Short Story Sunday: Motorhome

Motorhome
An Austin and Elizabeth Story

Austin grew up knowing that Grammy didn’t have many filters. She’d say anything she wanted to anyone. Austin’s mother said Grammy had always been rude. Grammy said she was giving out good advice that might make people want to do something about their situations. Everyone was in a situation so everyone was told what they needed to do.

Grammy’s caretaker, a lovely woman named Kayla, had texted Austin the following:

“Just a warning, Grammy is in a mood today. Completely speaking with no filter. We talked to Tom across the street. Grammy asked how they were doing and before he could say anything she said, “well it looks like you and your wife have completely given up on loosing weight.” I nudged her in hopes she would stop but it didn’t work. She then went on to say, “I thought you guys were dieting. Looked like you’ve completely given up on losing weight. Tom was so red embarrassed. I said he is healthy and happy and always smiling, so I told him to have a nice day and closed the door before Grammy could say anything else. I then said “OMG Grammy u can’t ever tell people that they are overweight. Ever. Men or women. It is not to be discussed. Don’t tell women they look pregnant. None of it. She said “Well maybe if I say something that will make them want to lose weight.” I said, “NO. NO. NO. Nothing you say will change them. You’re just being terrible at that point. No more ever.” Grammy’s mind is in it’s own place sometimes. Tomorrow is a new day. I told her she is the cutest sweetest little Grammy in the world. She has to stop thinking and saying such negative things.”

Austin was mortified. Tom had been a good friend for years, and would do anything for Grammy. But sweet little Grammy had a dark suspicious side. She’d grown up in the Deep South where people generally have fewer filters than those from other regions of the country. She’d also grown up in a family of Vampire Hunters. It was in their blood, no pun intended.

When Austin arrived at Grammy’s house he wondered who the old motor home in the driveway belonged to.

Kayla, a rail thin brown haired, blue eyed woman in her forties came out to meet him. She and her college student son Colt live with Grammy and took care of her in her great big family home. At one time Austin had tried to get Grammy to sell her house and move into a smaller house in his neighborhood, just three houses down from him, but she’d have none of it. She’d rather complain about money and upkeep than move out of the house she’d lived in for sixty-two years.

“Is someone visiting?” Austin looked toward the motor home.

“I bought that last week. I’m going to take Grammy on a road trip.”

It was a small 1981 motor home complete with faded orange and red stripes on the outside.

“Wow, look at this thing,” said Austin.

“Come inside. Take a look,” said Kayla inviting him in through the back door.

Grammy was sitting on an orange couch that could fold out into a double bed. There was a table, a small kitchen, four captain’s chairs, and a tiny bathroom complete with a toilet, sink, and a shower.

“Hey, Grammy,” Austin said bending down to kiss her.

Grammy was small, and still quite pretty for an eighty eight year old lady. Her white hair had been done up the day before with pink foam curlers. She wore bright pink lipstick, a pink flowered shirt, and matching pink pants.

Grammy took his hands, “Austin. What do you think of our new castle on wheels?”

“Great,” said Austin. “The orange and red carpet is pretty ugly, but otherwise it’s great.”

“I don’t see any problems with the carpet. It looks almost new to me,” said Grammy. “Now, Austin, are you still seeing that Vampire girl?”

Austin was in love with a woman who just happened to be a Vampire. He knew it wasn’t exactly the right thing to do but…

“But,” he said, “Grammy, Elizabeth isn’t a shadow creeper, or one of those ghoulish undead types. She lives a pretty normal life. You know the kinds of Vampires I help get rid of, and Elizabeth isn’t one of them.”

“You know those Vampires aren’t right. They do nothing but cause problems. Austin you’re an idiot for getting involved with one.”

“Grammy, Elizabeth isn’t that different from us.”

“That’s what you say. But the next thing you know they’ll be coming out of the shadows. I bet you the first thing they’ll do is call the ACLU and get a bunch of lawsuits in place against us normal people asking for rights and then some. Then they call AARP because they’re all older than dirt. You can’t trust them Austin. Listen to me. You are going to have nothing but trouble ahead of you. Nothing but trouble.”

“OK Grammy, I get your point.”

“I hope so. I don’t want you marrying one of those things. You haven’t have sexual intercourse with that Vampire of yours yet have you?”

“Grammy, I’m not going to talk about this anymore.”

“Are you still killing Vampires?”

“Only the ones without souls.”

“Well, how do you know if they have souls? They’re all a bunch of fanged faced liars.”

“Grammy, I know. I’m a Vampire Hunter. I can tell. It’s in my blood.”

“Well, your blood will be their blood if you don’t watch out.”

Kayla, who’d gone inside to make iced tea, came back out with three tall cold glasses full of iced tea with fresh mint. This wasn’t the popular sweet tea, but strong freshly brewed black tea with just a hint of lemon and mint. Grammy wouldn’t allow anyone to ruin her good tea with the addition of sugar.

Grammy took a sip of her tea and said, “I don’t know why your mom and dad had to name you after a city.”

Kayla smiled. “Be nice Grammy. You know Austin was where they fell in love.”

“Well, maybe. But it sounds like a character out of a trashy cheap romance novel,” said Grammy.

And she wasn’t kidding.

Austin had dinner with Kayla, her son Colt, and Grammy. They’d dined on garlic coated shrimp in a pasta, along with mushrooms and more garlic. Grammy always made sure she had garlic in all of her food to keep the Vampires away now that she had retired. Austin knew for a fact that garlic didn’t keep Vampires away.

Conversation became pleasant and without any caustic remarks. Grammy was charming and full of joy. Kayla looked relieved.

As Austin left his Grammy gave him a hug and a kiss. Then she said, “I wish you’d find a normal girl.”

Austin smiled and said, “Normal girl? Grammy, you of all people should know there is no such thing.”

Grammy just said, “pasha,” and closed the door in her grandson’s face.

 

~ End

Read all of the Austin and Elizabeth Stories (The Hunter Series) from the start.  Click here for the full set.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Demons

I’ve had several posts mentioning Demons, especially concerning my brother Max. A few years ago I visited him at his house in San Francisco. Our parents and brother Andy, also live in the City by the Bay. I’m the one everyone calls when things get weird. Max is single and lives alone, and I’m also married to Teddy, his best friend since childhood.

Anyway, this is why we don’t like Demons around, at least one of the reasons.

strangereyes

My eldest brother Max, for those of you who don’t know, is one of those alpha Vampires who hunts Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires and all sorts of nasty evil and just plain annoying creatures and things that go bump in the night. He is a hunter and sometimes a killer – that said, he and his associates protect us all from things we shouldn’t need to deal with.

Max looked like Hell warmed over. He’d been out on a call and found himself up against a group of Demons. Yes, that kind of Demon – nasty and evil, no doubt straight from Hell and running rampant trying to cause problems anywhere it could.

Teddy still has the cold hard fear of Demons. That isn’t a bad thing. We don’t like them. They’re creatures that don’t derive from humanity but like goblins, have no problems pretending they derive from humans.

A long nasty deep pair of scratches ran across Max’s arm. There was no sign of healing on the ugly red marks. He’d been cornered and put up a fight before his back-up team arrived. The Demons were taken care of but not first without doing damage to Max and who knows who or what else.

Late into the night we talked over several bottles of wine and blood. Our brother Andy came by as well for a few hours to visit. Max was restless the entire night. Just before dawn we all retired to spend a rare day sleeping (Teddy and I live during the daylight due to school hours.)

I was awake before dusk. It was a beautiful clear day. From the back window I could see a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay going out into the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. No wonder Max loved living here so much.

In the kitchen making tea I discovered Max’s old friend Celeste. She was beautiful beyond compare, wearing nothing but a pair of black lace panties and a magnificent seal skin coat. That wasn’t unusual because Celeste is a Selkie. On the land she is a women and in the ocean a seal. I was and wasn’t surprised to find her there. Max says he won’t mingle with those who aren’t like him, but I know who his friends are. I have no problems with Celeste or her kind.

Celeste rolled her shoulders and told me about my brother. “He called me last night. Said he needed some distraction. You know how Max is. His brain just gets full or he gets bothered and doesn’t know what to do about it. You know, Juliette we’re just friends with benefits. I just fuck him and talk. Nothing else. You think I’d be crazy enough to fall in love with a Vampire? Not on your life. Just friends. Always just friends.

Celeste then put a wedge of lemon in her tea and continued, “There is someone else, a Vampire girl he has a strange sort of bond with, but he doesn’t want any emotional entanglements with her. He was afraid she’d be too much for him, for his heart. I’ve never seen a guy try to logic and think his way out of falling in love like Max has this time.”

I saw a long burn along Celeste’s arm. “Oh that. I brushed against Max’s arm where the demon scratched him. Damned if it didn’t burn me too. The salt water will heal it. But you need to check in on him. He’s in pretty bad shape. The Demons really got to him this time and not just physically. They really fucked with him big time,” she told me in her whiskey and silk voice.

I took her arm and looked at the burn. It was hot to the touch. I spit on my finger and rubbed it along the burn.

“It stopped hurting. Thanks,” she said with a smile full of sharp white teeth. It was a smile that she won’t show a Regular Human. I have to admit I was flattered.

After a bit more small talk she left and no doubt went back into the Pacific Ocean and turned back into a seal.

I went upstairs to Max’s room. He was asleep, curled in soft gray blankets wearing a black silk robe. I took his arm and looked at the deep scratches that had turned an angry blackish red.

He opened his eyes. The usual blue gray hazel had turned dark, almost a dull black. I could tell he wasn’t well.

“I saw Celeste. She is worried about you.”

He gave me a “join the club” look. He didn’t need to say it out loud.

Taking his arm, I put my hand over the poisoned gashes and saw the ugly face of the Demon who clawed him.

“Don’t little sister. You’ll get sick,” Max said.

Ignoring him pricked my finger with the tip of my fang and let a drop of blood fall on his wounds. I put my hand back on his arm and willed the poison away.

Yes, I did end up making it to the bathroom before I threw up and almost fell over from my head spinning, but I was fine after a few minutes (ok hours). The poison wasn’t meant for me so I was fine – bothered but fine. It could have stayed with Max for weeks or even months. It could have set him back into a spiral of depression and hopelessness that if not taken care of could have done permanent damage. Demons are like that. They’re horrible evil things.

I kissed his cold cheek and left my brother to sleep.

When someone you love is poisoned by Demons you need to help them get through it – no matter what kind of Demons. They do a lot of damage, but it can be fixed. Demons hate any kind of love or understanding and will poison us against it. So we fight them. And those like Max fight them so they can’t hurt anyone else.

Like I’ve said, when you’re a Modern Vampire every single day has the potential of being weird, but we do what we can do avoid it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

New horizons and dirty dogs (Musings on a Saturday)

They came in groups of four until their number reached almost 500. All in black robes. Some had blood red sashes. Some had medals. Victory was finally theirs. They will rule the world.

Why, no, this is not the start of some epic and lofty Vampire tale. It was GRADUATION DAY yesterday. My daughter Clara graduated from high school! Woo Hoo. It was a lovely ceremony. A lot of music by the kids. Good speeches. I can’t imagine nicer group of young adults. Yes, I got choked up a few times.

Now what? We’re done with K-12 education at my house. Done. Wow. It feels good. It was awesome. It was wonderful. OK. I’m still MOM.

Garrett flew up for the event and will go back down for the last week of college. In the fall he’ll be a Senior at the big university. Clara will be a Freshman at the small college the transfer to the same big university. Her brother might or might not be in Graduate school there when she gets there. We’ll see.

So now what? I have jury duty next week. When I’m asked what I do I will not say, “I write about Vampires and parenting.” I’ll tell them one of the many other “normal” things I do for a living.

I can hear my brother Andy and Clara with their guitars playing and singing Enter the Sandman. Out on the deck the dog and cat are scuttling around while the squirrels bark at them from the trees.

I’m thinking of symbiotic relationships like being a Vampire, or a parent, or a writer, or an artist, or… nothing and just letting my mind finally empty of everything.

And since no Vampire can abide a stinky dog I’ll be leaving in a few minutes to take my 85 pound stinky pup to the self dog wash. Dogs think their motto should be I stink therefore I am. I’m not in agreement. So time to slip on the flip flops and get going. No slinky tight Elvira dresses, and heaven forbid no Vampirella red thong things for me. I’m a little more practical. Most Vampires are. We have dogs to wash, and other regular things we need to deal with too.

I tell my kids that if you insist on being lurking in shadows, sleeping in coffins, and living in some creepy old ruin, you’re going to starve. Seriously, you can get closer to anyone if you smell nice, look nice, and act nice. That goes for anyone who isn’t a Vampire too.

That also goes for dogs, so I’m off. Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Saturday. I’ll be back next week with new adventures and rambling thoughts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Alley

Taking a short cut through a downtown alley wasn’t always like it was in the movies. He’d rarely witnessed crimes, or found dumped bodies among the dumpsters and rats. The smells were close to death but not quite. Urine and sun roasted garbage were the aromas of the night. No night-blooming jasmine for this short cut.

Walking along he wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t anything to fear except maybe stepping on something disgusting he’d have to scrape off of his shoe later. But then he saw her standing at the end of the alley.

Had she been a cat he would have taken her home, or found her a forever home, but she was not.

“Hi Val,” she said in a girlish voice. She sounded like she was maybe twelve instead of twenty eight.

“Nikki. You look good.”

She looked good for Nikki. Val hadn’t seen her this clean, well, maybe ever. She’d been homeless on and off for the four years he’d known her. Tonight was the first time he’d seen her in a dress. Even through the bad teeth, unhealthy chalky skin, and the constant fidgeting he could tell she’d once been pretty.

“My cousin Josh took me shopping. Got me this dress, and the sweater. Do you like it. The sweater is sort of like lace, all light like, for the summer. First new clothes I’ve worn in maybe six years.”

“Are you living somewhere?”

“I have my own room in the back of Josh’s building, out by the alley so I have, like my own private entrance. I have a bathroom too. The toilet is in the shower because it is really small. Sometimes when I take a shower I just pee on the floor over the drain. I always laugh because the toilet is right there.”

“What are you doing out here?” It was 3:00 am. He knew why she was out.

Nikki crossed her arms and leaned from one foot to the other. “Just doing some business, you know.”

“Looking for a fix?”

“Maybe, and a little romance.”

Val knew she traded sex for drugs. She kept talking.

“Um, Josh won’t let me bring guys home. I can’t do drugs, drink, or smoke at my room. Those are his rules. You know, I do stuff for him like clean up in the back, mop up, dishes, take out the garbage, and stuff. Maybe I’ll get to cook or work up front one day. He said if I work hard he’ll pay to get my teeth fixed. Ramon said if I go back to school he’ll help me too.”

Val knew Ramon, the high school kid who was headed off to U.C. Berkeley. Nice kid who wanted to get a degree in mathematics and change the world.

“You should go home Nikki. Forget the fix. You look so pretty tonight. Don’t waste it on some creeper. You don’t need to get high,” said Val.

“Maybe if you’d turn me into a Vampire I wouldn’t need it. If you turned me into a Vampire I’d stop hurting all the time. I’d be pretty again.”

“You’d die Nikki.”

“Better than living my life.”

“Don’t say that Nikki. Never say that.”

She looked down at the ground, then leaned up against a parked car. “Tell me a story Val, about when you were my age.”

He’d been telling her stories to get her mind off of getting high, or having sex with anyone she could in exchange for the next high. If he could keep her up until the sun came up then she’d be safe from the evils of the night.

“In 1886 I was twenty eight, same age as you are. My sister and I were in London. Jack the Ripper was in the news. We were at a party…”

“What was she wearing Val? Tell me what your sister was wearing.”

“A cream colored silk dress adorned with purple roses, millions of ruffles and a huge bustle in back. Her hair was piled high on her head in curls all done up with pearls and ivory combs. She danced for hours with a wealthy handsome son of a Duke.”

“Did she drink his blood?”

“Of course she did.”

“Did she make love to him?”

“In a way he would never forget, or get over. He’d never fall out of love with the mysterious woman he’d danced with all night.”

Nikki hugged herself as Val continued to tell her a half true story, embellishing it with more romance than reality.

He walked her home, and kept her talking until the first light of the morning started to show in the sky. “Be safe Nikki. Listen to Josh and Ramon. They’re looking out for you. They care. I care.”

He kissed her cheek with his cold lips.

“Why don’t you ever drink my blood Val?”

“You know why Nikki,” he said.

“I’d do you good Val. I’d make that cold blooded…” She continued with a crude and explicit, sexual description of what she would do to him if he’d only take her home to his house, or even behind one of the dumpsters in the alley behind her building. He turned and walked away from her feeling sad, and disgusted.

Two days later Nikki was found dead in her little room, wearing one of her new sundresses. She’d had unprotected sex with at least three different men that night. She’d died of an overdose of a cocktail of drugs too lethal for most people to imagine.

Before Josh opened his restaurant for breakfast Val stopped by to give him his condolences. Josh shook his head. He’d done everything he could to help Nikki.

“She was always a lost soul. So much talent. Aw man, she was so beautiful once. She just got in with the wrong guys, one right after another. They took everything from her. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone,” Josh told Val, wiping his eyes.

Ramon stood listening then said, “Nikki could have so much hope. Just yesterday she was telling me she wanted to go back to college. She wanted to live. Then she went on again about her friend who was going to turn her into a Vampire, and she’d be young and pretty again, and live forever. She said she was in love with this guy, this Vampire. It was creepy. She was nuts. Sorry Josh, but…” His voice trailed off as he wiped a tear off of his face.

Val wished them the best. That afternoon he made a large donation to a local women’s shelter. Over the past one hundred and fifty nine years he’d seen many lost souls. One slutty little druggie shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Nikki was nothing to him. Then again, she could have been everything to someone if anyone other than Josh or Ramon had cared.

Had she been a stray cat he would have taken her in. Had she been clean he might have taken her forever.

~ End.

This story was first published in August, 2016

For more short stories CLICK HERE.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Boys Will Be Boys

 

Adam had heard the stories about Luther.

When they were kids Luther would go out to the fields behind Grandma’s house and shoot anything that moved. It started with birds and rabbits. Then it moved on to cats. Luther had an almost gleeful vendetta to shoot any cat he was that wasn’t in somebody’s yard.

Luther’s parents (Adam’s aunt and uncle) just shrugged and said, “boys will be boys.” They figured that Luther wouldn’t grow up to be a sissy. When Adam told them he only shot animals with a camera they just laughed.

When Luther’s daughter was afraid of an excited terrier pup he told everyone he was going to shoot the dog. That would be after he kicked it, beat it, and refused to give it food for almost a week. Luther’s sister Belinda gave Luther an earful, called him an asshole, and took the dog. It was the second dog she’s rescued from Luther.

A few years later he starved a German Shepard. That dog was rescued by his cousin Janice.

He continued to shoot cats. His wife continued to post photos of their pets on social media. It was a different group of pets every other year. She talked of how sweet their fur babies were and how much she loved them. It sort of made Adam sick.

It reminded Adam of a strange creepy family that had rented the house next to his a few years back. The four children would look at him though cracks in the fence and say strange things.

One day the oldest, the only boy, whispered, “my sister is retarded, do you want to see her dance?” Then the child popped his head over the fence and yelled, “my sister is retarded, do you want to see her dance? My mom said you’re gay because you don’t have a family. Do you want to see our kittens?”

The parents knew the children loved kittens more than anything else. They let their cats have a littler of kittens, then they’d take the mother to the pound and keep the kittens. When the kittens started to look and act more like cats they would take them to the pound and keep one or two females to have more kittens. The sick cycle would continue.

One day Adam’s seven year old niece Aurora was visiting. The creepy children came to the fence and whispered mean things. Adam turned the hose on them. An hour later the mother of the children came over claiming that Aurora had said mean things about their special needs child. Adam called her a liar and an animal abuser and threatened to have them evicted. Luckily for Adam they were gone within a month for not paying their rent.

A nice couple with a beautiful well behaved, well loved dog moved in. They were the perfect neighbors. It turned out that they were con-artists. They’d call the County offices and file complaints against their landlord and then refuse to pay rent. It had been a pattern with them. With a little effort and a few code violations they never had to pay for lodging – never ever. Then they vanished and the landlords sold the house and Adam bought it and rented it out to friends.

Now twenty years later he was out of town for Aurora’s wedding, and the entire family was there. Aurora was hesitant about inviting Luther to the wedding, but his kids were sweet, and everybody liked his wife. Adam wondered what kind of woman would marry a man who abused animals.

At the reception Adam’s longtime girlfriend Brandy told him about Luther bragging about dumping a dog at the lake. He said everybody dumped dogs there. Then he’d laughed about it. The dog was worthless but at least he hadn’t shot it.

Adam had once asked Luther why he was so mean to animals. Luther said, “I hate cats. I don’t know why. They’re worthless. Dogs on the other hand need to know their place. If they scare my kids, or pee in the house I’m going to shoot their asses. They’re just dogs. It isn’t like they have souls.”

Luther’s girls liked puppies but only if they didn’t jump or nip like puppies tend to do.

Then Brandy looked up at the dusky sky and said, “Full moon tonight Adam.”

Adam kissed her, then went to get more wine.

“Look at the moon,” said Luther. Then he laughed. “Let’s go shoot some werewolves.”

The next morning, after the bride and groom had left for Hawaii, Luther’s wife said he was missing.

Luther was found in the woods behind Grandma’s old house. He’d been gutted by wild animals. The police said it looked like it might have been wild dogs, or maybe even a bear.

Adam and Brandy skipped the funeral and drove up the coast to his beach house. That night he lit a candle in memory of all of the cats and dogs who’d suffered abuse at the hand’s of humans.

He found Brandy in the bathroom gargling with salt water. “What’s the matter honey?” He asked her as he rubbed her back.

“I don’t know Adam. I just can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth.”

“I know the feeling well,” he said, then went to the kitchen and opened a bottle of wine. It was a nice full Zinfandel, guaranteed to mellow out the evening. He poured a glass for himself, and one for Brandy. Then he went outside and listened to the sound of the waves, and the light house horn, and tried to empty his mind, until the next full moon night.

~ End