Short Story Sunday: Male Bonding

Male Bonding (a family story)

Hot flashes. Andy’s girlfriend had been having horrible hot flashes. When you date Vampire women you don’t have to worry about that. On the other hand Vampire women were, well, a bit cold. He laughter at his own joke. Damn, there was nothing sexier than a smart middle-aged woman.

Unfortunately Shawna of the Hot Flashes wasn’t at his house this weekend. This was a weekend of male bonding. This was a weekend of cold powerful Vampire testosterone.

Coffee – check. Bacon – check. Cats fed – check. A man screaming…

Was that glass breaking? Someone yelled, “HEY. What the crap?”

Andy ran upstairs to find his nephew Garrett in the hallway. They look at each others with wide eyes and ran together into the bedroom room his other nephew Logan was in.

Wild colors spun around the bed – a crazy halo of nasty creatures with big eyes and transparent wings.

Logan lay on the bed batting his hands at the onslaught.

“Stop. NOW,” yelled Andy.

The creatures stopped mid-air and lined up on the footboard of the bed. They crossed their little legs and smoothed out their skirts. One of them giggled. Andy gave her a death look then she slapped her hand over her mouth and snorted. Then they all started to giggle.

“Damn Fairies.”

The night before they’d gone out to a rave the night before. His sister would kill him for bringing her almost nineteen year old son along but he’d take his chances. The kids needed a night of dancing, booze and blood. Logan, at the ripe old age of twenty-four was an experienced Vampire and officially an adult. Sure, his mom would be pissed off too but Andy really didn’t care. The boys needed to live and be men – Vampire men.

All females had been banned from the house that weekend. Sure it had been tempting to bring a few home last night but Andy had resisted.

Now he stood in front of a line of sixteen giggling little sickening sweet females, with glossimer wings no less.

“Ladies, you need to go,” said Andy.

“Andy, you’re so cute when you’re angry,” said one of the fairies, a lovely vision in a yellow dress.

“Sing us a song Andy,” said the one wearing pink.

“And coffee,” said the one in sparkling white.

“No coffee,” said Andy.

“Coffee,” they all screeched and then swirled around Logan again trying to bite him with their sharp little teeth. Andy and Garrett jumped in trying to knock the fairies away but they continued to bite and scratch.

Andy threw up his hands, “FINE but you have to share cups.”

The fairies stopped and flew downstairs to the kitchen.

Andy looked at his nephews, “I hate fairies.”

“They seem to like you,” said Logan who was inspecting the scratches on his arms.

“Lucky me,” said Andy.

Downstairs they found the fairies drinking coffee out of antique Dresden china cups.

“If any of those cups are broken there will be consequences. Do you understand ladies?”

The fairies scowled at him in unison. Then they demanded bacon and cookies. He didn’t have any cookies so they got apples. Damn fairies.

As the guys settled down for basketball Andy set the fairies up in his office. They all sat in front of his computer screen yelling in their high little voices, “The Notebook. Play the Notebook.”

It was always The Notebook.

Back in the den with baseball was on Logan looked up at his uncle. “So Andy, what’s the deal with the fairies?”

“I don’t know. They like me. Don’t ask me why.”

So much for being the big macho alpha Vampire male. On the other hand girls liked hanging out with him. His nephews should be so lucky…well, maybe.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Masks

“Did you ever go to Ancient Egypt?”

“No, I didn’t. I guess I should have. The generals going to Britain requested that I go there with them as a form of protection or some sort of nonsense. I didn’t want to go. Not really. Then I started thinking that it was north of Rome, so maybe, just maybe I’d get some information about where I’d come from, you know, originally as a toddler.”

“Do you remember your parents?”

“Not really. I remember I was at a place that was home, there were a lot of trees and people who looked like me, then I remember I was someplace else. You’ve asked me all of this before. I know it seems extremely interesting but I’d like to talk about something else now.” He put his hand on Val’s shoulder. “How are you holding up these days? I see you’ve shaved off your beard. Did you do that on your own volition or did a woman put you up to it?”

Val smiled. “It was my idea. I don’t have a woman in my life right now.”

Tellias patted my brother’s knee as he stood up, “Oh you will, you will. You’ve got a good face. Women like good faces.”

The old Vampire, who looked like a nineteen year old kid, stretched his arms from side to side then, looked over at me. “Don’t you think your brother is handsome without the beard?”

“Indeed I do,” I said.

“Indeed he does look handsome as ever,” said Eleora as she danced into the room carrying a basket full of what looked like colorful scraps of fabric. “And now we shall cover you up. Completely up.”

“Completely,” said Tellias.

He took the basked from Eleora, then danced her around the room. “My love, forever. You are why I’m glad I did not go to ancient Egypt and decided to go with the Romans north. When I saw you dancing on the edge of the cliff with the sound of the waves in the background I knew.”

“You knew,” said the brown haired young women who was really over two thousand years old. “I knew. Now we all know.”

“Yes we do,” said Tellias.

“Now, we shall cover up,” she said grabbing a daisy patterned face mask out of her basket. “I made these yesterday.”

“She made them,” said Tellias.

“Two dozen,” said Eleora.

“Yes, two whole dozen. Twenty four,” said Tellias.

“Twenty four,” said Eleora as she hooked it over Val’s ears. “Now you look quite dashing Valentine. Just be careful not to hook your fangs in it.”

“I’ll do my best,” said Val. “Thanks. This is great.”

“You look good in daisies,” said Tellias. “Here Juliette, take the one with roses on it. Pink roses. It suits your hazel eyes.”

We spend the rest of the afternoon, my brother Val, the elders, and I, over iced tumblers of blood with a squeeze of lime and fresh rosemary sprigs. It was over 100°F but we remained cool and happy to be in each other’s company.

In these times of uncertainty make sure you check in on your elders, and those who might need extra help. Even if you can’t see them in person please make that call, or call their caretakers. Just a few moments of your time can make the world of difference to someone isolated or out of touch.

Be aware of your actions, and that even though you might be alright, there are those who are fragile and by wearing a mask you can help prevent their memories and stories from being lost forever.

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Call those you love and check in on them
  • Be cool, even in the heat and again, wear your mask.
  • Help others
  • Talk to your kids
  • Be concerned
  • Take this seriously. We’re not all so lucky to be Vampires. Take it seriously.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop just for a moment

Children are sensitive souls, even when they are almost grown.

When parents are sorting through their own issues, their teens are stoic for the most part. They turn it all inside. That is when we (parents) need to buck it up and watch and listen.

They need us almost more now than when they were toddlers.

The same goes with marriage. By the time kids are teens life is so crazy and complicated and emotionally turned upside down.

We are all so busy and stressed that it just gets overwhelming.

I always say TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. I still say that. But today I have another chant for you. Talk with your spouse/partner. Talk to the other parent in the house. This is assuming the other parent is in the house. If he or she is make the time for them, as well as for the kids.

I know you know this. We just need reminders.

Yesterday my brother Aaron stopped by. Aaron and I are the only married siblings of my parent’s brood of five. He was happy that his young adult children were home for a few weeks, but they were off in their own world. His wife Verity was either with the children or working on a thousand things that had nothing to do with him.

I thought about my own household where we were all coming and going at 3,000 mph.

Stop. Talk. Hug. Say I love you.

“Maybe we’re meant to be solitary creatures,” said my brother.

“We all need our time alone. Is everything ok?” I asked.

“Sure. I’m around my family but they’re not really there.”

We talked more. They ARE there but everyone just gets so tied up in everything but each other.

Sometimes both Aaron and I feel alone, yet we know we are both part of something extraordinarily special and amazing. We have spouses and children who are there for us no matter what, and we are there for them. In turn, we are siblings who are so different, yet we are always here for each other.

I get lost in my own thoughts and issues and forget everyone around me. I become like a shadow. I become invisible. Sure, we’re Vampires so we should be invisible for the most part, but not when it comes to those we love. Nor should we make anyone feel invisible.

So your assignment for today: Love and show it. Your heart might not be beating but it doesn’t mean you can’t make someone feel they are valued and needed.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

sunset heart

First published here June 2015

Letters to my brother…or don’t be sorry that your family isn’t “normal”

From June 2013

letters

Dear Aaron,

I no longer wish to be a Vampire. Please be a dear and do some research for me.

Love,

Your brother Andrew

 

 

Dear Andrew,

You don’t have to remind me that you’re my brother. And are you freaking crazy? You are a Vampire and there is no undoing it. You were born that way. Even if you weren’t there is no undoing it. End of story. So get over it and any girl you’ve recently broken up with.

Aaron

 

 

Dear Aaron,

Your cruel and unfortunate comment hit me to the core.

Andrew

 

 

Andy,

Mom and Dad are on their way down to see you, like they really need to come bail you out again. My wife wasn’t always a Vampire and she said being a regular human is no piece of cake either. Take a deep breath. You’re only 163. You’re young and we all make mistakes.

Aaron

I saw this typical exchange between my brothers. Typical Birth Order study in action. Max is the over achieving golden child eldest, next comes the incredibly phenomenally talented Andrew, in the middle is Aaron who is steady and smart and always has his act together. The last two are my brother Val and me. We’re smart too but we’re fun and, well, we’re fun.

But for some reason Aaron seems to be the one everyone expects to fix things. Somber and serious, but only because he feels he has been forced into it. The happy fun of a large family.

I told my children “marry an only child and make sure you marry and orphan too.” And don’t send me hate mail, I’m just kidding (sort of).

While Aaron was ready to growl, I got on the phone and called Andrew. Mind you he is in Patagonia so it is very long distance with questionable connections but I finally got through, sort of.

First someone answered in Spanish. I told them I wanted to speak to Andrew. Then someone speaking German got on the line. It was German with an odd accent. German with a British accent. It was James, Andrew’s old friend from way back.

“Jewels!” He literally sang my nick name  (in English now) into the crackling phone line. “Are you still with Teddy? If not you know I’m available. Come one down to Argentina and we’ll dance under the Southern stars and make wild love on the deserted beaches…”

“James, I need to speak to Andy.” I told him that while taking a deep internal breath and trying to erase way too many visuals and memories the sound of his voice brought up.

Dear lovely James who can drive the most patient saint crazy. James who has never met a woman who didn’t end up hating him. James who is so sweet and charming that you hate yourself for all the times you want to kill him. James who is once wooed me with such abandon and aggression that I called him a stalker and told him I’d rip out his heart with my bare hands if he didn’t leave me alone. He left me alone and we’ve come to an understanding. We friends, with conditions. But when you’re dealing with a Vampire brother in trouble crazy James is the one to trust. Did I mention that he is also a successful clinical psychologist and marriage counselor? He is. Just thought I’d mention that. Oh right, and he is a Vampire too – just like the rest of us.

Andy’s voice came on the line. His is one of those clean, clear, magical voices of unbelievable tone and beauty that makes a person just want to sit and listen forever no matter what my brothers is saying. Unfortunately he never has much to say that is worth listening to. I love my brother, I really do, but sometimes his lack of everything makes me think I’m talking to a 10-year-old.

“Remember when we were in Paris in 1927 and the entire city seemed to belong to us? I was singing at the Opera house and it was the first time I felt human, like the masses.”

“You shared your gift.” I told my brother quietly. He has such a gift.

“They loved me. They adored my baby sister. Do you remember?”

I remembered but not quite the way Andy did. “How are you Andy?”

“Remember the French girl, the lovely one with the sky blue eyes. She had Lymphoma. I could taste it. I let her go. I helped her until she passed. Jewels we’ll never know. We’ll never know.”

“Nadine. She was lovely. I remember.” I remember he’d been hopelessly in love with her.

“I knew she was sick before she died.”

“I know Andy.”

“Why can’t we help people?”

“We can, but, Andy, you know how it is.”

“That’s why I don’t want to be one of us anymore. I don’t want to be  Vampire.”

“Andy, we can’t change what we were born into. We can’t change our DNA.”

“What about Teddy and Verity? They were born as Regular Humans. They didn’t start as Vampires.”

But they are now and they can’t go back. Teddy (my husband) and Verity (Aaron’s wife) had their own demons to deal with but they resisted the “what if” urge. Acceptance was their key to their survival. And for goodness sake I hope their children and my brother Aaron and I could keep them in the NOW and POSITIVE about their lives.

“Andrew, Teddy and Verity are fine. They’re happy as I want you to be. Oh Andrew, if I had your heart and soul and talent I would be the happiest woman on earth.”

“Vampire woman.”

“Any kind of woman.”

“What if I came home, to you. Could I crash at your place?”

“Of course. Clara is playing the guitar. With her talent she’ll be playing in the Warped Tour in a few years. You could teach her about music and you could sing together and write music together. She knows all about how to make Youtube videos and all of that stuff. It would be wonderful for the both of you.”

“I miss the kids, yours and Aaron’s.”

“Then come home Andy…”

The conversation went on a rambling mess, but by the end the tears and angst had stopped. I knew my parents would be with him in a few hours. I knew he’d be fine, at least for now.

I went into my family room to find Verity asleep with her head on Teddy’s shoulder. They’d married into my crazy family. They also had once been something that my brothers and I never were. They knew what it was like to face death over and over and to fear it and more to accept it. And they knew more than any of us how to face loss of all kinds, and again to accept it. It wasn’t just a waiting game with them as it can become with us. It is always the here and now. It is always NOW.

Aaron had gone upstairs where our kids where, his two home for a summer vacation from college and my two teens.

Family is an odd thing. There is no normal. So never, no matter what you are, be sorry that your family isn’t normal. Maybe on the surface, but never in the deep down soul. We’re all unique – unique alone or unique in a group.

But even if you can’t stand them that weird connection that we can never explain is there, deep within that makes us family and connected and parts of a whole. Even if it is a whole lot of crazy. But for the most part it is a whole lot of love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman (aka Jewels)

 

 Vampires write love letters too

Note: This was one of the first appearances of my brother Andy and his friend James. How some things have changed. OK maybe not. James is still a jerk.

Tangled Tales: Ashes

“I want my ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay,” said my sister Roxanne.

“Do you know how many bodies are dumped in San Francisco Bay every year? You’ll be down there with Laci Peterson’s head,” said Phil.

Jeremy looked shocked. “What?” I don’t know why Jeremy looks shocked at anything Phil says anymore.

“You’re disgusting Phil,” I said. “Why do you even say shit like that?”

Phil didn’t answer. He never did when I called him out about his inappropriate comments.

We kept hiking along the winding path towards the beach, a gray haired foursome of two men and two women. My brothers Phil and Jeremy, and my sister Roxanne and I were finally going to scatter our parent’s ashes.

For years Mom had kept Dad’s ashes in a box in the back of her closet, along with the ashes of our two family dogs Weimar and Clyde. Mom had been gone for two years so it was time.

At 62 I was the youngest. Jeremy was the eldest at 70, with Phil and Roxanne being somewhere in between. We’d spent a lifetime hiking with our parents, each other, then spouses, siblings, children, and grandchildren.

Our family wasn’t one for milestones. Nobody was buried in the ground. Ashes were kept closets or scattered bits at a time on vacations over shots of bourbon. Memorial services were casual. Weddings and major holidays were also hit or mis. The only thing nobody missed were graduations. We were big on education. The one thing we did manage to do was our twice a year all-four-siblings trips to the beach house, which now belonged to me.

As a child we’d camped, but then rented the same beach house year after year. It was in a wooded area with a short path to the beach with a mix of pine and cypress trees. My husband and I purchased the house right after we got married. Our children grew up going there, and we let everyone in the family have time on the calendar.

It was down past the estuary, along the dunes, past the tide pools, and a climb down to the isolated beach that was my parent’s favorite spot.

As we saw our parent’s favorite beach from the trail Phil made one of his uncalled for announcements. “This is where Jeremy was conceived. That is why he was always mom’s favorite. When we were kids they’d come here at night to be alone and fuck like rabbits.”

“Jesus Christ,” said Jeremy.

“Jesus isn’t here Jeremy,” said Phil. “I don’t know what the big deal was about this place. It is cold and hard to get to and it smells like seagull shit. It is like Trump hotel. It touts luxury and uniqueness but it is no better than a best western at quadruple the price with room service that taste like generic freezer burned frozen entrees at best.”

“Shut up Phil,” I said.

“I told you we should have never brought him along,” said Roxanna. “Phil always ruins everything.”

“I ruin everything? Oh Roxy, you are so full of shit. Who was having a boob job when our mother died??”

“It was breast reconstruction surgery after my cancer asshole. Don’t twist things around. I didn’t know Mom was going to die. None of us knew. I was in surgery when we got the call.” Roxanna said. She stood looking like a silver haired goddess ready to strike Phil dead with lightning bolts out of her eyes.

Phil stepped closer to our sister. “You’re so vain. Maybe that song was written about you Roxy. Did you ever think about that? Or were you afraid Chet would leave you for someone else if you didn’t have a full rack?”

Roxanna jumped at Phil with her fist balled up going towards his face. He grabbed her by the wrist and forced her onto one knee. She swung around and hit him in the head with her backpack.

Then it happened. Her pack exploded. Dad’s ashes covered Phil. He looked like he’d just crawled out of a volcano.

Jeremy and I stood in shock. Roxanna sat on the sand, face in her hands and started to cry.

Phil gave a whooping war cry and laughed. “I always told you that Dad had me covered,” he yelled. Then he ran into the surf and dove out into the crashing waves.

After about a half an hour I hiked back up to the beach house and called the police for a rescue crew to help find Phil. Jeremy and Roxanna stayed at the beach.

Phil’s body was never found. He was sixty three. His wife Jenny didn’t seem surprised when we told her what had happened. She said she had expected him to die years ago. Jenny was Phil’s 5th wife. He didn’t have any children, thank goodness. A few weeks later Jenny said she was moving back in with there ex-husband and Jeremy took Phil’s old golden retriever Shasta. Despite Phil being such an asshole Shasta was a remarkably sweet and well behaved dog.

The day after Phil presumably drowned we put Mom’s ashes, and the ashes of her dogs into the water. As we watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean we sang Amazing Grace together.

Later this summer, when maybe the social distancing isn’t so much of an issue, Jeremy, Roxanna, and I will meet again at the beach house with our spouses and our children who are able to make it. We haven’t decided if we are going to tell our kids what happened on the beach.

We didn’t have a memorial service for Phil, blaming it on social distancing. In a normal year I doubt if we would have done anything for him. Maybe his asshole friends or one of his ex-wives might do something. I’ll skip it.

Despite all of the crap Phil always put us through part of me still loves him. Not much. I didn’t say it was a big part. I just remember when we were kids all running down the path to the beach laughing together. Phil was always saying funny things. Only later I realized that he didn’t always mean to be funny. He just didn’t have any filters. Or maybe he was just born a mean spirited jerk. I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I decided it was time to remodel the cabin. I took down the old paintings and stuff Mom had picked out. New furniture was due for delivery. The lumpy old mattresses and hard pillows were thrown into a dumpster with the worn out rugs and pitted yellow kitchen cabinets. I wanted everything to be clean and fresh.

On the bookshelf I arranged a display of family photos going back to our parent’s honeymoon on the beach to last year after Roxanne’s daughter Elizabeth had gotten married in the small beach house backyard. I picked up a photo of Phil, taken when he was younger, just out of graduate school. He stood on the beach looking happy with his long brown hair blowing in the wind. I took the image out of the frame, lit a match and burned it in the fireplace. That would be my memorial to Phil, and the final resting place of his ashes.

“So long Phil,” I whispered. “Rest in peace, and may your spirit stay the hell away from here.”

 

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

©June 2020 Juliette Kings / Marla Todd

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga, Hummingbirds, and Lizards – Staying At Home

I’ve started doing yoga.

Lately I’ve been as stiff as a corpse in full rigor. Inactivity even can have serious consequences for Vampires. Why do you think Vampires who fall asleep inside of walls or coffins stay that way for years and decades and even centuries. They don’t move. They get stiff. And if you don’t have a lot of blood flow you’ll have seriously problems, just like with more warm blooded people. It’s just like that. Just like it.

My daughter, who is finishing up the last quarter of her third year of college, is up for a couple of weeks. She and her roommates still have chosen to keep their apartment and some semblance of normal college life.

She is my yoga companion. I shall continue when she and her boyfriend go back home.

Outside the humming birds have come to my deck in full force. They are Anna’s Humming Birds. They have a song and the males are quite aggressive. They fly and flutter around. I’m ignored, as I pose no threat. This evening on almost landed on my hand. I figure by the end of next week I will have come into contact. It won’t be the first time and no doubt won’t be the last. But there is something about this year’s hummingbirds as well as the other birds and squirrels that is almost too familiar. They don’t care if I’m within inches of them. They know I won’t hurt them. The seem to like the fact that I’m there. I know them all by sight. There is the tiny green one with the red on it’s throat. There is the large one with the red head. Then there is the aggressive tiny guy with the purple throat.

As for the squirrels, they’re always ready to entertain and take anything they like, be it bird food, squirrel food, or the oranges off my tree. They’re welcome to it all.

The lizards have also been out in full force this spring. It is as if all of the animals are locking down and staying in place along with the people.

We’re doing fine.

But I watch the insanity and politicizing of a virus. We what happened when that happened with HIV but of course nobody listened because that was considered a gay thing. It was the elusive them. But this one is all of us. HIV was all of us too but you know where I’m going with this. Even if you don’t catch Covid-19 you’re still part of it. And if you aren’t part of the solution by being careful, wearing a mask, washing your hands, staying at home, being proud of your unkept Covid-19 hair, and respecting others then you are part of the problem. Yes, go to a crowded beach or a full church and YOU are the problem.

Vampires have the luxury of being disgusting and hiding away and drying up until someone comes along and gives them a vein to suck on. You don’t have that luxury. Plus you and most Vampires, and others don’t want to do that.

Don’t be disgusting. Be proactive. Care. That’s all I have tonight.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman