Maxed Out #6: Lighthouse

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 am making an attempt to run the Maxed Out posts in the order in which they were first featured here at vampiremaman.com

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. In the meantime, happy reading, stay at home, wash your hands, and stay curious.

 

Lighthouse

A story I’ve told before. I will tell it again tonight.

1880

He’d been found in the ocean, wearing a formal jacket with tails and clinging to the top of a grand piano. Underneath the man was a large gray wolfhound.

The captain of the ship that had picked him up said that he didn’t seem to remember much, or maybe did not want to remember. The dog, named Delilah, wouldn’t leave the side of her master.

At first they thought it was a ship wreck but it ended up being a complicated and strange mystery. The ship, a 200 ton brigantine had left Port of Talcahuano, in Chile three months before the mysterious man had been found in the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. Not a soul was on the ship, except the Captain who’d been found with a gun in his hand and what looked like a fatal self-inflicted bullet wound in his head. The life boats were still on the ship, as well as a cargo of wine and explosives, and the personal belongings of the few passengers and crew.

A break in an unusually strong and violent series of storms allowed them to dock and drop the man on the piano lid and his wolfhound off at the home of the lighthouse keeper’s family.

The lighthouse keeper checked in on the man who was sleeping in his guest room, dog curled by the bed. He could tell the stranger was wealthy by the quality of his clothing, the expensive watch and ring, and the formal refined way he’d spoken. His locked trunk had been recovered from the abandoned ship and now was at the foot of the bed.

The stranger said his name was Maxwell. He told them to call him Max. The first night there he’d drawn exquisite pictures for the light keeper’s wife of palm trees, and of beautiful women in fashionable dresses, and native women of South America with unusual hats and full colorful skirts. Over brandy he told them that he was 31 years old, born in 1849 when his pregnant mother had come out with his father for the California Gold Rush. Now he resided in San Francisco.

“What is your occupation? “The lighthouse keeper’s daughter Jayne asked the stranger,  fully well expecting him to say he was involved in a rich family business, or lived off of the wealth of his forebears.

He looked at her with hazel eyes, that she would have sworn were dark brown earlier that evening. “I am in law enforcement of a sorts, like detective, or a marshal. I seek out those who are particularly evil. I had apprehended a ruthless and violent fiend in South America and was on my way home. Unfortunately on the ship…” he paused and glanced up for a second, then back at the family of the lighthouse keeper. “On the ship I found myself taken by surprise and overwhelmed. It is a story I will tell you later, but now I must sleep, or I’ll end up under the table here.”

So he retired for the night. That was two days ago. He still slept as quiet and cold as death, but not dead. The dog lay by the foot of the bed thumping her tail whenever anyone came near.

A storm raged outside. The weather didn’t allow anyone to go get a doctor. His wife assured him that the man called Max just needed to rest. It made sense considering the man had been clinging to a piano lid and floating in the freezing ocean for days before he was picked up.

Despite the storm Lighthouse Keeper’s wife climbed up a ladder to fix a shutter that was almost ready to fly away with the wind. As she reached the window the ladder fell and she crashed to the ground below. All went black except the feeling of being carried inside.

Max put her down in a large chair by the fire and took her broken arm in his icy hands. “Close your eyes,” he whispered. She could feel his hands heat up and warm her wrist. The pain turned to numbness. She opened her eyes and could see a look of pain on his face, then he smiled and kissed her forehead.

“You’re arm is still broken, but the bones have started to mend enough for you not to need a splint.”

“You? You healed me,” she said.

“Yes. It is a gift. Keep the knowledge to yourself or people will think we are both insane.” He then touched a forming bruise on her forehead, making that pain, along with the bruise go away as well.

During the night the storm broke up. Sunshine came out between the clouds. Jayne convinced Max to walk down to the docks to pick up some fish for the night’s dinner.

She held his arm as they strolled along the road.

“Your glasses are so dark. I noticed your eyes turned from hazel to brown when we went outside,” said Jayne.

“My eyes are sensitive to the sun. I have three younger brothers, and a younger sister. Two of them have eyes that do the same as mine, that is change color,” he said, then changed the subject. “Do you like living here Jayne.”

“I love my family. I love the ocean. I don’t being in a small town with nothing but fish and lumber. I’d like to see more of the world before I’m expected to find a husband.”

“Do you want to be married Jayne?”

“Maybe,” said Jayne, “I can move to Utah and take two husbands. Women can vote in Utah and Wyoming. Why not here?”

“Because men are ignorant and barbaric my dear Jayne. They’re afraid that if you vote you’ll be smarter and more just than they are. The don’t want to give up their power to someone who might do a better job. By the way, men of a certain faith may have more than one wife but I do not believe a woman is allowed two husbands in Utah. You would have to go to Tibet for that.”

Jayne laughed. “To be truthful, even one husband would be too many for me right now. I don’t need anyone to own me right now.” She tugged on his arm. “You’re so different.”

“How am I different? I’m just like any other man.”

“You healed my mother’s arm. You survived almost a week in the icy ocean’s water hanging onto a piano top with nothing but the clothes on your back and a dog. Your eyes change color. Your skin feels like ice. You are unbelievably attractive. I am stating a fact about your looks. But I only want your friendship. Even with the oddness I like you. I feel as if we have been friends for a long long time. Where are you really from Maxwell? Who are your people?”

He smiled and took off his glasses. His eyes were hazel again. “Where I come from men and women are equal. We live quietly. We live honestly among each other. What I am about to tell you will sound strange, but we live on the edge between life and death. We walk in the world of sunlight, but also walk in the land of the shadows and do not fear death or God.”

“I would like to go there with you. I would earn my way. I could be a lady detective.”

“It is not easy to live in my world Jayne.”

“No world is easy Max,” she said then smiled and pulled the comb out of her hair letting it blow in the wind. “Do you have a sweetheart at home?”

Max hesitated then spoke. “There is a woman I have a strong connection with, but I will never love her.”

“Is she married?”

“No. It isn’t like that. We met when I was at the University. So was she, which is odd unto itself. She knows my thoughts. She knows my desires. But she is not the one. What about you Jayne?”

“I was engaged to a man who knew neither my thoughts or desires, and had no intention on learning either. He thought I belonged to him body and soul, not in the way of love, but as property to be owned and controlled. He was jealous to the point of rage if I would speak with another man. He was even jealous of the boys I teach at the school and demanded I quit my teaching job. I would rather die than live a life where someone else controlled my body, my thoughts, my job, and my every whim. That is why I am no longer engaged to him.” Then laughed and ran to the end of the pier and let the wind blow through her hair and laughed some more.

Max marveled at the way she was so free thinking and full of life. He saw so much death and sorrow in his line of work that now with Jayne he felt renewed. She was sunshine in his dark world of shadows and night.

Hours later in the quiet of the night, the wind died own, and the moon hung in a thin crescent in the sky. Max walked along the beach with his dog Delilah. The taste of fresh blood and wine was in his mouth and the cold comfort of the night had settled into his soul. Delilah ran ahead, then the dog started to bark. Ahead of him Max saw a bloody figure crumpled on the rocks. His heart sank. It was Jayne.

Max picked her up and carried her home. He knew what had happened. She’d gone out to look at the stars and was attacked by a man she’d jilted. She’d spoken briefly about it when they’d walked earlier in the day. She had turned away the advances of a hot headed man who wanted her as his own. In the afternoon the man had walked past them, giving Jayne a look like a mad dog when he saw her holding Max’s arm.

He put her on her bed as her parents and brothers gathered around. As still as death, and as cold as the sea, they watched life drained out of her.

Jayne’s mother put her hand on Max’s arm. “Can you heal her, like you healed me?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “If I do she will never be the same, not like she was before. She won’t be crippled or lose herself, she will be… she will be like me.”

“Save her, then find the man who did this to her,” said the Lighthouse Keeper.

“You do not know what you ask,” said Max.

“You put a spark back in her eyes I have not seen in ages. Please save her if you can.”

“Let me be alone with her and she will not die.”

In the morning a man’s body washed up on the beach. It looked as if dogs had torn out his throat. His face was a mask of fear.

Two weeks later Jayne kissed her family good-by and went with Max on the next ship to San Francisco.

2017

Max stood in his living room with a glass of wine in his hand as he looked at the view of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. He couldn’t imagine getting tired of it. He glanced over to see Jayne, wearing a short black dress and looking gorgeous as always, coming towards him. He kissed her cool cheek. She smiled with just a touch of fang showing.

“Are you staying with Pierce tonight?” Max asked.

“Of course I am. I take it Mehitabel is staying here,” said Jayne.

Max glanced at a small pretty woman across the room. He suddenly thought of what he’d told Jayne about her so many years ago on the walk to the docks. Odd that when he was out in the ocean, clinging onto a piano top of all things, he had thought of Mehitabel. He might ask but he was never sure what she would say. No, he wouldn’t ask, he’d just wait to see what would happen, but he was sure she’d stay.

“I’m sure she’ll stay,” he told Jayne.

They talked for a while longer, about work, about friends, and about how the sunset sparkled on the ocean. Max wasn’t always one for words, but he knew that Jayne knew that they’d always be friends. Maybe even before they had ever met.

Then Jayne laughed. “I still can’t believe you were clinging to a piano lid.”

And Max had to laugh along.

~ End

 

~ 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

Maxed Out #2: Perfection

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.

This is a story about my brother Max, first posted in 2013. A lot has happened between now and then. But more than that it is a story about trust, and frustration, and friendship, expectations, relationships, and love. Sort of. Nothing much is ever clean cut or easy.

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Perfection

Maxwell drove down the coastal highway, roof open under the stars and the cool night air, thinking about his life as a top of the heap alpha male Vampire. It was a good time to ponder.

He didn’t have personal friendships with humans, the way some other Vampires did. He would protect them when necessary but he wouldn’t be their friend – at least not a close friend, not for a long time.

Of course he had human lovers, but that was pure physical need for their touch and their blood.

Vampire woman were another matter. He tended to be a freak magnet when it came to them. The normal ones were out there but they were always involved or off-limits in some way or another.  Or they were too strong and independent. Or in rare moments, years ago, he’d used bad judgement and not seen the big picture. Screw the big picture, he’d grown up and moved on. He was different now.

There were always other men, but right now he had the need for a female of his own kind. Someone safe and easy. Someone who would be there for him after a job that often involved violence and other unpleasantries.

He’d had plenty of friends with benefits.

Camel by the Sea. The beautiful village on the California coast. A place full of artists and rich people and those just wanting some peace and quiet. His Grandmama had lived here when the artist colony was thriving at the turn of the 20th century. He used to visit her and fall in love with the place and everyone in it.

This weekend was the Concourse de Elegance the most prestigious car show in the universe. Everyone who was anyone would be here, including Vampire Hunters. And since Max was the world’s foremost hunter of Vampire Hunters he was looking forward to it. A weekend of perfect cars, perfect women and perfect hunting.

It had been a long day and a long drive. He took his bags out of the car and walked to the door of the cottage he’d rented with 3 of his colleagues. He wasn’t sure who’d be here as it was last notice for him. He’d hoped it would be Pierce and David, two of the best and total car guys. He figured as long as they were there they might as well have some fun.

He used his key and as he opened the door cheers came up. Female cheers.

Elizabeth, Janye and Mehitabel. Vampire women who were also Hunter/Enforcers of the highest order and all GIRLS.

This was not what he was expecting. Not at all.

They exchanged warm greetings (he didn’t show his true feelings about the situation) and he left to shower off the weariness of the road. As he was drying off he could hear the girls talking. He stopped rubbing his hair to listen.

Janye: I can’t believe the choices Max makes. His last girlfriend was one of those types who always looks perfect and helpless. A total control freak.

Elizabeth: Total bitch. She just used him and he was too stupid to know it. Oh my God she had fangs like a saber tooth tiger, no it was more like a rabbit. And she was always telling everyone how attractive she was. I wish she’d done us all a favor and gone down with the Titanic.

Mehitabel: She used him. Most of them just used him. He wouldn’t know his perfect match if she slapped him across the face.

The women went on talking about his physical attributes (excellent), his professional attributes (excellent), his qualities as a Vampire (outstanding) and his relationships with woman (pathetic.) Great, this was going to be a wonderful weekend.

He’d known all three of them for years, over 100 but he’d never heard this side of the story. Damn. Was he that ridiculous? No, it had to be them. Women were so skewed.

He’d always been friends with Elizabeth and Jayne. It wasn’t like the movies or books where Vampire women drop their clothes and crawl naked all over their dominant male counterparts. Besides, these two were like sisters.

Then there was Mehitabel. Beautiful and strange, at least to him. He couldn’t stay away from her at one time, but he couldn’t be with her, not in his heart. She was too easy for him to use. He’d never love her, but he’d never met a woman so sexy, who could drive him so insane with desire. But she wasn’t the one. He made that clear from the start. It would never be.

The women helped him bring in the weapons and they sat around the table with bottles of wine, Bourbon and blood. They laughed over old times, new times and everything in between.

Despite his first impression he knew these three Vampire women were at the top of their game and would be loyal and true with him. And in turn he would do anything to protect them. They’d be a good team. They’d get the job done.

Beside that, he knew they’d like the cars.

They were excited to show him their dresses. Elizabeth, the most outgoing, a California blonde of the first order, had a red-flowered strapless sundress of silk with a wide skirt and strappy red heels. Jayne had a royal blue halter dress that looked like it had come right out of Grace Kelly’s closet. A redhead with an attitude, Jayne had a fierce sence of humor and a fierce sence of the fight. Mehitabel had a black sheath dress with a pattern of leaves woven into the fabric. It was form fitting, which was good since she had an extraordinary form. She’d wear it with a long strand of real black pears and matching earrings. She’d wear her brown hair sleek and long.

Mehitabel was as odd and unusual as her name, but he had always liked her. He was drawn to her humor and her matter of fact ways with a touch of something sad that he could never quite figure out.

He’d also had a history with Mehitabel. She knew his every move. And in turn he knew every move she made, every inch of her body, everything she had to give him and then some.  But she wasn’t the one. She wasn’t the girl of his dreams. She was different. Max wasn’t looking for different. He was looking for perfection. But that was a long time ago, at least 90 years, maybe more like 100.

As the night went on he thought maybe he’d relive some of the magic of days gone by. It would be a way to get off some of the tension before a week of dangerous work.

“I’m going to go to the beach. Anyone want to join me?” He asked that as he looked at the women.

“Sure,” said Mehitabel, “I’ll go.”

They walked along making small talk. It seems so comfortable and so right. Old friends forever, just like old time. As they came to the beach on the edge of the Pacific Ocean Mehitabel became silent.

“You’re quiet tonight,” Max said, ready to make a move on her. One kiss and she’d be his for the week. The others wouldn’t care, unless it was pure envy.

Mehitabel stepped away. “It was never friends with benefits or fuck buddies or whatever you want to call it with me Max. I loved you but you never wanted it. You just threw it away and treated me like some common girl that needed to be slut shamed. I loved you for so long and now I don’t know. I’m not perfect enough for you. You want a woman who will break your heart into a thousand shards and I can’t do that for you. If you had spent some time with me, some real-time and looked past the imperfections…”

“I never said that…” Max protested.

“You didn’t have to. You used me Max. You used me so I had to let you go. Don’t you understand?” Mehitabel was now angry, something he’d never seen.

He tried to take her hand, “The last time we saw each other, I mean romantically, you were the one who turned me away. You told me to go.”

She stepped away again. “To go back to your girlfriend. I wasn’t going to be with a man who was cheating on another girl, especially another Vampire. I told you that. Remember?”

Max remembered too well. She’d always been so friendly and compliment about his relationship rules.

Mehitabel continued her rant. “And there had been no romance. Sure we’d talked into the night. Sure we had some sort of weird connection where we could read each other’s thoughts, excuse me, I could read your thoughts, or at least I know when you’re thinking about ME, but it was never romance. Not with you it wasn’t. You did everything you could to talk yourself out of caring about me.”

“I’ve been thinking about you a lot,” Max said gently, trying to calm her.

“I know that.”

She was right. She always knew. There was some sort of strong connection where she always knew when he was thinking about her. It was spooky.

“Why didn’t you contact me?” Max was almost feeling hurt that she’d think of ignoring him after all of their history.

“Why didn’t you love me Max?”

“It wasn’t like that Mehitabel. I was just looking for something else.”

“What? Oh right, perfection. Well Max, I might be among the most elite hunters on the planet but I’ll never be anything but an imperfect slut to you.  I’m never going to let you break my heart again. Do you understand that Max?”

“I’m sorry.”

“So am I.”

She walked down the beach alone. He wondered if she was crying. He’d find out later.

Over the years he’d taken down Werewolves, Vampire Hunters with fire blowers, Ghosts, Rogue Vampires and Zombies. He’d seen it all. He was Maxwell August Todd, one of the greatest Enforcer/Hunters of all time, but this was one battle he couldn’t win.

“Mehitabel, I’m sorry,” he called after her.

Then he remembered something his mother had told him, one of those things that he wished he’d remembered earlier. “Max, my darling boy, remember, if we were all perfect then life would be so boring you’d hardly be able to stand it.”

Looking down the beach at the woman walking along the edge of the night surf, he suddenly realized he was in love and this would be the most difficult fight of his life.

He called her name again. She turned and yelled “Go to Hell.”

“Yes,” he said to himself out loud, “to hell and back.”

heart

Full Moon Marathon: Night Dogs

 In honor of the full moon and Werewolves I’m running a Full Moon Marathon today. Enjoy, ponder, learn, leave comments, stay at home, wash your hands.

Night Dogs

Constantine Jones sat on the bottom of the museum steps wondering what just happened.

Earlier that evening he’d put on his best Armani suit, a Hermes silk tie, and was feeling good about the outcome of the evening. It was to be a charity event. Beautiful people would be there dressed up. Everyone would be relaxed, and happy, and it would be delightfully fun.

After discussing art and drinking champagne he’d lured a few well-heeled patrons to remote galleries to see some unusual modern art. There he took a few pints of blood from wrists and left his donors with no memories, except those of a delightful conversation with a well dressed, nice looking young art expert. Well, a 165 year old art expert, but that was besides the point.

Then in the main gallery, the California Room, he saw her standing in front of the Thomas Hill grand painting of Yosemite Valley. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman in the room but she was attractive in a cute sort of California girl way, and had that delightful look of both shyness and playfulness. Her olive green dress shimmered along the neckline with iridescent beads. As she turned her head towards him it was like a lightning bolt had hit his heart. First sight.

Second sight as well. A smallish dog of unknown breed stood next to her with a service dog vest on. A service dog. Why did she need a service dog?

With his usual ease, Constantine approached the woman. He asked if he could pet the dog. She said yes. She told him she’d had a head injury when she was in Afghanistan. She’d been in the Army. He would never guessed. The dog could detect seizures.

They talked for an hour about art, and life, and it seemed as if he’d met his soul mate. It was the best hour he’d ever spent. Then she was gone. He hadn’t even asked her name.

So like Prince Charming, he sat at the bottom of the stairs wondering where Cinderella had gone. All he had of her was one of her earrings he’d found on the steps. It was a gold strand with a single diamond on the end. The diamond was real.

I might as well walk home he thought. It was just a couple of miles. He’d clear out his mind. The full moon, and lights from late night downtown bars and restaurants lit the way.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large dog wearing a back pack. A service dog? A smaller dog in a vest followed. Around the next corner, in an alley, he saw three more large dogs in the dark, all wearing packs.

Maybe it was a training exercise. The dogs could have been German Shepards looking for drugs or a missing person, or even bodies. It was weird, but at this point he didn’t care. He just wanted to go home. He was a Vampire so weird and unusual was over rated anyway.

Constantine thought about the woman he’d met. She’d been a nurse in a convoy, and there was a bomb. She didn’t say anything else except that her dog was named Tess. She liked Jazz music, indie films, and indie books. Of course she liked art too. She was a high school art teacher now, having moved on from nursing. But sometimes she helped out the school nurse. Weird how he got those details. He’d told her… what had he told her about himself? Not much. He was a Vampire so he never told much, at least not at first. He’d told her that he ran a philanthropic foundation that supported the arts, and other causes. He told her he had two cats and liked astronomy. She also was a watcher of the moon and stars. Then she kissed his cheek, excused herself, and a few minutes later he saw her walking out the front door of the museum.

As a Vampire he usually had a good feel for people but he couldn’t get a final read on her. Again, he thought about the fact that he didn’t even get her name. But the dog was named Tess. Tess the service dog.

Constantine thought about war. He could imagine the horrors she’d been through. He was a child during the Civil War or the War Between the States, whatever they wanted to call it. Those weren’t memories he cared to relive. He’d come out to California as soon as he was old enough to be on his own, as soon as he’d become a Vampire, and stayed there.

As he walked along the dogs with packs stayed in the alleys and shadows. Looking at the local news feeds and police scans from his iPhone he found nothing. One of his neighbors was a K-9 cop. Constantine would ask him about it tomorrow.

Arriving home at his craftsman style bungalow he noticed a few dogs in packs at the end of the street. This was getting weird. Odder, and a nice surprise, was that a woman in a slightly wrinkled olive green dress, and a single diamond and gold earring was standing on his front porch.

Tess the service dog stood beside her. Hanging off of her shoulder was a back pack.

No. It couldn’t be. She wasn’t Cinderella. She was a Werewolf.

They introduced themselves, again, but this time with names. Her name was Diana. Like the goddess of the moon.

“You have my earring,” she said smiling and holding out a hand.

“You have my heart,” he heard himself saying, much to his surprise.

Then he kissed her under the full moon, as Tess sat at attention and wagged her tail.

~ End

Tangled Tales

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: Off To See The Wizard

The electricity was off for most of the day so I didn’t finish my new story for today. You’re in luck because this is a favorite of mine. First published January 2018

Tangled Tales

Off To See The Wizard

Druce had just pulled his toasted seed and dried berry bread out of the oven when his friend Morcant came through the door carrying a basket.

“What do you got in there?”

“Smoked salmon, a bottle of squid ink, and dried salted kelp chips.”

“Nice.”

“I see you’ve made your famous berry bread. That will win over the hearts of the coldest stone.”

“We can only hope. I’m paring it with a jar of honeycomb, and a jug of my best mead.”

Druce wrapped up the bread and took a look at his friend. Morcant wore a soft seal skin over his shoulders. His tunic was sleeveless showing off his muscular arms. Today Morcant’s black hair was worn down around his shoulders framing his handsome face. Druce never wondered why all of the women in their village and the surrounding area sought Morcant out even if it was just to look.

The seal skin was that of Morcant’s sister who’d died in the past summer season. She and Morcant were Selkies. On land they were human, and in the sea they were seals. They guarded their seal skins with their lives, for if anyone stole their skin they would be trapped as humans, and in bondage forever.

Morcant’s brother-in-law never took his wife’s skin, but celebrated the fact that as a Selkie she had come to him of her own free will. Her love was free, and her husband was devoted to her. They had that rare true love that so many seek but never find.

One day while they were out fishing, his sister still in her human form, they were overcome by a great shark and dragged to the bottom of the sea as dinner. Morcant, as customary for Selkies now wore his sister’s skin to stay close to her spirit and to have her love with him always.

Druce looked into his mirror and brushed his sun streaked brownish blonde waves with his fingers. He was smaller than Morcant, and not quite as handsome, but the ladies still liked him too. And of course he liked them more than they could imagine.

“So, Druce,” said Morcant, “when exactly did this Wizard guy come into town?”

“Last week, under the darkness of the night.”

“What’s he like?”

“Personally? I don’t know. I hear he was sleeping with his sister. Nymue told me that. She also said he used to stalk her, asking her about her magic and getting all sappy and trying to sound mystical about it. One day she showed him a sword she was going to give to the next king and he said I’ll show you my magic sword. She kicked him out and told him she’d put a bad enchantment on him if he ever hit on her again. And I mean bad, you know, guy bad, like his sword won’t work for a year or two. Like a blade of grass.”

“Sounds like a creeper.”

“A real mess if you ask me. Anyway, that was a while back so maybe he’s changed. Gotta give a guy some doubt that he has grown up since his misplaced youth chasing ladies in lakes and all of that shit.”

“OK so I don’t get it Druce. You’re the Worlock around here. What’s the difference between you and some Wizard dude, except that you’re better looking and are better with women.”

Druce laughed. “As a Warlock, I can, how can I put this so it won’t sound weird. As you know I can harness and control spirits, demons, and other’s who aren’t human. I can’t make them work for me. I also control their evil so that they can’t harm people. I take their energy and do good with it. I can also do other magic and tricks through my own will. I deal with both sides of the world, that of the dead and that of the living. That of the physical and that of the spirits.”

“And what about Wizards?”

“Wizards learn their craft. They are gifted in the ways of magic, but their magic comes mostly from the use of potions, and the channeling of their magic through a staff, or wand. They can scare spirits and demons but they can’t control them. And Wizards are giving Warlocks a bad rap. I hear that in other parts my kind are being hunted down and burned to death. They think we’re minions of Satan.”

“That’s bull shit. Then why the fuck are we going to greet this guy and bring him gifts. He sounds like a freak to me.”

“Because he is working for the King.”

“The Kings is an idiot. He is obsessed with some old cup, and everyone knows his wife is sleeping with his best friend.”

“Hey, I didn’t put him into office. Blame that on Nyume. The Lady of The Lake should have minded her own business and …”

There was a scream and in through the door came a whirl of gray, which stopped and materialized into a woman. She smiled showing lovely white teeth, but her eyes were black and crazy. No harm. Just their friend Milen, who was also a Banshee.

“Milen,” said Druce, as he blew her a kiss. “Thanks for coming. I have fresh venison stew in the pot there over the fire. I put the eyes in there for you.”

She grinned and put a long fingered hand into the boiling stew and plucked out an eye, the popped it into her mouth.

“Hey, Milen, we should be gone just a few hours,” said Druce. “I’m so glad you could watch the baby for me.”

“Ohhhhhh of course,” she said as she went over to a baby unicorn who was curled up asleep in its tiny bed made of soft sea grasses and dried fragrant flowers.

“Alright then, we’ve better get going, if we’re going to go,” said Druce, and they packed up their gifts and went to meet their new neighbor.

The new Wizard had chosen and old Roman camp on a hill as his new home. The buildings were already there and in fairly good shape. It was also about a five day journey from there to where the King lived. Or at least the king the Wizard worked for.

The two friends arrived at the home of the Wizard and were greeted by a tall man with a brown beard flecked with gray. His eyes shone blue like spring wildflowers, flecked with gold.

The Wizard welcomed them in and introduced himself as Merlin, the Wizard. There was something sort of sad about him, like someone who had a lot of friends, but nobody he was really close to. Druce wondered if Merlin could pick up on emotions and sadness like a Warlock could. Or like a woman could.

Merlin thanked them for the gifts and asked them to come sit. He led them to a room where the walls were covered with tapestries and the chairs with lush textiles and furs.

“The seal skin you wear is beautiful. The finest I’ve ever seen,” said Merlin to Morcant.

“This is my sister’s skin. She passed six moons back. I wear this skin in her honor.”

There was a pause in the conversation and a bit of weirdness.”

“Morcant is a Selkie,” said Druce.

Merlin looked surprised. He was surprised. He’d never met a Selkie before. It seemd, as they talked, that there were a lot of things Merlin had never done.

Still they visited and had polite small talk. Druce and Morcant of the village and the surrounding peoples, and those who were not people. There was also a lot they didn’t tell him. When the sun began to set Druce and Morcant bid their host goodbye.

They started the walk home in silence but then Morcant spoke.

“Merlin was nice. Not much of a bro, if you know what I mean, but nice. But dude, he has more demons than you’ll ever have.”

Druce gave a sad smile, “At least I can control my demons. Fuck, they aren’t even my demons. Merlin needs more sunshine, and he needs to divorce himself from his dysfunctional family and friends. I always tell everyone that it isn’t demons that are bugging them, it is their toxic friends and family members that are getting them down. He needs to let go.”

“True,” said Morcant. “Are you going to tell him about the unicorn?”

“Hell no,” said Druce. “I’m not telling him where the dragons are either.”

As they passed a cottage on the edge of a field of grain a woman stepped out and greeted them. “Morcant, will you stay the night with me? I could use your love, and I’ll have plenty to give back.”

“Go,” said Druce. He knew Morcant had been seeing the Widow Cath for few months. Her elderly husband had died leaving her a large farm to manage, a task she did better than most men. Morcant had always been fond of her, but now it was becoming a bit more than fond.

At home Druce found the Banshee Milen sleeping with the tiny unicorn baby in her lap. She’d taken on a physical form, that of a woman of a certain age who had a well earned beauty earned from a life well lived, at least before she had been betrayed and murdered by her husband. He put a blanket woven of the softest flax over them.

He poured a glass of beer and pulled a stool outside in his garden, out under the stars. He could hear the waves of the ocean. Maybe later he’d go down to the beach and see what spirits were among the sea shells and boats tonight.

But now he sat and thought of the sad Wizard. Then he thought of the women he knew and how it would be nice to have one of them in his bed that night, skin against skin, and a special kind of magic that came when two people came together in desire of both the body and the soul.

Then he thought about how dragons had become so endangered due to the trade of dragon bones by Wizards for their wealthy clients. Everyone with half a brain knew that dragon bones powder did nothing to make one’s manhood larger.

Then he thought of women again.

Milen the Banshee came out with a stool and sat next to him. He told her about his visit to Merlin. She said it was sad when one was so full of power and so lost. Then she said she was glad her husband had been hanged after she’d died. She always mentioned that. Druce didn’t blame her. She hadn’t planned on being a Banshee.

Then she put her hand on Druce’s. “Darlin, I’ll be in human for for another hour or two. Let’s go inside and take advantage of that.”

And like any good Warlock who knew what was good for him Druce kissed her and took her inside.

~ End

 
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Last Call

Dear Diary,

When one is a Vampire one is not as fragile as those who walk the Earth with fragile hearts pumping hot blood and thoughts of love. 

I attempt to be poetic but even that alludes me today.

My Vampire love Gillian is traveling and will not be home until late tonight. I feel an unease even for a Vampire. It is that odd dread remembered from my childhood. We were not in danger but everyone else was.

I decided to go down to Cassie’s bar. It is not called that. My closest warm blooded human friend Cassie owns the bar. Sitting with her and watching the other patrons would knock me out of my melancholia. I called my friend Randolpho to come join me but he said he was unavailable.

Randolpho quickly stopped talking on the phone which was quite unusual. He gave me no details to where he might be going or what he might be doing. Maybe he was in the middle of a meal. I do not know. One should never bother a Vampire who is in the middle of the meal.

Cassie greeted me at the bar with a bright smile. Her eyes were sad. The only other humans working were her helpers Kate and Diego. They were busy cleaning and making small talk with the few customers who lingered spread out in the usually crowded space.

I noticed a coldness not usually there. Everyone in the bar, except for a group of four friends at the end of the bar were Vampires or others who are not in danger due to human mortal illnesses.

A couple of ghosts sat at a table by the window. One had a shot of some unknown spirit, while the other hovered over a glass of red wine. They were dressed in the fine clothing they were buried in and did not look around as they held their glasses with transparent hands and took in the aromas of the drinks.

Several Vampires, for it was mostly Vampires there, sat at a booth in the back. I went over to see them.

“What is the worst pandemic you’ve seen Vlad?” my friend Constantine asked.

“The Black Death arrived in Europe when I was a child of three years,” I said. “One of my first memories is adults speaking of it, and of the rats and piles of bodies. There was a great fear our main food source would be gone.”

“Was it bad where you were Vlad?” That was asked by Lily a young Vampire woman.

“No, not in the Vampire Kingdom. My father sealed the borders far from where our warm blooded citizens lived,” I said. “We thought that would be the last of it. I remember at the time I was kidnapped and thrown into a crypt another smaller plague was in Europe. So much for traveling out of my own country.”

A Vampire named Valentine spoke of a cholera outbreak where he lived on the Northern coast taking entire families out. He left, not daring to weaken any of those still living with his own needs. Before he left he helped tend to those who were ill since he was immune to cholera.

“We are not ghouls,” said Lily. She took a sip of her drink and then wiped a tear from her pretty face.

My friends spoke of pandemics I had missed while I was locked away. They lost friends due to the Spanish flu, more plagues, Yellow Fever, and HIV. In fairy stories warm blooded humans write of Vampires turning the sick into Vampires, but it does not work that way. The sick do not survive the turning. They are not strong enough for conversions, so we do our best to nurse them or give them a comfortable death.

A lone Demon, uncomfortable in his own skin, sat alone with a beer, pulling with the collar of his flannel shirt. He looked like any other thirty year old man, but I knew his mouth was full of poison and underneath his shirt were leathery wings. I also knew, that like most demons, it was not an existence he savored. Being vile to the core takes a harsh toll on any creature.

Cassie rang a bell and yelled out, “LAST CALL.” It was only 9:30 but I could tell she was weary and done for the night.

An hour later we dispersed. That included the Ghosts and the sad looking Demon.

“I will walk with you to your house,” I said to Cassie.

She smiled at me and we put on our coats. I must now mention that before I was locked in a crypt for three hundred years, only to be rescued six years ago, I never used an umbrella to keep rain off. It was just not done. We had no umbrellas in the Vampire Kingdom. It is an amazing device. Cassie and I shared the dry space underneath an umbrella on the walk to her house.

“This all makes me uneasy,” said Cassie. “I am worried about my grandmother. I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about my business.”

“Do not worry about your business. You have Vampires to help you out.”

“I don’t want to take charity,” she told me.

I said, “Cassie, it is not charity. Even Vampires need someplace to go where everybody knows your name.”

Cassie laughed and squeezed my arm. I do not know why. I did not think my comment was funny or of the arm squeezing variety.

My friend Randolpho was standing on her porch wearing one of his ridiculous hats.

Then I noticed the way he looked at Cassie. Then I noticed the way Cassie looked at Randolpho. Could it be? Perhaps? Maybe?

Cassie tossed her hair back and pushed it back showing her neck. Randolpho put out his hand and then Cassie put her hand in his. Then he kissed her on the cheek.

Sometimes a woman needs a man who will bite her neck and tell her sweet things. Sometimes when times are tough, and we are told to be alone, maybe it is good to have a Vampire around.

As I walked away, a smile on my face, I could hear Cassie sing a line from a song I do not know, “You can leave your hat on.” Then I heard Randolpho laugh as they went through the door.

I will have to look that song up.

When I arrived at home Gillian was there to greet me with a cold kiss and bright eyes. I held on to her for the rest of the night.

~ Vlad

 

Big Hat

Randolpho and his tall hat which he rarely takes off.

 

This has been the 57th instillation of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read the entire series from the beginning CLICK HERE. This is the only one that is not outrageously funny.

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire