Short Story Sunday: The Box in Dave’s Basement

The Box in Dave’s Basement

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him.

Coffee with the crossword puzzle, and a little bit of fresh air sounded good. Then Dave, who lived three houses down called to him as he waked by, “Hey, Austin, there’s something weird in my basement. Take a look.”

Austin was both a history professor and a general contractor specializing in historic restorations, so of course he’d check it out. Dave lived in the oldest house on that street, built in 1888. It was a fantastic small Queen Anne, painted shades of blue and cream.  Dave led the way to the back of the dark space to an oblong box.

“I was measuring the room and moved away some lumber that had been here since I moved in and found this,” said Dave. “It looks like a coffin. Do you think I should call someone?”

“Let me take a look. I’ve found these before,” said Austin, taking out his penknife. He slid the knife around the edges of the box to see if there was a latch or any loose spots.

Then all Hell broke loose. Two men, dressed in long black coats, carrying guns and large knives appeared at the door.

“Hey,” yelled Dave. “Get the fuck outta here. I told you guys to stay away from my house. I’m calling 911. I warned you.” Then he turned to Austin. “The bastards were out last week. I told them…”

The men moved closer. Dave continued, “Out NOW.” Dave was a medium sized silver haired average family guy his mid fifties, with some sort of upper management job with the Department of Water Resources. His wife was wife away on a girl’s weekend. His kids were away at college. He’d been working on making the basement into the ultimate man cave over the past few weekends. He wasn’t in the mood for Vampire Hunters.

“Damn it. I said GET OUT you crazies,” Dave yelled.

“Just let us have the box,” said one of the men, a tall shaggy haired guy with some sort of unidentifiable accent.

Austin took a step forward, getting between Dave and the vampire hunters. “No can do guys. You have to go.”

The other man, a bald guy with huge shoulders pointed a gun at Austin and Dave. “Move aside gentlemen.” He then shoved them out of the way and with a swift kick popped open the box.

Inside was the perfectly preserved body of a woman in an old fashioned lace dress. She looked as though she was made of fine leather. A bunch of dried roses were in her hand.

The shaggy haired man lifted a huge wooden stake. Dave and Austin both yelled, “NO.”

Dave jumped on the back of the bald man. Austin knocked the shaggy haired man out of the way.

Suddenly a blinding flash of light and a blast of cold air knocked them to the wall. Two more men appeared at the door, also in black but without the coats. One carried a knife, and the other a whip. The smiled, showing fangs.

“Holy shit,” whispered Dave.

The vampires grabbed the men in the black coats by the scruff of their necks, like small children, and threw them back out into the sunlight. One of the vampires uttered a string of long strange sounding words, and the vampire hunters ran down the street.

The woman in the coffin sat up, and moved her head around.

“Stiff neck?” Austin asked.

She looked at him, surprised. Then she smiled with a slight show of her own fangs. “Yes, thanks for the concern. How long did I sleep?”

“From the looks of your dress, maybe ninety years,” said Austin.

“I guess I missed that party then,” she said with a slight laugh.

“This is too weird,” said Dave as he got up, and crossed the room. He turned on the overhead shop lights and got a good look at his company. “You mean to tell me you’ve been in that box for ninety years?”

The woman just blinked against the light. The two Vampires stood out of the shadows.

“Hey, Austin,” said one of them. “I thought that was you.”

“Pierce,” said Austin. “I had no idea you were a vampire. Small world. Dave, this is Pierce, he guest lectures for me sometimes on nineteenth California government issues.”

“And this is Max, he…”

“Max,” said Austin as he held out his hand. “Good to see you. Thanks for helping out.”

“Austin,” said Max.

Dave looked at the Vampires then laughed. “Pierce. I know you. You were teaching American History at UC Berkley in the late 70’s. I took a couple of classes from you. You look like you haven’t aged a day. How old are you?”

Pierce smiled and shook Dave’s hand. “I’m 171, but who’s counting.”

“I was just going out for coffee,” said Austin as he looked at the carnage surrounding him. “You’re all welcome to come.”

The woman’s name is Lily. She had a lot of catching up to do so Dave gave her a pair of jeans and a shirt out of his wife’s closet, and they all headed out for coffee.

That’s all.

This is not my bed. I don't sleep in a box.

Alright folks, this is what happens when a writer keeps trying to write a story and every five minutes someone needs something and interrupts. This is what happens when you’re a mom, and a wife, and working a business, and have parents, and neighbors. You get a story but it is more real-life, and a little dull rather than sensational. Just a normal Sunday morning that ends up with everyone meeting for coffee. Coffee is good. Almost everybody likes coffee. Most people like Vampires too but they just won’t admit it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

Burning Question #26: Pumpkin Spice

This just might be the most controversial Burning Question to date. 

Fall is almost here. ALMOST. It is cooling off in my neck of the woods but I know September will bring out one last evil HOT SPELL despite the fact that the trees in my neighborhood are starting to turn yellow and red. I live in California so unless you live in the mountains there is a snowball’s chance in Hell we’ll have a nice crisp Autumn in September.

Along with leaves fall means HALLOWEEN, sweaters, more fur on the pets, busy little birds, and PUMPKIN SPICE.

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I almost always put cinnamon in my coffee, year around. Sometimes I add a bit of nutmeg. This week I’m adding some sugar free coconut flavor. When the weather cools down I just get lazy and buy a small container of Pumpkin Pie Spice. YES that is PUMPKIN SPICE. Some people add actual pumpkin puree to their coffee but that gets you into the gross-stuff-at-the-bottom-of-the-cup territory. And who has time for that?

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But there are those who don’t like Pumpkin Spice anything. They don’t understand. They despise the excitement and fluttery joy brought on my this mix of spices and caffeine. Seriously, is there too much Pumpkin Spice BS out there? Not just coffee but everything from muffins to air freshners to cat food.

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So where do you stand on this important issue? It is still 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Do you really want anything like pumpkin or are you still working on summer strawberry flavors and trying to keep cool? Or do you believe that if Pumpkin Spice is here that FALL will surely follow.

Burning Question #26: Is it ever too early for PUMPKIN SPICE?

 

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So I leave you with thoughts of nice drinks and thoughts of lovely weather and maybe that elusive, what is that called, that thing when water falls out of the sky. Oh right. Rain. It is called rain. I haven’t seen any of that since April. But I can get a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

See you next Saturday for the next Burning Question.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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The Ghost of Pumpkin Spice

“I never had a computer, or pumpkin spice lattes, or a cell phone. I had a VCR for about a year. I had a French Press. I’d get coffee beans from the Farmer’s Market. There was a little booth with a zillion spices and about thirty flavors of coffee.”

“They’re still there. I think the gal there has been selling spices since she was a teenager, maybe forty years now.”

“Wow. Remember the Mexican bakery?”

“I’m a Vampire. I don’t eat pastries.”

“Well, you eat other things besides blood. I know that.”

“The olive guy. There was a guy who sold olives and pickles.”

“You eat olives?”

“Sure. I eat most green things.”

“Artichokes?”

“I love artichokes.”

“Green beans?”

“Sure. Not a lot but you know, sometimes.”

“I can’t imagine Dracula eating green beans.”

“Dracula is a fictional character. In fiction the only time people eat green beans is when they snap them with their grandma. I doubt if Dracula snapped beans with his grandma.”

Nigel the Ghost held a hot mug of coffee laced with cinnamon. He put his head down and closed his eyes. “I miss coffee.”

“You can always get it here,” I said.

“It isn’t the same when you can’t drink it. Shit, I haven’t had a real cup of coffee in thirty two years.”

He brushed his black hair out of his eyes, then smiled.

“What?” I asked.

