The Poop

Yesterday my 21 year old daughter shoveled up an entire big brown grocery bag full of dog poop. I didn’t have to ask. She offered.

Our dog is huge. Our yard is fairly large with a lot of oak and citrus trees, no lawn, and some raised beds for a garden. It is a fairly wild undeveloped space that backs up to even a wilder undeveloped space. Between the garden and the compost bin way out back the dog crapped everywhere.

The point of this story is to say how proud I am of my child, and to be snarky, on my biggest snark subject of 2020. It isn’t political shit (pun intended.) It isn’t about shitty people who won’t wear masks and social distance. It isn’t even about toilet paper. It is about shitty people who raise shitty kids then expect to have the right to shit all over everyone else.

Yes, I’m talking about the school admission scandals.

Entitled, and frankly stupid idiot kids like the fashion/beauty influencer Olivia Jade, were getting spots in universities (private and public) because their parents cheated they system. The parents took fake sports photos, bribed coaches, paid people to take tests for their brats, and assorted other lies and pay-offs.

This is nothing new. A lot of famous people, including well known public officials have been known to have cheated their way through school admissions and straight through to graduation.

Cheating is not cool. It is a crappy thing to do. It might help the cheater but it hurts everyone, including hard working kids, and I specifically mean middle class kids who work their asses off to get into good schools. I’m talking about the kids who don’t get into the schools and programs they deserve to be in because a cheater took their place.

My daughter got into a top university on her own. She did the research. She filled out the applications. She took the tests. She wrote the essays. Her school was not involved in the recent admission scandals. If she goes to a university that was involved in a scandal for graduate school I’m going to have a shirt made that says, “My child is going to _______ and I didn’t have to go to prison for it.”

I guess the real point to my snark today is that an entitled brat like Olivia Jade, or so many more like her, would never volunteer to pick up poop so her mom wouldn’t step in it every time she went out to her garden. And after that we talked about fellowships, school, the environment, making a difference in the world, favorite movies, and dogs.

The point of this isn’t to be negative about the children of the rich and famous. Many successful, hard working, smart, and compassionate, young people have rich and famous parents. But the point is that their parents actually parented. Their parents gave them the skills and values so they wouldn’t even consider cheating to be ok in any universe.

In this world nobody is entitled to anything. Add that to your list of parenting things to do. Your child is not entitled to anything.

But, all young people are entitled to the opportunity to try, and to dream, and to take a chance. It is their opportunity, not something the parents should do for them.

Sooooooo that is the shit for today. The poop is scooped.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Be kind. Don’t cheat. Check in on those who might be sick, old, alone, fragile, or just need extra help. And as always, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Fiction: Play Date

The last day stuck in his memory.

Josh had left the meeting and work for the day. He needed to think. 

Coffee and avocado toast. He’d found a seat by the window. Four hours of negotiations on the acquisition. 

His phone dinged quietly with a text from his sister Kitty. She’d started the seedlings for her summer garden. It was only March but it was time for her. Every year he’d go to her house and help her can salsa and a myriad of other wonderful magical things she’d fit into Mason jars. Then they’d go on her deck where they’d drink beer and eat chips and salsa, and talk about everything, and nothing at all. She’d always pin her hair up and wear dangling earrings.  Her laugh was infectious. He had needed that laugh after all of his meetings that morning. Jake would call her later.

Right now it was an exhausting and shitty day.  Nobody was happy. Nobody would listen. He’d had an intelligent well thought out plan. It was a cluster fuck of already made ignorant opinions. Nothing was backed up with facts or experience. 

On the way home a ladder had fallen from a utility truck, hit a car a few places ahead of him on the freeway.  The next thing Jake knew a woman was holding his arm and they were both covered with blood. 

His arm was broken, his face was bruised and cut, his entire body felt like he’d been beaten with a baseball bat then thrown off of a cliff.  His car was totaled.  Stitches went from his left ear down his jawline to his chin.  Three pins or screws or something was now holding his arms together. The headaches lasted weeks. 

The woman went to the hospital with him. She held his hand. Her name was Scarlet. The last thing he said to her was, “make sure someone feeds my cat.”

It was the last day before everything shut down. 

At home he didn’t need a car. He couldn’t have driven anyway for the next few weeks. Using a keyboard was almost impossible with two hands. If he had to go out he could take an Uber or Lyft. Food could be delivered. Cat food and litter could be delivered. No problem. 

Zoomie the gray tabby kitten was delighted to keep him company.  Unfortunately his girlfriend had moved back in with her ex the day he got out of the hospital.

By April a new car had been delivered and now had almost eighty miles on it. He wasn’t going anywhere. All work was at home. At least work was going well and keeping him busy. He’d hired three people he’d yet to meet in person.  A woman named Emerald had been cleaning his house since he’d come home with the broken arm.

By June the depression rolled in so he would put Zoomie in a backpack or in his harness and go for long walks.  By July his sister was canning without him. His brother and parents had driven down to see him a few times. It was always great to see them. They begged him to come up and stay with them but he was too busy with work. He’d bake cookies for Emerald to bring home to her husband and kids. 

At the end of July he could pull his hair back in a ponytail. He’d started working out again. Zoomie was getting huge.  

One morning on Facebook he saw where a friend of a friend posted something about a dog. My brother passed away. His dog Daisy needs a home. Daisy is a sweet five-year-old German Shepard/Lab mix. She is well trained. We don’t want to take her to a shelter.

Without thinking more than five minutes about it Josh called the number. A man answered. He said his neighbor would drop off the dog.

A few hours later he got at text. I’m outside in your front yard with Daisy.

Daisy stood wagging her tail and wiggling with happiness. A pretty brown haired woman wearing a sundress held Daisy’s leash. At least he thought she was pretty. Her eyes were pretty above the mask.

She introduced Daisy to Josh, then said, “How are you Josh? Do you remember me?”

He couldn’t quite place her.

“I was in that accident when you broke your arm. I was in one of the other cars. I’m Scarlet. Do you remember me?”

“Oh, wow. Scarlet. It’s good to see you.”

“Good to see you too. You look good. Thank you for the nice letter and the flowers,” then she laughed, “and the toilet paper.”

In September Josh cleaned out the texts in his phone and found Scarlet’s message. I’m outside in your front yard with Daisy. Right now Daisy was at his feet snoring with Zoomie curled up at her side.

Outside the smoke from the fires made it unhealthy to walk. Josh put on music and danced while playing with Zoomie and Daisy. Then he pulled his hair back and attended Zoom meetings, trying to look like he was normal.  He noticed how the scar on his face showed up, not so much ugly or disturbing but interesting. 

There were Zoom calls with work and friends. His family stopped by once a month. A few friends came by. Josh talked to his neighbors. The world was opening up. It wasn’t the world where he’d stop for coffee and avocado toast when he wanted to think. This was a world of protests, and weirdness, hate, and mean politics. But in his own bubble it was a world of people who’d reached out. It was a world where he treasured each phone call and guarded visitor. It was a world where Zoomie and Daisy were his own tiny family with their own habits and secrets.

One Saturday right before Halloween he received a text. Hi. Do you mind if I bring my dog Crystal over? She and Daisy used to be great friends. In fact, they’re sisters from the same litter.  I thought it would be fun to have a play date.

Josh thoughtI could use a play date too. 

Then he texted back,That would be awesome. Bring Crystal over anytime.

Opening and closing his hand Josh still felt a little bit of numbness and a little ache.  He’d be fine. It would be more than fine.

~ end

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Note: I’m just fooling around with some ideas for much larger and more detailed stories. As we all stay at home, worry about the election tomorrow, and think about the well being of those we care about we’re still side tracked by other challenges. Fortunately good things still happen. This might get worked into my 2020 NaNoWriMo project. You never know.

Have fun. Stay creative. Stay safe. Wear your mask. Vote. Check in on those who might need extra help both mentally and physically. Hug your kids. Kiss a Vampire. And keep checking back for more silly stuff.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Photo by Carlos Mossmann on Pexels.com

Short Story Sunday: Too Hot To Wear Black

Damn. At 107°F is was way too hot to wear black.

It felt like 250°F inside because the air conditioning had gone out the day before. It was Sunday and nobody could come out and fix it until Tuesday or maybe even Wednesday.

Elizabeth looked in the closet and grabbed a blue and yellow sundress. Screw wearing any kind of bra. It was too hot for that. She slipped on a pair of black flip flops and small diamond posts. It was even too hot for dangling earrings or hoops. Earrings in this weather tended to get hot and burn her neck.

She threw some extra clothes, her laptop, the book she was reading, and whatever else she’d need for the next few days in a backpack.

In the kitchen two dogs were laying on the tile, which was still cooler than anything else in the house. Sage, an extremely large black and tan German Shepard was snoring. Jack, an old yellow Lab mix with a black tail and white feet was wagging his tail as he hoped his cuteness would bring treats.

After packing up dog bowls, toys, treats and kibble she called the dogs out to the car.

When she opened the car door the blast of hit air was like a friggin furnace. The dogs jumped in the backseat. Elizabeth turned on the air conditioner and headed out.

Damn it was hot. The radio played some Fleetwood Mac song. Damn she hated Fleetwood Mac. How could anyone listen to that crap. She flipped through the stations and got an awful live version of Jimmy Buffet singing Boat Drinks in front of an obviously stoned crowd, then she got some whiny girl singing about her boyfriend. She’d had enough with annoying female vocalists. She turned on the classical station but someone had decided it was a good day to play brass band music. It reminded her of Monty Python. Finally she stopped at Oh My My by Blue October. Finally something that she could sing along to and wouldn’t make her want to scream every cuss word she knew.

At a stop light both of the dogs started baking at a car with three barking dogs. All tails were wagging. It was just a hey hey hey we’re all riding today.

The dogs had been fed before they left but Elizabeth’s stomach growled. It was so hot lately that food wasn’t a priority and frankly it was a hassle. She’d eaten the day before when she went to her friend Jax’s house. He’d cut her hair for her and she’d had lunch there. Nine inches off. She shook her head and let the new layered bob swing against her cheeks. She loved it. It had been a long time since she’d had sort hair. This was fun and sort of messy and perfect.

Passing the cemetary Elizabeth glanced over at the crypts under the trees. Even in the shade it would be over 120 inside those things. She could almost hear bones cracking and dried flesh splitting underneath suits and lace dresses. How could anyone think Vampires lived in crypts. Not only was it too hot in the summer but there wouldn’t be anyplace to put your books or clothes, or anything else. There’d be no guarantee of any Internet connections. It would be nasty and uncomfortable even in a large family size crypt. Where did people get the ideas about Vampires living in crypts. The ghosts alone would drive anyone mad.

Arriving at her boyfriend Austin’s house Elizabeth hearded the dogs through the front door. She looked into the large family room where two college aged girls were watching a movie. Since the pandemic Austin were letting them stay there. They’d been kicked out of their campus housing. He was a professor living alone in a rambling old Arts and Crafts style house so he had room for the girls and a male graduate student.

Austin was in the kitchen cutting up vegetables.

“It is soooooo hot,” she said, kissing him. She didn’t bother with social distancing. This was a safe spot.

“Oh wow,” said Austin. “I love your hair like that.” He ran his hands through it and kissed her again.

“Thanks. Damn it is hot today. My air conditioning is out. I’ll be here a few days if you don’t mind.”

She opened the freezer and pulled out an ice tray. Then she filled a tall glass with red frozen cubes and topped it with ginger ale and rum.

“That looks disgusting,” said Austin. He let her keep frozen human blood in his freezer. When a man is in love with a Vampire he’ll let her keep just about anything in his freezer.

“It is lovely. You should try it sometime,” she said.

The dogs danced all around Austin.

“Where’d the dogs come from?”

Elizabeth smiled. “Sage and Jack. Their owner died. They’re Covid Orphans. They would have gone to a shelter so I took them. What? Don’t look at me like that. I’ve had dogs before.”

“When was the last time you had a dog?”

“I don’t know. 1937. It was 1937. I had a beautiful sweet Afghan Hound named Bosco.”

Elizabeth filled a plastic bag with ice. “I’m going up to your room for a nap. I didn’t get any sleep last night. Do you think the girls will mind if the dogs hang out with them?” She didn’t wait for an answer. Austin had said something about waking her when dinner was ready but she hardly heard him. That would be in about three hours.

Austin’s bedroom was cool and dark. She dropped her dress to the floor lay on top of the comforter with the ice under her neck.

Oh my my. She closed her eyes and slept dreaming of a good foggy beach and a warm handsome man.

It was summer and way too hot to wear black.

~ end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As We Were: A Man and a Much Loved Dog

teddyanddog

A handsome man

A fashionable suit

A much loved dog

A fitting tribute

CDV 1860’s

From the beginning of photography there have always been photographs of people and their dogs. We love our dogs, and they love us back and grab our hearts in remarkable ways that we can’t even describe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

juliette

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This is part of the Vampire Maman series As We Were: A series inspired by 19th Century portraits where I share 19th century photos from my personal collection. For more please click here.

What we’re talking about today: Heat, Famous People Saying Stupid Things, and NEW Summer Reading

IMG_2524

Alice the German Shepard says to make sure you stay hydrated.

 

I have to say that I’m glad my children DID NOT read the Harry Potter books. They tried but just couldn’t get into them. The movies were fun, but we did not buy or read the books.

I also have to say that I am proud of my LGBTQ friends. I am proud of my children for having close LGBTQ friends.

I have seen how difficult it can be coming out. I have seen the pain and rejection my friends have gone through. I have seen the incredible love they’ve given to me and others. I’ve seen the stupid ignorant hate thrown at them just because they loved someone. Some people are just shit heads. Don’t be a shit head.

 

103863340_10222047561361796_7401016851104632799_n

I’m love all of my friends who don’t have periods. YES there are women who, for MANY reasons don’t have periods. Why does it matter if a woman has a period or not?

Why is it that so many extremely rich and famous people are so out of touch with humanity? Why is it that so many extremely rich and famous people have no filters when it comes to people who are not like them? Why is it so many rich and famous people have the need to spout out ignorant and stupid thoughts in public? Don’t they have handlers?

Then they back track and try to make everything think they were misunderstood and play the pity party poor me card. Give me a break. Thousands and thousands of children made J.K. Roling a rich and famous woman and now she has chosen to be a dick and many of her most loyal fans in the back – for no reason. How fucked up is that?

Everyone has a right to their own opinion but NOT to hurt someone who is not in your life, who is not hurting you, and is quietly minding their own business.

We already have an unhinged president and plenty of politicians who have no filters – we don’t need our YA authors to start spouting off like a bunch of idiot politicians too.

Humans have been LBGTQ for centuries. They’ve been LBGTQ since before we had a word for centuries. Get over it. Accept it. And remember if we were all the same life would be incredibly boring.

Now on to something else…

It is HOT outside. Please make sure to check in on elderly friends and family, or others who might need your help to stay cool. Sometimes old folks don’t realize it is 100°F inside of their homes or are afraid their electricity bill might be too high. Go check on them.

35144695_1712139408822220_269581615267577856_n

Available June 15th on Amazon from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants): 

Twenty authors. Fiction. Essays. Pandemic ponderings. Poetry.

Goin’ Extinct Too – Apocalypse A Go-Go!

103027856_3973806909358729_7656582565190109139_o

My dog Alice and I go walking almost every day. Here are a few shots of our journeys. Yes, I wear a hat and sunscreen. You need to do that too even if you’re not a Vampire.

We also walk to the school because nobody is there and it gives Alice the GSD a chance to run around without her leash and use the drinking fountain. We have no idea when the students are coming back.

 

That is it for today. I just wanted to vent and share. Keep cool. Wear a mask. Don’t drink any bad blood. Wash your hands. Be nice. Don’t be a dick. Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Chernobyl Charlie

old dog

Chernobyl Charlie

Published in Dysfictional 3 by Mandy White

 

The old man placed another log on the campfire.

“You kids ready for a story?”

“Yes!” Kylie and Joel chorused together.

Every summer, his daughter-in-law Laura brought the grandchildren on weekends for a backyard campout. The kids got to sleep in a tent and enjoy fireside stories, just like they’d done with their father. Since loss of her husband, a Marine, Laura tried to maintain a connection with his side of the family. The old man appreciated the effort she made. The kids enjoyed his stories and he enjoyed telling them, and boy, he had a lot of stories.

“Get comfortable, ‘cause tonight I got a great story for ya. This one’s about Chernobyl Charlie.”

“Wait!” Kylie ran to the tent to grab her blanket. She returned and nestled in her lawn chair with the blanket wrapped around her shoulders. “Okay, I’m comfortable now.”

Her brother rolled his eyes. “Ok, are you ready now? I want to hear the story.”

The old man began,

“There once was a boy, we’ll call him Nathan. This boy only wanted one thing for his entire life: a dog. He didn’t want anything else, not ever.

Every year, his parents would ask him what he wanted for Christmas or his birthday, and his answer was always the same:

‘I want a dog!’ he’d say.

And every time, the answer would be the same: ‘No’.

It wasn’t that his parents were mean, or didn’t want him to have a dog. It was just that they lived in an apartment, and weren’t allowed pets in the building, other than fish or birds. Birds gave him the creeps and goldfish just weren’t the same. Fish were boring. They just sat in a bowl. You couldn’t take them for a walk or pet them or play ball with them.

But one year, the year he turned twelve, Nathan’s life changed forever.

His father had started a new job a year ago, and was making more money. Enough money that they could finally buy a house. A whole house! With its own yard and everything! Most importantly, there was a fenced area for a dog! This year, when Nathan’s parents asked what he wanted for his birthday, the answer was yes. He could have a dog.

His mother agreed to the dog on one condition: they would adopt, not shop. No pet stores or fancy breeds; they would find a shelter dog that needed a home. Nathan was fine with that. Any dog would be a great dog, and he would love it with all his heart.

They registered with the SPCA and a bunch of other rescue groups, looking for a dog that would be a good fit for their family. One day, Nathan’s mother called him to look at something.

She was sitting at the kitchen table with her laptop open to some website.

Nathan took a look over his Mom’s shoulder to see what she was looking at. The screen had a picture of a group of dogs on it.

‘What’s this?’ he asked.

‘There are puppies available for adoption, and you’ll never guess from where. Chernobyl!’ she told him.

‘Isn’t that place like, radioactive or something?’ he said.

His mother explained, ‘According to this, hundreds of dogs roam the woods in the exclusion zone near Chernobyl. They are the descendants of pets that were left behind in the evacuation. Some of the puppies are being brought to the U.S. for adoption. The adoptions will be done through the SPCA, and we’re already registered with them. We can ask to be put on a wait list for one of these puppies if you want.’

It sounded pretty cool, but Nathan had some concerns. He asked his mom, ‘Is that even safe? Like are they mutants or anything?’

‘No, not at all,’ she told him, ‘Many of the dogs are perfectly healthy. No radiation sickness, and they are carefully vetted before they are put up for adoption.’

Nathan was sold. ‘Cool! I want a radioactive puppy!’

‘And if we don’t get one, we will find another shelter pup that needs us, agreed?’ his mom said.

‘Okay!’ Nathan said.”

“What happened that they had to evacuate, Grandpa?” Kylie asked.

“It was a meltdown!” Joel said. “We learned about it in school. Some kind of power plant in Russia. It went nuclear. Like, psssh!” He made a sound that mimicked an explosion and motioned with his hands.

“Well, it didn’t actually blow up, but it was really bad. It happened back in the eighties. They used some pretty dangerous stuff to make electricity in the old days. The power plant at Chernobyl had a bad accident. All the land around it became poisoned from radiation, and the people had to evacuate. The place is still deserted today. You can see pictures on the internet of all the empty buildings. There’s even a deserted amusement park. And nobody can go there even now, because it’s still radioactive.”

“But what about all the animals?” Kylie asked.

“A lot of them got left behind to fend for themselves. Some died, and some just went wild. There was still a working power plant there, thirty years later. And the workers started feeding some of the wild dogs that were running around. And, as dogs do, some of them became friendly again. Eventually, some rescue organizations got wind of it and started to capture the dogs. The wilder ones got checked by vets, fixed so they couldn’t have any more puppies, and then set free again. And they started catching the puppies and finding homes for them.”

The old man took a sip of his coffee, which had gotten cold, and continued the story.

“June twenty-fifth was a date Nathan never forgot, because it was the happiest day of his life. School was out for the summer, but most importantly, the time had come to bring home the new puppy. Surprisingly, their application for a Chernobyl pup had been accepted and they were minutes away from meeting their new family member. Nathan and his mother paced the waiting room of the SPCA, too excited to sit down.

They didn’t know much about the puppy, other than it was a male, approximately four months old, and would grow to be a medium to large-sized dog. The breed was anyone’s guess, but it was said that some of the wild dogs had been running in wolf packs, so the puppy might even have had some wolf in it.

A woman came from the back room, holding a wriggling bundle of black-and-white fur in her arms. When the puppy saw the new people, he squirmed away from the woman. He ran to Nathan, slipping and sliding on the floor on huge, clumsy feet. The puppy whined and wagged his tail so hard his whole body wagged. He licked Nathan’s face, covering it with dog slobber, but Nathan didn’t mind.

‘I’m going to call you Charlie, and we’re going to be best friends!’ he told the dog.”

“Oh!” Kylie squealed. “Just like –”

“Will you shut up and stop interrupting!” her brother said.

“That’s ok. She’s just excited. Right sweetie?” The old man gave Kylie a knowing wink.

“Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. Charlie. He named the dog Charlie, and they were the best of friends from that day forward. They were inseparable.

To most people, Charlie seemed like an average puppy; he liked to chew, had boundless energy and loved Nathan more than life itself. As far as Nathan was concerned, Charlie was exceptional. He was bright and obedient, and easy to train.

Charlie loved to fetch, and his favorite toy was the Frisbee. After he had shredded several regular Frisbees, Nathan bought him a special chew-proof one designed for dogs. Every day they walked to the dog park, rain or shine, to play fetch. Charlie didn’t really need a leash, but Nathan put one on him to and from the dog park to keep the neighbors happy.

One particularly blustery autumn day, Nathan threw the Frisbee and a gust of wind caught it, sending it sailing over the fence and onto the busy street next to the park. Charlie was in hot pursuit. Without missing a beat, he leaped over the fence – a six-foot-high chain link fence it was – and dashed into the traffic. Nathan didn’t have time to wow over the amazing feat of fence-jumping he’d just witnessed – he had to get his dog.

He dashed through the gate, shouting, ‘Charlie! Stop!’ but Charlie was on a mission.

Nathan was too late. The driver of the truck couldn’t possibly have stopped in time, even if he had seen Charlie.

It happened in slow motion, to Nathan’s eyes. The big eighteen-wheeler mowed Charlie down and ran over him, first with the front wheel, and then both sets of wheels on the trailer. He watched in horror as Charlie was flung like a rag doll from one set of dual wheels into the path of the second set.”

“No!” Kylie cried. “You didn’t tell us he was going to die! I don’t like this story.” She looked like she was going to cry.

“Shh! Don’t interrupt!” Joel hissed.

“Don’t worry, it gets better,” the old man assured her.

“Anyhow, there Charlie was, lying in the road, just a limp bundle of black-and-white fur. Nathan’s knees felt weak. He wanted to collapse, but he willed himself to stay standing. He wasn’t going to leave Charlie out there in the traffic, even though he knew it was too late to save him. Tears streaming down his face, Nathan ran toward the scene of the worst horror imaginable.

He reached the edge of the road, and then the unthinkable happened.

Charlie stood up, shook himself off, and walked over to pick up the Frisbee from the street. He trotted happily over to Nathan, holding his head high in the air all proud-like. All he cared about was that he’d gotten the Frisbee. He knew he was a good boy.

Nathan checked him over, and he looked fine. Not a scratch on him, just black marks on the white part of his fur from the rubber tires. He rushed home to tell his parents, but they didn’t believe him. They thought he was exaggerating, but they brought Charlie to the vet just in case.

Dr. Michaels found nothing wrong with him. No injuries of any kind. She explained to Nathan in a condescending way that the wheels of the truck had missed Charlie when the truck passed over him.

‘But what about those black marks in his fur?’ Nathan said. ‘That’s rubber from the tires. I saw the tires run over him.’

“That’s probably grease from the underside of the truck,’ Dr Michaels said. ‘See? That reinforces what I was telling you. The truck straddled him. The tires missed him. He’s one lucky dog.’

Nathan didn’t argue further, but he knew what he’d seen. The most important thing was, his best friend was okay.

Fall turned into winter. Charlie loved the snow as much as he loved everything else. He found fun in everything he did. He learned to ride a toboggan and tried to fetch snowballs. He discovered hockey, which Nathan and his friends played on the frozen pond. Charlie was an excellent goalie.

One day in the middle of a game, they heard screams. Nathan and his friends rushed to help, with Charlie racing alongside.

A crowd of kids were gathered around, and it turned out a small child had fallen into an ice fishing hole. Usually they’ll put some kind of barrier or safety cones to let skaters know there’s a hole, you know. But this jerk, whoever the fisherman was, had just left an open hole there.

The little boy had been skating with his mother. She had already called 911, but time was running out. The poor woman was in hysterics.

Nobody could reach the kid; the hole was too small and the kid had sunk too deep. By the time someone got there with something to cut the hole bigger, it would be too late. That little boy was a goner.

Charlie pushed through the crowd and slithered into the hole like an eel. Nathan wouldn’t have believed the dog would fit, but he did. But how was he going to get out? Now they had lost Charlie as well. Nathan peered into the depths of the hole, trying to get a glimpse of Charlie or the little boy, but saw only blackness. Minute after agonizing minute passed.

They heard sirens in the distance, but Nathan knew help wouldn’t get there in time.

There was still no sign of Charlie. More than five minutes had passed since he dove through the hole in the ice. Nathan started to think that this time Charlie wouldn’t be so lucky.

And then, he saw a glow under the water. The light grew brighter, and then Charlie surfaced, holding the collar of the little boy’s jacket in his teeth. The boys pulled the child out of the water and passed him to his mother.

Nathan helped Charlie climb out of the hole. The dog shook the water from his fur nonchalantly, as though he had just taken a fun little swim.

Nathan hugged him tight and told him what a good boy he was.

The paramedics arrived and performed CPR on the little boy and wrapped him in blankets, then carried him to the ambulance.

The boy survived, thanks to Chernobyl Charlie.

And then there was the time when Nathan was sixteen, and he took a camping trip with a few of his friends. And Charlie, of course. Charlie was a great camping buddy because he was also a night light. You see, he glowed with a soft greenish light when he was happy. All it took was a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears to turn the light on. Or telling him he was a good boy; that worked too.

So, on this camping trip, the boys hiked a ways into the wilderness, to a spot beside a nice little lake. They planned stay a couple of days and do some fishing. The first day, they caught a nice bunch of trout. They cooked a few over the fire for dinner, and packed the rest in ice in the cooler.

Well, it turned out, a bear had caught the scent of their fish. Late at night after the campfire had died down, the bear came into the camp to steal the fish. It was a big bear, too. A Grizzly. The boys had hung all their food in a tree, the way you’re supposed to when you’re camping, but this bear was determined. Mr. Grizzly smelled that food and wasn’t leaving until he found it.”

Kylie shivered and pulled the blanket more tightly around her. “This is scary.” She glanced over at the tent, where she and her brother would be sleeping that night.

“Don’t be a fraidy-cat. There aren’t any Grizzlies around here. Right Grandpa?” Joel said.

“Right. Don’t worry, you’re perfectly safe. I promise there are no Grizzlies here. Remember, the boys were high in the mountains, out in the wilderness.”

“What happened next?” Kylie asked.

“Well, the boys woke to the sound of the bear rampaging through the camp. And I’m not gonna lie, they were plenty scared. They had hung up the food, but not all of it. They had snack foods in the tent with them. A bear’s nose is sensitive enough to detect even a small amount of food. They didn’t have anything to use as a weapon. All they had was an axe, and it was beside the fire.

Charlie started growling. Nathan tried to shush him, but he wanted out of that tent something awful. He started tearing at the door of the tent until he found an opening in the zipper and forced his way through. He charged at the bear, barking and snarling like he’d lost his mind.

He chased the bear away from camp, and in the distance the boys could hear the sounds of a horrible fight – snarls, roars, branches breaking. Once again, Nathan thought his dog was done for.

A while later, Charlie returned. He was covered in blood but otherwise just fine. The boys were pretty shook up. They cut their trip short, packed up the camp and left as soon as it got light. On the hike back, they came across a gruesome sight on the trail. The remains of a large Grizzly bear. The bear had been ripped to shreds. Like it had gone through a meat grinder or something. One of the boys commented how lucky they were that the marauding bear had killed another bear instead of them.

Nathan knew that the bear hadn’t been killed by another bear.

Chernobyl Charlie just panted and smiled. He knew he was a good boy.”

“Time for bed, kids! Say goodnight to Grandpa!” Laura had joined them sometime during the part about the bear.

“But Mom! He’s not done the story yet!”

“I’m done for tonight. We’ll tell more stories about Chernobyl Charlie tomorrow.”

“Give Grandpa a hug.”

Kylie and Joel hugged their grandfather.

“Goodnight, Grandpa. Thanks for the story,” Joel said.

“What happened to Charlie? Like, did he live with Nathan forever?” Kylie asked.

“Well, you know, sweetie, dogs don’t live as long as we do, but I’m sure he had a good long life. Charlie was pretty special.”

After the children were tucked into their sleeping bags, Laura returned and sat next to the fire.

“You know, Nate, I wish you wouldn’t tell them scary stories before bed. Grizzly bears? Can’t you make up something a little, I don’t know… nicer?”

“What’s nicer than a dog that saves the day? Besides, it’s all true.”

“I mean, I know you believe it’s true, but seriously. It’s pretty far-fetched.”

“I promise I’ll tell them a ‘nice’ story next time, ok?”

“OK. Thank you.” She stood and gave him a hug. “You’re a good grandfather. I appreciate all you do for them.” With that she went into the house.

“Don’t mind her, Charlie,” Nate said to the old black-and-white dog that lay at his feet. “I know how special you are.”

Charlie thumped his tail on the ground and a soft greenish glow emanated from his body. He knew he was a good boy.

 

Copyright © 2018 Mandy White

 

 

Mandy White photo

Mandy White

Mandy White is a Canadian writer from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

A recluse by nature and avid fan of the outdoors, Mandy can often be found lurking in the forest, daydreaming dark thoughts that inevitably come to life in print. Her work often features Canadian characters and locations; she delights in twisting her everyday surroundings into weird and disturbing tales.

Caution: if you happen to cross her path, you may find yourself in an upcoming story.

Author of several published books, Mandy is particularly fond of short stories. She is a founding member of WPaD (Writers, Poets and Deviants),a group of writers known for publishing multi-genre charity anthologies.

She has published a series of short story collections calledDysfictional(Dysfunctional Fiction)

You can read many of her short stories on her blog: Dysfictional (Dysfunctional Fiction)

To learn more about Mandy White’s books, visit her website: http://mandywrite.weebly.com/

 

Cat-Writing-1

A note from Juliette

I wouldn’t be blogging today if I hadn’t had the much needed support from Mandy White. Mandy is my writing cohort and friend. We’ve worked on many projects over the years with WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and worked together supporting and mentoring fellow writers.

Over the years I’ve featured quite a few of her stories on this blog.

  1. Heart Shaped Box by Mandy White
  2. We’re Not So Different by Mandy White
  3. Beneath the Bed by Mandy White
  4. Just One Kiss by Mandy White

This is how I feel when Mandy White sends me a story to share:

giphy

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman