Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

vm moon light night

This afternoon I was thinking about Werewolves for some unknown reason. Maybe it was the coyotes behind my house. Maybe it was just my own big dog following me around.

I couldn’t get Vlad to get off of his cute Vampire ass and finish his blog post so I’m reposting this mysterious story from my childhood. It was first posted in 2014. And hey, if you’re at Sacramento 2018 WordCamp this weekend look me up. I’ll be there (under an assumed name but ask around.) 

Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

Mars was exceptionally bright in the sky last night. The moon was less than full but still exceptionally bright.

This morning I dropped the kids off to school. Garret’s car is in the shop so mom gets to drive. Anyway, I drop them off behind some temporary classrooms (that have been there for 45 years) because Clara doesn’t want to have to walk by the large group of “Stoners” who hang out every morning at the logical drop off point. So this morning she tells me she over heard one of the Stoners saying “That woman stops and turns around every morning. Weird. I guess she doesn’t want to stay here.” They had no idea I was dropping off kids. Sigh.

So the moon, teens, clueless thoughts… what does that all lead to? It made me think of a distant memory of when my brothers Val, Aaron and I were teens.

Go back to 1873. We lived in a city that had regulairly flooded, burned down, flooded again and survived illness and lawlessness and all sorts of disasters (Sacramento of course.) It was enough to make anyone want to leave, but instead people thrived and it grew. Railroads made kings. Agriculture was starting to boom. It was a city with growing art and culture and the new capitol building was almost finished. But to us it was home and our concerns were not those of adults or even most people. We were teens, comfortable in our own skin, a little less Victorian than most our age, a little more independent than most. My brothers and I lived in a tight knit community of Vampires, part of the Modern Vampire Movement. But you already know that.

One night, under a full moon, my brothers Aaron (age 17), Valentine (age 14) and I (age 13) were taking a stroll along the Sacramento River. We were always out looking for vagrants and activity from any riverboats. We were on the prowl, three well heeled Vampire kids who could use our innocence and charm to get in and out of any situation before our prey ever knew we were there.

With our stomachs full and our dark little souls throughly amused we walked home through a grove of trees on the edge of the riverbank. There we came upon a camp. Two figures were hunched over half a dozen large fish, I believe stripers or maybe steelhead. They grunted and tore at the fish. At first glance we thought they were coyotes or large dogs, but then we realized they were something else.

“Werewolves,” whispered Aaron holding his hand out to signal us to stay still.

We watched in fascination, with a bit of disgust, as the two turned back into their human form – a young man and a young woman. They were about our age and completely naked. He was skinny, unlike my muscular brothers. His skin was pale under the moonlight like the bellies of the fish he’d just devoured. She was also thin with ribs sticking out and knobby joints. Her grayish unhealthy looking skin was covered with red welts. Long dark hair hung below her waist. But what surprised us most was the hairless tail that hung down about 6 inches on the end of her spine.

I elbowed Aaron and he gave me a quick look that said “don’t move.”

“She has a tail,” Val whispered a little too loud. Aaron put his hand over his younger brother’s mouth.

The Werewolves put on their clothes, plain and worn compared to our fashionable togs. We had a home and parents. These two were obviously strays just trying to survive their miserable condition.

Val and I wanted to approach the Werewolves but Aaron was against it. He said we should just let them be and they’d be dead more sooner than later. There was a prominent pack of well-heeled Werewolves in town but we had little to do with them and it was obvious that these strays were not part of their pack.

Occasionally my parents would deal with the Werewolves, but always held them at a distance and with considerable contempt. One thing that stood out about the well to do Werewolves was their fondness for velvet. No kidding. Those Werewolves loved their velvet.

This isn’t going to be a moral story where we went back and helped the young Werewolves. We went back and they were gone. None of our friends had ever seen them. We told our parents about them. In turn they mentioned the strays to the pack leader in town and he had never heard of the young Werewolves.

It was just one of those weird things. Ships that pass in the night.

I asked my friend Adam, who is a Werewolf, about the pair when I stopped by his studio this morning (he is a photographer by trade.) He’d never heard of them. The tail on the girl turned out to be something extremely rare, just like a tail on anyone who is remotely human like.

“Why didn’t you help them?” Of course he had to ask.

“I don’t know. We were just kids. We thought they were dangerous. Beside that, maybe they didn’t need or want help. My parents asked around. Nobody knew anything, or if they did they weren’t telling us about it. I’m talking both Werewolves and Vampires. Nobody knew anything.”

I knew there would be nothing online about them but I after I left Adam I checked anyway. There was nothing.

This story has no moral or reason behind it. Just a story of something that happened a long time ago that I’ll tell my kids about and maybe they can find a moral in it.

It might be a mystery forever. But I have a knack for finding people and things so you never know. You never know about anything, not really.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Frogs, Love, and a Rain Swept Night

All night we’ve had thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. Hours later my back deck is still hail. In the creek and field behind my home the frogs are singing with loud clear voices, calling for romance. Pick me! Pick me! Oh let me prove that I am the amphibian of your dreams. Thousands of little frogs, so small that one could be comfortable sitting on a quarter, are belting out love songs as fierce as any Rock-n-Roll idol.

I love the frog music. I love the sound of the rain. I love the thunder and lightning.

In a land where drought is more of normal state of things, a week of storms is a wonderful and magical thing.

Frogs never worry about expressing their love. They aren’t shy like their human neighbors.

My husband sings in the shower. A happy feeling of love always fills my heart when I hear him doing that. He doesn’t know it. And we might be a bit cold blooded sometimes but we’re no frogs.

In 1868 my two older brothers (Max and Andy) were more or less out of the house. That left twelve year old Aaron, nine year old Val, and seven year old me.

We’d read the story of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mr. Mark Twain, and we’d decided to have our own frog jumping contest.

At the time the city of Sacramento was being torn up in order to raise the streets to protect us from future floods. The railroad was also tearing things up. We didn’t care. In the middle of the night we left our home in search of large frogs. I wore some of Val’s old pants so I wouldn’t have to bother with getting a skirt caught on anything.

Through the mud and dirt three vampire children headed towards the river as the sun set over the distant hills. We could see the light of boats as we took a dirt path down to the water. The passengers waved back at us as we jumped and shouted to get their attention.

Val found some pennies on the beach. I picked up a few clam shells and put them in my pocket. Aaron had forgotten about the frogs and was loudly reciting the battle speech from Richard III (yes, the one from William Shakespeare) as he stood on the edge of the water looking into the sky.

Then we heard the sound of applause and looked up to see a group of men at the top of the embankment cheering on Aaron.

My brother continued his grand speech after which he bowed, and the three of us ran off laughing into the night.

On the way home we looked into windows of businesses and homes, laughing the whole way. We saw cooks, and lovers, gamblers and quiet readers.

When our parents arrived home they found us clean and playing cards. We gave them angelic smiles.

Our mother smiled at us, showing a little bit of her lovely Vampire fangs. “Did you hear the frogs tonight?”

“Yes,” I said, “and tomorrow we’re going to catch our own frogs and have a race.”

“We’ll see about that,” said my mother with wink.

The three of us never did have a frog race, or a frog jumping contest, but we did catch plenty of frogs after that night.

A few years ago I took my own children out to the vernal pool near our house where the seasonal rains create a froggy paradise. It is a regular version of Frog Bachelorette. Or at least it amuses me to think so.

So once again the sun will come through the clouds, and the sounds of birds will replace that of frogs, and maybe even with our feathered friends love will also be in the air.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Quietly Listen

He showed me a new project on his large computer screen, in the back room of a restored Victorian house. A cat sat on a window seat grooming herself. She’d lick a paw then carefully wipe her face. Then she curled up in a tight ball and started to purr.

“Tell me what you think Juliette,” he said with a cautious smile.

“I like it a lot,” I told him. I did like it. Nobody was surprised that he and his partner had made millions over the past five years. “You’re sad today.”

He looked up, kind of surprised. “I was just thinking. I saw a school bus earlier today. It brought back memories of when I was a kid. Everyday on the bus was a nightmare for me.”

I looked at this successful, good looking, witty man, and listened. I’d heard these stories before. Not his, but from others. What is it about humans that they’re children are so cruel. Some grow out of it. Some grow up to lead nations and continue to be cruel. Some who continue to be bullies are failures because of their crude actions. I just listened.

I was stupid and foolish as a young person, and done a lot of things I have retreated later, but never endured being beaten up on a bus, or called names and taunted for eight hours a day. I’ve never lived in that kind of fear day in and day out.

“I’d forgotten about it until today. I didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

“You’re better than they are.”

He smiled sadly. “Success is the best revenge.” He rolled up his sleeve and held out his arm. “Make me feel better Juliette. Please.”

I took his wrist and sank my fangs into it. I closed my eyes and sucked out the pain, and gave him a high that made him put his head back in the chair and relax into a deep trance like state. A smile came on his face.

When I was done I gave him a kiss. “You have your own Vampire. That is something those who were cruel will never have. Consider yourself lucky.”

He laughed and rolled down my sleeves. “Until next time,” he said.

“Until then,” I said and left him to sleep and dream of better things.

And remember, you don’t have to be a Vampire to help make the pain go away. Listen to those young and old. Stop bullying when you see it. The fight of those who are bullied is the side we should all be on. Stop, listen, support. How simple is that?  Extremely simple.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Charms of Youth

We watched our nineteen year old son drive down the street and back to college.

My husband was caught up in his own thoughts. Times were different when he was in college. He was different.

Nineteen is so young, but when you’re there it feels so grown up. It seems like everything is just a countdown to twenty-one. Those odd two years of nineteen and twenty are just stuck in-between being an adult and being a real adult.

I remember one warm September night in 1878 when my brother Valentine and I discussed the matter as we dug our toes into the wet sand on the riverbank. I was nineteen and a month from twenty. Val was twenty-one.

We had years of crazy, hair brained adventures, but on that night it seemed as if our carefree days of youth would soon be over. We played the remember when game.

Remember when we saw the orphan Werewolf children on this very beach.

Remember when we broke up a dog fighting ring.

Remember when you fell in love for the first time.

Remember when we ran wild through the streets at night because we could.

Now we were expected to be respectable but we knew that wouldn’t always be the case. We laughed over the prospect. Sure, we laughed but we were both scared at the prospect of being serious and respectable, or worse, dark and brooding like so many Vampires of our time.

Of course what we thought was love was far from it. But no matter, because we were both natural flirts and charmers. Remember, we’re Vampires. Of course we’re charming. But being charming to other Vampires is always a challenge, or at least it sometimes seems that way for the younger of our kind.

In our time on Earth, Val and I had experienced a lot. Just that week’s news included floods, outbreaks of diseases which left the dead piled in the street, news of Sitting Bull, evasive crops, and of course murder.

We watched a boat drift by and waved to the occupants. We knew they were surprised at our formal dress as we stood barefoot in the sand. I held my skirts up to my knees, while Val had removed his jacket but still wore his top hat.

Earlier that evening we’d been to a formal party. We’d become bored and made our way down to the edge of the water. We were at a point where we had become bored with a lot of things – well, pretty much most things. That would change soon. We couldn’t even imagined the adventures we would have.

I kicked water up at Val. He came back at me and pushed me into the water. Soon we were both soaking wet. We laughed so hard I thought I’d crack a rib.

So I stood in my front yard knowing my own children would have adventures, both big and small. I knew, as a mom, that my kids were much more prepared than Val and I were.

My husband Teddy and I have been deliberate parents. We have let our children explore ideas and experiences, all along discussing those ideas and experiences with them. We’ve taught our children that there are consequences to their actions that lie far beyond the moment and parental anger. Things they do now can and will affect the rest of their lives. And other things won’t matter later on. It is the key to know what does and what does not matter. Our kids get the big picture. They know about the world around them. We’re not helicopter parents. We don’t shelter our kids. Yet, we are always there for them.

We’ve raised them to feel joy and wonder that will last far after childhood is gone.

Hugs are in large supply.

My kids are ready to be adults. I’m ready, so my logical self says. It does go by fast, so make sure if you have kids that you are there for them and involved far after babyhood is over.

Be it the rare Vampire child, Werewolf triplets, or a Regular Human baby, it is our job to teach them so they’ll be adults we’re proud of. We need to teach them to be the adults we’d want to be – or better. Always better.

And like I say here, the key is to talk to them. Don’t wait until they talk first. From the first day they are on this earth make sure you talk to them. And even after they are grown, or think they are grown – talk to them, and with them. Discuss, laugh, debate, share, laugh, cry and be together in mind and spirit.

Have a good weekend everyone,

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

No matter where you are, you’re somewhere.

I find myself frequently returning to the theme “You might not be where you wanted to be, but maybe you’re where you should be.”

Yes, I’m the first to admit that I do not believe in the whole predestination school of thought. The first time I heard about it was in a Presbyterian church while my brother Val and I were hidden in the rafters ease dropping, something we frequently did when we were children. My brother took it seriously for about 5 minutes. I didn’t make any sense to me at all. I couldn’t see our existence as one huge “Damned if we do, damned if we don’t” ordeal. It just didn’t make any sense. I was a child who lived by the rule of free will. I was also, and still am, a rule follower which shouldn’t make any sense but that is another blog post.

Anyway, early on I also started to get my romantic streak. That was a good thing and a bad thing. I saw the world as a big romantic adventure. Not so much romance with a man, but the notion that there was beauty in everything and the world was bound to just keep getting better. I knew I’d grow up to live a life surrounded by roses and parties and lovely times because THAT was my destiny.

I’d spend hours looking at books with beautiful pictures and reading lovely fairy stories. But at the same time I was drawn to anything to do with disasters, ghosts, murders and ghoulish things of all sorts (go figure.)

When I grew up things changed. The lovely order of the rose gardens and adventures hiding out in places my brothers and I shouldn’t have been, turned over to real life. There were a lot of adventures both good and bad. There were dangerous and foolish adventures. Nobody had ever told me of the disappointments and heart-break and frustration of the adult world. I flew through life until… all the frustrating weirdness led to my husband and that led to my kids. Now it seems like everything is all falling into place. I feel as if this was meant to be. Of course in all of the alternate and parallel universe places I also frequent it could have been different. I think of that a lot too. OK not that much, but when I write i have to get ideas from somewhere. Why not get them from my own dusty brain drawers?

So no matter where you are, you’re somewhere. When I was a child I knew I could be anywhere. I’m finally realizing that I was right.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

vm darling girl

 

Additional information: Along these lines I found myself answering to a writing prompt on The Matticus Kingdom (a blog you should follow). As usual I wrote about a man who found himself not with the woman he imagined being with but with the woman he should have been with (and it was a good thing.) I keep doing that when I write. Life it like that. So is fiction. Go figure. http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/prompt-finish-the-story/

Also, you might like this story about time travel and Vampires and my family. It kind of sort of goes with this theme. Go to the link for Cockroaches of the Space Time Continuum. https://vampiremaman.com/2014/04/03/cockroaches-of-the-space-time-continuum/

This post was inspired by a prompt. Then again, everything is kind of a prompt – the prompt of life… HA HA HA

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/adult-visions/

 

 

Secret lives and private stories

Vampire Maman

There was a room full of books in the back of the Elder’s farmhouse. The adults would be gathered and I’d be back looking at the pictures. I couldn’t read well so I looked at the pictures and imagined what the words might be.

The volumes, old even then, held years of uncommon history, adventures, tales of people who lived lives that seemed far more exciting than mine. But I knew, that one day I’d be living the life of one of those people in the books – those books I could barely read.

During one of my girlhood book searches I found a large Bible. There were a lot of words in fancy lettering. What I remember was the pictures. There was a picture of a group of naked men building something. I made out the word Noah and knew that was a man who built the ark and gathered up animals. The story made no sense to me to begin with and now seeing a bunch of naked men doing construction work made even less sense. Wasn’t it uncomfortable to be sawing and hauling lumber completely naked? They didn’t even have shoes. I asked my brother Valentine about it. I think he was 6 or 7 at the time (about a year older than me.) He told me that it was hot in the Holy Lands. It was hot so they took off their clothes and built a giant boat. It still made no sense. It made no sense that books were filled with pictures of naked people no matter what they were doing. Nobody went around naked where I lived. In fact they wore too many clothes in the world of our childhood.

Years later I did read the books in the Elder’s farmhouse (and many more) and marveled at their content. In the dark of the rooms on hot summer nights I’d read for hours on end, escaping into a world of another century.

In town I’d go to the book shop and buy popular fiction, cheap novels that would take me to places of romance and lovely girls in swishing dresses who held tight to their virtue, least they be ruined forever by a handsome man with a dark and evil heart. Then on occasion I’d find something more frightening than losing one’s virtue. I’d read tales of disasters, prisons, insane asylums and Gothic horrors and mysterious strangers. I thrived on that. It was nothing like the books of today, but those stories influenced the stories we now read (and write.)

Stories weren’t limited to books. I’d always find a corner in a room full of adults who’d talk into the night about everything they’d ever done and who they’d done it with. And if they weren’t telling their own stories they were talking about somebody else. I’d listen, quiet as death, imagining I was unseen by the grownups.

When my brothers and I were small my mother would read books to us using voices and accents for characters, then a slow steady voice for the narration. On alternating days my father would tell us wild tales he’d make up on the spot and keep us laughing. Each story also came with a song. We were surrounded by stories and worlds other than our own.

There came a time when I could read more complex books (around age 11.) In an elaborately embroidered canvas bag (my own stitching) I’d carry a well worn and repaired copy of Jane Eyre. I’d imagine myself in her place. The story in my mind would change as I read the story on the pages over and over. I’d tell the brooding Edward Rochester that I didn’t care if he had a crazy wife. I’d save him from the fire. I’d turn him into a Vampire and we’d roam the hillsides forever and lay under the moonlight in fields of fragrant flowers. Or I’d leave him alone and make my way to America with my new found wealth and marry a rich man in New Orleans. I’d burn down my old school. There were 1,000 different versions of the story in my head, but I’d always go back to the original version. To this day I’ll still find myself in Jane’s shoes as I walk the dog in the meadows and oak woods near my home. The gentle winds through the trees transport me to another time, in a huge skirt with hair I’ve unleashed from my constricting bun flowing down my back.

As you can see it doesn’t take much to get my imagination fired up or much to entertain me.

I’d do the same with many other books over the years. Everyone in my family and all of my friends devoured books. I have to admit that when Dracula came out we all had to get copies. We read and shared what we read. Books circled around and around.

As learned to read I began to write. Not well at first, but in earnest. I’d write innocent silly stories typical for most kids. I’d write poetry and draw pictures to go with it. I’d write plays and find others to perform with me.

From there I discovered real romance and love letters. Everyone wrote letters then. It was a daily activity as well as an art form.

Over the years plays were produced, poems were written and mixed in were sketch books filled with illustrations of yet unwritten stories. Then I stopped.

I was just struggling to find myself, or at least find some sort of direction. A lot of us go through that. The thing I remember that stands out in a weird sort of way was how men I met would almost become angry at me for not being creative. More it was that i isn’t being creative for them. Then again, few of them added any value to my life. Not back then.

My writing then was one of my secret lives. My stories were private. It was the person inside of me that I didn’t share.

I always read. I never stopped creating stories and keeping notes on paper and in my head.

After I became a mother those memories of childhood came back, along with memories that spanned several centuries.

Then I started to write again. It started out as a story for a friend… and ongoing tale… just for fun. Now it is my heart and soul.

We all need something that fills our hearts and soul. It doesn’t have to be writing or art. I’m the only one in my family who is creative that way. One of my brothers is musical. The rest have other passions.

I think back to what I used to write. Then I look at the writing of the children in my life (now teens.) I marvel at the sophistication and complexities of the stories they write. I’m amazed how mature their words are compared to what I was doing at their age. I hope I’ve been an influence. Or maybe they’re just more mature souls than I was at their age. I’m so proud of them.

I continue to write because I’ve found a measure of success that feeds my ego. Yes, I’ll admit it. Mostly I write because I have stories to tell and face it…. I do this because it is fun. Yes, FUN. Really really really fun.  And it is mine. Of course I want, and try to entertain you too.

We all need to find something that we sense is our own, even if it starts with a book with words you can’t read and pictures you can’t understand. Your brain will make it all come together and it will work. Eventually it will all work.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

old friends

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/