Charged Technology, and The Ancient Folks We Love

“Juliette, I am so glad to see you. Were you in the neighborhood?” Tellias took my face in his cool white hands and kissed my forehead.

“No,” I said. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Your phones go straight to voice mail. You never check your voice mail. You never check to see if your phones are charged. I was worried about you.”

Tellias said nothing about the phones, took my hand, and said, “Let’s go see Eleora. She’ll be glad to see you. She fell in a drainage ditch out in the pear orchard yesterday. I had to call John next door to come help me get her out.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

Tellias gave me that annoyed look one gives children with annoying questions. “We got her out.”

He stood in front of me, his blue eyes looking brighter than usual, his white blonde hair hanging to his shoulders. Today he wore a Hawaiian shirt with big blue hibiscus flowers, and ancient worn out orange plaid Bermuda shorts, and his yellow flip flops.

Tellias and Eleora are old. They’re ancient old. Tellias is well over 2,000 and nobody really knows how old Eleora is. They looks as if they’re about twenty years old, but act like they’re in their nineties. For readers new here, I must explain that they’re Vampires. We all are. I’m the one who checks in on them, just as many of you check in on your elderly, or other family members with special needs and concerns.

Tellias and Eleora live on a farm along the Sacramento River, an hour drive from my home. I grew up running through their orchards, then new, and going to lavish parties at their home. The first house burned down, and was replaced with a lavish Queen Anne style Victorian mansion. But that is neither here nor there right now. They won’t plug charge their phones.

In fact when I saw Eleora, lounging on a couch, in a polka dotted white and navy sun dress, with a pink pilled up sweater over it, she looked at me with sad eyes. Did she mention her fall? No.

She asked me, “Why don’t your brothers or your parents ever call me?”

“Because your phone is never charged and you don’t check your messages, and you don’t even use email anymore,” I said, trying to keep from yelling. “What were you doing out in the pear orchard, by the drainage ditch?”

“I was checking to see if there were any bums out there. They used to camp out there during the depression and they’re still camping along the river. Homeless.”

“What if you had found someone? What if they’d hurt you?” I asked.

“I’m a Vampire Juliette. I would have eaten them and torn their heads off.” Then she and Tellias laughed and then he took her hand and they danced around the room.

“She would have eaten them,” said Tellias.

“Every one of them,” said Eleora.

“Every one of them,” said Tellias.

“And torn their heads off,” said Eleora.

“She found a rake I’d lost about thirty years ago,” said Tellias.

“I told you I’d find it,” said Eleora.

“Glad you did,” I said. I really was. Eleora had been asking about the rake for the past thirty years, non-stop.

“It was rusted out,” said Eleora.

“I figured as much,” I said.

“Rusted out,” said Eleora.

“Has anyone seen my truck keys?” Asked Tellias.

“They’re hanging on the hook in the hallway,” I said.

“Oh. I swore I’d lost them,” said Tellias.

“Swore he’d lost them,” said Eleora.

“Lost them,” said Tellias.

I turned to see both of my kids, and my son’s best friend Randy, standing in the doorway with boxes from the car.

Tellias and Eleora ran over to Clara, Garrett and, Randy covering their faces with kisses and hugging them.

“She found the rake,” I said.

“Oh good,” said Garrett, trying not to laugh.

We fixed iced tea, and cold blood over ice garnished with mint and sage leaves. Eleora showed off her quickly healing bruises and scratches.

Their neighbor John, a handsome man in his 60’s stopped by to say hello and fill in the blanks to the ditch story.

“You should have called me,” I told John.

Of course John said he’d call me next time. There have been dozens of next times he has promised to call me about but never followed through on.

Randy, who as usual, was wearing a vintage shirt from the 70’s with a panoramic scene across the front and back. He and Tellias talked fashion, or whatever it is they think they’re wearing. The more heinous the better is the rule with them. Randy is only twenty three so dressing like a mismatched old man looks cool on him. Sometimes I half expect to see him in sandals and dress socks, or worse red socks and sandals.

Almost twenty year old Clara sat with Eleora and held her hand as they talked about Clara’s transfer to the big university in Southern California that will happen in September.

Garrett and John helped me unpack bottles of Poet’s blood, cans of cat food (for the cat, not for the elders) and various other things I brought over. Tellias, who does most of the shopping often forgets to get things like cat food, and soap, and basic things we all need. When the elders want food they’ve taken to calling deliver services for food (Fill in the blanks. Nice warm blooded folks come to the door…) I have already told them not to call 911 to deliver handsome young sheriff officers for dinner.

I have to tell the elders not to do a lot of things. They never listen to me. Heads are nodded. I love you is said over and over. They smile with a coy hint of fang.

Eleora told Clara and me three more times that my brothers and parents never call her.

Before we left I checked the phone cords and made sure the chargers were put in outlets that hadn’t been switched off. I made sure everything was plugged in all the way and charging.

I reminded Tellias where his truck keys were, and where the other car keys were. I also reminded him to write down a list when he went out, and to even write down where he was going so he wouldn’t forget and drive half way to Timbuktu before he realized he was going to the hardware store for nails or a sprinkler part.

As we drove away, the three young adults and I, we waved to the elders, John, and the cat who all stood on the grand front porch of the beautiful Victorian home.

I was glad everyone was more or less alright, but couldn’t help but feel a little sad, and a little depressed. I always feel a little sad and a little depressed when I leave them. I feel the same way when I leave my house to go there. I feel that way whenever I think about them.

I can’t help it. I guess that is what happens when you love someone so much.

In a day or two I’ll call back. I know the phones won’t be charged. I’ll text John who will tell me he’ll check on it for me, but I know he’ll go over there and they’ll tell him their phones are charged. John will believe them and go home.

One more thought before I go. Summer is here. If you know someone who is elderly or needs extra help, make sure they have their air conditioning on when days reach triple digits. Make sure they’re ok, even if you have to drive that extra five or ten, or twenty miles when they don’t answer their phones. Tell them that you love them. Hold their hands and listen to them repeat the same stories over and over.

Be there.

Because they might be gone one day, even if they’re Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Oh right, I do have a husband. I write about kids, my brothers, other Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, cats, short stories and all sorts of things. I don’t say much about my husband or marriage.

Today he is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.

He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.

Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy (my husband) decided they needed a tree.

In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.

“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.

“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”

Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.

Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.

Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2019 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.

Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.

And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

time for christmas

Short Story Sunday: When You Grow Old

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.

Bloom

Even Vampires get the blues, but nothing so bad that some flowers won’t fix it. I dare say I don’t live in a black house with dead plants in the yard. OK I’ll admit that everything in the yard used to be dead but not anymore. I’ve spent the past three years digging in the river rocks rolled in a light dusting of dirt and managed to make something of it. The key has been to plant so that something is always blooming.

These are my flowers. The gray one is Oscar the cat.

 

 

But one can never have too many flowers in their world.

A few weekends ago I took the old ones Eleora and Tellias out to see the world. I had to get them out of their old musty house and into a bright spot. We went to the Sacramento Orchid Show.

Eleora wore satin red shoes. These were old shoes that she’d used years ago for ballroom dancing. She’d tied silk orchid flowers to the straps. She matched it with a red skirt decorated with appliqué poinsettia and snowflakes. With that she wore a yellow lace blouse. I asked her about her choice of a Christmas skirt.

Eleora looked at me with almost an eye roll and said, “Flowers. We are going to a flower show. This is a flower skirt.”

I didn’t argue. Tellias wore his usual yellow flip-flops, black dress pants, and a white tuxedo shirt with rolled up sleeves. He’d trimmed his pale blonde hair from just below his shoulders to collar length. It had kind of a wave in it now that I hadn’t seen since the 1960’s.

Lola, my great great great great great grandmama also came along. She is quite a bit younger than Eleora and Tellias, but still ancient in her own right. She wasn’t wearing anything unusual, just jeans and a pretty shirt like just about everyone else at the orchid show.

But all in all we looked like a group of nice young people. Tellias and Eleora appear to be in their late teens or maybe twenty or twenty-one. Lola looks forever twenty-five, and I look just slightly older, even thought I’m the youngest of the group at a mere 158.

I watched as Eleora and Tellias went off by themselves, huddled over each orchid plant in awe of the beauty of the unusual blooms. They talked over each other, hummed, sang a few songs, held hands, and occasionally gave each other a quick kiss. I kept a sideways eye on them just to make sure they wouldn’t do anything too odd. They were indeed a beautiful and strange pair who positively glowed over the sight of the orchids. If anyone did look at the couple they’d usually smile. How could they help but smile at those two.

Lola and I walked behind them admiring the plants and catching up with each other. She mentioned her ex-husband, her first, was alive. She thought he was dead. Of course she hadn’t seen him in about five hundred years, give or take a few. She had no intention on seeing him ever again. I asked if he had an Internet presence and she told me no. That isn’t unusual for Vampires. A lot of them go on the Dark Web for obvious reasons, or they’re like me and don’t give a crap what people think. Nobody believes any of this shit anyway, but there is an element of truth in it all – more than an element. But back to Lola…

“You need to let go of him,” I told her.

She took my arm in hers and led me to a giant yellow orchid. “That is so beautiful. I need get one of those. I’ve been trying to keep up the greenhouse. It keeps Eleora and Tellias active. They can putter around and sing little ditties to the flowers to make them bloom.” She led me over to a grouping of pink orchids. “These too. Eleora loves pink. We’re growing herbs too. Back when I was married to him we grew oranges and lemons in a greenhouse. It was too cold to grow them outside.”

“Why’d you leave him?”

“Not why you’d think. He wasn’t cheating on me or cruel to me. He was just such an asshole. So full of himself. And he was violent even for a Vampire. I didn’t like his friends either. The passion was there but… always the passion, but I got tired of fighting and making up all the time. I got so tired of all of the drama. When I met Thomas, my next husband it was like a glowing ray of moonlight. He was so kind and gentle, and he was funny. He made me laugh. And there was also great passion like every Vampire woman dreams of. Then… I just don’t understand. Thomas was burned alive as a witch, and that asshole still lives on.”

She has told me this story over and over and over, for my entire existence. We all have friends and family members like that. And as they get older they tell the stories more often. I try to keep Lola, Eleora, and Tellias involved so that they have new stories to tell.

Than again Lola’s current boyfriend is thirty nine years old. You wouldn’t think it would work but it does. I wouldn’t want my son or daughter to get involved with a much older Vampire, but Lola and Cody went in without one taking advantage of the other. Plus Lola has always been diligent about keeping up with the modern world.

As a parent I’ve always kept up with current culture. There is nothing worse for a young adult to have a mom or dad who is still living in 1984.  Parents owe it to their kids to keep up with everything from music to fashion to movies and everything else that is going on. If your kid is politically involved you need to be too. Share your music – new and old. You’ll be surprised how many things you both like. Keep an open mind. It will keep you young.

Despite their age (well over 2,000 years) I’ve always believed keeping an open mind is one of the things that has kept Eleora and Tellias young. Nobody wants to be a musty dank old Shadow Creeper and sit around in rotting Victorian clothing drinking thick days old blood in chipped old china cups. That isn’t just good advice for Vampires. It is good advice for everyone.

Tellias and Eleora bought twelve new orchids for their greenhouse. Lola texted Cody and told him to meet us later for wine on the back deck. I called my husband Teddy to do the same.

No matter who you are, or what you are, make it a goal to keep growing and blooming. And have fun, no matter what your age.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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.

Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

Summer is Here! Bake it baby (or if you’re smart you’ll stay someplace cool)

 

I could wax poetically about temperature but it is in the triple digits farenehight outside. Any wax is going to melt and I’m not feeling too poetic.

Yesterday afternoon, a man came to my church asking about my religious beliefs. I ended up with a brochure about “original sin,” something which I do not believe in. Sure some people are born evil. Some are born without souls, and I’ll freely admit that. I’ve met them. But the average little baby isn’t chock full of sin, like a dead deer full of maggots on a hot summer day, so don’t even make that comparison or even suggest to me EVER that babies are full of sin. Sheesh.

I should have given the poor man a glass of water but he was so crisp and unflappable looking that I assumed he had a cooler in his car (which could have been full of beer and Jello shots as far as I know.)

At the time I was holding a large German Shepard by her collar with the door cracked open. I should have never answered but it is usually a friend or a neighbor when someone comes a calling, especially when it is so stupidly hot outside.

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman