Rain

I’m in Northern California, in the Sacramento area to be exact. We’re 75 miles south of the now famous Oroville Dam and spillway. I’m watching the lakes, ponds, creeks, and rivers near my house become fuller than I’ve seen them in years.

When it gets wet like this I wonder about some of the lesser enlightened of the Vampire community. I usually don’t worry about the weird, anti-social, old fashioned Shadow Creepers, but you know, I kind of wondered about them lately.

I was driving downtown and stopped by the old Cemetery. I saw one damp Vamp sitting on the step of a mausoleum with an old black coat pulled tightly around his pale body.

“You need to get into a real house. Nobody lives in crypts anymore. It isn’t dry, much less safe,” I said to him.

He looked up with sunken black eyes.

“I bet you haven’t eaten in weeks,” I continued. I wasn’t going to scold him. “Months? Come. I’ll give you a ride to a safe place where you can stay until we can find you a real home.”

He spoke in a harsh whisper, like someone who hasn’t spoken for a long long time. “May I bring my friend? She is also one of us.”

I told him of course he could. Out of an empty hole in the crypt he helped a small woman in an old fashioned black dress. She was soaking wet, and was ashen as someone who’d been dead after a long tragic illness.

They were quiet in the car as I drove them to the large old house downtown. It is the safe house for long lost souls of the night. It is a place they can find a haven, and get the help they need. These two were not the kind of nasty undead you find under floorboards waiting like a spider waits for a fly. They were like homeless teens who’d been kicked out of their homes because mom found a new boyfriend. They were lost and living in a flooded out and long forgotten crypt, surrounded by long forgotten bones of the Victorian dead.

They’d lived in the crypt since the 1880’s. They’d more or less skipped the 20th century, just coming out at night long enough to find food from the neighborhood movie house, and from the transient population. Sometimes they’ve venture out to the beautiful homes of the living, only to return in sorrow remembering what they’d lost.

I left them at the safe-house. She was in jeans and a sweater with a purring cat on her lap, and a goblet of hot mulled blood in her hand. He was looking hopeful, amazed that someone would help them. They’d been lost for so long.

Thinking about a million bible verses related to helping others, I decided to skip it. Sometimes you just do something because it is what you do, and that is it.

That’s all. Nothing more.

Stay dry. Stay safe. Stay loved.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Have Some Cake (and Parenting of Course)

In honor of the Grammy’s I was planning on doing a post of the WORST songs ever (Rhiannon, McArthur Park, Spill the Wine, Sylvia’s Mother, Seventeen, That horrible roller skate/key song, The Thong Song, Free Bird, anything featuring Barbara Streisand, Ariana Grande, St. Vincent, or The Doobie Brothers.) I decided to skip it for something not so negative. Musical taste is so subjective.

But it was fun this summer driving across the endless Utah desert with my child, after the air conditioner had failed, listening to the worst songs ever. Let me explain…when a song on the “worst songs of all time” list came on I’d turn it up as part of my daughter’s cultural education. She listened to the entire performance of McArthur Park. I had to explain that the cake out in the rain and finding the recipe was a metaphor for lost love or some bull shit like that, while my seventeen year old child laughed out loud. We both laughed out loud in our 400 degree F car driving along about two hundred miles from the nearest town.

Everything in life isn’t good, no matter how hard you try to put that twist on your child rearing philosophy. At least there are times, like with music, when you can use humor to teach your kid about bad taste, bad judgement, bad fashion, bad friends, bad politics, and all of those weird things that come across our pathway.

Music, like art, literature, and cats, is something you can share with your kids. It brings people together. Stay with me on this because I know a lot of people hate their kids music. At least you can make an effort to understand what they like, and why they like it. Or maybe you can find something new together. Expand your horizons. Take a leap of faith and turn to a different number on the radio dial together. You might hate it. You might love it. But you did it together – with your kid.

Now for the real reason I brought up music. Yesterday I posted a story about a couple of Vampire kids in college called “Why I Hate Valentine’s Day.” Blog traffic was through the roof (because I am the Queen of Love Letters). But NOBODY, not a single person mentioned the reference to a song in the story. Oh come on guys, humor me a little.

And yes, I do love each and every one of you who reads and follows this blog.

OK, here it is. Listen and look for it.

Listen to the next songs too. Have fun even if you don’t like it. Or as your mom would say, “Don’t complain, it’s good for you.” Here are a couple of the best covers ever. Yes, listen to the Vampire – it’s good for you. Don’t complain.

By the way, the band CAKE is from Sacramento, my hometown. We’re a creative kind of place.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Perhaps

 

 

You never know about anything, not really.

“Nothing is certain aside from the fact that we are Vampires, and we are not like the rest of everybody else.”

So my father used to tell us when we were children.

He gave his brood of five (four boys and me) this advice, but also tried to keep us from being clannish, and prevent us from being closed minded when it came to everybody else, be they Vampires, or others. There were more “others” than I ever imagined.

I remember as a child watching in fascination and disgust at the Werewolves who’d walk along the river front in their garish but expensive clothing. They’d smirk and look as if they were going to eat everyone they saw. That was far from the truth. Despite their arrogance they rarely killed anyone while in their wolf form. I later learned that they were sort of pathetic, and sad creatures.

But enough of that. A lot has changed since the 1860’s. Most Werewolves blend in to the point where nobody notices that they’re never around on full moon nights. I mean, really, who would notice?

I’m full of busy today, but I thought I’d take a few moments to re-share a story (first shared her in 2014) of my childhood, about strangers, those who aren’t like us, and Werewolves.

 

Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

Mars was exceptionally bright in the sky last night. The moon was less than full but still exceptionally bright.

This morning I dropped the kids off to school. Garret’s car is in the shop so mom gets to drive. Anyway, I drop them off behind some temporary classrooms (that have been there for 45 years) because Clara doesn’t want to have to walk by the large group of “Stoners” who hang out every morning at the logical drop off point. So this morning she tells me she over heard one of the Stoners saying “That woman stops and turns around every morning. Weird. I guess she doesn’t want to stay here.” They had no idea I was dropping off kids. Sigh.

So the moon, teens, clueless thoughts… what does that all lead to? It made me think of a distant memory of when my brothers Val, Aaron and I were teens.

Go back to 1873. We lived in a city that had regulairly flooded, burned down, flooded again and survived illness and lawlessness and all sorts of disasters (Sacramento of course.) It was enough to make anyone want to leave, but instead people thrived and it grew. Railroads made kings. Agriculture was starting to boom. It was a city with growing art and culture and the new capitol building was almost finished. But to us it was home and our concerns were not those of adults or even most people. We were teens, comfortable in our own skin, a little less Victorian than most our age, a little more independent than most. My brothers and I lived in a tight knit community of Vampires, part of the Modern Vampire Movement. But you already know that.

One night, under a full moon, my brothers Aaron (age 17), Valentine (age 14) and I (age 13) were taking a stroll along the Sacramento River. We were always out looking for vagrants and activity from any riverboats. We were on the prowl, three well heeled Vampire kids who could use our innocence and charm to get in and out of any situation before our prey ever knew we were there.

With our stomachs full and our dark little souls throughly amused we walked home through a grove of trees on the edge of the riverbank. There we came upon a camp. Two figures were hunched over half a dozen large fish, I believe stripers or maybe steelhead. They grunted and tore at the fish. At first glance we thought they were coyotes or large dogs, but then we realized they were something else.

“Werewolves,” whispered Aaron holding his hand out to signal us to stay still.

We watched in fascination, with a bit of disgust, as the two turned back into their human form – a young man and a young woman. They were about our age and completely naked. He was skinny, unlike my muscular brothers. His skin was pale under the moonlight like the bellies of the fish he’d just devoured. She was also thin with ribs sticking out and knobby joints. Her grayish unhealthy looking skin was covered with red welts. Long dark hair hung below her waist. But what surprised us most was the hairless tail that hung down about 6 inches on the end of her spine.

I elbowed Aaron and he gave me a quick look that said “don’t move.”

“She has a tail,” Val whispered a little too loud. Aaron put his hand over his younger brother’s mouth.

The Werewolves put on their clothes, plain and worn compared to our fashionable togs. We had a home and parents. These two were obviously strays just trying to survive their miserable condition.

Val and I wanted to approach the Werewolves but Aaron was against it. He said we should just let them be and they’d be dead more sooner than later. There was a prominent pack of well-heeled Werewolves in town but we had little to do with them and it was obvious that these strays were not part of their pack.

Occasionally my parents would deal with the Werewolves, but always held them at a distance and with considerable contempt. One thing that stood out about the well to do Werewolves was their fondness for velvet. No kidding. Those Werewolves loved their velvet.

This isn’t going to be a moral story where we went back and helped the young Werewolves. We went back and they were gone. None of our friends had ever seen them. We told our parents about them. In turn they mentioned the strays to the pack leader in town and he had never heard of the young Werewolves.

It was just one of those weird things. Ships that pass in the night.

I asked my friend Adam, who is a Werewolf, about the pair when I stopped by his studio this morning (he is a photographer by trade.) He’d never heard of them. The tail on the girl turned out to be something extremely rare, just like a tail on anyone who is remotely human like.

“Why didn’t you help them?” Of course he had to ask.

“I don’t know. We were just kids. We thought they were dangerous. Beside that, maybe they didn’t need or want help. My parents asked around. Nobody knew anything, or if they did they weren’t telling us about it. I’m talking both Werewolves and Vampires. Nobody knew anything.”

I knew there would be nothing online about them but I after I left Adam I checked anyway. There was nothing.

This story has no moral or reason behind it. Just a story of something that happened a long time ago that I’ll tell my kids about and maybe they can find a moral in it.

It might be a mystery forever. But I have a knack for finding people and things so you never know. You never know about anything, not really.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Vampire Diary: Drive Me Nuts

Dear Diary,

As a former Vampire King,  I find myself reflecting on my place in the universe. I understand my unique position to reflect and look back and compare, then and now. I am at a loss for words. After being locked in a crypt for three hundred years, then out for two, this new world still keeps me confused and baffled. It is as if I have been dropped into a mad house.

My neighbors invited me to the PBR Championships. PBR stands for Professional Bull Riding.

I am to understand that we will go to the large arena and watch men ride large angry bulls. While entertainments of my past included bear wrestling and snake dancers there was nothing of this scale and magnitude.

My lover Gillian placed clothing on the bed. “Wear these Vlad.”

I looked at what she had brought. Blue jeans, a brown shirt with an odd collar, boots, and a brown hat.

“What is this?” I asked her.

“Wrangler jeans, a sexy button up shirt, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat,” she said.

“But we are going to see bull riding, not cow riding. This reeks of  Halloween.”

“Vlad, I’m not going to spend another three hours trying to explain it to you. Just remember Wrangler Butts drive me nuts.”

“Three hours? You jest. You can tell me in a few minutes. What are Wranglers and why do their butts drive you crazy? Why should I remember something you have never told me before, and I do not understand.”

“Vlad, for someone who used to rule a kingdom…” She put her lips to mine, and ran her hands down my back and into the back of my pants. That did not get me into the new clothes, but it did get me out of what I was wearing at the time.

I decided to wear whatever she told me to the Professional Bull Riding event.

~ Vlad

2017-01-28-19-33-47

Dear Diary,

I do not understand the term cowboy. They are neither cows or boys.

I looked up Western and cowboys and bull riding on the Internet. It seems one must have a truck. I do not have a truck. I do not haul large things. I could haul my cats but that would not be wise. Cats do not like to be hauled.

I have a car. It is black. It is fast. I do not haul things. Last night the coyote pup Jane rode with me as I searched out blood and adventure. The adventure part is my attempt at humor. Gillian said I must work on my humor. I told her no and slept alone that day. On the night out with Jane there was no adventure, only blood. Jane, who has the soul of a Werewolf, sat on a blanket on the back seat while I drove. I held her in the crook of my arm while I made my usual rounds at night spots and taverns. Jane is what I believe is called a “chick magnet.” There were no chickens, but all of the women and many of the men were attracted to her cuteness, almost more than they are attracted to my cuteness (which I am still baffled to understand.)

It is said that one should not live with a coyote because it is a wild animal. One should not live with a Vampire either, so I see no problems with Jane.

I would have maybe enjoyed living in the Wild West where coyotes roamed. Then again coyotes roam my neighborhood in what is called suburbia. There are also creatures who wear masks called raccoons. These animals have hands and come to my house at night like thieves. While I researched cowboys I found someone called the Lone Ranger. I am sure he was a raccoon. His side kick must be the thing they call a possum for they both travel at night like Vampires and bats. Now I know. I do live in the Wild West.

When I returned home the cats yelled at me from the front porch, and hissed at Jane. The former Vampire King then fed his subjects who all curled up together and slept while he brooded.

~ Vlad

2017-01-28-19-19-07

Dear Diary,

Tonight I experienced the PBR Event. Professional. Bull. Riding. It was in the new arena called Golden 1 Arena. Why do they call it Golden 1. It is not gold. I saw no gold. Gillian told me to chill. I told her that I was already cold. We are Vampires therefore we are chill. She told me to be quiet. I told her to chill. That made me smile. Gillian was not amused.

As with all events that have to do with sports there is great pageantry. I sat back and could almost feel the wind on my face from days when I would watch the flags fly along the walls of my castle as my subjects cheered at great events I would hold for my citizens. Gillian took my hand and I was back into the present, where I was a cowboy.

A man dressed as a clown in red, white, and blue, danced and said funny things. A “kiss cam” forced Gillian and me to kiss. Then the bull riding began.

The bulls are huge. A rope made of cloth is tied around the waist of the bull, like a belt. A man then sits on the bull. Then the bull, an animal who weighs 2,000 pounds, jumps and kicks until the man falls off, or until about 8 seconds have passed. I imagine the bull is like my cats and gets a treat when he goes back into the pen after the ride.

I wondered if these magnificent animals were killed, but they are not.  I was glad.  The men who ride bulls are from all over the Earth but most tonight were from the USA. I could not take my eyes off of these bull riders. We sat in an arena which is what from what I understand is like something out of a science fiction story, something I could have never imagined before now, in my old life – and now I am here and watching men ride bulls. Bulls. Animals. Large fierce animals. Not cars. Not machines. It is a game of skill between animal and man.

Then the clown told everyone to sing the song. Everyone sings that song here. Don’t Stop Believing. I heard the man sitting behind me saying it has to be with Steve Perry, not the current imposter. They sing this song everywhere and at every single event around here. Even I know the words now. Yes, Vlad the once feared Vampire can sing every single word. The blood of the Twenty First Century is now in my veins.

At a break Gillian took my hand and said she wanted a beer. Out we went into the main hall.

I hear the giggles and muffled squeals, and the gasps as I walk by. I tipped my hat as instructed by Gillian, winked, and gave a smile without my fangs. I will be well fed tonight. I say, “ladies” in a low voice, and they giggle and run into each other.

I hear one woman say to her friend she would like to ride me like a wild bull. I couldn’t imagine jumping around trying to get rid of her, then I thought for a moment, then it occurred to me what sort of ride she was speaking of. Oh.

Then I heard a woman say, “Wrangler butts, drive me nuts.” Now I understand.

Gillian and I arrived home just as the sun came up. I did not sleep with my boots on.

~ Vlad

2017-01-28-19-23-02

 

 

~ End

 

Cowboy

For all of Vlad’s Vampire Diary posts CLICK HERE.

Kissed by a Vampire

 

 

Homeless

From Capitol Public Radio, Sacramento, CA:

Mayor Darrell Steinberg held a service for the city’s homeless population on Monday following a new report by the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.

The document finds that 78 homeless people in Sacramento County died in 2015.

But Sacramento is not the only city observing this issue.

Cities across the United States will pay homage to the homeless who have died in their community on Wednesday as part of National Homeless Day.

I listened to this story this morning on Insight. I thought about the story “The Alley,” I’d posted a few months ago. It was inspired by what we saw (my teenage daughter and I) during a drive through the Alkali Flats area of town, and a drive behind the Crest Theater to look for murals during the Mural Festival.

Click here for a link to the story on Capitol Public Radio.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The Alley

Taking a short cut through a downtown alley wasn’t always like it was in the movies. He’d rarely witnessed crimes, or found dumped bodies among the dumpsters and rats. The smells were close to death but not quite. Urine and sun roasted garbage were the aromas of the night. No night-blooming jasmine for this short cut.

Walking along he wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t anything to fear except maybe stepping on something disgusting he’d have to scrape off of his shoe later. But then he saw her standing at the end of the alley.

Had she been a cat he would have taken her home, or found her a forever home, but she was not.

“Hi Val,” she said in a girlish voice. She sounded like she was maybe twelve instead of twenty eight.

“Nikki. You look good.”

She looked good for Nikki. Val hadn’t seen her this clean, well, maybe ever. She’d been homeless on and off for the four years he’d known her. Tonight was the first time he’d seen her in a dress. Even through the bad teeth, unhealthy chalky skin, and the constant fidgeting he could tell she’d once been pretty.

“My cousin Josh took me shopping. Got me this dress, and the sweater. Do you like it. The sweater is sort of like lace, all light like, for the summer. First new clothes I’ve worn in maybe six years.”

“Are you living somewhere?”

“I have my own room in the back of Josh’s building, out by the alley so I have, like my own private entrance. I have a bathroom too. The toilet is in the shower because it is really small. Sometimes when I take a shower I just pee on the floor over the drain. I always laugh because the toilet is right there.”

“What are you doing out here?” It was 3:00 am. He knew why she was out.

Nikki crossed her arms and leaned from one foot to the other. “Just doing some business, you know.”

“Looking for a fix?”

“Maybe, and a little romance.”

Val knew she traded sex for drugs. She kept talking.

“Um, Josh won’t let me bring guys home. I can’t do drugs, drink, or smoke at my room. Those are his rules. You know, I do stuff for him like clean up in the back, mop up, dishes, take out the garbage, and stuff. Maybe I’ll get to cook or work up front one day. He said if I work hard he’ll pay to get my teeth fixed. Ramon said if I go back to school he’ll help me too.”

Val knew Ramon, the high school kid who was headed off to U.C. Berkeley. Nice kid who wanted to get a degree in mathematics and change the world.

“You should go home Nikki. Forget the fix. You look so pretty tonight. Don’t waste it on some creeper. You don’t need to get high,” said Val.

“Maybe if you’d turn me into a Vampire I wouldn’t need it. If you turned me into a Vampire I’d stop hurting all the time. I’d be pretty again.”

“You’d die Nikki.”

“Better than living my life.”

“Don’t say that Nikki. Never say that.”

She looked down at the ground, then leaned up against a parked car. “Tell me a story Val, about when you were my age.”

He’d been telling her stories to get her mind off of getting high, or having sex with anyone she could in exchange for the next high. If he could keep her up until the sun came up then she’d be safe from the evils of the night.

“In 1886 I was twenty eight, same age as you are. My sister and I were in London. Jack the Ripper was in the news. We were at a party…”

“What was she wearing Val? Tell me what your sister was wearing.”

“A cream colored silk dress adorned with purple roses, millions of ruffles and a huge bustle in back. Her hair was piled high on her head in curls all done up with pearls and ivory combs. She danced for hours with a wealthy handsome son of a Duke.”

“Did she drink his blood?”

“Of course she did.”

“Did she make love to him?”

“In a way he would never forget, or get over. He’d never fall out of love with the mysterious woman he’d danced with all night.”

Nikki hugged herself as Val continued to tell her a half true story, embellishing it with more romance than reality.

He walked her home, and kept her talking until the first light of the morning started to show in the sky. “Be safe Nikki. Listen to Josh and Ramon. They’re looking out for you. They care. I care.”

He kissed her cheek with his cold lips.

“Why don’t you ever drink my blood Val?”

“You know why Nikki,” he said.

“I’d do you good Val. I’d make that cold blooded…” She continued with a crude and explicit, sexual description of what she would do to him if he’d only take her home to his house, or even behind one of the dumpsters in the alley behind her building. He turned and walked away from her feeling sad, and disgusted.

Two days later Nikki was found dead in her little room, wearing one of her new sundresses. She’d had unprotected sex with at least three different men that night. She’d died of an overdose of a cocktail of drugs too lethal for most people to imagine.

Before Josh opened his restaurant for breakfast Val stopped by to give him his condolences. Josh shook his head. He’d done everything he could to help Nikki.

“She was always a lost soul. So much talent. Aw man, she was so beautiful once. She just got in with the wrong guys, one right after another. They took everything from her. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone,” Josh told Val, wiping his eyes.

Ramon stood listening then said, “Nikki could have so much hope. Just yesterday she was telling me she wanted to go back to college. She wanted to live. Then she went on again about her friend who was going to turn her into a Vampire, and she’d be young and pretty again, and live forever. She said she was in love with this guy, this Vampire. It was creepy. She was nuts. Sorry Josh, but…” His voice trailed off as he wiped a tear off of his face.

Val wished them the best. That afternoon he made a large donation to a local women’s shelter. Over the past one hundred and fifty nine years he’d seen many lost souls. One slutty little druggie shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Nikki was nothing to him. Then again, she could have been everything to someone, if anyone other than Josh or Ramon had cared.

Had she been a stray cat he would have taken her in. Had she been clean he might have taken her forever.

~ End.

A Christmas Concert

“I was there. I saw the star. I knew something was happening,” said Tellias who is over 2,000 years old. He was right in my face almost yelling.

He tells us that every single year but he never gives us any details. We’ve stopped trying to get information out of him.

I am the one who watches the elders, the ancient Vampires.

They speak in riddles and metaphors, not because they are wise but because they are tottering and annoying. They are confused and trying to get control over their lives that seem so out of control.

Today I took them out to a sing-a-long and a bell concert under the rotunda in State Capitol building in Sacramento. It is a beautiful building restored to how it was in 1880. A good size crowd showed up too.

Tellias was wearing a vest embroidered with snowmen and snowflakes, a large black top coat and a top hat. Eleora wore a red plaid skirt down to her knees, red flats with white lace tights, a sweater with a felt reindeer on it, complete with bells on the antlers and a red cap that hung down her back with a white pom pom. Had it been anyone else I would have told them to change, but since they look like they’re teens it was sweet. Had they looked like the really old people they are it would have been super sweet. Anyone else it would have been just tacky.

It was just Tellias, Eleora, my teenage daughter Clara, my brother Val and me. Garrett, off from college on break, was at my parents in San Francisco for a few days. My husband Teddy was working and everyone else was busy too, or just not to be found.

On the front steps of the Capitol building a photographer was taking photos of a happy wedding party. The bride was beautiful in a strapless dress of pure elegance and fluff. Clara and Eleora discussed the dresses in detail. Val and Tellias walked together discussing architectural details of downtown buildings and what the new arena would do to the character of the area. I took in the view of the park and Capitol Building under the cold overcast sky.

Eleora was in a good mood today. She has been grouchy and temperamental lately and overly critical of everything and everyone. A sweet thing by nature the turn to a grouch hasn’t been good. With that has come hoarding – something that another family member, Grandmama Lola has said NO to. I hope Lola has put a stop to the clutter and papers and obsessions that Eleora has started to take on.

Tellias just sighs and gets depressed, going on walks around his orchard and visiting with his neighbors way too much.

When we entered the concert area in the rotunda the two elders lit up like Christmas candles. Eleora put her arm around my waist and kissed my cheek. Tellias looked pleased and happy to see Eleora laughing in delight.

They listened to the bell concert with great patience. Behind us sat a mother and her little boy. They were delightful. It reminded me of when my own children were small and we’d go to all sorts of concerts and events.

When I was small Tellias and Eleora would take Val and I to concerts and events. We were active and unruly but we’d calm for music and poetry. We’d sit still by the river bank while our dear Ancients told us about the calls of the birds and of giant fish who swam in the waters.

They’d hold our small hands and guide us through the night and teach us that with love there was no fear.

I glanced at them walking by the front of the State Library making a joke about how cold the couple sitting out in front (two statues) must be on this December day.

Things change. People change. Time passes.

But the love we have, even when it pains us, is there. We love and remember and share those memories. But most important – we need to keep making memories.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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