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

A Christmas Tradition at Vampire Maman

The Travelers

A Tale of Mystery, Love, and Hope
from Juliette Kings aka Vampire Maman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the morning the poet and child were gone.

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

Dearest Ada,

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

TK

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

Daniel read the note aloud to his children.

My heart thanks you for your generosity.

You saved our lives.

You never questioned who had trapped us or hurt us.

You never judged us.

You never feared us.

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

My daughter and I will never forget you.

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

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

Wishing you a Happy Christmas.

~ Thomas Kent

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

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

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

~ End

Silent Nights – Don’t forgot those who are easily forgotten

Silent Nights – Don’t forgot those who are easily forgotten

I made it out to the farmhouse, just outside of town. The lights were off but I knew they were at home. Sometimes they forget to turn the lights on. Sometimes the heat.

The place smells of moth balls, dust and garbage that should have been taken out a week ago. The smell is bad but at least the house looks clean. There aren’t any signs of hording. No signs of anything.

I brought my kids and my brother Max. Max hates going over there but I drag him anyway telling him that it is the right thing to do.

They sit in a small den off of the kitchen watching an old movie – The Bishops Wife. They’ve seen it 100 times and sometimes they’ll watch the same movie every night for a week. They’re on the couch wrapped in a blanket. She has on a red sweater, the one I got her last month on a trip to Target. She was so excited to have something new. He has on a red satin vest and a green bow tie.
She has painted her nails with sparkling gold polish.

We go in and greet them. He was nodding off. She jumps up and covers us with hugs and kisses.

Has anyone else come by or called this week? I ask. They nod “No” then she speaks up in her child like voice. “Our neighbor brought us some Mandarin oranges off of his tree. Too many for us so make sure you take some home with you. He stayed for tea. I gave him on of my fruit cakes. He said it wouldn’t be Christmas without my fruit cake. We social distanced.”

Her neighbor now in his 60’s has been eating her fruit cake since he was a child. About 20 years ago he moved back into his old family home down the road. He knows about these two old Vampires, but keeps their secrets to himself. Her fruit cake is that good. But the neighbor is the only one who visited aside from us. He is a dear soul who brings their mail up to the house and checks in on them from time to time. They are luck to have him. So many elderly and folks who are alone don’t have a neighbor who cares enough to take a few minutes a week to check in – to care.

The kids took out the garbage. Max listened to the stories he’s heard a million times before and told them of his latest adventures. They listened with amazement and a little confusion, but sometimes added in some words of wisdom and humor that surprised my jaded brother. Our visit was a good thing. Sometimes it is frustrating for me, but I need to be there for the elders who were always there for me. I remember when we were all younger and wish I had those times back again.

Do me a favor, and in the next year reach out to someone who is alone. Bring the mail in for your elderly neighbor or make them cookies once a month or books. Watch a movie with someone who is shut in. Call and check in to an old friend. Offer to help and mean it. Even taking someone to the store, the grocery store or Target means a lot. Those simple acts and everyday things we take for granted are sometimes a BIG deal for someone who is alone. I know it isn’t always easy, but that unease will turn to comfort and joy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Passings in the Night

Passings in the Night

The plan tonight was to share some Vampire tales and adventures and truly funny things, but plans change.

Tonight I saw The Ghost, Nigel. He wore an impeccable black suit, his hair was a perfect glossy black and all in place. He motioned for me to sit with him out on my back deck under the cold night sky.

His eyes met mine and he told me a story.

“I died December 3, 1986. I normally wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of my own death, but, it was the strangest thing, I was standing out in the woods, not doing much of anything. When you’re a ghost you don’t do much of anything. Anyway, I was out in the woods and a woman came towards me. She was smiling at me and I knew things about her. Her life had taken up where parts of mine had stopped. Then her life stopped December 3, 2013.

She looked at me for just a moment in passing. It was dark but I could see the light coming over the horizon. She asked me who I was and if we knew each other. I told her I don’t know you, but we’ve loved some of the same people. I turned her in the right direction. She thanked me and went into the light.”

Nigel stood up and looked up at the stars, hovering in and out of a transparent state. Then he came close to me and made himself look as real as a live person.

“I couldn’t go with her. But I sent a little bit of my love along, I hope. Well, I know I did. Don’t look all sad. I’m a Ghost. These things happen. Hey, nobody should die alone. She left surrounded by love.”

“Who was she?” I had to ask.

He shook his head slightly. “I don’t know. But like I said, we loved the same people, just not at the same time. I loved them first, then she loved them after I was gone. I have a feeling she was better at it than I was, or most people for that matter.”

There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but tonight was not the time to ask or to try to get answers.

Love is a force that we can’t explain or quantify. It goes beyond worlds, beyond sorrow and beyond grief.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted December 2013 – In memory of Julian Elsworth and Lil Longshore.

False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby

False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby

As a child Bronagh would get up each morning and go to school. There she’d figure out ways to escape through day dreams and long lone walks around the school ball field. In her more lucid and social moments she’d be trying to ignore the nonstop bullying from the group of smirking thugs who ruled the school. Having a different name in a universe full of Debbies and Nancys and Susans made one stand out. It made one get picked on along with being small, plain and quiet. Her family was also considered weird.

Her father was a large loud Irishman with a thick accent and her mother was a small pale elf like German woman who’d lost her family in the war, then ended up in a group home for lost children. The Irishman and the German girl met in a bar, got married, moved to America and had too many children and didn’t do things like other families. They’d sit up all night and play cards and smoke and drink too much. Then they’d tell stories of ghosts and werewolves and violent relatives who didn’t come to America. They’d sing loud songs and walk around their backyard in their underwear. Sometimes the intensity of the couple frightened the other families of their normal middle class community.

Bronagh was never mistreated at home but she never felt too connected to her family either. She loved them but she didn’t want to live with them or be like them.

She struggled in school but in her secret world she was smart and would one day be beautiful and successful. Nightmare sessions in front of the class unable to do a math problem while other children jeered made her imagine a different life. At that point she started to keep secrets.

Nobody ever knew what she was feeling or thinking. She gave away nothing by her expression or words. She lived in two worlds – one on the outside and her own world inside.

She grew up, went on to high school, made friends, grew into a beautiful young woman, made straight A’s and never looked back.

Then she went to college and found herself on too many long walks alone, but that was OK. She was used to that. Friends came and went. There were always good times to be had but she never stayed close to anyone. She graduated and had plans but her life seemed to be one big black hole that sucked the life out of every idea, every relationship and every job prospect. All of her choices sucked. It was as if everything she touched turned to garbage. It was garbage that couldn’t even be recycled. It was toxic waste.

Time passed and roadblocks grew higher and doors slammed in her face. She found herself with a college degree, a shelf full of books, a stray one-eyed tabby cat she named Toulouse, and nothing else.

One day she decided that one of two things needed to happen. She either needed to die or fall in love. Nobody would ever love her she decided, so she set a date to end it all, that is if nothing happened.

She grew numb.

One day she forced herself to go the large university library to research jobs and graduate schools.

On the first floor she ran into an old party friend Cindy. Beautiful lucky Cindy was going off to her dream job in Los Angeles. A huge engagement ring sat on Cindy’s finger. Cindy’s clothes were beautiful and obviously expensive. Joy radiated out of her, not for material reasons but because she was just where she wanted to be. Then again Cindy had been born where every girl wanted to be.  Cindy was that kind of girl. Bronagh gave Cindy a hug and wished her the best.

Then she saw a guy she’d had a one night stand with talking to a biology professor she’d had. Ditching them she went up the stairwell to the second floor to take refuge with some art books. There were always too many people from her past she didn’t want to deal with.

On the second floor, as she left the art section, she ran into a man she’d been passionately in love with. She smiled with a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe he’d finally feel the same longing she did. He was glad to see her. He was glad to tell her that he was getting married – to somebody else.  He asked her if she still had the cat. She thought he thought she was an idiot. She lied and said she had a boyfriend and great job prospects. Someone she really liked had dumped her the week before. She’d been fired from a job she’d held for a month. It didn’t matter. He’d cheated on her anyway. Being young and miserable with no prospects is no fun even when you don’t feel bad about telling lies.

Feeling numb she looked at college catalogs, made notes about graduate school requirements then go up to walk and distract herself. It was time to look up poisons or just sit down and die and turn into a mummy that someone would find in 50 years or so behind a stack of books nobody ever read.

In the deep darkness of the ancient basement stacks she accidentally tripped and fell into the arms of a young man. It wasn’t that kind of fall into your arms. It was more of the kind of “I noticed you were looking up poisons,” kind of falling to his arms. He noticed in a big way. Poisons were not the kind of things pretty girls, or anyone not doing medical research or writing crime novels usually looked up. She said she was writing a story. He knew she was telling a lie but he let it pass.

She had iced herbal tea with him in an earthy crunchy little coffee shop and they talked about all sorts of things. His name was Val, yes, that Val, my brother. His delightful friend Alonzo joined them.

That was 38 years ago. She still remembered the purple skirt and white lace top she was wearing. On her feet were gray flats. Val was wearing jeans and a black tee. Alonzo wore a red vest and a white button down shirt. His dark hair curled around his ears. It was weird how she remembered the details. She clicked with Val and Alonzo. They didn’t judge her. But they were not like the predators she’d met who wanted to lure her into schemes and religions and cults and plans that she didn’t want to be part of.

They became friends and she became one of them – one of us. A Vampire.

I know it sounds weird but she tells such a glum story. Bronagh is the funniest Vampire I’ve ever met. Yes, we have a sense of humor. You can’t live as long as we do and not.

Bronagh thinks about things too much – old things, things that happened, the guy in the library, the guy who dumped her, people who had been to her, a friend who died when they were young. But then not really, not lately. She used to sometimes wonder what life might have been like had she not become a Vampire.

Becoming a Vampire wasn’t what solved her problems. Having some support and encouragement and sheer tenacity is what got her out of her gloom. Long story. Hard work. Creative thinking. Love. Humor. She shrugs it off.

She’ll laugh and talk about how handsome Alonzo is but that she married him for his sense of humor. She’ll tell you about how he proposed to her while they walked under the stars on a windy beach. She won’t tell you about the times she was so unhappy and lost. Those dark times were such a small portion of everything but still, it makes a mark.

Alonzo had a past so full of nightmares that he was glad to become a Vampire and live in a world of calm control and find some measure of peace. I’m just glad to have them in my life. Maybe I’ll talk Alonzo into telling me a few stories.

Halloween is almost here and all kinds of ghosts are coming out of the woodwork. Let’s just keep most of them tucked away. We don’t need to deal with them or let them bother us.

Alonzo just shrugs and laughs off anything from his past. Bronagh does the same for the most part. They’re just like any other couple, only they’re Vampires. They believe that what they is due to divine intervention and it happened for a reason. Maybe. Maybe not. I’d like to think it was meant to be. OK it was meant to be.

And the odd thing about this story is that the old one-eyed tabby cat Toulouse is still alive at 39 years old. Of course, cats aren’t supposed to live that long but sometimes, well, all Vampires know that there are things we’ll never be able to explain.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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