“I’ve been dead longer than I was alive.”

“So you’ve told me.”

I sat across from the Ghost, his black hair shaggy around his face, a black tie, and white shirt with the sleeves rolled up today. He’d hidden the gash in his head and the blood on his pale face. His eyes flickered from the coffee to me.

He cleared his throat, not because he needed to but for dramatic effect. “I might be a ghost but I’m not completely dead.”

“You’re never completely dead as long as someone stills loves you.”

“I can feel it but unfortunately I can’t see them. Well, I can’t see most of them. I don’t know how to get to them. You know the limits of my territory is out of my control.”

“So you’re stuck with me.”

“Stuck with a Vampire. Who would have thought.”

“Want me to heat that coffee up.”

“Sure, and add some nutmeg to it. Pumpkin Spice.” Then he winked and gave me a rare smile. “You know this is weird.”

“Not for us.”

Then he put his head back and laughed. I just sipped my own coffee and then put his cup in the microwave, because that is what friends do, even if they’re Vampires or Ghosts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

coffee

Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

A conversations over coffee and musings about the lives of others (or don’t trade in your soul because you can’t get it back.)

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Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

A conversations over coffee and musings about the lives of others.

This morning I met for coffee with my brother’s friend James.

James is one of those people I find extremely obnoxious, but we have a connections through my brother Andy and through some shared experiences. We all have friends like James.

When he isn’t just hanging out with old friends, James is a psychiatrist to some pretty well known individuals. He is good at giving people ways to find normalcy in their lives. That is their normal. Everyone has his or her own normal, they just have to find it. The same goes with inner peace and contentment. James gives his patients the tools and teaches them how to use those tools to keep healthy.

As I drove to his house, through one of the more exclusive neighborhoods in the city (East Sacramento), I passed a home I’d once been in, years ago. The house belonged to a wealthy man. I’m talking insanely wealthy. A friend of mine was his executive assistant.

I was there for a party. He was lovely and friendly. I’d met him before and he remembered me. My friend adored him. He was a good man.

Unfortunately his ex-wife, his narcissistic daughter, and his psychiatrist only saw dollar signs. They poisoned him with their demands and their bad advise. It was never about him. People who cared couldn’t get through to him. The women took and took from him, stabbing out pieces of his soul until one day he killed himself.

“There is a special place in Hell for them. No, really, Jewels, the reservations have been made,” James told me as he poured me a second cup of coffee in his well-appointed kitchen.

I believed James, because like me, he is a Vampire. He lives with one foot in death’s door at times. He knows what it is like to grab up your own soul and hold it tight. For unlike Regular Humans, Vampires can’t give away or trade our souls, but sometimes there are those who try to come up from the depths of Hell and steal them away.

“And to think,” I said, “people call us ghouls.”

“They’re such hypocrites,” said James.

We had more coffee and talked about our friends, our work and books we’d read over the summer. I looked around the beautiful kitchen. Too bad not much cooking happened in it. Most Vampires don’t cook much. We do, but not much. I don’t need to explain why.

James made a lame joke about cooking and I laughed. Then he smiled with a sexy bit of fang and said, “Let’s go upstairs and fuck.”

I smiled back. “You know I’m married.” Yes, that is the reason I don’t see much of James.

“Right, you’re married to the most handsome Vampire in the world, but come down to the dark side with me this morning. Nobody will ever know. Mix it up a little.”

“Oh James,” I said, “even if I was single I’d have to say no. It isn’t going to happen. But thank you for the coffee. It was delightful.”

“At least I can try,” he said taking my hand and kissing it.

Now I’m home, taking a break from my work, sharing my morning. I’m also wondering if anyone is mourning still for the lovely man who was driven to his death by demons who took the form of friends and family.

I look at my old dog sleeping on the cool tile by my feet. I hear a hawk outside. It is a calm space where demons are not allowed. I will not let them in.

Close the door if they knock, even if they look like someone you know.

Beware those who have already traded in their souls at the expense of others.

OK everyone, have a nice day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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I’m on the road with my handsome husband and beautiful daughter this week touring one of the colleges by the ocean in Southern California. Yes, this is the parenting part. So anyway, this is a repost from August 2015. Thanks for dropping by. I’ll tell you all about it soon.

Dark Days, Ghosts, and Inspiration

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Coffee with Vampires, Ghosts and Poe

I’ve been having a bad case of Empty Nest Blues lately. Yes, even without any kids in the house, or kids almost out of the house, I can do anything. Right? Yes, but like everything else it is always complicated with me. As I brooded about my lack of brood and lack of inspiration my brother Val stopped by for coffee.

As I filled the French Press with hot water, Val grabbed cups and poured in a shot of blood and half/half in each cup. He put two packages of Equal in his, one in mine.

“Dark day?” He asked.

“I feel frozen. But I’ll be fine. Tell me about your sorry existence.” That was a joke. Val has a lovely existence, especially for a Vampire.

We sat and talked about a lot of things. I thought about being inspired to be inspired.

I poured more coffee into my cup and posed a question to my brother. “What if Edgar Allen Poe had lived. He died in 1849, so he might have heard of the gold find in California. What if he’d live and come to California? What if he’d continued to write and eventually met Bret Harte and Mark Twain? What if he’d met Lotta Crabtree? What if he’d met us?”

“Imagine him on the ship with our parents. That would have been fun.”

“Poe would have loved them.”

“He would have ended up becoming a Vampire. Mom would have made sure of that.”

“Maybe,” I said. “He was so odd and broken, but he shouldn’t have died. I think he was murdered.”

“That’s the rumor.”

One idea leads to another, and I make mental notes for stories, books, and artwork that I think a lot about and might someday create, or finish, or forget. The thought is depressing, or exciting depending on who is thinking it. If I’m thinking it right now it seems vague and somewhat depressing, and impossible, and overwhelming. Tomorrow it might be another answer.

As we talked, and my mood brightened and became more hopeful, Val and I looked out the window into my back yard. We could see the ghosts, Nigel and Mary by the fence. They were dancing to music we couldn’t hear. Being ghosts, dealing with their own deaths, and murders, had taken a toll on both, but they pulled themselves out of their own broken fog and made a life after death for themselves. Love will do that. Don’t get me wrong, Nigel is still a major asshole, but sometimes I see that light I know he had when he was alive. Like with Poe, I wonder what he would have achieved had he lived. He’d be fifty-eight now, had he not died in 1986.

Nigel looked up at us and waved at Val. Then he looked at me. Our eyes locked, and he flipped me off. Then Nigel and Mary vanished, as she continued to dance, and he glared at me.

I can relate to the songs and dances of the broken. These are not all sad songs. They’re just songs of those who have maybe had more complex paths to wander along.

Val had always been along my path with me, but we’ve taken side trails alone.

But like with my brother’s visit, I always circle around and return to the joy and love of my family, my friends, and of my imagination.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/broken/

 

 

 

Coffee and Swine: A weird tale of romance (and it is ALL TRUE)

For the past hundred years, maybe a bit longer, my brother Val has owned a beautiful Victorian in downtown Sacramento. Occasionally I use it as a meeting place, or working space. Occasionally he lives there. For the past few months he has lived there.

Most of the 4,000 square feet is beautifully restored but most of it isn’t used. The kitchen is in working order, he has an office, a spectacular bedroom taking up a good portion of the top floor, a bathroom, and a small sitting room with a huge TV. The rest is empty.

So anyway, I met him there for coffee this morning. Yes, Vampires drink coffee. Yes, my brother and I are Vampires. Most of our family and friends are too.

I got to his house and he was playing some Mario Brothers on the Wii. Oh man, I hadn’t played that for years. I was Princess Peach. He was Yoshi. We’re always Princess Peach and Yoshi.  We played a racing game with steering wheels. Val won two games. I won three. Not bad considering I’m the little sister.

After we played for a while then Val gave me a serious look. “There’s something I want to tell you about. I’ll make coffee,” he said.

As we stood in his kitchen, coffee cups in our hands he told me about something really weird.

“You know that woman I was seeing, Madison?”

“Sure,” I said, “she’s the one who teaches Animal Science classes at U.C. Davis. Right?”

“Right. Animal Science. She works with swine.”

“Swine. Like Pigs?”

“Pigs are her speciality. I was over at her place last night. She lives in the country, on kind of a farm. Her house is really nice, comfortable, clean. She, um, has a couple of Black Lab mix sort of dogs, some chickens, and pigs. She has some pigs she said she’d rescued. She isn’t going to eat them. They’re huge, maybe six hundred pounds each.

We had a couple glasses of wine, and she suggests we go out to her hot tub. Juliette, she wasn’t kidding when she said hot tub. It was a large old fashioned bath tub that she’d converted into a hot tub.  We stripped down, got in the water, started to fool around, then she told me to turn around. She said she wanted to give me a back rub. She started to scratch my back. I though she was scratching my back with her fingernails. I could feel her hot breath on the nape of my neck. Then she snorted. I turned around and, Juliette, I couldn’t believe what I saw.”

“What Val?” I asked.

“I was sitting in the tub with a pig. Madison had turned into a pig. She is a shape shifter. I already knew that but I thought she was a Werewolf.”

“You thought you were sleeping with a Werewolf and you knew it? Oh my God Val. You thought she was… does she know you’re a Vampire?”

“Yes, we both went into this knowing we were, you know, different, not regular humans. Madison is smart and funny. You know, I thought I’d take a chance. I knew it would never get serious. But I thought she was a Werewolf, not a Shape Shifting Swine.”

“Your girlfriend is a pig.”

“When I saw her she squealed. It was like the voice of death. Then jumped out and ran away. I got out, dried off and went into the house. She was standing in her bedroom in a robe, still transforming. It was horrible. I can’t even describe it. Now I know why she had so many weird stretch marks along her sides.”

“Oh Val. What are you going to do now?”

“I’m not sleeping with her again. That’s for sure. She told me that she’d dated a guy who was a Werewolf in the past but when the moon was full she was always afraid he’d eat her. Then she told me that she is still seeing him.”

“Wow, that is brutal.”

“It got me off the hook. Weird. I never drank her blood… just sex. It got me thinking. I have to be more careful.”

We had more coffee and talked more about relationships and other things, but it always came back to Madison, the Shape Shifting Swine Woman.

Val put his hand up to my neck and touched my necklace. “Cute. I’ve never seen it before.”

I was wearing a necklace made of puffy Victorian heart charms my husband Teddy and the kids had given me for Mother’s Day about ten years ago. My children had crawled into bed with me. The had a pretty pink box all tied with a bow. I still treasure the memory.

Maybe one day Val will find someone. Hopefully someone who isn’t a pig.

We made more coffee and watched the squirrels from the kitchen window as they ate all of the food out of the bird feeder. We didn’t stop them. You never know, they could have been someone we knew.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Wake up!

Thank you for reading my entry for  The 2018 Evil Squirrel’s Nest Contest of Whatever.
For contest information and rules (check it out for a laugh and for this thing to make more sense) https://evilsquirrelsnest.com/2018/01/28/the-fifth-annual-contest-of-whatever/

Last year I was the WINNER of the Contest of Whatever with an installment of Shelf Critter Theater. Click here to see it.

Or check out all of my past Contest of Whatever entries below:

Vampire Diary: Shelf Critter Theater

Yes it is complicated (almost as much as a unicorn, a squirrel and a possum going into a bar…)

Vampire Diary: Game Day

Three True Tales of Terror (with teens, rats and possums) – with illustrations