Short Story Sunday: Witching

Sophia hated October. The closer Halloween came the more all of the wanna-be witches came out of the woodwork like so many Stevie Nicks fans dancing around in their long flowing black frocks. It made Sophia cringe.

Being a real witch wasn’t always easy these days, especially with all of the misinformation, myths, and stereotypes.

“Thinking about Stevie Nicks again?”

Sophia looked over at her cat. “Unfortunately yes.”

“I know how her music gives you headaches dear. Try not to think about it, or her witchy wanna-be fans,” said Virgil the cat.

“Thanks Virg. It isn’t just the stupid music connection and the flowing black dresses. It is the way they try to do spells and act like we’re all in some goddess infused mania. I’m an individual damn it. I’m not a cliché. I can do magic. I AM magic.”

“They’re just having fun,” said Virgil the cat. “Deep breath Sophia, deep breath.”

That cat licked his forearm rubbed his face then continued. “Just think of cats this time of the year. Every other girl is trying to be a sexy kitty with silly cat ears and tails. And those poor zombies. They’ve got a serious medical condition and people are making fun of them by dressing up in rags and staggering around like drunks. Don’t even get me started on the bull shit vampires have to deal with. The fake blood is enough to make them want to go on a feeding frenzy just to make it stop.”

Sophia rubbed Virgil under his neck. “Thanks sweetie. I know. I know. I shouldn’t be so sensitive. It is all just for fun. It still bugs me.”

“On a good note,” said Virgil, “people are going to dress up as something really scary.”

“What is that?” Sophia couldn’t imagine what the cat would say now.

“Politicians. Big elections coming up right after Halloween.”

Sophia felt a cold chill that gave her the shivers right down to her bones. “You have a point there Virg. Awwww man, I can deal with witches. I don’t even want to imagine those political ghouls.”

Virgil rubbed his head against Sophia’s arm.

“It isn’t easy being different baby,” said Virgil. “But you’re doing great. It’s Halloween. We’ll have fun tonight.”

Sophia poured a big bag of candy into the pumpkin shaped bowl. The neighborhood streets would be full of tiny monsters, princesses, kitties, and witches. That was a good thing. She’d make sure to send them all home with a safety spell and good dreams of a safe world and a future where they could make a difference for good.

~ end

Tangled Tales

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Whispering

Dear Diary,

Jane the coyote with a Werewolf soul has left me. She curled up, fell asleep, and did not wake.

I stroked her cold still head feeling sad when my phone rang. I usually do not answer but this time I was drawn to the call.

“Hey, Vlad, it’s me, Jane. I found a human body. Just wanted to call and thank you for taking care of me when I was in transition,” a female voice said to me.

“What about the coyote? My coyote.”

“Her soul is long gone. I was just borrowing her body. Awwww Vlad, you’re so cute. Don’t be sad. I’m in a better place. Seriously, this woman was beautiful. I mean she still is. I never looked this good with my first body.”

“Did you kill her?”

“No. No way. She died and her soul left, so you know, I swooped in and started the old heart up again.”

“I see. How…”

“Long story. I don’t have time right now to explain. You know, places to be, people to see. I have a lot of catching up to do. So I’ll see you around Vlad. Thanks again for everything. Love ya. Bye.”

I looked at the coyote body so cold and now seeming small. I could not help but feel sad. I do not know why. Nor do I know why Jane said I was cute.

Jane the coyote was buried in my back yard. I planted a red rose-bush over her grave and covered it with river rocks. My cats watched me with solemn cat eyes then went to sleep on a deck chair.

Jane is no longer mine.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Tonight my love Gillian and I went out to find something entertaining to do. We cut through an alley where we heard someone laughing. Strange music came through an open door.

“I haven’t heard this forever. What’s up with the old music?”

“I do not know. Everything is new to me. ” Sometimes I still feel the urge to remind her that I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years and missed the Eighteenth through Twentith Centuries.

“I have a weird feeling about this,” she said and squeezed my arm.

This is the music if one could call it that. Gillian said they were playing a saw. I do not understand playing music with a tool. It sounded like something my cats would have written and played on bones and garden tools. If cats could write music and play bones and garden tools. I would not put it past them.

I later learned the song was called Whispering. It was popular in the 1920’s. I understand that was an extremely strange time when women stopped wearing so many clothes, cut their hair, and were allowed to vote. Vampires have always treated their women equally. I do not know what is wrong with people. Maybe it is the warm blood in their veins cooking their brains and making them stupid.

 

 

My love and I walked down narrow steps, ready to show our fangs and fight, or feast, depending on who or what we found at the bottom.

I thought of another time I walked into a tavern and experienced unexpected and dangerous consequences. This time I was determined not to let my guard down, after all I am the Vampire King.

At the bottom of the stairs a man in a striped double breasted suit greeted us.

“Welcome to Easy Street,” he said.

“Oh my goodness, this is right out of the 20’s,” said Gillian.

I, of course had no idea what she was talking about because I have no point of reference when it comes to most cultural references. My English is better than it was four years ago but everything else is still as confusing as Hell.

He led us into a bar where people danced to music with men in high voices, and it looked rather clean and sleek. Gillian called it Art Deco.

I looked around. “What is Deco?”

Gillian took my arm, “It is short for Arts Décoratifs. Decorative art. It came about right after the Art Nouveau movement, and of course the Arts and Crafts movement. I believe it came out of one of the oh so many World’s Fairs or expositions everyone used to have back then.”

I still had no idea what Gillian was talking about and kissed her cool cheek.

“With your pretty face you fit right in here. You could pass for someone out of The Great Gatsby,” Gillian said.

“I thought I was cute.”

“You’re more than cute, silly.”

“Now I am silly?” I didn’t ask her what the Great Gatsby was. I know it does not involve Vampires or I would have heard of it already. I doubted if I would want to be in it. Gatsby. That sounds like the noise my cat makes when she vomits.

We sat at the large bar, drank Gin Rickeys and spoke with other patrons about upcoming art shows at the museum and football. I have come to frequent the art museum. I have yet to understand the obsession with football. Football has all of the earmarks of a magnificent pageant with large violent men, screaming fans, and the thing I least understand, the scantily clad women dancing on the edge of the field, and regional territorial rites. One clan even wears cheese on their heads and sits in the cold to prove their faithfulness to their gods of the game. Now that I write it out I now, oh how do they say, I get it. I understand. But it is not a past time for a Vampire. I prefer Baseball or Basketball, or just rolling heads of my enemies around in the forest while on a horse…

As we talked and I looked for someone with nice veins in their wrists, I noticed the place was filling up. Everyone seemed to know everyone, except for Gillian and me.

The man who greeted us at the door, his name was Mel, said, “You gotta go. In about fifteen minutes this is gonna be no place for Vampires.”

“You know we are Vampires?” I asked.

“Sure I know. And in fifteen minutes I’m locking up the doors and everyone in here except you and your beautiful lady are going to turn into wolves. Tonight is a full moon man, and we’re all Werewolves. You know how it is. We lock up in here and don’t get into trouble. You have to go now. And hey, don’t get into any trouble yourselves. I know how Vampires are.”

Gillian and I left with fond farewells. This was one of the strangest experiences I have ever experienced. As we left I wondered if Jane would ever go there now. Gillian and I laughed about as we walked down the street to another place. It was a place we knew. It was a place without surprises and lovely warm blooded people who only had dogs as pets.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Tonight I drove to the mountains, to a cabin where I would seek out peace and reflect upon the night sky with an infinite number of stars.

Why did no one tell me that cats do not like to ride in cars? It makes no sense to me. I do not understand.

I put pillows and blankets the cats like in the back seat. Their favorite food was there. They had access to a view out of the windows. Boxes were on the floor for them to play in. There was even a littler box. They might have shown their appreciation to me.

Cats also do not like being harnessed or put attached to a leash.

Into the trunk of my car I put twelve bottles of blood to share, and twelve bottles of good red wine, plus my clothes. My two cats had the ENTIRE car, aside from the driver’s seat, to themselves. Did they thank me? No, they did not.

As soon as I backed out of my driveway onto the street my cats began to scream. It was not normal cat noises but the voices of demonic chanting. It was the voice of death. It was mournful yowling of the saddest kind.

Then one crawled upon my back and put her claws around my head, while the other ran around the car, jumping as if she had gone insane. Why did not a single person tell me that THIS is how cats behave in cars. I do not understand.

When I arrived to pick up my friend Randolpho, who would accompany me to the mountains, I was exhausted. Vampires are known for their endless energy but these cats, they had me worn out.

Randolpho just laughed at me. “Why didn’t you put them in cat carriers?”

“Cat carrier?”

“A box, a crate with a door, or even a soft sided bag made for transporting cats.”

“You jest,” I said.

“Vlad, did you really think the cats would like to ride in the car?”

“Yes, I did really think that Randolpho,” I said beginning to lose my patience with him, as well as the cats.

Randolpho put his gear in the trunk of the car and we drove to the mountains. The cats began to sing their demonic songs. I showed them my fangs. They yowled even more.

“Don’t show them your fangs,” said Randolpho. “Cats never forget or forgive.”

Then he grabbed a soft blanket from the back seat of the car and coaxed the cats onto his lap. I could not believe that after all I have done for them that my cats would sit quietly for Randolpho and yowl their heinous vile insulting songs at me.

“They’re just afraid Vlad. You can’t expect them to be like dogs and be happy with everything. They’re cats. You need to be gentle and whisper sweet things to them so that they’ll feel safe.”

I turned on the radio. It was not Whispering or any old music. As we drove higher in elevation, among the pine trees I looked for wolves. The moon was no longer full but I always look – just in case.

Trying to lighten up the mood I said, “In the old days we wold have brought up two or three people rather than bottles of blood. They would have been glad to come with us. Remember those times?”

Randolpho stroked a purring kitty and gave me a sideways glance. “Sure, back when we lived in your castle and you were the King. Not anymore. The kind of people who want to go to Vampire gatherings and get their blood sucked are weird.”

“What do you mean by weird?”

“Just weird. They’re Vampire wanna bees. And even if they don’t want to be Vampires they just creep me out. You know the whole subsurvant semi sexual servant master thing, but it’s more than that. They’re like groupies.”

“Groupies. What is groupies?”

“Followers. My point is that they’re strange. They get off on the idea of being our slaves and laying naked on a table for us to feast on and shit like that.”

“I see.”

“And they’re usually stupid and don’t live in the real world. It is all fantasy to them. They don’t get that we have to rake our leaves and clean out litter boxes just like everyone else.”

Sometimes Randolpho had an interesting ways to describe the world to me but I found myself more often than not agreeing with him.

Our friends greeted us at the cabin, which was not a cabin at all. A cabin is a hut like structure with a fire pit. This was a 4,000 square foot house with a dock on the lake. The cats gladly walked on their leashes into the house where they were met by adoring Vampires. After Randolpho and I unpacked our things I walked alone along the shore of the lake.

The air was cold. The sky with clear with an infinite number of stars. The moon was slightly deflated.

I thought about Jane and wondered where she was. I thought about my castle and my old life style which is now considered unacceptable. I thought about how I never imagined I would miss three centuries and end up in a world where I would be terrorizing cats in automobiles. I could not even imagined what an automobile was four years ago.

I thought about a song I’d heard on the radio.

There is much I do not understand. But now, I do understand that one should never take riding in cars with cats lightly.

~ Vlad

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

You’ve just finished reading the 41st installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. For the entire series, from the start CLICK HERE.

 

Let them fly

In the past I frequently blogged about teaching your children to be independent because one day they’d be like little birds and fly.

I discovered that my children are not like little birds. They’re like hawks and eagles. They’re raptors.

They are fierce and strong with the majesty of those who soar the sky, taking ownership of all they see.

On the other hand they’re like otters. They always make me laugh.

They’re like dogs who are always loyal, brave, and always there with a kiss.

Like cats they can keep a secret. And like cats they don’t put up with bullshit.

So they fly like the great birds of the sky but they know they always have a place to come home to. No matter where I am it will always be home. My nest will always be warm and safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

red shoulder hawk

The red shoulder hawk who lives behind my house.

Musings on Cats and Vampire Summers

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Oscar, pre-scar days.

I was out early this morning getting something out of my car. OK, I was looking for my purse. I thought I left it in my car last night. I didn’t. While I was outside I heard the sound of an angry cat. You know that snarling, growling, hit pitched sound from Hell that cats project when they’re really pissed off and ready for a fight.

It wasn’t one of my cats. At least it didn’t sound like either one of them. I decided to walk down the street to the mail boxes and find out where the gosh awful noise was coming from.

My cat Oscar, my sweet baby boy was standing in the front yard of my neighbor Josh. Josh lives alone. He rides his bicycle when it is 120 degrees F outside. Everybody likes Josh, but I don’t think he has a cat.

On the front porch (a favorite place of the neighborhood wild turkeys) was the largest calico cat I have ever seen. Her head was the size of a honeydew mellon. She was screaming at Oscar.

Oscar sat there and meowed with a confused little voice. Then he looked at me, then looked at the giant calico.

“Hey, Oscar,” I said. “Come on baby, let’s go home.”

As always, Oscar looks hopeful when his mom (me) is around. I’m always there to rescue him. I scooped him up.

I walked home like a crazy cat lady with Oscar under one arm, and an armful of junk mail in the other arm.

Oscar will always be like a baby, despite a notched ear and a scar across his face. He is thirteen pounds of fur and love. He is also an asshole, but he is my asshole.

This has been a long hot summer. Not all of us are handling it as well as my bike riding neighbor Josh. Then add massive wild fires to the heat and it gets really fun. If someone ever tells you “Burn in Hell Vampire,” you can tell them “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE I live in California.”

After the cat adventure I dropped off a trunk load of supplies that will go up to a fire shelter near Redding (Carr fire.)

By the time I got home my son Garrett was peeling tape off of the walls. We’re painting the insides of our home. From neutral to color. It looks great. As we’re peeling long steps of blue tape from around the windows we talked about all kinds of stuff.

Garrett will be in his fourth year of college. He is twenty-one now. No longer a child. I have kids now but I also have adults – Vampire adults.

“I hate summer necks,” said Garrett.

“It isn’t that bad,” I said.

“Oh come on mom, they’re gross. All covered in sunscreen, sweat, foundation, hair products, and body spray. The body spray is the worst. It smells great, but oh my god, the taste… How did you do it before people took showers everyday?”

“I don’t know. I guess we were used to it. You know, like cigarette smoke and rancid bacon grease.”

“That’s disgusting. I’m sticking with wrists until October.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I told him. I didn’t mention that I go to nice adult people with indoor private offices. But I’m sticking with wrists more often than not as well.

College classes start soon for both of my kids. It already seems like fall. This morning was unusually cool and nice. On morning like that I pretend I’m living by the ocean or up in the mountains. For a myriad of reasons I’m still here, in the Sacramento Valley with the smoke and the ghosts of the 49ers and the first Vampires to settle in California.

Anyway, that is how my day went.

Hope yours went well.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Don’t bring me your dog… and other parenting stories.

Teddyanddog

I grew up in a household with a lot of pets. I remember one summer when we had two wolfhounds, a medium sized black dog of questionable lineage, three cats, an eighty year old parrot, and a cage full of mice. Outside of the house were three horses. There were also five children. Four boys. One girl.

It was 1867. My brother Aaron, the middle child was the most responsible and serious of the lot. He was eleven at the time, and feeling as if he was living in the shadows of his eldest brothers. He was also tired of feeling responsible for his younger two siblings. The wolfhounds belonged (if they could belong to anyone) to our eldest brother Max. The black dog was the family dog. The three cats belonged to themselves, but spent most of their time with me. The parrot was named Louis and was just there for the summer while it’s owner (Tellias) was traveling.

Anyway, to make a non-story short, one day Aaron came home with a Pug. It was adorable. He’d found out that Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale, two gentlemen who shared a fashionable home and had no wives, had a litter of puppies. Aaron took it upon himself to bring one home without the permission of our parents.

My mother told Aaron to bring the puppy, now named Mercutio, back to Mr. Breck and Mr. Tisdale. Our father said we had to defer to my mother. He was of no help. So we started to yell loudly that it was so unfair and that we loved Mercutio with all of our cold little Vampire hearts. Max, being the eldest and for some reason my mother’s favorite, put in his opinion that we should keep Mercutio. So my mother gave in. I think the fact that my brother Andy told my mother that Aaron would never forgive her. So we kept Mercutio who was a fine dog and a grand addition to our household.

Fast forward to 2018. We’ve had four dogs since my children were born. We had two dogs when we started to have children. Then we had one dog for 12 years. Now we have one dog. We also have two cats. One dog, two cats. I’ve avoided the never ending revolving door of rats, mice, hamsters, birds, and other small caged creatures.

Before I became a responsible adult, and before my brothers became responsible adults we thought we were responsible enough to have pets. We adopted cats and dogs then after a few years they somehow ended up with our parents. At one time the family home contained six dogs, eight cats, and no children.

Looking back, as a parent, I told my children NO. Don’t bring me pets.

A lot of young adults start to collect pets as soon as they move out of home. Unfortunately shelters are full of these pets. As kids move around, as young adults do, they find themselves unable to keep their animals. That is where the parents come into the picture. Just drop the critters off with Mom. NO.

A dog is a 12-16 year commitment. A cat can live for twenty years or more. I can’t stress enough that having a pet is a huge responsibility. You are responsible for a life – the entire life – of a living creature.

Sure dogs and cats are fun. I love my dog. I love my cats. That said, I don’t want anymore right now. I’m at full capacity. There is delicate social balance. If one of my kids brought in another animal at least one of the cats would start having behavioral problems. The amount of fur in the house would be almost too much for me.

Beside that it is just irresponsible for young adults to start collecting animals. At a time when they need to be able to get out and explore, or move someplace else and find new opportunities, a pack of dogs, or two or three cats will just home them down. And it is unfair for the animals, and unfair for the parents who end up taking the pets in. No animal wants to be re-homed.

And while I’m on the subject of pets…if you or your children adopt any dogs or cats PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Do not let your son equate his dog’s balls with his own balls and is misplaced manhood. It is not the same with dogs as with humans. The only balls your dog needs is tennis balls.

Before your children move out, have that talk about pets. You’ll be glad you did. My parents wish they had.

And that concludes my public service announcement.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Girl with Dog

If you have a cat…

As a parent, even a parent such as I am, one sees a lot of nasty stupid things. You’d think by the time your kids are almost grown (almost 17 and 20) that it would stop. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about parents.

Dear Super Mom,

Maybe the reason you change your children’s teachers, schools, churches, sports, coaches, sports clubs, isn’t because everyone is insensitive and not doing their job. Maybe it is you. Maybe YOU aren’t doing your job. So just shut the fuck up and stop bad mouthing everyone. Look at yourself. And look at your kids – they’re mean to other kids, and they lie. Because of that other kids and adults don’t like them. Go figure your kids are just like you. How sweet. OK I’m done. Peace. 

 

Now that I have THAT out of the way…

Clara and I are planning another cross country road trip across deserts, mountains, and plains. Vampires love road trips. It is a time to crank up the music and see America. And who doesn’t like to taste the local flavor, if you know what I mean.

We are driving from near Sacramento, CA to Lincoln, NE, through Denver, CO. I’ll make sure I send photos from the road and my travel log. We’re going to the National Artistic Roller Skating Championships.

Excuse me for a second. Outside of my window is an angry Ghost. Did I mention that it is the middle of the day and over 105 degrees farenheit outside? Did I mention that I live on a hill, so the window is about two stories up.

I’ll be right back.

OK I’m back.

I motioned for the Ghost to come inside. He looked horrible – almost dead. I mean, he is dead, but not that kind of dead. Unless he is in his head-bashed-in with a frying pan look he had when he died he looks pretty good. He was one of those guys with almost a pretty face. You know, the kind with the sweet smile and eyelashes that make any woman green with envy. Yet, he is still extremely masculine. That does not sway my opinion of him, which is that he is usually a complete asshole.

He vanished in and reappeared standing behind me. His already shaggy black hair was almost standing on end. His skin look gray, even for a ghost. He wore his funeral suit without the jacket, and his black tie was loose around his neck, and he’d rolled up the sleeves.

“You look like you’ve been to Hell and back,” I said to him.

“Don’t even joke about that,” he said, then whispered the words Vampire bitch under his breath as if I wouldn’t hear.

I haven’t seen Nigel, The Ghost, for months, then suddenly he shows up in a bad mood, expecting my full attention.

I wait for him to speak, as one does with a Ghost. And I wait. He says nothing. Then I try to go back to writing something meaningful for my blog post about traveling with teens and young adults, but I’ve lost track of every thought in my head.

So I ask. “What is it Nigel?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it the heat?”

“I don’t have a physical body. I don’t feel heat.”

I’m not one for guessing games. In fact I hate guessing games. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone comes in and says, “Guess who I saw?” or “You won’t believe this. Guess who is getting married?” I don’t want to guess. I don’t want to throw out a dozen names and still not know what you want to tell me. Just tell me. So I didn’t even ask Nigel anything, and of course that drives him nuts, because he’d come back at me with a “guess what” fill in the blank.

The calico cat rubbed against Nigel’s leg. Yes, cats can do that, even if you don’t see the Ghost. Cats always see the Ghost.

Nigel gave the cat a smile and stroked her head, then he glared at me and vanished. I’m not even going to speculate on why he stopped by, other than to annoy me, or maybe he just needed to see the cat.

The train of thought is lost forever.

But I know that if you have a cat to pet then everything will be alright. If you have a cat your most troublesome Ghost will fade away with a smile on his face.

That’s it for today. Time to cool off.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

First published here in 2016. The kids got silver in their event. In 2017 they won gold. We’re not going this year but we’re still skating. I’m also still watching out for Nigel. I passed the cemetery where he was buried a few days ago and thought about him. As for the cats, they’re still sitting on the table by my laptop. 

 

Editors

My Editors Gloria and Oscar: Food and a box is all they ask for (usually)