Short Story Sunday: Dream a Little Dream…

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

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

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

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

Falling into a deep sleep the dreams came in waves…

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

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

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

Max backed off. “It is over Archi.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mehitabel stood by the bed. “Hey baby.”

“Hey,” said Max.

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

~ end

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Note: Aside from the occasional rerun all “Short Story Sunday” stories are written quickly over coffee on the Sunday morning they are posted. Coffee + pencil/pen/crayon/keyboard + observation + imagination + inspiration + more coffee + a punch line or twist = a story of somewhat questionable origins and more questionable quality. What jump starts your imagination? 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: I’ll Take Care of You

The headache was real. He opened his eyes and squinted at the sun coming through the window and tried to remember what had happened the night before.

“Oh you’re up. Look at the sunlight. Tell me how you feel.”

“Like I’ve been hit by a truck.”

“Do you feel alive?”

He looked at her sitting in a navy blue wingback chair wearing nothing but a smile and black silk stockings held up by red garters. He thought of her as a girl, not from her age but by the way she acted. She had been cute for a while but the cuteness became annoying and practiced.

He got out of bed and looked for his robe. She watched him with a smile on her face that was part wonder and part greed. Memories started to come back. Against his better judgement he’d taken her home and to his bed. Then she’d poured something she said was wine, but it obviously wasn’t.

“What did we drink last night?”

“What did you drink Andrew darling. I gave you an elixir to life. I gave you a tonic of love. I gave you light and love?”

He didn’t even respond. The sooner he got her out of his house and made coffee the better. Finding his robe he headed to the kitchen.

“Do you feel different?” She got up and followed him down the stairs.

“Other than feeling like shit?”

“Today is your new birthday. You’re mortal again.”

It suddenly occurred that she’d given him some sort of potion. “Jen, I can’t be cured. There was nothing wrong with me.”

“You were a Vampire.”

“I’m still a Vampire.”

“You’re walking in the sunlight. See it comes through the windows and you aren’t burning.”

“I’ve always been able to walk in the sunlight. Whatever you gave me didn’t work. It never works anymore than me giving you something that would turn you into a dog.”

“Give me a chance and I’ll take care of you Andrew,” she said clutching at his arms.

He pried off her hands and whispered under his breath, “Yes, and I’ll make sure to take care of you.”

Escorting her to the door, the Vampire told her to not come back – but he knew she’d try. Jen never took no for an answer. He compared her to a bad rash, that is if he’d ever had a bad rash.

Nobody would believe her tall tales of dating a Vampire. She was a groupie, a fan, a follower who didn’t know how to be an adult or find real love. It wasn’t like he always knew how to find real love, but at least he wasn’t going to let anyone change him for it.

Picking up the phone he made a call. “You know, I really don’t have the stomach for killing her right now. Any suggestions?”

His friend paused on the other end of the line then said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of her.”

After getting off the phone Andrew made a blood and strawberry smoothie hoping it would clear out some of the toxic effects of whatever the Hell Jen had given him.

Jen told everyone her family had always been around Vampires, kind of sort of, but she’d just discovered her ability to pick them out about 10 years ago. She’d clamped onto Andrew about a year back after seeing him sing with one of her favorite bands at a local club. She’d spotted him and found out all of the details about his life through mutual friends. Her immaturity was charming at first and kind of cute but now it just grated on Andrew. He ran his hands through his hair and wondered why he’d brought her home last night. Oh right, blood and sex. That always does it.

Then again, Jen thought life should be a cross between a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie and Twilight. Holy crap. The woman was delusional.

Jen sat alone in her San Francisco apartment and thought about her beautiful Vampire lover. Giggling at the thought of his cool skin and hot kisses and wonderful techniques as a lover. He knew all the tricks. She imagined living with him in his beautiful St. Francis Woods home.

Last night she’d offered him not just her body but her blood as well. Last of all she offered her heart. As far as she was concerned that was a sealed deal. She was part of him now. He’d never get rid of her.

A year passed and Andrew had all but forgotten about that night with Jen. Occasionally one of his friends would bring up the story of the toxic brew and laugh about it.

“Don’t laugh, it could have ruined my voice,” Andrew would tell them half serious and half joking.

“What ever happened to her?” They would always ask. Andrew would just shrug.

A hundred miles away, locked in a room with no sharp objects Jen sat rocking on the bed speaking of her Vampire lover and how he’d return for her. Andrew said something under his breath about taking care of her. So she waited not knowing that he already taken care of her, quite nicely.

 

~ End

 

Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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 Story With Demons and Ancient Vampires and Latin and Love

“There is nothing so wonderful as an attractive man in a historic costume.”

Austin thought about it for a minute. He’d wished he could take his entire group of graduate students to see Hamilton when the show came to San Francisco, but it would be a small fortune. Actually, it would be more than a small fortune.

His sister Chelsea had met her husband at the Dicken’s Christmas Faire, in full Victorian dress no less. Their wedding had also been a full Victorian dress event. Now Austin’s bother Dakota was getting married soon in a Wild West theme wedding.

The parents of the three Durant siblings had met at a Renaissance Faire and of course had a Renaissance themed wedding. No wonder Austin was a history professor.

“I’m married. Dak is getting married. When are you and Elizabeth getting serious?”

“Never.”

“I thought you were in love.”

“It is…”

“Don’t tell me it’s complicated. How complicated can it be?”

“She isn’t like most girls?”

“What? She used to be a man? She has a criminal past? She belongs to a cult?”

“No, none of that.” Austin took a deep breath and changed the subject back to Dak’s wedding.

Austin Durant, history professor, contractor specializing in historic buildings, and Vampire hunter, thought about his girlfriend Elizabeth. Sure he loved her, but she scared the Hell out of him.

Then Chelsea asked, “Have you found any Vampires lately?”

Austin almost spit out his coffee. “No. Jeeze, Chelsea, I told you not to talk about that.”

“Every time you work on a building it seems like you find bodies under the floorboards.”

“Not every time. Just most of the time.” Then he kissed his sister on the cheek and told her he’d see her soon.

He had planned on heading home but decided to stop by his girlfriend Elizabeth’s house. Well, he thought she was his girlfriend. For over a year… he didn’t know what to think. It drove him crazy. It pissed him off. It amused him. It terrified him.

The front door was cracked so he let himself. That was odd. He called her name. No answer.

Austin found Elizabeth in her bedroom. He’d found her in her bed, wearing just a tee shirt and underwear. Long, dark, blackish red scratch wounds were on the left side of her face, going down her arm, then across her ribs, and on down to her left thigh.

She lay there cold, not breathing, with no sign of a heart beat.

“Elizabeth. Wake up.”

She cracked her eyes. They were black. No bruised black but black iris, black pupils, no whites. She gave a whispered hiss and showed her fangs.

“What the Hell Liz?”

She let out a small gasp. “Demons. I ran…into…Demons.” Then she closed her eyes and put her right hand over her face.

Austin said her name again but she wouldn’t respond. He could see the edges of the scratches on her arm and face turning black.

Now what? He wasn’t a Vampire. He just knew how to kill them, not how to heal them. If he called 911 or took her to the hospital they’d ask too many questions, and she was already dead. Sort of dead. Shit, he didn’t quite know how exactly to explain it.

He called his lawyer Aaron Todd, who just happened to be a Vampire too. After Austin explained what he found there was a long pause on Aaron’s end.

Then the Vampire said, “Whatever happens don’t let her bite you. I’ll send help. Hold tight.” Then he hung up. No explanations. Typical Vampire.

Austin sat next to Elizabeth as she lay with her fangs showing and black eyes staring at nothing. He half expected Peter Cushing to come out of the closet and offer him a cross and a wooden stake.

“Hey, you must be Austin.”

Austin looked up. A well dressed hispterish looking man stood in the doorway.

The man held out his hand. “I’m Val, Aaron’s brother. He said you needed help.”

Austin took Val’s hand. It was icy cold. Of course Val was a Vampire.

Val put his hand on Elizabeth’s forehead. “Hey, sweetheart. Shhhhhh. It will be alright.” Then he looked at Austin. “The Demons have been bad lately. She must have let her guard down. They’re drawn to distraction.”

“Distraction? Like what?” Austin didn’t understand what Val was getting at.

“Like you.” Then Val smiled, a sweet charming smile, that made Austin’s stomach flip. This guy could kill him and eat him in fifteen seconds, and nobody would ever know. He brushed that thought out of his mind. He heard a car stop in the driveway, then voices and steps coming up the stairs to the bedroom.

Into the room came two teenagers. One had white blonde hair in a man-bun on top of his head. His face was almost as pretty as Elizabeth’s. His blue eyes sparkled, almost like water in the sunshine. He was wearing black tuxedo pants, a blue and purple Hawaiian shirt and yellow flip flops. The girl had long red brown curls and wore an ugly brown plaid skirt and a worn sweater with buttons shaped like cat heads. She was absolutely stunning, with cupid bow lips and large hazel eyes. They both smiled, showing fangs.

“Thank goodness you’re here,” said Val.

“Of course we’re here. Wouldn’t miss it for the World,” said the boy.

“Not for the World,” said the girl.

“We love our Elizabeth,” said the boy.

“Love her,” said the girl.

Then they both looked at Austin and just stared for a moment, then the girl sat next to Austin on the edge of the bed and took his hand in her icy hand, as the boy put his hand on Elizabeth’s face wounds.

The girl started to sing a song and stroked Austin’s hair. Val mouthed the words “Don’t say anything.”

If you’re callin’ ’bout my heart
It’s still yours
I should’ve listened to it a little more
Then it wouldn’t have taken me so long to know where I belong
And by the way, boy, this is no machine you’re talkin’ to
Can’t you tell, this is Austin, and I still love you.

She’d finished then she smiled and kissed his cheek.

The young man with the white blonde hair glanced at Austin. “Val, you didn’t introduce us. I’m going to assume you’re Austin. I am Tellias. The beautiful woman next to you is Eleora. Give us a minute with Val. You stay here with Elizabeth. Whatever you do don’t let her bite you.”

Austin could hear them speaking quietly in the hallway. It took a few seconds but he noticed they were speaking Latin. The two younger Vampires were speaking in an odd accent, an older version. He knew a little Latin, but this was odd, like old texts he’d seen while studying ancient religious documents.

Elizabeth lay as still as death with her eyes closed. Austin held her hand.

The three Vampires came back into the room.

“Can you help her?” Asked Austin.

“I will need your help young man,” said the one called Tellias. “You think I am a boy, perhaps one of your college students just out of high school. I traveled with the Roman Army before Christ as born. I met Eleora during the building of Hadrian’s Wall. We were both already old by then. We’re much older now. So we know things. We also know things about you Austin.”

Eleora sat and took Austin’s hand again. Val stood at the foot of the bed looking too serious for comfort.

“Austin,” said Tellias, “put your hand on Elizabeth’s face over the wounds. Don’t let go of Eleora’s hand. Eleora take my hand with in yours.” Then he reached out and took Val’s hand in his.

Then Tellias said words in a language Austin couldn’t understand. They were odd words in a magical tone that made his blood run cold. He was freezing, his lungs felt heavy, he couldn’t move.

“Don’t be afraid,” whispered Eleora.

“Don’t be afraid, don’t move, don’t fear, for this will pass,” said Tellias.

Then Austin felt as if an electrical fire surged though his body. Then Eleora shuttered, Tellias squeezed his eyes shut, and Val held his hand out as blue smoke came off of his fingers and the room filled with the smell of sulphur.

The black edges of Elizabeth’s wounds turned white, and the darkness of the wounds turned pink and closed, leaving dark pink red lines, rather than open wounds.

“Well, that was fun,” said Eleora.

“I think we should go swimming now,” said Tellias.

“Yes, swimming. Swim, swim, swim, swim,” said Eleora.

“We will be back,” said Tellias.

“We’re going to swim,” said Eleora.

Then they ran down the stairs, clothes flying as they went. Austin could hear a splash in the pool in Elizabeth’s backyard.

“Don’t take those two lightly,” said Val. “They might be old, but…”

“I know, they could kill me in the blink of an eye. That is what you were going to say, isn’t it?”

“No, I was going to say, they might be old, but they still know how to have fun. I have to go. Stay with Elizabeth until she wakes, which shouldn’t be long. She’ll be tired for a few hours. She’ll be shaken up for a few days, but she’ll be fine. You know what they say, Demons happen. But do me a favor and tell her to stay away from them. Please.”

“You know I’d do anything…”

“I know Austin. You’re a good man. Just be careful. Be very careful.”

Val left. Austin listened to the sound of Eleora and Tellias playing in the pool under the stars. Elizabeth opened her golden brown eyes and smiled without fangs.

“Austin, you’re here.”

“Always,” he said. “Get some rest. You need to sleep.”

As she dozed off Austin thought long and hard about Vampires, Demons, and his brother Dakota’s wedding. He didn’t want to be involved with Vampires. It wasn’t his plan. But one day several years ago he’d pulled up the floorboards of an old house and found two dried up Vampires. He killed them without a second thought. Then his attorney showed up and thanked him for taking out what he called soul-less undesirables.  And that is how he became a Vampire Hunter. The Vampires here were an entirely different thing. They were something he couldn’t even start to explain. His head seemed to spin. He had the wedding, his classes, his latest building project, and now Elizabeth. What would he do with Elizabeth? What sort of future could they possibly have?

He heard someone running up the stairs and saw Eleora standing there, wrapped in a towel with her hair dripping around her shoulders.

“You’ve come to the end of your rope,” she said. “Do you know what that means?”

“No. What does it mean, Eleora?”

“It means it is time for a new rope.”  Then she smiled and ran out of the room dropping the towel behind her. Austin heard a splash and the sound of the two Vampires laughing in the pool outside of Elizabeth’s bedroom window.

He knew that she didn’t mean for him to hang himself with it either.

 

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~ End of Part 17 of the Austin and Elizabeth (The Hunter) stories.

 

Click here for the entire series of Austin and Elizabeth Stories.

Click here for more on Demons.

Or here too.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Dancing on the Beach

 

Dancing on the Beach

As told by Dr. Shawna Greene

For three days we watched the human like form sitting motionless near the beach. We decided if it was human it was probably dead because no human could sit for so long in the heat and the cold and the wind the way this one did. More than likely it was garbage someone had dumped. A few people had traveled through over the past few weeks, near the abandoned mining town near the isolated stretches of desert and beach where we’d set up our summer research station in Patagonia.

We’d come to look for dinosaurs (with success, finding eggs and giant bones).

Dave, Blane and I trekked an hour down the hill to the spot where the mysterious lump sat. It was indeed human, wrapped in a blanket, large brimmed hat, dark sunglasses and a scarf covering the face. It almost looked like a modern mummy. The, without notice it moved.

“¿Estás bien?” Dave asked the stranger.

The man unwrapped the scarf from his face and removed his sunglasses. “I’m fine. I speak English too. But thanks for asking.”

He was tall with long chestnut colored hair and sparkling hazel eyes. Of course I noticed. I couldn’t help it after being out in the wilds for a month with my fellow researchers. My two college aged kids were in summer internships, my ex-husband was off on a honeymoon with a woman 10 years younger than me and I was doing something I loved – discovering the past.

But today, we discovered something quite different and unexpected. His name was Andrew. He was tall (I figured 6’2″) with a quick smile and a musical voice that captured the attention of all when he spoke.

Andrew said he’d been researching folk music, writing songs, savoring the local flavor and hinted at getting over a broken heart. A kindred spirit I thought. Well, I have to admit, my heart had mostly healed after my husband left two years ago – the day after our youngest child graduated from high school.

Had it been anyone else, we would have let him stay, but Andrew was so delightful and charming, and helpful that we let him stay on. His knowledge of just about everything was astounding. In the evenings he would sing songs ranging from Argentinian folk songs to Italian Opera. Everyone on the team did better with Andrew around.

The younger women, especially the graduate students Courtney and Kaitlin were enchanted by Andrew. No surprise there. He’d dote on them without being a predator. Then again the men were enchanted by him to. We all were.

Sometimes Andrew and I would share a glass of wine under the stars and talk of everything under the stars. He didn’t give away much of his personal life. He’d been living in New York and London, but thought of moving back to California where his family was. His first love was Opera, but he was taking notes on a book about how music takes the mind and soul to new places. He was more interested in finding out about us than telling us about himself.

I felt a bond with this appealing and mysterious man. He was so mysterious but I was so comfortable with him, like I’d known him forever.

One evening we walked the beach after dinner, just the two of us. We talked about time and space and he opened up in an unexpected burst.

“Time travel,” Andrew began, “will be possible, a reality, but it will be squandered by idiots who don’t appreciate the past or the possibilities of the future. They will be selfish short-sighted buffoons only interested in entertaining their own shallow minded pursuits and never seeing the power of the invention of the time machine.

And think about this…we are here on Earth with no knowledge of ANY life on other planets, yet we spend time and brain power on theories of what is out there and life in the universe and how the universe started and… what if nobody else is out there.

Or what if someone else is out there and they’ve figured it all out and we’re wrong, or we’ve figured it out and they are wrong. But we don’t know, because while you look for your giant dinosaur bones which seem like they’re from another planet, we ponder if there is life on other planets. And why is it all so random. You might disagree because of your scientific mind and experience with creatures of the past and because of the sheer amount of wonder in your soul…but…oh Shawna, we’re so different you and I.”

I didn’t know what to say. Andrew held out his hands. “Dance with me Shawna. Dance with me under the stars.”

Taking his cool hands in my own I found myself suddenly transfixed, dancing in the dark, with a long haired stranger who indeed was so different from me.

“Close your eyes,” he whispered in my ear. And against all better judgment I closed my eyes only to find myself transported into a ball room, wearing a silk gown the color of roses and sunsets, dancing with a handsome hazel eyed man in tails and white tie. And then I opened my eyes to find myself in cargo shorts and a fleece jacket on a desolate beach on the bottom of the earth.

“What are you?” I asked him that surprised that I didn’t ask who but what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

“You have fangs.” I had to say it. I just had to.

Andrew gently brushed my face with the back of his hand. “Yes, and I use them. I drink the blood of Regular Humans. I live for a long long long time. I have relatives who are over 1,000 years old. I was born in the 19th century, before the Civil War, during the California Gold Rush. But, I am just part of the natural order of the world, of the universe, and I hope of our two souls.”

“I have to admit you’re scaring me Andrew.”

“And the thought of you being afraid scares me more than anything Shawna. I’ve trusted you enough to tell you what I am. Now let me trust that you will not be afraid or reject my offer of friendship.”

“Will you turn me into a Vampire?” It was fear in my voice now, not hope that he would.

“Only if you want me to. Maybe. It isn’t anything I take lightly. But, but, Shawna, that isn’t what is important here. It is evolution, the very thing you’ve spent years studying, the difference in species and life forms and life forces and life and…” He ran his hands through his hair and closed his eyes then opened them looking right into mine. “And love. It all comes down to love and of course passion. You have that passion. I can see it when you speak of your work, your life, your children. You have what so many can only dream of.”

“You’re a Vampire.” I couldn’t get that out of my head, despite his remarkable words and way of speaking.

“Yes, and I’m cool with it. Are you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I understand.”

“Do you want my blood?”

“I would never harm you Shawna.”

“Have you taken blood from any of the others here?” I thought of my fellow scientists and grad students.

“Yes, but…why do you think they’re so happy all the sudden? Sure I took something from them that I needed but I gave them what they needed. Do you understand? Can you attempt to understand. I mean, really, it isn’t any different than finding a new dinosaur. Isn’t it?”

Then we just looked at each other for the longest time. It was a time that ended up in his cabin on the hill, in the creaky iron bed with the colorful quilts, with his cold body wrapped around my hot human one.

It was still dark when I awoke, brushing my hair out of my eyes. Next to the bed, sitting on a wooden crate was a woman. Her chestnut hair the exact same rich color as Andrew’s.

“I didn’t know he had company but…there is something about you Shawna that makes me glad he bonded with you. He is charming but my son can be exhausting and so emotional at times.”

I had to say I was in shock seeing this beautiful woman who didn’t look more than twenty six years old. “I’ve come to take him home, not away from you, but…what I’m trying to say is that you touched Andrew’s heart and maybe…”

Andrew opened his eyes. “Mom. Have you met Shawna?”

Well, this was awkward. They packed up and left, but not before they both left me with their contact information. This was weird. Vampires leaving contact information. Then again, it would have been weird for Andrew to just leave without a word. Of course my ex-husband left without so much as a word, but that is another story.

But before he left, he kissed me one more time then whispered in my ear, “I love you.”

The summer and our time in the desert is almost over. I still savor my short time with Andrew and the memory of his voice and his touch.

Will I contact him when I return? I don’t know. We both live in California where there are plenty of beaches to dance on and where the stars shine bright on the night.

Then again…he is a Vampire, or maybe that shouldn’t matter.

 

 

~ Dr. Shawna Greene 2013

 

Short Story: The Interview

Sometimes life takes you in places you don’t want to be and when you think you’re done it spits you out to where you’ve always wanted to be. Maybe.

When you drive through Marin County you can’t help but think it is a beautiful place, especially this time of year when everything is green. Then you hit the tunnel toward San Francisco and find yourself almost breathless crossing the most beautiful bridge in the world.

I was on the Golden Gate Bridge, both excited and a little queasy thinking about what was to come last Friday morning. I had an interview for a job.

About a month ago, after fifteen years at my job, after almost thirty years of no unemployment, I was laid off from my job. It was called a firing but that is what it felt like. There were ten other as well – all good people – all loyal workers. I left without tears or harsh words. There was nothing I could do about it. For the first forty eight hours I thought I could take on the world. Then I found all of the creative cells in my brain drying up. I lost confidence as I thought about all of the times I’d been slapped down for trying to be creative and innovative. One can get bitter being an art director in a position full of people who exude negativity out of each and every cell of their bodies. You learn not to care when everyone has an uneducated opinion about your work and about you. I got tired of all of the unkept promises and carrots held out to me to follow like the stupid ass I was. But, that was behind me. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.

Every job posting I saw was painful to read. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I tried to get my brain around it all. I couldn’t get my brain or my heart around anything. I was the woman who had it all, career, family, marriage, and that other life that was my creative soul. I had my wonderful family and my wonderful marriage. I was struggling to bring out my creative soul which had become timid. I hadn’t lived up to my potential and I knew it more than anyone. That was painful – even physically painful.

Over the past month I spent a lot of time at the gym and bird watching to get my mind clear. I spent more time with the dog than I ever had. The world was wide open and I froze.

The fog was lifting over the bridge and the sun started to come through. There is nothing more beautiful than a sunny day in San Francisco. Now my only thoughts were on the voice on the GPS telling me where to go. I’d switched it to the British man, who isn’t as bitchy and rude sounding as the American woman GPS voice.

Turn left in two miles miles…

On Wednesday as I was planting a nectarine tree in my front yard (for no reason other than something to do) my phone rang. I put down the pick ax and grabbed the phone with a dirty hand. I didn’t recognize the number or the area code but I answered it anyway.

The voice on the other end was a happy male voice, like a radio announcer or trained stage actor. He introduced himself then said, “A friend of a friend of a friend gave me your number. He said you’re a talented designer. He said you could draw with pencil and ink. He showed me your work. I might have a job for you.”

I wondered how he had seen my work or what it was. It had been years since I’d done the type of illustrations he’d spoken of. None were done for my regular employers. All were in private collections. He said I could work from my home and come into San Francisco once or twice a month. We could trade ideas over the phone and I could send him pdf file. He was working on a series of books and posters about opera and art and history. Could I see him.

Of course I was excited. Then it seemed odd with all of the young talent near him that he’d call on an unknown middle-aged women who lived a hundred miles away. He didn’t give me many details and I didn’t ask. I should have, but I didn’t.

I parked in front of a beautiful home in a residential neighborhood. It wasn’t one of the famous Victorians, but a large home built in the 1930’s. I checked my make-up in the mirror and noticed how old I looked. Before I’d left home my wearing a gray skirt and matching cashmere sweater set with well-chosen vintage jewelry and black heels. I looked good with a little bit of edge. Now I wondered if I’d worn the right thing. I had peep toes pumps. Should I have worn closed toed shoes? Should I have worn a suit? I didn’t realize this would be at a private home – so had I over dressed?

A large lilac point Siamese cat trotted up to the front door to greet me. He immediately started to talk, the was Siamese cats do. I reached down to scratch his ears, something he seemed to greatly appreciate. Just as I was about the ring the doorbell, the door opened.

“I seem James has come to greet you. He lives next door.” James the cat ran inside. “Come in, please, come in.”

A cool hand took mine and led me through the threshold. Before me was a man who could have been in his late twenties or in his forties. I couldn’t tell. The first thing I noticed was that same mesmerizing voice, then it was the hair and eyes. The hazel eyes and chestnut colored hair was the exact same as mine. Even his hair was like mine, almost at least. He wore it just above his shoulders, with a slight wave. I was sure his color was real. My hair color, was once like his but now it came out of a bottle. In fact I’d colored it again the day I first talked to him so there would be no gray roots.

We passed through a large main living room with a grand piano and a wall of windows overlooking a yard full of flowers. Everything about the house was calm and elegant, mixing modern and old elements in a way I hadn’t quite managed at my old house (I’m working on it.) We settled into an office with the same calm feeling and sense of beauty and refinement.

He wore black slacks, a white shirt and a patterned vest, plus a black tie that was a little loose. We sat at a table where I spread my portfolio out.

As I spoke he asked a few questions, more about my philosophy on art and science and the emotions that visual arts elicit. I spoke at first reserved, then with passion. I didn’t care at this point about what he thought or how corporate I sounded. He wanted to create find publications and blog about art and music. I wanted to create. I knew printing, I knew blogging, I knew passion for my work and for what he wanted to do…

Then he help up his hand, as if telling me to stop. Then he leaned forward in his chair and smiled. “I want to hire you.”

At that point I thought my heart was going to stop. I know I smiled. He produced a folder containing a contract and paperwork for benefits and taxes and all of those items one must sign when taking on a new job. My name was already on them.

“Who told you about me?” I had to ask.

He gave me a slight smile then said, “Nobody important.” Before I could say anything he took out a leather folder. “Take a look. This is the book. Everything is on a flash drive.”

As I sat looking over his manuscript and notes he left the room. I could hear piano music and his soft singing. I stopped and listened then after a few minutes went to the doorway to watch.

He looked up. “Come sit next to me.”

I thought to myself, I need to go.

My new employer motioned to me. “Come sit down. You can call your husband in a bit. He won’t mind picking up your children.”

Of course my husband wouldn’t mind picking up the kids. How did he know I had a husband or kids or was it that obvious? I sat next to him on the piano bench.

“Are you warm enough,” he asked.

“Yes.” It was cold but I was fine.

“I know this is all weird to you but this is what you’ve always wanted. Listen, I picked you because I knew you’d have both the expertise and the passion for the project. I knew I could work with you. I knew… I know you are more accepting of those who are different. By different I don’t mean like you, because you know you’re different. You are different, not just because you’re an artistic. You’ve always been different. But I’m really different.”

I didn’t even know what to say.

“I know about you,” he said.

“What do you know?” I was almost afraid for the answer.

He laughed. “It isn’t bad. Everyone says good things about you. People know who you are. And I know you want this more than anyone else I could have interviewed for the job.”

Putting his hands on the keys he started to play then said, “I’m different in ways you can’t even imagine, but in a lot of ways we’re just alike. You have darkness in your eyes.”

“My eyes are the same color as yours.”

“I mean depth.” Then he laughed.

That could have been enough to freak anyone out and make them leave, but the way he said it. Then again I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with this guy.

We went to lunch at a local vegetarian place and talked about the project and my past work for about two hours. He had he kind of depth and the kind of peace of mind that one usually doesn’t find in late GenXers and early Millennials. Actually that could include all Baby Boomers too and … just about everyone I’d ever worked with.

As we arrived back to his house smiled and said, “you seem so ageless.”

Against my better judgment I told him, “I’m old enough to be your mother.” It was just one of those silly jokes we tell ourselves when no matter how fashionable and unique and insanely talented we are – we suddenly realize that we’re no longer young or hip or valued.

“You just haven’t worked with the right people. Let me tell you a secret. I was born in 1851, not 1951 but 1851. I know what old is. It has nothing to do with age. I know that is easy for me to say, but you’re far better than you know. Far better than stupid people know. Far better than… You know, I can’t wait to work with you.”

I must have looked at him like he was crazy. I did look at him like he was crazy. Then he just smiled again and took my hands in his.

“We both have secrets. I’m a Vampire. You’re the person I want to illustrate my story. You and only you.”

“Really?” I had to ask him. “You’re a real Vampire?” You know, I thought back on my week. A thousand dollars in vet bills from both the dog and the cat, I didn’t have a job, three deaths including two that were close, and I think something is wrong with the transmission in my car. Now I have a job offer with a hefty paycheck doing what I love for someone who seemed want to hire me. “So,” I asked him, “are you going to drink my blood or anything like that?”

“Absolutely not. I need you for my books.”

I left around 10:00 that night after he’d told me his story and I’d told him mine. There were surprises for both of us. It took me about two hours to get home. There wasn’t much traffic by the time I left his big city to go to my medium-sized city.

HA! I guess this was a different kind of interview with a Vampire.

Sometimes life gets weird, but sometimes it gets wonderful. Sometimes it gets interesting. Sometimes it gets just the way it should be. I can’t believe how excited I am.

 

 

 

 

 

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Note: I know I’ve been lack on Short Story Sunday. For more (and better) stories CLICK HERE or HERE. 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman