Cat-ur-day

Saturday is here which usually means a Burning Question Poll or a lousy drawing.

But TODAY it is Cat-ur-Day. Move over Saturn, the cats are here.

Last night while I was folding laundry (yes, Vampires have laundry) my cat Oscar was curled up next to his buddy Stan-Lee. Stan is an old Steiff tiger of the most pleasant disposition. Oscar loves his Stan.

IMG_2230IMG_2231IMG_2234IMG_2236

Oscar is my baby boy, even though he turns eight this summer.

Gloria is almost fourteen. We got her at the pound (Sacramento Animal Control and Rescue) on my daughter’s 6th birthday. She was a teeny tiny little thing. Gloria is still pretty small but fierce. She is the hunter, and I will say no more. Birds, bugs, lizards, and all small rodents – you have been warned.

But wait… for all of you who need your poochie dogo fix I also took a picture of Alice, my cuddle bug hellhound (aka GSD aka German Shepard Dog.) Alice is three years old. Her birthday is December 25th. Alice weights 86 pounds, loves the cats to no end, listens to the “mom voice”, and steals the cat food as often as she can.

IMG_2238

For those who came here looking for a Burning Question or a drawing I aim to please.

Here is a doodle I did a while back of a vampire child and her cat. Just a doodle.

Vampire Maman

The Tiger and Vampire Maman

And something else a little more detailed.

This one was done under another name (aka Marla Todd) but I drew it. This was a while back. I have a stash of works I’ve never shown anyone, and a lot of work I’ve sold or given away. Hell yeah I’ve been paid for my artwork and illustrations.

marla_small

Finally…

Drum roll please…

The BURNING QUESTION for today is: How does society influence art?

If you don’t like that one talk about your cats, dogs, art, or spring garden in the comment section below. Yes, that is what the comment section is for. Start the discussions NOW.

Happy Cat-ur-Day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Friday Political Thought

On my alter ego Facebook page I have a feature called “Friday Political Thought.” I started it during the first Obama election cycle. People were getting nasty and ugly so I vowed to post kittens and things that would make everyone feel good, since political thoughts are rarely good. In fact most political thoughts are vile and ugly. I find that sad since politicians and politics should “serve us” not “Serve us up to the alligators” or “Serve us and make us sick to our stomachs.” These days politics are so vile and disgusting that I have no words, but I do have silly memes. I always have silly memes.

Anyway, here we go. Friday Political Thought for April 5, 2019:

55939905_2146281788813073_1975370156532039680_n

And here is your kitten:

56120219_2019633758159063_966315642430947328_n

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Chloe’s Face

A new story to maybe give you the creepies, or make you feel all warm and fuzzy in a twisted romantic kind of way.

Tangled Tales

Chloe’s Face

 

“I wasn’t alone. It was at a party for God’s sake. You saw how many people were here.”

“You said you went to the beach before the tide came in.”

“It was coming in. I told the police officer, the first one to arrive there.”

“You don’t seem frightened or upset. Most women would be crying at the sight of all of those body parts.”

I looked him straight in the eye, “Detective, I don’t appreciate your condescending attitude. I’ve been spending the past hour comforting my friends over this. If you continue your misogynistic tone I will report you to your supervisors, and I’ll put it in my blog.”

“I didn’t intend it that way. Your eyes look yellow. Are you alright?”

Oh now he was concerned. I wanted to say sure my eyes are yellow, I’m a fucking goblin. My eyes always turn yellow when I’m angry or upset. But I didn’t tell him that. I took a deep breath and brought back the baby blues in their shining glory.

Sure I might look like a beautiful woman in a silvery silk evening gown, and I am, but deep down inside my blood runs green, and my soul is the color and texture of charcoal briquettes, and I was in no mood to be grilled by some SOB who was one step from a hard on.

This all started when I walked down a path to the beach, wine glass in hand, with a couple of extremely shallow women whom I found quite refreshing.  We’d take off our heels and started running, while we laughed all the way. Hey, if I can find kindred spirits I take advantage of it.

So we get to the beach, just as the sun starts to set, and the tide is just coming in for the night. Is it the pretty picture we expected? Absolutely not.

Jackie, a tall brunette with high cheekbones wearing a backless red dress, catches her breath and drops her wine glass, then backs up a few steps.

Mags, a short busty blonde in a fabulous blue jumpsuit, and I stop.

“What the fuck?” Mags says as she stops and stares.

“Don’t go any closer,” I said.

Jackie starts to whimper like a puppy. Mags downs the Martini she brought with her and gets an extreme grimace on her face. I picked up a stick and poked the thing. Of course it didn’t move. I looked closer.

“There aren’t any bones. His bones are completely gone.”

What we were looking at was the naked body of a man with no bones. He didn’t even have a skull.

Mags looked closer. “Is it real?”

I put out my arm to stop her from getting closer. “Yes,” I said. “It is absolutely real.”

Looking out to the beach and incoming waves I saw something just as interesting and unusual. The beach was covered in body parts. There must have been a hundred or more pieces of, well, people. This wasn’t like random shoes washing up with feet in them. I saw feet, legs, arms, torsos, organs, and faces. No skulls. Just faces.

I’m usually not at a loss for words but I had no words for this.

“Maybe there was a plane crash,” said Jackie.

I guess it could have been, but when I looked at the closest group of parts, an arm, what looked like a butt, and a face, they all looked like they’d been surgically removed. The edges were clean. The bone wasn’t fractured. Then I noticed the butt had a tag attached with a red ribbon threaded through a perfectly round little hole.

On a triangular laminated piece of parchment looking paper were the words,

 

You were a pillow

For her body

A place to sit

Pleasure for a man

To fondle

With desire and lust

A whore

Deserves more.

 

This was both fascinating and repulsive in a sexist nasty kinky kind of way. Hey, I’m a goblin, so I get a pass at not getting all sentimental about these things. I wouldn’t cut anyone’s butt off, but I’d love to know who did it and why. Seriously, what would motivate someone, a human, to do something like that? Or humans. One person couldn’t have dumped all of these parts on the beach in a matter of a few hours. I was out on the beach earlier in the day. I didn’t see anything but birds, a couple of shells, and some crab parts.

“It wasn’t a plane crash. We would have seen something, or heard about it on the news. I don’t know what this is.”

A couple of guys in suits came down the path from the party. They were laughing and yelling funny stuff at us. That didn’t last long.

They were horrified too. One of them called 911. Then the police showed up.

Before the authorities arrived I lifted up my dress and tied the hem in a knot just above my knees so I could walk around and take a better look.

About half of the body parts had the cleaver little labels with cryptic free verse or other weird descriptions. I have to admit the labels were pretty imaginative.

A male face, with fashionable stubble, laid face up, looking surprisingly handsome. You know, in a weird sad way that dead things look. I hear the Victorians were really into that kind of stuff, but back to now. His note got me thinking.

 

Those lips

Brushed against

Sun bronzed skin

Not mine

Never mine

Too

Bad

For

You

 

Were these revenge killings? I was trying to tie my brain around it. I was looking out over a hundred body parts. A man with no bones was dumped at the trailhead. One person, male or female couldn’t have done this alone.

I turned to see my four human friends huddled together about twenty feet from the boneless guy. I dropped my shoes, put down my wine glass, and took my phone out of my bra, then started to take photos of the tags.

The tag on a hand only had two words.

 

Poison Pen

 

On a heart and lung set was another romantic tag.

 

You took my heart

You took my breath away

So I shall do the same

To you

 

I’m a goblin so I don’t get too romantic, not even with other goblins. We’re not like that. We just laugh, and fuck a lot, and get all nasty with each other. We bond, but not in what you’d call a sweet way. I looked at that note and wondered what the hell had happened with that relationship. Had she cheated? Did she walk out for no reason? Was she a casting director who didn’t give some asshole actor a part he thought he deserved? Did someone not get into medical school and wanted revenge? It could have been anything. I wanted to know. I really really wanted to know.

Goblins, as a whole, cause a lot of grief. That is what we do. It is in our nature. That said, no goblin that I know would ever do anything like this. We definitely wouldn’t leave notes behind. We don’t exact revenge. We’re too self assured and confident to even think about revenge. Also, we might be different but we don’t do body parts. No way.

I looked down on a torso. It was the top half of a woman, from the shoulders down to the navel. She had a tattoo of a butterfly on her left shoulder. On the right breast was some sort of flower thing. The ink was beautifully done. She’d paid a lot for her ink. Gold rings pierced her nipples. The cuts were clean, and her organs were in tact. Her label was just as random as the others.

 

Lovely to

Look at

Lovely to hold

But it you break it

Consider yourself

Sold

 

Even I have to admit that was creepy.

A few days later, a couple of hours up the highway, I was sitting on the deck of my own beach house, wrapped in a blanket, and wondering about those body parts and the boneless man.

I heard someone come through the side gate. It was the detective I’d spoken to at the scene of the crime. I waved at him. He tripped and fell on the gravel pathway. I smiled. After all, I am a goblin and I can do all sorts of mean things if I want to, and I always want to.

He got up without me offering to help, then brushed off his clothing. He was one of those tall sort of ex-football player types who thought he was hot shit in high school and college, and never lets anyone forget. Fuck him.

I thought about telling him to have a seat and making the chair break but I decided against it. There was no need to make him remember me more than he had to. I didn’t offer him coffee or tea.

My tail involuntarily twitched. I adjusted myself in my seat and pulled my blanket closer, and quieted my backside appendage so he wouldn’t see it (I just like saying that, you know, backside appendage.)

“Ms. St. Marie, I couldn’t get you by phone. I have some more questions I need you to answer,” he said.

“Gloria. There is no need to be formal.” I said. “I already told you everything I know.”

He walked up the steps onto my deck and leaned against the rail. “Gloria. Do you have time to talk?”

“Does it look like I’m doing anything? Sure, it isn’t like you’re going to go away.”

My brain quickly ran through ways to make him cry. I tried not to smile.

“So,” I said, “Detective Howard. Or should I call you Ian? Why are you here?”

“What is your relationship with Anthony James Berkins?”

Well, that was out of the blue.

“We’re friends. Friends with benefits. Excellent benefits. Why are you asking about Tony? He’d never kill anyone. Sure he killed them with words, but he’s a gossip writer. Damn good at it too.”

“How about Chloe Elizabeth Anderson?”

“Chloe? I adore Chloe. We’re friends. Great friends.”

Chloe was such a bitch. She had a snarky comment about everything and everyone. The C in her name stood for more than just Chloe, and I loved her for it.

“Within three days after you and your friends found the body parts on the beach sixty people in California, Nevada, and Oregon were found dead in their homes. All were single. All of them were found with parts of their bodies missing. Only three were still alive.”

For one of the few times in my life I actually felt like I might have lost something precious. “Tony and Chloe. Are they dead?”

Ian Howard looked at me with almost a symphetic gaze. I wanted to make a gull fly by and crap on his head (and I can do that) but I just waited for him to say something.

“Your friend Tony is alive. His sister found him before he bled to death. That hand you found with the poison penlabel was his. He doesn’t remember anything about what happened.”

“Chloe? Is she alive?”

“No. Her heart, face, and breasts were taken.”

I said nothing, trying to process it all. I felt numb. I never feel numb. It was weird.

“Do you know if Chloe was involved with anyone?”

“Chloe was seeing everyone,” I said. “She’d never give her heart to anyone. Fuck. I didn’t mean to say that.” I really didn’t mean to say that.

The detective pulled up and chair and sat across from me. “Gloria, you always seem to show up when bad things happen.”

“What do you mean by bad things?”

“Accidents. People fall into pools and almost drown. Kitchens catch on fire. Car accidents happen near you. People trip and fall a lot when you’re around. You’ve also been at the discovery of three other murders.”

“That wasn’t my fault. How was I to know a dumb ass real estate agent was going to show me a house with a body in the living room?”

“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault when you found a body in the trunk of a car you rented. It also wasn’t your fault when you witnessed an arson fire where three bodies were found.”

“No, it wasn’t my fault. The other accidents were not my fault either. Shit happens. People are stupid.” Actually the accidents were my fault because I make shit happen. I’m a goblin. That’s what I do. But I had nothing to do with the murders. Goblins don’t kill, we just make people miserable.

“Do you know who would hurt Tony or Chloe?”

“No. Listen, Ian, I read the notes. I took pictures. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It looks like the body parts, the removal of parts, was part of a revenge service. I know it sounds sick and twisted, and it is, but I can’t think of anything else. Sixty people. Holy shit. Poor Chloe. You said Tony will be OK?”

“He’ll recover, at least physically.”

We talked a bit more until I was too annoyed to take it anymore and asked Detective Ian Howard leave.

A year later he came back with some more questions. The case was never officially solved. I seduced him, but didn’t let him see my tail. Then I made sure he had a flat tire on the way home just for the fun of it.

I’m still trying to figure out how that one guy was deboned. His bones were found in his bed. If that isn’t weird I don’t know what is.

I still have drinks from time to time with Megs and Jackie. They’re still freaked out by the body part ordeal but neither one has lost her magic snark touch. I worry about them though. What if the killer is still out there. They’d be perfect targets the way they spread gossip and break hearts.

Tony and I are still friends with benefits. He has some very interesting and fun attachments he can click into where his hand used to be. We’ve spent hours trying to figure out who cut his hand off. We’ve come up with exactly nothing.

I still couldn’t walk on a beach without thinking about Chloe. Who cut off her face?

My friend Magnus, another goblin changling like me, had his theories about the killers.  It was obvious to us that the killers were hired to do what they did. From what I read on the notes all of the killings must have been revenge based.

A few nights before we found the body parts on the beach, before the owners of said parts were found, my friend Magnus had an interesting experience. Being a goblin, he didn’t think much of it due to the fact that he tends to be unpleasant to be around. The night was nice so he opened his windows and sat down to watch some mindless TV. He’d fixed his favorite snack of stir fry red crawler worms with sweet and sour sauce, with an ice cold beer, and just as he was ready to dig in he heard the sliding glass door that went out to his backyard open.

Like any goblin he turned and yelled, “Fuck you asshole.” The door slammed, and the two guys in his dark backyard were plummeted by flying garden tools, then drenched with motor oil he driained from an old car he was restoring.  By the time he got out on his porch the visitors had jumped the fence. The curious thing about the event was that on his porch he found a red ribbon. It was exactly like the red ribbons used to tie the notes onto the body parts found on the beach.

“I’m sure they would have been put off by my green blood, not to mention it would have burned their skin right down to the bone,” said Magnus.

“Only if you wanted it to burn them,” I said.

“Oh sweetie pie, you know I wanted to burn them. I always want to burn them. I know you do too,” he said with a wink.

“Do you think they were the murderers?”

“Of course I do,” said Magnus.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?”

He leaned back and gave me a big smile, his eyes glowing yellow green. “Because you never asked me.”

A few hours later I called Ian Howard and asked him what was on Chloe’s tag.

The detective seemed surprised I’d called. About an hour later he called me back with an answer.

 

Mirror Mirror

Blank and Cold

You’re beautiful face

Will never grow old

You don’t deserve

Your beauty

Or your cold unfeeling

Heart

I’m setting you free

And setting you apart.

 

Then he told me Chloe had been mutilated before she died. Even my twisted burned out soul couldn’t help but feel for her. I made a list of everyone I knew she’d been seeing or crossed. Nobody stood out as her killer, or the person who might have paid for her torture and death.

I called Ian and hold him about what Magnus had told me, omitting the part about Magnus being a goblin. Not that it mattered because Detective Ian Howard said, “The killers were stupid to go after a goblin. Not just because it is dangerous but because you regenerate damaged flesh.”

“Goblins? What are you talking about?”

“I know you and Magnus are goblins. I knew the first night I met you on the beach. We watch for your kind.”

Your kind?It sounded sort of racist to me, but it didn’t surprise me. So much for jumping through virtual fiery hoops to hide my tail.

“I pegged your for an asshole the first time I met you,” I said.

“Do you mind if I come over?”

I wanted to say something mean but just said, “whatever.”

The police never found out who killed Chloe and cut off Tony’s hand. They never figured out who hired them. Ian promised me that he’d never tell anyone I was a goblin. Later that night before he drifted off to sleep in my big comfortable bed I kissed him and thought of the note tied to the empty wrist of the boneless man.

 

Spineless

Unable to stand up

Betraying

My trust

And

Showing

Your true

Shape.

 

I heard a noise outside and went to check it out.

The next morning Ian took a cup of coffee out to the deck.

“Gloria, come out here,” he called.

In his hand he held a piece of paper and a note.

I looked at the paper.

 

Unholy union

Man and Demon

She seduces

He comes to her

Without hesitation

We will

Take

Them

Apart

 

“Look out on the beach Gloria,” Ian said.

The tide was coming in, washing away body parts. The cuts weren’t as clean as the previous case, but it looked pretty efficient. I could see a head rolling out with the last wave. I was fascinated with the way it moved.

“Do you know anything about this Gloria?”

“Let me refill your coffee for you,” I said giving him a kiss and taking his cup.

And you know what? We more or less lived happily after. Imagine that.

 

 

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette Kings / Marla Todd, ©March 2019

Short Story Sunday: I’ll Take Care of You

The headache was real. He opened his eyes and squinted at the sun coming through the window and tried to remember what had happened the night before.

“Oh you’re up. Look at the sunlight. Tell me how you feel.”

“Like I’ve been hit by a truck.”

“Do you feel alive?”

He looked at her sitting in a navy blue wingback chair wearing nothing but a smile and black silk stockings held up by red garters. He thought of her as a girl, not from her age but by the way she acted. She had been cute for a while but the cuteness became annoying and practiced.

He got out of bed and looked for his robe. She watched him with a smile on her face that was part wonder and part greed. Memories started to come back. Against his better judgement he’d taken her home and to his bed. Then she’d poured something she said was wine, but it obviously wasn’t.

“What did we drink last night?”

“What did you drink Andrew darling. I gave you an elixir to life. I gave you a tonic of love. I gave you light and love?”

He didn’t even respond. The sooner he got her out of his house and made coffee the better. Finding his robe he headed to the kitchen.

“Do you feel different?” She got up and followed him down the stairs.

“Other than feeling like shit?”

“Today is your new birthday. You’re mortal again.”

It suddenly occurred that she’d given him some sort of potion. “Jen, I can’t be cured. There was nothing wrong with me.”

“You were a Vampire.”

“I’m still a Vampire.”

“You’re walking in the sunlight. See it comes through the windows and you aren’t burning.”

“I’ve always been able to walk in the sunlight. Whatever you gave me didn’t work. It never works anymore than me giving you something that would turn you into a dog.”

“Give me a chance and I’ll take care of you Andrew,” she said clutching at his arms.

He pried off her hands and whispered under his breath, “Yes, and I’ll make sure to take care of you.”

Escorting her to the door, the Vampire told her to not come back – but he knew she’d try. Jen never took no for an answer. He compared her to a bad rash, that is if he’d ever had a bad rash.

Nobody would believe her tall tales of dating a Vampire. She was a groupie, a fan, a follower who didn’t know how to be an adult or find real love. It wasn’t like he always knew how to find real love, but at least he wasn’t going to let anyone change him for it.

Picking up the phone he made a call. “You know, I really don’t have the stomach for killing her right now. Any suggestions?”

His friend paused on the other end of the line then said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of her.”

After getting off the phone Andrew made a blood and strawberry smoothie hoping it would clear out some of the toxic effects of whatever the Hell Jen had given him.

Jen told everyone her family had always been around Vampires, kind of sort of, but she’d just discovered her ability to pick them out about 10 years ago. She’d clamped onto Andrew about a year back after seeing him sing with one of her favorite bands at a local club. She’d spotted him and found out all of the details about his life through mutual friends. Her immaturity was charming at first and kind of cute but now it just grated on Andrew. He ran his hands through his hair and wondered why he’d brought her home last night. Oh right, blood and sex. That always does it.

Then again, Jen thought life should be a cross between a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie and Twilight. Holy crap. The woman was delusional.

Jen sat alone in her San Francisco apartment and thought about her beautiful Vampire lover. Giggling at the thought of his cool skin and hot kisses and wonderful techniques as a lover. He knew all the tricks. She imagined living with him in his beautiful St. Francis Woods home.

Last night she’d offered him not just her body but her blood as well. Last of all she offered her heart. As far as she was concerned that was a sealed deal. She was part of him now. He’d never get rid of her.

A year passed and Andrew had all but forgotten about that night with Jen. Occasionally one of his friends would bring up the story of the toxic brew and laugh about it.

“Don’t laugh, it could have ruined my voice,” Andrew would tell them half serious and half joking.

“What ever happened to her?” They would always ask. Andrew would just shrug.

A hundred miles away, locked in a room with no sharp objects Jen sat rocking on the bed speaking of her Vampire lover and how he’d return for her. Andrew said something under his breath about taking care of her. So she waited not knowing that he already taken care of her, quite nicely.

 

~ End

 

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

The 2019 Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts at the Crest Theater

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3fc7

For years we’ve looked forward to watching the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts. Well, I have to say the selection this year was quite unexpected. That isn’t a good thing either. The real show was watching the stunned movie goers stagger out of the theater shell shocked and depressed.

One had a slightly bitter sweet message, but the rest were just depressing and somewhat disjointed.

Skin (United States)
The was the only American film in the group. It was sort of a skin-head white-trash revenge film. It was squirmy and uncomfortable with a totally unrealistic ending that sort of wasted the message of the movie. We came up with a lot of much better endings and resolutions.

Marguerite (Canada)
This was a bitter sweet story of an elderly woman and her caretaker. The message was about missed love and understanding. It had a bitter sweet ending. This was the only one that didn’t make me want to cry, scream, or throw something.

Madre / Mother (Spain)
A woman gets a call from her small child. He is alone on a beach. He can’t find his father. Twenty minutes later they are still on the phone and the tension is high. PANIC time. No ending. Seriously, there is no ending. It was like the start of a movie but nobody was allowed to see the rest of it.

Fauve (Canada)
Two typical funny kids (think of the boys in Stand By Me) go exploring what looks like some sort of mining operation. Bad things happen. I had tears in my eyes at the end of this one. It was well done but odd and disturbing.

Detainment (Ireland)
If you want to have your heart and gut torn out watch this half-hour film  based on transcripts of police interviews with Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the English boys who were convicted of torturing and murdering two-year-old James Bulger in 1993. I was in tears after this one too. Yes, it was done well. Yes, it might just win. No I wouldn’t see it again.

I would not show kids any of these films. I wouldn’t recommend this group to any of my friends.

On the way out my husband, daughter, her boyfriend, and I discussed all of the live action shorts we’ve seen in the past. Never have we seen such a depressing selection. And most live action horror shorts I’ve seen are 200% better than any of these. And I don’t like most full length horror films so I’m not playing favorites on the genre. I’m just saying these films kind of left me feeling dead, and that’s coming from me.

We watched the movies at the wonderful Crest Theater in Sacramento, California, a restored movie palace of a bygone era. That made it worth while.

 

 

The Crest Theater was also the inspiration for my story “A Night at the Crest.” Maybe one day I’ll make it into a short film, or maybe a full length movie, or into a full length book (my original plan.)

A Night at the Crest

A Story from Marla Todd  (Juliette Kings)

Dallas Andrews was performing at the old Crest Theater in Sacramento. Jonathan Ward’s soon to be ex-girlfriend Beth told him that this guy was hot. Andrews could actually communicate with the dead. Dallas Andrews said angels walked among them. He claimed to see angels all around him 24/7.

Andrews was the darling of the clairvoyant, medium, mysticism, aura generating followers of spiritual awakening. He had been featured on most major network and cable television stations. He did radio shows, graced the covers of magazines and now was packing in full houses on a nation wide tour. He followed in the footsteps of Casey and Nostradamus. His book was on the best selling nonfiction lists.

Jonathan had tried to talk Beth out of it. He told her the guy was a fake. He told her that all of these guys were fakes, but she insisted. She told him it would be fun and enlightening.

“It would be fun and enlightening to stay home and watch The Wizard of OZ.” he replied, but she wasn’t going to budge.

Jonathan Ward, founder and editor of the West Coast Review, was 5’10 with broad shoulders on his medium build. He was in good shape for someone his age, which appeared to be somewhere in his mid 40’s. According to his drivers license he was 46. His sandy brown hair had soft grey streaks at the temples. His eyes were framed with long thick lashes. His prominent nose was straight and narrow, but it fit with his oval face. He was good looking enough to get noticed by women but not enough to stand out in a crowd, unless one noticed his almost unnerving pale ice blue eyes. He had almost a perpetual and too quick of a smile. “Always amused” is how he was often described.

His companion Beth McAllister was knock down drop dead gorgeous and she knew it. Aside from her occasional bizarre and childish fascinations with freaks like Dallas Andrews, she was also brilliant. Well, most of the time.

Beth chattered away as they entered the lobby of the Crest Theater. Her stiletto heels clicked on the floor. Jonathan always thought of it as her mating call. He slid his hand down over her perfect behind. She promptly slapped it away. “Who do you want to contact?” she asked.

“Judy Garland and Billie Burke.”

“No, it has to be somebody you knew.”

“There are no dead people I want to talk to.”

“Maybe Dallas can contact your parents or your brother.” She said gently.

“They have unlisted numbers”

“You aren’t funny.”

“Bitch.” he whispered then kissed her on the mouth and led her to their seats.

As they made their way through the crowd his eyes met a well-dressed, slightly handsome, thirtyish man in the lobby. Jonathan was sure it was a plant; someone sent by Andrews to listen in to the conversations in the lobby. “My brother was blown to bits in Afghanistan. Pass that one on to your boss.” The man looked calm but Jonathan knew he’d unnerved him.

The restored art deco movie palace was the perfect place for the grand show of bullshit he would witness tonight. The lights dimmed. A woman in a long green dress played a traditional Irish harp on the corner of the stage. At the other corner was a plainly dressed woman signing for the deaf.

“I bet there isn’t one deaf person in this theater.” He said to Beth. She rolled her eyes at him and squeezed his hand. The lights came up on the stage. The crowd cheered. Jonathan sat back with his arms crossed, glaring at the stage.

Dallas Andrews walked causally onto the stage dressed in a white silk shirt, cream colored tie and matching cream colored dress slacks finished off with tan Italian loafers with tassels. He was in his mid-to-late thirties with wavy dark hair and boyish good looks. He smiled sweetly at the audience showing off perfect dimples, practically glowing with goodness and concern.

“How innocent, how angelic, how phony” thought Jonathan.

The audience clapped until Andrews blushed on command and told them to stop. Jonathan glanced at Beth. She was transfixed. He had lost her, to Dallas Andrews, at least for the next hour.

The man in white told his story with all the passion of the finest bard or worst televangelist, depending on one’s point of view. It was all bullshit about dead friends and relatives who’d ended up with tragically only to “speak” to Dallas through his new found gift.

Dallas ended his touching life story with “We can all be at peace with those we love who have passed over. I knew at that time I had to help others to find that peace and end the pain and worry.

It is a selfish thing that we expect the dead to contact us. It isn’t easy for them. But I’m trying to make it easier, as their go between. I channel. I am the messenger. I am merely a vessel to bring the message of love from the other side.”

Jonathan said nothing as the audience sat transfixed. He jotted a few notes then put his pen away. The night might not be a complete waste of time if the timing was right.

Andrews proceeded to ask questions of tearful audience members who wished to hear from departed loved ones.

“I’m hearing from Mary, Martha? I also see black and white. A nun. A policeman.” Andrews said in the most gentle and concerned voice.

“I can’t fucking believe this.” Jonathan swore under his breath. The people around him glared. He ignored them.

They heard from a dead son killed in a car accident, a recently departed grandmother, a young wife who died from cancer, a career Army officer killed in Iraq. Jonathan’s heart broke for those who came looking for answers and the hope of any small comfort. He took notes while Beth wiped tears from her face.

After about 90 minutes Andrews opened up for questions and answers. When called on, Jonathan stood up with his usual amused smile. “Be nice” Beth whispered.

Dallas Andrews saw a familiar face. He knew who the middle-aged man in the expensive black suit and distracting ice blue eyes was. Then he noticed the incredibly beautiful brunette sitting next to him. Dallas smiled sweetly at Beth, catching her off guard. She smiled back then blushed. With any luck he’d she’d be at the reception afterwards and after that in his suite at the Hyatt Regency across the street.

“Yes, you had a question.”

Jonathan addressed the clairvoyant. “You actually see angels? Show me who the angels in this room are?”

Dallas smiled and nodded “You won’t be able to see them. They are spirits who reveal themselves to me, but they are here, all around us. Open your heart and you’ll feel their presence.”

Jonathan didn’t like the answer “Tell me Mr. Andrews, are your angels from heaven or are they from someplace else? It’s often hard to tell the difference.”

The room hushed. Dallas Andrews was obviously annoyed by this man. “I sense you have a troubled soul.”

“You don’t know the half of it.” Jonathan replied in disgust.

Andrews gave a sympathetic smile and help out his hands, palms up. “Let me try to help you find out where your demons come from.” His voice was soothing as if talking to a troubled teen.

Jonathan almost laughed. “Oh you’re good. You’re very good. Mr. Andrews, where I come from we have words for people like you. A few that come to mind are liar, con man, cheat, and oh yes, more importantly sinner.”

“What is your name?” asked Andrews trying to keep his composure.

“You know perfectly well who I am.” thought Jonathan. He smiled at the man on stage. “Jonathan Ward, West Coast Review.”

Dallas Andrews pointed at Jonathan then put his finger to his chin. He smiled again. “I thought I recognized you. You’ve seen with your own eyes, heard with your own ears the news I’ve brought to these people tonight. Mr. Ward, humor me for a moment. Think of someone you’ve lost. Your parents were from Alaska. They died in a plane crash, you and your siblings survived. Would you like a message from your parents?” he asked raising an eyebrow at Jonathan.

Beth took Jonathan’s hand. He gave it a quick squeeze and let go. Parents my ass. “Why should my dead mother contact you, a stranger, when she could contact me directly?” he asked.

Dallas toned down his voice. He turned up the gentleness and compassion. “You block out the passage for her to travel with your negativity.”

Jonathan only glared. “You found the information about my mom from the bio on my web site. You’ve been following my stories for the past year.”

“You must have great pain in your heart” replied Dallas in a comforting voice, as he put his own hand over his heart.

“How do you know my mother is really dead or even has a soul?” Jonathan shot back sarcastically.

“I speak with the angels.”

“Really? You not only see, but you also speak with angels? That is truly amazing.”

“It is a gift, a blessing.”

“It’s a lie.” said Jonathan calmly as Beth sunk lower in her seat.

Dallas Andrews smiled sadly “Ladies and Gentlemen, this reaction is common from skeptics. There are angels all around us.”

“Show me.”

“There’s one right next to you.”

Jonathan ignored the comment. “Dallas, do you believe in God?”

“Of course.”

“Do you believe in hell?”

“I believe in the intrinsic goodness of all mankind. So, no, Mr. Ward, I don’t believe in hell.”

“You will Dallas, believe me you will.”

Dallas lifted his chin in defiance. “Is that a threat?”

“No Dallas, it isn’t a threat. It’s a statement of fact.” Jonathan said cooly.

“What in your opinion is hell, Jonathan?” asked Dallas slowly and deliberately as if he was ready to pull out the big guns.

“I’ll give you a tour,” Jonathan thought to himself. He wasn’t going to take the bait. “I’ve seen enough. Good night Dallas. Don’t forget to check out next week’s issue of the West Cost Review for the end of this riveting story.” Grabbing Beth’s hand, he started to make his way to the back of the theater. Beth stopped and turned back.

“Just like Lot’s wife.” He whispered in her ear.

She pulled her hand away and hissed “Asshole.” He stopped by the exit door and faced the stage.

Dallas Andrews had already started to have a violent seizure. Then he started to scream and fell to his knees holding his head in his hands. Soon he’d feel pain like he’d never felt before. It was an ugly way to end the evening, but the man had to be stopped. Jonathan couldn’t kill, but he could do an amazing amount of damage to the living. Maybe, with any luck, Dallas Andrews would get the message and change his ways.

Jonathan smiled slightly and narrowed his eyes “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Amen.” He said quietly to nobody in particular.

Beth looked at him with wide eyes.

He scowled at her “What? Don’t look at me like a frightened cat. I told you he was a fake.”

“Jon, we can’t just leave.”

“Sure we can. There isn’t anything we can do here except be in the way.” He took out his phone and dialed 911. “My name is Jonathan Ward. I’m at the Crest Theater on K Street. Sacramento. Dallas Andrews is having some sort of attack. Horrible convulsions. Oh my gosh, I think he passed out. Please, he needs help. I’m not sure…there’s a doctor or someone up on stage with him now.” He paused “Yes…you’ve had other calls…help is on the way. Thank you. Thank you so much.”

Beth stood in shock. “Oh no, oh no.” she whispered, her eyes still on the stage.

“Let’s go darling.” Jonathan told her grabbing her arm like a vice and practically dragging her out of the theater. She passed a few of her wide-eyed friends, but he didn’t let her stop. She’d be blabbering all night to them about poor Andrews. He wondered how someone as smart as Beth could be so gullible and stupid when it came to crap like this.

They walked across the Capitol Park to his car. Beth was livid.

“We should have stayed. I bet you made him have an aneurism with your stupid questions. I can’t believe how rude and mean spirited you were to him. I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life.” She tried to stop him but he kept walking.

He gave her a disgusted look. “I was rude and mean spirited? At least I was telling the truth.”

“No, if he dies it will be your fault.”

“How will it be my fault? Should I have asked for his medical history before I asked him any questions?”

She grabbed his arm. “Aren’t you concerned at all?”

He stopped and pushed her hand away. “Tell me why I should be concerned with a fraud like Andrews? Enlighten me?”

Beth was livid. “Dallas isn’t a fraud. What I saw tonight was real.”

This was going nowhere. Jonathan changed his tone. He ran his hands down her arms and gently took her hands. “Dear sweet Bethany. It wasn’t real.”

“You never respect anything I say or feel.” She cried trying to pull her hands away. “What about his visions from his cousin and dead girlfriend? He couldn’t have been making that up.”

Jonathan held on tight. “His cousin Joyce died when he was two years old. Andrews had seen her once. And there was no girlfriend Patty. She was a girl in his dorm who died of leukemia. They knew each other but they never went out.”

“He might have loved her. He might have cared for her.”

“No Beth, the guy is a liar and a fraud.”

“You don’t know that.”

““Listen to me. Remember the first time you saw the trunk that belonged to May Woosley, in the Sacramento History Museum? You were on a field trip with your nephew’s 4th grade class.”

Beth blinked, her voice turned shrill. “What are you talking about?”

“Let me jog your memory. May died in 1879. She was just a little girl. On the advice of a clairvoyant, like Andrews, her mother sealed a trunk full of May’s belongings in the wall of their home. Mrs. Woosley spent the rest of her life searching for a message from her daughter because she’d listened to the words of a con-artist rather than listening to her own heart for healing. The trunk wasn’t found again until 1979. When you saw it in the museum you cried. You went home and cried all night for the little girl and her family.”

“How did you…that was 5 years ago, before I even met you. I never told you about that.”

“You didn’t have to. Beth, don’t you see. You knew Mrs. Woosley was lied to. Dallas Andrews lies to people too.”

A tear rolled down her cheek. She backed away. “How do you know these things? You always know things.”

“I observe and I guess a lot.” He wiped the tear away and kissed her. “See, you aren’t as tough and shallow as you pretend to be.”

The fog had rolled leaving the night air with zero visibility. He took her hands and wrapped the car keys around them. “You’re driving.”

She took the keys knowing full well that he was practically blind on clear night and completely blind in the night fog.

“Could you even see Dallas Andrews on the stage.”

“I could see enough. Let’s go.”

“If you could have seen his face.”

“I saw his face clear enough to know every single thing he said was a lie.”

She adjusted the seat and glanced over at him. “You’re such an asshole.”

“Just drive.”

“Where are we going?”

“Your house.” Her house was closer and he wouldn’t have to drive her home in the morning.

“You expect me to let you…”

“I love you Beth. Nothing, including your faith in a charlatan like Dallas Andrews, is going to change that. Not now, not ever.” He took her hand and whispered, “You are my soul. And despite the fact that you drive me absolutely crazy, I need you.”

Another tear rolled down her cheek as she drove in silence.

When they got back to her house and made love to her like she was the last woman on earth. She asked him again about the long thin scars on his back. He told her for the 100th time that he didn’t remember how it happened. It was during the plane crash when his parents died way up in the Alaskan wilderness, hundreds of miles from anyone. So final. So tragic. It made for a good story, even thought it wasn’t true.

Beth’s amazing body was as fake as the con man he’d just put down. Beautiful store bought breasts, a dazzling smile of the best veneers money could buy, cheek implants and a slightly smaller and straighter nose than nature had given her, violet colored contacts covering her hazel eyes, the trendiest hair colorist in town, a sprayed on tan, artificial nails and a toned body thanks to grueling sessions with a sadistic personal trainer named Bruce. Jonathan thought wistfully that there was an entire generation of American men who had never felt a real female breast.

The sad thing was that at 38 Beth would have been lovely without most of the work. At least her heart was real, despite her tendency to be shallow and superficial.

He knew he scared her. The only reason she kept him around was for the great sex and his political connections. What a joke – there were no real “best” connections in Sacramento or anywhere else for that matter.

Jonathan knew the best people to know where those brilliant folks who stayed away from the media limelight, away from the cultural and political wanna-bees. He often thought, “Give me the rocket scientist next door over those who claimed they partied with Arnold and Jerry, or knew the more influential elected officials and developers at the state capitol. Give me my own friends; the mom who writes historic romance novels, the high school science teacher, the master gardener and the emergency room doctor. These were the people who really know what it is like to be alive and human.”

The next morning the fog had been replaced by a grey drizzle of rain. He left Beth’s in his silver Jaguar XJR, heading off to the airport to pick up Lorna. A few years his senior, she was a golden haired, blue eyed living Barbie doll. She lived in Malibu with a view of the ocean. Tapped into the spiritual rhythm of the ocean, she fit right into the affluent new age lifestyles of her neighbors. They had to be some of the most entertaining and shallow people he’d ever met.

“Where’s the hybrid?” asked Lorna

“Dropped it off for new tires.” He thought of Lorna and her unrelenting social conscience – knew he should have driven the hybrid, then shrugged it off. This weekend he wanted style not substance. In a few hours all the substance he could ever want was going to be shoved down his throat.

“What are you listening to?” she asked in disgust when he started up the car.

“Metallica.”

She turned it off. “Have you heard today’s news yet?”

“No. I’m clearing my mind today. No radio. No TV. No newspapers. No Internet. No phone.”

“Tell me what happened last night?”

“Beth broke up with me. She said I was too intense. I recall she used also used the words weird, asshole and insensitive. Lots of tears so I think there’s a good chance she’ll take me back.”

Lorna grabbed his wrist like a vice. “What happened with Dallas Andrews?”

“Let go, do you want me to wreck the car? Where did you hear about Andrews?”

“NPR, Morning Edition. CNN. Fox. LA Times.”

“Was my name mentioned?”

“They said that in the process of being interrogated by you, Andrews had a violent seizure. He is now is now seeing visions of hell and keeps mentioning your name.”

He changed the music to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons “Funny guy that Andrews. I heard the story on the way to the airport. Didn’t realize Dallas Andrews was so popular.” He said giving Lorna a wink. “Grab my phone, it’s in the glove box. Check my messages.”

Lorna’s beautiful mouth turned into a slight smile as she listened to the messages. Jonathan thought it was almost a snarl. “You have 22 messages. The first three are from your office, CNN and Beth. She’s hysterical. The rest seem to be people wanting to talk to you about Andrews.” They headed down Hwy 50 towards the hills. “What are we going to do with you Jonathan?” she asked rubbing his neck with her left hand.

“Don’t do anything with me” he answered quietly. “Just let me do my job.”

They went up the hill towards Sutter Creek, to Ruth’s Ranch as he always called it, for the annual, get our heads screwed back on, clear our brains, find peace, drink a lot of great wine and solve all our problems retreat. He was looking forward to it. The past few months had been a major drain on his mental and emotional resources.

He loved the drive through the rolling oak forested hills. He spent every weekend he could with his cousin Ruth. But this weekend might be rough. He was going to ask his family about his latest job offer. This was his dream job. He’d all but signed the contract. Everyone would be there to give him their own jaded opinions. Most wouldn’t be too thrilled.

He looked over at beautiful golden Lorna dozing in the seat next to him. She was his older sister, his mentor, the one who kept him grounded. He imagined her with a halo and beautiful wings spread out in shining glory. Then he wondered if she was sleeping with her new best friend, a plastic surgeon named, Dennis O’Brian. Denny, as she called the man was nice enough, but suddenly Jonathan felt like he wanted to beat the crap out of the guy if he ever touched Lorna. Then he’d torture him and flay off his skin leaving him a quivering mass of, well, whatever. He had to stop being so protective of his sisters.

Jonathan’s mind skipped back Dallas Andrews. He felt sick to his stomach. It had been unpleasant business, but somebody had to do it. After all it wasn’t easy being angel.

Copyright Ó 2013 Marla Todd

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3fc2

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Captured Bride: A weird little story of romance (sort of), personal growth, and Vampires.

Captured Bride: A weird little story of romance (sort of), personal growth, and Vampires.

I was minding my own business, outside tending my herb garden, when someone throws a blanket over my head, hauls me up on a horse and takes me to God only knows where.

After what seemed like forever, combined with a lot of screaming and cursing on my part, we stopped.

When the blanked was taken off I found myself in a hilltop sort of mini castle. It was absolutely beautiful. Standing in front of me was a tall man with golden hair. He certainlly was handsome but I was not in the mood to ponder his good looks.

“What the Hell is going on?” I was in no mood for making all nice.

“You are to be my bride,” he said in a serious voice.

“I don’t think so. You don’t even know me.”

“I have chosen you.”

“Listen up Prince Charming. I might be full of nasty sexually transmitted diseases. I might snore. I might poison your food bit by bit until you can only sit in your chair and drool while I take control of your empire. I might sleep with your brother. I might have stinky feet and fart in bed like an old hound dog.”

“I was tasked as the second son of the Clan Chief to find a bride. I’ve been watching you for a while. You’re perfect.”

“You abducted me.”

“That is our way.”

“Then change your way. Holy cow, you can’t build a marriage on distrust and violence. Get out of your comfort zone and marry a woman who can be your best friend, not just a house keeper and sexual slave.”

“The man must rule the house.”

“Alright, you’re a smart guy or I’m going to assume you’re a smart guy. Listen up. I know some of the things I’m saying sound weird. You’ve been brought up to believe women are subservient and property of the males. It is difficult to let go of old beliefs. Changes is difficult. But so is a bad marriage. Before you speak let me tell you a few more things. In a society where women are equal to men everyone ends up more successful, happier and your children tend to thrive. It is a win-win situation for everyone.”

“Then be my bride and change things.” Then he took my hand and led me to the bed. It was a gorgeous bed and he was totally hot but I did not like where this was going.

He stood before me and started to unbuckle his belt.

“NO NO NO show a girl a little romance,” I yelled. “You can’t just take me like this.”

“Let’s get this over with. You will do as I say.”

“Come closer and I will rip your throat out.”

He grabbed my shoulders to push me down and I grabbed his wrists. He stopped, images of terror filled his brain. I filled him with fear as his eyes locked on mine.

“You’re a witch,” he gasped as he dropped his arms to his side and stepped back.

“No I’m not a witch.” I motioned for him to sit and opened a bottle of wine. “Let’s talk. Do you have a name?”

“Aleric.”

“Good start. I’m…”

“Olivia. I know your name.” Great. He was stalking me.

“Alright Aleric, you have to listen to me. You think you’re some manly man but I’ll end up ripping your throat out if you try to touch me again. Forget all the crap about men and women that you know. We are all equal in the eyes of whatever God you choose to worship or not worship.”

We talked through the night. At first I thought he was dumber than a rock but I believe I got through to him. He returned to the village and married a girl he’d known since childhood. She’d always been considered “forward” and considered trouble by the locals. Aleric had always been in love with her but she was too much like a man. Now he had the courage to take her as his bride.

Years later I visited him. He was the Chief by then. His clan and town was thriving. I found him in a large hall playing ball with his grandchildren. He looked up at me in shock.

“Olivia. No, you must be her daughter or grand daughter.”

“I don’t age Aleric. I wouldn’t have made a good wife because first of all I would have driven you nuts, second because I’m a Vampire. I could have killed you but I saw something good in you. I saw a willingness to change. I saw hope. I’ve watched you over the years. I’m proud of what you’ve done with your life and your clan.”

He looked at me with grim eyes. “So do you want a reward now or do I owe you a favor.”

I smiled. “Not at all. I was just passing through. Listen, I’m not one of those Vampire’s who lords over a population ruthlessly draining the population of blood and money. I don’t do that kind of shit. I just wanted to let you know that I’m proud of you. You could have spent the rest of your life being a brainless jerk like all the other men in your village but you married a woman you love and respected her. You built a life together and passed that respect on to your children. Good job Aleric.”

“Did you find love?” His question caught me off guard.

“Kind of sort of. You know, I’m not like you. My heart is kind of a flighty thing. Vampires are like that.”

“I’m sure he is a man with a true heart and a brave soul.”

I smiled then left him to his happy life.

Later that week when I arrived home my tall cool Vampire man was waiting for me. “How was your walk down memory lane my dear?”

“Alright I suppose. Do you think people will always be so stupid?”

He took me in his arms and nuzzled my neck. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out in a couple hundred years. In the meantime, I have a propisition for you.” We spend the rest of the evening in each other’s arms. In fact, we still spend evenings in each other’s arms.

I think about that time now so long ago. Had I been a regular girl I might have ended up as the bride of a second son of a Chief. Or I might have ended up in the arms of a Vampire. I did end up in the arms of a Vampire but that is another story for another day.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales