2020 has been so weird, even for an almost 161 year old Vampire like me. My creative spark is fading, my kids don’t live here anymore. Sure they visit and we talk every single day but it isn’t like when they were in Middler School and High School and there was so much to say. There is still a lot of say but I’m having a more difficult time saying it. Also Halloween is weird this year. We’re having a pandemic and we’ve all been wearing masks for months before our favorite holiday.
Halloween is almost here so to get you in the mood here are some color-and-cut Halloween paper dolls I drew a while back.
If there is a spooky creature you’d like me to draw and dress let me know and I’ll add it to my cut and color collection. Seriously, I’d love to do it.
Werewolf and Mermaid
Have fun, wear a mask, talk to your kids, walk your dog, hug your cat, call your mom, check on those who are ancient or need extra help, call an old friend, write a poem, don’t be a dick, and kiss a Vampire.
Despite the unusual heat it still feels like fall. The cool mornings and placement of the sun triggers that fall feeling I love so much. The bird songs are also different with the transition between the birds who fly to the South and those who winter over here.
Yesterday it was hot and dry. I can’t remember a 90°F day in October.
The only leaves that are falling are on the oak trees that just turn brown and dump into my driveway. All of the other trees are still green. At least the trees are green. Everything else is brown. The photo here is from a walk I took yesterday with my dog Alice.
Thoughts come to Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and birthdays. We already celebrated my mother’s 491st birthday. Next comes my brother Val on the 22nd, and then mine on the 23rd. That doesn’t include the dozen friends who also have October birthdays.
This morning I was cleaning off the back deck. Don’t raise your eyebrows, Vampires have to take care of their homes just like anyone else, especially now that we’re all staying home a lot more.
As I swept dirt and leaves off of the top deck down below on the construction of the lower deck I heard a “What the hell? Are you trying to kill me?”
I looked down to see Nigel the ghost standing there.
“Oh shut up, you’re already dead. It isn’t like anything is going to hurt you or even fall on you,” I said.
“Come down to the lower deck,” he said.
“What so I can listen to your insults?”
“No,” he said with a quick smile. “So I can make you feel like the seasons are changing.”
Construction is going on so the stairs are gone. By the time I went inside, through the garage, and out back to the construction site I could hear music. A band, literally a band of ghosts were on my partially built deck playing, Tahiti: A Summer Night At Sea.
Nigel held out both of his hands just like Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. “Dance with me,”
I was wearing dirt covered jeans, wet flip flops, and a worn out tank top without a bra. “Not now Nigel.”
He took my hands and suddenly I was in a sea foam green dress with a light twirling skirt, my hair was in a riot of curls fastened with a diamond clip, and my feet were bare on a floor of sand.
I found myself being led around the deck, expertly stepping around any tools left out.
“For a Vampire you have absolutely no rhythm,” he said.
“I never said I could dance,” I said.
Suddenly he stopped and we were back on the deck, and I was in my old dirty jeans again. Nigel glanced at the ghostly guitar player.
He started to play, Autumn Leaves.
“Let’s try this again,” said Nigel.
“So any plans for Halloween?” I asked.
“Some major haunting. It will be awesome.”
“Anyone in particular?” I had to ask.
“I think I know who killed me.”
“What?” I stopped. Nigel pulled me close. He seemed exceptionally cold, and that is pretty cold considering I’m a Vampire. Then again it it was HOT outside.
“Don’t stop. Yes, I remembered her face. It was the last thing I saw as I lay there in under the shower with my skull smashed open.”
“She? It was a woman?”
“Yes, but I don’t quite remember who she was. My memory sort of went to hell after she killed me. So what are you doing for Halloween?”
“Nothing at all?”
“What about your birthday?”
“I’m going to the art museum. It will be the first time since it closed in March.”
“Ohhhh I should go too.”
“You might as well considering it’s your birthday too. I have four tickets but since you’re a ghost you won’t need a ticket or a mask for that matter.”
He smiled. “I’d be 61 if I wasn’t dead. Hey, can we stop by my grave. It isn’t far from the museum. On my birthday people leave letters and drawings there. Some of them even pour Whiskey and wine on my grave. You know, sharing a toast to me. I bet my body is completely pickled by now and no doubt looking almost as good as the day before I died.”
Then he stopped, and the music stopped. “It is so damned dry around here. But do you feel like it might be fall yet?”
“A little,” I said.
I looked up and saw my husband Teddy on the top deck waving down. Nigel waved up and yelled, “be a good Vampire and take her someplace cool.” Then he vanished before I could tell him thank you for the short escape.
That’s all. Nothing else happened. The ghosts all vanished. Teddy and I went inside and caught up on our day and our kids, and the usual Vampire news.
I didn’t suddenly see any fall leaves fall out of the sky, but my trees are full of green oranges and lemons that will be ripe in December or January.
Happy fall everyone and happy haunting.
Wear a mask
Don’t be a dick
Talk to your kids
Check in on those who are ancient or need extra help
It is hot today. I believe it is over 100°F where I live. In light of that hot sizzling fact I’m going to take you with me to a nice cool beach.
When You Grow Old
A short story by Juliette Kings
“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked my brother’s caretaker Josh.
My brother Bob is 90 years old. A former screenwriter and movie producer, he lives in a modern glass and polished wood mansion on the Central Coast of California.
I’d been at Bob’s for six months.
“Your grandmother would have been 101 this year,” Bob told me. I was going to turn 101 this year, at the end of October. What Bob doesn’t know is that I am his sister Valentina. He doesn’t know I’m a vampire either. He thinks I’m a great niece who is the spitting image of his older sister who passed away in 1935.
I walked the beach in the evenings with Bob. He leaned my arm and told me about the cycles of the tide and the migration of the whales.
Arriving home we found that my brother’s caretaker Josh had fixed dinner. A beautiful salad and fresh rockfish. Josh, a tall skinny but muscular blonde in his 30’s had been with Bob for about 3 years. He divided his time between helping Bob and two other elderly folks near by, and when he wasn’t with his old folks he was surfing.
I asked Josh why he worked with old people. “They’re exceptional creatures,” he told me, “with the knowledge of lost times. They have wisdom and humor that needs to be honored. You can’t always get that out of old people, but if you work them just so and LISTEN they’ll give you the secrets of the universe. And the weird thing is, no not weird, I the magic of it, is that they don’t even know they have that knowledge.”
The next morning we had a visitor. It was Stephen, one of my brother’s neighbors. “You’ve been good to your brother,” he whispered in my ear. He was also a Vampire, something I’d known for a while, but never talked to him about. Our paths crossed but this was the first time we had made a social call since I’d been there.
It seems Stephen and Bob have been friends for the past 10 years, since Stephen purchased the run down house next door and restored it to the former glory of its past. Until today, he only visited Bob when I was out. They spend the evenings talking, watching movies and playing cards with Josh. There was a bond of friendship that was so real and close, the kind that never ends, even with age and differences of opinion.
A few night later Stephen and I walked the beach.
“How long have you been a Vampire?” I asked him. It was a common question Vampires ask each other.
“Since the summer of 1802. Funny it seems like yesterday.”
“So hows it working out for you? I mean, the Vampire thing and all?” I had to ask.
“Good. It’s all good. You know it isn’t for everyone.”
“I wonder about Bob.” I had wondered about my brother and if I made him into a Vampire if I’d restore his youth and keep him in my life.
“Bob is happy where he is.”
“I think you’re right.”
We walked more and listened to the waves. Then he kissed me under that stars. That was a surprise. A nice surprise.
The next morning after Josh had helped Bob with his shower and getting dressed I visited with him over coffee. Josh was such a caring free spirit, loving his work with the elderly and his relationship with the waves.
“Who will take care of you when you get old?” I asked Josh.
He smiled. “I’ll ride out on the surf and become one with the sea.”
“Who will listen to your words of wisdom?”
“You and Stephen can pass it on. You’ll still be here. You’ll always be here. So will Bob, not in body but his spirit is strong. He’ll be around as long as the stars shine over the surf.” Then he winked at me. “Valentina, I know all about you. Your kind is all over the coast down here. I grew up with Vampires. It’s cool.”
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?”
“OK. What was in it?”
“Viruses and germs they’d made.”
“Do you know where it is?”
“I know what happened to it.”
“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.
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.
First published in November 2014. A Vampire Story about holidays and our usual weird stuff…
My brother Val and I had gone to the beach house for Thanksgiving. This was 1944, before my marriage or children, when it seemed it was always just my brother and me, plus assorted friends and lovers.
Our brother Andy (Andrew) was somewhere in Europe in a USO show. Our eldest brother Max and my future husband Teddy were in London doing something secret for the American Government. Our parents were in Washington DC.
Nobody knew where our brother Aaron or his wife Verity were. They were the traditional ones who always stayed on the safe predictable road to anywhere – now we had no idea where they were. The last time anyone heard they were in France, but they could have been anywhere. They could have been dead or worse captured but we stopped guessing.
Valentine and I had our fill the night before in San Francisco. The clubs were full of servicemen on leave and women who were tired of waiting for their men to come home and people who had nothing to do with the war or missing love ones. Val was also on leave from his position in the Army – watching and finding out secrets. Vampires are good for that. Almost too good. But we had to get involved. We had no other choice. This was the world we lived in and our country too. It was our home.
We watched the fog roll in as the sun went down over the Pacific Ocean.
A car drove up to the house. We weren’t expecting anyone.
It was Nathaniel Chase. Even back then he was over 400 years old but didn’t look a day over 35. A small black cat followed at his heels.
“What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be in San Francisco,” he growled without so much as a hello to us.
“We’re not supposed to be anywhere, at least not until after Christmas,” said Val.
“I thought you were in Canada, or Hawaii or someplace…,” I started in on him until he put his hand up for me to shut up. I knew the gesture well. He’d been cutting me off my entire life.
“Valentine, please get my bag out of the car for me. Juliette I need your help, come.” He headed down the hall to the far bedroom.
Under his coat his shirt was soaked with blood. I couldn’t tell if it was his or if it belonged to somebody else.
I helped him out of his coat and then the suit jacket and shirt underneath. He’d been stabbed several times. “My heart…was nicked. I’ve lost a lot of blood…a lot.”
I held out my wrist. “Take mine. It will seal your heart.”
“I don’t know…Juliette…”
“No. You can bring someone in later.”
“You will die. Take mine. Regular blood won’t help. You know that.”
A regular human man would have died with his injury. He’d been stabbed in the heart, not just a “nick.”
He took my wrist and sank his fangs into it. Not much happened.
“Just take my neck,” I told him and started to unbutton my shirt. “Don’t say no. You’ve done more for me than I can count. I owe you.”
Asking another Vampire to bite your neck is extreme. It is also something that happens in risky sex. It is something you don’t do lightly or with just anyone. There can be consequences.
I put my hand on his chest where the knife entered. Then I leaned in close, cold skin to cold skin and put my other hand at the back of his neck. “Take my blood Nathaniel.”
He pushed my hair aside and put his mouth on my neck. He had my blood and my feelings, my memories, my heart and everything I kept close. I could feel him searching and wanting then blanking it all out. He wasn’t interested in sucking out my souls or knowing my secrets or being my lover. I’d done this before but it wasn’t to save a life. It was to satisfy a lover, another Vampire in passion and …whatever. But this was intense and in that realm. I felt drained. I was drained literally.
Nathaniel pulled away and lay back on the pillows. His eyes were closed. He took my hand and entwined my finger in his. We sat for maybe an hour as still as death. I brushed my lips against his cheek. He opened his eyes and gave me a slight smile. “Thank you. I’m sorry.”
I went out to the deck where Val sat with a bottle of wine and a cigar. He looked at my neck. “I gave him blood. Nothing else.”
My brother gave me a hug. “Thank you dear. Listen, the couple down the road are having a party. We can head on over and get you settled again. If Nathaniel needs more tonight we’ll have it.”
So we walked half a mile down the road watching the stars and listening to the waves crashing against the beach. I told Val that I knew who injured Nathaniel but it was taken care of. We were not the ones to extract vengeance. Someone else would do that. It isn’t what Val and I usually do, unless forced of course.
Nathaniel stayed with us for the rest of the month. We spent Thanksgiving having a fire on the beach, just the three of us and Nathaniel’s black cat. Val and I were 85 and 86 at the time but Nathaniel still saw us as silly teens, or at least he saw us as still needing guidance.
Eventually we were all reunited with family and friends.
Anyway, that was a long time ago. It was a time I rarely even think about anymore. Now that my own children enter adulthood I think of more things from my current life. I hope their lives are calm and without trauma. That won’t be the case, but I’d like to think it would be.
I’m a little under the weather (even Vampires get under sometimes) so rather than trying to make up something fictional for today, or talk about parenting (my kids are grown now,) I’ll just tell you a story about my brother Val and me, then give you some high-minded moralistic opinion about the state of American culture.
It was October 1963 and we were driving Val’s black 1962 Corvette down Hwy 395, along the back side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We stopped in the small town of Lee Vining at dusk, wondering if we should stop for the night or keep going.
I got out of the car and looked up at the mountains. After I took off my scarf I held it up and let the breeze make it into a flag. Everything smelled so fresh. The mountains were so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sight.
Val came up to me and took the scarf. He put it over my hair and wrapped it loosely around my neck. “You look like Marilyn Monroe tonight. She was buried in a dress almost like yours, with a scarf like yours.”
Removing the scarf again I looked down at my green dress, then brushed a bit of blonde hair out of my face. Yes, it was blonde at the time fixed in sort of an over teased should length flip. I’ve taken my false eye lashes off as soon as we left Las Angeles earlier that morning.
“How do you know what she was buried in?” I had to ask.
“A friend of a friend went to the viewing,” answered my brother. “She was murdered.”
“Does the friend of a friend know who murdered her?”
“No. He wouldn’t tell me. What a shame. We’ll read about it later. Jewels, she was having sex with everyone named Kennedy and all of their friends. All of them.”
“Does it matter? Does it really matter Val? It isn’t like we knew the woman.”
He ignored my comments. “I feel like I’m in a movies set out here. The obvious choice would be a Western, but it seems more of a mystery tonight. Do you want to stay the night or move on?”
We agreed to stay. At first we got a skeptical look from the woman at the desk of the Motel when we told her we were brother and sister. Neither one of us wore rings on our left hands. What should she think when two fashionably dressed young people come into a hotel in a mountain town? Plus we came in a sports care. That would be a recipe for immoral behavior in anybody’s book. A man, the owner of the establishment, came in and gave us the key, saying it was obvious how much we looked alike. Some people always have their mind in the gutter.
We went to the cafe next door to get a feel for the place. The view of Mono Lake from our table was unreal as the sun settled down over the mountains. The waitress was friendly and took our orders of coffee and rare burgers. When she came back she told me that the cook thought I looked like Marilyn Monroe. I was polite. Val kicked me underneath the table.
“As soon as we get to Reno I’m finding a salon and switching back to brunette.”
“You’d better get rid of the eyeliner too,” said Val with a wink. “I think she was murdered for sleeping with the Kennedy brothers. Think about it.”
“I’d rather not Val.”
“Do you think Marilyn would have made a good Vampire?”
“The Beatles would make better Vampires. They don’t seem so needy. Honestly would you convert someone as needy as Marilyn Monroe into a Vampire? It would be a disaster then you’d be stuck with her.”
“That might not be such a bad thing.”
“Stop thinking with your…”
“Val, to be a Vampire one must be fairly independent and strong-willed. You have to be disciplined at all times. I mean, I didn’t know the woman but she wouldn’t have made a good Vampire.”
We picked our way through the food and finished our coffee, then went for a walk down the road. Stopping in a bar we picked up our real dinner for the night. After all, Val and I are Vampires.
The next day we took a leisurely drive with the top off of the car. Once we arrived to Reno I became a brunette again. A month later President Kennedy was assassinated.
I used to get angry at Val for his temporary fascination with celebrity. It started when we where children and he’d pick up bits of information in Harper’s Weekly. From there it snowballed. He couldn’t seem to get enough of gossip and sorted stories about people he’d never met. I’d tell him to read a book and he’d just get pissed off and close up to me. He has backed off but occasionally I’ll catch him catching up on celebrity gossip.
I don’t understand the current fascination with people who are famous for having an unnaturally large number of children (and their disgusting self-serving exploits), or for rich women who are unnaturally made up. If your only claim to fame is the fact that you have a big butt and a rich father why should you get so much time in the news. It isn’t news or even entertaining. It is just stupid and annoying. When I see a movie I don’t want to know about the actors, I want to know about the characters they are playing. That is all.
But it seems the spirit of P.T. Barnum live on in the worst way possible. Some people say there are no more freak shows but it isn’t true. There are plenty of people who are glad to put themselves in the spotlight as freaks.
Thank goodness that isn’t what Vampires do. We might read the gossip but we refuse to be the gossip.