Coveting (or my husband builds a deck)

With the help of a friend my husband is rebuilding our deck. From the house I can hear both cursing and singing. Today our friend is off on an excursion and so Teddy is by himself.

From the window I can see faint outlines of solemn faces watching him work. They wore themselves out during the gold rush and longed for sleep. Now they long for the ability to lift large pieces of lumber and use power tools. Their sad eyes show how they covet a physical body and electricity they never knew during their own mortal lives.

They also look at my husband in distain because he was born in 1849 during his parent’s journey to California. Ghosts are jealous of the living, but even more so of Vampires who often have their bodies for a long long time after most of the ghosts are long forgotten.

So while I’m working on a novel, thinking about new cushions for the deck chairs, and trying to keep the dog, who must stay inside entertained, the ghosts silently watch my husband and wish they had power drills, precut lumber, and cargo shorts.

I know some of them are buried in the small cemetery across the river. They came from far away places – some as far as Ireland. Most of them died before their 45th birthdays. They aren’t the grizzled old miners from the movies, but young vibrant men following a dream. They went to see the elephant and never returned.

From my window I wave at the ghosts and try to shoo them away. Their faces turn towards me all at once in a slow steady motion. I roll my eyes at their drama. They are not amused but they dare not haunt a house full of Vampires. They dare not haunt me, because even though my children are now grown I am still THE MOM.

There are also other ghosts about. I expected to see Nigel, The Ghost, but he as been keeping to himself. Maybe he is tired of insulting me or just ran out of things to say.

Today it cooled off to the 80’s. There is wind and clouds in the sky. I can see fire in the distance, but it looks more like a brush fire than a forest fire or buildings. Wild turkeys walk along the fence with their quail sized babies following along. A deer ran across the field and into the oak forest.  I doubt if the ghosts care. Their eyes are on Teddy building the deck.

Anyway, that is all for today. Nothing else. No moral. No twist.

  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear your mask.
  • Talk to your kids.
  • Check in on your elders.
  • Don’t let the ghosts haunt you. They won’t take your tools.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Juliette’s House

 

 

 

Posts for the Pandemic

As we continue our journey at home together I’ll be writing new posts and updating this information. Check the link on the left sidebar of this blog. Also keep checking back for other posts including short stories from amazing guest authors, my posts, vents, musings, tall tales, and general parenting and vampire posts.

Check out the story Noz from Mike Cooley.  It was posted here on Wednesday April 29, 2020. You’ll thank me for it later.

Stay safe, wash your hands, check in on those who need extra help, hug your kids if they’re at home, keep in touch with friends and family, be creative. Have another cup of coffee.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

coffee

Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

As We Shelter In Place

Lockdown Update
The First Apocalypse, The Truth About Aliens, Missing Links, and Real Pandora’s Box, as Told by A Ghost

Part 1: Vampire Hunters, Staying at Home, Online Learning, Keeping in Touch, and Rolling My Eyes as Usual.

Part 2: Vampire Hunters and Social Distancing

Pandemic Permission to Mourn

Eleora

Dear Social Media Friends

The Good, The Bad, and The Really Bad: Staying Home, Parenting, and Too Much TV.

Write that novel while you’re staying at home. Easy fool proof instructions.

A Whisper In The Night

Staying in with the Ghost

Hunkering Down Dance Party

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Post Apocalyptic Stories

Sam Judge

Captain Sandy And The Airship At The End Of The World

Juliette’s Book Club: Tales from the Edge of Oblivion

Tangled Tales

Vlad’s Vampire Diary

Last Call

Social Distancing

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

Over One Hundred Short Stories and Tangled Tales to Read While You Are Hunkering Down

 

The First Apocalypse, The Truth About Aliens, Missing Links, and Real Pandora’s Box, as Told by A Ghost

A figure in a brown dress, long white hair, and golden brown skin stood among the orange and oak trees in my back yard. Her eyes were large and dark on a round face. She was beautiful in a weird sort of etherial way. She looked more like a fantasy character than human. Then she vanished as ghosts do.

I was having coffee and trying to write at my breakfast nook table with the second story view that overlooks my back yard. I live on a hill so my back yard is lower than my front yard. Anyway… I was looking down into the yard.

As I got up to make more coffee I heard someone whisper my name. Juliette.

There in my kitchen was Nigel, the Ghost.

“You saw her,” he said.

“Of course I saw her. Who is she?”

“You SAW her. Regular people, homosapians can’t see them. She isn’t human, at least not a modern human. I mean she wasn’t.”

“What do you mean homosapians? She obviously wasn’t a Neanderthal.”

“Close to both.”

“Tell me about her Nigel.”

“Make me coffee Juliette.”

I made coffee for both of us. There was coffee for me to drink and coffee for Nigel the Ghost to smell.

“What was she? Why am I able to see her.”

“They called themselves the Chosen. Rather unscientific but it is what they called themselves. They were the people who they felt were chosen to advance civilization. We don’t have a name for them because they didn’t leave anything behind, well almost, and only the Ghosts know about them. They could interbreed with other species like Neanderthals and humans like us but it just wasn’t acceptable. They left us alone.”

“I don’t get it.”

“They developed for fifty thousand years ago away from the rest of us. They had their own technology and civilizations. Then they had their first apocalypse. Disease swept through their people. They came through. After that they had issues with fires and ice, and you name it. Plus they were afraid of us. They were afraid of what we were becoming. They considered us their second apocalypse.”

“Why don’t we know about them?”

“They left without a trace. They destroyed all evidence of their civilization.”

“Did they die?”

“They went into space in a huge caravan of ships. There aren’t any ancient aliens. It was them. It was the memory of them passed down among us. That memory is all that is left. They didn’t want us to have their technology so they destroyed everything before they left. They destroyed every shred of evidence, well almost every shred.”

“They were advanced enough to go into space?”

“Yes. Don’t be so surprised. Every single year archeologist and treasure hunters find traces of lost civilizations and ancient humans. They made and did fantastic things with technologies that are now lost to us. They did things with tools and means that we can’t even imagine.”

“What about the Ghost walking around my orange and lemon trees?”

“She is one of the few who stayed behind, refusing to leave. She and a few companions guarded the last bit of their civilization. They guarded what was left behind, lost in the frenzy of the destruction. When they too died, the one artifact was left behind.”

“What was that?”

“A box.”

“OK. What was in it?”

“Viruses and germs they’d made.”

“Do you know where it is?”

“I know what happened to it.”

“What?”

“Ever hear the story of Pandora’s Box?”

“No, it can’t be.”

“Ever wonder where Vampires, Werewolves, Smallpox and other horrors came from? And hope. Remember hope was in the bottom. Yes, they left hope behind. Go figure.”

“No, it can’t be.”

“Her name wasn’t Pandora.”

I sat numb for a while. “It can’t be.”

Nigel leaned in closer. “You know her. The box is empty now and sitting on the dresser in her bedroom.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“You have pastels,” said Nigel. “I want to borrow them?”

“Why. You’re a ghost.”

“I’m an artist.”

I was still numb with the story Nigel had told me but knew I could only push him so much for information. I got out my box of pastels and placed them before him on the table. He put his hands over the sticks of color then began to draw in front of me in the air. The colors hung on an invisible canvas forming a portrait of a woman with curing brown hair and golden brown eyes. It was beyond beautiful.

Then Nigel snapped his ghostly fingers and it vanished in a swirl of powdery dust.

“My dear Vampire, as ancient as your kind is, always remember that to the core you are still human. Like with all of us we are just a blink in the eye of time. This planet has a long history that we can barely comprehend and barely even imagine in our wildest dreams.”

Then before I could say another thing Nigel smiled, ran his hand through his unruly black hair and vanished with a thin wisp of purple smoke that smelled like citrus blossoms and cigarette smoke.

Nigel was murdered in 1986 and would have turned sixty one this year if he’d still been alive. Why he comes to visit me I do not know. Maybe it is simply for the fact that I can see him. It is always a mystery with Nigel the Ghost.

I thought about that beautiful box I’d admired as a child. I’d collect trinkets and put my small dolls inside of it. Then I’d put it back on the dresser where it still remains over a hundred years later.

Looking back out to the orange trees I could see Nigel talking to the woman in the brown dress. She turned my way and lifted a hand, as if in greeting, then they both disappeared.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

  • Stay safe everyone, at home, and with dignity and grace.
  • Wear your mask.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Social distance.
  • Stay in touch with loved ones.
  • Zoom with your friend.
  • Support your students.
  • Tell a first responder how much you appreciate them.
  • And check in on those who are elderly or might need extra help at this time.

 

 

 

Staying in with the Ghost

Ghosts.

“You can’t get this,” he tells me.

“I don’t know that,” I said. Vampires never know what might or might not make them sick. We’re usually ok but you never know. Hell, nobody even knows how long we live or who is the oldest among us. Seriously, we don’t know squat about our own existence. On the other hand we seem to know everything about everyone else.

“Werewolves can,” he tells me.

“Tell me something I don’t know. Of course they can get it.”

“We are already dead. Nobody wants that,” says The ghost.

“Is it so bad being a ghost?” I ask.

“It is that bad. It is worse than that bad,” he says not worried about keeping any distance. “I never saw anything like this when I was alive or dead. There are old ghosts who experienced things sort of like this, but it was different back then. They didn’t even use soap or have indoor plumbing. I died in 1986. This is just weird.”

“I know,” I said to Nigel, the Ghost. Nigel isn’t always friendly or polite but he makes some good points now and then.

“So now that everyone is staying in where are Vampires getting their food?” Nigel asked me.

“Here and there. We have our regulars. We get what we need at places like Dave’s Bottle Shop.

“You’re staying in too,” he said in the most accusatory way.

“Yes, we are,” I said. “Even my brother Andy is staying in with his girlfriend. She’s sixty now and not a Vampire. She teaches college in Southern California and her classes are all online now. Andy decided to hunker down with her and help out. He even had a piano brought into her house so he could play while he is down there.”

“She’s my age, or the age I would have been,” said Nigel, who doesn’t look a day over twenty six.

I didn’t say anything. Nigel tends to brood when reminded of what-could-have-been.

“I’m making coffee,” I said. “Would you like some?”

He started to smile, then stopped and just gave me a slight smile. I ground some good beans (Chocolate Fish) and made a few cups in the French Press.

I sipped my coffee, while Nigel put his transparent hands around his cup and took in the smell.

We didn’t say much else. When his coffee grew cold he mouthed the word, “thanks” and vanished in a wisp of blue and purple vapor.

Maybe he’ll be back tomorrow. I don’t know. Nobody knows these days what might happen tomorrow.

Take care. Keep in touch with loved ones. Wash your hands. Keep a safe social distance. Thank your friends on the front line who work in the medical field, retail, law enforcement, EMTs, or other helpers during these weird times. Keep in touch with those who are elderly, need extra help, or are alone. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

coffee

Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

 

 

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Last Call

Dear Diary,

When one is a Vampire one is not as fragile as those who walk the Earth with fragile hearts pumping hot blood and thoughts of love. 

I attempt to be poetic but even that alludes me today.

My Vampire love Gillian is traveling and will not be home until late tonight. I feel an unease even for a Vampire. It is that odd dread remembered from my childhood. We were not in danger but everyone else was.

I decided to go down to Cassie’s bar. It is not called that. My closest warm blooded human friend Cassie owns the bar. Sitting with her and watching the other patrons would knock me out of my melancholia. I called my friend Randolpho to come join me but he said he was unavailable.

Randolpho quickly stopped talking on the phone which was quite unusual. He gave me no details to where he might be going or what he might be doing. Maybe he was in the middle of a meal. I do not know. One should never bother a Vampire who is in the middle of the meal.

Cassie greeted me at the bar with a bright smile. Her eyes were sad. The only other humans working were her helpers Kate and Diego. They were busy cleaning and making small talk with the few customers who lingered spread out in the usually crowded space.

I noticed a coldness not usually there. Everyone in the bar, except for a group of four friends at the end of the bar were Vampires or others who are not in danger due to human mortal illnesses.

A couple of ghosts sat at a table by the window. One had a shot of some unknown spirit, while the other hovered over a glass of red wine. They were dressed in the fine clothing they were buried in and did not look around as they held their glasses with transparent hands and took in the aromas of the drinks.

Several Vampires, for it was mostly Vampires there, sat at a booth in the back. I went over to see them.

“What is the worst pandemic you’ve seen Vlad?” my friend Constantine asked.

“The Black Death arrived in Europe when I was a child of three years,” I said. “One of my first memories is adults speaking of it, and of the rats and piles of bodies. There was a great fear our main food source would be gone.”

“Was it bad where you were Vlad?” That was asked by Lily a young Vampire woman.

“No, not in the Vampire Kingdom. My father sealed the borders far from where our warm blooded citizens lived,” I said. “We thought that would be the last of it. I remember at the time I was kidnapped and thrown into a crypt another smaller plague was in Europe. So much for traveling out of my own country.”

A Vampire named Valentine spoke of a cholera outbreak where he lived on the Northern coast taking entire families out. He left, not daring to weaken any of those still living with his own needs. Before he left he helped tend to those who were ill since he was immune to cholera.

“We are not ghouls,” said Lily. She took a sip of her drink and then wiped a tear from her pretty face.

My friends spoke of pandemics I had missed while I was locked away. They lost friends due to the Spanish flu, more plagues, Yellow Fever, and HIV. In fairy stories warm blooded humans write of Vampires turning the sick into Vampires, but it does not work that way. The sick do not survive the turning. They are not strong enough for conversions, so we do our best to nurse them or give them a comfortable death.

A lone Demon, uncomfortable in his own skin, sat alone with a beer, pulling with the collar of his flannel shirt. He looked like any other thirty year old man, but I knew his mouth was full of poison and underneath his shirt were leathery wings. I also knew, that like most demons, it was not an existence he savored. Being vile to the core takes a harsh toll on any creature.

Cassie rang a bell and yelled out, “LAST CALL.” It was only 9:30 but I could tell she was weary and done for the night.

An hour later we dispersed. That included the Ghosts and the sad looking Demon.

“I will walk with you to your house,” I said to Cassie.

She smiled at me and we put on our coats. I must now mention that before I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years, only to be rescued six years ago, I never used an umbrella to keep rain off. It was just not done. We had no umbrellas in the Vampire Kingdom. It is an amazing device. Cassie and I shared the dry space underneath an umbrella on the walk to her house.

“This all makes me uneasy,” said Cassie. “I am worried about my grandmother. I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about my business.”

“Do not worry about your business. You have Vampires to help you out.”

“I don’t want to take charity,” she told me.

I said, “Cassie, it is not charity. Even Vampires need someplace to go where everybody knows your name.”

Cassie laughed and squeezed my arm. I do not know why. I did not think my comment was funny or of the arm squeezing variety.

My friend Randolpho was standing on her porch wearing one of his ridiculous hats.

Then I noticed the way he looked at Cassie. Then I noticed the way Cassie looked at Randolpho. Could it be? Perhaps? Maybe?

Cassie tossed her hair back and pushed it back showing her neck. Randolpho put out his hand and then Cassie put her hand in his. Then he kissed her on the cheek.

Sometimes a woman needs a man who will bite her neck and tell her sweet things. Sometimes when times are tough, and we are told to be alone, maybe it is good to have a Vampire around.

As I walked away, a smile on my face, I could hear Cassie sing a line from a song I do not know, “You can leave your hat on.” Then I heard Randolpho laugh as they went through the door.

I will have to look that song up.

When I arrived at home Gillian was there to greet me with a cold kiss and bright eyes. I held on to her for the rest of the night.

~ Vlad

 

Big Hat

Randolpho and his tall hat which he rarely takes off.

 

This has been the 57th instillation of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read the entire series from the beginning CLICK HERE. This is the only one that is not outrageously funny.

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

 

 

 

Creative Ghosts

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. I am an artist and writer. By using both I am a story-teller using both words and pictures – sometimes together and sometimes not.

I am fortunate to know so many other creative beings who are writers, artists and musicians and even actors. Anyway, being one of those kinds of people is never easy. The risks of even admitting one is creative is great. You’re scorned if it is your passion or if try to make a living of it. You are celebrated if you succeed. There seems to be no in-between. And nobody understands, or so it seems. Mentors are few and far between. Paths are unclear and filled with holes.

Then again it can be wonderful and rewarding and magical. When I’m creating I’m happy. When I’m creating and making money that really makes me happy.

This morning I’m working on some drawings and writing, as well as some business…

I’d just fixed coffee in my red French press and looked out the window to see the red shoulder hawk sitting in an oak tree and turkeys walking below (just setting the scene.) Anyway, my brain was starting to go blank and doubt was setting in and my attention span was well, I have no attention span what so ever.

I looked up from my computer to see a pale face surrounded by a mass of shaggy dark hair. It was Nigel, THE GHOST, my ghost, sitting across from me with a fuck-you-Juliette look on his face.

“What are you trying to do today Vampire?” He was in one of his usual fresh out of the grave moods.

“I was just thinking about all of my insanely creative friends.”

“You have friends?”

“Don’t be rude. So tell me Nigel, you were a successful artist. How did you manage it?”

He leaned back in the chair and then loosened his tie.

“Well, Juliette, my dear dear dear Juliette, I learned the business. I was sort of an asshole. I never took no for an answer. I believed in my art. But most of all I had a lot of support. Nobody every expected me to do anything but succeed. Good thing my family didn’t want anything to do with me or I would have never done anything. But my friends and my foster family were my real family. They believed. They made me believe. I probably would have killed myself before I ever made it out of high school if I’d stayed with my biological family. I was my art. My art was me. There was no separation. I worked smart too, learned from my mistakes and… connections were a big thing. I went to the right school. Right away I started to network and find the right people. I’ve never been shy. I was driven. I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted me to be nice or follow the norms or get a real job. Most of all I was good. I was great. People still buy my art. They still love it. Can you imagine if I’d lived? Can you imagine all of the people with real talent who are alive right now but so beaten down by all of the crap that they’ve heard all of their lives about how art doesn’t matter? At least their art doesn’t matter because… It was easy for me because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and I was damn great at both art and pleasing myself. Everything is easy if you go throughout life as sort of a prick.”

I listened and thought a bit then poured more coffee.

I looked up and Nigel’s handsome almost transparent face was next to mine. “And you want to know what else Juliette? Tenacity. A lot of tenacity. A whole lot of tenacity.”

“It is easy when you’re young to dream,” I said, thinking of the teens I know, and of my own youth.

He gave a laugh, but it wasn’t mean. It was happy. “But when you’re old you have the life experience. You can do anything.”

“It isn’t that easy,” I said.

“Nothing is that easy, especially bringing back that passion but it can be done.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t be a ghost before you’re dead,” said Nigel and he vanished in a whisp of blue smoke.

I’ve had doors slammed in my face. So I go to a side door or through a window. Or I find a better door. Or I kick the door down. Or I sit outside and yell. But as I go through my own front door, into the home I love knowing that my creativity bought this house I know that nothing can get me down at this point. It can’t. I won’t let it.

As I embark on new creative endeavours, new journeys so to speak, I will try not to bring any old ghosts with me. Well, with one exception. I will bring Nigel along with me, even if he is a pain in the ass sometimes. But when I go it alone I know he’ll be there, along with so many others cheering me on.

And in turn, I will be on the sidelines cheering on my creative friends. Better than that I’ll march in the parade beside them.

Never give up your art. Never give up your creative spirit. Never give up. Never. Like Nigel said – don’t be a ghost before you’re dead.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

don't be a ghost