My daughter graduates from high school on June 2. This month has been a whirl of AP tests, college placement tests, robe and yearbook pick-ups, Senior Ball, skate practice ramping up for the Regional and National championships and the list goes on and on and on. Tomorrow she signs up for classes at college. The eldest child who is already off at college is getting worked up for Grad school after he graduates next year.
I’ve started the empty nest post about six or seven times. They were in Middle School and High School when I started blogging. But no matter how old they are I’m still a mom. I’ll always be Vampire Maman. Sigh.
So I’m drinking way too much coffee and trying to write today when I look out into the predawn light and see not one, but five Ghosts out on my deck. There are three men, a woman, and a dog. And don’t tell me that dogs have no souls (because if you say otherwise you don’t know shit about dogs or ghosts.)
I sat as still as death, which isn’t difficult, and watched the Ghosts.
Nigel was there of course. He is always here lurking around and semi haunting me. The woman was willow thin wearing a white sundress with her long brown hair flowing down to the middle of her back. The large black Lab mix stood leaning against her leg. It wore a white bow around it’s neck. Like Nigel, she was young, in her twenties. The tallest of the men had dark hair with gray streaks along his temples. He wore blue scrubs, like a doctor would wear. The other man wore a bright red and blue Hawaiian shirt and shorts. He was a really big guy, not just fat, but big. He must have been about 6’5″. As usual Nigel was in a black dress pants, with a black shirt and black tie.
“So what did they do with your bodies?” I could hear the woman say.
“I was cremated. My wife had me on the mantle for a while until her lover moved in. Then I was dumped in the river during the Salmon run. The salmon part was the kid’s idea. They’re still pissed off at my wife. They found out she had been cheating on me for years before I died,” said the doctor.
“Oh man, that is rough,” said the guy in the Hawaiian shirt. “Cremated too. My family took me out on a fishing boat in the ocean. My son threw up over the edge after he dumped my ashes. Poor guy still feels bad about it. I was laughing the entire time. He’ll be fine, my son Kyle that is. I’m just glad I got to meet my grandkids before I died. How about you Angie?”
“I’m buried not far from Nigel. Roxie here was buried with me. We died together. Car accident. Anybody donate organs?”
The all shook their heads yes.
The doctor had slipped on some blood in the emergency room and hit his head on the side of a table. He’d died immediately. The guy in the Hawaiian shit had been doing some avian research with in Africa contracted a rare brain parasite. apparently Nigel was the only one who was murdered, as least as far as they knew.
The doctor rolled his shoulders and transformed out of the scrubs into a button down shirt and jeans. “Are we the only Ghosts in the class of 77? We’ve lost about 30 people so far. We can’t be the only Ghosts.”
“Deena Adams died of a drug overdose in 88,” said the woman. “Do you know if she’s still around?”
“Do we want her around? She’s probably some pathetic poltergeist, or worse. She was a pain in the ass when she was alive, so do you really want the dead version around?”
“Oh Nigel that is cruel.”
“No, it is the truth. She’d ruin the party for us and try to completely destroy it for our living classmates.”
I realized that they were planning their 40th class reunion.
Nigel looked up and scowled then flipped me off. I went outside and said, “Then get off of my fucking deck. Just you Nigel. Your friends can stay.”
I went back inside and finished up what I was doing. I swear sometimes I wonder what it is with Ghosts.
But I thought of them, the Ghosts, two middle-aged, two in their twenties, and a dog of unknown age, sharing memories of their high school years. Even ghosts have their own kind of catching up to do.
I think about my kids, and even myself thinking back. My children think back on when they were small. I think back when I was their age, then later. I’m one hundred years older than those ghosts out there and I still look back to 1877 when I was seventeen, almost eighteen.
More than anything I’m thinking ahead. What will the future bring to my children who are young adults? I should be thinking of my own future, but after doing that for so many years just don’t do it anymore. Maybe tomorrow.
Nigel did come back later. He stood in front of my bookcases and smiled, his ghost eyes twinkling under his long dark eyelashes.
“What?” I said.
“Nothing,” he said. Then he vanished without so much as a wisp of mist. That’s a ghost for you.
Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max
Why yes, this is exactly what I wear when I pick the kids up from school.
I first published this post in 2013. My children are now older, but Uncle Max still has the same effect on, well, just read the post. It is just in time for the start of school. For more about Max and his friends do a search. You’ll find a lot about him, including the most recent story “Lighthouse”.
Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max
I was taking Clara to school this morning and traffic was backup up for about a mile and there was no place to go. All the side streets were backed up with people trying to get out of the backup.
We speculated on the cause of the backup. I assumed it was an accident. Clara looked over and saw one of her teachers in the traffic with us. And much to her shock he was smoking. She said three of her teachers smoked.
I guess I could have acted shocked but let’s be real. I bet he was having one of his two cigarettes of the day. The first is on the way to school to take the edge off and calm his nerves before he faces two hundred students over a course of six periods. The second is after school to take off the edge and face whatever is at home. My husband is convinced that all high school teachers must drink a lot too.
After a conversation about smoking various tobacco products and other things we saw the blinking red lights up ahead. The traffic light was out. Ugh. Kids and teachers were going to be late. A 10 minute drive to school took about 35 minutes. I found out later that the faulty light was no excuse and a lot of kids were marked down as tardy. That is just plain stupid in my opinion but I don’t make the school rules.
I dropped Clara off and made it to my morning conference call but a few hours, mid-morning, I was back at school. They’d call to tell me that Garrett had almost passed out due to his sunlight sensitivity issues. This happens two or three times a year. I can lecture him forever on this but he still doesn’t always use precautions. The school wanted to send him to the hospital due to his cold skin and low heartbeat, not to mention a nasty looking rash, but I always take him home.
Anyway, he was fine, poor baby. But, my brother Max is still hanging out at my house until Friday, so I brought him with me to pick up Garrett’s car.
As Max and I walked into the school office I could hear the hush of female voices. Vampire men have that effect. Max smiled (minus fangs) then put on a serious look. I wanted to roll my eyes but was worried about my own young Vampire man, my seventeen year old Garrett.
Knees were going weak…not mine or Garrett’s, but those of the women in the school office. I had to get my son, and my brother out of there.
About four hours later school was out so I sent Max back up to school to get Clara.
Did my brother wait at the curb in the car like everyone else there to pick up kids? Of course not. He had to get out of the car and wait. The mothers at the school would never be the same. A tall man dressed in jeans and a tight black tee-shirt and dark glasses, cold to the touch but so smoking hot that it would take weeks for them to cool down.
Fourteen year old Clara told me all about it when they got home. She found it both amusing and annoying.
Clara said school was stupid as usual but admitted that science was good. They learned about how many planets might be able to support life. This was something all the kids seemed interested in, which is good since according to my daughter most of the kids don’t seem interested in anything during school.
For about twenty minutes she told us about the planets and theories and speculations about life. She talked of telescopes and exploration and the makeup of planets. It is good to hear the passion that is passed from teacher to student and then on to others.
Then the subject of Pluto came up again. Most kids are still upset that it is not a planet anymore (it even has moons.)
One of the reasons Pluto isn’t a planet is because it has an irregular orbit. But so does Uranus. (Click here for more on thoughts about Pluto)
Clara said that nobody even mentioned Uranus today but the boys in the class still had to snort and laugh about it. Yes, Uranus is a large gassy planet. Uranus has an irregular orbit. Uranus is huge. Pretty soon Clara and I were both laughing. Even Max had to laugh. I mean, you have to laugh.
Garrett was still asleep but the rash was gone. His friends Randy and Ione stopped by to see how he was doing and sat on the edge of his bed in the dark quietly talking with him. They’ve gone through this too, the sun sickness. We all have.
So that’s it… just musings on my day and a little bit of fun to take the edge off.
I’m still thinking about Max waiting on the curb. Oh my goodness.
And don’t forget to check out the night sky. The past few nights Venus has been HUGE and super bright and beautiful!
This week I have an excerpt from a novel I started AND a poll. Would you read this book? Yes, this is a rough rough draft but if I polished it up…
By the way, this isn’t a Vampire story.
It is all just a bunch of strange physics!
Dr. Jackson Bartello
Tom looked at the white board relieved he was in the right classroom. This was Back-to-School-Night at his kid’s new high school. Oh boy.
Parents wandered into the classroom, squeezing into small plastic and laminated wood desks. Tom’s 6’3” frame hardly fit. He swore the desks were never this small when he was in high school.
Intentionally avoiding conversation with other parents he studied the hand written schedule his son Declan had given him.
First Period: Advanced Physics – Dr. B (Bartello) – HIPSTER GEEK EXCEPTIONALLY COOL GUY. Say something good about me. Seriously.
A large woman pushed herself into the desk next to Tom, still wearing her nurses uniform with a cartoon cat print on the top. Her brown hair was short and practical, but her face was pretty in a sort of old time glamour girl kind of way. She smiled at Tom. He smiled back to be polite.
At the front of the class stood a blond haired girl wearing a school tee shirt, and the kind of self-assured plastered on smile of an experienced politician. Tom figured she was Dr. Bartello’s student assistant Katie Hunter.
According to his daughter Rowan, Katie Hunter had recently changed her name to Kat, because she was dating a boy named Hunter Katz. Kat Hunter and Hunter Katz. It was all incredibly cute. Declan had said Kat and Hunter were also the two smartest kids in the school. Tom thought if they were that smart they’d stay away from romance.
“Hi Roxy,” the girl said to the woman in the cat uniform.
“Hey, Katie, excuse me, Kat. Good to see you.”
Katie turned to Tom. “You’re Declan’s dad.”
Tom smiled. “Yes, I am. How’d you know?
“You look just like him.” Her voice was deeper than most girls her age and lacked the singsong upswings at the end of her sentences.
“Everyone loves Declan,” said the woman called Roxy. “I’m Roxy Taylor, Jordan’s mom.”
“Tom Mather. Good to meet you.” He had no idea who Jordan was.
“Your wife Sage is great. We’re all so happy she agreed to be the advisor for the Student Technology Team.”
That was news to Tom. “Technology Team, sure, Sage loves her technology.” He gave an uncomfortable laugh. Sage was always great. She couldn’t help it; even after their lives fell completely apart she continued to wear her mask of greatness.
He’d encouraged Sage to take her dream job on the other side of the country. The new job paid twice their combined income. He would sell his law practice and work from home. They’d make a new start. She wouldn’t sleep with other men anymore. Life would pretend to be good.
Tom glanced around the classroom again. The other dads were relaxed slobs in cargo shorts and Dockers. He couldn’t imagine Sage being attracted to any of them.
The bell rang for first period to start. Bartello still hadn’t show up. A phone on the desk vibrated and danced around for a second. Tom noticed that a set of keys and half finished iced coffee next to the phone.
Katie cleared her throat then made an announcement. “Sign in if you haven’t already. Your kid will get points for it. I um, know Dr. Bartello has some handouts. Just a sec and I’ll get them.”
She went to the tall cabinet on the wall next to where Tom was sitting.
Katie tried to open the door but it wouldn’t slide. Tom noticed a latch at the top. “I’ll get it “Here you go,” he said with a wink to Katie as he slid the door open.
From the inside of the cabinet a dead Jackson Bartello faced Tom. One eye was closed, the other a squint. In the fraction of a second Tom’s brain registered the blood and gaping cut across Bartello’s throat. Before Tom could step back the full dead weight of the man fell forward against him.
Tom could feel himself falling but couldn’t stop the momentum. He remembered hearing himself say oh fuck, when the back of his head slammed into a desk, then bounced on the floor. He saw sparks, and the pain nearly knocked him out. He caught his breath and found himself flat on the floor. Bartello’s head was twisted at an almost ninety degree angle unnaturally resting on the inside of Tom’s left thigh, with the rest of his body on Tom’s legs and feet.
Bartello’s throat had been cut from ear to ear, all the way to the bone. Tom could see what might have been bone, or the esophagus. The cut was clean with no ragged edges. Bartello’s hands were bound behind him with his own black and teal atomic age print tie. He was still warm.
Tom could hardly catch his breath. Roxy was already up out of the desk and by his side. “Roxy, help get him off of me.”
She held Tom’s arm and helped him slide out from under the dead man. He felt Roxy’s hand go to the back of his head.
“You’re bleeding.” Then she yelled, “Somebody get me some paper towels NOW.”
The parents looked on in shocked silence. Then the murmurs of “Oh my God,” and soft gasps began. It wasn’t like in the movies where everyone screams and runs when a body appears. One was calling 911, another the school front office.
“Tom, Mr. Mather,” Katie said, sounding as if she were being strangled.
“I’m OK,” said Tom. He reached to the back of his head and felt the blood. He tried to stand, but couldn’t get his body to work for him. “Katie, don’t panic. You can do that later. Right now let’s get everyone out of the room. Then find your parents. Roxy, Find my wife, please.”
Tom looked at Bartello again. He couldn’t imagine cutting into flesh with that kind of force. It was too intimate for him. He never touched his marks. He’d always used a gun with a silencer, with the goal to always keep things clean and anonymous. But this killing wasn’t business. It was personal.
Love is in the air. I know because by 4:00 am the turkeys are already out making their gobbling love calls all over the neighborhood. They’re in the park, in front yards, in side yards, in driveways, on the sidewalks, and in the streets.
Sleep is also still in the air for teens who have nearly an impossible time getting up in the morning. Bribes of coffee and blood & berry smoothies goes on sleepy deaf ears.
But now I’m fast forwarding to school where the child texts me and says she needs $200 for AP tests (Advanced Placement.) If a Junior or Senior pass an AP test then they might be able to skip a college class. And why yes, the fees are cheaper in states I don’t live in.
So while I get texts from the kids, and listen to the turkeys, rain, and leaf blowers from the gardeners next door, I’m trying to think of a plot twists over coffee.
I explained what I was trying to do with the plot twists to my 17-year-old daughter.
“Don’t do something stupid with it. It has to be realistic, but not stupid,” she told me.
Thanks for the advice honey. I’ll be driving back to school in an hour to drop off the AP test fees.
I think about all of those Vampires who spend their days doing lofty things like fighting off rival Werewolf gangs, or lurking around in formal wear with blood dripping down their chins, or discussing with a far off Vampire council the paranormal forces and fuck it, that just isn’t the world I exist in.
This afternoon I’m meeting with an attorney. I’ll be getting about a pint of blood from him, and as usual I’ll leave cookies and juice (just like at the blood bank.)
Other than that things are pretty normal, not just for me but for most of us. By normal, I mean we’re not living some Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee movie script. Sure there are those assholes and misfits who lurk under floorboards, and graveyards. There are those without souls who haunt dark places in the cities. But who needs that? Seriously, WHO needs THAT.
We tell our kids, and other young Vampires that they have a choice. This goes for any kid.
There are choices. They don’t have to do what is expected by media or public opinion. They don’t have to be like everyone before them. If you’re different you can still be with everyone else. You know why? Because even if you’re different, you’re probably more like everyone else than you think. You’ll fit right in and be happy and nobody will know the difference. As long as they don’t know you’re a Vampire (or whatever) then do what you want.
So put away that red lined cape, and put on some jeans. Believe me, it will make dinner a lot easier. Then again, a little black dress is never a bad thing (but that is another story.)
These are the recent outtakes (the absolute real reason I’ve started so many blog posts lately and not finished a one, hence all the dead space and reruns.)
I received my 11th telemarketing weirdo freak call of the day and I tell the guy, “Hey, you know what, go suck your own dick.” He tries to say something. I continue. “And while you’re at it go to a dark room and close the door so nobody can see you. Just do it you fuck head.” Then I turn around and see my daughter’s sports coach looking at me in a somewhat shocked manner.
From the truth is more disgusting than fiction files… this morning a kid in my daughter’s English class accidentally left a window in his car cracked. Someone broke into his car, crapped on the seats, then smeared it all over the car. He had the car towed because he couldn’t drive it. He said he could smell it about five cars down. If the kids who did it are caught they won’t be able to graduate, and if it isn’t a seniors they’ll be kicked out of the school. Ugh. The poor kid with the car can’t figure out who could hate him so much. Of course every kid in the school knows about it now so I’m sure they’ll find the criminal crappers soon.
It is International Women’s Day and….
A question for my advice column: Dear Juliette, an agent requested I send her my vampire romance. I haven’t heard from her in two years. Now what? Do I keep sending it out to agents? Do I self-publish? Do I go back to law school? ~ Writer in Waiting.
My daughter is graduating from high school on June 2. And this is where I started to cry and couldn’t think of anything else to write.
A few weeks ago I went on a high school field trip with two bus loads of advanced art students. It was fun. The kids were great. A crazy guy said one of the girls assaulted him in Golden Gate Park. My mind just went totally and completely blank.
I’ve filled my twitter feed with political rage. Maybe that wasn’t the right branding choice.
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Snakes. Ireland. Vampires. Drinking. Small children… Actually, I might have a story here…
The frustrations of training a 13-month old German Shepard Dog. Let’s just start cussing NOW.
Why I HATE Cover Reveals and fifty other ways to offend other bloggers.
I was going through some old photos the other day and I found a couple of CIA Operatives.
I’m not getting enough sleep. I have a lot of demands and shit like that. Seriously, I am not getting enough sleep and I’m losing my mind. Wait, I lost it a long time ago, I think. Maybe…
Why are so many people reading my storyThe Travelers? I’ve posted the story quite a few times, but this is the original 2012 post. This is traditionally a Christmas story. But seriously, the traffic for this story has gone through the roof for about six months. I thought people were coming here for love letters. They’re coming here for love letters and THE TRAVELERS. WHO ARE YOU??? I even put a note on the end of the post and nobody will get back to me about it. Please let me know if it is on a story list or what/why/who.