Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (a Thanksgiving Story)

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 15 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 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

 

desert

News From Outer Space

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe

Now available on Amazon for Download

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Coming soon… Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe – WPAD Science Fiction.

Also NOW AVAILABLE from WPaD…

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We are Writers, Poets and Deviants, AKA WPaD.

We are an independent publishing group made up of writers who collaborate on thematic anthologies to raise funds for MS research.

We meet on the internet to share ideas and challenge ourselves to write in different genres. The stories and poetry we compose are compiled into books, which are sold to help raise funds in support of group members who live with MS.

To date, WPaD has published eight books, with a ninth already in progress.

Books by WPaD:

Deviant Universe (science fiction ~ published in 2017)
Creepies 2 (horror ~ published in 2015)
Goin’ Extinct (apocalyptic ~ published in 2014)

Tinsel Tales (holiday ~ published in 2013)
Dragons and Dreams (fantasy ~ published in 2013)
Passion’s Prisms (romance ~ published in 2013)
Creepies (horror ~ published in 2012)
Nocturnal Desires (erotica ~ published in 2012)

pepper2017

#NanoPoblano, #ScienceFiction, #WPaD

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Slut

Yesterday I was driving home. We’ve just had the first rain of the year. A full rainbow, the complete arc, from end to end was in the sky before me. And I don’t know what it was, maybe something on the radio, a flash memory, or a song, but I thought about all of the times I’ve been sexually harassed, assaulted, and otherwise bothered, hurt, or whatever by predatory assholes. I was suddenly so depressed. I flipped through the radio looking for a song to distract my brain. No such luck. Nothing to distract my brain or my heart. I hope with the stories coming out in the news that everyone, women and men, will stop this kind of behavior, and stop turning a head to this kind of behavior. Then I arrived home and saw the man who loves me standing on the front porch with a smile. 

This story was first posted here in 2015, but I’m posting it again today. Maybe that rainbow was a sign that things will get better. I can only hope that the younger generatin of men and wiomen  won’t put up with expectations that they’ll be weak, and voiceless. ~ Juliette

 

Slut

One of the big things everyone is talking about is sexual assault on campus or in college towns. I’ve talked about it with my two kids who are in college. Everyone has, at least everyone who is a decent parent.

So I get this call from Hodge Williams. Yes, that Hodge Williams. Everyone remembers him.

“Bart, how are you?” As soon as he spoke I wondered what he wanted.

“Hodge. Fine. Great. Life is good. What’s up?”

“I’m writing a story on the history of sexual harassment and violence at universities in the US. I tried to contact your sister but she wouldn’t return my calls.”

“Beth?”

“Yes, Beth. She kind of got around so I was thinking she might have experienced first hand, you know, she was at risk.”

“What do you mean by at risk?”

“Oh come on, your sister was a slut. Everyone knew it.”

I sat there with the phone a bit stunned. He just called my sister a slut.

“Hodge, you’re an asshole. In fact you’ve always been an asshole.” I hung up the phone. What an asshole.

After sitting for a few minutes and collecting my thoughts I called my sister and told her about the conversation.

“What an asshole,” she said. “Sure I was sleeping with his best friend without the benefit of being his best friend’s official girlfriend. OK I also slept with another one of his friends but we were in college. We were young.”

“Did you ever sleep with Hodge?”

“No. Hell no. He was always making passes at me and grabbing me. Hodges had that Madonna/Whore things going on in his head. A girl was either a virgin until marriage or a whore. Plus we’re not like him, you know the religion thing, so he just assumed I was a whore.”

“But you didn’t have sex with him.”

“I know. That makes me a whore. He called any girl who wouldn’t have sex with him a whore.”

“What an asshole.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. I mean, if the guy had asked me to go see a movie or go for a walk or just spent time talking that would have been different but he was just all over me like…yuck. He really called you? I can’t believe he’d have the gall to do that. Asshole.”

After we got off the phone with the promise of a lunch date later in the week I got to thinking about my own kids.

I’d spoken with both my daughter and son about sexual predators. I’ve done the best to teach them not to be bully bait. I’ve taught them to stand up for themselves and for others.

From experience I knew that bullies never grow up and most don’t change. 

Hodge never got the answer he wanted. Over the years Beth had a few close calls with sexual predators but she always ended up safe either by being with friends or using physical force to get out of it (exactly twice as she told me.) That didn’t include unwanted advances by guys like Hodge. And even though Hodge didn’t use force it still hurt emotionally that he’d think so little of her or of any girl.

I wanted to pound the crap out of him. Then I thought about how many other women out there who thought the guy was an asshole. That made me smile. Spread the word ladies, spread the word.

That evening after work I talked to my wife about it. She shook her head and said she’d had similar experiences. More anger surged through my brain, then sadness deep in my soul.

We all judge others. We all make assumptions. We all call names even if it isn’t out loud. We all talk behind the backs of others. Maybe we need to stop. It isn’t easy. It isn’t even practical.

Anyway, if you see Hodge Williams call him and an asshole and tell him that Beth and Bart say hello.

~ end

November Plans and The Trixie Affair

I’m reading The Trixie Affair – A Gluten-Free Mystery. 

Just kidding that title has been popping into my head all morning.

November is a big month. Just yesterday it started to FINALLY cool off. Our first rain of the season will be later today or tomorrow. And believe me when I say RAIN is a big deal where I live (just out of the drought and in fear of fires near Sacramento, California.)

Vampires like cooler weather. Necks aren’t so hot and sweaty. Everything tastes better – even without Pumpkin Spice. But you CAN have pumpkin spiced blood if you want.

Mix together:
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves.

Put a teaspoon in a cup of warmed blood and enjoy. I do realize that there is no pumpkin in there. You COULD put in a tablespoon of canned pumpkin (unsweetened) if you want. Add a shot of Bourbon too.

November is also National Novel Writing Month. Otherwise known as: NaNoWriMo

Every November thousands of individuals write a novel in one month. Not all finish but at least they give it a try. Go to the web site and find a group, or do it on your own. You can find writing buddies, and even local events in your area. In fact, this Saturday the group in my town is having a write-in at one of my favorite local pubs. Check it out at: https://nanowrimo.org/dashboard

Write ALL THINGS VAMPIRE

This November I am honored to be part of Nano Poblano, the World’s Least Official Blog-Everyday-November Challenge. That is what the logo you’ll see on my blog this month is for. https://cheerpeppers.wordpress.com/2017-pepper-roll/

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Check out the bloggers below – Nano Pablano – Making November Spicy.

Ra @ Rarasaur
Julie @ Bug Bytes
Bill @ Bill Friday
Elsie @ Ramblings of a writer
Jessie @ Behind the Willows
Anita Shree @ Heartsongs blog
Sarina @ Shining Seeds Blog
Lori @ LoriStory Blog
Kasturika @ Musings of an eccentric mind
Lorna @ Gin & Lemonade Blog 
Angie @ The Muses Words
Varuna @ Vanilla With Sprinkles
Ghost @ Teleportingweena
Sibelius Russell @ Consolations Many Form Blog
Sarah @ Mother of Serendipity
Juliette Kings @ Vampire Maman
Lindsay @ The Flynnigans Blog 
Emily @ Zombie Flamingos Blog 
Carolyn R Owens @ Infinity Coaching Leadership Blog
Kitty Litterbox @ Litterbox Riot Blog 
Erica @ The Broken Spine Blog 
Erica @ The Ink Slinger Blog 
Charlene @ The Illusion Of Controlled Chaos Blog 
Sahara @ I Didn’t Just Wake Up This Morning With A Craving Blog
Briton @ Punk Rock Papa Blog
Kim @ Drunk On Life Blog 
David Ellis @ TooFullToWrite Blog
Tooks @ mrtookles (insta-blog)
Kate @ Will Wally Wonder 
Varad @ Loose End of the Red Thread
The Don @ Blended in the Middle Blog 
Palak @ Expressions Blog 
Victoria @ The Loneliness of the Stay-at-Home-Mother Blog 
Namratha @ NamySaysSo Blog 
Ka Malana @ Fiestaestrellas!
Edward @ Edward Fagan Blog
Robert @ Fresh Off the Pad Poetry
Lizzie Ward @ Cats and Chocolate Blog 
Jesska @ Not Throwing Stones
Quixie @ Quixie’s Mind Palace
Heather @ tUrtlettE Blog 
Sarah @ TZBlog
Matt @ The Matticus Kingdom
Cyn @ That Cynking Feeling

I believe I’m the only Vampire blogger on the list but there are other parenting bloggers, and every subject matter in the universe. This is a fantastic, diverse, and interesting group. Check out some of the other blogs. I don’t mind.

I will be blogging each day, including new posts from Vlad’s Vampire Diary, Ask Juliette, stories about having college aged kids, news from Eleora and Tellias the Ancient Senior Citizen Vampires, Nigel the Ghost, Werewolves, Zombies, and of course more Tangled Tales (Short Story Sunday.) I’ll also write about inspiration and coffee. Always coffee. Yes, even Vampires need their coffee.

Along with the blog I’m working on not one, but two novels. One features Nigel. The other is completely new – a father/daughter bonding sort of story with enough weirdness to keep the reader reading.

And if you see all of the men in your life growing mustaches it is because of Movember – https://us.movember.com

Check it out for the men you love.

And remember:

  • Talk to your kids.
  • Tell someone that you love them today.
  • Kiss your cat.
  • Hug your dog.
  • Call your mom and dad.
  • Plant some bulbs.
  • And stay away from bad blood.
  • xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

juliette

Vampire Maman

 

I Feel Like a Ghost …

“I feel like a Ghost most of the time.”

I listened as my brother Val talked about our family. He is the forth of five children, less than two years my senior. Nobody does listen to him, or to me much. The elder children caught the attention of our parents and wore them out before we were born. They give us bad advice, stupid advice, ignore anything we say, and pretty much discount our opinions.

I always tell my children: Marry an only child who is an orphan. Of course if you’re a Vampire that is pretty easy to do. And you know I’m just joking.

I’ve heard my brother Aaron, the middle child express the same thing. Arron is at a disadvantage in that he is trapped between the elder two, and the younger two. I’d say more in the shadow of the elder two.

I tell Val not to stress, not to worry, and to go on with whatever it is that he is doing. I listen. He listens to me.

Val usually is the most confident of us all and never complains about anything. In his own way he quietly observes the world around him, then he stands back, then he takes action.

So to hear this man, the most loyal and chill, and in many ways strongest, of us all, say he feels unseen makes me wonder what I’ve missed. Actually I haven’t missed anything – I just haven’t said anything.

I spend a lot of time listening to my children. We interact. I listen. I make an effort to engage them. Maybe we need to do that to the adults in our lives more as well. We need to teach our kids to engage, interact, and listen.

A King might have loyal subjects but only if he listens and shows that he cares. Loyalty never comes from fear. It comes from understanding.

I’d like to say that of my loyal followers. I love you and I appreciate you in ways you’ll never know. And I will try to continue to be loyal to you with entertaining posts about parenting, relationships, Vampires, and love … and all that scary stuff too that we love this time of year.

Val and I sat on my back deck under the night sky talking about what we’re up to these days. He has reconnected with a woman he first met in the 80’s – the 1880’s when wewere in London. She wasn’t a Vampire back then, but she is now, and living in San Francisco. He hasn’t told our brothers. I tell him about the kids, and about the books I’m trying to write. He listens. He really listens. He never gives me plot ideas or tell me my stories suck.

So that is it for now for my morning musings. I’ll have more Halloween shenanigans and other silly stuff later this week, plus Vlad has will have a new “Vampire Diary” post.

Thanks for dropping by, xoxoxox.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Val – this song is for you.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/loyal/

Dawn of the Undead – A Very Short Vampire Story

Tangled Tales

Dawn of the Undead – A Very Short Vampire Story

It had been a long night of love and blood and fun. So many Halloween parties. It was a good night to be a Vampire.

Jon pulled up to his house and sat in the driveway for a few minutes as he checked his messages. The sky grew lighter in the distance. Soon the sun would be up and he’d be in bed, shutters closed, dreaming sweet dreams of the night skies and warm women with long necks.

As he stepped out of the car something grabbed him and slammed him down in the driveway. Flat on his back he looked up into the face of a Vampire Hunter. Damn it.

“We’re going to hold you here until the sun comes up and you fry,” said a man dressed in black.

“Honestly Dude you’re going to have to cut out my heart or cut my head off to kill me. I guess you could burn me to a crisp but that takes forever. You might want to reconsider. Come on in and we’ll talk about this over a beer or something…” Jon was trying to stall them. The sun wasn’t going to hurt him much.

Turning his head Jon could see the thin ribbon of pink coming up over the hills. Dawn. It was his best hour. It was the time he’d write his best work. It was the time he’d relax and gather his thoughts. It is his time and they were not going to take it from him.

“Guys, I have a deadline on an article for Vampire Review. I have to get it done this morning. You’re making a mistake.”

The Vampire Hunters raised their knives.

A few hours later the sun was in the sky, the birds singing, squirrels ran through the trees. Jon took off his work gloves and put away his shovels. This wasn’t the way he’d planned on spending his morning, but when you’re a Vampire… sometimes you have to face the sun and do what you have to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From ghoulies and ghosties

And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Vampire Maman

My mom blogs about vampires