Age and Memory

I had a visitor this week. My brother Val and my dear ancient Tellias decided to go backpacking and dropped Eleora off to stay with me.

Tellias and Eleora are ancient. They look young but they’re extremely old. Nobody knew exactly how old Eleora is. The date changed over the years.

She was like the actress who had been born in 1948 but by the time she died Wikipedia listed her year of birth as 1959.  As an aging sex symbol who had a long productive career with no leading roles nobody seemed to notice when she retired to her Long Beach cottage with her tribe of small dogs and assorted cats.

Her body was found by her son who was a product of the third of her five marriages. He hadn’t heard from his mother in a week so he went to check on her. 

Hermes the black Manx cat was sitting on the front porch wearing the platinum and diamond tennis bracelet her fourth husband had given her after she kicked him out for cheating on her with a local state congresswoman.  Hermes was frantically meowing to get in. On the porch was a dry water bowl and several packages from Fed-X and Amazon.

Inside he found his mother on the couch looking like she’d fallen asleep. The TV was still on. She’d been dead for three days. A bottle of high-end boutique vodka was on the table along with a small bowl of assorted opiate based painkillers. One the mantel next to the urn containing his elder sister’s ashes (from the first marriage) was a tiny bundle containing the remains of his mother’s last dog. It was a tiny teacup poodle names Chester, whom she always had dyed purple. On the table next to the vodka bottle was the receipt from the vet for the euthanasia services was from three days ago. 

That meant Hermes had been outside alone without food for way too long. He fed the cat and made some phone calls.

After he called his brother (2ndmarriage) and remaining sister (4thmarriage) he called his father. Growing up he’d lived mostly with his dad but had still been close to his compulsive party girl mother.

He was thankful the cat had been outside and not left in to start eating his mother’s face. Horrible thoughts like that had always popped into his head at the most unfortunate times. He blamed that on his mother and her dramatic flair for the macabre. 

After the coroner left, he put Hermes and his sister’s ashes in the car and drove home. He wouldn’t be coming back. His siblings could take care of the estate. 

But I’m completely off subject. Nobody knew how hold Eleora really was. Well over 2,100 years but she was always vague. I think she doesn’t know and either doesn’t care or is just embarrassed she doesn’t have an exact date. Where she was born, and when she was born, nobody had calendars.  She never aged so age wasn’t a concern, until she met Tellias who came from the Roman Empire where people had a written language, a calendar and even running water.  

Eleora also wasn’t like the actress I mentioned, at least personality wise. She was a flirt, but she and Tellias had been together for two millenniums. They were faithful and steady, or at least as steady as two ancient Vampires could be.

When they dropped her off Eleora was wearing a big green sweater over an orange satin blouse, and a green and blue plaid wool skirt.

“What in the world are you wearing?” I had to ask.

“I’m not sure. It was in my closet,” she said.

“It’s supposed to be over 90 today.”

She just looked at me then looked away not saying anything. I checked in her bag. Inside was a large pink sweatshirt, a lace party dress from eons ago, and a worn out house robe, and a pair of rubber rain boots. I didn’t even ask who packed for her.

An odor like rotted flesh with a sharp metallic after smell invaded my nose. Oh my God it was Eleora.

“When was the last time you took a shower? You smell like death.”

“I don’t smell anything,” she said. 

She’d tied her hair, which was dirty, up on top of her head with a green ribbon.

“You smell like a Shadow Creeper. Damn it Eleora, you don’t live in a crypt or under the floorboards of some abandoned house.  Let’s go up and get you in the shower.”

Like many seniors she has lost interest in personal hygiene or just doesn’t notice anymore. Time, especially in 2020, doesn’t matter. 

It is bad enough with most people who don’t take care of themselves, but it can be especially bad with an old Vampire. 

I reminded her to wash her hair with shampoo and not just put on conditioner. I also gave her a new bar of lavender soap and a washcloth.  She is about the same size as my daughter so I found a sundress in Clara’s closet that she’d left on her last visit and a light sweater out of my closet. Eleora won’t wear pants so our choices were limited. 

After the shower I fixed her a smoothie made of almond milk, blood, a bit of peanut butter and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. 

Eleora looked pretty in the flowered sundress. She might be ancient but she and Tellias look like college students, but act like really old people. 

I had to attend several Zoom meetings, but Eleora didn’t understand I wasn’t going anywhere. Thank goodness for the mute buttons for sound and video.  

“I’ll just stay here with the dog while you go to your meeting. Get me a cup of coffee before you go.”

“I’m not leaving,” I said, “the meeting is here, on my computer, like when we talked to Clara earlier.”

“Get me a glass of water too. Turn on that show I’ve been watching.”

“What is it called?”

“I don’t know.”

“What is it about?”

“It’s a Western.”

“OK. That narrows it down. You don’t remember the name?”

We went through the line ups with all of the on demand stations, Prime and Netflix. We finally turned on Cheyenne. That was good for an hour. 

Today Eleora wasn’t interested in reading. We went out on the deck and she talked about when she and Tellias went to a play followed by a public hanging. That was sometime in the 15thCentury. She didn’t remember much except that a dog walked up on the stage during the play. The man was being hanged for murdering his entire family. Then she told me about how they came to America on a big ship, which really wasn’t that big by today’s standards. It was awful due to the rats but Tellias sang to them and got them to invade the quarters of the first officer who apparently was a real prick.  

After that she couldn’t remember or understand much of anything and took a long nap.  When she woke up she’d sing me a song and ask when Tellias was going to come pick her up.

The next few days were much the same. 

Then she asked when she would be able to go home. She was done with me.  I’d hold her hand and tell her about my garden and my children. If I was able to I’d make her laugh. I’d get a smile out of her and she’d seem to be happy for a bit. 

When Val and Tellias finally came back Eleora was quick to pack up and leave. 

I remember when Eleora and I used to have adventures together. I remember when we’d be so busy doing things that we’d forget the passing of time. I remember when she could remember. 

Even when we forget we always remember to love. The memories and synaspes are gone but the love is still there.

My thoughts today go out to all of the caretakers. It goes to those who forget. It goes to those who remember and treasure those memories. It goes out to all of those who love unconditionally.

  • Stay safe
  • Wear a mask
  • Be kind
  • Check on those who are elderly, alone, or need extra help and support
  • Talk to your kids
  • Hug your dogs and cats
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • And be kind to yourself.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

The Fisherman

The Fisherman

A story from Adelia Hoff

There once was a fisherman who lived alone by the sea. One night he came across a beautiful woman dancing naked in the moonlight. When he called out, asking if she was alright as it was a very cold night, she swam away into the ocean. The fisherman saw her again and again after that, and every time he called out, asking if she was alright. It was only on the fifth time that he noticed the seal skin draped across a rock, and saw her run to it before swimming away.

There once was a fisherman who lived alone by the sea. One night, the beautiful woman’s skin was nowhere to be found, for she had danced too far down the beach from it. The fisherman saw this, and thought that the ocean would be very cold without it, so he carefully folded it in his arms and brought it to her. When she approached him to take it back, he asked if she was alright.

There once was a fisherman who lived with his family by the sea. Every day he and his wife would take their children out fishing, him in his boat and her in the waters below. When they would get back home, he would hang up his coat and she and the children would hang up their skins, and they would eat their dinner. They all loved each other very much, and when the moon was bright in the sky, they would all go dance together- clothed, of course. It was cold.

 

~ end

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This is where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

For more stories from Adelia Hoff click on the links below.

Charade by Adelia Hoff

The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy) by Adelia Hoff  

 

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Look it up

Dear Diary,

My hair has become as long as it was in the 18th Century. I have no problem with this situation. The sixteen year old girl who lives two houses down said I look like a rock star. I know what a rock star is. I like that better than someone calling me cute. She did call me cute. So did her mother. I do not understand. Puppies and babies are cute. I am a Vampire. I am THE Vampire King. Or at least at one time I was Vampire King. A long time ago.

I will take rock star as a compliment.

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

I do not understand how the hierarchy works in this modern word. I am not even sure I understand the word modern.

My Vampire lover Gillian was talking about something to do with politicians. I never comment in fear of being yelled at, so I just listen when she speaks of such things. She made a curious comment. She said, “If you looked up asshole in the dictionary his face would be there in full 8×10 color.”

I had to speak up and take the chance of her wrath. “I agree the man you speak of is an asshole, but what do you mean by dictionary?”

Gillian turned towards me and blinked exactly three times. “You don’t know what a dictionary is yet?”

“My love,” I said, “You forget that I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years. There are things I still do not know about this world in which I find myself.”

“You don’t know what a dictionary is,” she said, not asking but stating a true fact.

“No. I have heard the term but no I do not know,” I said.

“Oh. That’s right. Before you were locked in the crypt, and where you lived there were no dictionaries. Damn Vlad. I’m sorry.”

“So?”

“Back around 1806 a man, an American named Noah Webster was tired of everyone spelling words in all kinds of different wonky ways so he created a book called a dictionary. There were some books like it in the past, but he was the first one to do it right. So a dictionary is a book which contains thousands of words, how to spell them, how to pronounce them, and what all of the meanings of those words are.”

“That is fascinating and it sounds quite useful.”

“Definitely. Everyone used to have printed dictionaries, you know, big books. Now it is all online.”

When I do not understand something everyone tells me to “look it up.” I know what the Internet is. I know what Wikipedia is. I know what Google is. Now I know what a dictionary is. I do not know how we survived back in the day but we did.

“If Noah Webster created a dictionary then who is Daniel Webster? I have heard the term which connects his name with the Devil.” I said to Gillian.

“Daniel Webster was a lawyer and a politician back in the 1800’s. The Devil and Daniel Webster is a fictional story about how he convinced a jury of despicable characters to vote against the Devil. The Devil purchased a man’s soul, then of course that man wanted his soul returned. On a rather thin train of reasoning Daniel Webster convinced the jury that the Devil was wrong.”

“What about the Devil Went Down to Georgia? Is that song the same thing?” The creator of that song, unfortunately not being a Vampire, recently passed away.

“No, that is about a young fiddle player who told the Devil that he was a better fiddler,” said Gillian.

“Was he?” I asked

“Absolutely. Dear Vlad, nobody writes songs and stories about the Devil winning, at least not in popular culture. It is the classic good versus evil story.”

“The Devil has no power over Vampires either.”

“No he does not. We’re so much smarter than that. Unfortunately that isn’t true with politicians and preachers.”

I had not heard the song so I looked it up. It was quite interesting.

~ Vlad

 

 

Dear Diary,

I am at home more so I have time to look things up. Everyone is at home more.

After finding myself in the 21st Century after being locked in a crypt since 1715 I have come to realize the world is a much more complicated and confusing place.

I do not understand almost everything, yet there is so much that has not changed. More has changed.

I looked up the word cute.

A vocabulary web site stated this: The adjective cute describes something that’s attractive in a pleasing, nonthreatening way. Things that are small or young are often described as cute, like babies, puppies, or toy fire engines.

Something that’s cute is easy to like. We usually use cute to describe how something looks, like your cute smile or your cute dimples, but you can use it for anything that’s endearing or pleasing, like the boy-gets-girl ending to a romantic comedy. Cute can also refer to something that’s overly clever and a little bit fake. Don’t be too cute when you fill out a college application — the person reading it might not think it’s so funny.

What is the term my friends always use? Oh yes, I remember. What the fuck?

In following with Gillian’s advice I used the dictionary. I looked up the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

 

Definition of cute

 

1aclever or shrewd often in an underhanded manner ” … he’s a true patriot and statesman … and a most particular cute lawyer.”— Thomas Chandler Haliburton

bIMPERTINENTSMART-ALECKY Don’t get cute with me.

2attractive or pretty especially in a childish, youthful, or delicate way a cute puppya cutesmile

3obviously straining for effect The movie’s too cute to be taken seriously.

 

Smart-alecky? Impertinent? I looked up smart-alecky and did not like that description.

Then I saw it 2: attractive or pretty.

I am still confused, yet not so much as I was. I am attractive. When I was young I could be considered pretty. I am still considered pretty in a manly way. Perhaps it is my youthful glow.

I am 676 years old but will admit, not out of vanity, but out of fact, that I still have a youthful glow.

Sometimes despite my age I feel like one who is a teenager. I think I know everything, yet the more I know the more I realize that I know nothing.

This word cute is something I shall never understand.

 

~ Vlad

 

 

Dear Diary,

Today the weather is insanely hot. It is hellishly hot.

In the days, now so long ago, when I was King of Vampires, I lived in a castle in the mountains. It was never hot. Maybe it would be warm in the summer but never hot like this as if I lived inside of an active volcano.

“How did I get here?” I asked Gillian.

“Private Jet. Don’t you remember?”

“Of course I remember. That is not what I meant. Why here? Why not in a castle in the mountains? Why not a place where it is not so hot? How did you end up here in this hole of Hell?”

“To make a long story short,” she said as she gave me that look that women always give, “Randolpho and I, plus a lot of other Vampires came out here during the Gold Rush to start a new society of Modern Vampires. We were tired of all of the arcane stupid bullshit that we had to deal with. You were gone. Your castle was gone. You were one of the only leaders who stood up against all of the stupidity and old beliefs.”

I looked at here almost feeling as if a tear would come into my eye.

She continued, “I had no idea it would be so hot. None of us did. But this is our home now. Get over it.”

“I appreciate what you did,” I said, because I did. “It is just so far away.”

“We needed to be far away and come to a place where we could have a new start. Our own start. Randolpho, Constantine, and I never stopped looking for you. We never stopped,” she said.

There was a knock on the door, just like in a bad stage play when the writer runs out of things to say and no longer wishes to explore options.

Our friends Randolpho and Constantine were at the door carrying a bag.

“We brought Tequila and limes,” said Randolpho, who was wearing a straw hat decorated with flowers.

“I brought masks for everyone,” said Constantine. “These are not only exceptionally stylish but your fangs won’t get caught in them. I made them myself.”

Constantine is not only the most stylish creature I have ever met but in another life he was a tailor to the most fashionable and important people on the planet.

For the rest of the afternoon, we stayed in my cool house, sipping cocktails. Four Vampires wearing shorts and flip-flops, keeping cool. Maybe this place  is not so bad after all.

I still do not understand why it is so hot. Maybe I should look it up.

 

~ Vlad

 

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

This has been the 61st installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To look up all of the entries from the very beginning of Vlad’s modern adventures click here.

Short Story Sunday: Fairies

Fairies

“Why do they call them fairy tales? I don’t see any romance around here. What a dead zone,” said the green winged fairy Daisy. “Fairy guys are clueless. Totally clueless.”

“All they want is sex, and then they fly off to who knows where,” said the yellow winged fairy Iris.

Andy listened as the group of angry female fairies, nodding his head to show his empathy for their situation.

“It is all the fault of that Berrie fool,” said the pink winged fairy Belinda.

“Berry? Like the fruit?” asked Andrew.

“NOOOOOO,” screeched Belinda. “That fucking idiot who wrote about that fucking idiot Peter Pan.”

“Fucking idiots,” yelled all of the fairies.

“Ladies, ladies, watch your language,” said Andy.

“Since then all of the fairy guys think they’re fucking Peter Pan,” said Daisy.

“Fucking Peter Pan,” yelled all of the fairies.

“And we don’t want to be stinking Wendys or stinking Tinker Bells,” yelled Belinda.

“Stinking Wendy and Tinker Bell,” yelled all of the fairies.

“Ladies,” said Andy. “The fairy men can’t ALL be like that.”

The fairies, all ten of them, scowled and crossed their little arms.

“Love and romance isn’t always so easy,” said Andy.

“Of course it is,” said a tiny white winged fairy. “You’re a Vampire. That is synonymous with sexy male romance.”

“You’ve been reading too many books and seeing too many weird movies. Do you see any women here? I haven’t been in love since… not for a long time.”

“Shawna,” the fairies all said in a hushed whisper.

“Yes, not since Shawna.”

“Tell us how you met again. Tell us again,” cried the fairies.

“We met on a beach in Patagonia. She was on an archeological dig. I was trying traveling and trying to find myself. We danced on the beach, under the moonlight. We fell in love. She was fifty two. I was a hundred and sixty two but I didn’t think the age difference would matter.”

“You look like you’re thirty,” said Daisy.

“I know. That can be a problem. I thought it was true love. Then she hesitated. Eventually she left me for a guy she could grow old with. She didn’t want to grow old with me because I don’t grow old. I loved her then, and I will love her always. You can’t imagine how much I miss her.”

“Awwwwww poor Andy,” said all of the fairies in a hushed tone, as they wiped their tiny tears from their tiny eyes.

“Since then I have had lovers, and friends, and stalkers, but nobody has touched my heart like Shawna.”

“You need to call her. Send her a message,” said Belinda.

“Text her. Tell her you love her,” said Daisy.

“Tell her you still love her,” said all of the fairies at once.

Andy gave them a sad smile, sat down at his piano and sang sad love songs. After My Funny Valentine, a group of male fairies came into the room and sat next to the female fairies. The snuggled and listened to Andy’s beautiful voice. They saw a cold tear run down his face, but none of them said a thing.

He played for two hours, until the clock struck midnight, and he heard a voice.

“Andy, you didn’t answer. The door was unlocked so I came in.”

He turned. “Shawna.”

“Andy,” she said.

“What are you doing here?”

“You texted me.”

Andy glanced up at the fairies. Belinda winked at him. She was holding his phone.

“Shawna, how did you get here so fast?”

“I live in Berkeley. I moved up from Los Angeles when… it didn’t work out and I was offered a teaching position at Cal. He left me for another woman. She was younger and… it doesn’t matter. My son is up here and so it made sense. It was a great opportunity. You know, one last big thing before I retire.”

Then her eyes moved to the top of the bookshelf. “Are those fairies?”

“Yes,” said Andy, “and it is time for them to leave.”

And with that the fairies flew out the window and closed it behind them.

He turned up the heat and offered her a glass of wine.

“We need to talk,” said Shawna.

“No, not right now. Not right now. Tonight we need to love,” Andy said, as he put his arms around her. Then he kissed her, just as he kissed her that first time under the light of the Patagonian moon.

And the fairies danced about the garden, thinking up what fun and games they’d have on this summer.

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

 

For more about how Andy met Shawna click here.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Last Time

The Last Time

by Richard Turton  

I have no recollection of anything specific we spoke of that day. I’m sure the weather was involved because we always spoke of the weather in Georgia. He gave me words of advice, I’m sure, because that’s what he always did when he was going somewhere longer than overnight. His words soft, sweet, gentle.

More than once in the last few days, I’d seen him looking at the triangular walnut case on the mantle. There was a picture beside the flag, a man he’d never met; a picture of his father, my husband, in his Army dress uniform, strong, proud. A smaller picture, stuck in the corner of the frame, corners curling, fading. My husband, seated on a row of sandbags at some nameless firebase in Viet Nam.

Conversation quietly came to a comfortable close; neither of us wanting to talk of the actual matter.

He pushed his breakfast plate aside. Looking at it one last time, eyes smiling but sad, knowing, “I always liked those plates, Ma, with the barn and the cows and the bright yellow & green edges.

Reaching across, I found his hand and squeezed it. His hands were callused, course and rough and scratchy from too many summers in the fields. I tried to smile, but my tears spilled over, tracing my feelings down my cheeks. I turned away quickly and pulled the hanky from my sleeve as I tried to wipe away the sadness.

The sun was fully up now. He stood, pushing back his chair. Looking at me, smiling, he said, “I reckon I’d better be goin’; that bus’ll be along any minute. And you know ole’ Bob; he don’t wait for no one.”  He reached down and picked up his yellow and green cup and finished off his coffee. “I think I’m gonna’ miss this most Ma. You always make the best coffee.”

As I stood, I reached into the pocket of my apron and said, “It’s the chicory, Donny, takes the bite off. Here, I packed a little bag of it for you!” and gave him a little hand sewn bag stuffed with ground chicory.

As he took the bag, his hands held mine for just a moment longer. Then he looked down at his highly polished shoes and said quietly, “Thanks, Ma, thanks for everything. I love you.”

I stepped in closer and hugged him tight, “I love you too, Donny. Always remember that.” He reached around me engulfing me in those strong arms of his and hugged me back, this time just a little longer than usual.  Abruptly, he stepped back and reached for his Dress Green Jacket and put it on. He put on the soft dress cap the Army gave him, picked up his duffle bag and slung it over his shoulder.

As he reached the doorway, he rested his hand on the doorjamb. He looked at the old, weathered wood with all the pencil marks on it showing his progress in growing up to get to this day.  He turned and looked around again, gathering it all in like he was photographing the scene in his mind. Smiling a little once again, he gave a half wave, said, “G’bye, Ma”, walked out the door, and let the screen door slam once more.

That’s when we knew.

 

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

Richard Turton is a Viet Nam veteran living in Northern California. He has contributed two other pieces to this blog: The Eagle Cried and A Ghost Story.

I met Rick through his son who was my daughter’s 4th grade teacher. Rick is a member of the WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and has contributed to the group’s themed anthologies.

I am truly honored to feature “The Last Time” today, on Mother’s Day. Thank you so much Rick. Your words are beautiful and timely.

Aside from writing such beautiful words, Rick is one of the funniest people I know.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble (Parenting, Teens and a Little Romance)

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble (Parenting, Teens and a Little Romance)

This post was first published 02/2013. The sixteen year old boy in this post just turned twenty four, but this still applies for all parents, teens, and true romantics.

 

vladlove

 

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble,

Nereid

Sea Maiden

Poseidon’s loyal helper

Sailor’s guardian angel

Violet beauty

I looked at the note on yellow lined paper written in black Sharpie that I found in the dryer. Fragments of the musings of a 16-year-old boy.

The first line is names of a town not far from where we live, founded during the California gold rush. The rest of it is taken from Greek Mythology. I knew what it was.

It is Ione. His long time friend Ione. Once a funny little fair haired girl, now a leggy and shapely blonde of 16. She is also, like my son, a Vampire.

I unfolded the note more, crisp from the dryer and still warm.

I have known you forever

Since our time began

As babies

Then children of the night

As teens

Now growing into adulthood

Our hearts

Our minds

Our future

Am I to be with you?

My mythical love

My desire

My chance

A kiss from you

And I would be

Happy forever

Ione.

So far, aside from the occasional glances at Vampire girls and life long friendships, he has never set his heart on one, especially not one in his tight-knit social circle of “The Vs” as they call themselves.

Ione is quiet and funny and smart. But don’t piss her off because she isn’t one to forgive or forget anything. She also sees herself in some mythical role as avenging angel, taking on the cause of the bullied, down trodden and anyone in her opinion who has been treated unjustly.

Most people see her sort of an exceptionally smart, brilliant dumb-blonde. Smart and goofy. Sort of like my son’s best friend Randy.

I was ready to pocket the note when Garrett came into the laundry room and said “Give me that.”

“I didn’t know you liked her that way,” I said.

“It isn’t what you think.”

“Did you write it for Randy?”

“No. Don’t’ say anything Mom. It isn’t anything.”

“OK.” I smiled.

And then he smiled the shy way 16-year-old boys do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Ione

Ione

 

And yes, Ione is the name of a real California town that used to be called by some interesting names back in the day.