Gasoline and Tiger Maple (Don’t Mix)

Andy had dined with his friends Ramon and Sophia. They were always a treat. Tonight there was an interesting mix of high blood alcohol levels mixed with a slight after taste of cocaine and a hint something he couldn’t quite identify. It might have been Morphine.

Hell, it could have been chocolate for all he cared. It was good to come home to friends who were funny and smart and oh so accommodating to his needs.

After two weeks out of town playing Don Giovanni he was ready to become himself. It was good to be Andy again. It was good to be home in San Francisco where he didn’t have to worry about snow.

He parked in the garage and threw his vicuña overcoat on one of the kitchen stools. The pile of mail was already on the table where the neighbor had left it for him. It was the usual bills and magazines. A postcard from his girlfriend Shawna was on the top. She was in Chicago lecturing on flying dinosaurs. He smiled. The postcard was Van Gough’s self-portrait from the Art Institute. She’d remembered that he’d told her about it when they’d first met. One of the reasons he loved her was because she remembered the little things.

Smiling as he poured a shot of Bourbon he quietly sang “La ci darem la mano” thinking of Shawna. There was a sudden warmth in the air that wasn’t from the Bourbon or thoughts of love. Someone else was in the house.

Andy made a mental note to call the alarm company. Son of a bitch.  He walked to the living room and saw them – a man and a woman dressed in black. They had guns, silver crosses and knives. Vampire Hunters.

“Andrew Todd.” The man said his name as a fact, not a question.

“I’m sorry the show is over for the night you have to leave before the stage manager throws you out.” He laughed at his own joke then downed the Bourbon. “What the fuck are you doing in my house?”

“You’ve lived your lie for too long.”

“What lie? Do you put everything about yourself out to the world? Well?” Andy was going to make a joke about putting it all on Twitter but thought the better of it.

The woman held up the cross. “Oh please,” said Andy, “that isn’t going to harm me. We’re all God’s children around here.” Damn Vampire Hunters. They didn’t know a thing about Vampires, much less hunting them.

The woman looked surprised. Very surprised. Andy just smiled and calculated what he’d do about the situation.

Suddenly the man poured gasoline against the antique buffet against the wall.

“Hey, no. That’s tiger maple. Awww man, don’t do that.”

The man spun around to face the Vampire. “We’ve been watching you Todd.”

“I’m feeling really violated here. If you burn my house down…I mean, really, in this neighborhood?”

The man poured more gasoline as the woman pointed a gun at Andy.

“Do you really want to do this? What good would it do killing me?”

The man started to talk of evil and darkness. It was some sort of mumbo jumbo sort of spell or chant. From the bowels of darkness, cursed undead, blood of our ancestors spilled by your unholy trinity of death, blood and carnal desires. Unrelenting evil…

“Oh come on,” said Andy. “That isn’t going to do anything except make you sound even more stupid than you already are. Look at me.”

“Don’t look at the Vampire in the eyes,” screamed the woman.

Andy walked towards the man then quickly grabbed his neck. “Look at me. I’m just like you. We even have the same eye color. We’re not that different. Look at me. Look at my eyes or I’ll tear fucking your head off. Now let go of the gas can before you hurt yourself. Besides, you’re tired. Close your eyes, fall asleep, dream of warm tropical breezes and sweet kisses from a woman so hot that she’ll burn your skin.”

The man collapsed onto a large wing back chair dead asleep.

Andy looked at the woman. “You want a glass of wine? A cocktail perhaps? Help yourself. I’ll just be a minute. One more thing, put the gun down and stand still, right there. If you don’t I’ll kill you. Capisce?”

The Vampire sank his teeth into the man’s neck for just a minute. Enough time to keep his prey in sweet dreams for a few more minutes, and in nightmares for a few more months.

“I’m done drinking for the night Jenna. Yes my dear, I know your name. I got it from your friend here.”

He took her hand and led her to the formal living room. Music started. His hand went to her waist. “Dance with me.”

Jenna attempted to pull away from the cold grip of the Vampire. “No, I won’t dance with a Vampire”.

Andy pulled her closer. “Then just dance with the guy who can sing.”

“Please spare me from a fate worse than death. I will die a thousand deaths before I become one of the undead.”

“Oh cut the Gothic melodramatic crap. I’m the one who was born in the 1851. You don’t hear me talking like that. Jesus, I’m not going to turn you into a Vampire. Have you ever met a Vampire before tonight?”

“No.” Her voice sounded small, more like a child than a grown woman.

“Jenna, dear, you have a good heart but the enemy you need to be chasing isn’t Vampires or Werewolves or whoever you think need chasing. The enemy is ignorance and bigotry and hatred.  Fight for the equality of women and the rights of children. Fight for those who don’t have a voice. Fight for the freedom of expression and art. Fight for a cause that matters.”

She looked into his hazel blue eyes and swayed as if she was going to faint. The man, still slumped on the chair croaked out “don’t listen to him Jenna.”

Andy shot a glance at the man. “One more noise from you and I’ll rip your heart right out of your chest with my bare hands. Do you understand? And I’ll send you the bill for the damage to my furniture and floors.”

He went back to the woman. “What am I going to do with you? You’ve broken into my home. You’ve damaged a valuable and beautiful piece of furniture. You’ve invaded my privacy. You’re lucky you didn’t touch my piano. What I should do is call the police.”

“You’re a Vampire.”

“So tell me something I don’t know. I pay taxes. I own a home. I vote.”

“But…”

“Jenna, stop.  I’m not happy about what you and your boyfriend have done here tonight. Plus you’re a bigot who got nothing what so ever from my speech to you about bigotry and ignorance. What the hell is wrong with you? Honestly?”

Andy ran his hand through his hair and took a deep breath. The house reeked of gasoline and fear. The morning sun just started to come through the windows. He turned back to Jenna.

“The only reason I’m letting you live is because I don’t want to deal with your bodies. I already have enough of a mess. The reason I’m not calling the police is because I’d rather not have to deal with a trial. In the meantime every Vampire on the West Coast will know your names and what you’re up to. You can’t hide. You will never be able to hide from us. So if you’re smart you’ll stay as far away from any Vampires or Vampire Hunters as you humanly can. Now, I am going to take my bags upstairs. When I get back down I want you gone.”

After they left Andrew surveyed the damage. He’d have to call the furniture guy and the alarm company. Someone would have to take a look at the rugs and the hardwood floors.

But before he did any of that there was someone else he needed to call. Andy dialed the number he knew so well. She picked up on the first ring. He closed his eyes and sat down. “Hey Mom. I’m home. Can you come over?”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This was first published here in March of 2014.

Dancing on the Beach

 

Dancing on the Beach

As told by Dr. Shawna Greene

For three days we watched the human like form sitting motionless near the beach. We decided if it was human it was probably dead because no human could sit for so long in the heat and the cold and the wind the way this one did. More than likely it was garbage someone had dumped. A few people had traveled through over the past few weeks, near the abandoned mining town near the isolated stretches of desert and beach where we’d set up our summer research station in Patagonia.

We’d come to look for dinosaurs (with success, finding eggs and giant bones).

Dave, Blane and I trekked an hour down the hill to the spot where the mysterious lump sat. It was indeed human, wrapped in a blanket, large brimmed hat, dark sunglasses and a scarf covering the face. It almost looked like a modern mummy. The, without notice it moved.

“¿Estás bien?” Dave asked the stranger.

The man unwrapped the scarf from his face and removed his sunglasses. “I’m fine. I speak English too. But thanks for asking.”

He was tall with long chestnut colored hair and sparkling hazel eyes. Of course I noticed. I couldn’t help it after being out in the wilds for a month with my fellow researchers. My two college aged kids were in summer internships, my ex-husband was off on a honeymoon with a woman 10 years younger than me and I was doing something I loved – discovering the past.

But today, we discovered something quite different and unexpected. His name was Andrew. He was tall (I figured 6’2″) with a quick smile and a musical voice that captured the attention of all when he spoke.

Andrew said he’d been researching folk music, writing songs, savoring the local flavor and hinted at getting over a broken heart. A kindred spirit I thought. Well, I have to admit, my heart had mostly healed after my husband left two years ago – the day after our youngest child graduated from high school.

Had it been anyone else, we would have let him stay, but Andrew was so delightful and charming, and helpful that we let him stay on. His knowledge of just about everything was astounding. In the evenings he would sing songs ranging from Argentinian folk songs to Italian Opera. Everyone on the team did better with Andrew around.

The younger women, especially the graduate students Courtney and Kaitlin were enchanted by Andrew. No surprise there. He’d dote on them without being a predator. Then again the men were enchanted by him to. We all were.

Sometimes Andrew and I would share a glass of wine under the stars and talk of everything under the stars. He didn’t give away much of his personal life. He’d been living in New York and London, but thought of moving back to California where his family was. His first love was Opera, but he was taking notes on a book about how music takes the mind and soul to new places. He was more interested in finding out about us than telling us about himself.

I felt a bond with this appealing and mysterious man. He was so mysterious but I was so comfortable with him, like I’d known him forever.

One evening we walked the beach after dinner, just the two of us. We talked about time and space and he opened up in an unexpected burst.

“Time travel,” Andrew began, “will be possible, a reality, but it will be squandered by idiots who don’t appreciate the past or the possibilities of the future. They will be selfish short-sighted buffoons only interested in entertaining their own shallow minded pursuits and never seeing the power of the invention of the time machine.

And think about this…we are here on Earth with no knowledge of ANY life on other planets, yet we spend time and brain power on theories of what is out there and life in the universe and how the universe started and… what if nobody else is out there.

Or what if someone else is out there and they’ve figured it all out and we’re wrong, or we’ve figured it out and they are wrong. But we don’t know, because while you look for your giant dinosaur bones which seem like they’re from another planet, we ponder if there is life on other planets. And why is it all so random. You might disagree because of your scientific mind and experience with creatures of the past and because of the sheer amount of wonder in your soul…but…oh Shawna, we’re so different you and I.”

I didn’t know what to say. Andrew held out his hands. “Dance with me Shawna. Dance with me under the stars.”

Taking his cool hands in my own I found myself suddenly transfixed, dancing in the dark, with a long haired stranger who indeed was so different from me.

“Close your eyes,” he whispered in my ear. And against all better judgment I closed my eyes only to find myself transported into a ball room, wearing a silk gown the color of roses and sunsets, dancing with a handsome hazel eyed man in tails and white tie. And then I opened my eyes to find myself in cargo shorts and a fleece jacket on a desolate beach on the bottom of the earth.

“What are you?” I asked him that surprised that I didn’t ask who but what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

“You have fangs.” I had to say it. I just had to.

Andrew gently brushed my face with the back of his hand. “Yes, and I use them. I drink the blood of Regular Humans. I live for a long long long time. I have relatives who are over 1,000 years old. I was born in the 19th century, before the Civil War, during the California Gold Rush. But, I am just part of the natural order of the world, of the universe, and I hope of our two souls.”

“I have to admit you’re scaring me Andrew.”

“And the thought of you being afraid scares me more than anything Shawna. I’ve trusted you enough to tell you what I am. Now let me trust that you will not be afraid or reject my offer of friendship.”

“Will you turn me into a Vampire?” It was fear in my voice now, not hope that he would.

“Only if you want me to. Maybe. It isn’t anything I take lightly. But, but, Shawna, that isn’t what is important here. It is evolution, the very thing you’ve spent years studying, the difference in species and life forms and life forces and life and…” He ran his hands through his hair and closed his eyes then opened them looking right into mine. “And love. It all comes down to love and of course passion. You have that passion. I can see it when you speak of your work, your life, your children. You have what so many can only dream of.”

“You’re a Vampire.” I couldn’t get that out of my head, despite his remarkable words and way of speaking.

“Yes, and I’m cool with it. Are you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I understand.”

“Do you want my blood?”

“I would never harm you Shawna.”

“Have you taken blood from any of the others here?” I thought of my fellow scientists and grad students.

“Yes, but…why do you think they’re so happy all the sudden? Sure I took something from them that I needed but I gave them what they needed. Do you understand? Can you attempt to understand. I mean, really, it isn’t any different than finding a new dinosaur. Isn’t it?”

Then we just looked at each other for the longest time. It was a time that ended up in his cabin on the hill, in the creaky iron bed with the colorful quilts, with his cold body wrapped around my hot human one.

It was still dark when I awoke, brushing my hair out of my eyes. Next to the bed, sitting on a wooden crate was a woman. Her chestnut hair the exact same rich color as Andrew’s.

“I didn’t know he had company but…there is something about you Shawna that makes me glad he bonded with you. He is charming but my son can be exhausting and so emotional at times.”

I had to say I was in shock seeing this beautiful woman who didn’t look more than twenty six years old. “I’ve come to take him home, not away from you, but…what I’m trying to say is that you touched Andrew’s heart and maybe…”

Andrew opened his eyes. “Mom. Have you met Shawna?”

Well, this was awkward. They packed up and left, but not before they both left me with their contact information. This was weird. Vampires leaving contact information. Then again, it would have been weird for Andrew to just leave without a word. Of course my ex-husband left without so much as a word, but that is another story.

But before he left, he kissed me one more time then whispered in my ear, “I love you.”

The summer and our time in the desert is almost over. I still savor my short time with Andrew and the memory of his voice and his touch.

Will I contact him when I return? I don’t know. We both live in California where there are plenty of beaches to dance on and where the stars shine bright on the night.

Then again…he is a Vampire, or maybe that shouldn’t matter.

 

 

~ Dr. Shawna Greene 2013

 

Fa la la la la la Pigladillo

When I arrived home this afternoon my brother Andy (Andrew) had already arrived for the weekend. I love it when he visits. The days and night are full of music and unexpected fun. You see, out of my four older Vampire brothers, Andy is the most creative and kind of different. Andy and I are the same that way – we’re the most unique of the bunch. But don’t tell the others I said that.

Andy just came back from a tour – he is an opera singer, one of the best, but he was opening for a well known pop punk metal sort of band just for fun.

He and my 15 year old daughter Clara were sitting on the couch playing their guitars. It was a sweet scene. Andy looked up with a smile, his hazel eyes the color of a stormy sea, his long chestnut colored hair around his shoulders.

We exchanged hugs, while thunder shook the windows and lightning flashed. I glanced out the window towards the back of the house to see we had yet another visitor. Climbing out of the tree was a wee animal. A cute tiny thing that was both hard and soft at the same time. I opened the back door as it dropped from the tree to the deck and snatched it up out of the rain.

“What is it?” Clara came close to the unusual little creature.

Andy looked on in wonder. “That is a Pigladillo. I haven’t seen one in years.”

“These little guys are usually found in the Midwestern United States. I wonder how he ended up in Northern California,” I said drying our little friend off with a dish towel.

 There in my arms was a small tree-dwelling creature of the armadillo family – with the unique soft pink Pigladillo nose.

Clara wrinkled up her nose. “It smells funny.”

“The little guy has been drinking,” said Andy.

“Alcohol?”

“Clara,” I said, “I think he came to California for the wine, but it smells a bit like tequila.”

The Pigladillo looked at me with his heavy eyes then curled halfway into a ball and fell asleep in my arms.

“Awwwww he is snoring. That is so cute,” said Clara rubbing the Pigladillo’s soft tummy.

I handed my brother the dear Pigladillo. Andrew is a charmer when it comes to small woodland creatures.

He sang an old song to the little creature in Italian.

It was a song by Giacomo Piglaccini from the famous opera Madam Unicorn.

Madam Unicorn is such a sad and beautiful story. Capt. Buster Possumpants travels to an exotic far away land and steals the heart of the beautiful Madam Unicorn then he runs away with a Hottie and leaves poor broken hearted Madam Unicorn singing a sad sad song. Quite a tragic tale. The Pigladillo plays a minor but important role as Capt. Buster Possumpants’s side kick. Pigladillo is sort of the angel on the Possum’s shoulder, be that an inebriated angel, but an angel of a woodland creature none the less.

Andy sang it again, the lovely song of unrequited love gone all wrong and well, unrequited.

Suddenly we heard a slight sob come from the Pigladillo. “Andy,” I said, “so sad and so beautiful. You made the poor little Pigladillo cry.”

“Hard on the outside but soft on the inside”, my brother said with a smile.

Clara rubbed the Pigadillo’s head and wiped away the tiny Pigadillo tears. “Awww look at his little nose. He is sooooooo cute.” Then she gave the darling but stinky little creature a kiss between the ears.

Andy smiled and told us the rest of the story behind Madam Unicorn. “There is a story behind this song and it has everything to do with a Pigladillo I knew long ago. The first woman to sing Madam Unicorn was the famous and beautiful singer Lina Cavalieri. She was between husbands at the time and traveling with our brother Val. She gave him a private showing and they spent two weeks together in Paris.”

Lina Cavalieri and "friend" of our brother Valentine. Yes, you learn something new every single day.

Lina Cavalieri and “friend” of our brother Valentine. Yes, you learn something new every single day. Val, you have some explaining to do… and why is she wearing my dress?

That was new to me. Private showing?

Andy continued. “She was one of the few people who kept a Pigladillo for a pet. That is a little known fact since they are so rare and it is illegal to keep them in most countries. It has been that way since the time of Ancient Greeks. There is something magical about the Pigladillo. Plus they’ll drink up all your booze so most people don’t like to have them around.”

“Val had an affair with Lina Cavalieri and he never told me about it?” I was shocked. Val told me EVERYTHING.

“He broke her heart the way Vampire men tend to do. I don’t know why he didn’t turn her into one of us, but I guess she was afraid her soul would be damned or she couldn’t imagine spending the next 200 years with a fool like Val.”

As the Pigladillo  started to snore again I suddenly remembered to show Andy my Pigladillo – that is my Pigladillo painting.

This is exciting. I have an original drawing by Bill Brown of a Pigladillo. Really. No kidding. This is for real. He sent it to me in the mail yesterday.

Bill Brown is to Pigladillos and squirrels what Audubon is to birds and Rafael to angels.

Clara exclaimed how darling it was. Andrew said I need to frame it right away (and I will.)

“I think we should call Christie’s Auction House,” said Andy.

“I think we should call TLC or at least MTV for a series based on the Evil Squirrel and friends,” said Clara.

“I think we need to open another bottle of wine,” said the Pigladillo.

And so we did.

Cheers and wishing you all a happy holiday season with all of your friends, no matter who or what they are.

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A Masterpiece of Critterdom

 

Pigadillo with an Armadillo

Pigladillo with an Armadillo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigadillo shares a place of honor with old friends

Pigladillo shares a place of honor with old friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigadillo take a place of honor in the Vampire Maman kitchen

Pigladillo takes a place of honor in the Vampire Maman kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU BILL BROWN aka EVIL SQUIRREL. The drawing is darling. Thank you for letting me be part of your Holiday Card Event.

For more about the Pigladillo, Evil Squirrel, Rainbow Donkey, Flashbacks, Musical fun, Comics (more grown-up than not) and witty stories of a TV star, go to Bill’s blog (The Evil Squirrel’s Nest – Where ALL the Cool Squirrels Hang Out).

And to see more Friends of the Nest go to… CLICK HERE for Evil Squirrel’s Nest.

To check out the 20 amazing bloggers who also feature 20 different characters from The Evil Squirrel’s Nest CLICK HERE NOW.

Hey Bill, Andy is taking Pigladillo back to his home in San Francisco for a few more days. Then Andy will send the critter back your way (in his private Opera jet.)

For more adventures about Bill’s Creatures and my brother Andy Click HERE for “A Squirrel, a unicorn and a possum walk into a bar…” or something like that. DO it because it is a FUN post about Vampires and woodland creatures. You’ll love it. xoxoxoxox

~ Juliette