Short Story Sunday: Lucky Me

“I took the bus from Los Angeles to Sacramento. At the station I saw an old chum of my brother’s from High School. He said he’d give me a ride, but then he got fresh. I wasn’t going to, you know, I have cash to pay for gas. I’m not… so he dumped me here. I figured if I walked…”

“Get in. You’ll be safe. I promise,” he said. It had just started to rain. “I have a house by the lake. You can stay the night. Where are you going?”

“Reno,” she told him. “I have a teaching job waiting for me. It starts in two weeks.”

He found out she’d left a short abusive marriage. Out of the fire into the frying pan. She was too trusting of people, all bright eyed and perky, even after being left on the side of the road by a creepy pervert.

“I’m Val,” he said holding out his hand.

“Eve,” she said. “Your hand is colder than mine. You’re freezing.”

He smiled. She felt safe for the first time in a long time.

“Val. I like that. Is it short for Valentino?”

“Valentine.”

“I like that better,” said Eve.

They drove for another half hour to a large cabin by the edge of a lake. Cabin was an understatement, this was a 3,000 square foot luxury home.

“Go change,” Val told her. “I have something to show you.”

She went into one of the bedrooms, feeling as if she’d been there before.

When Eve returned, in drawstring pajama pants and a comfy sweatshirt, she found Val sitting on the couch in the main living area with his laptop on the coffee table in front of him. A glass of red wine was in his hand.

“I feel better. Thanks for picking me up again,” said Eve, as she sat down next to Val.

“It’s what I do Eve. Did anyone else pick you up this week?”

“A couple from San Francisco picked me up on Thursday. I had them drop me off in Truckee. Oh and last Saturday a trucker picked me up. He was hauling a load of furniture to Salt Lake City. I went all the way to Reno with him. Nice guy. He told me about his wedding plans. What did you want to tell me?”

Val turned to the laptop. “Your body was found last week by some Cal Trans workers getting the road ready for winter. They found your suitcase. There were also two other young women, both killed and dumped within a couple weeks of you. Both disappeared from the Sacramento Gray Hound station in October of 1987.”

“What about Tom?”

“Tom Turner was arrested last night. He wallet was found under the body of one of the other women. He’d also kept souvenirs. Your purse and heart shaped locket were found in his house.”

“Wow. I didn’t know about the others. Oh Val. Thank God it is over. What happened to the other two women?”

“They didn’t stay,” Val said turning back to the computer. “After the bodies were found reports came in of a hitchhiker in a red leather jacket, with long blonde hair. She’d been seen on the highway for the past thirty years.”

“You know, I don’t remember when I go out at night. Not until they drop me off.”

“I know Eve. It’s ok.”

“I’m glad they arrested the sick bastard.”

“So am I. If you’d told me his name earlier I would have taken care of him myself.”

“I didn’t remember it until now. Val, do you think I’ll go out again?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think I’ll move on? I guess see the light?”

“I can’t answer that, but you know you can stay here as long as you want.”

“I saw some other ghosts out tonight. They’re so lost.”

“Donner Party folks?”

“How’d you know.”

“They’re always out there.”

“What if you go away? Will I have to wonder around with them?”

“I won’t go away. I’ll always be here for you Eve.”

“Lucky me being picked up by a Vampire.”

Val smiled. “Lucky you.”

The Travelers. A Tale of Mystery, Love, and Hope

A Christmas Tradition at Vampire Maman

The Travelers

A Tale of Mystery, Love, and Hope
from Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman

The night was falling on the travelers, Daniel and his son Tad and daughter Ada. They had to stop before the dark of night and freezing snowfalls. The father and his children were finally going home, from the broken dreams of gold to the city where Daniel had found a job in his profession of typesetter and reporter. When his wife had passed on he followed his dream to the California gold fields taking his teenage children with him. For good or bad they’d made the new state their home.

As the snow began to fall they came upon a cabin, the door boarded up from the outside, the windows shuttered. It looked deserted and like shelter for the night. Dan and his son pried the nails off of the boards, which secured the door and went into the two-room structure. Inside was a cozy room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a wall full of books. Dan sent Tad out to bring in firewood.

Ada went to the bedroom and called her father. On the bed was a man, still as the night, cold and pale as the snow. In his arms, wrapped in blanket was a tiny girl in a red velvet hat, a scarf covered up most of her small face. She was also still and pale.

Ada’s heart sank. The poor souls in the bed looked to have passed on. But why were they trapped in the cabin? Had they been sick? Why were they not buried with a prayer and the proper respect? The man’s coat was obviously expensive and of the finest materials. His boots were of the most beautiful leather and style. His face was handsome and refined. Ada took off her glove and touched the back of her hand to the man’s face. He was indeed cold as ice and still as death. She called in her father.

“I know this man.” He said. “A fine man. A poet. I heard him read when I was in San Francisco. What a tragic pity to find him here with his child.”

The looked upon the bodies of the father and child when they saw the slightest movement and the man opened his eyes.

“My daughter, please help her,” whispered the man on the bed.

Ada took the girl in her arms. She weighed almost nothing. The child let out a sigh. Ada brought the girl into the other room and sat in a rocking chair by the fire Tad had built. The girl started to move and put her face against Ada’s warm neck. Ada soon fell asleep with dreams of flowers and all things good.

In the morning the poet and child were gone.

The travelers found box covered with red paper. In the box was a golden heart and a note to Ada.

Dearest Ada,

This heart belonged to my dear wife who was murdered by villains of the vilest kind. Please wear it knowing that you will always be loved and you will always be a part of us.

TK

On the table in the front room was a bounty of food. Where had it come from? There were fresh baked goods, milk and juice, exotic fruits, sausages and chocolates. Under small quilted cozies were pots with fragrant tea and coffee. Another note was slipped under the teapot.

Daniel read the note aloud to his children.

My heart thanks you for your generosity.

You saved our lives.

You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.

You never judged us.

You never feared us.

The love between parent and his children is burned into your heart like the fires that burn in the heavenly stars.

My daughter and I will never forget you.

Your children and their children and their children will always be safe and watched over and kept from the harm of wicked men. I owe and promise you that.

Never fear the night or the darkness for we will always be watching your back.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

~ Thomas Kent

As the travelers ate they talked of the sweet dreams they’d had the night before, along with stiff necks they had that morning. Daniel and his children  spoke of Mr. Kent and his precious daughter and wondered why they’d been trapped in the cabin.

Many many years later after a long and wonderful life full of romance and adventure, Ada fingered the heart, which she still wore. As she took her last breath she said, “I have never known fear, only love”.

An ocean away Thomas Kent felt an icy wind, then hope and gratitude in his cold Vampire heart.

~ End

Cold Morning Coffee And A Ghost

My husband is rebuilding our lower deck.

That isn’t remarkable except for the fact that he is doing a beautiful job, and that the lower deck is where the Ghosts hang out.

On any given day I can see one of two of them standing out there looking out over the oak trees behind the house no doubt with hearts heavy with ghostly thoughts of what might have been. Or maybe they’re just enjoying the view in a spot where they know demons and excorcist alike are not welcome.

Most of them came to California during the California Gold Rush where they died along with their dreams of wealth and glory. Some of them just dreamed of getting away from the poverty, social restrictions, and other constraints of their former lives. They broke free from their own society only to die a few years later on the banks of the river a block from my home.

“I didn’t die here.”

Sitting across from me was Nigel, The Ghost. He takes my coffee cup in his semi transparent hand and slides it across the table, then takes in the aroma.

“There isn’t any blood in this cup is there?” Nigel asks me.

“No,” I say. “You would have smelled it. Why are you such an asshole?”

“I was just asking.”

“No you were being snarky because that is what Ghosts do.”

“Fine.” He put his face back in the cup, then looked up at me with his black eyes that suddenly turned to a bright hazel blue. He pushed his shaggy black hair out of his eyes and took a deep breath.

“My life was good before I died. It wasn’t always that way up until my foster family adopted me. Before then I didn’t know that you could put a turkey in the oven at home and cook it. I didn’t know that people could be nice to each other all the time. I didn’t know that some parents never went to prison, or passed out on the floor, or brought home boyfriends who’d try to… well, I just didn’t know. I suspected that there were other ways of living but it just seemed like fiction.”

He looked out the window then stood up and put his face close to the glass. “The deck looks good. Teddy is doing a great job. The Gold Rush Ghosts like to go up there and look at all of the tools. They’re kind of odd but I’ve gotten used to them. There is a big difference between someone who died in 1866 and someone who died in 1986. Did you realize that I would have been sixty one years old now? Sixty one. Six one. I bet my hair would be gray, or at least the temples might be white. A few weeks before I died I met a woman in an art gallery in San Francisco. We exchanged numbers. Had I lived we might be married now with a couple of kids going to college over Zoom. I left her a message, and she left me one. It was phone tag. Then it was Thanksgiving. Then I was murdered and I never saw her again. I don’t even know if she knew I died. I’m sure she must have if she followed the art world. She must have known.”

“What was her name,” I asked.

“I don’t remember. I was hit in the head so I don’t remember a lot of things. Or maybe it is just this ghost thing that scrambles my brain. I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know. Do Vampires forget their former lives?”

“Some do,” I answered, “but it is usually intentional.”

“I understand,” said Nigel. “You need to warm the coffee up. It’s cold.”

“I’ll warm it up and make another cup for me,” I told him.

I made coffee. The cats circled Nigel’s feet. I watched him as he sat thinking about his former life and the woman he’d met back in 1986. Before the water even got to a boil he faded away and vanished back into his Ghost world, or wherever he goes when he fades away.

I made more coffee and looked out on the deck. My kids are still here from Thanksgiving. We’re going to help Teddy put up the stairs today.

The morning is still cold, clear, and everyone is asleep.

Right now I’m looking out over the deck and there are no Ghosts. Only a lone squirrel sitting on the edge where a rail will eventually go.

December is almost here. I guess if you’re a Ghost it never changes, but then again, I’m not a Ghost, and they aren’t too open about giving answers.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

While Angels Sleep – A Visit to the Historic Sacramento Cemetery

There is a quiet beauty about historic cemeteries that I can’t always put into words. So many lives ask to be remembered and stories beg to be told, or maybe not. Earlier this week (10/27/20) my daughter Clara and my friend Amelia joined me in a visit to the historic Sacramento Historic City Cemetery. We’ve had no rain so many of the usual flowers and grassy areas are dry and brown, but it does little to take away from the beauty of the place.

I’ve posted about this cemetery in the past. At the end of the post I’ll share links of those posts and posts about other cemeteries and graveyards I’ve shared, and a map of where you can find the historic Sacramento Cemetery.

Click on any of the images below to get a larger expanded view.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Cemetery/Graveyard Links on Vampiremaman.com

The Quiet Beauty of the Dead (Sacramento)
City of Angels: Colma, California
Mountain View, California
Folsom, California
Little Willy
Florence Italy

A Vampire Muses About Natural Disasters, 2020, Halloween, and New Discoveries. YES there is fun to be had in 2020.

What we’re talking about today.

I just found out about a tsunami warning issued following 7.5 magnitude earthquake off Alaska Peninsula today.

Along with living in fire country, I also live in earthquake country. I’m not so close that if the Big One hits San Francisco or Los Angeles I’ll be in any danger. If a big one hits San Francisco I will be able to feel it.

The tsunami warning signs at the coast are lovely graphics but they are a reminder that it can, and will, happen again. We don’t know when or exactly when but it will.

Almost everyone around where I live has a story about either the 1906 or 1986 San Francisco earthquakes, or ones in Northridge, San Fernando, and Long Beach, or Humboldt and Santa Cruz Counties.

Which brings us back to everything else in 2020…

Weird stuff always happens to me so I’m doing ok during all of the current weirdness. October usually brings it on for me with general death and distruction, but any month works for stupid shit and unusual nobody wants to deal with.

On the other hand October is usually the best month of the year. First of all it cools off. It isn’t cooling off this year. But hey, my kids are coming up to visit. Woo Hoo.

I don’t know if the leaves will even change this year or just stay green and everything will evolve into evergreens. At least the migrating birds are migrating and sticking to schedule.

Fire season isn’t over yet. I watch the skies and the dry grass and trees hoping that nothing around me, or anyone else will catch fire. We’re tired of fires. We’re tired of the BS that surrounds them with the lack of fire cruse or aid for those in the way of fires, and PG&E bull shit. Why the hell are all of the power lines still above ground? It know it is expensive to bury them but isn’t it more expensive to have the entire Western United States burn down every single summer and fall?

Alice my dog and I go on long hot dry walks. We’d like it to cool down.

There are two weeks left until the election. I don’t suspect that all of the political weirdness will end because no matter what the results there will be… let’s just hope whatever the reaction is to the outcome that it doesn’t rival a Stephen King novel.

I’m still not sure if I’ll carve the pumpkins on my front porch. If I do I might as well pull out my magic witch hat and dress up the dog. The kids will be here for Halloween too so no matter what it will be fun. Vampires always find ways to have fun.

What else is new.

My daughter sent me this video. I laughed and almost cried.

I also discovered Owlkitty this week. I love Owlkitty.

The Crocker Art Museum will now be open four days a week. I am so jazzed. I’ve made reservations for my birthday.

