Short Story Sunday: When You Grow Old

Before we get to a story I have a little bit of business.

Thank you again (so many times) to all of my long time followers for continuing to visit this odd little blog.  

Welcome to my new folks and welcome for joining the party. For the new folks take time to browse around to see what this place is all about. If you like this place tell your friends and feel free to share.

This has been a busy weekend. My daughter turned 15 on July 5 so we’ve had a 48 hour party. Today (Sunday) I have take care of some things and help out the elders so I haven’t even thought of a short story or any ideas at all. All this and a coyote party behind my house – and they’re loud. Loud enough to wake the dead, and keep the undead awake as well.

But good news – I’m sharing one of my favorites again with you. Enjoy and have fun.

 

When You Grow Old

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.

My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.

I’d been at Bob’s for six months.

“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I was going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.

I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.

Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Bob had fixed dinner. A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about 3 years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.

I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, I the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”

The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors. “You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.

It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past 10 years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of its past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.

A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.

“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.

“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”

“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.

“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”

“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a Vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life.

“Bob is happy where he is.”

“I think you’re right.”

We walked more and listened to the waves. Then he kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.

The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly and his relationship with the waves.

“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.

He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”

“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”

“You and Stephen can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with Vampires. It’s cool.”

And so it was.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Those we love…caretakers, ghosts and musings

“My mom had no understanding or even concern about me when I told her that I thought she was going to die that night in the hospital. She didn’t remember it so it didn’t happen. She had no idea.”

I was having coffee with my neighbor Kelly. She takes care of her elderly mom Isola.

“She’s at my sister’s house across the country for the next month but I’m still on auto pilot wondering if she needs anything. It’s like having a ghost. I’m so used to seeing her everyday. The kids are still walking to her house after school.” She took a long drag of coffee and looked out over the woods behind our homes. “Her old cat screams and screams when we leave. I miss my mom. I’m enjoying a bit of a break, but still… she drives me nuts but I miss her.”

Out of the corner of my eye I could see a ghostly shape standing by one of the trees. He gave me the finger than vanished.

I thought about the elders I watch out for. Everyday I worry about them. It isn’t as though we have to worry or care, but we do, because we have to. I never saw Kelly or me as caretakers. When I first met her we were in a club doing shots. It was 1987. She had a long blonde hair with a perm in it and shoulder pads on her dress. Now her hair was brown and straight and her shoulders a natural size. We were the same but so different.

Isola is a pretty woman in her 80’s with a sweet charm about her. Everyone love Isola. She drives Kelly nuts, but there is a sweet bond between them. Parents should all wish to have such bonds with their children. Though I have to admit Kelly’s bond with her own children is closer, just as I feel mine is closer with my kids than it is with my mother.

Out in the woods the ghost walked closer and mouthed the words “You wouldn’t understand Vampire.”

I would and did understand. Asshole. I was pissed and reacted by refreshing our coffee and hoping he’d go away. I looked back out the kitchen window and noticed he, Nigel – the ghost was watching Kelly.

He belonged to her, not to me. I’d just assumed because I’m a Vampire that he was attached to me somehow. Then again, why would he be? He just hangs out with me because I can see him and hear him. He hangs out with me because I’m not like Kelly.

Or I could be wrong.

We chatted more about Kelly’s mom. She told me stories in a Southern accent and dialect of her family that made me laugh out loud.

After she’d left I called my own mother. She never ages or gets confused. She never needs anything from me. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she does need something, like my attention and my interest and my company every once in a while. I’m just thinking out loud here.

I was going to look through my volumes of poetry for something to end this with but when I went to my shelves I found the ghost standing there giving me one of his judgmental looks.

“What?” I stood accusing him before he could accuse me.

“In another life we could have grown old together as friends do.”

For some unknown reason I was somewhat touched by his words. “We still can Nigel. You know, in our own way, we can grow old together.”

He smiled and vanished into the old leather bound volumes.

There is no longer the need for poetry right now. Just the knowledge that somethings, like friendship and love and the need to care who need us never gets old. Sure it sounds sappy, and you know how I hate most sap, but it is true.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

A Recipe for Change (with Vampires and Horrible Green Things)

Some folks are set in their ways. Sometimes that is due to youth and inexperience or fear of growing up. Sometimes it is because someone has been set in their ways for so long. For centuries. It frustrates the crap out of me but I keep trying.

My philosophy is to never get so set in my ways that I don’t want to experience new things. Better yet, not get so set in my ways and opinions that I get stuck permanently.

I received a call from Tellias, the elderly ancient Vampire. He and Eleora are over 2,000 years old but they look like teens. Talk to them for a few minutes and you’ll realize that they are not young at all.

My greatest fear is to one day show up at their farmhouse and find a pile of ashes or worse. They are old and fragile and I love them more than anything.

Tellias whispered over the phone in an almost panicked voice. “Someone dropped a box off at our door. We don’t know what to do with it.”

The words rang in my ears. What could be in the box? A severed head? Bones? Goblin changelings? Government secrets? Jimmy Hoffa’s mummified remains? An angry cobra?”

I arrived at the farmhouse to be welcomed by the old dog Ginger. She staggered over to me like quiet friendly drunk and licked my hand.

Tellias stood on the porch in a straw hat, black tuxedo pants and a white unbuttoned tuxedo shirt (the kind with a thousand little pleats.) He was wearing red socks. Eleora had on one of the ugliest dresses I’ve ever seen – some sort of gray with green nubby stripes with an elephant design stitched around the edges with yellow crystal eyes. It hung on her a few sizes too large so she’d tied it with a yellow scarf. Matching yellow flip flops were on here feet. I kept my sunglasses on. I made a mental note to go through her closet and take her shopping… again.

They stared at me with concerned looks. Eleora took my hands and they ushered me into the kitchen. There on the table was a large box full of broccoli.

Tellias leaned against the counter with a disgusted look on his face. “We grow our own Swiss chard.”

“We like that,” said Eleora.

“We grow it,” said Tellias.

“We grow it ourselves,” said Eleora.

“I like red bell peppers,” said Tellias.

“Those are good,” said Eleora.

“Roasted,” added Tellias.

“Yes, roasted over a fire, “said Eleora.

“A hot fire,” said Tellias.

Eleora wrapped her fingers on the table. “What are we going to do with all of that broccoli?”

“Where did it come from?” I knew I wouldn’t get a straight answer but I asked anyway.

“They thought we looked pale,” said Eleora.

“We’re supposed to be pale,” said Tellias.

“We’re pale people,” said Eleora.

“We’re Vampires.”

“We don’t like broccoli.”

“What were they thinking?”

“What indeed.”

“It looks like brains.”

“We’re not zombies. We despise broccoli.”

I stood, exhausted. They both stood there staring at me, waiting for an answer.

I read the small note that was left on the box. I took a deep breath. “It is just a box of vegetables from someone who thought they were doing you a favor. I’ll make a note to tear their hearts out next time I see them. Will that make you feel better?”

Tellias scowled at me. “You don’t need to get all pissy and sarcastic with us Juliette.”

“Broccoli,” spat Eleora.

“We cooked and fed a bunch of it to Ginger but it gave her gas,” Tellias said.

“She liked it,” said Eleora.

“But it wasn’t a great idea,” said Tellias.

“No, not a good idea,” said Eleora with a shake of her head.

“Not at all,” said Tellias. “So what should we do with it? We can’t feed it all to the dog.”

“We don’t care for it,” said Eleora. “We don’t like it.”

Tellias put a hand on my arm. “Do you want it?”

There must have been 10 pounds of the stuff in the box. I texted a friend of mine who works with a homeless shelter to see if she wanted it for the hot meals they cook.

Eleora looked at the box. “How can people taste so nice when they eat that stuff?”

I heard the screen door open with a screech – not of any paranormal creature but because it needs some WD40. Anyway, something smelled good and there was Cody, my dear young Vampire (for only 2 years now) standing with something in a pie pan with a dish towel over it.

I’m going to assume, actually I know, he must have spent the night with Lola. Yes, Cody DID indeed spend the night in the cottage on the farm with Lola my g-g-great-grandmamma (born in 1365 but looks all of 26.) Anyway, there was Cody – Vampire hipster and all around nice guy.

He smiled showing a little bit of happy fang. “I brought quiche. Used some of that broccoli your friends brought over.”

I took in the lovely scent. “It smells wonderful Cody.”

“Gluten free with local organic cheese and uncured bacon.”

Tallias scowled. “Thank you Cody for the thought but real Vampires don’t eat Quiche or broccoli.”

“Oh come on,” said Cody.  “Don’t be like Sam I Am, give it a try.”

Tellias shook his head. “We’re Vampires.”

Cody tried to turn on the charm. “Sure but one cannot exist on blood alone. Give it a try. Just a small piece.”

I spoke up. “I’ll make coffee and have a small piece with you. Where’s Lola?”

Cody smiled again but a different kind of smile. “Asleep. We had a big night on the town last night. She couldn’t handle the sunlight this morning.”

Eleora quietly got out a few plates. “I was 300 years old before I tasted cheese.”

Cody looked genuinely surprised. “Really? Wow. I can’t imagine life without cheese.”

She fussed with a few napkins and silver forks. “I like Stilton the best with a small slice of fig. Not preserves with all the sugar but just a thin slice of fresh ripe fig,” said Eleora. “I get the figs right off of the tree out back.”

“Good choice,” I said.

“With a nice bit of blood warm blood to go along with it. Do you want me to call someone to come over? Tellias call 911. They’ll send those nice young officers out again. They’re local too. Not organic but they’re wonderful and sweet.”

I couldn’t let them do this. Oh no no no. “No. Absolutely not. You have blood in the refrigerator. I’ll take you out in a few days, or Cody and Lola will take you out. You don’t need to lure anyone here.”

Tellias continued to look unhappy. “Cody brought over a tofu and broccoli stir-fry last night.”

“Last night,” said Eleora.

“We still love you Cody even if you are dead set on killing us with your cooking,” said Tellias.

“We haven’t loved a new Vampire as much as we love you since a long long time,” said Eleora.

“Not for a long long long time,” said Tellias who draped his arm around Cody’s shoulder.

I took a bite of the Quiche. “Oh Cody, you’ve outdone yourself. This is lovely.”

I always pick up the phone when the old ancient Vampires call. I always come over. I always take care of every emergency because I have to. That is what we do for those we love. Even if it is vegetable. But next time it has to be an artichoke because they at least have hearts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

True love keeps you young forever!

True love keeps you young forever!

Cody’s Crustless Quiche with Veggies

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 scallion chopped fine
½ tsp. dried thyme
4 of 5 sliced mushrooms
4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
Dash of nutmeg
8 oz. spinach, washed
½ cut broccoli chopped really fine
5 eggs
8 oz. Jack cheese, shredded (Cody likes the nice texture of the Jack)
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large frying pan, sauté the diced onion in the olive oil until the onion is tender. Add broccoli until it turns a nice bight green and just begins to get tender. Add mushrooms and spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts. Remove from heat.

In a  bowl, beat the eggs. Add the shredded cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg and thyme, and stir to combine.

Add the veggies and bacon to the eggs and cheese, and stir it all up.

Pour into a greased pie plate. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.