Short Story Sunday: Brothers in Arms

And I thought my life was weird, thought Austin after reading a news story about a historian in Russia who was pulled out of a river along with a rucksack full of severed arms. The arms belonged to a former student.

Austin never had any students he disliked that much.

After kissing his girlfriend, who was still asleep, and would be sleeping all day, he wandered down to the local coffee shop. Inside at the back table his friend Aaron was reading and drinking his usual triple expresso.

Aaron glanced up. “Hey. I just ordered you something.”

Janet behind the counter called, “Austin, coconut latte, extra shot.”

Austin picked up his coffee and Janet smiled at him in a come hither way that almost made Austin’s face turn red.

Back at the table Aaron put down his book. “How are you Austin?”

“Good. I’m half way through the semester and haven’t lost any students yet. No failures. The graduate students are exceptionally delightful. Elizabeth is sleeping in my bed as we speak.”

“You’re back with Elizabeth?” Aaron looked surprised. “You know, you aren’t getting any younger.”

Austin looked at his friend. He used to look younger than Aaron and now he looked slightly older. Aaron was one of those guys who never aged, not surprising considering he was a 165 year old Vampire.

Aaron continued. “You turn forty in a few months. If you want to have a family you’d better find a nice woman in her thirties with a ticking biological time clock and settle down. Otherwise you’d might as well become one of us.”

“I hunt Vampires,” said Austin.

“Only the nasty ones we need to get rid of. You know, you could just quite that business and teach history full time.”

“Who would do your dirty work for you? Have you thought about that?”

Aaron shrugged. “You have a point there. Hey, did you hear about that guy in Russia they found in the river with a bag full of arms. I thought about you.”

Austin laughed out loud. Then he thought about the touch of Elizabeth’s cool mouth of his skin, and the fact that she’d read Jane Austin as a child, when the books were new. He thought about all the times he and Aaron had hunted down soulless rogue Vampires. He thought about the cold river and what kinds of things drive men mad. And after that split second of a million thoughts he said, “Great minds think alike.”

Aaron lifted his cup, “Here’s to us, brothers in arms.”

“Brothers in arms,” said Austin, as he reminded himself how normal his life actually was.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

This has been another Austin and Elizabeth story. For more adventures click here. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burning Question #61: Abby Normal

The first known use of the word PARANORMAL was in 1905. Don’t ask me for the context. You can look it up later. Or you can just ask a Ghost. By the way Nigel said he won’t answer that and he doesn’t know (he died in 1986 at age 26 so needless to say he wasn’t around in 1905.)

Welcome to Vampire Maman where most things paranormal are normal, including Ghosts, and where we capitalize nouns that denote paranormal folk/creatures/whatever.

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October is here, which means our thoughts are on paranormal things, which by the way are extremely popular. In books, movies, and of course on TV paranormal everything is the rage. Everywhere we go we want to know if Ghosts lurk. When the moon is full (or in the 7th house) we think of Werewolves. Can little girls start fires with their thoughts? Can we see into the future without any facts to back it up? Oh wait, that might just be politics. But seriously, all cultures have paranormal stories and traditions.

gothic

Don’t believe? Hold that thought and just step back for a moment. Lets assume there is paranormal activity. We’ve all seen it in some form or experienced it. Look how dogs and cats watch stuff that isn’t there. It IS there but you just can’t see it. I can see most of it because I’m a Vampire but you already knew that. But is is normal?

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Can we explain the unexplained? Should be expected to?

Is is normal to expect to see Ghosts? Is it normal to find Demons on your bedroom ceiling? Is it normal to run across a Werewolf on a full moon night? Is it normal to determine what car you’ll buy next or what job to take based on a Tarot reading? Is it normal to think of things like headless horsemen or Fairies, or Pixies, or Banshees? Is it normal to wonder if a love spell from a Witch will work. Which brings us to the 61st Burning Question…

Burning Question #61: Is Paranormal Normal?

traditional vampire

Answer the poll. Think about your answers. Leave comments. Have a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Above all watch out for things that go bump in the night.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Breakfast With Vampires (College Life)

My son Garrett and his roommate Randy (both college students in their 4th year) decided to be “normal” this morning.

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Hey, we’re Vampires. We do do well with carbs and sugar, and most food for that matter. So we’re creative. Everyone should be creative.

Happy October. Happy Parenting. Happy Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

California Afternoon, Vampire Guys (again), Parenting and Modern Life

California Afternoon, Vampire Guys (again), Parenting and Modern Life

Yellow Flip Flops

Michinori waited for his teenage twins in the school parking lot. I waited with him. We also had loads of books to donate for the library book sale (our tax dollars not at work.)

I welcomed the company of an old friend on a Friday afternoon as I waited but… as you know, anytime a male Vampire goes into a public place, especially in the middle of the day he’ll get a lot of looks. They just reek of a certain “you want me now.” I just hoped the librarian’s knees wouldn’t turn to jelly when we brought the books in. I could already hear the women in the office and the female teachers saying, “Michinori is here.” It was worse than someone bringing a box full of 6 week old Lab puppies or cake or anything that pulls you and makes you giddy for absolutely no known reason. You know the feeling.

It was almost as bad as when my brother Max would go up to the school, except Max would intentionally flaunt it. He is so bad that way. He is horrible. When my husband Teddy shows up parent information meetings are packed with mothers of teenagers. It is good for the school but almost embarrassing for me. I should keep smelling salts in my purse for all the swooning.

Even years ago (a long long time ago) when people didn’t mingle the way they do now, women would look at my friend Michinori, feeling shocked that they’d be so attracted to such an exotic gorgeous creature. It was so wrong. No matter what color or background they were drawn to him. Then again he wasn’t just Japanese, he was also a Vampire.

He’d come to California years ago as a teenager, about the same age as our kids are now, to build the railroad and maybe escape his life as a less favored son. He met the 8th daughter of a San Francisco merchant. She was just one of 14 children (split between several dead wives.) They’d seen each other by the edge of the river, a place they both went to get away from the world. It was a world they didn’t feel like they belonged.

And when they met they found that they belonged with each other. It wouldn’t be easy for the dark eyed Japanese boy and the blue eyed American girl of Welsh descent.

They would live in the few places where they might be marginally accepted. Proper men and women shunned them.

Fernando and his friend Michael didn’t shun them. They were also a couple of mixed cultures and of the same sex. They lived a dangerous life with a love that wasn’t accepted by anyone. Both couples were outside of the law and outside of common decency.

Yet, in the circle of friends and family Fernando and Michael had made all were accepted. So they accepted Michinori and Rosalie, who in 1875 became Vampires. And they became my friends.

This was around the time my husband Teddy joined our ranks (another story.)

By 1999 Michinori and Rosalie were no longer seen as an oddity, especially where we lived, they were just another normal couple. That was the year their twins were born. That was the same year my own daughter Clara was born.

So we’re waiting at the school when we start to laugh about some stuff our kids had been talking about…

You know you’re from California when…

  • You know YOLO is a county.
  • You live on a fault line and your house is still worth a million dollars.
  • 65F is considered freezing.
  • Everyone gets excited when it rains.
  • You have flip flop tan lines on your feet year around.
  • You always know where the closest Certified Organic Farmer’s Market is and the price of strawberries.
  • You have a stash of old sheets to throw over your citrus trees in the winter.
  • You’ve never experienced a snow day.
  • You get tired of people from out of state asking you how many times a year you go to Disneyland.
  • Every high school has someone famous on it’s alumni list.
  • You NEVER say “Cali” when you talk about where you live.
  • You’re always within a two hour drive of anything you could ever want to do.

We went on for another 10 or 12 items then heard the final bell. School was out. Word was also out about Michinori being at the school.

Our children have a tight circle of friends at school.  The Vampire kids stick together because they like to be with their own kind. But they had friends of all different kinds. They accept that. Despite all the stupid things going on at their school, I hear there is tolerance that isn’t found at most schools. That is a tolerance for people who are different. You know I don’t even like to use the word different. Lets just call it an acceptance of everyone no matter who or what they are. You like the people you like and love the people you love for who they are inside. We teach our kids to see people for how they act and how they treat others – that is what matters.

That said, those Vampire guys… sigh. They’ll always take advantage of their unique charms but as long as they keep everyone happy I guess that’s ok.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Click here for “Why Vampires Wear Yellow Flip Flops.”

In the house of 26 windows

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Why yes, I’ve taken up house keeping in your walls and I’m quite comfortable. Thanks for asking.

 

 

I live in a house with twenty-six windows.

I am a Vampire.

My home is on a hill so that creates a nice cool space under the house where we keep wine, camping gear, yard tools, and boat stuff, among other things. There are no coffins under there. There are no coffins anywhere in my home.

Windows let in the light. Windows also let in the night. They let us watch rare lightning storms. They let in the moonlight. Windows let me view the fog without the dampness.

Wait…I was just going to muse on about living next to an oak forest, and the peaceful setting, and more windows, but I think I just heard gunfire. What the fuck is wrong with people? Sure shooting guns is fun but not in a residential area. Not near a public park. It doesn’t matter that there is a lot of undeveloped land around. Assholes.

A few nights ago, about a mile away, some white trash yahoo shot a gun into the air a bunch of times then shot up a car. Needless to say he is in jail right now. We’ve had two drug related drive by shootings in our quiet relatively crime free community in the past year so everyone is a bit on edge. One was a sixteen year old who had been involved in drug traffic. What a sad waste.

So back to my musings on windows but I’ve totally and completely lost my train of thought.

I’d like to say that I can take care of annoying people. Not as in bringing them chicken soup when they are sick, but as in making them live in fear, or have nightmares that drive them crazy, or other creative solutions. I can, but I don’t, as long as they stay away from me or those I love. As with most Vampires, I just take a deep breath and keep writing (or doing whatever I was doing.) We aren’t super heroes or keepers of the calm. We’re just Vampires. We pick our battles carefully. Then again, doesn’t everyone with half a brain.

Oh great. Now I hear squirrels running around in the wall, between the floor of the upstairs and the ceiling of the downstairs. I am not happy. Squirrel squatters are the worst kind of animal trash. And no, my cats are not earning their keep right now.

Ants are in my house too. I can usually manage them. Our neighbors haven’t been so lucky. They put their cat food dish in a bowl of water so the ants can’t get at the food.

Turkeys are in my yard. I can hear them in the back picking through the dry grass (we’re in a drought remember.) They have done their best to try to dig up the roses in my front yard. There are six of them. All females. They make their rounds digging in yards, looking for whatever turkeys eat. The small calico cat used to stalk the turkeys but now she just ignores them. Don’t suggest shooting them. Just don’t.

Last winter I came home to find a large dead male turkey right in the middle of my front yard. I have no idea what happened. No idea. But there was a broken branch in one of the trees above the dead bird. I just figure he was drinking and fell out of the tree.

So if you thought Vampires are solitary creatures you are wrong.

Speaking of which, I have to get the door. I’ll be back.

That was my charming young hipster friend Cody. I suppose I can’t call him a Vampire in training anymore, or even a new Vampire. He has been part of the community for four years now.

I told him he could take my squirrels and make a beard out of them. Or maybe a coat. Those were jokes of course. Bad jokes but jokes never the less.

My young friend (he is in his mid-thirties) stopped by for coffee and lively discussion. It is what Cody and I do. Today, in a rare burst of emotion, he was asking a lot of questions.

First he asked, “Why do I still need to wear contacts or glasses during the day, but I can see crystal clear in the dark?”

“Our eyes are sensitive to the light,” I told my young friend. “It is just part of being a Vampire. Our night vision, the ability to see in the dark, is a gift. One of many gifts.”

“Is it wrong to be in love with a woman who is six hundred years older than I am?”

“No.” I answered. Of course it that was one of my kids I’d flip and have to go beat the living moonlight out of that old Vampire. But Cody is an adult…long story for another blog post.

He talked, while I listened, about the fact that he could feel the emotions and even the thoughts of others. It was overwhelming to him sometimes.

He talked about how he could smell warm blood inside of live people and it reminded him of summer barbecues and that bothered him. I told him that it happened to all Vampires from time to time.

Then he asked the one question that got on my nerves. “What is that noise?”

“Squirrels.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll blast roller skating music at them. You know, organ music played to popular songs in classic dance beats.”

“That would do it. Or you could hire someone with traps to come out.”

“I could do that too. I could also feed them peanut better cookies until they get so fat they explode.”

We had more coffee and spoke to the transitions in our lives. Even Vampires have transitions. Even 155 year old Vampires have transitions.

“Sometimes I miss things, like being warm. In the winter I can’t see my breath in the cold air,” said Cody.

I’ve always been like this, but I remember as a child wishing I could breath out fog like regular humans could. Growing up this way makes being this way normal.

“Cody,” I said, “your feelings are normal. Your new world is normal too. Take it from me, no matter where you are, make it your normal.”

I’m sure that made no sense at all to him, but he looked at me as if I was some self-help guru.

“Like a new normal,” he said.

“Like the normal you’ll always had but just different. Even if you had never become a Vampire you’d still have major changes in your life.”

Then we talked about books, and had more coffee, and went for a walk down by the lake.

And now, I’m back here with my cats, the squirrels, and still no ideas about my twenty-six windows and how I’m going to tie those into a life lesson story. Oh well.

Have a good week everyone. And don’t feel stupid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions. OK there are stupid questions but I’m a mom and I’m not supposed to say that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The house with 26 windows

The house with 26 windows

 

 

 

 

 

Letters to my brother…or don’t be sorry that your family isn’t “normal”

Dear Aaron,

I no longer wish to be a Vampire. Please be a dear and do some research for me.

Love,

Your brother Andrew

Dear Andrew,

You don’t have to remind me that you’re my brother. And are you freaking crazy? You are a Vampire and there is no undoing it. You were born that way. Even if you weren’t there is no undoing it. End of story. So get over it and any girl you’ve recently broken up with.

Aaron

Dear Aaron,

Your cruel and unfortunate comment hit me to the core.

Andrew

Andy,

Mom and Dad are on their way down to see you, like they really need to come bail you out again. My wife wasn’t always a Vampire and she said being a regular human is no piece of cake either. Take a deep breath. You’re only 163. You’re young and we all make mistakes.

Aaron

I saw this typical exchange between my brothers. Typical Birth Order study in action. Max is the over achieving golden child eldest, next comes the incredibly phenomenally talented Andrew, in the middle is Aaron who is steady and smart and always has his act together. The last two are my brother Val and me. We’re smart too but we’re fun and, well, we’re fun.

But for some reason Aaron seems to be the one everyone expects to fix things. Somber and serious, but only because he feels he has been forced into it. The happy fun of a large family.

I told my children “marry an only child and make sure you marry and orphan too.” And don’t send me hate mail, I’m just kidding (sort of).

While Aaron was ready to growl, I got on the phone and called Andrew. Mind you he is in Patagonia so it is very long distance with questionable connections but I finally got through, sort of.

First someone answered in Spanish. I told them I wanted to speak to Andrew. Then someone speaking German got on the line. It was German with an odd accent. German with a British accent. It was James, Andrew’s old friend from way back.

“Jewels!” He literally sang my nick name  (in English now) into the crackling phone line. “Are you still with Teddy? If not you know I’m available. Come one down to Argentina and we’ll dance under the Southern stars and make wild love on the deserted beaches…”

“James, I need to speak to Andy.” I told him that while taking a deep internal breath and trying to erase way too many visuals and memories the sound of his voice brought up.

Dear lovely James who can drive the most patient saint crazy. James who has never met a woman who didn’t end up hating him. James who is so sweet and charming that you hate yourself for all the times you want to kill him. James who is once wooed me with such abandon and aggression that I called him a stalker and told him I’d rip out his heart with my bare hands if he didn’t leave me alone. He left me alone and we’ve come to an understanding. We friends, with conditions. But when you’re dealing with a Vampire brother in trouble crazy James is the one to trust. Did I mention that he is also a successful clinical psychologist and marriage counselor? He is. Just thought I’d mention that. Oh right, and he is a Vampire too – just like the rest of us.

Andy’s voice came on the line. His is one of those clean, clear, magical voices of unbelievable tone and beauty that makes a person just want to sit and listen forever no matter what my brothers is saying. Unfortunately he never has much to say that is worth listening to. I love my brother, I really do, but sometimes his lack of everything makes me think I’m talking to a 10-year-old.

“Remember when we were in Paris in 1927 and the entire city seemed to belong to us? I was singing at the Opera house and it was the first time I felt human, like the masses.”

“You shared your gift.” I told my brother quietly. He has such a gift.

“They loved me. They adored my baby sister. Do you remember?”

I remembered but not quite the way Andy did. “How are you Andy?”

“Remember the French girl, the lovely one with the sky blue eyes. She had Lymphoma. I could taste it. I let her go. I helped her until she passed. Jewels we’ll never know. We’ll never know.”

“Nadine. She was lovely. I remember.” I remember he’d been hopelessly in love with her.

“I knew she was sick before she died.”

“I know Andy.”

“Why can’t we help people?”

“We can, but, Andy, you know how it is.”

“That’s why I don’t want to be one of us anymore. I don’t want to be  Vampire.”

“Andy, we can’t change what we were born into. We can’t change our DNA.”

“What about Teddy and Verity? They were born as Regular Humans. They didn’t start as Vampires.”

But they are now and they can’t go back. Teddy (my husband) and Verity (Aaron’s wife) had their own demons to deal with but they resisted the “what if” urge. Acceptance was their key to their survival. And for goodness sake I hope their children and my brother Aaron and I could keep them in the NOW and POSITIVE about their lives.

“Andrew, Teddy and Verity are fine. They’re happy as I want you to be. Oh Andrew, if I had your heart and soul and talent I would be the happiest woman on earth.”

“Vampire woman.”

“Any kind of woman.”

“What if I came home, to you. Could I crash at your place?”

“Of course. Clara is playing the guitar. With her talent she’ll be playing in the Warped Tour in a few years. You could teach her about music and you could sing together and write music together. She knows all about how to make Youtube videos and all of that stuff. It would be wonderful for the both of you.”

“I miss the kids, yours and Aaron’s.”

“Then come home Andy…”

The conversation went on a rambling mess, but by the end the tears and angst had stopped. I knew my parents would be with him in a few hours. I knew he’d be fine, at least for now.

I went into my family room to find Verity asleep with her head on Teddy’s shoulder. They’d married into my crazy family. They also had once been something that my brothers and I never were. They knew what it was like to face death over and over and to fear it and more to accept it. And they knew more than any of us how to face loss of all kinds, and again to accept it. It wasn’t just a waiting game with them as it can become with us. It is always the here and now. It is always NOW.

Aaron had gone upstairs where our kids where, his two home for a summer vacation from college and my two teens.

Family is an odd thing. There is no normal. So never, no matter what you are, be sorry that your family isn’t normal. Maybe on the surface, but never in the deep down soul. We’re all unique – unique alone or unique in a group.

But even if you can’t stand them that weird connection that we can never explain is there, deep within that makes us family and connected and parts of a whole. Even if it is a whole lot of crazy. But for the most part it is a whole lot of love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman (aka Jewels)

starry