Short Story Sunday: Chicken Dance

“You don’t have to wear that mask Charlie. I’m not sick.”

“Mom, there is a pandemic going on. I don’t want you to become sick. I can’t risk that.”

“Well, I don’t go anywhere.”

“I go places mom. I’m out in public.”

“What about Austin? He sees me without a mask.”

“I’m part of your bubble Grammy.” said Austin. “Most of my work is from home. Remember I told you about teaching my classes on Zoom.”

Grammy furrowed her brow. “Zoom? Is that fast classes so you won’t spread the Covid?”

“No Grammy, it is classes over the computer, on the Internet,” said Austin.

“Well, if you’re not teaching or messing around with old houses you’re working with dead people. Damn Vampires can’t get the Covid. At least my grandson decided to follow in the family footsteps and do something about the vermin,” said Grammy.

“So how are you mom,” said Charlie.

“Chicken died,” said Grammy.

Austin spoke first. “What? Chicken? Did raccoons get her?”

“When did this happen?” Charlie asked his mother.

“This morning,” said Grammy.

“Mom. Oh no. How?”

“I don’t know. I think Kayla killed her.”

“Grammy, why would Kayla kill Chicken?” Austin knew Grammy’s caretaker would never hurt any animal.

“I don’t know. Maybe she just got tired of her,” said Grammy.

“How did she kill Chicken?” Charlie asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe she chopped off Chicken’s head.”

“Mom, Kayla didn’t kill Chicken.”

“You don’t know that,” said Grammy

“Mom…”

“Austin, have you been hunting any Vampires lately?”

“No, things have slowed down over the holidays and haven’t picked up, thank goodness,” said Austin.

“Maybe Vampires got Chicken,” said Charlie.

“Don’t be a smart ass Charles. You know they don’t eat chicken, much less suck out their blood,” said Grammy.

“I wouldn’t know mom. I never hunted Vampires.”

“You never had the talent for it. Austin on the other hand got that gene for sniffing out and killing those pesky damned undead creatures.”

Kayla, Grammy’s caretaker came in followed by a small pack of small dogs. “Good morning. Hey, his Charlie. It’s been a while.”

They made a few words of small talk as the dogs bounced all over Charlie and Austin.

Then Kayla said, “We lost Chicken.”

“I know, we heard,” said Austin.

“She was pecking at some wires so that might have killed her. I don’t know. She might have just died of natural causes. Poor Chicken.”

They talked more about Chicken and made more small talk. Then Grammy said, “Go out in the yard Austin and get some lemons. We’re going to make a lemon pie.”

“Good idea,” said Charlie.

“It will keep the Vampires away. They don’t much like pie,” said Grammy. Then she giggled like a little girl.

“She was one of the most fierce Vampire Hunters of the 20th Century,” Charlie told Kayla.

“I can believe that Charlie,” Kayla said with a smile. “She is still pretty fierce.”

“You’re right about that,” said Charlie. “You certainly are.”

~ end

This is my first new story for quite a few weeks. All of the Covid isolation, construction at my house, and other weirdness has sort of, well, not been conducive to creativity. As always, stay safe, wear a mask, turn off the news, go for walks, talk to and with your kids, listen to your kids, don’t be a dick, be kind, and kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Frogs, Love, and Hell

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon #2

I’m a mom so I take care of my children. Like many others (and I know more than one of my readers) I also have seniors in my life who need my help. Even Vampires can be among the “sandwich” generation.

Over the years I’ve been writing about the ancient Vampires Tellias and Eleora. They look young, but they’ve been around for centuries. Sometimes they need a little extra help.

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family near. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

From the Summer of 2013

Frogs, Love, and Hell

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders

We’re drove out to the old farmhouse where Tellias and Eleora live. About twice a month Teddy (my husband) and I pack the kids into the car and check up on them.

They’re ancients. Nobody really knows how old they are. They are fragile and need help. They don’t have a family. It is just the two of them.

When we drove up, just before dawn, they came to the door to greet me, thrilled to see a carload of their young Vampire friends.

Tellias was wearing an old workshirt that looked like something a guy working in a garage would wear. The name Greg was stitched on it. Eleora wore some horrible looking flowered dress with a stretched out brown sweater. She had on yellow flip flops that had seen better days.

They both looked pale and malnourished.

“Are you two eating anything at all?” I asked as Teddy took the large cooler to the kitchen.

They told me that their car wasn’t running but it was an excuse. The car was almost new but I was sure they’d forgotten to put gas in it or more likely lost the keys.

I unpacked provisions in the kitchen. They huddled around me touching my back and arms, then stroking my face.

“How long since anyone has been to see you?” I asked.

“Not since you were here. Nobody sees us anymore.” Eleora looked at me with sad round eyes.

“What happened to your clothes?” I asked, almost afraid for an answer.

“Someone stole them. We can’t get to our storage unit or the other houses.” Eleora shifting her feet, knowing I knew she was telling a lie.

“Who stole them? Did you let someone in the house?” I asked.

“We were out trying to hunt.” Tellias said putting his head down, trying to avoid my stare. I suspected they’d gone down to the river to find homeless people and transients to hunt and someone followed them home.

They were two of the oldest vampires I knew, over 2,000 years old. Treasures, but like the elderly of all kinds, they are often forgotten, especially those without children. Soon they fall apart like the past civilizations they lived in.

They both look, at first, like they are 19 or 20 years old. He has pale blonde hair and blue eyes. She is a golden eyed girl with reddish brown curls. They are slight with almost translucent skin.

They used to have a working farm with hired workers but now they leased out the farmland. The two acres around the house were kept up with a gardening service, but nobody was watching the residents. They’d been in and out of Vampire comas for years. They’d lost their confidence. I was afraid they’d lost their hunting skills.

These two were never the fierce Vampires of old tales and modern stories. They were always timid and always got by the best they could by hiding in the shadows and keeping out of sight. They were so sweet and good-hearted that it almost killed me to think of anything bad happening to them.

Teddy came into the room and gave Eleora a gentle hug. “We need to get the two of you better.”

They were slightly out of touch, unhealthy and frightened. It was obvious Tellias was depressed. They were prime targets for Vampire Hunters.

The ancients were glad the children were over. They always fussed over them and told them tales of long lost civilizations that no longer existed and were not yet discovered by historians and treasure hunters.

“We have to move them into town.” Teddy told me where the other’s couldn’t hear.

We dined on blood in beautiful crystal goblets the couple had purchased in the 1870’s when they first built the farmhouse. We talked of friends and relatives and the future.

I didn’t want to leave them. But I’d see them soon. I’m going to get them new clothes and find the keys to the car, and move them into the 21st Century where they belong.

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

First posted in 2012. This was the first post featuring Eleoria and Tellias.

A Holiday and a Birthday (with Ancient Vampires)

I let the phone ring about twenty times before Eleora picked it up. She doesn’t like it when people leave messages, except in the evenings, after dark. She uses an old answering machine on her house phone. She only uses her cell phone when she goes out into the yard where she usually leaves it because she tells me that nobody calls her anymore anyway.

She looks like she is about twenty, but she is ancient. Nobody knows how ancient, but it was before there was an AD, and before Romans came to what is now known as England.

Anyway, I called Eleora and Tellias on their house phone about July 4th and my daughter’s 19th birthday on July 5th. I don’t know where Tellias puts his cell phone either.

Eleora answered, but as soon as she knew it was me she began to sing America the Beautiful in her angelic voice.

Me: Eleora sweetie. I called about tomorrow and Thursday.

Eleora: When are you going to pick us up.

Me: 1:00 p.m. tomorrow for the party.

Eleora: When are you picking me up today?

Me: Tomorrow.

Eleora: I thought you were coming over today? What about Clara’s birthday?

Me: I’ll ask Clara about it this afternoon.

Eleora: When are you going to be here?

Me: Tomorrow. Early afternoon.

Eleora: I thought you were coming last night.

Me: Wednesday. Last night was Monday.

Eleroa: Yesterday was Monday? Is it July already?

Me: Yes, tomorrow is July 4th.

Eleora: Wednesday is July 4th?

Me: Yes.

Eleora: When are you going to be here.

Me: At one on Wednesday. I don’t know about Thursday.

Eleora: Tellias is going to put you on the speaker.

Tellias: I have a necklace for Clara. I’ve had it for a while. I was going to give it to your mother when she was young but it wasn’t her style.

Eleora: He has a necklace for Clara.

Tellias: Yes, a necklace.

Eleora: A necklace for Clara.

Me: The blue and pearl one?

Tellias: The very one.

Eleora: When will you be here. Your brother Val will be over later in about an hour.

Me: Tomorrow.

Tellias: Juliette will be here tomorrow dear. Val will be here tonight. I see him coming up the drive right now.

Eleora: Is that Val? I don’t remember that car.

Me: I’ll see you tomorrow.

Tellias: We’re looking forward to it.

Eleora: Did you know Val has a new car?

Me: I’ll see you tomorrow. Love you both so much.

Tellias: Love you too.

Eleora: Love you to the stars and back. Are you coming over tonight?

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Delivered To Your Door

Delivered to your door…

I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.

Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.

I was reading on my deck, a glass of wine in my hand, my eyes closed for just a second…

I was three years old and someone was throwing me up in the air and I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

His hands are warm and I cling to him to put my ear next to his chest and hear his heart. I hold him tight feeling the heat radiate from his body. I keep laughing. He is so different from everyone else I know.

Thirteen years later, he takes my hands, I laugh. Then my best girlfriend says “He’ll marry me and I’ll be his wife forever.” No way would she get the most handsome man in the world to marry her. I laughed in her face and everyone yelled Happy New Year. Someone lit up lights to spell out 1865. We were in California and in love with men we have silly school girl crushes on. Who cared about the war? We were safe.

I woke in a cold sweat, on the back deck, my book on the ground, the cat staring at me. I heard my son’s voice.

“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.

My brother Valentine, 13 months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.

I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”

“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.

“No. What is going on?”

My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”

I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”

Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.

Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.

They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.

Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.

“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.

“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.

I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.

“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.

“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.

“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.

“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.

“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.

“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.

“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.

“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”

Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”

Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”

“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”

“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.

“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.

Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”

“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.

Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”

“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.

I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.

“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.

They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.

In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.

Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.

I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”

“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”

I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.

In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.

Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”

Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”

We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.

Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”

“I just worry about you two,” I told him.

“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”

“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.

Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”

I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…

“Mom?”

I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.

I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.

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Yes, you might have read this before but hey, I’m on the road right now with Teddy. I’ll have all kinds of adventures to share when I return. This was first published in 2014 (I think, the kids are 18 and 21 now, so it was a while ago.).

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Give a little bit

I answered my phone.

A whispery voice on the other line said, “come quick, come quick.”

Then I heard a bit of a struggle, you know, someone yelling, a small grunt, a cry like a small animal, then a voice. “Give me the phone Tellias.”

My brother Val was on the other end now. “Sorry Juliette. Hey, I need a favor. I’m taking Tellias to a meeting in Santa Cruz. Lola is in LA. Can I drop Eleora by?”

“When?” I asked.

Today, in about an hour. We’ll be gone a few days, not more than three. I just don’t want her alone. If she doesn’t fall in a well, or drive the car into the river, you know how she is. Her memory is totally shot these days. I’m afraid she won’t eat or worse order take out. She’ll pretend the plumbing is out, call 911, or something like that and when someone shows up she’ll drain them of every drop of their blood. I don’t even want to think about how many bodies she has buried out in the orchard over the past 150 years.”

“OK,” I said.

“She gets so depressed when she’s alone.”

“I know,” I said. “Bring her over.”

About an hour later my brother Val dropped off the Ancient Vampire. Eleora is over 2,000 years old, but she looks about twenty. A smile was on her pretty face as she ran to me and took my face between her soft cool hands. She kissed my cheeks, hugged me, and sang me a song.

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
So send a smile and show you care

I took her hand, then said goodby to my brother.

Once inside I made a pot of tea. I took Eleora around town with me. We went to the nursery to buy plants in the rain. We stopped for coffee and talked about all things under the moon and stars. We shopped for sweaters and boots.

All the while I held Eleora’s hand as she smiled and quietly sang. People gave me those sad sweet smiles they give people with special needs adults and super old elderly folks. I’d smile back weakly and squeeze Eleora’s hand.

Once back at the house I set her down with a book, a murder mystery, and put a blanket over her legs. The calico cat jumped up on the back of the chair and purred. The dog curled at her feet.

My errands, including the unscheduled shoe and sweater shopping lasted about three hours longer than expected. Eleora looks at everything, not once but twice. She goes down the same isles twice. The asks the same questions four or five times. She speaks to everyone she sees. She laughs out loud and sings loudly in sudden unexpected bursts.

And she loves me. And I love her, more than I can put in any kind of words.

She was there for me before I was old. So I am there for her, always.

It isn’t always easy when those we love get old. It isn’t easy when they are slow or forgetful. Our lives are so fast paced and full. Sometimes we need to slow down, and be old, even if it is just for a few hours. So be old. Be free. Be loved. That is what Vampires do. That is what keeps us young. Try it. You’ll thank me for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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