Driving at Night – Cover Songs, Ghosts, and Not Much Else.

The subject was bad cover albums.

“The Backstreet Boys doing Pink Floyd. Any album.”

“Ariana Grande doing the entire soundtrack of Oklahoma.”

“Jimmy Buffet doing Rolling Stones Start Me Up.”

“Sammy Hagar could pull that off.”

“Maybe.”

“Lorde doing Abby Road, the entire album.”

“Oh my God that would be awful.”

“Sir Paul doing Poison’s Greatest Hits.”

“You’re killing me.”

“You’re safe baby brother. You’re safe.”

I was driving. My brothers Andy and Val were doing one of their “lists.”

Andy, the eldest of the two, is a professional singer. Val is just a judgmental hipster, and extremely good at it. He is also a finance/money guy. No he does not accept bribes, or do disgusting things with underaged girls, or go out of his way to profit off of breaking laws or hurting people. I love them both to the ends of the earth.

Another voice chimed in. “Stevie Nicks doing Jimmy Buffets Songs We Know By Heart Album.”

“That is brilliant and horrible…what the fuck?” My brother Val slid to the door and almost let himself out as we drove down the freeway at 70mph (maybe 75.)

“What? I’m a ghost but I have an opinion,” said a voice as a body appeared next to Val in the backseat of my car.

“You guys, this is Nigel. Nigel, my brothers Andy and Val.”

“Jewels, there is a Ghost in your car,” said Andy.

“I’m Juliette’s Ghost. Well, not HER ghost, because she is a Vampire, and she isn’t me, but I am a ghost and I am in her car. What of it?”

“It’s OK. Chill out. Nigel is annoying but he’s fine. Everything is fine.” I said, trying not to run off of the road or into anyone.

By the way, Vampires can see ghosts but that doesn’t mean we like them, or at least not usually. We usually do not like ghosts. I just happen to have one who hangs out with me more frequently than I’d like.

Three Vampires, and a ghost, in a car, on the freeway, at night.

We continued on down the road to my house talking about cover songs, uncovered songs, and the state of men’s fashion. Well, they talked, I just listened and drove.

Just another night.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Pixie Dust

“You have to sing to them Max.”

“I’m not singing to a demon.”

“They’re not that different from angels.”

“I don’t sing to angles either.”

“Would you sing to a lover?”

Max a slight smile with a bit of fang. “Absolutely not. They sing to me.”

Andy rolled his eyes at his elder brother. “I’m sure they do.”

A chorus of high-pitched giggling could be heard from a cross the room. Max turned around to see what it was. “My God Andy, what self-respecting Vampire allows Pixies in his home?”

“I do.”

The two Vampire brothers finished their goblets of blood in Andy’s elegant sitting room, then moved out to the garden with a bottle of wine.

The Pixies followed in a shower of multicolored sparks and sat among the twinkle lights in Andy’s  trees. They giggled and straightened out their tiny pink and silver skirts.

Andy looked over at his brother Max, the great Vampire warrior, enforcer, hunter of Vampire Hunters, and general bad ass. He was what people thought of when they thought of a sexy, powerful, alpha Vampire. Andrew on the other hand was an opera singer with a life driven by beauty and love.

“Look how cute they are Max. You really ought to make friends with them.”

Max looked disgusted. “They bite.”

“So do we.”

“I already have Selkies and Werewolves invading my life, not to mention Demons. I don’t need Pixies.”

“Everyone needs Pixies Max. And if you’re nice they won’t bite.”

The conversation moved on to other things like wine, art, gossip, and women. The Pixies listened, then went on to their own quiet conversations, then fell asleep in the branches of Andy’s trees.

And the brothers watched the sunrise, in the quiet summer morning, knowing that the fireworks the next night would be much larger than Pixie dust but not quite as charming.

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

When in doubt wear a dress

“I’m not going to crawl under a building again. It is going to be a hundred degrees out today. That is bad enough if you’re a regular person but we’re Vampires. Remember? Aaron?”

I have four siblings – all male. I am the youngest of the brood. Aaron is smack in the middle.

When I arrived at his downtown law office I was greeted by Aaron and our brother Val (short for Valentine). Val is between Aaron and me. I’d brought my daughter Clara with me.

“Wear a dress,” I told her.

“Why?”, she had to ask. They always have to ask.

“So your Uncle Aaron won’t ask you to do anything. So he won’t ask you to crawl under a building or into an attic crawl space, or between a wall or into a sewer. You know how he is.”

When we were small, young Vampires in the American West, my brother’s had great fun sending their tiny little sister into small spaces. Be it a hole in a tree or a hole in the side of a building, in I’d go.

Consequently we ended up knowing everything about everyone in the growing city in which we lived. We also knew where all the creepers were, and we had a lot of scary fun tormenting them.

The Creepers, as we called them, were a type of, or more of a Vampire of a certain culture (not ours.) Shadow Creepers were Vampires who were content being ghouls who lurk in the shadows and get all overly happy about finding blood. They’re like those socially awkward kids or the intense annoying kids my daughter goes to school with. They aren’t what we call Modern Vampires. They’re disgusting.

And since they tended to be nasty but awkward we took it upon ourselves to annoy them.

While we slept in real houses and in real beds, the Shadow Creepers tended to search out basements, attics, crypts and holes in the riverbank or in the bottom of ;rage paddle boats. We’d search them out and start our childish torments.

One of our favorite activities would be to go into their lairs and make loud sucking noises. Shadow Creepers have such disgusting eating habits. When they’d wake we’d hiss and scream at them. Of course we’d do other things to them. Mean things. Then again, we knew most of them didn’t even have souls. Plus they’re the ones, in our opinion, who give Vampires a bad name.

Even now the few who remain hate us with a passion. Oh well. They could change, and some of them have, but most of them choose to be nasty horrible beings.

Oh, I forgot, and the absolutely worst is running into a Creeper I used to know back in another century. Ugh. Talk about uncomfortable.

Which takes us to present day when one of them shows up occasionally after being found asleep or awakened from a hundred year sleep.

Over the past few years I’ve been asked to go check them out. Aaron is an attorney so for some reason people come to him when they find these unsavory creatures.

I end up covered with dirt and in the face of some dried up husk of an animated corpse of a Vampire. No self-respecting Vampire would ever ever end up like that on purpose. Plus they always act like it is still the nineteenth century. Wake up assholes, that isn’t cute anymore. It doesn’t make you look smart or mysterious. It just makes you look stupid and creepy.

It is always an unpleasant experience finding Shadow Creepers and I’d just rather call a Vampire Hunter to take them out. You know, like when you call someone to get rid of the wasp next under your front porch.

My brothers were both in a good mood. They just wanted to go for lunch and to the art museum. Thank goodness. It was a lovely diversion. The dresses worked out just fine.

Wishing you all a week of pleasant diversions and remember your sun screen.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted here in June 2015

Short Story Sunday: Baker Beach

Baker Beach

Max heard the Nessun dorma ringtone and groaned. It was his brother Andy. It was an emergency. He could sense it.

He picked up and listened.

“Max, thank God you’re there. I’m by Baker Beach. Some asshole redneck in a truck sideswiped me. The car is totaled. Can you get out here? Right now.”

Max untangled himself from the woman next to him and sat up. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine. Like I said, the car is totaled.”

“Call AAA. I’ll call Uber and get you a ride home.”

“You don’t understand man. I have someone locked in the trunk and he is pissed off.”

———-

Andy watched at the back end of his car became even more mangled by the violent pounding from the occupant he’d locked in the trunk. The noise was even worse.

“Stop it NOW,” he yelled, “or I’ll drain every drop of blood from your body, stuff your pathetic putrid smelling carcass and sell it to the highest bidder.”

Than banging and howling stopped right at the moment Max drove up.

He got out of the car. A woman got out of the passenger side. Like Max, she was dressed in black from head to toe.

“Mehitabel, you look beautiful. What are you doing with my brother?”

She smiled and kissed Andy on the cheek. “Glad you’re not hurt. Who do you have in the trunk?”

Max went over to Andy’s car and kicked the bumper. The mangled trunk lid popped open.

“Holy fuck,” Max swore under his breath.

Mehitabel put her hand over her nose and mouth to keep out the stench. “Andy, this isn’t good.”

“I know, this is bad,” said Andy. “But it isn’t every day you find a Sasquatch.”

——————-

After the car was towed and the sun started to come up, the three Vampires stopped at their favorite diner for breakfast. They’d all had their fill of blood the night before but coffee and eggs sounded good right then.

“Is this the fourth or fifth car you’ve totaled this year?” Max took a sip of coffee and shook his head at his brother.

“Second this year,” said Andy. “Hey, it wasn’t my fault.”

Mehitabel looked at the brothers. “So do you think he’ll be alright?”

“The Sasquatch? I don’t know. As long as he stays out of the city I think he’ll be fine,” said Max.

“This is San Francisco. Nobody would notice him,” said Andy.

Max smiled and put his hand on Mehitabel’s knee.

“You guys should get married. I’m serious,” said Andy.

Mehitabel almost spit out her coffee. Max took his hand off of her knee, then thought better of his action and put his hand back on her knee and gave a small squeeze. The waitress came by and poured more coffee.

I guess the moral of this story is that as long as you are always there for each other, don’t ask too many questions, and keep love in your hearts life will be good.

_____________

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

The Eagle Cried

I’m honored to share a poem from my friend, Northern California writer Richard Turton.

 

The Eagle Cried

 

The acrid smell of cordite

Still hovered in the air.

No breeze to wash away

The scent of Satan’s hair.

 

The Medivac’s are fading now,

Their cabins filled with dead.

So many grisly pictures

Are surging through my head

 

Another hill’s been taken

The earth all charred and black

We all know what’s coming;

Tomorrow…”Give it back!”

 

The Eagle cries from barren trees

His tears, he cannot hide.

Where once a proud, young soldier stood

My Warrior Brother, died

 

The scorched ground that surrounds me;

Am I in Dante’s Hell?

This skirmish now is over

We saw them as they fell.

 

My Warrior Brother, Donny,

Died that gruesome day.

He took the bullets meant for me

With his final words did say,

 

“Tell Mom and Sis I loved them!

Please! Don’t let me down!”

I promised I would tell them

A promise I’d soon drown.

 

The Eagle cried that tragic day,

Back in Sixty-Eight.

A promise made…un-kept,

To my Warrior mate.

 

One thing that I’m sure of,

A thing that gives no rest.

The hounds of Hell still battle

Deep within my chest.

 

A bottle’d been my address

For forty years or more.

I’d take ‘most any drug,

I couldn’t find the door.

 

Somewhere there’s a record,

Of drugs and booze and tears.

When I crawled out of the bottle

I’d been buried in for years.

 

Half a decade sober.

Not a real long time.

That’s how long I’m clean tho’,

My life’s becoming mine.

 

The winds of war are blowing by;

In history books they last.

I’m in the winter of my years,

My best days…they have passed.

 

The one thing that I’ve never done

One thing I cannot face:

To visit the Memorial,

The headstone for that place.

 

My daughter said, “You have to go,

To honor those who died!”

I said I know I should…

But that I’d go…I lied

 

Then one day the phone rang;

A call I knew I’d dread.

It was Donny’s sister,

“Please help me!” Karen pled.

 

“I’ve spent these years just searching

I even hired a sleuth.

I finally found out where you live…

I need to know the truth.”

 

“The Army’s always been real vague,

And their answers never matched.

I need to know what happened;

They always seemed detached”

 

“Our Mother has passed on now,

But I still need to know;

I’d really love to meet with you,

Please…just show me how!”

 

The hounds of Hell are roused again;

Their howling has re-started.

I force their shrieks out of my mind,

My path, it has been charted

 

Quiet now, you dogs of war!

It’s time for a new quest!
It’s time for me to wrestle you,

And lay your souls to rest!

 

Then I thought the one thing,

A thought I’d never say,
Should I meet her at The Wall,

And put my hounds at bay?

 

I finally said I’d meet with her,

With a voice that was not mine.

“The Wall is where I’ll meet you.

I’ll see you there at nine.”

 

I saw flowers in her hand,

As she walked my way.

“Yellow roses were his favorite.”

Later she would say.

“Hello, my name is Karen.”

She said when we did meet

“Donny wrote me many things,

I knew that you’d be sweet!”

 

“I know this must be hard for you,

But I really need to know.

Please tell me how my brother died,

That day, so long ago.”

 

The moment had arrived.

I could hide this fact no more.

I said things I’d kept hidden,

Behind my mind’s locked door

 

She took my hand in hers,

And waited patiently.

My head bowed down as I thought

Of words I had to say.

 

I knew my words would stab her heart

But she would not look away.

She watched me as I told her

Of that ghastly day.

 

“Your Brother died in my arms,

In that nameless place.

He took the bullets meant for me

And died as we embraced!”

 

Her head dropped down, when I was done

Her chin upon her chest.

A single tear rolled down her cheek,

“Now Donny’s laid to rest.”

 

I walked with her as she made her way

To the Wall of Stone.

She laid the flowers at the base

Her silent prayer was sown.

 

At last I’ve honored those who fell,

Whose names are etched in rows.

We touched the name of Donny,

Who died so long ago.

 

And we cried…

 

The Eagle’s cry is heard again;

It lives within the Wall!

Each time a name is touched

The Eagle gives his call.

 

 

© Richard Turton

 

warmemorial wall

 

Note from Juliette:

I met Rick Turton through his son who was my daughter’s 4th grade teacher. Rick joined a writing group I’m an administrator for.  We all soon discovered Rick is a talented writer and a man with a sharp sense of humor.  When I first read this poem I had no idea … I ended up choked up. A few years ago I visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. It was such a moving experience – a difficult experience – even though the war is long over. For many it will never be over. Thank you to Rick for your words of love and honor and for allowing me to share this poem.

 

Don’t ask me…Vampire Fun and Games

My phone made a meowing sound. That’s my brother Aaron’s ringtone.

“Hello,” I said. I wondered what he wanted.

“Juliette, how’s it going?”

“I’m not crawling under any houses or going into any basements for you.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because whenever you have to get rid of, or otherwise deal with dried up musty old Shadow Creeping Vampires you call me to do it for you.”

“Juliette…”

“Isn’t that what you have your Vampire Hunter for?”

“I’m not going to ask you to kill anything. Well, not technically. You know what I’m asking. You and Val are the best. He’s on his way over right now.”

“Does Val know what you want Aaron?”

“No, I neglected to tell him.”

This reminded me of an event a few months ago. One of my daughter’s good friends from High School started sending her fervent religious materials and calling her about church events and sin and it was strong and negative. My child was offended and told her friend that she was offended and then told him to never call her again. He was such a nice kid. I’d hoped they’d stay friends.

So when my brother Aaron calls me to do something I’d never ask my kids to do I sort of cringe. There are some things I did in my past, with and without my brothers, that I would never want my children to do.

One of those things is converting regular people into Vampires. And the worst thing about it is that my brother Val and I are the best. Yeah, I don’t talk about that a lot on this blog, you know the whole Vampire thing.

We’re the youngest two of five siblings. Val and I are little more than a year apart. Aaron is five years older than me. Then there are the two older brothers who are eight and ten years older than me. I don’t want to get them involved with this at all because one knows everything and can be a real asshole and control freak. The other is just, well weird and always defers to the eldest when things turn stressful. Either that or he’ll tune out and find some back door to sneak out of.

Our brother Aaron is smack in the middle. I’d like to smack him right now.

Then he said, “Do you mind stopping for coffee on the way?” Then he proceeded to give me an order for six different cups. It made me wonder who would be there.

“Do you want any pastries?” I had to ask in my most snarky voice.

“Very funny. Just get here soon baby sister,” he said. Vampires don’t eat pastries. I wish we did but we don’t.

So to make a long story short I showed up at the Victorian house we all still own in the middle of downtown.

A thirty something couple greeted us. Aaron claimed he’d known them for a while. They’d been thoroughly vetted. He thought they’d be good Vampires. Whatever. I knew I’d be the one who’d end up helping them through the transition.

My great great great great grandmama Lola was there as well. She was uncharacteristically quiet. On the other hand she looked quiet lovely in a flowered sundress covered by a denim jacket. At six hundred and seventy five years she still looks like a twenty six year old young woman. Val and I kissed her cool cheeks and thanked her for being there. You know, just in case. God only knows (or maybe not) how many Vampires she has brought into the world.

Val and I asked the obligatory questions. Do you understand that you’ll be dead for short time before we bring you back. Do you know there is a risk of losing your soul? Do you understand what it means if you lost your soul? Do you know there is a huge risk death, as in final death? Do you understand that you will need to consume human blood to survive? Do you understand that you will have to actually bite into a live human body every once in a while? Do you understand that you will outlive everyone you know? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will not be immortal? You can die. Someone can kill you. You can suddenly die for no reason as well. Do you understand that this can’t be undone? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will ALWAYS be a Vampire?

I didn’t ask, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

There was more but I won’t go into that right now. Actually there is one more item that Aaron, Val, and I stressed more than the other points. “Do you understand that if you tell anyone, or show anyone what you have become that you will die in an extremely unpleasant way.” That is one of the ugly points of being a Vampire that I don’t cover on my nice humorous feel good parenting blog. We don’t take blabber mouths lightly.

“Want to go to Target with me when we’re done here?” I asked Val.

“Sure,” he said. “I need shampoo.”

“I hear you’ve never lost anyone,” the woman said to me. “How many have you converted?”

“How many Vampires have I made?” I glanced at Val. “A lot.”

Val just smiled. Asking a Vampire how many people they’ve turned into Vampires is like asking someone how many sexual partners they’ve had. It is something you just don’t ask anyone.

Then we did what needed to be done. Lola had agreed to stay for a week to help with the transition. It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. Aaron was going to stay at least for a few days, but he lives walking distance away so it isn’t a big deal.

I watched him as he took off his Hermes tie and rolled up the sleeves of his custom made shirt. Always the best dressed Vampire in the room. I love Aaron but I wish he’d occasionally relax (and I don’t mean just rolling up sleeves.)

Val and I ended up finding a dark neighborhood bar and sat for a while doing shots of tequila. We talked about our three elder siblings. It wasn’t all bad. A lot of it was. At least they respected us for our talents.

Then we wandered around Target for about two hours laughing and filling our basket full of all kinds of fun stuff. My kids would have been proud of us, just because of how much fun we were having.

And now I’m home with nobody but my cats and a dog. The husband and still at home child are away. The other child is living far far away. OK, only about six hours away but that is really far if you’re a mom.

I’m not even sure that I’ll tell them what I did today. They won’t approve, or they’ll have questions I don’t want to answer. Everyone has strong opinions on the matter. Vampire families are like all others – we all have strong opinions.

So that was my day. I’m tired and… sometimes when you’re a mom you just don’t need to be bugged. And sometimes when you’re a mom you just want to smile and listen as your family gathers around in the evening and forget your day. Even if you’re a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette by the window