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

Where’d you hear I was dead?

I was sitting (and still am) at my dining room table with my laptop and overheard my husband on the phone.

“This is Theodore Kings…yes, it’s me Teddy….well I suppose, but no I’m not dead…I haven’t been dead for a long time. Where’d you hear I was dead?….Really?…I married Juliette…Yes, that Juliette… You and Juliette? My wife? Really. No I didn’t know… I wanted to ask you about…”

From there is was all business. I hadn’t thought about him for years. I hadn’t talked to him for at least eighty years if not longer. We’d spent a year on and off, more on, traveling around Europe and ended up in New England. Then we just sort of drifted apart and pst touch, as Vampires tend to do. I had no idea that Teddy knew him.

Anyway, what was I writing about? Huh.

Oh right, we were looking at vacation spots and thinking of either Iceland or Bermuda. Seriously. But we have to go to New Mexico and school and skate schedules have us booked up.

The cat is on the table next to me purring, then I hear a voice asking, “So are you dead?”

I look up to see The Ghost sitting across from me. Yes, that ghost.

“I’m very much alive,” I tell him.

He smiled that nasty shit eating grin of his, “Sort of like those parasites that go dormant for years on end then come to life when they smell blood.”

“Do you need something Nigel?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Not really.”

Tonight his eyes were almost black under his long lashes. He smiled and started to fade out, then reappeared in the chair next to me. He is so annoying.

“Juliette, my dear, you were never a real person were you?”

“No, I was never a real person. I’m one of the lucky 10% of Vampires born this way.”

“Then how can you be undead? I mean you’re a Vampire so you’re supposed to be undead. But you were born alive as a Vampire, so you didn’t die first did you? That wouldn’t make any sense. Then again, I’m a ghost and that never made any sense to me. I was alive and then I was a ghost. And my body is in a box marked with a stone. People still come by and visit there. I’m hardly ever around when they visit. And here we are talking. Fancy that. So what exactly is undead? Isn’t it weird to be a monster? Do you ever feel like a freak of nature?”

“We’re done talking Nigel.”

“You’re done Juliette. I’m just going to hang out for a while. Go back to what you were doing.”

I tried to ignore him and started to look up stuff, you know research on the book I haven’t finished yet.

“Hey, Juliette, mind if I take your car?”

“You’re a ghost. You can’t drive.”

“Just checking to see if you were listening.”

I reached out and touched where his hand was. My palm rested on the table but it made him smile. “I’m listening. It must be difficult to be real and then not real. Teddy had a Hell of a time adjusting. How are you doing with it Nigel?”

“Alright I guess. I need to get out and haunt more but it gets old after a while. Not quite 30 years and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Just kidding. It’s fucking great.” He almost spat that out with a ghostly snarl. Not as good as a Vampire would snarl it out but almost.

We sat for a while and listened in to Teddy’s phone call. They were talking about diamonds.

Nigel stood up and straightened his cufflinks. “It was fun. I gotta go.”

“Haunting?”

He smiled. “No, hot date.” Then he vanished with a thin bit of blue smoke like an exotic cigarette, but without the smell.

You can’t always define friendship or connections or old loves or old pals. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It’s just a thing.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First published January 2015

Fog

Today is perfect. Thick fog blankets the oaks. Small birds dance among the branches. Rain is supposed to come later today, but this morning I will enjoy the cold, damp, beautiful, and mysterious fog.

Out on the deck, in his usual spot, I could see the Ghost talking to my calico cat. Even in the fog, even in his semi-transparent state his black hair shines, and his blue eyes stand out like a Caribbean lagoon.

“I know you’re watching me. I know you’re writing about me,” he yells making the glass of my dining room windows shake.

I went outside, trying not to trip over the cats who are trying to get out and in at the same time. The calico hissed at the younger gray cat. He backed off, then pushed himself around her. They always get so pissy with each other. It is even worse now that the dog is gone.

Last night I was wondering why the area around the cat food bowls is so messy these days. Ahhh. There is no dog to clean up the floor. Damn. I miss my dog so much I can’t even say it out loud.

I make it out to the deck feeling the wonderful cool damp air on my face.

“Do dogs ever become ghosts?” I had to ask.

The Ghost gives me one of those are you stupid or what looks. “No, dogs don’t become ghosts.” Then he looked away, over the trees, then back to me. “I miss her too. She was the best dog I ever met.” Yes, dogs can see ghosts and they love people even when they’re not alive.

We stood together, a Ghost and a Vampire watching the tiny finches and sparrows in the trees.

“When I was in high school, back in the late 70’s we had official smoking areas in school but we couldn’t eat in class. That was so stupid. A kid could take a smoking break but if he was hungry he couldn’t have a snack. Now there aren’t smoking areas but kids can eat in class. Some things change for the better. A lot of things about high school are better now. Where your kids go, went, still go, teachers aren’t having sex with students anymore. Kids have more options on what classes they want to take. There aren’t elite classes reserved for the so called smart kids. Everybody gets a chance to excel. If I hadn’t died so young I bet I would have worked with teens. Fuck that, I would have been a parent with teens right now. I would have had a dog too. And a wife.” Then he smiled. “At least I do have a girlfriend. She is a ghost but I love her as if she was alive. She likes your kids. I like your kids. You did a great job with them, considering you’re a Vampire. My parents were total assholes.”

“Where are your parents Nigel? Are they still alive?”

He smiled a bitter smile. “My dad is in Hell as far as I know. I don’t know where my mother is. Maybe in prison. Maybe shacked up with some meth head out in the desert. She didn’t even go to my funeral. She has never visited my grave. Stupid bitch. I’m thankful I didn’t spend my formidable teen years with either one of them.”

That is all he’d say about his family. His memories of his past are full of memories he doesn’t want to say out loud, and the rest of his memories are filled with holes. I let him ramble on for a while. He’ll talk for hours. I don’t know if he is making up for lost time or if he has always been an extreme talker. I stopped listening when he started to talk about economic theories, and why the Gold Rush era ghosts who hang out by the lake are so annoying and creepy. I’ll have to agree with him on that one. The Gold Rush ghosts are exceptionally annoying and creepy.

It started to rain and we came inside.

Then Nigel smiled. “It is nice to talk to a real person, even if you are a Vampire.”

“You know I’m always here,” I told him.

Then he laughed and vanished.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

God Rest Ye Merry Werewolves, and Ghosts and Vampires too. With muffins. We can’t forget the muffins.

Today I stopped by my friend (dare I say friend) Austin’s house to drop off muffins for his Grammy. She loves muffins, especially the ones I make. Austin and Grammy are Vampire Hunters, but they only go after the bad ones. I’m not a bad one. In fact I’ve had them help me out a time or two but that is a different post.

I know you might think it odd that I’m making muffins, being a Vampire and all, but I DO make the best muffins. I don’t eat them but I love the smell and I love the joy they bring. Just like my husband Teddy becomes the cookie baking king this time of year.

When Teddy was a child, a long long long time ago, he would make cookies with his mother and their cook. Now that he is a Vampire (since 1875) he still bakes cookies this time of year. Hey, we’re spreading the joy.

Next I stopped by my friend Adam’s house to drop off muffins for his 88 year old mother. She loves a good muffin. Aside from being a scary talented photographer, Adam is also a Werewolf. Sure were friends. Why not. You know all the peace on earth goodwill to all thing. Why shouldn’t we be friends.

While I was baking my kitchen filled with Ghosts who just wanted to smell the muffins as they came out of the oven. I put a few on the plate so they could sit next to it and bask in the goodness, imagining what it would be like to eat one. Always let Ghosts smell your cooking, and your coffee. That keeps them from throwing stuff around and haunting you in the middle of the night. Good cook are never bothered by Ghosts.

God rest ye merry Werewolves
Let no howling in the fray
Remember I made muffins
For now and Christmas Day
To save us all from growling
And that you won’t be a stray
Oh tidings of Vampires and joy
Vampires and joy
Oh tidings of Vampires and joy.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
Best Muffins You Have Ever Had

Juliette’s Recipe
Makes 10 muffins

Ingredients

Muffin

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar (this is just regular white sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (don’t be tempted to be overly healthy and use olive oil – do not use olive oil – use some sort of vegetable, canola, or corn oil)
  • 1 egg (chicken egg – do not be tempted to use an emu egg or a dragon egg, or fish eggs) If you want to go vegan or whatever substitute a 1/3 cup of smashed banana or apple sauce for the egg.
  • 1/3 cup milk. I’ve used almond milk and it works just fine.
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Topping (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (add nutmeg too if you feel so inclined)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. In fact, seriously folks, don’t even bother with greasing the muffin tin, just use muffin/cupcake papers.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Don’t over mix – just make sure it is all mixed in nicely then STOP.
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4.  Fill muffin cups a little bit over the top (nobody likes flat muffins), and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  5. Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup COLD butter (chopped up in squares), and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork (or your hands), and sprinkle over muffins before baking. You should end up with small peas sized bits of butter covered in flour/sugar mixture.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

I usually fill 10 muffin cups.

Variations: If you don’t have blueberries, or don’t feel like blueberries chop up an apple (no peel) or pear (no peel), or add fresh cranberries. You can also add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and nuts if you feel like it. I’ve even made these with well drained finely chopped fresh nectarines and strawberries. Add anything you want (I don’t recommend meat or beans.) You can also use frozen berries but make sure they are room temperature and well drained. You may also exchange the lemon zest for orange zest.

Wishing you all comfort and joy,
And muffins!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Red Muffin Tin