Morning in the Vineyard

Morning at the Vineyard

A story from Juliette Kings

Andrew didn’t remember much when the door opened with blinding light waking him from his sleep, much less the voice that said “You aren’t dead.”

“Of course I’m not dead.” Andrew lifted himself up on his elbow and looked around at the bedroom.

“You were so cold. We couldn’t hear your heart.” A slim woman with long slightly graying hair stood near the bed.

“That’s what all the girls say.” No response. “That was a joke.”

“Oh. Ha ha ha. Good one.” Uncomfortable laughing.

There was the taste of blood in his mouth, but not his own. It must have been a Hell of a night. He looked at the woman again. She was pretty but not young, standing there in a flowing sundress and pretty light summer sweater. Nice. This would be fairly easy staying here for a few days, but he would still be cautious. Sometimes the most easy ones turned out to be the most dangerous.

Andrew started to get up and realized he was naked under the sheets.

“Your clothes were soaked and also covered with blood. We thought about calling the police but my husband Ian said to wait until morning. My husband Dennis said the same. I don’t agree with them. We should have called the police as soon as we found you.”

“Where was I?”

“In the vineyard, face down in the dirt. Your car was in a ditch with four flats and the front end smashed in. We pulled it out.”

The Tesla. Quiet and fast and expensive. Then he thought about what she said. “Husbands? You mentioned two husbands.”

“We practice polyandry. Two husbands, one wife, one family. It isn’t legal or common or accepted by most people but…”

“I don’t have a problem with it. As long as it works for you.”

“It does.”

She took a stack of clothing, jeans, a shirt, etc, from the top of the dresser and gave it to Andrew. “Clean clothing. Breakfast will be ready in about a half hour. And we’ll discuss who you are and why you’re here and where all the blood came from.” Then she turned and left the room.

What a night. The fog started to clear from Andrew’s brain. He staggered up out of the bed and closed the window shades. Damn sunlight. Looking in the mirror the reflection looked back showing a well built man with alabaster skin, long chestnut curls flowing down his back, a classically handsome face and hazel eyes the color of the blue green southern seas. His mouth twitched showing fangs. He quickly gained his composure and hid the teeth and rubbed his tired eyes.

“Shit. What the crap happened to you Andrew,” he said to himself. There was wine, a lot of wine. There were women. There was a guy named Brant and his friend Chet. There was the girl Ginger…she had AB + blood, Chet had O. Oh no. Why didn’t he remember? And how’d he end up face down in the middle of a vineyard? Zinfandel. He knew what kind of grapes they were.

Taking a 3 minute shower, he towel dried his long locks, pulled on the clothes the woman had left him and went down the stairs. He could smell food cooking and coffee. He gripped the banister to prevent himself from throwing up everything inside of his stomach. He’d over done it for sure, blood and wine. Wine and blood. Sex too but that was  a blur. Food might do him some good.

In the kitchen were two men and the woman, along with half a dozen kids in who ranged from about 8 to 17.

He looked at the men. A large blonde man who looked like a former football player introduced himself as Ian. Dennis was shorter with the look of a History Professor or some sort of thing like that. They called the woman Carrie. One big happy family.

Ian poured Andrew coffee and welcomed him. They all welcomed him. This was getting creepy. Then again, Andrew was the Vampire, but he was sitting in the home of a farmer and wine maker and her two husbands and six kids. It was weird. But hey, he decided to make the best of it.

They made small talk. He thanked them for taking him in. Carrie put plates of eggs and fried tofu and toast and fruit and bacon and mushrooms on the table.

The teenage girls thought Andrew’s hair was great and asked him if he was in a band. He smiled minus fangs. He must have had at least five cups of coffee.

“Last night I thought you had some nasty scratches on your face,” mentioned Ian.

“I, uh, heal fast.” Andrew said that then wished he’d kept his mouth shut. He healed fast because he wasn’t like them. He took the blood and energy of regular normal people and in return, he made them feel good – like a rush that would last at least a week. Well, if he liked them and made a connection.

“Where’d all the blood come from? Except for the scratch on your face you didn’t have a mark on you.” As Carrie said that she gave him a long cold look.

“Blood? On me? I guess I drank too much. Too much of everything and threw up. I don’t know. My friends drank a lot and someone was doing some sort of recreational drugs or maybe prescription pain killers, I’m not sure, but I over did it. Listen, I’m so sorry about this and I really appreciate your hospitality. I’ve imposed on you. I wish there was something I could do to pay you back. Let me know.”

Ian gave him a pat on the arm. “We know what it is like to be different.”

“You’re a Vampire aren’t you?” Dennis asked as the kids all looked on.

Andrew brushed a damp lock of hair out of his face and suddenly felt a little warm. “Yes, but…”

“How long have you been a Vampire?” Carrie was asking now.

“I’ve always been one. My parents were Vampires. Um, I was born just down the road from here. October 22, 1851.”

The children were transfixed.

“We don’t have a problem with Vampires. Some food might settle your stomach Andrew,” said Carrie. “And you’re welcome to stay as long as you like. We found your phone and called your sister. She’ll be here in a couple of hours.”

This was all too strange for Andrew. He’d spent the past 100 years or thereabouts avoiding families and any kind of normal human lives. Years had passed traveling, and performing and enjoying wine and women and wild nights. But now he sat with a nice family with no pretenses. And rarely had he ever met humans who knew or even knew about real Vampires. It was so unusually weird.

I sing opera,” he said to the kids. “Mainly opera but I can sing just about anything. Just got back from Patagonia and learned a bunch of folk songs. I can do metal too. That comes naturally.”

“I can imagine you do a great power ballad,” Carrie said with a smile, then she told the children to leave the room.

Andrew had to smile. This as so weird but he could get used to this. He looked at Carrie’s golden brown eyes. A positive blood, just like his. She’d make a good Vampire, or even just a snack.

He thought about his sister. It had been forever since he’d seen her or her children. It would be nice. More than nice. Maybe she’d get another husband too. He might suggest it. He smiled. That would be funny.

“What happened to my friends? Did you see any of them?” Andrew looked from Dennis to Ian then to Carrie. “Did they say where they went?”

Carrie looked him in the eye as Dennis and Ian flanked her side. “We buried them in the garden behind the carriage house.”

“Don’t worry,” said Dennis “Nobody ever found the other bodies we’ve buried, so they won’t find your friends.”

Andrew took another gulp of coffee and hoped his sister would arrive soon.

And that was the entire truth just as my brother Andrew told it to me

~ 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

Blind Trust

Ohhhhh Mandy White.
I’m sharing this lovely little romance for my blog’s Tangled Tales. Love it. I want everyone I know to follow dysfunctional.wordpress.com

Dysfictional

~ ~ Photo by K Zoltan from Pexels ~ ~

This year, Gina’s gift to her husband would be extra special. It had been years in the planning; an interminable wait list, clandestine phone calls, hasty arrangements with the help of her sister when the time finally came.

Keeping the secret from Stuart had been agonizing; usually, they told each other everything. Conveniently, he was away on business when Gina and Maxine boarded a taxi for the airport. She told him her sister was recovering from surgery and needed an extra set of hands around the house for a couple of weeks. It was a half-truth; she did stay with her sister in Boston, but it was Gina who was recovering from surgery.

Gina had spoken to Stuart on the phone several times while she was away, but hadn’t told him she was returning early. He wasn’t expecting her for…

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Christmas Orphans (a short random tale)

Christmas Orphans (a short random tale)

“Why do I have eyes of different colors? The brown eye is my own. The blue eye is a different story. I plucked it from the freshly dead body of a young Irish nun. She’d killed herself because she had a vision that the child she was carrying, the child of the handsome young priest, was the Antichrist.”

“Why were you there Uncle Jeff?” A young voice in a hushed whisper asked.

“Because, my dear, I was the handsome young priest. That was before the life I live now. But I still see visions of angels and of a family in a warm embrace of love, then the fires of Hell with dancing devils and…”

“JEFF. STOP IT,” I yelled. “You’re going to give them nightmares.”

I know better than to ask my crazy brother to tell Christmas stories to my children and their young cousins.

“But, Simon, the stories are true,” my brother said as if he believed what he was saying.

“Kids, don’t listen to him. He’s blowing stories out of his…out of his ears.”

“Did I tell you about the time I met Santa Claus?”

“Jeff, no more storytelling.”

“It was the winter of 1969.”

“Jeff you were a toddler in 1969.”

“You have no idea how old I really am. Brother I have secrets that will make your head explode. Now children, the rest of the researchers on the Arctic research station had died of a mysterious illness. Then the giant polar two ton bears came. I’ll never forget the sound of them crunching on the bones of my friends.”

“Giant two ton polar bears?”

My brother and the children ignored me as he continued his tale. “I wouldn’t let them eat the dogs so we took off with the sled north, following the stars. Frozen and hungry, my body could take no more. Out of my blue eye I could see my angel Bernadette, the nun I’d loved. Her visions…”

“Jeff!”

“Then I heard bells. Not big bells like the Liberty Bell, but small happy bells. A lot of bells. I thought I was in a dream. My dogs huddled close. Then we saw them. The Zombies…”

I went to the kitchen for a beer. My wife and Jeff’s weird Goth girlfriend were talking about how to make the perfect prime rib.

Spotting my sister Libby out on the deck I went out to join her.

“It’s cold out.”

“Cold but not as weird as it is inside.”

“Do you think there is any truth to his stories.”

“I don’t know. He has memories of before we were found. All the records still say we were abandoned at the rest stop outside of Barstow. Nobody came forward to claim us. We’re related for sure, the DNA tests prove that, and we look like each other  but…”

My sister shrugged. “I did more research but didn’t find anything. Nothing. It is like we were dropped by aliens.”

“Or Santa Claus.” I said.

We were found on Christmas Day, three tiny children. Our dad was the highway patrolman who found us. Jeff was the oldest, then Libby and I was just a baby. The doctors figured Jeff was around three, Libby maybe two and I was a newborn. We were all wearing hand knitted Christmas sweaters and red Santa hats.

Our life was happy and normal with our new parents. They loved us unconditionally. They still do.

I never thought about who might have left us at the rest stop with typed notes saying “Merry Christmas. Please keep us together,” pinned on our sweaters.

Libby and I went back inside to catch the end of Jeff’s story.

“In the morning Santa and I sat on the beach listening to the crashing waves. I passed him the bottle of whiskey we were sharing and he put his hand on back and said “Good job son, good job.”

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Fall Garden

Some of you might have read this extremely short story before, but read it again. It will get you into a good mood for October. I’ll try to have a new story soon. Things are just kind of weird these days and my brain is otherwise occupied.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Fall Garden

So I’m digging away, trying to put in some sort of flower beds in my rocky garden. It is foggy. It is cold. And I am not amused. That is what happens when you live in a house built on gold mine tailings. Rocks. Nothing but river rocks coated in a tiny bit of dirt and a shit load of weed seeds.

I’ve got the pick ax out, and I’m jamming the shovel in a hole, with the cold nose of a ninety pound German Shepard in my face, when I FINALLY get the last rock loose before I can plant a small dwarf lime tree. The dog goes nuts. I push her away and pull out the rock.

It isn’t a rock.

It is a skull.

A human skull.

Shit.

My son comes out with a fresh cup of coffee for me (did I mention it was cold.) He looked at the skull and then calls up to the house.

“Hey Dad, she found another one.” Then he turns to me. “This one is small. Man, woman, or child?”

I toss the skull in my garden gloved hands. “It might be a woman but you never know.”

“Want me to put it with the others?”

“Sure,” I said, handing the skull to my sweet teenager.

I could hear him in the side yard opening the 50 gallon Rubbermaid storage container, and dropping in the skull.

He came back to me after about a minute. “Hey Mom, the container is almost full.”

I took a deep breath. “That’s a lot of skulls.”

He gave me an uncomfortable look. “It sure is. Who do you think they are?”

I put my arm around his waist and gave him a hug. “I have no idea. But thanks for the coffee sweetie. Let’s go in. I think I’m done out here today.”

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Smoke Gets In My Eyes (Fires, Gender Reveals, and Reveries of a Vampire King)

Dear Diary,

The sky is red with smoke and fire. There is a demon wind blowing as if it wants to take the roof off of the house.

“There are too many fires,” I told my friend Randolpho. “It is like Hell has come up from the bowels of the Earth.”

“This is 2020. Welcome to the new normal. I hear there is a big fire by the airport and on some of the river levies. Add those to the fires already going on including that fire started by those fools having a gender reveal party.”

“Gender reveal party?” I asked. “What do you mean by gender reveal and why is there a party?”

“Before babies are born some people get overly excited and throw a gender reveal party. You know, to announce if they are having a boy or a girl.”

“That is ridiculous. How do they know if it is a boy or a girl? Even a witch will not be able to tell you that with a hundred percent certainty.”

“Ultra sound, or amnio. Oh my God. You don’t know about those things. Let me show you.”

Randolpho pulled out his phone and went on the Internet, where almost all information can be found. 

“Ultra sound is a way to see a baby before it is born to make sure it is developing right. ”

I looked at a photo of a tiny human being. There was a face and this one was obviously male. 

“But how is this done? The baby is inside of the mother. It would die if they cut her open.”

“They don’t cut her open. Get a clue Vlad. The technician takes sort a wand and rubs it over the mother’s pregnant belly. Then an image of the baby appears on a computer screen. Then the image can be printed out.

“This is amazing. If I had not seen it for myself I would not have believed it. Then what is amnio?”

“Amniocentesis is a procedure in which amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus for testing or treatment. Amniotic fluid is the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy. 

A large needle is inserted into the mother amniotic fluid around the baby is extracted. One can tell then not only the gender but if there are any genetic issues the parents should be aware of.”

“Genetic issues?”

“For example if a child will have Down’s Syndrome.”

“What is that?”

“Remember Maria? The small girl who liked to wear crowns of flowers and always had a song and a smile. She had Down’s Syndrome.”

I remembered the young Vampire maiden. She was one of my mother’s ladies. Once a cocky young Vampire called Vink called Maria an idiot and belittled her in front of the entire Vampire court because she did not understand his stories. He thought the stories were humorous. They were not.

My mother had Vink thrown into the dungeon for a week for his meanness. 

Even being a Vampire Maria passed on the next winter. We were all sad. Everyone loved Maria. Vink continued to be a fool and was banished from the court.

“Now there are people like Maria who graduate from High School and some even graduate from college.”

I thought about this for a while. There is so much I need to learn.

“Do you ever want to have kids Vlad?” Randolpho asked. I thought that was odd. We have known each other for over 670 years and we have never discussed it.

The subject made me feel somewhat uncomfortable.  I told Randolpho he needed to change the subject.

Later I tried to sleep but could only think of babies crying and keeping me awake. I thought about a baby laughing and broke out in a cold sweat, then coughed from the smoke. 

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

The smoke is thicker today. My mind is still on children. I am in Hell.

I poured a glass of chilled blood and put a piece of fresh mint on top of it. Mint is something we did not have when I was Vampire King. After being locked in a crypt for three hundred years I have discovered many new things such as mint, chilled drinks, and viewing babies inside of their mothers. I might have missed the 18th, 19th, and 20thCenturies, but here I am in 2020.

Once when I was much younger, when I was Vampire King I went on a journey to being a group of young orphan Vampire children back to my castle. My wife had just abandoned me and I had the need to, what term do they use so often now, get away. I had to get away.

After riding for a week with some of my finest Vampire soldiers, I met my contact at an ancient castle by the edge of a large lake. The Vampire in charge approached me. He was slightly taller than I am, making him around six feet tall. His appearance was striking, not just because of his height but also because of his fashion. He was dressed all in black with dark glossy brown hair about his shoulders. He wore no wig as many men did at that time but like me, he wore his own hair. His eyes were deep golden brown surrounded by thick lashes, and a face spotted with light facial hair on his jaw line and a hint of a mustache growing in. His clothing and boots were all black except for a purple sash around his waist and a green feather in his hat. 

He introduced himself as Toby Rose, the Captain of the group, and the Captain of the ship that had brought the children from England. I immediately liked him. 

Toby Rose spoke the old Vampire language with an English accent. The women at the castle thought he was charming. Their attentions lingered more on him that on me – which was something new for I was always the one woman kept their eyes on.

Later as we walked along the edge of the lake Toby told me he had heard my wife had left. We looked towards the castle and saw a group of women walking along the road. 

“They are beautiful,” said Toby Rose.

“Yes, they are,” I replied. They were beautiful but I was not in mood for strange women.

“I love women. I love the way they feel with their warm skin, and soft lips. I love knowing how easy it is for me to please them. The are always surprised by me in the best of ways. I also love men. I do believe I love being with a man the best. I love their strong arms, and the way a man moves and smells. I love the feel of a chest covered with hair, and the brush of stubble on my neck when he kisses me.” Then he laughed a low quiet laugh. “I love to feel their stubble everywhere if you know what I mean.”

Toby Rose was quite forward. I was curious and asked him, “When did you know you desired both men and women.”

“I have always liked everyone,” he said with a laugh. “My father always told me you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. He was a wise man, my father was.” 

I was somewhat surprised Toby Rose was so open with me in a time when those who expressed their sexuality so openly were often hung or burned alive. On the other hand we were Vampires, open to all desires and all ways of life. We rarely judged.

In fact, when my sister was born a cousin mocked my parents because my mother had given birth to a girl. We had no gender reveal at the time. My father became angry, pinned his cousin down and cut one of his balls off. Then he put it into a jar and placed it in my sister’s nursery. 

“Now my daughter has as many balls as you do,” my father said to his cousin.

My father would do things like that. I did not tell Toby Rose about that memory.

As we walked along the riverbank we spoke of the children we had rescued. We spoke of our lives and what we wanted. Toby gave me gentle words about the departure of my cheating whore of a wife, which made me feel better.

“You hungry?” Toby Rose asked.

So we went for a hunt. After we were full of warm blood and the thrill of hunting together we joined the rest of our party along with our hosts in the castle.

Everyone spoke of Toby Rose. All of the women wanted him. All of the men wanted to be like him. He was a fierce fighter, and a lover who never shared secrets. He was a leader. He was a mentor and a teacher. Toby Rose was an amazing man and an amazing Vampire.

I noticed women, as always would look at me with longing, but they boldly approached Toby Rose to let him know that they wanted him to come to them later.

Later as I was alone in my chamber, getting ready to retire, there was a knock on my door. I opened it and let in Toby Rose, who was wearing nothing but an oversized robe.

“I want you Vlad,” Toby Rose whispered, as he put his hand on my hip and stepped close.

“Toby, I am not ready for this. I do not know if I will ever be ready,” I told him.

Toby Rose kissed my neck scraping fangs across it making me close my eyes and wonder what indeed was happening. Then Toby Rose took my hand and put it under his robe. “I’m ready. I have never been more ready.”

“Toby Rose!” I said.

Toby Rose’s robe dropped to the ground and I found out that Toby Rose was a woman.

I have to admit it was one of the best nights of my life.

That is my gender reveal story.

About a year ago I tried to find out what happened to Toby Rose. Nobody knows. She might be an old Vampire content living a quiet life. She might be dead. Or she might be locked in a crypt somewhere, a prisoner of the dark. I do not know.

~ Vlad

Dear Diary,

My love Gillian is now sleeping in my bed as I write this.  I have never told her of Toby Rose, or about any of my other lovers, nor has she told me about hers.

Even after hundreds of years some things never change. Like all self respecting Vampires we never kiss and tell.

~ Vlad

This has been the 63rd installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read all of them, or find your favorites again CLICK HERE, or check out the right sidebar.