Short Story Sunday: Two Stories – “Maybe” and “The Offer”

A new story for 2020

Maybe

My phone dinged with another text message. I really needed to mute the sound.

Jay: I am so sorry about Ryan.

Me: Thank you.

Jay: I saw your photo. Your still hot.

Me: You still can’t spell.

Another old boyfriend I’d have to block. They came out of the woodwork like rats, only they were middle aged men, all divorced, widowed, never married, and looking for any excuse to get laid.

The messages ranged from sappy memories of times that never meant much to me, dick pics, apologies, propositions, apologies for past bad behavior, and whiney threads of what could have been. I blocked them all.

Mike: If you need anything call me.

Me: Who is this?

Mike: Mike Johnson

Me: What are you doing now?

Mike: Thinking about you.

Me: I mean, are you working? Retired? Married? Single?

Mike: Semi retired. Semi single. Rich. Still have my hair. Still in the area. Still thinking of your hot body next to mine. I never forgot. Never.

Me: OK. Remember, you dumped me.

Mike: I was young and stupid. If you need anything, and I mean anything.

Me: OK.

I blocked him. That made nine. There were more out there and I hoped they’d all keep their thoughts to themselves. I’d dated a lot before I met Ryan.

Them: I think about you all the time.

Me: Stop.

Ryan and I had thirty one years together, two wonderful children, and now I had to figure out what was next. Or maybe not.

It had been five months since Ryan passed. I wasn’t so numb anymore. The kids were grown and handling it ok. I couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for myself for breaking down. I had to be there for them and my grand kids. I didn’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for myself, and Ryan wouldn’t have wanted me to.

Then I received an email from someone I used to know.

Dear Colette,
I was saddened to hear the news of Ryan’s passing. We had worked together on research projects for years and become friends. He spoke often of you and your children.

I didn’t get back to you because I also had Covid-19 and survived it.

It took a while for me to realize that Ryan’s Colette was you. I never told him I knew you.


I sat looking at the computer screen growing numb. The email was from Ian Locke, the one who got away. At least sort of got away. We parted ways because due to the old “wrong time, wrong place” type of situation.

Ian continued with sweet thoughts and good memories of my husband. It was exceptionally touching and weird. I never made the connection when Ryan spoke of Ian. They were never in the same city, and usually they were out in the field or in the lab, so we never met.

Then my phone vibrated and I answered the call. It was Ian.

His voice immediately brought me back to a time forty years ago when we were in college. We were just babies, or at least adults who didn’t know how to be adults yet. It was a time to experiment and flounder.

We talked a bit about Ryan and our children. We both had two. I had two girls. He had two boys. They were all doing great and in college. We spoke of our careers.

Then Ryan said, “I’m getting a divorce. I’ll sign the final papers next week.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“She had been cheating on me for years. When he passed away she wanted to patch things up but it was too late.”

Suddenly I wanted to throw up. I wasn’t so stupid that I didn’t know where this was going. I had no idea, but I wasn’t stupid.

“She gave Ryan Covid-19. She gave it to me. She and I survived it. I’m sorry. I am so angry. I lost my friend. I lost all sense of trust. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t even be telling you this.”

He shouldn’t have been telling me that.

I thought of the research trips. I thought of the times he had to stay a few extra days. I thought of him dying in our spare bedroom where he’d quarantined himself.

Ian continued. “Renee lost it when Ryan died. She was hysterical for weeks, then she finally told me about everything. I didn’t want to believe it but then I saw the texts, the emails, the photos. She said she was going to tell you. I told her no. She said she needed to tell you. What a cunt. I didn’t want you to hear it from her. I am so sorry Colette.”

“Ian,” I said. “I want to talk to you more. I want to see you, but I don’t know… could you call me back in a few weeks? Will you call me in a few weeks.”

“Sure. Colette…”

“I’ll talk to you soon. It’s good to hear your voice. Call me later.”

I hung up.

I haven’t heard from Ian. It has only been a week. I did put my house up for sale. I’m looking for a beach house, closer to my kids.

Nobody knows about my conversation with Ian. I don’t plan on telling anyone.

2020 is almost done. Next year should be better. Maybe. Either way it will be a new beginning for me. I tell myself that. Maybe I’ll convince myself. Maybe.

~ end

For those who want something a little more cheerful read the following story. It is an oldie but a goodie. Have fun. Stay safe. WEAR YOUR MASK.

The Offer (a fairy tale with a wizard, a kitten and a mysterious stranger)

Miles was the official Royal Wizard to the Kingdom of the Moonbeam Mountains. What the fuck kind of name was that for a Kingdom?

“I will NEVER be as good as my dad.” he thought brooding in the dark under the night sky on the roof with a bottle of 80 proof Dragon Blood.

Sitting alone in his castle by the sea he thought of her, the princess who’d more or less left him for another man. Hell, he never had her. She’d always been in love with someone else. They’d been together for ten years. In ten years she’d told him a thousand times that she loved him but at the same time she was running a fantasy in her head about another guy.

For the past 6 years they’d lived with each other almost full-time. Their father’s were best friends. Hers was the King of the Northwestern Kingdom, his father was the Royal Wizard there and their mother’s were girlfriends. Everything was perfect, just like it was supposed to be. Every single year he’d proposed to her. Every single year she’d told him that she wanted to wait. Wait for what? Now he knew. She was waiting for another guy.

He called to have his horse ready and took off to the local pub. At least there he could keep his mind off of things.

Half way to the pub he stopped to pull his gloves out of his saddle bag. He heard a noise on the side of the road. A teeny tiny gray and white kitten ran towards him. It couldn’t have been more than six weeks old.

“Oh sweetie,” he whispered to the kitten, “I can’t leave you out here alone.” He tucked the tiny cat under his coat and continued on.

As he entered the village gate he could hear the band playing at the pub and already see friends lingering around the front door. “Deep breath Miles,” he thought to himself knowing everyone would ask about his princess. They knew he’d left her. They didn’t know why or for how long. He didn’t want to talk about it. Maybe he’d just put a spell on the place to make them all shut up about it, but ethics and his own code of decency stopped him from it. There is no crime in being curious.

After dropping his horse off in safe hands he greeted the people outside then went in. He could feel the small body purring inside of his coat. There was something about a cat that could make one forget everything. Cats were so pure and so decadent and so useless and so calming and so everything that made the universe worth living in. Cats represented all that was. Not good or bad just everything.

He caught his reflection in a window. Blonde hair, board shoulders, blue eyes, dimples on his boy-next-door cheeks and a scar across his neck that would tingle every time she kissed him, no matter what violent memories it brought him.

Everyone greeted him. Big points were scored with the ladies when he cradled the purring kitten in the crook of his arm. Damn that kitty was cute. She looked up at him and mewed a purr dripped sound that was absolutely toxic cute. He could never get enough of that feeling of pure joy and love.

After ordering a brew Miles did a few tricks for the patrons. They always asked and he was glad to give them some shows of blue sparks, wispy smoke dragons and fairies flying over their heads and levitating beer steins. It was all good fun. Fun was always good especially with the way he was feeling.

The fact that he’d been alone for a few months hadn’t gone unnoticed. He could hear the gossip behind his back. He could feel the single women watching him and wanting him. There was no reason for him to be alone at night but he wasn’t ready yet for company in his cold bed.

He heard a voice at his shoulder. “Missing your homeland Wizard?”

Miles turned around to see a tall exceptionally thin man standing at his shoulder. He wore a good suit and a sarcastic smile on his face.

The man continued to speak. “Do you miss a warm princess next to you in your cold bed? Do you wish your magic was more powerful? Do you wish you’d get the same respect and power as your father has? I can give you all of that.”

“It isn’t wise to attempt to provoke a wizard, even a piss poor attempt like yours. I don’t know you sir, but I’m here to enjoy an evening with friends. Now if you’ll excuse me and my cat we’ve got others to talk to,” Miles said to the tall thin man.

“Give me that kitten and I’ll grant you three wishes,” the stranger said in a voice so smooth it made Miles cringe.

“I don’t want your wishes and I’m sure as Hell not giving you my cat.”

At a large table he sat with friends, joking and listening to their stories, but his senses were wide open to any evil that lurked in the building. The tall thin stranger occupied himself with another group, but Miles could feel his presence.

The kitten purred and played with everyone at the table. There was nothing special or magic about her except that she was a cat. “Just a cat,” thought Miles, “nothing more.”

Hours later, after he’d had a successful evening with friends who’d done more than a good job of cheering him up and getting him out of his gloomy mood, Miles arrived home. His staff would be in bed so he put the horse to bed for the night, gathered the kitten back under his coat and headed for the front door. The moonlight made the dark pathway easy. He took a deep breath of the salt air and listened to the waves crashing on the beach below.

“Welcome to my castle by the sea dear kitten,” he told his small purring friend. “You look like a Lizzie to me. How about it? Do you like that name my dear?” The kitten meowed and purred.

Looking up he saw a figure on the cliff. It was the annoying thin stranger from the pub.

“Wizard, give me the cat and I will give you everything you desire. I can make your princess love you. I can make you famous. I can bring you riches.”

“Get off my property or I’ll…” he thought a moment for the bad things he could do then spoke. “What’s so special about the cat?”

“Your princess for the cat Miles. Say the word and you’ll have what your heart desires.”

“I don’t know who you are but I don’t want a woman who loves me because of a spell. I want her to love me for the right reason. I want her to fall for me in a nice long romantic way of her own accord. Love spells are bull shit. Every wizard with any talent knows that. And any man who knows what his heart desires and knows what true love feels like knows that.”

“Give me the cat.”

“Is she yours? Don’t lie to me man. I’ll know if you’re telling me a lie.”

The stranger halted a bit. “Well, no.”

“Then what is it? I don’t want any wishes and I don’t trust you with a helpless kitten. What do you really want? Is this some sort of test? Or are you just a creepy stalker? What is it? Tell me.”

“Do you love your princess?” The man asked him as if he was accusing Miles of cheating.

“Sure I do but, it’s none of your business.” None of anyone’s business that she was in love with someone else. “Get the Hell off of my property.” Miles blasted the ground in front of the man with a bolt of orange lightning. The man jumped back. “Go or the next one will hit you.”

The man was gone. Miles was alone in the kitchen with the kitten. “What was that about? Do you know?”

The kitten just purred.

Three wishes. He laughed out loud a bitter laugh. What would he need with three wishes. He’d worked hard for everything he had. He was proud of what he’d accomplished. Being a wizard, much less one in a foreign country, wasn’t always easy. People depended on him.

He thought of calling her, his princess, but he decided to let it go, at least for tonight. She had left him letters and messages but he couldn’t get past the pain of betrayal.

He wondered who the skinny guy was and why he wanted the cat. Three wishes. It wasn’t worth it. He’d never trade his soul or the tiny stray he’d found on the side of the road. After all, wasn’t it the same thing? He had shown compassion to a small beast. He’d shown his soul.

The kitten didn’t start to talk. He kissed the top of her tiny head but she didn’t turn into a princess.

Taking out a piece of paper and a pen he started to write.

Tonight a strange skinny man offered me three wishes in exchange for a small kitten I found on the side of the road. The man said he could make you love me. I wasn’t tempted by the offer. If you love me I want it to be honest and true for me. No magic. No games. No more lies. 

He wadded up the letter and made it vanish with a flash of blue smoke.  It was no use.  Heading up the stairs with the kitten in his arms he stopped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. “Damn you, I do not want your wishes.”

Jerking open the door Miles yelled, “I’m not giving you my kitten.”

But standing at the door wasn’t the tall skinny man, it was his princess. He brought her in and told her the story of the strange skinny man and the kitten. She listened in wonder and then they both went upstairs.

And did they live happily ever after? Maybe. Only time, or maybe the cat will tell.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Shared Memories and New Adventures – Savoring the Moment

This week I’m in Southern California visiting my kids.

When your kids are grown shopping trips are different. Today we went out to get gardening supplies, ant bait, a cork screw, an air mattress someone can actually sleep on, sheets, drinking glasses, a lamp, and a front door mat.

Last night we, went for a long walk and saw tiny wild cottontail bunnies in the park near my daughter’s apartment complex. The wonder and cuteness overload was still there, maybe even more so.

Tuesday night my kids Clara, Garret and I, went to the beach. Only a few locals were out. The smoke in the air gave off a strange pink glow. Beach fires glowed in the distance.

We talked about how their father is handling the 21st Century. We spoke of the fires. We talked about the insane political situation of our country and the pandemic. We talked about our favorite beaches and trips we’ve made together in the past. We updated each other on friends and family. We laughed about a lot of things. That was the best part. We just let go and laughed at stories old and new.

It is amazing that when we are with those we love, and I mean real love, we just fall into a comfortable pattern no matter how long we are apart.

That can be with family or friends. We just take up from where we left off.

Forget romance and falling in love. That is fine and well, but it is those long term relationships with kids, dear friends, and hopefully family, that keep the soul alive. Those shared memories, and the ability to make new ones is something that we take for granted. Those positive relationships are precious and to be treasured and savored.

  • So dear reader, you know what to do:
  • Stay safe
  • Be kind
  • Wear a mask
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Pet a dog or cat
  • Keep your bird feeders full
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Check in on those who might be alone or need extra help
  • Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Dream a Little Dream

Damn. What a night. Fighting demons and their fucking friends. Max rarely even thought of using four letter words but tonight was a swear night. Even as an alpha Vampire to top all alpha Vampires he was exhausted, and away from home.

The only saving grace was that he’d been not far from his fiancé’s house by the beach. He looked forward to falling asleep in her arms to the sound of the waves.

She wasn’t home. Damn. He let himself in as the sun started to light up the morning sky. 5:00 a.m. Where was she?

Max stripped off his clothing and threw it into the washing machine. Then he fell onto her bed. Damn it felt good. She said she’d gotten new bedding but this was amazing. He never understood Vampires who slept in coffins and crypts.

Falling into a deep sleep the dreams came in waves…

“I’m smarter than everyone in this room. They’re all idiots,” said Archibald Fontaine.

What is that blow hard doing here? Thought Max. He couldn’t stand the pompous ass. Archi was the last Vampire he’d want in his dreams.

Then Archibald Fontaine leaned forward and kissed Max on the mouth.

Max backed off. “It is over Archi.”

Then he was jolted into a dark passageway. Sadness overwhelmed him. He had never felt so alone. A cat started to follow him, then two, then three, then five.

The dream jumped to another location. This time a house. His house. She lay on his bed in silk tap pants and a silk bra, both in pale pink. He kissed her neck and brushed it with his fangs. He wanted to tell her that he loved her but he didn’t. Or did she want to tell him?

He was at a party. It was the 1916. He heard her voice I haven’t thought about him in years.It was a lie. She thought about him all the time. A wolf howled in the distance. It was a Werewolf.

He sat on a chair pulling off the silk stockings he’d worn the night before. Red peep toe shoes were on the floor in front of him along with a flowered dress.

Max had never worn a dress. Not even on Halloween.

Max opened his eyes and looked into his own face next to him in bed. His eyes were brown, then the color turned to hazel, then back to brown. He smiled at himself and pulled himself close in an embrace.

Then he woke in a jolt. This was too weird. What had those demons done?

Mehitabel stood by the bed. “Hey baby.”

“Hey,” said Max.

He reached out his hand to her. She sat on the edge of the bed and gently kissed him.

“The new bedding is nice. Love the pillows. But oh man, I’m having weird dreams.”

She smiled and stroked his hair. “Memory foam,” she said.

“What?”

“Memory foam. You’re sleeping on my pillow silly.”

Then she undressed and got into bed beside him, but not before she gave him his own pillow.

~ end

Zombie Days

It is one thing to lose your keys but when body parts start to vanish life just sucks. That is what Melissa was thinking at the moment. Being a Zombie sucked big time.

When she was 14 she’d read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Covenant had Leprosy. It was awful. His world was turned upside down and he more or less lost everything. In a weird twist he was transported into a fantasy world where he was whole, at least in body. It wasn’t an easy series to read and it wasn’t happy. It was just weird to Melissa then because she wasn’t a fantasy fan. Now she was a zombie, and not a fan of that either.

It would be nice to blink and be in a fantasy world. Better yet be back in her normal world with her normal job and her normal boyfriend. Unfortunately she was in some sort of fantasy nightmare that was real life. It didn’t make sense. She looked down and then picked a finger nail up off the ground. Crap, even professional nail glue wouldn’t keep them on.

Michael wasn’t her boyfriend back before the Zombie days. He was just a guy who was a friend she’d work with occasionally. Her real boyfriend was… she had to pause to think hard. Memories were fading. She thought of old film archives of disintegrating film. It was like that. Nate. The boyfriend was Nate. He was tall and funny and perfect. He was a brain surgeon. The irony didn’t escape Melissa on that one. Her stomach grumbled. Brains.

Nobody ever expects to go on a simple business trip and at the end of the day becoming a zombie. It was just a simple stop to see what had been caught under that car. They thought it was a tumbleweed. It was Zombies.

Men in Black, Area Z (top-secret Zombie internment camp), an escape, help from some unlikely friends and now they were in a remote cabin in the woods. They could wait it out. They were already dead. The dead can wait forever.

Given the choice she would have chosen to become a Vampire. Even a Werewolf would have been better. She liked dogs. She liked running in the woods. Even a Ghost would be good if you had to be dead. Anything was better than being a Zombie.

Sitting at an old roll top desk, Melissa penned a letter to a friend. She might decide to send it or maybe not. As she wrote her skin made skid marks on the paper in a pinkish gray line. If she squinted she could pretend it was fairy dust. At least she could still hold a pen and write in something that resembled her once beautiful handwriting.

She wrote of Michael, her companion and now Zombie lover.

“I know he is the one. I know it in my heart of hearts that no longer beats. I know it every time he moans and shuffles towards me. I know it when he tries to look presentable and human. He does it just for me. He makes me laugh so I won’t cry. He stuffs the fingers of my gloves where I no longer have my own fingers. He tells me I’m still beautiful.”

A sticky tear of something green trickled down her face. Maybe she’d pick some wild flowers and cheer up their space. She looked out the window at the sound of a truck. She could see two men inside, sitting in the front seat with crisp clean uniforms. They were from the Forest Service. She smiled. Finally lunch had arrived.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

This post was first published here in June 2014.  For the beginning of the Michael and Melissa story read A Lunch Date With Zombies.

 

Rix forest

Last Call by R James Turley

Today I’m honored to share a story from my friend, and one of my favorite WordPress bloggers R James Turley.

 

Last Call

by R James Turley 

 

When Suzy Night was introduced on stage, Ron’s mouth dropped open.  She had a walk made for a run-way, and a body that just wouldn’t quit.  Ron knew Kathy was going to hire a new singer, but didn’t know who.  He did now.  Those legs, that long dark hair stretched down her back.  Ron stared at her, wondering what it’d be like to kiss those lushes lips.

“What do you think of our new singer?”  Kathy sat down beside him at the table, two rows from the stage.

“She’s gorgeous,” he poured wine in both of their glasses.  “Where did you find her?”

“She came in on open MIC night, and just started singing,” Kathy lifted her glass toward the stage.

Why couldn’t Ron be here that night?  Then he would’ve met her.  Maybe it’s a good thing he wasn’t.  He might have just made a fool out of himself trying to impress her.

Suzy’s voice was as stunning as she was; soft and smoky.  It carried throughout the room in perfect pitch.  Ron just had to get to know her.  He almost couldn’t stand not being able to touch her now.

He poured another glass of wine for Kathy, “Is she from around here?  How old is she?  Does she have a boyfriend?”

“Easy there, lover boy.  I got the impression she’s seeing somebody,” Kathy sipped her wine.  “Besides, she’s half your age.”

Ron didn’t care at the moment.  He was enjoying fantasizing about him and Suzy.  He wished he could rise up out of that wheelchair, and go on stage to sing with her.  What he wouldn’t give for that.

“You are going to introduce me, aren’t you?”  Ron looked at Kathy with a cryptic smile.

“After she’s done, but get rid of your google eyes.”

“Yes mother,” he laughed.

“Funny,” she said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.  “You should write comedy.”

In a lot of ways, Ron did think of her as a mother figure.  Kathy was always there for him when he needed her.  She’d helped his mother take care of him when Ron’s father was out of town on business.  And, she helped him get through that rough time when Ron’s parents died three months apart.  Kathy meant a lot to Ron, and he didn’t know what he would do without her.

The scattered Sunday night crowed stood up and applauded after Suzy finished her two songs.  Ron leaned over to tell Kathy something, but she was already headed toward the backstage door.

“She’ll be out in a minute,” Kathy said, sitting back down at the table.  “You want some scotch”

“Please,” Ron nodded.  “Neat.”

“Ah, what is it with you and no ice?”  Kathy waved over the waitress.

“I don’t know,” Ron shrugged his shoulders.  “Never that fond of ice, I guess, plus it waters it down.”

“Hi Kath, how you doing?”  The chipper waitress asked.

“Irene, did you meet Ron?”  She cocked her head toward him.

“Not yet,” she stuck her hand out to shake.  “How you doin?

Taking her hand, “Nice to meet you.”

“Can I have some Ice-water, and Ron would like some Scotch without ice.”

“Scotch neat,” Irene said.  “That’s the way my pappy used to drink it.”

Ron noticed the backstage door open.  Suzy was walking toward the table.  She was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, with her hair pulled up in two pig tails. If Ron was standing, he would have fallen over her beauty.  She stopped at the table next to his, and hugged the guy sitting there.  Ron felt a spark of jealousy,  then he felt guilty for it.  Why should he be jealous?  He didn’t even know her.

Suzy walked over to the table, with her friend right behind her.  “Hi miss Oden,” she kissed Kathy on the cheek.  “How’d I do?”

“I told you Suzy, call me Kathy,” she got up and hugged Suzy.  “You were fabulous.  Suzy, this is Ron, he’s my business partner.”

“Hi,” she smiled at Ron.  “This is…”

“Danny Alm,” Ron said in amazement.  “You were rookie of the year with Portland.”

“I guess you do know who he is,” Suzy giggled.

Ron shook Danny’s hand, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“You a basketball fan?”  Danny asked, looking at the wheelchair.

“A huge one.”  Ron tapped his hand on the arm of his wheelchair, “Play too.”

“Sit down,” Kathy said, pulling out a chair.

As the crowd got smaller, and it got closer to closing time, the four of them just sat and talked, and got more acquainted with one another.  Ron was even more impressed with Suzy, how intelligent and well-spoken she was.

At three-AM Suzy finally said, “We have to go.  I have to take Danny to the airport.”

“You’re flying now?”  Kathy asked, in a voice two octaves higher than she normally sounds.

“I’ve got to be back in Portland tomorrow night.  We had today off, so I just came in to see Suzy,” Danny said, getting out of the chair.  “It was nice meeting you guys,” he through a twenty-dollar bill on the table.

“I’ll see you on TV,” Ron said with a chuckle.

Ron waited for Kathy while she helped Irene clean up, and then walked her to her car. He watched her drive off, wheeled around the corner to his two-story apartment building where he lived on the first floor.

Ron didn’t do much of anything, and tried to conserve his energy, on game days. Even though he was reduced to playing about twelve minutes a game, he wanted to be able to leave it all on the court when called on.  The players respected, and looked up to Ron for what he has done for wheelchair basketball. Both on the court and off, Ron has been an ambassador for the game.  He traveled across the country with the U.S.A. Paralympic team showing off his skills, and talking about the game.

Normally Ron’s focus would be totally on the up-coming game, but he couldn’t keep Suzy from his thoughts.  He turned on the news channel to get his mind off Suzy.

A gentle knock at the door caught his attention.  He wheeled over and looked out the peep hole.  He had to look a second time to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. He opened the door to see Suzy, and all her loveliness, standing there.

“I hope you don’t mind.  Kathy told me where you lived.”

“Not at all,” he said in delight, trying to control his emotions.  “Come on in,” inside, Ron was jumping for joy.  “Would you like something to drink?”

“Soda, if you have it,” she smiled.

Ron nodded, offered Suzy a seat and wheeled into the kitchen.  When he came back Suzy was in the recliner that was facing the TV in the living room, her tote bag on the floor beside her.  Ron couldn’t believe Suzy Night was in his apartment. He felt like a school kid.

Suzy watched him wheel toward her with a can of Coke and a glass in his lap, and a bottle of fruit juice nestled between his leg and the side of the chair.  He opened the can, and poured it in the glass for her.

“Thank you,” she said, accepting the glass.  She took a sip and said, “I have something for you.”

“You do,” his voice rose with surprise and excitement.  He opened the bottle of fruit juice, hoping he wasn’t blushing.

She pulled out a manila envelope from her bag, “Danny wanted you to have this.”

“He did?”  He opened the envelope, “Wow!” pulling out an autograph picture of Danny dunking a basketball.  “This is great.  Tell him thank you.”

“He was impressed when you said you played,” she poured the rest of the soda into the glass.  “How long have you played?”

“Since I was a kid, my mom got me into it.  I guess she wanted me to have something to do,” he chuckled and took a drink of juice. He realized that the anniversary of her death is quickly approaching.  Could it be sixteen years?  “I also got a chance to play with the US Paralympic team.”

“Really!” her eyes grew bigger as she gazed into his.  “You played in other countries?”

“A few,” he tossed his empty bottle into the recycle bin.

“How often do you play now?”

“A couple times a week.  I have a game tonight, actually,” he pointed to his game jersey hanging on the bedroom door knob.

Finishing her drink, “I’d like to come and watch sometime.”

He was glad to hear that.  “Come with Kathy sometime, she comes to a lot.”

Looking at her watch, “Thanks for the Coke,” she stood up, “but I got to go.  I have some running around to do before I meet my mother for her birthday.”

“Okay, let me get the door.”  Wheeling over and opening the door, “Thanks for the picture.  Hope you have fun with your mother.”

“Thanks, I will.”  She gave him a friendly hug.  “Good luck tonight.”

He looked into her brown eyes, “I’ll see you at the club,” and watched her walk away.

The team bus came to pick Ron up at five for their game in Tampa at eight.  Ron was one of the last ones to be picked up. His teammates were lost in thought or listening to music.  After Ron got his chair locked in, the coach looked back at him to tell Ron that he was starting tonight.

Ron hasn’t started a game since the last game of last season, and hadn’t been a full time starter for three years.  He had to fight to make the team this year.  He played the game smart, and the coach liked that.  Something must be wrong with Tim, the starting Point Guard.

Kathy and Suzy were in the stands when the team came out of the locker room.  Now Ron was nervous.  He didn’t expect to see Suzy at a game so soon.  Ron missed most of the practice shots he took before the game. He had to calm himself.

He drank some water, and took a deep breath before taking the court for the start of the game.  The tip-off came straight to him, and all his nervousness vanished.  He ran the first play flawlessly, and played like he had been starting all season.  It was Ron’s best game in almost four years with seven points, and twelve assists, in their nineteenth win of the season.

Ron took his gym bag to his room, switched chairs, and wheeled over to Last Call.  Kathy and Suzy were at the bar sharing a bottle of wine at the end of the bar when he came in.  He wheeled up to where the bar was low enough for his wheelchair.  Irene poured a scotch and set it in front of him.

“I heard about tonight, congratulations!”  She bumped her fist against his.  “You want something to eat?

“Just a salad, please,” he said, after sipping his drink.

Kathy picked up the bottle, and her and Suzy walked to the beat of the music toward Ron.  Kathy kissed him on the cheek, and Suzy, from behind him, put her arms around his shoulders. They sat down on either side of him. Ron didn’t know what he was more excited about, the game, or the fact the Suzy saw it.

“Great game Ron,” Kathy said, empting the wine bottle into her glass.  “Where’d that come from?”

Ron shrugged his shoulders, “Don’t know, must’ve been bottled up.”

Ron caught Suzy watching him eat.  He wanted to ask her out, but not in front of Kathy.  He didn’t want to hear her say that it was a bad idea.  Besides, it’s none of her business who he asked out.  She went to the office to check on the beer orders for tomorrow.  Now was his chance.

“Suzy,” he nervously said.  “Would you like to have dinner sometime?”  He took the last bite of his salad.

She grinned ear to ear, nodding her head, and said, “I’d love to.”

“I’m free tomorrow,” she said, looking into his eyes.

“Great! How about around seven?  I’ll cook,” he said, before finishing his drink.

“I’ll be there.”

Ron yelled into the office saying goodbye to Kathy, gave Suzy a hug and wheeled off. Excited about his date tomorrow, he couldn’t sleep.  He wondered what to serve.  Damn, I should’ve asked her.  He finally decided on Chicken Parmesan.   With that settled, he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Suzy arrived a little before seven dressed to kill.  Wearing a short royal blue cocktail dress hugging her body with spaghetti straps on the shoulder, and her hair was pulled up in the back with a white bow.  Ron’s jaw dropped open when he saw her.

“Come on in,” he said, waving her in.  “Make yourself at home.  You want some wine?”

“Yes,” she nodded, and smiled at him.  “Let me help you.”

He wasn’t going to say no, he followed her into the kitchen, enjoying the view.  She got the glasses from the cupboard while he opened the fridge.

“Is white alright?  That’s all I have.”

“Yes. Dinner smells good”

“Thanks. I hope you like chicken parmesan.”

“Yum, I love it,” she said, rubbing her belly.

The dinner started with a fresh garden salad, which Ron ate at least three times a week.  He might not be as fit as he once was, but he was in the habit of eating healthy.

After dinner, they shifted to the couch where the conversation was very nice. Ron talked mostly about his basketball career, and shared some pictures with Suzy.  They talked until almost midnight, and then Suzy got ready to leave.

“I had a nice time,” she said, staring into his eyes.  “I’m glad you asked me.”

Ron was happy to hear that.  “I had fun too,” he gazed back at her.

“Are you coming to the bar tomorrow night,” she opened the door.

“I’ll be over after my game.  We play at home tomorrow so it won’t be that late.”

She kissed him on his cheek, hugged him tightly, and walked out the door.  Ron watched her until she disappeared into to lobby of the building.  He was scolding himself for not taking a chance to kiss her the way he dreamed of doing since the first time he saw her.  It will happen in time, he thought.  I don’t want to push her away.

Ron got to Last Call in time to hear Suzy sing.  He had another good game after his second straight start.  Ron was starting to feel that Suzy was his good luck charm, and he was feeling like he used to on the basketball court.

Looking around the room that was half full, he noticed Kathy sitting with Danny Alm. Danny must have flown in to see Suzy. Ron wheeled over to the table.

“Hey Ron. How was the game?”  Kathy moved a chair out of the way.

“We won,” Ron said, proudly.  “I started again.”

“How’d you do?”  Kathy asked while waving over Irene.

“I had a few points, a couple assists.  I’m getting my game back,” Ron said, locking his chair into place.  He looked at Danny, “Thanks for the picture, I love it!  You fly in for the night?”

“Hi Ron,” Irene said.  “Some scotch?”

“Please,” he smiled at her.

“Coming right up,” Irene turned and headed toward the bar

“We play in Orlando tomorrow so I figured I’d drive down for a few hours,” Danny said, looking at Ron.

Ron saw Suzy come out the back stage door.  Right away he noticed something different, in her face, from last night. Danny stood up from the table, took Suzy in his arms, and kissed her passionately.  Ron felt sick, like someone punched him in the stomach.  He looked at Kathy, told her he’d be back, and wheeled toward the men’s room.

After he splashed some water on his face, he headed back toward the table.  Kathy was waiting for him at the bar.

“Are you alright?”  She handed his drink to him.  “I didn’t know you two had dinner last night.”

“Yes. We had a nice time.  I thought it could lead somewhere.”  Ron took a big gulp of his drink.  “What happened?”

“Danny happened.  They decided to be a couple again, I’m sorry.”

Kathy put her arms around his shoulders, kissed his forehead, and hugged him tightly. Ron asked Kathy to make up an excuse and he left, feeling rejected.  A jubilant night turned into a nightmare.

The next afternoon, still feeling depressed, Ron waited for Kathy to bring him lunch.  He was going to try to eat even though his appetite wasn’t there.  Kathy always knew what to say to make Ron feel better.  But there wasn’t a way to take the pain of a lonely heart away.

A knock at the door interrupted the constant image of Danny kissing Suzy.  He wheeled over and opened the door, not bothering to look through the peep hole.

“Can I come in?”  Suzy stood there with tears in her eyes.

“Sure,” he said, backing up to let her pass.

Even with bloodshot eyes and makeup trickling down her cheeks, she was the most beautiful woman Ron had ever seen.  He hated to see any woman cry, but he’d do anything to make Suzy stop. But, he also wanted answers.

“Why you here, Suzy?”  He mustered up the courage to ask.

“I had to,” she sobbed.

“Had to what?” rubbing his forehead.

“Say yes,” she took a deep breath, and held her left hand out.

Ron opened his eyes wide, “You’re getting married?”

She looked him in the eye, tears watering her cheeks, nose running, and nodded her head. “No one else knows,” she put her head down, staring at the floor, as if she were shameful.

“Suzy,” he said, coming from the kitchen with a can of Coke and a box of tissues. “Explain this to me.”

She blew her nose and took a sip of soda, “My mother said I had to or she would disown me,” Suzy whispered.

“I don’t get it Suz. Why would your mother say that?”

“I don’t know, but she always makes good on her threats.”  She looked at her watch, stood up, and said, “I have to go. We’re going to see Danny play tonight.”

He watched her walk out the door, and maybe, out of his life.  Over before it started.  Was she telling me everything?  He had a sneaky suspicion she wasn’t, but why?

A knock on the door startled him.  “It’s me,” Kathy said, letting herself in.  “I brought hoagies.”

“Set them on the table,” Ron said, sounding serious.

“What’s wrong?”  She looked at Ron with her eyes as big as saucers.

He couldn’t hide anything from her.  “Suzy was just here.”

“Why?”

“I’m not sure I got the whole story, but she told me her and Danny are getting married.”

Kathy looked up from the table with a shocked look on her face, “When did this happen?”

“I guess yesterday before she went to the bar,” he said, wheeling over to the table. “She said nobody knew, and that she had too.”

“Had too? Why?”

“Or her mother would disown her.  I don’t know?”  Ron cut his sandwich in half, “She didn’t seem real happy about it, crying the whole time she was here.”

Kathy swallowed the piece of hoagie, “Now that you mention it, Suzy did seem a little distracted last night.  And she kept rambling on about how happy she was.”

“Maybe she was trying to convince herself,” Ron wheeled into the kitchen for two bottled waters.  Coming out of the kitchen he added, “She went over to Orlando tonight to see Danny play.”

“I know,” Kathy took the water from his hand.  “Her and her mother are staying over, they’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.”

Ron didn’t feel like going to the bar that night, and stayed home, no matter how much Kathy tried to talk him into going.  Every time he would’ve looked on stage he’d be reminded that Suzy was in Orlando watching her future husband play basketball.  He couldn’t take the pain.  He spent the night reading a spy novel.  His new found hobby, temporary as it might be.

The next afternoon Ron got a phone call from Kathy asking him to come over to the bar to talk.  He figured it was going to be a business conversation.  Irene was already there setting up for that evening.  Kathy came out from the office and they sat at a table next to the bar.  Irene joined them.

“I think we may know why Suzy agreed to marry Danny,” Kathy said, looking at Ron. She looked at Irene and said, “Tell him what you told me.”

Irene stared into Ron’s eyes, “I heard them arguing a couple of days ago when he was here. They were outside the ladies room. It wasn’t busy yet, and I guess they thought no one would hear.  But I heard him say if she didn’t marry him, that he was going to hurt her mother.”

Ron felt a twinge of rage build up inside of him that if he stood up, he could walk. He looked at Kathy, “We have to talk to her mother.  See if she knows why they got engaged.”

Kathy’s gaze shifted between Ron and Irene.  “I think she’s coming to hear Suzy sing tonight.  I’ll make up an excuse to take to her in the office, see what I can find out.”

Ron went back to Last Call before it opened for the evening.  He wanted to be there when Kathy talked to Suzy’s mother, Grace.  He was at the bar talking with Irene when Suzy and Grace walked in.  Kathy quickly came out of the office to great them. Suzy went backstage right away, she was the first act that night.  Grace followed Kathy into the office.  Kathy put her hands in front of her so Ron could see them as to say stay there.

Ron made his way to an empty table closer to the stage.  Not close enough to where Suzy would be able to see him from the stage. Kathy and Grace joined him after about half-hour.

“This is my business partner, Ron,” Kathy said, as her and Grace sat down.

“So you’re Ron,” Grace shook his hand.  “Suzy went on and on about you the other day.”

Ron smiled at her, “It’s very nice to meet you.  Did you enjoy your birthday?”

“Thank you, yes.  We had a lovely lunch,” she gazed into his eyes.  “I hear you play basketball, and done some traveling.”

“He’s played all over Europe,” Kathy said, raising her eyebrows toward Ron.

“That’s wonderful,” Grace put her hand on top of his resting on the table.

“Did you have a good time at the game last night?”  He took a sip of Scotch.

She sat back in her chair, “I went more for Suzy.”  She folded her arms and added, “I don’t really care for that Danny. He may seem all nice and sweet, but he thinks he’s God’s gift to the world.”

Kathy sat up in her seat, “Why do you say that?”

“He thinks he’s entitled to everything.  He’s so sure he’s going to marry Suzy,” she leaned forward.  “She has told him they’re only friends so many times I lost count,” she waved her hand toward the floor and stood up. “Excuse me, where’s the ladies room?”

“Around the bar,” Kathy pointed towards the restrooms.  “You want a drink?”

“Screwdriver, please,” she said, before turning toward the restrooms.

Ron raised his eyebrows, “She doesn’t know.  What did you talk about in the office?”

“Nothing, just small talk,” she said, motioning at Irene to come over.  “Talked mostly about how Suzy always loved to sing.”

“If she doesn’t know then why the hell would Suzy say her mother would disown her?”  Ron angrily said, and gulped the rest of his Scotch.  “Should we tell her?”

“No,” Kathy shook her head.  “Let me talk to Suzy.  Find out what’s going on.”

Suzy came out of the back stage door and sat with Ron after the show.  She wasn’t her usual bubbly self after a performance. Ron had more drinks than he normally had, but was still in control.  Grace had been gone for over an hour, and Kathy was in the office doing paper work. Ron had enough Scotch in him to ask Suzy about her engagement.  He figured he better put some alcohol into her if he wanted some answers.

“Ron,” she said, on her third screwdriver loaded heavily with Vodka.  “Even though I haven’t know you long, I wish Danny was more like you.”

“How do you mean?”  He asked, resting his chin on his fist.

“Well,” she set her empty glass on the table.  “You’re so sweet, and don’t seem demanding like Danny is sometimes.”

“Demanding how?”  He set back and folded his arms.

“He just is.  He didn’t really ask me.  He just said let’s get married,” she took a deep breath.

Ron put his hand on top of hers and wrapped his fingers around hers.  “Why’d you agree?”

“Because,” she swallowed. “I didn’t want him to get my mother in trouble,” she said as clearly as she could.  “She has a little bit of a gambling problem.”

Ron noticed Kathy walking toward the table, “How’d Danny find out?”

Shrugging her shoulders, “I don’t know,” Suzy slurred.

“You don’t look like you can drive home,” Kathy rubbed Suzy’s back.  “Come on, I have an extra bed.”

“Okay,” Suzy nodded.  “I have to pee first.”

Kathy watched her walk out of sight, turned toward Ron, “What did you do?”

Ron put his arms out to the side, “What?  I got her to talk.”

“What’d she say?”

“That Danny threatened her mother,” he saw Suzy come around the corner and nodded toward her.  “I’ll fill you in later if she doesn’t.”

Lying in bed, that night, Ron got madder the more he thought about what Danny was doing. He was also relieved Suzy didn’t really want to marry him.  He needed to find out how Danny found out about Grace.  If possible, without Danny knowing.

The phone woke Ron just after noon.  He didn’t fall asleep until around six in the morning.  Thinking about how he could help Suzy wouldn’t let him sleep.  He opened his unfocused eyes and searched with his hand until he found the phone.

He hung up the receiver.  He almost forgot about the game tonight.  His coach called to tell him that Tim would be out the rest of the season, and Ron would be starting the rest of the year.  He was wavering all year about retiring from basketball after the season. Now he was having second thoughts, especially after the last two games.

After a quick shower and something to eat, he called Kathy to remind her about his game. He also wanted to find out if Suzy said anything more to her.

She had taken Suzy home and was at the club, and asked Ron to come over.

“What’s up?” he said, wheeling into Kathy’s office.

She looked up from reading the newspaper, “I know someone up in Holiday, his name is Bill, who owns a strip club.  He also runs a gambling ring.  How big, I don’t know.  I’ve got a message for him to call me back”

“A lot of sleazy clubs up there, I’m sure some have gambling ties.”

“I know,” she said, as she came around the desk.  “But you never know, he could be the one, or someone he knows.  You want some coffee?”

“Always can use coffee,” he flashed silly grin.

She chuckled as she walked out of the office.  “Where you play tonight?” she said walking back in.

“St Pete,” taking a mug from her.  “I’m starting the rest of the year.”

She looked at him like a proud mother would and clinked her mug against his, “That must feel good?”

He bashfully smiled, “Yeah.”

Ron got to the club a little before twelve, not long after Kathy.  Right before he was to be picked up she called to say she was going to the game.  Their third win in a row, and forth in the last five games.  Ron couldn’t remember the last time he felt so comfortable on the court.

“You looked good out there,” Kathy said, as Ron wheeled in.

He rolled up to the bar.  Irene poured him a Scotch and got him a salad.  Kathy walked up beside him, and he asked, “Did your friend call you back?”

She took a drink of her bottled water and said, “He did, and he doesn’t know her. But something interesting; he knows Tony, the guy who runs a strip joint called The Play Pen.  He handles bets for one Danny Alm.”

“That’s probably how he knows about Grace to,” he said, as he stabbed the last cucumber with his fork.  He bit it off his fork and added, “I’m betting Suzy doesn’t know about him.”

“That would be my guess,” she picked up a bite size pretzel out of the bowl on the bar, and popped it in her mouth.

Ron did some research, the next day, on Danny’s back ground.  He was reprimanded at Florida State for betting on college and NFL football games, but not to the point of being suspended.  Ron wondered if he also bet on basketball and it got covered up.

He started to dial Kathy’s number when he heard a knock and Kathy’s voice, “Ron, you there?”

“Yeah Kath, come on in.”

She walked in the door, gave him a peck on the lips, and said, “I think I found out that Danny bets on basketball.”

“How’d you do that?”

She sat at the table after getting a soda from the fridge, and said, “I went to see Bill to bet on Portland to win their game tonight.  Wouldn’t you know it, Tony was there.  I guess Tony took a shine to me, cause he tried to warn me how they were going lose to the Brooklynn.  Saying he’s got a source from the team saying they’re too tired.  I figured that source has to be Danny.”

Ron looked at her with a boyish grin, raised his eyebrows, “He also bet on football when he was in school.  Ask Suzy when he’s coming into town again.  I’ll confront him about it.”

“I don’t think that’s a real good idea, Ron,” she sat up and put her hands on her hips.”

“Why not?” he mocked her movement.

Resisting a smile, she said, “Cause you don’t know the kind of people he might know. It could be dangerous.”

“Yeah, I know. He put is arms on the table, “But we have to do something.”

“I know,” she got up and put her arms around him.  “I have to go.  I’ll think of something.  You coming later?  Suzy’s singing.”

“I’ll be there,” he held the door open watching her leave.

Ron waited about a half hour, and called Suzy.  Twenty minutes later she was knocking on his door.  He opened the door and his heart skipped a beat.

“Come in,” he said.  She bent down and hugged him.  It was only a day, but it seemed like years since he saw her.  Ron didn’t want to let go of the embrace.

“How you doing?” she said, smoothing his hair.

“I’m good. Come in, sit down,” he motioned toward the couch.  “You want something to drink?”

She shook her head, “I’m good,” and smiled at him.

“I have something to tell you.”  He swallowed hard, “I know how Danny knows about your mother’s problem.”

A confused look came over her face, “How?”

“Because your mom and Danny have the same bookie.  Kathy met him this morning,” he leaned forward in his chair.  “I don’t think he actually threated Grace.  Did you know that Danny Gambled?”

She shook her head, “I had no idea.  Do you know how long?”

“I was checking that earlier and found out he bet on football in college.  It didn’t say if he bet on basketball, but I wonder.”

“If he did, wouldn’t that be, like, cheating?”

“Yes.  We suspect he might be betting on basketball, or cheating now,” he said in a low whisper.

Suzy stood up, let out a deep breath, and walked to the bathroom.  She emerged five minutes later, her eyes glassy.  It was obvious she was crying.  He wanted so much to hold her, but wasn’t sure if he should. He was surprised when she hugged him tightly.

“Thank you for telling me,” she said, gazing into his eyes.  “Are you coming tonight?”

“Honey, wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” he smiled at her.  “What are you going to do?”

“When he calls later I’ll tell him we’re not getting married,” she playfully yanked on his hair.  “If he asks why, I’ll say I found someone else,” she slipped the ring off of her finger. “And if that doesn’t work, I’ll say I know about the gambling.”  She leaned in and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

Ron got to Last Call before that evenings show.  He wanted a chance to talk to Suzy before it began.  He stopped at the bar to say hi to Kathy and Irene before he continued to a table.  He saw Suzy peek out of the back stage door, and smiled at her.

“Hi,” she motioned with her mouth, walking to the table.

Ron was awe struck.  She was wearing a purple evening gown with just the right amount of glitter to make it shine, and wavy curls in her hair.  “Hi,” he said, studying her up and down.  “You look fantastic.”

She sat down, leaned over and kissed him, “Thank you.  You look wonderful too,” she whispered in his ear as she was hugging him.

“Did you talk to Danny?”

“Yes. We came to an understanding.”

“Which is?”

“He going to leave me alone, and I’m going to keep his little secret,” she smiled, and kissed him hard.

“What the hell did I miss?” Kathy said, standing over them.

“When did you show up,” Ron shockingly said.

“Just in time to see the kiss.”  Kathy put her hands on her hips, and tried to hide a smile, “What is going on?”

“She’s with me, I’m with her,” Ron pointed between him and Suzy, and cackling like a teenager.

Ron made a decision that night.  He was going to play his last five game of the year, and hang up his jersey, no matter how well he was playing, and was going to take more of an interest in Last Call.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

R James Turley started writing poetry in his thirties. Soon after he wrote short stories with a head full of characters. His work has been published by Yahoo! Voices, and the WPaD anthology’s, Creepies 2: Thing that go Bump in the Closet, Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe, Escape from the Planet of the Deviants, Weirder Tales and Creepies 3.

R James writes from Florida where the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico.

Bjturley.com

Facebook.com/r.turley.7

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Come back for more great fiction from other guest writers. I’ll be featuring a variety of short stories from many genres. Seriously folks, these are some of the best fiction writers currently producing work. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Maxed Out #4: Vampire House Warming

Today I’m hosting a marathon featuring my brother Max. As you’ll see today, if you don’t already know, he has all kinds of interesting adventures with women, demons, and just about everything else.

I have made an attempt to put the Maxed Out posts in the order in which they first appeared. I’m re-running this today from 2013. A lot has changed since then – especially with Max and Andy. I’ll catch you up later or you can look for it yourself.   

Vampire House Warming

We all have those turning points in our life. Some we choose and some we don’t. Some we’re nudged in the right or more often wrong direction.

And there are those times when we try to read between the lines too much about the lives of others. It is usually far more complicated or else far less complicated than we think it is.

My brother Andrew (second of 5 siblings) recently moved back to California after several years in London and other parts of the globe and purchased a home in San Francisco. I hear he paid a million and a half for the place in St. Francis Woods, but he could afford it. I hold my breath to think what my brother Max’s home or my parent’s homes with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge would go for. Anyway…this isn’t about real estate.

It is about a lovely housewarming party my brother Andrew hosted. The place was packed with both Vampires and Regular Humans. There were of course musicians (Andy is a singer) and dancers. There were artists and college professors and writers and high tech geeks and all sorts of interesting people with every profession and opinion imaginable. What made this remarkable, as parties and gatherings go, was that Andy’s Regular Human friends know about Vampire. They’re friends with us and don’t have a problem with it.

OK there was one exception. Andy invited his “girlfriend.” Shawna had come up from Southern California where she is a university professor. She is not a Vampire. She is still in that state of wonder and a little bit of disbelief about Vampires and our world (which isn’t all that different than hers, usually.)

Andy is head over heels in love with this divorced mother of two college kids. The story is that she came home from a research trip to find her husband had put her things in storage and moved a new trophy wife into their home. Their youngest child had just gone off to college so it was his opportunity to also make a change. Shocked, she found a small house on a quiet tree lined street and made a new life with her cats and dogs (she wouldn’t leave them behind.)

Shawna was strong and smart and I had no idea what she was doing with my scatter-brained brother. But it was ok. They were cute together and, well, you know all that sort of early romance cute stuff.

I looked out the window to the backyard to see my brother Max kissing his “friend.” This was more than just a friend. I’d heard rumors but this was proof that there was something more than he’d admit to. Funny that she backed out of his arms and went inside alone leaving him to pace a bit then follow her back inside.

In the kitchen I found Shawna. She was cutting up limes.

“I told Andy to have this catered.” I said this trying to be friendly. I could sense a tiny bit of discomfort behind her warm friendly fang-less smile.

“It’s ok, this will just take a second.” She cut into a lime then her hand slipped, of course, in a house full of Vampires, and cut a deep gash in her thumb.

I grabbed her hand and put it in my mouth to stop the bleeding and sealed the wound. I could have left it but it would have required stitches, not to mention drawn a lot of unwanted attention.

I let go and she pulled away with a little bit of horror and disbelief.

“It’s OK Shawna. I sealed the cut. It will heal now without stitches. You’re A positive.” I smiled. “Don’t worry.  I’m not going to drink your blood or bite you or anything. Just basic first aid. We don’t want anyone else smelling blood.”

I suddenly realized that Andy had never bitten her or exposed her to his natural Vampire ways. He was such a gentleman.  He was also a dick when it came to women. He was always falling for anything that wasn’t a Vampire and when it was a Vampire it was usually always someone who was totally wrong for him. He always had to have everything in life more complicated than it had to be.

“Isn’t this sweet,” I heard a smooth male voice say behind me. I turned to see James, one of Andy’s best friends. James who had always watched out for Andrew but who was also one of the most absolutely annoying Vampires in the known universe.

“You know, Juliette and her brother Valentine are two of the best when it comes to Human to Vampire conversions. Almost a 100% success rate, mot to mention a great follow up and support system.”

“Shut up James,” I snapped. Poor Shawna looked horrified. Why was it that everything James said sounded vulgar? Oh right, I know, because he is a flipping pig.

Shawna looked horrified. I was about say something else nasty to James when a very angry Vampire (showing her fangs no less) suddenly slammed him into the wall. “You’re making me sick James. Get out of here before I rip your throat out.”

He held up his hands and backed off. With a smile he said, “Later ladies, I’ll leave you to your tea party.”

Max’s friend Mehitabel  (the one he kissed in the backyard) stood there in a sleek black dress and some great sky high patent leather Mary Janes. She washed her hands saying something under her breath about getting the stink left by James off of them.

Mehitabel was the pretty woman who could either stand out in a crowd, or more likely not be noticed by anyone. That worked well in her professional life. She could stand unnoticed and watch and wait. As for her personal life, I have no idea. I don’t know her that well. I really don’t

I found her entertaining and funny. Sure she was a little distant as well, an odd combination.

Earlier I’d asked her what she was doing for Memorial Day. She was going to spend it with close friends. They always spent holidays together.  Why did I assume she wouldn’t have anyplace to go? Gossip and rumors can build into false biographies that paint a harsh sad picture of someone who is anything but harsh or sad.

She didn’t ask questions about my brother Max, the object of her affections – not like most women do.  She wasn’t talking to anyone about Max. She’d come to the party because they had mutual friends – nothing more. She was staying at Max’s house but no details of fluttery “wink wink” was forthcoming.

She had known Max for a long long time.  Over the years they’d been in and out of dangerous situations together, even saved each other’s lives. They were considered Vampire elite, thought she didn’t act like it.

So, anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen with two women who for better or worse were involved with two of my brothers. At this point I doubted if anyone was going to come in and rescue me.

“Don’t bother with James,” I said to Shawna.  “I think he was snorting too much dragon dust or something.”

“More likely out feeding on meth heads and heroine junkies,” said Mehitabel in disgust. The she softened her look and approached Shawna.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.  We’re not like that. Andy isn’t like that. He is one of the most gentle souls I’ve ever met, Regular Human or Vampire, and he adores you. He’d never ever let anyone harm you. The same goes for Juliette and me, and everyone here. Even James, even thought he is an asshole.”

I knew there were those would harm Shawna, but then again, I suppose nobody could have hurt her more than her ex-husband, the one who traded her in for a younger model.

After a few minutes and a few cocktails, we forgot about the party and my brothers. We talked of other things, things we all could relate to. We talked about movies and books and shoes and our work.

I suppose there is no point or moral to this story. No usual twist. It is always just odd and I’m glad my kids were in another part of the house, I’m sure being exposed to all sorts of other weirdness.

Just random thoughts about last weekend…

But all in all, I like both of these women my brothers have brought around. Now if my brothers could just behave… And if they don’t behave, I might still just keep these two around.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(this post first published here 11/13)

_____________________________

and before i could argue him

out of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself

on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with him

myself i would rather have

half the happiness and twice

the longevity

 

but at the same time i wish

there was something i wanted

as badly as he wanted to fry himself”

Don Marquis, archy and mehitabel

____________________________________

More on Shawna and Andy (click here.)

More on Max and Mehitabel (click here.)

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman