Short Story Sunday: Grandpa’s Dog

As long as we’re on the subject… Happy Sunday and Happy October. I have a short favorite for you.

Grandpa’s Dog

 

“I’m taking him to the vet and having him put down.” Jeff said into the phone.

“No you aren’t.” I said, ready to scream.

“It is cruel to make him suffer like this.”

“He isn’t our dog to put down.” I almost growled at my husband.

“I don’t care. Grandpa will understand. He’s always complaining about how he hates Bruce anyway.”

“The kids will be heartbroken.” I said trying to stall him.

“They’ll understand.”

“What about my mom? She’ll never forgive you.”

“Gretchen, I’m taking Bruce to the vet. I’m sorry.”

“I want to say good-bye.”

“Bruce will understand.” He hung up. Damn him.

Bruce was Grandpa’s dog. He was old. The oldest dog I knew. Jeff thought he was 16. I knew better. Jeff thought Bruce was half wolf and half Alaskan malamute. I knew he was half Irish. Jeff liked to bake him organic dog treats. I knew Bruce preferred bourbon and prime rib. Jeff thought grandpa was crazy to have such a large dog. I knew Grandpa was half crazy and Jeff was right, it was about the dog, but it didn’t have anything to do with its size.

Once a month I kept the dog for Grandpa, while he “Went to the cabin with his old college buddies.” I hauled the dog to weddings, to funerals, to camping trips and hanging around the house. He’d been there for my college graduation, my wedding, for my kids. My mom had watched the old dog before me. My grandma before her.

Of course Jeff didn’t believe anything my family said about the damn dog. He’d spent years hearing us tell bad jokes and tall tales. It was how we spoke, in stories. I blame it on my Southern parents. Jeff just thinks I’m funny. He tells me I should have my own show on cable. HA HA HA. He thinks my family is quirky and quaint. Right now nothing was funny or quaint.

I raced home from the studio. I’m a photographer, mostly editorial, corporate portraits, product photos. Good thing I’m the owner of the business, otherwise I’d never deal with my husband, my children and Grandpa’s damn dog. I would have had the dog with me today but he was too stiff to climb into the car by himself and at 125 pounds I didn’t feel like lifting him today.

Jeff was still at home. I parked blocking the driveway. Thank God the kids were still in school. I have never been so angry with anyone in my entire life. I barged through the door yelling at my husband. “All I asked you to do was check in on him for me at lunch time and you decided to kill him. Well for once in your life listen to me…”

I yelling stopped when I saw Jeff. He had a towel around his hand. He was bleeding.

“The old guy bit me when I was trying to get him out of the house.” he said with a shrug of his shoulder.

I saw Bruce poke his old white muzzle around the corner.

“Why the hell did you have to bite him?” I yelled at the dog. Bruce tucked his tail and cowered. His ribs stuck out from his sides. He looked ancient and pathetic.

Jeff reached out to scratch the dog behind his ear. “Don’t yell at him. It’s like he sensed what I was going to do. Poor old guy was scared.”

“Don’t touch him.” I yelled. I looked at the wound on Jeff’s hand. It was clean. I went back to the dog. “Damn you, after all I’ve done for you.” Bruce looked at me with glassy brown eyes and shook, tail still between his legs.

Jeff put his arms around me “Gretch, don’t get mad at the dog. “

“You don’t understand,” I gasped.

“He’s old and scared.” Jeff said stroking my hair with his good hand. “You know dear, all that dog hears is “Bruce, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah”. He laughed and gave me a quick hug.

I pulled away. “He’s a werewolf.”

“Oh Honey, don’t call him that. He’s just an old arthritic dog. Poor old guy.” He leaned down to touch noses with the dog. Bruce licked Jeff’s face and thumped his tail on the floor. “You aren’t a werewolf are you old guy? You’re just a prince in disguise. You think she’ll give you a kiss?” Jeff started to make kissy noises.

I thought I was going to throw up.

“There’s a reason why we never see Grandpa and Bruce together.” I growled. They’re the same animal. Bruce isn’t 16, he’s 85. ”

Jeff took a deep breath. “I’m not going to put him down. We’ll wait till Grandpa gets home and discuss it with him. Werewolves. That’s a good one. So when you work at night does that mean you’re a vampire?” he laughed again. “You can bite my neck anytime.” He kissed my neck.

I backed away feeling the panic rushing up inside my body. “Jeff, it’s true and now….”

I couldn’t say the words. Now my husband was going to become a werewolf and I’d have one more old dog to take care of.

 

~ end

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

I walked into her bedroom. I’d never met the woman. I’d heard of her, but the details are always the same. She is pretty and smart and fun thirty something woman and not interested in a serious relationship. Perfect for my brother. By the way, my brother is a Vampire. So am I. But you already knew that.

They were on the bed but nothing had happened yet. Her shirt was off. So was his, along with his belt and the top button of his jeans was undone. His mouth was on her neck.

“Val. Valentine you need to come with me.” I almost growled it out. The woman screamed. I thought her name is Courtney but I could have been wrong. It didn’t matter. She screamed again. Val’s eyes glowed red at me.

“Stop with the eye glow. We have to go. Family emergency. Now.”

“Courtney, darling, I’m so sorry. I have to go with my sister,” he said, giving his lady friend a kiss and grabbing his shirt and belt. She covered her chest and stared at me, then looked at Val, then looked back at me. You can tell we’re related. There is a very strong family resemblance. I could see the bite marks on her neck. He’d be back. Val almost always goes back, especially to one this lovely. Plus he owed her some future sweet dreams for my barging into her bedroom. On the good side, in the morning she’ll forget any of this happened. That is one advantage of being a Vampire – we can make them forget.

An hour earlier I’d received a call. “Come now, come now.” The quiet voice almost hissed in my ear. Dealing with the elderly can be both rewarding and heart breaking and sometimes it just pisses me off because I’m the one… I love them, but sometimes it would be nice if I had some help.

“I thought you were staying with them,” I snapped at my brother.

“I can’t be there 24/7. I needed a break. I need my own space sometimes.”

“We saw Wicked tonight. A nice family outing. Why is it that every time I go to the theater or on vacation or have something nice planned someone calls me with an emergency. It could be our parents or Andy or the Elders or… all I ask for is one night. Just one.”

Val mumbled something but I just cranked up the radio.

Old Tellias met us at the door of the Queen Anne style farm-house. His pale hair was around his shoulders making him looking more like a Victorian Angel rather than a Vampire. He wore an open tuxedo shirt and jeans like some college student trying to make a fashion statement. It was just the way he dressed, like he had his eyes closed.

“She isn’t well. She isn’t well at all,” he said in a paper thin whisper.

Eleora was not well. They’d been together for 2,000 years and even now as they slowed down their love  stayed strong. Anyone that old is bound to be fragile and that is exactly what these two are.

Eleora was on the fainting couch wearing a flowered sundress and an old stretched out sweater. Her long dark curls were dull and hanging limp in the heat about her shoulders.

To anyone else she’d be a young woman of maybe 19 or 20. My head spun. Eleora was at least 2,500 years old if not more. We knew Tellias was born before the birth of Christ, but not too long before.

It didn’t matter. She lay still as death wrapped in an old sweater and covered in a quilt, not breathing, or making her heart pump. She wasn’t dead but she wasn’t alive. She just was.

“When was the last time she ate anything?”

Tellias gave me a guilty look. “Maybe last week.”

“Why didn’t you call me or at least called John next door. We could have brought you something. Have you been out of the house at all?”

He shook his head. “We lost the car keys.” Again. They were always misplacing their car keys. Any spares were long gone. “I didn’t want to bother anyone.” he added.  “You’re all so busy.”

It is frustrating to see that pretty face of his and know that the brain behind it isn’t working at full capacity. Maybe it isn’t his brain. Maybe his spirit is just tired.

I reached up to the top of a bookshelf where he kept spare keys in a box. I dragged my brother out to the barn. The old 1955 Ford truck was still out there. After charging the battery (thank goodness for jumper cables) I got it started.

Tellias stood in the barn doorway not saying a word. This Vampire who once took charge of every situation was now so helpless and confused. I still admired him. Unfortunately it wasn’t a night to express those thoughts.

When I returned to the house Eleora was sitting up. I sat next to her and took her cold hand. She curled her fingers around mine.

“Nobody needs us anymore. Most of our close friends are gone.”

It broke my heart to hear her say that. “Oh Eleora, dear Eleora, don’t talk like that.”

“Ginger died.”

I didn’t expect that. Ginger was their old dog, a large yellow lab mix who’d shown up about 10 years ago. Everyone loved Ginger, but nobody more than Eleora and Tellias.

“When? Why didn’t you call me?” I asked still in shock.

“She wouldn’t get up.” said Tellias. “Her legs wouldn’t move.”

“We sat with her all night,” said Eleora.

“All night, until she stopped wagging her tail,” said Tellias.

“Until her heart stopped,” said Eleora.

“Then she was gone,” said Tellias.

“She died.” said Eleora.

“Ginger went to where all good dogs go,” said Tellias.

“Ginger was a good dog,” said Eleora. “A good good dog.”

The old dog seemed fine last time I was over, but that was two weeks ago. Tellias buried her in the orchard under the walnut trees.

That is why Eleora was so sad and out of sorts. Her dear dog friend was gone. It always amazes me how much love dogs and cats have and how their loss is so heavy on our hearts.

Eleora squeezed my hand.  “Tellias shouldn’t be so worried about me. He worries too much. He worries all the time. He worries. It is what he does. I’m glad you’re here. I loved that dog.”

“So did I,” I said trying to blink away the tears. Even Vampires have tears for dogs they love.

Eleora put her hands on my face and kissed me on the forehead and wiped my eyes. “You’ll be fine dear Juliette.  I am glad you’re here. I miss Valentine being around. He had to go to the city he said. Not where you live. He went to the big city. But he said he’d be back all summer. All summer long.”

Val had vanished. I eventually found him in the upstairs bathroom throwing up blood (not his own of course.)  His skin had taken on sort of a greenish tint, which brought me back to Wicked. Anyway, he wasn’t well.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me,” he said, looking as dead as a Vampire can look.

As soon as I entered the room I could tell by the smell what was going on. “Courtney is pregnant.”

Yes, one thing that makes a Vampire male sicker than a dog is blood from a pregnant woman. A look of surprise came over his face. No of course he isn’t the father. He couldn’t be. It turned out she had an on again off again boyfriend of three years. So much for that. I’ll make sure Val gets her a nice gift for the baby – a crib or a rocking chair or a nice fat savings bond.

Val gave me one of his looks. It is kind of a scowl with a bit of fang. “What are we doing? I mean what are we really doing Juliette? We used to travel the world and have grand wild adventures. We were the Vampires of lore. We ruled our world.”

“We were out of control idiots. Remember?”

“But what about now?”

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re taking care of each other. You never asked me how Wicked was?”

Val put his arm around my shoulder. “How was Wicked dear sister?”

“Amazing! It was so much fun.”

We talked for a bit more until Tellias came up to see what we were up to. I called Pete at the Bottle & Blood store and ordered a delivery of a couple of cases of mixed blood to be delivered to the farm that night.

So where are we?

I guess we’re here we’re supposed to be. We’re where we are right now. We’re keeping the fires alive in our cold Vampire hearts and souls. I guess we can’t ask for anymore than that.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teddyanddog

 

The place between the night and the day

First Morning LightYesterday a call came in. A small whispery voice, like old tissue paper that had once wrapped up lace and flower petals said, “We can’t find Ginger.”

The conversation continued, or I attempted to continue it. I asked where they’d seen Ginger last and if they’ll looked everywhere. But I got the same answer. “YOU have to come. We can’t find Ginger.”

Ginger is an old dog. She is some sort of medium sized Lab and Golden mix with a few other breeds in there. One day 15 years ago she showed up starving and dirty on the Elder’s farm. She was grown even then and seemed middle aged. Like her owners, Ginger is ancient and confused.

The elders are Tellias and Eleora, two ancient Vampires who aren’t even sure how old they are. He met her when he went to Britian with the Roman Army. That was a while back. Theirs was a story of sweeping epic romance, but now, they were calling me to find their old dog.

I brought the kids with me, 17 year old Garrett and 14 year old Clara. When we arrived, they, the Elders were along. The early morning air was filled with smoke from forest fires in the hills. Eleora was afraid of smoke, so she was out of sorts even more than usual. Back in the days of burning rice fields she’d leave town for the coast.

When we arrived Tellias came out to greet us in an old black tux with no shirt underneath the jacket and bare feet. His blonde hair was covered by an old pith helmet. Eleora wore a halter style sundress out of some ugly brown and yellow batik fabric and red cowboy boots. She carried a large butterfly net and a green glass bowl of dog biscuits. Despite their age and frailties they look as though they can’t be much older than 20.

And it is my job to take care of them and make sure they’re safe and have what they need. It is my job to make sure they don’t do stupid things.

My children and I were showered with hugs and kisses. They usually sang songs to us when we arrived, but this time is was all about finding Ginger.

We searched high and low for Ginger. We called. But no answer.

“We’ve looked everywhere,” said Tellias.

“Everywhere,” said Eleora.

“Everywhere,” whispered Tellias.

So we all searched and called more. After taking a break from dog searching, cleaning up, fixing a few things, and throwing in some laundry that had piled up, we sat down for a few moments. There was a click click click on the floor and we turned to see Ginger looking at us with big brown eyes.

We have no idea where she’d been, but we were glad that she was back. She is covered in hugs and kisses. All is well.

It had been a long week with my work, the kids starting school, my husband’s activities and looking after the Elders. Some say don’t sweat the small stuff but it all seems the same. There is no small stuff or big stuff – just stuff. But it is my stuff. It is my choice to be the one who manages all the stuff and take care of stuff and deal with stuff.

It isn’t that I love the stuff, I love the people who bring the stuff to me.

And in the early mornings between the night and the dawn I am left alone to my own stuff, or what I can clear out of my head and heart. I walk the trails near my house under the oaks, on the edge of the bluffs over the water. I can hear the first birds of the morning and see the last bats of the night. The deer, coyote and bobcats walk at a distance and sometimes let me see them in their own world. The squirrels jump through the trees like crazed acrobats.

I think of everything and nothing. I think of things that I don’t have time to think about when I’m looking for old dogs, lost socks, and lost souls.

My mind wanders the hills far beyond where my feet take me. Sometimes I see ghosts, but even they know not to bother me in my Vampire reveries.

At that place between the night and the day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

579625_4773723140123_766602931_n

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/daily-prompt-activity/