I’m just thinking out loud. What are you thinking about and talking about?

No matter what wear a mask, stay safe, talk to your kids, hug your cats and dogs or whatever critters you call family, don’t be a dick, be kind, and as always kiss a Vampire. xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Autumn Leaves (aren’t falling quite yet) and a Ghost

Despite the unusual heat it still feels like fall. The cool mornings and placement of the sun triggers that fall feeling I love so much. The bird songs are also different with the transition between the birds who fly to the South and those who winter over here. 

Yesterday it was hot and dry. I can’t remember a 90°F day in October. 

The only leaves that are falling are on the oak trees that just turn brown and dump into my driveway. All of the other trees are still green. At least the trees are green. Everything else is brown. The photo here is from a walk I took yesterday with my dog Alice. 

Thoughts come to Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and birthdays. We already celebrated my mother’s 491st  birthday. Next comes my brother Val on the 22nd, and then mine on the 23rd. That doesn’t include the dozen friends who also have October birthdays. 

This morning I was cleaning off the back deck. Don’t raise your eyebrows, Vampires have to take care of their homes just like anyone else, especially now that we’re all staying home a lot more. 

As I swept dirt and leaves off of the top deck down below on the construction of the lower deck I heard a “What the hell? Are you trying to kill me?”

I looked down to see Nigel the ghost standing there. 

“Oh shut up, you’re already dead. It isn’t like anything is going to hurt you or even fall on you,” I said.

“Come down to the lower deck,” he said.

“What so I can listen to your insults?”

“No,” he said with a quick smile. “So I can make you feel like the seasons are changing.”

Construction is going on so the stairs are gone. By the time I went inside, through the garage, and out back to the construction site I could hear music. A band, literally a band of ghosts were on my partially built deck playing, Tahiti: A Summer Night At Sea.

Nigel held out both of his hands just like Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. “Dance with me,”

I was wearing dirt covered jeans, wet flip flops, and a worn out tank top without a bra. “Not now Nigel.”

He took my hands and suddenly I was in a sea foam green dress with a light twirling skirt, my hair was in a riot of curls fastened with a diamond clip, and my feet were bare on a floor of sand. 

I found myself being led around the deck, expertly stepping around any tools left out. 

“For a Vampire you have absolutely no rhythm,” he said.

“I never said I could dance,” I said. 

Suddenly he stopped and we were back on the deck, and I was in my old dirty jeans again. Nigel glanced at the ghostly guitar player.

He started to play, Autumn Leaves.

“Let’s try this again,” said Nigel.

“So any plans for Halloween?” I asked.

“Some major haunting. It will be awesome.”

“Anyone in particular?” I had to ask.

“I think I know who killed me.”

“What?” I stopped. Nigel pulled me close. He seemed exceptionally cold, and that is pretty cold considering I’m a Vampire. Then again it it was HOT outside.

“Don’t stop. Yes, I remembered her face. It was the last thing I saw as I lay there in under the shower with my skull smashed open.”

“She? It was a woman?”

“Yes, but I don’t quite remember who she was. My memory sort of went to hell after she killed me. So what are you doing for Halloween?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing at all?”

“2020.”

“What about your birthday?”

“I’m going to the art museum. It will be the first time since it closed in March.”

“Ohhhh I should go too.”

“You might as well considering it’s your birthday too. I have four tickets but since you’re a ghost you won’t need a ticket or a mask for that matter.”

He smiled. “I’d be 61 if I wasn’t dead. Hey, can we stop by my grave. It isn’t far from the museum. On my birthday people leave letters and drawings there. Some of them even pour Whiskey and wine on my grave. You know, sharing a toast to me. I bet my body is completely pickled by now and no doubt looking almost as good as the day before I died.”

Then he stopped, and the music stopped. “It is so damned dry around here. But do you feel like it might be fall yet?”

“A little,” I said.

I looked up and saw my husband Teddy on the top deck waving down. Nigel waved up and yelled, “be a good Vampire and take her someplace cool.” Then he vanished before I could tell him thank you for the short escape.

That’s all. Nothing else happened. The ghosts all vanished. Teddy and I went inside and caught up on our day and our kids, and the usual Vampire news.

I didn’t suddenly see any fall leaves fall out of the sky, but my trees are full of green oranges and lemons that will be ripe in December or January. 

Happy fall everyone and happy haunting.

  • Stay safe
  • Be kind
  • Wear a mask
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Give thanks
  • Vote
  • Talk to your kids
  • Check in on those who are ancient or need extra help
  • And kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman