A Drive With Marilyn

I’m a little under the weather (even Vampires get under sometimes) so rather than trying to make up something fictional for today, or talk about parenting (my kids are grown now,)  I’ll just tell you a story about my brother Val and me, then give you some high-minded moralistic opinion about the state of American culture.

It was October 1963 and we were driving Val’s black 1962 Corvette down Hwy 395, along the back side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We stopped in the small town of Lee Vining at dusk, wondering if we should stop for the night or keep going.

I got out of the car and looked up at the mountains. After I took off my scarf I held it up and let the breeze make it into a flag. Everything smelled so fresh. The mountains were so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sight.

Val came up to me and took the scarf. He put it over my hair and wrapped it loosely around my neck. “You look like Marilyn Monroe tonight. She was buried in a dress almost like yours, with a scarf like yours.”

Removing the scarf again I looked down at my green dress, then brushed a bit of blonde hair out of my face. Yes, it was blonde at the time fixed in sort of an over teased should length flip. I’ve taken my false eye lashes off as soon as we left Las Angeles earlier that morning.

“How do you know what she was buried in?” I had to ask.

“A friend of a friend went to the viewing,” answered my brother. “She was murdered.”

“Does the friend of a friend know who murdered her?”

“No. He wouldn’t tell me. What a shame. We’ll read about it later. Jewels, she was having sex with everyone named Kennedy and all of their friends. All of them.”

“Does it matter? Does it really matter Val? It isn’t like we knew the woman.”

He ignored my comments. “I feel like I’m in a movies set out here. The obvious choice would be a Western, but it seems more of a mystery tonight. Do you want to stay the night or move on?”

We agreed to stay.  At first we got a skeptical look from the woman at the desk of the Motel when we told her we were brother and sister. Neither one of us wore rings on our left hands. What should she think when two fashionably dressed young people come into a hotel in a mountain town? Plus we came in a sports care. That would be a recipe for immoral behavior in anybody’s book. A man, the owner of the establishment, came in and gave us the key, saying it was obvious how much we looked alike. Some people always have their mind in the gutter.

We went to the cafe next door to get a feel for the place. The view of Mono Lake from our table was unreal as the sun settled down over the mountains. The waitress was friendly and took our orders of coffee and rare burgers. When she came back she told me that the cook thought I looked like Marilyn Monroe. I was polite. Val kicked me underneath the table.

“As soon as we get to Reno I’m finding a salon and switching back to brunette.”

“You’d better get rid of the eyeliner too,” said Val with a wink. “I think she was murdered for sleeping with the Kennedy brothers. Think about it.”

“I’d rather not Val.”

“Do you think Marilyn would have made a good Vampire?”

“The Beatles would make better Vampires. They don’t seem so needy. Honestly would you convert someone as needy as Marilyn Monroe into a Vampire? It would be a disaster then you’d be stuck with her.”

“That might not be such a bad thing.”

“Stop thinking with your…”

“I’m not.”

“Are too.”

“Am not.”

“Val, to be a Vampire one must be fairly independent and strong-willed. You have to be disciplined at all times. I mean, I didn’t know the woman but she wouldn’t have made a good Vampire.”

We picked our way through the food and finished our coffee, then went for a walk down the road. Stopping in a bar we picked up our real dinner for the night. After all, Val and I are Vampires.

The next day we took a leisurely drive with the top off of the car. Once we arrived to Reno I became a brunette again. A month later President Kennedy was assassinated.

I used to get angry at Val for his temporary fascination with celebrity. It started when we where children and he’d pick up bits of information in Harper’s Weekly. From there it snowballed. He couldn’t seem to get enough of gossip and sorted stories about people he’d never met. I’d tell him to read a book and he’d just get pissed off and close up to me. He has backed off but occasionally I’ll catch him catching up on celebrity gossip.

I don’t understand the current fascination with people who are famous for having an unnaturally large number of children (and their disgusting self-serving exploits), or for rich women who are unnaturally made up. If your only claim to fame is the fact that you have a big butt and a rich father why should you get so much time in the news. It isn’t news or even entertaining. It is just stupid and annoying. When I see a movie I don’t want to know about the actors, I want to know about the characters they are playing. That is all.

But it seems the spirit of P.T. Barnum live on in the worst way possible. Some people say there are no more freak shows but it isn’t true. There are plenty of people who are glad to put themselves in the spotlight as freaks.

Thank goodness that isn’t what Vampires do. We might read the gossip but we refuse to be the gossip.

Have a good week everyone. Stay classy.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Spreading It Thick

While the rest of the country was freezing Ramona was digging up her raised beds in Long Beach. She and her brother swore they’d never leave California. That is just about the only thing she agreed on with him.

Caleb had been visiting the night before. As usual he’d brought back a slew of bad memories in an attempt to get her to feel like a failure. Gaslighting Remona was his favorite activity as far as Ramona’s husband was concerned. Fortunately, her husband Mac was out of town fishing with their son. Ramona couldn’t have handled another Mac and Caleb knock down drag out.

She opened the bag and spread the manure thick, just like Caleb spread his BS thick. The tomatoes would thrive better than Ramona did before she got out of her brother’s grip and realized what a snake he was.

Replaying the conversation from the night before she stuck the spade with all of the violent force she could muster. Then she tied her gray hair back into a ponytail.

“Mac can’t like that gray hair,” Caleb told her with his usual tone of superiority.

“I’m tired of coloring my hair,” Ramona told him. “Mac likes it.”

“I doubt that. I bet he’s off with another woman right now. I wouldn’t blame him.”

“Why do you say things like that Caleb?”

“Like what? Open your eyes Ramona.”

She replayed the lies and remembered how he had told her parents she’d faked a pregnancy. He’d befriended the woman who broke up her first marriage. He told almost every ex-boyfriend of her that she was either a slut or a psychopathological liar. 

When she and Mac didn’t get the bid on their dream house, she’d found out Caleb had told a wealthy friend about it. That wealthy friend had bid way over the asking price. Over the years Caleb had called potential employers and told them Ramona was crazy. Caleb had lied to their elderly parents and almost cleared out their bank account. She caught him trying to steal their dog. The list went on and on. 

Unfortunately, she didn’t even know about most of what he’d done until years later. Then when she did find out it stung even worse than when it happened.

Finally the last straw was when Caleb had convinced her then 17 year old son Sam that he was Sam’s father. Ramona remembered how Sam had become withdrawn and angry. Finally after a week of frustration she found him crying in their back yard and found out what had happened. Sam was now twenty two, and she’d stopped talking to Caleb. At least until last night.

Ramona knew she shouldn’t have let Caleb in her house. He sat down in her living room and bragged about his new young wife. He said he was going to sue her for a long list of unbelievable shit. Then he started to spout off about her husband Mac and how he must be cheating on her. Now the text from a friend of hers made sense. She wondered why anyone would be concerned about what Mac was doing when he wasn’t at home. 

As Ramona dug and leveled out the raised garden beds she smiled knowing her tomatoes, peppers, and exotic melons would thrive. The lettuce would be the be green perfection. Her pumpkins would grow to enormous size. And oh how the artichokes would virtually sing.

There was enough bull shit in her raised beds now to last for years. She dug one last home and dropped in Caleb’s wallet. She knew his car would be towed away in a few days. She’d re-parked it two miles away and walked home. It felt good to stretch her legs. 

Maybe later she’d take her dogs Wally and Tess down to the beach. She deserved some fun. Her work was done. It was a good day. 

~ end

Ring of Fire, and The Circle of Love

Ring of Fire, and The Circle of Love

First posted here in 2019

I sat listening to my brothers, two of them, singing Ring of Fire in a low slow sort way that sounded like it belonged in a horror movie. Andy is a professional singer. Val is a numbers guy. Together they create weird and wonderful music.

When I was small I’d envy the way they’d sing together, anywhere and everywhere.

“Her ex-husband showed up.”

“Had you met him before?” I had to ask.

“No. Never. He came in the house with Cameron, Shawna’s son, and started to bark at her about me. I wasn’t even in the room, but I could hear it from the bedroom. I wasn’t even quite awake yet, but it woke me up for sure. He was telling her that she was making a fool out of herself by seeking someone so much younger than herself. I was ready to go out and tell him that I’m 168-years old but honestly I wanted to see his justification.”

“So what happened?” Val asked.

Shawna ripped him a new one. She reminded him that he’d left her for FeeFee. He reminded her that FeeFee’s real name was Ashley. No matter what her name, the woman was almost twenty years younger than Eric. That is the husband. Eric. Anyway Eric said that it had been different with Ashley. Shawna called him all kinds of names including a fucking self centered misogynistic bastard who spent most of his life thinking with his dick. He didn’t take too kindly to that.”

Andy picked up a cup. “Does anyone want more coffee?”

“Sure, I’ll make a French Press. Tell us what happened,” I said. Andy often starts stories and doesn’t finish them.

I went into the kitchen to make coffee. Val hearded Andy after me and sat him down at the kitchen table.

“How old is Shawna?” Val asked.

Andy continued his story. “Almost sixty. She turns sixty in a few months. She looks a lot younger. She’s stunning.”

“I have to agree with you. She is lovely,” said Val. “But you look thirty five on a bad day, twenty something on a good day.”

“What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I love her.”

“It shouldn’t matter,” I said, “especially since her ex is the same age as her and with a woman who is, what, in her early forties now?” Shawna had told me how her husband had left her years before for a much younger woman who needed him.

I glanced out my window. The usual Friday morning leaf blower assault had begun at my neighbor’s house. The neighbor on the other side has a five hour leaf blower marathon every Thursday. I hate leaf blowers. Seriously, everyone hates Vampires. They should put their energy into hating leaf blowers.

“There is always someone using a leaf blower in this neighborhood,” said Val.

“I hate leaf blowers. I HATE them,” I said. “So, Andy, then what happened? Did you tell Eric that you’re a lot older than he is. He obviously doesn’t know you’re a Vampire.”

Andy smiled and flipped his hair behind his shoulder. “No. Obviously not. It’s none of his business. He wouldn’t believe it anyway. Let him think I’m thirty-five or whatever. Let him steam in his own juices. Let him be angry about a younger man being attracted to the woman he dumped. Let him be jealous that I have a relationship not only with Shawna but with his son Cameron as well.”

I looked at my tall long haired brother and knew he turned heads. I could imagine Eric having fits in his mind about this guy who was in love with the woman he discarded.

Val poured a cup of coffee. “How did it end up Andy?”

“Eric left. The only reason he’d been there was to drop off Cameron. He said something about me only being a few years older than Cameron and about Shawna having no shame. We all had a fine laugh about that one later on. Val, pour me a cup too.”

By our second cup of coffee (Vampires drink a lot of coffee) we’d moved on to other subjects. Val was glad he was single. I was glad I was happily married. Andy was in love with a middle aged woman who was still somewhat confused that she’d fall in love with a Vampire. Her son thought Andy was exceptionally cool. Andy is exceptionally cool.

I put two cups of coffee out on the back deck. As my brothers and I talked inside I could see the Ghosts, Nigel and Mary sitting down at the outdoor table and putting their hands around the mugs. They inhaled the coffee they could not drink, savoring the beautiful aroma.

I guess the moral of this story is that we all make choices. We also make choices on how to react to the consequences. Don’t be like Eric.

That’s all.

I worry about Andy, but then again, I worry about everyone. At least it gets my mind off of worrying about my kids. More coffee please.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Sorry I haven’t have many new posts lately, and I haven’t been reading other blogs or commenting much either. This past year sort of put me in a tail spin, but I’m flying out of it as fast as I can. On maybe a good note I have a new computer. But today, even today, was one of those one step forward, two steps back sort of days. I need to listen to Ring of Fire again. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Talk to your kids. Pet your cat. Hug your dog. Check in on those who might be alone or need extra help. Don’t be a dick. Be kind. Don’t post political crap on FaceBook. Kiss a Vampire. And yes I can see Folsom Prison from the end of my street. Thank you Johnny Cash. xoxox Juliette Kings

Revelries of Night – Quiet Musings on Halloween and Vampires

Revelries of Night – Quiet Musings on Halloween and Vampires

Max was brooding. It is what my eldest brother does best.

I’d come home and found him sulking in my living room on the red couch brooding over a book on the symbolism of art.

“Why does everything have to be so complicated? Why can’t a dove just be a dove, or a sunset just a phenomenon based on the rotation of the earth?”

“You sound like Andy,” I told him. Andy is another brother of mine who likes to wax poetically 24/7 and imagines himself deep. Andy is deep and it works for him. It just sounds weird and uncomfortable when Max does it.

His two giant wolfhounds, along with my sled-dog-mongrel lay sprawled in carpet of dogs at Max’s feet.

I invited Max for Halloween. I thought a quiet night of little monsters and our usual gathering with friends and kids and non-Vampire folks would do him good. Or it would make him want to crawl out of his skin but I didn’t care. I went over to my big brother and rubbed his shoulders. “Relax. You’ve been under a lot of stress too. We all have. Watch the game with me.”

I knew Max was missing parties at home due to the fact that we KNEW the Giants would win the World Series (3rd time in five years) and Max lives in San Francisco. I knew he didn’t care about some stupid female in f-me shoes. So we watched the Giants win and wondered how many little baby boys would be named Madison and Hunter in 2015. Just a couple of Vampires hanging out on a Wednesday night before Halloween.

Oh come on, we’re really not that horrifying. Sure we have some amazing dental work that we use to suck blood out of living humans, but nobody is the worse for it, well, not usually. Our hearts don’t always beat, but they do love. We’re cold, but then again we don’t get all sweaty. We can give people nightmares and hide in shadows and make you forget whatever we want you to forget. I can even suck out your soul but that is usually more trouble than it is worth. Really, trust me on that one.

My husband Teddy was at Kings game (Basketball. Of course they didn’t win. They never win.) My 15-year-old Clara came down to join us after the game. She told Max about all of the stupid stuff going on at school.

I know, I should have some sort of awful HORROR story this time of year. But this is our time to just relax. The holidays are coming and the cold weather and THAT is when things really pick up for us.

I let Max go on about all of the Demons and Zombies and Vampire Hunters and Crazy Ass Rogue Vampires and assholes he had been dealing with at work. He is one of the ones who takes care of all of those things. Not “take care” as in nurture, but “take care” of as in “get rid of.”

On his arm is an ugly fading scar from a Demon scratch. In his heart, be it ever so still, is a will that can’t be broken by anything that might come his way in the shadows he protects.

You should thank him for that. Max and those like him are the reason Regular Humans only have to deal with their own evil and not that of our kind, or those who aren’t Regular Humans or any kind of human.

He and his teammates are the reason why Halloween is relatively safe and sane and fun… the ghosts and ghouls know there will be dire consequences if they show their real faces.

I’ve so many calls to make before tomorrow night and so much to do. Clara is driving me crazy with requests for EVERYTHING (as teenagers do.) As a mom, even as a Vampire mom I feel a need to keep everyone safe and happy. That is, easier knowing that those like Max have my back.

If you’re a Regular Human, on this Halloween thank those who have your back and will risk their lives for you.

Max and I talked through the night about everything under the moon and stars. We watched the ghosts dance later under the oak trees as the bats danced above in the air. As the dogs slept we laughed. I got Max to laugh, something that has seemed rare lately.

In the morning, this morning, to the sound of garbage trucks (yes it is garbage day) we went outside and watched sky show it’s lights just before the sun came up. Max put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze.

“So what’s next?” I asked him.

He smiled showing a bit of fang. “Halloween my dear Juliette, Halloween!”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Caturday Muse and Vampire News

Happy Saturday Caturday!

This lovely cat is Gloria. She just turned fifteen years old. My daughter picked her out at the county animal control center (the pound) when she was about 6-8 weeks old. My child turns twenty one in July. Gloria, needless to say, is not getting her drivers permit because she HATES being in the car.

IMG_2935

My brother Val was over earlier today to tell me about all of the latest Vampire news. This pandemic and lock downs have put a cramp in the lifestyles of Vampires too.

“Can we carry the virus or spread it?” I asked.

Val shrugged. “I don’t think so. I mean, technically someone could leave spit on me and I could immediately go to someone else and pass it on, but the probability of that is pretty high. Seriously who is going to take any chances and contaminate our food supply?”

“I can’t think of anyone I know who’d even think of being with a sick or positive donor.”

“Anyone you know. Vampires are like everyone else. Some are more responsible than others. Some are just assholes.”

“You have a point. And that is why we’re on good terms with a few good Vampire Hunters.”

Val just gave me an uncomfortable smile. “I wouldn’t exactly call it good.”

We continued to visit and catch up on what our friends and family were doing. Val played stick with my dog then threw in a load of laundry. He needs a new washer and dryer but since he has become more of nocturnal type of Vampire since March he hasn’t gotten around to it. That’s ok. It gives me a chance to visit with him more often.

Wishing all of you a lovely weekend, with a clean food supply, clean clothes, and cats.

  • Wash your hands
  • Wear your mask
  • Social distance
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Talk to your kids even if they’re all grown up and moved out

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Letters to my brother…or don’t be sorry that your family isn’t “normal”

From June 2013

letters

Dear Aaron,

I no longer wish to be a Vampire. Please be a dear and do some research for me.

Love,

Your brother Andrew

 

 

Dear Andrew,

You don’t have to remind me that you’re my brother. And are you freaking crazy? You are a Vampire and there is no undoing it. You were born that way. Even if you weren’t there is no undoing it. End of story. So get over it and any girl you’ve recently broken up with.

Aaron

 

 

Dear Aaron,

Your cruel and unfortunate comment hit me to the core.

Andrew

 

 

Andy,

Mom and Dad are on their way down to see you, like they really need to come bail you out again. My wife wasn’t always a Vampire and she said being a regular human is no piece of cake either. Take a deep breath. You’re only 163. You’re young and we all make mistakes.

Aaron

I saw this typical exchange between my brothers. Typical Birth Order study in action. Max is the over achieving golden child eldest, next comes the incredibly phenomenally talented Andrew, in the middle is Aaron who is steady and smart and always has his act together. The last two are my brother Val and me. We’re smart too but we’re fun and, well, we’re fun.

But for some reason Aaron seems to be the one everyone expects to fix things. Somber and serious, but only because he feels he has been forced into it. The happy fun of a large family.

I told my children “marry an only child and make sure you marry and orphan too.” And don’t send me hate mail, I’m just kidding (sort of).

While Aaron was ready to growl, I got on the phone and called Andrew. Mind you he is in Patagonia so it is very long distance with questionable connections but I finally got through, sort of.

First someone answered in Spanish. I told them I wanted to speak to Andrew. Then someone speaking German got on the line. It was German with an odd accent. German with a British accent. It was James, Andrew’s old friend from way back.

“Jewels!” He literally sang my nick name  (in English now) into the crackling phone line. “Are you still with Teddy? If not you know I’m available. Come one down to Argentina and we’ll dance under the Southern stars and make wild love on the deserted beaches…”

“James, I need to speak to Andy.” I told him that while taking a deep internal breath and trying to erase way too many visuals and memories the sound of his voice brought up.

Dear lovely James who can drive the most patient saint crazy. James who has never met a woman who didn’t end up hating him. James who is so sweet and charming that you hate yourself for all the times you want to kill him. James who is once wooed me with such abandon and aggression that I called him a stalker and told him I’d rip out his heart with my bare hands if he didn’t leave me alone. He left me alone and we’ve come to an understanding. We friends, with conditions. But when you’re dealing with a Vampire brother in trouble crazy James is the one to trust. Did I mention that he is also a successful clinical psychologist and marriage counselor? He is. Just thought I’d mention that. Oh right, and he is a Vampire too – just like the rest of us.

Andy’s voice came on the line. His is one of those clean, clear, magical voices of unbelievable tone and beauty that makes a person just want to sit and listen forever no matter what my brothers is saying. Unfortunately he never has much to say that is worth listening to. I love my brother, I really do, but sometimes his lack of everything makes me think I’m talking to a 10-year-old.

“Remember when we were in Paris in 1927 and the entire city seemed to belong to us? I was singing at the Opera house and it was the first time I felt human, like the masses.”

“You shared your gift.” I told my brother quietly. He has such a gift.

“They loved me. They adored my baby sister. Do you remember?”

I remembered but not quite the way Andy did. “How are you Andy?”

“Remember the French girl, the lovely one with the sky blue eyes. She had Lymphoma. I could taste it. I let her go. I helped her until she passed. Jewels we’ll never know. We’ll never know.”

“Nadine. She was lovely. I remember.” I remember he’d been hopelessly in love with her.

“I knew she was sick before she died.”

“I know Andy.”

“Why can’t we help people?”

“We can, but, Andy, you know how it is.”

“That’s why I don’t want to be one of us anymore. I don’t want to be  Vampire.”

“Andy, we can’t change what we were born into. We can’t change our DNA.”

“What about Teddy and Verity? They were born as Regular Humans. They didn’t start as Vampires.”

But they are now and they can’t go back. Teddy (my husband) and Verity (Aaron’s wife) had their own demons to deal with but they resisted the “what if” urge. Acceptance was their key to their survival. And for goodness sake I hope their children and my brother Aaron and I could keep them in the NOW and POSITIVE about their lives.

“Andrew, Teddy and Verity are fine. They’re happy as I want you to be. Oh Andrew, if I had your heart and soul and talent I would be the happiest woman on earth.”

“Vampire woman.”

“Any kind of woman.”

“What if I came home, to you. Could I crash at your place?”

“Of course. Clara is playing the guitar. With her talent she’ll be playing in the Warped Tour in a few years. You could teach her about music and you could sing together and write music together. She knows all about how to make Youtube videos and all of that stuff. It would be wonderful for the both of you.”

“I miss the kids, yours and Aaron’s.”

“Then come home Andy…”

The conversation went on a rambling mess, but by the end the tears and angst had stopped. I knew my parents would be with him in a few hours. I knew he’d be fine, at least for now.

I went into my family room to find Verity asleep with her head on Teddy’s shoulder. They’d married into my crazy family. They also had once been something that my brothers and I never were. They knew what it was like to face death over and over and to fear it and more to accept it. And they knew more than any of us how to face loss of all kinds, and again to accept it. It wasn’t just a waiting game with them as it can become with us. It is always the here and now. It is always NOW.

Aaron had gone upstairs where our kids where, his two home for a summer vacation from college and my two teens.

Family is an odd thing. There is no normal. So never, no matter what you are, be sorry that your family isn’t normal. Maybe on the surface, but never in the deep down soul. We’re all unique – unique alone or unique in a group.

But even if you can’t stand them that weird connection that we can never explain is there, deep within that makes us family and connected and parts of a whole. Even if it is a whole lot of crazy. But for the most part it is a whole lot of love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman (aka Jewels)

 

 Vampires write love letters too

Note: This was one of the first appearances of my brother Andy and his friend James. How some things have changed. OK maybe not. James is still a jerk.