Short Story Sunday: Lizbit

Lizbit. Oh Lizbit.

Elizabeth opened her eyes. Oh man it had been a hot day. Sitting up from where she was laying on the couch she looked around. Nobody was there.

Lizbit.

Nobody had called her that since she was a child.

It was her sister who’d died in childbirth at nineteen. It was her two teenage brothers who’d perished in a fire. It was her other sister who’d been murdered by a jealous lover and left in a ditch under a winter hail storm.

The other siblings, the remaining three, another sister and two brothers, had lived long successful lives.

Elizabeth had run away from an engagement to a man she didn’t love and she become a Vampire. It seemed like a good choice at the time. Almost two hundred years later it still seemed like a good choice.

Lizbit.

Her phone buzzed.

“Hey baby,” she said.

“Hi beautiful,” said her boyfriend Austin from the end of the magical line that allowed them to speak from far away locations.

“Are you coming over?”

“On my way.”

“Drive safe.”

“I will. Love you. See you soon.”

“Love you.”

She put down the phone and went in the bathroom to brush her hair. Austin wasn’t a Vampire but she still loved him. Maybe one day she’d convince him to take the step… maybe.

Lizbit

There was no reflection except her own in the mirror.

Lizbit

She turned around.

Her dog walked in and looked up with dark brown eyes. His tail wagged unconditional love.

“Hey baby. I love my good boy.”

Lizbit.

The dog barked. She looked around and saw nothing.

“I don’t have time for ghosts tonight,” she said aloud. “It is too hot and I’m too tired. You made your choices, I made mine.”

Lizbit

“I have a dog. I’m in love. Just be happy for me. Just go away.”

She opened a bottle of wine, checked to see what was on Netflix, and waited for Austin to arrive. There were no more voices. Just the sound of the dog eating it’s kibble and the sound of her heart that had just started to beat for the night.

~ end

 

 

 

 

Fire And The Cool Dark Places Of Summer

With summer we don’t welcome in the fire season, but fire season is here none the less.

I had to go downtown this morning, and from the freeway saw two plumes of fire coming up as if the entire world was on fire or giant pits down to Hell had opened up. From the color of the smoke it looked like grass fires. A larger fire just north of here has burned maybe 12,000 acres. I’m not sure, it keeps growing. We’ll soon start to hear of more fires in all directions. After the devastation last year in Sonoma and Napa Counties, Lake County and other areas in California it seems even more tragic for it to start all over again.

Behind my home we’ve cut back the brush. I’ve cleared my property. We’ve put in fire sprinklers.

As I drove along the freeway looking at the smoke plume in the distance I saw a religious billboard. It just seemed weird, you know the smoke and the message all at once.

This week missionaries and members of several churches (you know who I’m talking about) have been coming around and leaving pamphlets. A few years ago yellow jackets swarmed a nice pair of men who came around to tell me about the Bible. I’m often tempted to tell them we’re Vampires. Not that we’re evil. Oh we are so misunderstood. Another reason why most folks don’t know we’re real.

But back to the nice people who smile and ask me too many personal questions about my beliefs,  what I really need to ask is for them to pray that we don’t have the fire devastation that we have had in the West for the past few years – from Canada to Mexico it has been horrible.

Right now I can smell smoke but I’m not sure where it is from. The sky is too hazy to tell.

When my brother Val and I were teens, around fourteen and fifteen (1873 or 74) we found a way to keep cold in the hot burning summer days.

He stole the key to a church basement (which is no longer there) and a way to get into a seldom used private chapel. Bodies would be put there before burial to keep from rotting so quickly in the summer heat. Also food would be stored in another section behind locked doors.

Yes, it was horrible and wrong for any teens, and we’re Vampires so that even adds more to the wrongness of it all, but we didn’t hurt anyone. Our parents would have hit the roof, but that is another post.

I’d lay as still as death on the cool floor. My skin seemed to melt, not like candle wax, but like burning hard sealing wax. Hair twisted around my neck and clung to my forehead. I couldn’t open my eyes.

Suddenly an icy cold shroud covered me. I sank into the floor even more. A relief to my burning Hell had come.

I could hear my brother Val laughing.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “I thought I was going to absolutely melt.”

Val lay down on the floor beside me and pulled the icy wet sheet over the both of us.

“I hate the heat,” I said to him.

“I know you do,” he replied.

We lay in the dark, on the cold marble floor. The triple digit summer air encased us, drying out the wet sheet. I hooked my index finger with his as we lay as still as death together, trying to find some comfort.

With my eyes still closed I could hear footsteps coming into the room. I couldn’t will myself to move. I was so hot and so uncomfortable.

I’m not a creature who has a wide range of temperature control. The heat makes me want to hibernate or go into a coma.

I could feel someone lift the sheet from our still faces. We opened our eyes wide, not with our natural color, but with solid black. You know, the old black-eyed children trick. It works every time.

A gasp and a cry filled the air, then the sound of the poor lady running away from us.

Val threw back the sheet and propped himself up on his arm. Looking towards the doorway he laughed. “She thought we were dead.”

“And so we are, well sort of,” I answered looking at his pale face, made even paler by the dark hair falling over his forehead.

Today, about ninety summers later the heat still shuts me down. My daughter mentioned that today.

“Dad said you never did well in the heat.”

“No. I don’t.” And that is true as I sit here burning up with my hands sticking to the computer keyboard.

Every single summer the heat rises to triple digits F-ing Farenheit. And every single summer the hot walls of heat hit me so hard that every cell in my body wants to shut down. It should be no surprise, especially since I choose to live here. Then again, it is hot everywhere in the West, aside from the coast and the mountains. Maybe one day I’ll pack up and move, but until then, there are wet sheets and ice.

Oh, one more note, as a public service announcement. When it gets hot PLEASE make sure your dogs don’t end up with burnt feet. If it is too hot for you to walk on the hot pavement with bare feet it is too hot for your dogs. My friend Amelia in Las Vegas used to put booties on her old dog for walks in the hot desert neighborhoods. And triple check their water – cat water too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Solstice

Summer Solstice

Summer Pinup

 

Today is the first day of summer. It doesn’t mean we’re going to have a chanting ceremony to ancient gods or seek out rocks to hug. We’re Vampires, so we’re not chanters. The first day of summer means the Giants are playing the Padres tonight.

This morning was special. I took the dog out at 5:00 a.m. this morning. The sky was just starting to light up. Just as the sun showed itself over the edge of the hills I heard an eagle cry out. Welcome summer.

Welcome a new day. Welcome 100 degree F plus weather.

My dog has gone into a deep depression because I no longer take her everywhere with me. She doesn’t understand that it is too hot to leave her in the car, even with the windows rolled down. Poor baby.

We will do what we must do to keep cool, just hoping that nobody will end up being trapped under cool crawl spaces, only to have someone (me) rescue them fifty years later. I stress this because when my brother Aaron and his “friend” Austin come across some dried up old Vampire I’m the one they call because they’re too big to get up under there.

“Never volunteer to crawl under a house,” I tell my children. “Unless it is someone you know. But it won’t be someone you know because you’ll make sure all of your friends are smart enough not to do anything like that.”

Summer is a time for night walks, and night swims. I wish it was also a time for night blooming flowers but not so much in my yard. Of all things, I am a collector of day lilies. I’m also growing sunflowers but don’t expect blooms until September.

In the meantime here are a few of my blooms. Vampires are fantastic gardeners. I bet you didn’t know that about us. We feed our plants with water and great amounts of love from our cold unbeating hearts.

 

 

We think of a lot of things in the summer. Two of those things are frogs and heat. I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

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

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 105 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

If you have anyone in your world who is elderly, or otherwise needs help, please check on them in the hot weather. Make sure they are getting plenty of liquids and are staying cool. Local park and recreation districts often have events, such as free movies, during the week for seniors and others. There are also libraries and other public places people can go to for a few hours to read and cool off. Our you can check and make sure your loved one has turned on the air conditioning. Depression era babies who are now elderly often refuse to turn on the air conditioner because they’re afraid it might cost a few extra pennies – even if they can afford it. PLEASE convince them otherwise.

If they’re vampires they’ll just dry up, but that is a fairly easy fix. If they’re regular humans they could become extremely ill or die.

So please. Check in on them. Call them. Take them out for ice cream. Show that you care. It could be a matter of life or death.

Also, remember when it is blistering hot outside your dog’s paws will burn on hot streets and sidewalks. Take your pooch out in the mornings or evenings, or get it booties. Nobody needs a trip to the veterinarian.

Summer is here. It is a time of summer love. It is a time of fun. It is a time for vacations, breaks, and concerts in the park. Enjoy it for what it is. But shouldn’t we just be enjoying everything for what it is. OK not everything. No. Not everything. But you know what I mean.

Awww man, it’s time for summer music and a road trip.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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If you have a cat…

As a parent, even a parent such as I am, one sees a lot of nasty stupid things. You’d think by the time your kids are almost grown (almost 17 and 20) that it would stop. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about parents.

Dear Super Mom,

Maybe the reason you change your children’s teachers, schools, churches, sports, coaches, sports clubs, isn’t because everyone is insensitive and not doing their job. Maybe it is you. Maybe YOU aren’t doing your job. So just shut the fuck up and stop bad mouthing everyone. Look at yourself. And look at your kids – they’re mean to other kids, and they lie. Because of that other kids and adults don’t like them. Go figure your kids are just like you. How sweet. OK I’m done. Peace. 

 

Now that I have THAT out of the way…

Clara and I are planning another cross country road trip across deserts, mountains, and plains. Vampires love road trips. It is a time to crank up the music and see America. And who doesn’t like to taste the local flavor, if you know what I mean.

We are driving from near Sacramento, CA to Lincoln, NE, through Denver, CO. I’ll make sure I send photos from the road and my travel log. We’re going to the National Artistic Roller Skating Championships.

Excuse me for a second. Outside of my window is an angry Ghost. Did I mention that it is the middle of the day and over 105 degrees farenheit outside? Did I mention that I live on a hill, so the window is about two stories up.

I’ll be right back.

OK I’m back.

I motioned for the Ghost to come inside. He looked horrible – almost dead. I mean, he is dead, but not that kind of dead. Unless he is in his head-bashed-in with a frying pan look he had when he died he looks pretty good. He was one of those guys with almost a pretty face. You know, the kind with the sweet smile and eyelashes that make any woman green with envy. Yet, he is still extremely masculine. That does not sway my opinion of him, which is that he is usually a complete asshole.

He vanished in and reappeared standing behind me. His already shaggy black hair was almost standing on end. His skin look gray, even for a ghost. He wore his funeral suit without the jacket, and his black tie was loose around his neck, and he’d rolled up the sleeves.

“You look like you’ve been to Hell and back,” I said to him.

“Don’t even joke about that,” he said, then whispered the words Vampire bitch under his breath as if I wouldn’t hear.

I haven’t seen Nigel, The Ghost, for months, then suddenly he shows up in a bad mood, expecting my full attention.

I wait for him to speak, as one does with a Ghost. And I wait. He says nothing. Then I try to go back to writing something meaningful for my blog post about traveling with teens and young adults, but I’ve lost track of every thought in my head.

So I ask. “What is it Nigel?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it the heat?”

“I don’t have a physical body. I don’t feel heat.”

I’m not one for guessing games. In fact I hate guessing games. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone comes in and says, “Guess who I saw?” or “You won’t believe this. Guess who is getting married?” I don’t want to guess. I don’t want to throw out a dozen names and still not know what you want to tell me. Just tell me. So I didn’t even ask Nigel anything, and of course that drives him nuts, because he’d come back at me with a “guess what” fill in the blank.

The calico cat rubbed against Nigel’s leg. Yes, cats can do that, even if you don’t see the Ghost. Cats always see the Ghost.

Nigel gave the cat a smile and stroked her head, then he glared at me and vanished. I’m not even going to speculate on why he stopped by, other than to annoy me, or maybe he just needed to see the cat.

The train of thought is lost forever.

But I know that if you have a cat to pet then everything will be alright. If you have a cat your most troublesome Ghost will fade away with a smile on his face.

That’s it for today. Time to cool off.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

First published here in 2016. The kids got silver in their event. In 2017 they won gold. We’re not going this year but we’re still skating. I’m also still watching out for Nigel. I passed the cemetery where he was buried a few days ago and thought about him. As for the cats, they’re still sitting on the table by my laptop. 

 

Editors

My Editors Gloria and Oscar: Food and a box is all they ask for (usually)

 

Short Story Sunday: Sunday Coffee

I saw something on YouTube in a church where little children were speaking in tongues. I’d love to see that. Seriously. I can hear them saying, “Mama I spoke in tongues, can we go to Dairy Queen now?” or “Daddy, I rolled my eyes back real far. Can I play with the rattle snakes now?”

Delilah sat with a glass of unsweetened iced coffee, listening to people who sat around her. She loved eavesdropping.

“Sandy said her daughter Kylee called her everyday from college and cried. Kylee is so lonely. I asked her if any of her daughter’s friends from high school were there and she said no.”

“Oh my God, that sounds like something Kylee would do. She has been posting all over social media pictures with friends. She’s having a great time in college. “

Be it a coffee shop, a church, or any public place, Delilah would sit and listen, and wait.

There are so many homeless camps by the river this summer. They’re ruining the area around Gateway Park.

Delilah listened. There was an opportunity, then again she would only go there if she was desperate. She texted a friend who liked things a little rougher than she did.

She smiled at a nice looking man who got up to leave, with his book and coffee-to-go refill. He smiled back. She’d seen him there before. It was an opportunity. She knew he’d walked. She knew he lived close by, in a neat little Victorian house, with a cat, and nobody else. They chatted. She walked with him. Fall was coming soon. She could smell the pumpkin spice in his coffee. He was telling her about his garden. She said she’d love to see it. Then she smiled and thought of the taste of pumpkin spice. Maybe. When one was a vampire you never knew what you’d hear or taste next.

~ end

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Heat, Religion, Frogs, and Old People

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman