Short Story Sunday: The Alley

Taking a short cut through a downtown alley wasn’t always like it was in the movies. He’d rarely witnessed crimes, or found dumped bodies among the dumpsters and rats. The smells were close to death but not quite. Urine and sun roasted garbage were the aromas of the night. No night-blooming jasmine for this short cut.

Walking along he wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t anything to fear except maybe stepping on something disgusting he’d have to scrape off of his shoe later. But then he saw her standing at the end of the alley.

Had she been a cat he would have taken her home, or found her a forever home, but she was not.

“Hi Val,” she said in a girlish voice. She sounded like she was maybe twelve instead of twenty eight.

“Nikki. You look good.”

She looked good for Nikki. Val hadn’t seen her this clean, well, maybe ever. She’d been homeless on and off for the four years he’d known her. Tonight was the first time he’d seen her in a dress. Even through the bad teeth, unhealthy chalky skin, and the constant fidgeting he could tell she’d once been pretty.

“My cousin Josh took me shopping. Got me this dress, and the sweater. Do you like it. The sweater is sort of like lace, all light like, for the summer. First new clothes I’ve worn in maybe six years.”

“Are you living somewhere?”

“I have my own room in the back of Josh’s building, out by the alley so I have, like my own private entrance. I have a bathroom too. The toilet is in the shower because it is really small. Sometimes when I take a shower I just pee on the floor over the drain. I always laugh because the toilet is right there.”

“What are you doing out here?” It was 3:00 am. He knew why she was out.

Nikki crossed her arms and leaned from one foot to the other. “Just doing some business, you know.”

“Looking for a fix?”

“Maybe, and a little romance.”

Val knew she traded sex for drugs. She kept talking.

“Um, Josh won’t let me bring guys home. I can’t do drugs, drink, or smoke at my room. Those are his rules. You know, I do stuff for him like clean up in the back, mop up, dishes, take out the garbage, and stuff. Maybe I’ll get to cook or work up front one day. He said if I work hard he’ll pay to get my teeth fixed. Ramon said if I go back to school he’ll help me too.”

Val knew Ramon, the high school kid who was headed off to U.C. Berkeley. Nice kid who wanted to get a degree in mathematics and change the world.

“You should go home Nikki. Forget the fix. You look so pretty tonight. Don’t waste it on some creeper. You don’t need to get high,” said Val.

“Maybe if you’d turn me into a Vampire I wouldn’t need it. If you turned me into a Vampire I’d stop hurting all the time. I’d be pretty again.”

“You’d die Nikki.”

“Better than living my life.”

“Don’t say that Nikki. Never say that.”

She looked down at the ground, then leaned up against a parked car. “Tell me a story Val, about when you were my age.”

He’d been telling her stories to get her mind off of getting high, or having sex with anyone she could in exchange for the next high. If he could keep her up until the sun came up then she’d be safe from the evils of the night.

“In 1886 I was twenty eight, same age as you are. My sister and I were in London. Jack the Ripper was in the news. We were at a party…”

“What was she wearing Val? Tell me what your sister was wearing.”

“A cream colored silk dress adorned with purple roses, millions of ruffles and a huge bustle in back. Her hair was piled high on her head in curls all done up with pearls and ivory combs. She danced for hours with a wealthy handsome son of a Duke.”

“Did she drink his blood?”

“Of course she did.”

“Did she make love to him?”

“In a way he would never forget, or get over. He’d never fall out of love with the mysterious woman he’d danced with all night.”

Nikki hugged herself as Val continued to tell her a half true story, embellishing it with more romance than reality.

He walked her home, and kept her talking until the first light of the morning started to show in the sky. “Be safe Nikki. Listen to Josh and Ramon. They’re looking out for you. They care. I care.”

He kissed her cheek with his cold lips.

“Why don’t you ever drink my blood Val?”

“You know why Nikki,” he said.

“I’d do you good Val. I’d make that cold blooded…” She continued with a crude and explicit, sexual description of what she would do to him if he’d only take her home to his house, or even behind one of the dumpsters in the alley behind her building. He turned and walked away from her feeling sad, and disgusted.

Two days later Nikki was found dead in her little room, wearing one of her new sundresses. She’d had unprotected sex with at least three different men that night. She’d died of an overdose of a cocktail of drugs too lethal for most people to imagine.

Before Josh opened his restaurant for breakfast Val stopped by to give him his condolences. Josh shook his head. He’d done everything he could to help Nikki.

“She was always a lost soul. So much talent. Aw man, she was so beautiful once. She just got in with the wrong guys, one right after another. They took everything from her. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone,” Josh told Val, wiping his eyes.

Ramon stood listening then said, “Nikki could have so much hope. Just yesterday she was telling me she wanted to go back to college. She wanted to live. Then she went on again about her friend who was going to turn her into a Vampire, and she’d be young and pretty again, and live forever. She said she was in love with this guy, this Vampire. It was creepy. She was nuts. Sorry Josh, but…” His voice trailed off as he wiped a tear off of his face.

Val wished them the best. That afternoon he made a large donation to a local women’s shelter. Over the past one hundred and fifty nine years he’d seen many lost souls. One slutty little druggie shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Nikki was nothing to him. Then again, she could have been everything to someone if anyone other than Josh or Ramon had cared.

Had she been a stray cat he would have taken her in. Had she been clean he might have taken her forever.

~ End.

 

Tangled Tales

 

First published here in 2016. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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

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

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

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

There in my kitchen was Nigel, the Ghost.

“You saw her,” he said.

“Of course I saw her. Who is she?”

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

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

“Close to both.”

“Tell me about her Nigel.”

“Make me coffee Juliette.”

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

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

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

“I don’t get it.”

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

“Why don’t we know about them?”

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

“Did they die?”

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

“They were advanced enough to go into space?”

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

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

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

“What was that?”

“A box.”

“OK. What was in it?”

“Viruses and germs they’d made.”

“Do you know where it is?”

“I know what happened to it.”

“What?”

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

“No, it can’t be.”

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

“No, it can’t be.”

“Her name wasn’t Pandora.”

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

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

I didn’t know what to say.

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

“Why. You’re a ghost.”

“I’m an artist.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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

 

 

 

Spirit of Christmas

My nephew Logan, my brother Aaron’s eldest child, just moved into town. Logan is a mere 28, a baby by Vampire standards. I’ve been making up for lost time and taking him everywhere with me. Yesterday we visited the elders Eleora and Tellias.

As I drove into the drive up road the Victorian house Logan spotted someone by the dock. Garbage was strewn around by the boat house.

My ninety pound German Shepard Alice, the goofy vacuum fearing dog in the back seat, started to growl and bark. She was in full professional mode now with her fur up and teeth out. I was already to go into full Vampire mode with my fangs out as well.

I got out of the car, Alice jumped over the seat, fur up and teeth on full display. I held her collar as she began to bark. Logan exited the passenger side and stood next to me.

Hollow eyes from faces that looked years older than their real age looked at us in fear. Large German Shepard Dogs in attack mode tend to bring out the fear in just about anything.

Human kind are barraged by temptations from the day they are born. Unfortunately some seek their solace and escape in the most heinous of temptations and fall into the trap of soul sucking drug addictions.

It had been a few years since anyone had tried to camp on this property. You know, I usually don’t deal wth this kind of thing. I don’t deal with a lot of shit. I just move on and mind my own business, but they were too close and doing too much damage. Tellias couldn’t risk losing his certified organic status on this orchard, or whatever else damage was done to the ecosystem of the river.

“Get off this property. You have one day and you will be removed by force,” said Logan.

“You can’t make us.”

“Too bad,” I said. “It would be a shame to find you in shallow graves by the edge of the river.” I was bluffing. I wasn’t about to go out into the mud and dig graves, much less drag bodies around or clean up their dirty camp.

“Let’s get his over with Logan,” I said to my nephew as I let the dog go. Alice barked and growled at close range. Logan and I bared our fangs and darkened our eyes. Cheap parlor tricks as far as I was concerned but it did the trick.

The tweekers look upon us with fear. Of course they did. They crouched down trying to fend off the dog who continued to growl and bark at them.

“Look at me,” I said. “How old are you? In your twenties? You look fucking dead. Get to a shelter. Get into a program. Start living like humans.”

Their eyes locked on mine. I had them. I reached into what they had left of their souls and tried to find a rare shred of a good memory or hope for anything other than the next fix.

“You have an hour. Go to the shelter and ask for Larry. Before you go ALL of this garbage needs to be picked up. Do you understand?”

They shook their heads in agreement. Nobody told me that I couldn’t make them do it. Nobody said a word. I snarled at them with my fangs and called the dog back. “If you come back here I will fucking hunt you down and kill you. I expect to hear from Larry. If I don’t then you’d better be at least five hundred miles from here by this time tomorrow.”

“See Larry,” Logan said in a voice straight out of Hell. I knew they’d go see Larry.

We got in the car and continued up to the house. I told Logan to call Larry and tell him what was going on. It is always heart breaking, even if I’ve seen it for a hundred years, to find people in such hopeless conditions.

As we drove up the drive to the house we could see a man in a red flannel shirt and green and black striped pants up on a ladder.

Tellias, who looked nineteen but was older than the first Christmas, was hanging Christmas lights on the front of the house.

He pushed a strand of white blonde hair out of his eyes and climbed down off of the ladder. Eleora ran from the house, wearing a red circle skirt and a green sweater, and wrapped her thin arms around us. They both started to sing an old song about St. Nicholas and covered our faces with light kisses.

Eleora, who also looks nineteen or twenty, is older of Christmas as well, and like Tellias, Logan, and me, is a Vampire. Being a Vampire doesn’t exclude us from any holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.

Logan noticed a motor home parked by the guest house. “Who is here?”

“They broke down,” said Eleora.

“Yes, they broke down on their way from Seattle to Los Angeles. They’re moving,” said Tellias.

“They broke down taking the scenic route along the river,” said Eleora

“A young family. It will take a few days together the part they need,” said Tellias.

“A few days,” said Eleora.

Yes, Eleora and Tellias look young but sometimes they sound extremely old. That’s OK.

“That was kind of you,” I said. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“They’re harmless. They needed our help. The children are darling,” said Tellias.

“Precious,” said Eleora.

“Do they know you’re Vampires. Just asking,” said Logan.

Tellias smiled. “Not yet.”

“We saw some homeless camps coming in,” Logan told them.

“I’ll call Larry,” said Tellias.

“Larry knows what to do,” said Eleora.

Eleora led Logan off to the back of the house to show him the Christmas decorations she was making. Tellias poured a couple of goblets of blood mixed with wine and led me to the front parlor.

“I’m glad you brought Logan. It has been almost a year since I’ve seen him. Sit while he spends time with Eleora. I have a story to tell you. We sat and I let him talk.

“You know I never knew who my parents were. I was raised in Rome, what you now call Ancient Rome, by people who were not like us. I grew up in a temple, then was sent to live with powerful people who kept me as both a pet and a demigod. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to England with the Roman army and met Eleora.

Years passed, the Roman Empire fell, and Eleora and I were still together. We were in what people now call the Dark Ages, that weird time between the Roman times and the Middle Ages. We didn’t hear much from the outside world back then. Most people didn’t even know there was much outside of their own villages. However, one day Eleora received a letter, a rare thing in a time when most people were illiterate, saying that they’d heard rumors of where my parents were. There was no signature on the letter, and the person who delivered it said it came from a dark haired stranger dressed in black. We had no idea who that could have been. Sometimes it seems like I’ve never known who anyone has been.

With the letter came a map of places east of where we lived, and north of Rome. It was in the northern lands of Vikings, and the rumored Vampires of the eastern regions of what is now Europe. So, to make a long story slightly less long, Eleora said we had to go.

So we went, alone, just the two of us on our horses, following the map. I asked her if she thought we should go, and leave the only home she’d ever known.

Three weeks into the journey we’d arrived on the continent. I wondered if this journey had been a trap. It wasn’t as if I’d never traveled before. I’d traveled from Rome to Britain, to Greece, and then up to where the Gauls lived and back to Rome, then back to Britain. We only had our feet or our horses for transportation. Now Eleora and I found ourselves in a land that was considered The Holy Roman Empire, but there was nothing holy, Roman, or empire like about it.

Eleora and I never tired of each other’s company so the trip wasn’t that bad. Then she became ill. I didn’t know. I did not know. I did not know that she was pregnant. I didn’t realize she was losing the child until it was lost.

You know how rare children can be among us. I didn’t know we could have children because we’d been together over three centuries by this time.

That didn’t matter. She was losing blood and there wasn’t any blood to be had. We were in the middle of a great forest on a desolate road in the Darkest of the Dark Ages. I had to find human blood.

In the distance I could hear horses. As far as I knew they could be farmers, bandits, crusaders, or just travelers like us. I took out my knife and was ready to use my fangs.

Two figures, which I assumed were men, came along in horses. Both wore the robes of the clergy, like monks. I spoke to them in Latin, assuming that was a language they would understand. Mass was said in Latin so they had to know it at least a bit.

“Hello,” I said, ready for both an attack or a friendly greeting.

“Good day my friends. You look weary from the road,” said one of the men as he took off his hood. He had a pleasant face with bright gold brown eyes and a short white beard. He had a slight accent.

“You sound Greek,” I said.

“You sound Roman. What brings you here?”

“Family matters.”

“I am Nicholas of Myra. We are seeking passage north to continue our good works.”

“If that is the case you’ve been dead for centuries.”

“But I am not dead now am I?”

“Your bones are said to be in the city of Myra, or as we speak being carried back in bits to Jerusalem by Crusaders.” You see, back then bones of people thought to be saints were often parted out because people believed those bones had magical powers. It is akin to the illegal wildlife trades going on today. Of course people dug up bodies and sold the bones as those of saints. No surprises there.

Nicholas laughed a laugh of a man without a care in the world. It was rich and deep and, well, jolly. “So who is dead now my undead Roman friend?”

I was in such a panic over Eleora, and surprised he knew we were Vampires that I didn’t have a comeback. I stepped back to my horse.

“Tellias,”

“You know my name.”

“I know when you are asleep. I know when you are awake.”

The figure behind him stepped forward and threw off his hood. A pointed face made of all sharp angles cooked out in a raspy voice like gravel and strong booze, “Oh come on Rome boy you can’t be that stupid.”

I looked at the gravel voiced man then looked down at his feet. He had hooves. He noticed that I’d noticed.

“I’m no Demon, and even if you look like an angel we know you and your woman are blood sucking…”

“Krampus, quiet,” said the man called Nicholas. “Tellias, your woman lost her child. Let me go to her. I’ll give her what she needs.” He rolled up his sleeve and showed me his arm.

I didn’t know if I should run or take up his offer. My head spun. All the hopes of a child was lost. I wanted to rip his throat out. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to run. He then put his arm around my shoulder and led me to where I’d made a shelter for Eleora.

He gave her blood. He gave her life.

Tellias stopped talking and closed his eyes. I took his hand. “Tellias I am so sorry. I had no idea. I had no idea you lost a baby.”

“I didn’t want to make you sad,” he said as he gave my hand a squeeze.

I gave him a hug. He wiped a tear from my eye. “It was a long long time ago. I love you.”

Tellias continued his story.

Nicholas and Krampus led us to a house in a small village where they were staying for the week. They made a warm soft bed for Eleora. As we sat around the fire we learned each other’s stories.

Nicholas had been born in Greece to a wealthy family. Early in life he’d given money to three sisters to prevent them from being sold into prostitution. The money was supposed to be for dowries. He told them to either marry for love or go to Mother Hope’s convent rather than marry a men they did not love. Love would carry them through most of life’s troubles. In the convent Mother Hope would treat them with respect and make sure they had an education. Two married. One went with Mother Hope and in turn became a great leader among holy women and spent her life helping other women escape from the horrors of prostitution and loveless marriages. From then on he decided to dedicate his life to helping others.

“How did you and Krampus hook up?” I asked Nicholas.

They both laughed. Krampus spoke. “Old Nick here doesn’t like to deal with bad things or bad people. Fortunately I do. You see, when I was a kid life wasn’t too good for me. So now I get back at all of the bad kids who hurt others. I can’t get all of the bullies but I can get to enough of them. If they use sticks, stones, or words to hurt then into my big bag they go. When I’m done with them they’re spineless as worms and completely harmless. But it’s a lot of work so I made a deal with Nick here to only help him out once a year. In exchange he keeps the fucking angels off my ass the rest of the year.”

That night I held Eleora as we wiped away the silent tears of grief from each other’s faces.

The next morning Nicholas looked at my map. “This map doesn’t lead anywhere. It takes you to the path of Crusaders who will be lost to slavers. You’ve lived many years as a virtual slave my friend. You do not want to do that again. Go home.”

“What about my parents?”

“You won’t find them there.”

“Will I ever find them?”

“I can’t answer that. If I see them along the way I’ll tell them that you’re looking for them.”

“Where are you going?”

“North. We’re going to raise reindeer. I hear there is a big abondoned castle up for grabs and a bunch of elves who need protection.”

“Dwarves, Nick. They’re fucking Dwarves,” said Krampus.

“Elves. The Dwarves live south of where we’re going.”

“Whatever.”

“Let us come with you,” said Eleora.

Nicholas took her pretty face in his hands and kissed her cheeks. “No my cold precious friend. You have another road to take. It is a road where you will meet people who need you. You will meet people of your own kind. But don’t shed any tears. Our paths will cross again.”

I looked at Nicholas who had been alive far longer than the life span of men. He’d been living over four hundred years.

“Why are you still alive?” I asked him.

He said, “I am a Spirit. I am the spirit of giving”

“How’s that working out for you?” I asked.

“I haven’t always been able to do the job as well as I want but I keep trying,” said Nicholas.

A long time ago, under a bright star,  I was at the birth of a child. Not my child, but the child who grew into the man who’s words you follow. You should make his birthday your night of giving.” Juliette, I have no idea why I even suggested that. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Then Eleora made a suggestion you’ll recognize even now. “You can decorate trees like the local folk do when the first snows start. Mix the old traditions with new. I like the sound of that. A new tradition. If you make people smile they too will think of giving to others. It will remind them that even as winter comes there will always be love.”

Nicholas smiled. “I will do it in honor of your lost child as well, and all of those who feel loss or without hope.” He looked me in the eye knowing my feelings about everything in my heart.

Krampus just snorted. “Of course you’d pick the coldest day of the year. You’re Vampires. Holy crap. I can’t win.”

Eleora and I stayed on for a few more days then headed beck to England. As Vampires we are well suited for a life on the road, but as you know, most of us prefer the comforts and familiarity of home.

We are said to be creatures of the night, which I will accept as a compliment when I look at the night sky full of shining stars, and hear the call of the owl. I know that it is in the night that Nicholas does many of his good deeds, unseen, without credit.

Logan and Eleora came back into the room and joined us with garlands made from pine boughs and red ribbons around their necks. It was good to see them smiling, fangs out, and without a care. Eleora had talked Logan into singing a loud rendition of Deck the Halls with her. My dog, who had been sleeping at my feet jumped up to bark and jump along to the festivities.

There are times when I am in awe of Tellias and his tales of history and wonder. Maybe not so much wonder, as his stories, to him at least, are just his life. They are his experiences to share.

Later that day someone came out to fix the motorhome, and we bid the visitors a good trip to their new home. Then late at night, after we’d said our farewells with hugs and kisses, Logan and I drove home. We noticed that the camp by the dock was gone. Logan said Larry had texted him saying there were rumors of Vampires down by the camps on the river banks.

Logan and I spoke of our own lives and events that shaped us. As we get closer to Christmas I will think more about Nicholas and wish him luck on his quest. We should all have such thoughts in our hearts, dare we end up being bagged by Krampus.

A Happy December to all and wishes for love, hope, and finding whatever you are searching for.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

tree2019

Juliette’s Christmas Tree 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive
A Vampire Romance

By Juliette Kings

“What a bunch of idiots,” Jamie said to himself as he watched a mob of men run down the road brandishing knives and guns they didn’t even know how to use. They wouldn’t dare use them. Well, maybe they would – that is why Jamie had to hide. Now he was all dressed up with no place to go.

Now what? Maybe a trip to his favorite opium den for an easy meal or a trip to Madam Rosanna’s for a drink with one of her girls. At least the girls were clean and pretty, but the rush of opium infused blood sounded good right now.

Jamie ended up back home to change his bloody shirt. He knew his housekeeper would be able to get the stains out but it still annoyed him.

As he grabbed a new shirt out of the wardrobe the smell of jasmine and roses gently made him smile. He turned around.

“Belinda. What a delight.” She was indeed a delight but he didn’t expect to see her, not here in his house, much less in his bedroom.

The delicious sight in a silk green dress smiled and sat on his bed. “Your housekeeper let me in. I don’t think she approves but then again…” she didn’t finish her sentence but just laughed.

James brushed his lips across hers then slid his fangs across the side of her neck. “She doesn’t approve of you because she doesn’t know you.” His mouth went to Belinda’s again.

“You taste like blood,” she whispered.

“You taste like death darling Belinda.” Jamie took her hand and pulled her up. “I’m getting dressed. Let’s go out.”

They passed into the darkness outside, arm in arm, laughing quietly at their private jokes.

Maybe they’d go to the whore house or the opium den. Maybe they’d go to a musical revue or drop by and see friends. Anything was possible. Together, Jamie and Belinda always had a way of making everything fun – at least fun for them.

They decided on the theater but stopped in front of one of the larger churches in the center of the city. A bride and groom happily rode in their carriage to start a new life together. The bride was dressed in innocent white. The groom was happy and handsome.

Jamie and Belinda stood, arm in arm, and looked upon the happy couple.

“That could have been us,” said Belinda.

“We don’t deserve that kind of happiness,” said Jamie, giving her hand a squeeze.

“Why not? We could get married. We could be happy Jamie.”

“Oh darling, you’d drive me crazy. I’d have to kill you.”

“I’m already dead. Well, sort of dead.”

And under the gaslights by the church Jamie kissed Belinda. “Dead or alive, I love you Belinda. I always have. I always will.”

A cold tear ran down Belinda’s cheek. Jamie led her into the empty church and up to the alter. “Belinda, will you love me and stay with me always?”

“Jamie, will you love me and stay with me always?”

“I suppose. Aren’t we supposed to talk about till death do us part?”

“I didn’t think about that,” said Jamie.

“You wouldn’t now James would you?” She called him by his proper name, the way she thought a wife would.

They left the church and headed back to Jamie’s place. Over a glass of wine they made uncomfortable small talk.

“Will you stay the night Belinda?” He had to ask.

“If you’ll have me. Oh Jamie, we’re so awful. We really are. There has to be more.”

He thought about it for about a second. “Not really. We are what we are. We are who we are.”

Then he took her hand and led her back up to his room.

In the morning the world came alive, but they continued their sleep, wrapped in each other’s cold dead arms, as alive as they knew how to be.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope

A Ray of Hope

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of fifteen he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

The Travelers – A Tale of Mystery, Love, and Hope

A Christmas Tradition at Vampire Maman

The Travelers

A Tale of Mystery, Love and Hope
from Juliette Kings

The night was falling on the travelers, Daniel and his son Tad and daughter Ada. They had to stop before the dark of night and freezing snowfalls. The father and his children were finally going home, from the broken dreams of gold to the city where Daniel had found a job in his profession of typesetter and reporter. When his wife had passed on he followed his dream to the California gold fields taking his teenage children with him. For good or bad they’d made the new state their home.

As the snow began to fall they came upon a cabin, the door boarded up from the outside, the windows shuttered. It looked deserted and like shelter for the night. Dan and his son pried the nails off of the boards, which secured the door and went into the two-room structure. Inside was a cozy room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a wall full of books. Dan sent Tad out to bring in firewood.

Ada went to the bedroom and called her father. On the bed was a man, still as the night, cold and pale as the snow. In his arms, wrapped in blanket was a tiny girl in a red velvet hat, a scarf covered up most of her small face. She was also still and pale.

Ada’s heart sank. The poor souls in the bed looked to have passed on. But why were they trapped in the cabin? Had they been sick? Why were they not buried with a prayer and the proper respect? The man’s coat was obviously expensive and of the finest materials. His boots were of the most beautiful leather and style. His face was handsome and refined. Ada took off her glove and touched the back of her hand to the man’s face. He was indeed cold as ice and still as death. She called in her father.

“I know this man.” He said. “A fine man. A poet. I heard him read when I was in San Francisco. What a tragic pity to find him here with his child.”

The looked upon the bodies of the father and child when they saw the slightest movement and the man opened his eyes.

“My daughter, please help her,” whispered the man on the bed.

Ada took the girl in her arms. She weighed almost nothing. The child let out a sigh. Ada brought the girl into the other room and sat in a rocking chair by the fire Tad had built. The girl started to move and put her face against Ada’s warm neck. Ada soon fell asleep with dreams of flowers and all things good.

In the morning the poet and child were gone.

The travelers found box covered with red paper. In the box was a golden heart and a note to Ada.

Dearest Ada,

This heart belonged to my dear wife who was murdered by villains of the vilest kind. Please wear it knowing that you will always be loved and you will always be a part of us.

TK

On the table in the front room was a bounty of food. Where had it come from? There were fresh baked goods, milk and juice, exotic fruits, sausages and chocolates. Under small quilted cozies were pots with fragrant tea and coffee. Another note was slipped under the teapot.

Daniel read the note aloud to his children.

My heart thanks you for your generosity.

You saved our lives.

You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.

You never judged us.

You never feared us.

The love between parent and his children is burned into your heart like the fires that burn in the heavenly stars.

My daughter and I will never forget you.

Your children and their children and their children will always be safe and watched over and kept from the harm of wicked men. I owe and promise you that.

Never fear the night or the darkness for we will always be watching your back.

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

~ Thomas Kent

As the travelers ate they talked of the sweet dreams they’d had the night before, along with stiff necks they had that morning. Daniel and his children  spoke of Mr. Kent and his precious daughter and wondered why they’d been trapped in the cabin.

Many many years later after a long and wonderful life full of romance and adventure, Ada fingered the heart, which she still wore. As she took her last breath she said, “I have never known fear, only love”.

An ocean away Thomas Kent felt an icy wind, then hope and gratitude in his cold Vampire heart.

~ End