Short Story Sunday: When You Grow Old

I have to go to the Drive In Theater to get my daughter’s car. She was there last night with her boyfriend and the starter on the car went out. After watching “IT” for the third time the kids were still waiting for the tow truck. Service is not a priority these days with AAA. They got home just before sunrise. Anyway, we’re taking care of that today. Needless to say I didn’t write a short story this morning.

I’m posting one of my all time favorites, first posted in 2013. I hope you enjoy it. xoxo 
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

When You Grow Old

A short story by Juliette Kings

“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 Josh 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.

Random visits and musings

I answered the phone to a paper thin voice whispering “Come quick. Come quick. I need help.”

“What is wrong? Are you hurt?”

“I can’t get up. I caught my leg in a hole in the floor. I think I broke it.”

It was Eleora.

“Can you feel it?”

“I can’t even see it. I broke it off. Completely off.”

“Where is Tellias?”

“Out. He went out. He has been gone a long long long long time. I think we can get my leg back on. Bring a needle.”

Then without so much as a goodbye she hung up.

Tellias didn’t answer his cell phone. He never did. I called their neighbor John but didn’t get an answer.

Why was there a hole in the floor? Maybe she was in the barn. And no, I can’t call 911. Eleora is a Vampire. So am I.

Those of you who frequent this blog know that I have ancient elderly Vampires, Tellias and Eleora, who are near and dear to me. They look 19 or 20 years old but are well over 2,000.

They would sit alone for weeks if they lost their car keys or phone. Or they’ll call me three or four times a day for odd reasons.  I worry about them letting in strangers or accidentally doing harm to someone.

I arrived at the farmhouse, along with my 15 year old Clara, and found Eleora sitting on the front porch. She wore a patchwork robe and one pink fuzzy slipper shaped like a cat. Her chestnut curls spilled over her shoulder. I only saw one leg.

“Where is your leg,” I asked, almost out of breath.

She smiled. “I’m sitting on it.” Then she adjusted herself and showed me her other leg.

“You said your leg was severed.”

“No. I said nothing like that. I said I thought it was broken. But it wasn’t. I’m fine.”

Just then Tellias drove up. He’d been gone for a few hours. It was nothing but a trip to the hardware store and to a wine shop.

They both mentioned that I never come visit them anymore. I was there three days ago. I’m there at least three times a week if not more.

Tellias poured goblets of blood with sprigs of rosemary and sage for everyone. We sat on the porch and watched the little song birds and visited. I didn’t scold them for wasting my time. That would have been a total waste of my breath.

When Clara and I left we were hugged and kissed over and over. They sang us a silly parting song and kissed us again.

On the way home Clara said, “I really love Tellias and Eleora. They’re so sweet and so random.”

I didn’t say anything. My mind jumped to all of the 30 million other things I had going on. It seems like I used to get more done and enjoy little projects and now I just go all the time but…

Maybe I’ll just tend to my rosemary and sage plants and be thankful for the love I have in my life.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

I walked into her bedroom. I’d never met the woman. I’d heard of her, but the details are always the same. She is pretty and smart and fun thirty something woman and not interested in a serious relationship. Perfect for my brother. By the way, my brother is a Vampire. So am I. But you already knew that.

They were on the bed but nothing had happened yet. Her shirt was off. So was his, along with his belt and the top button of his jeans was undone. His mouth was on her neck.

“Val. Valentine you need to come with me.” I almost growled it out. The woman screamed. I thought her name is Courtney but I could have been wrong. It didn’t matter. She screamed again. Val’s eyes glowed red at me.

“Stop with the eye glow. We have to go. Family emergency. Now.”

“Courtney, darling, I’m so sorry. I have to go with my sister,” he said, giving his lady friend a kiss and grabbing his shirt and belt. She covered her chest and stared at me, then looked at Val, then looked back at me. You can tell we’re related. There is a very strong family resemblance. I could see the bite marks on her neck. He’d be back. Val almost always goes back, especially to one this lovely. Plus he owed her some future sweet dreams for my barging into her bedroom. On the good side, in the morning she’ll forget any of this happened. That is one advantage of being a Vampire – we can make them forget.

An hour earlier I’d received a call. “Come now, come now.” The quiet voice almost hissed in my ear. Dealing with the elderly can be both rewarding and heart breaking and sometimes it just pisses me off because I’m the one… I love them, but sometimes it would be nice if I had some help.

“I thought you were staying with them,” I snapped at my brother.

“I can’t be there 24/7. I needed a break. I need my own space sometimes.”

“We saw Wicked tonight. A nice family outing. Why is it that every time I go to the theater or on vacation or have something nice planned someone calls me with an emergency. It could be our parents or Andy or the Elders or… all I ask for is one night. Just one.”

Val mumbled something but I just cranked up the radio.

Old Tellias met us at the door of the Queen Anne style farm-house. His pale hair was around his shoulders making him looking more like a Victorian Angel rather than a Vampire. He wore an open tuxedo shirt and jeans like some college student trying to make a fashion statement. It was just the way he dressed, like he had his eyes closed.

“She isn’t well. She isn’t well at all,” he said in a paper thin whisper.

Eleora was not well. They’d been together for 2,000 years and even now as they slowed down their love  stayed strong. Anyone that old is bound to be fragile and that is exactly what these two are.

Eleora was on the fainting couch wearing a flowered sundress and an old stretched out sweater. Her long dark curls were dull and hanging limp in the heat about her shoulders.

To anyone else she’d be a young woman of maybe 19 or 20. My head spun. Eleora was at least 2,500 years old if not more. We knew Tellias was born before the birth of Christ, but not too long before.

It didn’t matter. She lay still as death wrapped in an old sweater and covered in a quilt, not breathing, or making her heart pump. She wasn’t dead but she wasn’t alive. She just was.

“When was the last time she ate anything?”

Tellias gave me a guilty look. “Maybe last week.”

“Why didn’t you call me or at least called John next door. We could have brought you something. Have you been out of the house at all?”

He shook his head. “We lost the car keys.” Again. They were always misplacing their car keys. Any spares were long gone. “I didn’t want to bother anyone.” he added.  “You’re all so busy.”

It is frustrating to see that pretty face of his and know that the brain behind it isn’t working at full capacity. Maybe it isn’t his brain. Maybe his spirit is just tired.

I reached up to the top of a bookshelf where he kept spare keys in a box. I dragged my brother out to the barn. The old 1955 Ford truck was still out there. After charging the battery (thank goodness for jumper cables) I got it started.

Tellias stood in the barn doorway not saying a word. This Vampire who once took charge of every situation was now so helpless and confused. I still admired him. Unfortunately it wasn’t a night to express those thoughts.

When I returned to the house Eleora was sitting up. I sat next to her and took her cold hand. She curled her fingers around mine.

“Nobody needs us anymore. Most of our close friends are gone.”

It broke my heart to hear her say that. “Oh Eleora, dear Eleora, don’t talk like that.”

“Ginger died.”

I didn’t expect that. Ginger was their old dog, a large yellow lab mix who’d shown up about 10 years ago. Everyone loved Ginger, but nobody more than Eleora and Tellias.

“When? Why didn’t you call me?” I asked still in shock.

“She wouldn’t get up.” said Tellias. “Her legs wouldn’t move.”

“We sat with her all night,” said Eleora.

“All night, until she stopped wagging her tail,” said Tellias.

“Until her heart stopped,” said Eleora.

“Then she was gone,” said Tellias.

“She died.” said Eleora.

“Ginger went to where all good dogs go,” said Tellias.

“Ginger was a good dog,” said Eleora. “A good good dog.”

The old dog seemed fine last time I was over, but that was two weeks ago. Tellias buried her in the orchard under the walnut trees.

That is why Eleora was so sad and out of sorts. Her dear dog friend was gone. It always amazes me how much love dogs and cats have and how their loss is so heavy on our hearts.

Eleora squeezed my hand.  “Tellias shouldn’t be so worried about me. He worries too much. He worries all the time. He worries. It is what he does. I’m glad you’re here. I loved that dog.”

“So did I,” I said trying to blink away the tears. Even Vampires have tears for dogs they love.

Eleora put her hands on my face and kissed me on the forehead and wiped my eyes. “You’ll be fine dear Juliette.  I am glad you’re here. I miss Valentine being around. He had to go to the city he said. Not where you live. He went to the big city. But he said he’d be back all summer. All summer long.”

Val had vanished. I eventually found him in the upstairs bathroom throwing up blood (not his own of course.)  His skin had taken on sort of a greenish tint, which brought me back to Wicked. Anyway, he wasn’t well.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me,” he said, looking as dead as a Vampire can look.

As soon as I entered the room I could tell by the smell what was going on. “Courtney is pregnant.”

Yes, one thing that makes a Vampire male sicker than a dog is blood from a pregnant woman. A look of surprise came over his face. No of course he isn’t the father. He couldn’t be. It turned out she had an on again off again boyfriend of three years. So much for that. I’ll make sure Val gets her a nice gift for the baby – a crib or a rocking chair or a nice fat savings bond.

Val gave me one of his looks. It is kind of a scowl with a bit of fang. “What are we doing? I mean what are we really doing Juliette? We used to travel the world and have grand wild adventures. We were the Vampires of lore. We ruled our world.”

“We were out of control idiots. Remember?”

“But what about now?”

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re taking care of each other. You never asked me how Wicked was?”

Val put his arm around my shoulder. “How was Wicked dear sister?”

“Amazing! It was so much fun.”

We talked for a bit more until Tellias came up to see what we were up to. I called Pete at the Bottle & Blood store and ordered a delivery of a couple of cases of mixed blood to be delivered to the farm that night.

So where are we?

I guess we’re here we’re supposed to be. We’re where we are right now. We’re keeping the fires alive in our cold Vampire hearts and souls. I guess we can’t ask for anymore than that.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teddyanddog

 

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

 

 

 

The very old and fragile…love, life and ashes

Around midnight I got a call and a bad feeling.

The whispery voice on the other end said “Come now. Come now. We need you now.”

It was the elders Vampires Tellias and Eleora . The very old and fragile ones who live alone on their old farm by the river. Their judgment is sometimes off in the modern world. Confusion and fear set in at times so I must be available to help. I gathered up my family (13 year old Clara, 16 year old Garrett and my husband Teddy) and we headed out not knowing what to expect.

Tellias met us at the door, his face looking gaunt, his pale hair hanging around his shoulders.  He wore a black smoking jacket and black tuxedo pants. Flip flops were on his feet. He could pass for 19 but he is much much older than any of us.

“I can’t get her out,” he said to us. He voice was a dry and raspy whisper.

Teddy put his arm around Tellias “Where is Eleora?”

Tellias led us to the basement. We went down the stairs and found her trapped behind a large fallen shelf.

“I couldn’t get her out. The shelf is metal. I couldn’t cut it.”

Her eyes were closed, her skin cold. A small whimper came out of her when I touched her hand and said her name. Then she was quiet.

Teddy, Garrett and I lifted the shelving off of the small form. Teddy lifted her, as if she weighed nothing, and brought her upstairs. He laid her limp body on the couch in the main parlor.

“When did this happen?” I looked at Tellias hoping for a straight answer.

“I don’t remember.”

“Try to remember.”

“ Is it Thursday?”

“Today is Sunday.”

“Tuesday.”

She’d been trapped for almost a week.

I took him by both hands, “how did it happen?”

“She was looking for rats. She thought she heard some. She hates rats. You know she hates rats. She went into the basement to kill them all, every one of them and climbed the shelf to get to the rafters where the rats live.  You need to kill the rats Juliette. You need to kill them for Eleora. Those rats…those rats are really bad rats.” He trailed off sounding frail, confused and ancient.

Tellias leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. A tear came down across this lovely face. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what has happened to us. You know we haven’t always been like this.”

I remembered when they were vibrant and strong. The house was new and the farm was thriving. They’d throw lavish parties and people would come for miles around. She’d wear silk dresses with huge bustles, her hair piled high on her head. They ruled the world with style and grace.  Now they were isolated, lonely but too proud to reach out or ask for help.

“You should have called someone.” I heard myself lecturing but I couldn’t help it.  “You should have called John next door.”

“I was afraid to tell John.”

“Why?”

“He would have been angry.”

“John has never had an angry day in his life. He loves you two like his own grandparents.” I just wanted to scream but kept it to myself.

Nobody said anything for a long time. Garrett and I tried to comfort Eleora. Teddy sat silently with Tellias.

It was an hour before sunrise when Clara came in with the neighbor, our old friend John.

“I saw Clara out crying by the car and asked her what happened,” said John.  “I don’t know why Tellias never asked for help. How bad is it?”

John, now 62, had grown up next to the elders. His family had a long history with his Vampire neighbors. He knew us and who we were. I knew his family going back to the 1860’s. There were photos of me as a child in his family albums.

After explaining and discussing the situation with John he went over to Eleora.

“I can help her. Just give us some time alone.” He looked grimm as death itself.

“ We can’t ask that of you,” I said. We’ve helped John’s family for generations and his family has been close to ours but I’d never ask for what he was willing to offer.

“Don’t argue with me. The bottled stuff won’t work.”

He showed us out of the room. An hour later he came to get us. I looked at the marks on his wrists and covered them with a towel filled with ice.

“I can’t thank you enough John.” I took his hand in mine. It was hot to the touch as people often are after they give blood.

John put his other hand over mine. “You know I’m always here for you Juliette. How long do your people live?”

“Vampires?”

“Yes, how long do Vampires live?”

“I don’t know.” Honestly, I don’t know, nobody knows.

“How old are Tellias and Eleora?”

“Over 2,000 years, at least they’ve been together that long.”

“Christ almighty,” John whispered under his breath.

“Before Christ.  Maybe a few hundred years before Christ, maybe more.”

“Considering you all live so long, why is it that I’m always feeling like I’m the adult when I’m around you?”

I shrugged, feeling like I was 12 years old.

“John, if you ever come over here and find clothes with a lot of dust or ashes…”

“I’ve seen dead Vampires Juliette. I know you just combust. That isn’t going to happen to these two.”

We talked some more and then John left us alone with the elders.

I found Tellias alone in the kitchen. Putting my arm around his slim waist I asked “You ok?”

“No, but I’ll be fine. I think John is in love with her. He always has been. Since he was a boy. They all fall in love with her.”

“I know sweetie, but you have her heart.”

A tear ran down his face and I held him tight.

Over the next few months John will check on the elders a few more times a week. We’re setting up a special signal light in case there are problems. My brother Val and G-G-Grandmother Lola will be staying with them on and off for the next few months to help out. Lola might even move back into the smaller house on the property for a while. She is old but not ancient or frail like they are.

My kids are pretty upset but I know they’ll be a big help. Our elders might not be around forever. We never know how long any of us will be around, so we’ll treasure each and every day with everyone we love, be they Vampire or regular folks.

mystery butterfly

Have a good week everyone and don’t forget to tell the people you love that YOU LOVE THEM, and don’t forget to check in on those who need a little extra help and care.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

flurish