the storm outside.

“When I think of all of the history you and your family has experienced, it is just mind boggling,” said Austin.

“We have seen a lot. Sometimes too much.”

Lola came in and got a glass of water. She flirted a bit with Austin then moved on. Nobody would pick her out as a Vampire with her wavy brown hair, jeans and a sweater. Sometimes she walked with a slight limp, but otherwise she looked your average twenty five year old woman.

After she’d left Austin asked (in almost a whisper), “How old is she?”

“Lola is six hundred and seventy five years old. She was born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer. Same day too. When is your birthday Austin?”

“July 5.”

“You have the same birthday as P.T. Barnum. It seems fitting doesn’t it. You’re a historian and a Vampire Hunter. That makes you sort of a purveyor of freaks and important facts nobody wants to understand.”

“How…”

“You have the same birthday as my daughter. She was born July 5th, 1999.”

“Is she, your daughter a Vampire? Your kids are Vampires like Aaron’s kids aren’t they?”

“Of course they are.  By the way, I have the same birthday as Weird Al but I’m exactly a hundred years older than he is.”

“You were around during the California Gold Rush.”

“Right after the Gold Rush. My husband Teddy was born on the Panama Peninsula when his parents were on their way to California in 1849. They were among the first. My brother Max was born in Sacramento a few weeks after Teddy’s parents and my parents arrived. Aaron was born in 1854. I came along in 1859. Our other brothers Andy and Val were also born in the 1850’s. 1851 and 1858. We were a big family of little Vampires. I suppose we were around during the tail end of the Gold Rush, kind of sort of. I vaguely remember adults talking about the war, you know the Civil War. My big memories are more about the city growing up around us, floods, fires, the art museum, and the railroad. The rail road was big. Oh, and I remember then the State Capitol building went up. That was glorious fun. We had roller skates too, for indoors. The streets weren’t good enough for street skates.”

“You skated?”

“Yes, we skated.”

“I know all of this, or most of what you’re telling me, but when I hear it from you…when I hear it from you, it’s like…I don’t know. It’s extraordinary. The things you’ve seen…”

“Austin, don’t have too much adoration for us. You have your own extraordinary talents and experiences.”

Dear Eleora blasted into the room, twirling her red circle skirt, and singing something that sounded like a long lost Motown song. She kissed my cheek, then kissed Austin on the cheek.

“Would you like some tea sweetie?” I asked her.

“Not right now, but when you’re done with yours come back and join us, and bring Mr. Austin with you.” Then she fluttered out of the room.

“She is the wife of Tellias, right?”

“Yes she is. I’m not sure if they ever were formally married but they’ve been together since he arrived in Britain from Rome.”

“How old are they?”

“Over two thousand years, but nobody knows for sure. We believe she is older, but we don’t ask.”

“They look like teenagers.”

“They act like old people. They are old people.”

We finished our tea and got back to the others. I took all of my elders home. Aaron and Austin got to work on some restoration and nasty ghoul extraction they’d been working on.

One day I might sit down with Austin and tell him all of my tales of bygone days. Then again, I think he just might get depressed when he finds out that nobody ever learns from their mistakes. Nobody listens to reason, or cautionary tales, or cares about anything in the past or in the future. Then again, I might be wrong.

It doesn’t matter how old someone is, or how young, but how they see the world. It is how they choose to see the world.

I tell my kids that. My now legally adult children. They seem so young, because they are. And of course, they keep me young as well – all 159 years of me.

Stay young. Share stories. Live well. Learn from your mistakes, and from your success, and from each other.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Circles

Circles

“The damn circles are back. My crops are gonna be ruined by it all. We’re already having a cold planting season, and now this, right before the harvest of our winter crops.”

Druce listened as Farmer Wyne told him about the return of the crop circles. As the local Warlock Druce had done all he could to help. Damn this was frustrating.

“I’m as distressed as you are Wyne. This is not good. Not good at all. Right now I’m brewing up some berry tea. We can get ourselves a cup and go take a look.”

The men walked out to the field about 100 feet from Druce’s cottage. He was surprised he didn’t hear anyone out in the field the night before. He took a sip of tea and surveyed the damage.

“Didn’t you hear anything?” Asked Wyne.

“I was in a deep sleep last night, lulled by the storm,” said Druce.

A large pattern of circles made by knocking over the tall grain had been made in the middle of Wyne’s field. It wasn’t the first time. A faint unpleasant smell came from the circles. Druce couldn’t place it.

He stood in the middle of the largest circle and closed his eyes, as he attempted to get a sense of it all. There were no spirits or demons present. There was no magic. There was nothing but a lingering unknown smell.

Later that afternoon Druce walked down to the beach and called out to his friend Morcant the Selkie. A large seal poked it’s head out of the water, then went under again. A few minutes later a man walked out of the surf carrying a seal skin.

Selkies are seals when they want to be and men when they need to be. They carry their seal skins with them so that nobody will steal them and trap them forever on dry land.

They talked of the crop circles but could come up with no answers. They did decide to roast some fish Morcant had caught and headed back to Druce’s cottage.

The two old friends spoke of a myriad of unexplained events that had happened since that idiot Wizard Merlin had moved into the old castle on the hill. It took a day or two to walk there but it Merlin was still too close as far as Druce was concerned.

Druce had once asked Merlin about crop circles, lights from the sky, and strangely dressed folks wandering around in the shadows. Merlin said the strange events must be because of fairies and their displeasure with the king, who was even more of an idiot than Merlin. Or, Merlin said, it could be that the old gods were angry at King Arthur for worshiping the new Christian god. Druce thought Merlin was full of shit and never asked him about it again.

After they finished their dinner of fish and nut cakes, and were cleaning up there was a soft knock on Druce’s door.

Standing in the drizzling rain was a man and a woman wrapped in heavy cloaks.

“Are you Merlin the Wizard?” asked the man in a strange accent.

Morcant laughed out loud.

“No, I am Druce, the Warlock. May I help you?”

“I told you Merlin was just a myth,” said the woman.

“Merlin lives down a way,” said Druce. “Do you know him?”

“No, not yet,” said the man.

“Well,” said Druce, “Merlin is a bit socially awkward and insecure. He might visit with your or he might hide and pretend he isn’t home. Have you come a long way? I sense that you have.”

“You’re a Warlock?” asked the woman. “What does that mean?”

“It means that I can tell that you’re not from around here. It also means that you should tell me your names and come in out of the rain. I sense you aren’t here to kill or rob us. I know you have weapons in your pockets but you aren’t comfortable using them. We won’t threaten you. I am Druce the Warlock, and this is my friend Morcant.”

The woman eyed Morcant involuntary. Of course she did. Silkies are unusually attractive and humans find it difficult to resist their charms.

“I’m Trinity, and this is my friend Ryan,” said the woman as they entered the house.

Druce and Morcant eyes the sturdy shoes and the fine weave of their clothing. They noticed the smell of flowers on the woman’s hair.

“So you’re here to see Merlin. I suppose you want to take a look at the Round Table and all of that as well?” said Morcant.

“You’ll be disappointed. They’re a rather unorganized lot. The King has a good public relations staff but it is really a disaster over at Camelot,” said Druce.

“The Camelot always stinks too. They never do maintainace on the moat like they’re supposed to,” said Morcant.

Trinity and Ryan looked disappointed. “This is unexpected,” said Trinity.

“And speaking of unexpected, do the two of you know what is causing the crop circles around here? You’re not behind it are you?” Said Druce.

“Why would you ask that?” said Ryan, as he shifted in his chair.

“I don’t know, you being time travelers and all. Seriously, we get your type all the time.  You come her wanting to see the glory of days gone by, the holy grail, magic, and maybe a bit of romance… wait, wait, hold on a minute. I have it figured out. Your time wagon, or machine, or whatever you call it is making those crop circles,” said Druce, now standing up.

“Whenever strangers like you show up with your odd accents and sturdy shoes show up our farmers complain of crop circles. Dude, you have to stop it. You’re ruining the harvest,” said Druce.

Of course Trinity and Ryan had no idea that their machine had caused the crop circles.  They did however stay the night and talk until the sun came up about their lives in the future. Trinity was a history professor at one of the great universities in her land. Ryan was something called a cultural anthropologist and a former Navy Seal. Being a seal himself, Morcant was fascinated with this fact and asked many questions. Ryan was even more fascinated with Mocant and the whole idea of Selkies.

The following week Druce leaned that Trinity and Ryan had indeed found their way to Camelot. King Arthur was down due to food poisoning. The place indeed was extremely stinky. There was no round table, just a big long table in a room full of shabby tapestries. One of the more interesting things were the displays of Roman relics left over from the past century.

They’d also met Merlin who was brooding and writing love poems to female spirits who just thought he was sad and weird.

Years, rather centuries later Druce would come across Ryan again. They’d run into each other at a museum. Druce, because he was a Warlock, was still alive. Ryan was in his own time – the time in which he and Trinity been born.

They caught up on their lives and exchanged their cell phone numbers.

Druce looked at a painting by the artist Wayne Thiebaud. It was of fields and orchards.  A river intersection. The painting was a favorite of Druce’s. He thought about the crop circles. It was fitting, as everything eventually circled around, be it truth or just a myth.

Suddenly he got an ear worm. Dead or Alive. Round round round. Odd after all these years how unexpected and utterly weird life was. It was also a comfort to know that a lot of things just never change.

~ end

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For more about Druce and Morcant click here.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Cat-ur-day Portraits of My Cats

If you were expecting photos of my cats in the unseasonable rain you’ve come to the wrong place. They won’t go outside when water falls from the sky. They stay inside and sit and stare, or sleep, or eat, or wonder why each is not the only cat in this home.

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The smallest feline is a masterpiece. ~ Leonardo de Vinci

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Musings on a rainy day about myths, motherhood, and random moments.

There are myths that Vampires can’t enter a home unless they are invited. That is utter and total bullshit. Like most Vampire lore it is untrue.

I’m not going to give you a list of Vampire facts or a list of what is not true. This is about parenting and other things.

From an early age I’ve told my children to not believe silly things that people say about large groups of individuals. The key word is individual. If one person in a group is a jerk it doesn’t mean that everyone in that group is a jerk. In today’s political climate it is tempting to do that – judge a large group. I don’t mean hate groups and extreme religious/social/weird groups that one joins voluntarily. I’m talking about groups we are born into, or groups that we physically become part of. You know what I’m talking about. I’m preaching to the choir here.

I raised my children to have open and skeptical eyes. I also raised them to accept the magic of the world, and to accept the differences of others.

As we grow older (even Vampires) some people become set in their ways and beliefs. What we need to do is grow more understanding as we grow older. As you get older you learn more, know more, and experience more, to be able to break free from long held beliefs that just might not be true. You learn from experience what battles to fight, and what battles to fight for others.

Yesterday I was meeting up with a lunch date. Yes, it was that kind of lunch date. I am a Vampire after all… anyway… I was having some real food too.

We decided to meet downtown near my friend Jack’s office, at a place we’d been meeting for over ten years. He texted me that he was running late. I waited, which was no problem. Waiting lets me relax and people watch. Due to the rain I was under my umbrella, bundled up in my furry fake fur coat (that my daughter calls my sheep coat, and my cat calls her new bed.)

Across the street, I saw a man – another Vampire. Yes, we can usually tell if one is like us, not by the way we look, but by a strong vibe we get… I can’t explain it. I don’t have to explain and it doesn’t have anything to do with this. He was old, but like most of us didn’t look his age. I’m married, don’t get me wrong, and my husband is unusually handsome, so I wasn’t looking for handsome Vampires. I already have my own. But there was something familiar about this guy. Not someone I’d dated, but something else. This happens to all of us. We see someone. We wonder where we know them from, if we know them from anywhere, then they vanish. A lot of things in life are like that. But I digress.

I’d never seen him before. That isn’t so unusual. I live in a metropolitan area of about 2.5 million people. I can’t be expected to know every Vampire, and believe me, we have a larger than normal population of them around here. It is a historical thing that few know about but that’s ok. It doesn’t matter.

The Vampire across the street doesn’t see me yet. I’m taken by the way he looks. The guy is seriously handsome in that take-your-breath-away way.

I hear my name being called and turn to see my friend Jack. Then I glance back and the Vampire is gone.

A couple of scruffy ghosts in large stovepipe hats look out the window of an old restored building. I ignore them and join my friend.

If you live in a world where you see the unseen, and the hidden, you learn what to ignore and what to pay attention to in a more extreme way than most. The amount of information can be overwhelming at times. I suppose that is why Vampires don’t have problems with the Internet and other bombardments of information that can be overwhelming for some.

As with anything we need to all take a deep breath and think about things. On the other hand sometimes we can think about things too much. That is what one of my siblings calls brain fever. 

I share my umbrella with Jack, who is holding his closed. There is only so much room on the sidewalk and I like his warmth. It is daytime, and even with the rain the sun makes it light. I will not fry. I will not die in the light. I glance at my reflection in a window and smile without fangs.

On the drive home I can still taste Jack’s blood on my tongue. I smile knowing I’ve left him with good thoughts and sweet dreams for at least another week.

I stopped at the grocery store for cat food and silver polish. Yes, I do have silver in my home. What? You believed that too?

I thought about the handsome Vampire and wondered who he was. I thought about the ghosts. I knew who they’d been. I can’t walk past that building without them whispering about the old days when they knew the railroad barons and were important men. They need to move on.

Yes, we can learn a lesson from them and all strive to move on. Staying stuck in another century isn’t fun for anyone, or practical, or right.

That’s all I got for today.

  • Don’t forget to talk with your children and listen to what they have to say today – even if they’re grown.
  • Hug your kids.
  • Check on those who are alone.
  • Read.
  • Laugh.
  • And always be aware of what is going on around you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman