Put A Spell On You

My brother Aaron called. I love Aaron but when he calls it usually means that he needs my help. I’ve got a ghost in my house who is going through a serious bout of depression, I’d promised to stop by and Eleora and Tellias (our ancient elders), and then I had more stuff to take care of with my daughter after school today.

It can be anything with Aaron. A suspicion of time travelers lurking around, a dried up Vampire under a house that needs coaxing out (or worse), a confused new Vampire, a picture to be drawn, research into the odd or unknown, feline behavior woes, Ghost or Werewolf trouble. I never know.

So I asked, “What is it Aaron?”

“I have a book I want you to see,” he said.

“Can you bring it over tonight?”

There was a pause then, “You don’t want it in your house. Teddy is here. We’re at my office.”

Without so much as a thanks see you soon he hung up.

I grabbed my keys, and the dog followed me. Aaron didn’t say no dogs. As I locked the door the air on my front porch suddenly dropped about 40 degrees. Leaning against the porch rail was The Ghost, Nigel himself.

“I’m in a hurry,” I said. “I don’t have time for this.”

He smirked at me and said, “I’m going with you.”

Fine. We all got in the car, the dog in the back and Nigel and me in the front, and off we went, a Vampire, a German Shepard, and a Ghost to my brother’s law office downtown. Of course if anyone saw us they’d just see a brown haired woman in a burgundy colored sweater and a large and exceptionally nice looking dog in a blue sedan. Nothing special or unique here.

We, at least the dog and I, climbed the stairs leading up to Aaron’s office in the converted Queen Anne style house. Nigel was already at the top waiting by the tall front door.

“You know,” he said, “the front porches are on the second floor because the city used to flood every winter.”

“I know I was here,” I said as I opened the door and my entourage followed me in.

We went inside and found the place deserted except for Aaron and my husband Teddy in a conference room. A large, somewhat old book was on the table.

The dog was happy to see everyone. My husband gave me a smile that would make any woman’s knees go weak, and then kissed me. Aaron looked at Nigel then back to me.

“You brought a ghost,” he said.

“I brought a dog too.”

Right off the bat I realized that my brother had a spell book. Yes, as in Witch’s spells.

“What do you think?” My brother carefully opened the book then stepped back.

The pages were bordered with black and white illustrations with a forest motif. I recognized the artist. “Julian Rix,” I said.

“You knew him,” said Aaron.

“I did. He was quite the flirt. This is weird. He’d never deal with Witches,” I said.

Aaron scowled. “That is what I thought too. They must have hired him to do the borders then added their spells. There is no sign of any magic or strangeness in the drawings.”

“You knew Julian Rix? Holy shit Juliette. How well did you know him?” That was my husband.

“Well enough. He and Grandmama Lola were friends. I was around seventeen, maybe eighteen. You were off somewhere learning how to become a Vampire. Val and I had just come back from a trip to New York,” I said. “From the style and subject I figure the drawing were done around 1876 or 77.”

The text was in an odd script, in an odd language I didn’t know. It was written in rust colored and black ink. I ran the tips of my fingers over one of the pages. Then I immediately pulled them back. Son of a bitch, the words burned my finger tips. The rust colored writing was in human blood. Of course it was. I might drink blood but I’d never be so crass as to write with it. God only knows where it came from because it wasn’t from a Witch.

“Where’d this come from?” I asked my brother.

“A client found it in the walls of a house he was restoring,” said Aaron.

I should have known. “It was Austin Durant, the contractor, historian… oh right and Vampire Hunter. What the crap Aaron?”

Nobody said anything. Then Nigel spoke up. I’d forgotten he was even in the room.

“You’re looking at a cypher used by seventeenth century occultists.”

We all looked at him.

“What? Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My girlfriend Mary was born in the seventeenth century. We spent a lot of time looking at old books when we were off haunting a castle in Scotland. She knows about all of that stuff. Hey, it isn’t like we had anything else to do.”

Without touching the book Nigel turned the pages with a raised hand. “If I were you I’d seal this thing back up in the wall, or even burn it. Then again, the illustrations… oh man, if you burned this it would be a crime. Why not just take a blade and cut out the spells. Most of the spells are for weird love potions and revenge potions anyway. Nobody needs that shit. There is also a nasty nasty spell on it and a lock down spell. I’d keep away from this if I were you. Whoever wrote this did not like Vampires.”

I looked at the clock. “We have to go. I’ll do some research and get back to you. Nigel, you may stay if you want.”

He smiled at me, one of those shit eating grins of his, “I know I make you guys uncomfortable, but I might just stay a little bit longer and browse through this interesting piece of history, you know, since it burns your precious undead fingers.”

I left to help the elders with some things, and then go pick my child up from school. Teddy and Aaron assured me they’d lock up the mysterious book in a safe place. I told them to burn it. Nigel flipped me off as I left. The dog wagged her tail and licked everyone on the face.

When I picked seventeen year old Clara up from school she told me all about her upcoming AP testing (Advanced Placement, look it up if you don’t know.) Her teacher asked the kids what they need to do to get ready and write it on the board. Someone wrote cry.

We don’t have time for spells, and chants, and flesh burning texts. All I want are the beautiful borders, and stunning landscapes that are on my wall and not in a toxic book.

Spells are like lies and time travel. They change things that should not be forced to change. They bend the will of one person. They screw with the order of the universe. They are false and steal away choice. Sounds like I’m talking about politics doesn’t it. But seriously, you don’t go where you’re not invited. You can’t force anyone to love or hate. You can’t buy passion.

Julian Rix had his heart-broken by a woman who lived to be a hundred years old. He didn’t last so long. The entire story is all too sad for me, but I doubt if he’d been happy with a love spell. It should have been a shallow love, like a shallow grave that can’t hide the fact that someone was hurt.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going on a college tour, then the dog will take her test in dog school (she failed last week), and then I’ll think of how no spell can being one true love. I know THAT for a fact. Ask my husband about it.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Juliette: Parenting, Ghosts, and Change

Ask Juliette is a somewhat regular Thursday feature at vampiremaman.com

I answer real questions from real readers. If you have a question feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me at juliettevampiremom at gmail dot com

Before we get to today’s questions I have an observation…

This morning while I was out in my neighborhood walking my dog… it was an attempt to train the dog, which is sort of working. Anyway we walked over to where the Bald Eagles are nesting. Due to the influx of asshat photographers who feel as if they are gods and have a right to pester the poor new parents, the park service has put us signs telling everyone to stay away from the eagles and not bother them. Yes, there was a woman hauling a ladder out to where the eagles are.  I was ready to go out and scream at her. I assume somebody already did because I haven’t seen her around in the past few weeks. There has also been people climbing the fence (which was put there to prevent idiots from falling off of the steep bluff.)

In the wee hours of the morning my dog and I were alone with the eagles. I watched as they flew from the lake to the nest with fish. The babies flapped their small brown wings and hopped about the nest. As I walked home up my own street, my husband was driving out. He stopped and told me one of the eagles was flying over our house, about twenty feet from the deck.

I thought about the eagle parents. No parent likes to be pestered or watched when they are with their kids. Seriously, no matter what species someone is just let them alone in peace. Don’t bug them or pester them with advice. Don’t invade their privacy in order to get your daily cute fix.

Dear Juliette,

Why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Why must they haunt the living?

As most of my regular readers know, there are a few ghosts who regularly visit me at my house – mainly Nigel and his girlfriend Mary.

So why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Because they’re frustrated. They live in a world where they cannot participate. They’re reminded daily of what they are missing out on. For example Nigel’s 40th High School Reunion is coming up. He missed his ten-year reunion by a year. He is haunted by the thoughts of what could have been. He is angry because he never got to see his career progress, he never got to fall in love and get married, he never got to be a dad. He can’t even have a dog as a ghost, unless some dead dog attempts to latch onto him, but that rarely happens. What bugs Nigel the most is the fact that in the reunion program he’ll once more be listed with those who have also died since high school graduation. Only he can’t even see them because that isn’t how the ghost world works. Even the dead have left him behind.

Ghosts are trapped. They’re pissed off. They can’t communicate with most people. Nobody understands what it is like to be dead. So they hang out with Vampires, most of whom have died but are back in their bodies – so that even pisses ghosts off even more.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t be hating on ghosts. Sure they’re obnoxious but have some understanding and sympathy.

Dear Juliette,

If I became a Vampire would anyone be there to help me adjust? Would I have to be shown how to suck blood out of people or would it just come naturally? Is there training for new Vampires?

Yes, unless you end up being a soulless Shadow Creeper someone will be there to help. We have a wide ranging support system for those who have just become Vampires. A range of issues have to be taken into consideration when one becomes a Vampire. Did you become a Vampire of your own will, or was it thrust upon you? That makes a big difference on how you’re going to react to the change. You know, anytime someone makes a profound change, be if biologically, or mentally, there are going to be adjustments. It isn’t always easy.

One of the hardest things to deal with isn’t sucking blood, but keeping your existence as a Vampire secret. You can’t tell anyone, or at least those who will in turn tell others. We don’t have a lot of rules. We don’t have many consequences to our actions except maybe forcing someone to become a Vampire, or telling someone about us.

But sure, there are people here to help. I’m one of the go-to folks for helping newbees. Like with most profound changes, everyone is different.

 

Dear Juliette,

What’s up? What are your plans for the blog?

What?

Dear Juliette,

Why are Vampire men so damn sexy?

Sigh. Survival my dear. Survival.

 

Dear Juliette,

I just wrote a novel. I believe it is quite good, but none of my family and friends will read it. I need feedback. Now what?

If you want some feedback go online and reach out for beta readers. Most authors find that often family and friends aren’t interested in your work, especially if it a genera they don’t usually read.

Find a writing peer group either online, or with one of your local writing groups. Don’t get mad if someone reads your book and doesn’t fawn all over it. It is better you hear what you need to hear now – rather than getting a bad review or zillions of rejection letters later.

Also search blogs for like-minded individuals you think might enjoy your book, or have good, honest, educated input.

Another suggestion is to make a list of questions for your Beta Reader. Do they connect with the characters? Do the plot twists make sense? Ask what part they like best or least, and why.

Good luck.

That is all I have for today. If you can add to any of these answers please do. Everyone can always use a second opinion. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

An Afternoon Haunting Over Coffee (With A Ghost)

Some are haunted by the thoughts of “what if.”

Some are haunted by loves lost and missed opportunity.

Some are haunted by terrors in their closets, that come out at night and stare at the foot of their bed with lifeless black eyes, and claws like razors.

Some, like me, are haunted by another kind of ghost.

This afternoon, as I was working on an outline for a book, I heard music coming from the family room of my house.

Telegram force and ready
I knew this was a big mistake
There’s a fine line drawing
My senses together
And I think it’s about to break
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

Nightshades on a warning
Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

I looked from where I was sitting in the breakfast room to see a figure singing and slowly swaying to the music. Black shining shaggy hair came down to the top of his shoulders, hiding the collar of his white shirt. He turned and glared at me. The music stopped. His form went in and out of an odd translucent state. I hate it when they do that. I hate Ghosts.

Then he started to talk. “You’re writing. How quaint. Well, maybe it isn’t so quaint considering you’re a blood sucking cold as death Vampire. Have you prepared your speech for the National Book Awards yet?”

“Go away Nigel,” I said to The Ghost.

And he continued to talk. “You should write something edgy that you can make into a movie. How about a powerful handsome black man, played by Michael B. Jordan who marries a beautiful blonde played by Jennifer Laurence. He promotes one of his younger men, played by Zac Efron over an older man. The old guy, that would be Robert De Niro, gets pissed and makes the Michael B. Jordan character think Jennifer Laurence is having an affair with the young guy and…”

“Othello.”

“I know, I know, but do a new twist on it. Make everyone black except make Othello white. Othello sounds sort of Italian. He could own a chain of successful upscale restaurants. You can add in a character called Mama Othello. Kathy Bates. It would be great. You could get the current pop-star-de-jour to do the music. Someone like Ariana Grande.”

“Go away Nigel, you’re bothering me.”

“Good. That was my intention.”

I continued to work on my writing trying to ignore him.

“I need coffee.”

I ignored him.

“Coffee would be nice. You could have some too. Heaven knows you could use it.”

I continued to work.

“You could write a book about a widow who goes to live in a big house by the ocean that is haunted by a handsome ship captain. The ship captain falls in love with her, but she lives in real world, and he tells her to find someone with a real body. And she writes. She writes his story and doesn’t have to move back with her horrible in-laws from Hell. Then she gets involved with some married shit for brains asshole. She goes home and finds out that her daughter knew about the ghost all along, then she dies and is with the man she loves, you know, the ship captain. It is so sad and romantic, kind of like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Did you know he went to the same high school as your kids? Not the ship captain, but Sparks. Lynn Anderson the singer went there too. Tom Hanks, Hill Harper, and I also went there. I went there too. Did you know that?”

I continued to ignore him.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It is one of your favorite movies. About a GHOST no less. You’re such a fucking hypocrite, even for a Vampire.”

I continued to try to write.

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. You like Ghosts. Admit it.”

“Enough. I’ll make coffee.”

“Thank you.”

“By the way, I hate Ghosts.”

“I am not particularly fond of Vampires.”

We sat at the table and watch the rain with hot mugs of coffee. Nigel put his face over the mug and took in the scent. I drank mine with half and half.

He looked down at my pad of paper where I made notes. I use both computer and yellow legal pads.

“Do you think you’ll ever…” he started to say something.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I like it.”

I looked up. He locked his eyes in mine.

“This is good Juliette.”

“Thank you,” I said, and finished my coffee.

“You should…”

“Don’t.” I shook my head and looked away.

“Fine. But don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t you ever say I did not tell you,” he said.

Then he smiled and vanished in a gray wisp of smoke, that smelled like coffee and the ocean.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Who and what haunts your days, nights, and even your coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

Monsters In Love

Love posts for Valentine’s Day

Vampire Maman

Halloween Love Letters

While taking clothes out of the dryer I found a crisp folded piece of notepaper with a note, written with a red Sharpie.

Dear Garrett,
I don’t think you understand how you tear my heart apart. You don’t do anything. You just are. You drive me crazy. You act so cool and I know how you put on a mask. Everyday is Halloween for you.  Stop being so afraid of being yourself. I love you – you idiot.
Ione

Sigh. Seventeen year old Garrett has been writing love letters to girls since he was six years old.  Now girls are writing them to him too. He has known Ione almost his entire life but they just started dating last Spring. If they make it as a couple or not, I’m sure they’ll always be friends – I have a feeling they will (they’re both Vampires.)  So I…

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Never Shout Never – Absolutely Never

Define and Conquer

I’d picked the kids up last week from the roller skating rink and caught a nice break visiting and singing along with them to fun music from the iPod (Never Shout Never, Coffee and Cigarettes. Always fun and inappropriate), when I pull into my driveway and see that black Mercedes parked in front of my house.

In another life, another time, another moment, my heart would have skipped a beat. Everything in my romantic Vampire soul would have cried “Adventure and Romance are MINE”, followed by “Insanity and Trouble” and the urge to RUN, but at this moment, BUSY MOM, just looked and thought “You’ve got to be kidding?”

My kids are already wondering why my mood is gone.

The last time this person was over my husband gave him the “We’re not going to raise our kids in a Vampire Ghetto” talk. Not “Ghetto Talk” but telling this prominent Vampire that we would not be raising our children in a night-time world of Vampires and darkness. We’re modern Vampires. We don’t lurk around shadows. We don’t lurk. We live in a diverse world. And aside from that, my husband used to be a regular human. But that is another blog post up the road somewhere.

He greeted the kids and they ran upstairs with excuses about tons of homework. I greeted Nathaniel Chase with a kiss on his cold cheek. He took my hands in his and told me how lovely I looked. Teddy had already opened a bottle of wine. I headed to the kitchen to get my own glass of wine, with the intention of joining  the men who were deep in discussion about whatever it is men discuss when my brain is full of kids and work and the 50,000 things the average mom has to do each and every single day rain or shine, dark or light.

I was in no hurry to get my own glass. From the corner of my eye, from the kitchen window, I could see the ghost sitting on my back deck reading a large red book. Nathaniel Chase would be too polite to bring up the ghost. Most Vampires are polite to a fault unless provoked (or with their blood relatives). As I poured the wine I wondered what brought Nathaniel here. It was always something that would turn my world upside down. He always wanted something. What would it be this time. Did he still want to know about Jack the Ripper? Did he want to recruit my son into studying with some old musty Vampire in Europe? Did he want to get information about someone? Or did he just plan on bitching about our lifestyle choices?

I glanced out the window at the ghost. He flipped me off and vanished. I thought about Nathaniel, glossy black hair, slate blue eyes and matching sweater and black jeans with a plaid Cashmere scarf hanging around his neck (you know the kind guys wear now). He could have been the front man of a famous band or a CEO of a Fortune 100 company. He could be whatever you wanted him to be. As a Vampire he was that good. Women’s heads would turn but they wouldn’t know if it was because he was dressed so well or if he was handsome or if he was a creature from another realm. All they were really sure of was that they couldn’t resist him. He could work it on men too (we all can). No regular human could resist Nathaniel Chase.

He’d been around for a long time. I suspect at least 400 years but I never asked. I just knew that it was his job, or he thought it his job, to keep track of what other Vampires were doing. I’m a mom, so had too much to deal with right now without being twisted and turned by Nathaniel Chase. And I could resist Nathaniel Chase. I’d been resisting him my entire life.

I’m proud to be whatever I am and have raise my children to do the same but that said…I don’t want my children to grow up feeling as if the world is not theirs. I don’t want them to live in an antique world of darkness, reeking with the smells of dried blood and fear. I don’t want them to feel as if they are monsters or outcasts.

Nathaniel Chase was always watching me since  I was a child. Nothing I ever did was right. Of course girlfriends and I got into all sorts of silly problems but we were just girls. On the other hand my brother Val and I got into some serious trouble on more than one occasion over the years, but we learned from our mistakes. We were serious successful adults now – not the crazy reckless youthful Vampires of old.

I downed my wine, poured another glass, straightened my shoulders and joined my husband Teddy and Nathaniel in the formal living room. I was ready to take whatever crap he wanted to throw at me and I was ready to throw it back. Never again would I let Nathaniel Chase get the best of me.

It took everything I had (and the wine helped) to keep my upper lip from getting a twitch in it. My head was light. I hated confrontation. I didn’t need it right now.

“So what brings you here Nathaniel?” I asked as I pushed a cat off of the chair and sat down. The cat jumped up into Nathaniel’s lap. Traitor.

“My wife and I are moving here in a few months. Our daughter is 3 now and our son just had his first birthday, but you knew that. I wanted to ask you about the schools. I hear you’re the go-to source for all things to do with parenting” Nathaniel answered. My husband just smiled.

As we grow up, no matter how long it takes, there comes a time when we realize that we’ve come into our own. I believe that most people are respected and liked and loved far more than they can ever imagine. I don’t always feel like that, believe me, but all reason tells me to just stop thinking and give myself a pat on my back for doing a good job.

We talked for another couple of hours about kids, schools and the joys and challenges of parenting. And all was well in my world, as the tune to Coffee and Cigarettes ran through my head.

 

coffee

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: Never Shout Never – Absolutely Never was first posted in February 2013.

 


Go Pee Pee

At 3:29 a.m. I took the dog out to go pee pee.

To make her go fast and get it all over with I have to say, “go pee pee” in a high shrill voice while trying not to wake my neighbors up.

It is as still and quiet as death out, but the dog and I both know we’re being watched by creatures of the night.

So I was outside in a robe and bare feet not really caring because A) I’m not cold, and B) Nobody can see me, and C) I don’t care if they see me.

Then I see a familiar figure standing in the middle of my street (which is really a private drive for seven houses.) He flips me off, which is his usual asshole move. I swear, nothing ruins a nice quiet evening faster than a Ghost.

The dog and I went inside to find Nigel (The Ghost) sitting on the couch in my living room.

“I have a question for your advice column Juliette. Do Vampires go pee pee,” he asked me.

“I’m not even going to answer that,” I told him.

He didn’t smile or laugh. That is almost as rare as seeing a ghost. To tell the truth seeing Ghosts isn’t rare for Vampires, but I usually don’t interact with them. They’re vile creatures for the most part.

“Don’t you have someone to haunt?” I asked.

“Only you,” he answered.

“I’m going to make coffee,” I told him. “Do you want some?”

“I can’t drink it. I’m a…”

“Ghost. I get it. You’re a bitter, obnoxious, annoying Ghost. I’ll give you a cup and you can smell it,” I said.

“Um, sure,” he said.

“Were you this annoying when you were alive?”

“Of course, only everyone thought I was charming,” he answered.

In the kitchen we sat over coffee and small talk, and the dogs and cats who also see what others cannot.

Wishing you all plenty of sleep, and coffee, and dogs who go pee pee outside rather than inside.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman