Short Story Sunday: Two Stories – “Maybe” and “The Offer”

A new story for 2020

Maybe

My phone dinged with another text message. I really needed to mute the sound.

Jay: I am so sorry about Ryan.

Me: Thank you.

Jay: I saw your photo. Your still hot.

Me: You still can’t spell.

Another old boyfriend I’d have to block. They came out of the woodwork like rats, only they were middle aged men, all divorced, widowed, never married, and looking for any excuse to get laid.

The messages ranged from sappy memories of times that never meant much to me, dick pics, apologies, propositions, apologies for past bad behavior, and whiney threads of what could have been. I blocked them all.

Mike: If you need anything call me.

Me: Who is this?

Mike: Mike Johnson

Me: What are you doing now?

Mike: Thinking about you.

Me: I mean, are you working? Retired? Married? Single?

Mike: Semi retired. Semi single. Rich. Still have my hair. Still in the area. Still thinking of your hot body next to mine. I never forgot. Never.

Me: OK. Remember, you dumped me.

Mike: I was young and stupid. If you need anything, and I mean anything.

Me: OK.

I blocked him. That made nine. There were more out there and I hoped they’d all keep their thoughts to themselves. I’d dated a lot before I met Ryan.

Them: I think about you all the time.

Me: Stop.

Ryan and I had thirty one years together, two wonderful children, and now I had to figure out what was next. Or maybe not.

It had been five months since Ryan passed. I wasn’t so numb anymore. The kids were grown and handling it ok. I couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for myself for breaking down. I had to be there for them and my grand kids. I didn’t have the luxury of feeling sorry for myself, and Ryan wouldn’t have wanted me to.

Then I received an email from someone I used to know.

Dear Colette,
I was saddened to hear the news of Ryan’s passing. We had worked together on research projects for years and become friends. He spoke often of you and your children.

I didn’t get back to you because I also had Covid-19 and survived it.

It took a while for me to realize that Ryan’s Colette was you. I never told him I knew you.


I sat looking at the computer screen growing numb. The email was from Ian Locke, the one who got away. At least sort of got away. We parted ways because due to the old “wrong time, wrong place” type of situation.

Ian continued with sweet thoughts and good memories of my husband. It was exceptionally touching and weird. I never made the connection when Ryan spoke of Ian. They were never in the same city, and usually they were out in the field or in the lab, so we never met.

Then my phone vibrated and I answered the call. It was Ian.

His voice immediately brought me back to a time forty years ago when we were in college. We were just babies, or at least adults who didn’t know how to be adults yet. It was a time to experiment and flounder.

We talked a bit about Ryan and our children. We both had two. I had two girls. He had two boys. They were all doing great and in college. We spoke of our careers.

Then Ryan said, “I’m getting a divorce. I’ll sign the final papers next week.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“She had been cheating on me for years. When he passed away she wanted to patch things up but it was too late.”

Suddenly I wanted to throw up. I wasn’t so stupid that I didn’t know where this was going. I had no idea, but I wasn’t stupid.

“She gave Ryan Covid-19. She gave it to me. She and I survived it. I’m sorry. I am so angry. I lost my friend. I lost all sense of trust. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t even be telling you this.”

He shouldn’t have been telling me that.

I thought of the research trips. I thought of the times he had to stay a few extra days. I thought of him dying in our spare bedroom where he’d quarantined himself.

Ian continued. “Renee lost it when Ryan died. She was hysterical for weeks, then she finally told me about everything. I didn’t want to believe it but then I saw the texts, the emails, the photos. She said she was going to tell you. I told her no. She said she needed to tell you. What a cunt. I didn’t want you to hear it from her. I am so sorry Colette.”

“Ian,” I said. “I want to talk to you more. I want to see you, but I don’t know… could you call me back in a few weeks? Will you call me in a few weeks.”

“Sure. Colette…”

“I’ll talk to you soon. It’s good to hear your voice. Call me later.”

I hung up.

I haven’t heard from Ian. It has only been a week. I did put my house up for sale. I’m looking for a beach house, closer to my kids.

Nobody knows about my conversation with Ian. I don’t plan on telling anyone.

2020 is almost done. Next year should be better. Maybe. Either way it will be a new beginning for me. I tell myself that. Maybe I’ll convince myself. Maybe.

~ end

For those who want something a little more cheerful read the following story. It is an oldie but a goodie. Have fun. Stay safe. WEAR YOUR MASK.

The Offer (a fairy tale with a wizard, a kitten and a mysterious stranger)

Miles was the official Royal Wizard to the Kingdom of the Moonbeam Mountains. What the fuck kind of name was that for a Kingdom?

“I will NEVER be as good as my dad.” he thought brooding in the dark under the night sky on the roof with a bottle of 80 proof Dragon Blood.

Sitting alone in his castle by the sea he thought of her, the princess who’d more or less left him for another man. Hell, he never had her. She’d always been in love with someone else. They’d been together for ten years. In ten years she’d told him a thousand times that she loved him but at the same time she was running a fantasy in her head about another guy.

For the past 6 years they’d lived with each other almost full-time. Their father’s were best friends. Hers was the King of the Northwestern Kingdom, his father was the Royal Wizard there and their mother’s were girlfriends. Everything was perfect, just like it was supposed to be. Every single year he’d proposed to her. Every single year she’d told him that she wanted to wait. Wait for what? Now he knew. She was waiting for another guy.

He called to have his horse ready and took off to the local pub. At least there he could keep his mind off of things.

Half way to the pub he stopped to pull his gloves out of his saddle bag. He heard a noise on the side of the road. A teeny tiny gray and white kitten ran towards him. It couldn’t have been more than six weeks old.

“Oh sweetie,” he whispered to the kitten, “I can’t leave you out here alone.” He tucked the tiny cat under his coat and continued on.

As he entered the village gate he could hear the band playing at the pub and already see friends lingering around the front door. “Deep breath Miles,” he thought to himself knowing everyone would ask about his princess. They knew he’d left her. They didn’t know why or for how long. He didn’t want to talk about it. Maybe he’d just put a spell on the place to make them all shut up about it, but ethics and his own code of decency stopped him from it. There is no crime in being curious.

After dropping his horse off in safe hands he greeted the people outside then went in. He could feel the small body purring inside of his coat. There was something about a cat that could make one forget everything. Cats were so pure and so decadent and so useless and so calming and so everything that made the universe worth living in. Cats represented all that was. Not good or bad just everything.

He caught his reflection in a window. Blonde hair, board shoulders, blue eyes, dimples on his boy-next-door cheeks and a scar across his neck that would tingle every time she kissed him, no matter what violent memories it brought him.

Everyone greeted him. Big points were scored with the ladies when he cradled the purring kitten in the crook of his arm. Damn that kitty was cute. She looked up at him and mewed a purr dripped sound that was absolutely toxic cute. He could never get enough of that feeling of pure joy and love.

After ordering a brew Miles did a few tricks for the patrons. They always asked and he was glad to give them some shows of blue sparks, wispy smoke dragons and fairies flying over their heads and levitating beer steins. It was all good fun. Fun was always good especially with the way he was feeling.

The fact that he’d been alone for a few months hadn’t gone unnoticed. He could hear the gossip behind his back. He could feel the single women watching him and wanting him. There was no reason for him to be alone at night but he wasn’t ready yet for company in his cold bed.

He heard a voice at his shoulder. “Missing your homeland Wizard?”

Miles turned around to see a tall exceptionally thin man standing at his shoulder. He wore a good suit and a sarcastic smile on his face.

The man continued to speak. “Do you miss a warm princess next to you in your cold bed? Do you wish your magic was more powerful? Do you wish you’d get the same respect and power as your father has? I can give you all of that.”

“It isn’t wise to attempt to provoke a wizard, even a piss poor attempt like yours. I don’t know you sir, but I’m here to enjoy an evening with friends. Now if you’ll excuse me and my cat we’ve got others to talk to,” Miles said to the tall thin man.

“Give me that kitten and I’ll grant you three wishes,” the stranger said in a voice so smooth it made Miles cringe.

“I don’t want your wishes and I’m sure as Hell not giving you my cat.”

At a large table he sat with friends, joking and listening to their stories, but his senses were wide open to any evil that lurked in the building. The tall thin stranger occupied himself with another group, but Miles could feel his presence.

The kitten purred and played with everyone at the table. There was nothing special or magic about her except that she was a cat. “Just a cat,” thought Miles, “nothing more.”

Hours later, after he’d had a successful evening with friends who’d done more than a good job of cheering him up and getting him out of his gloomy mood, Miles arrived home. His staff would be in bed so he put the horse to bed for the night, gathered the kitten back under his coat and headed for the front door. The moonlight made the dark pathway easy. He took a deep breath of the salt air and listened to the waves crashing on the beach below.

“Welcome to my castle by the sea dear kitten,” he told his small purring friend. “You look like a Lizzie to me. How about it? Do you like that name my dear?” The kitten meowed and purred.

Looking up he saw a figure on the cliff. It was the annoying thin stranger from the pub.

“Wizard, give me the cat and I will give you everything you desire. I can make your princess love you. I can make you famous. I can bring you riches.”

“Get off my property or I’ll…” he thought a moment for the bad things he could do then spoke. “What’s so special about the cat?”

“Your princess for the cat Miles. Say the word and you’ll have what your heart desires.”

“I don’t know who you are but I don’t want a woman who loves me because of a spell. I want her to love me for the right reason. I want her to fall for me in a nice long romantic way of her own accord. Love spells are bull shit. Every wizard with any talent knows that. And any man who knows what his heart desires and knows what true love feels like knows that.”

“Give me the cat.”

“Is she yours? Don’t lie to me man. I’ll know if you’re telling me a lie.”

The stranger halted a bit. “Well, no.”

“Then what is it? I don’t want any wishes and I don’t trust you with a helpless kitten. What do you really want? Is this some sort of test? Or are you just a creepy stalker? What is it? Tell me.”

“Do you love your princess?” The man asked him as if he was accusing Miles of cheating.

“Sure I do but, it’s none of your business.” None of anyone’s business that she was in love with someone else. “Get the Hell off of my property.” Miles blasted the ground in front of the man with a bolt of orange lightning. The man jumped back. “Go or the next one will hit you.”

The man was gone. Miles was alone in the kitchen with the kitten. “What was that about? Do you know?”

The kitten just purred.

Three wishes. He laughed out loud a bitter laugh. What would he need with three wishes. He’d worked hard for everything he had. He was proud of what he’d accomplished. Being a wizard, much less one in a foreign country, wasn’t always easy. People depended on him.

He thought of calling her, his princess, but he decided to let it go, at least for tonight. She had left him letters and messages but he couldn’t get past the pain of betrayal.

He wondered who the skinny guy was and why he wanted the cat. Three wishes. It wasn’t worth it. He’d never trade his soul or the tiny stray he’d found on the side of the road. After all, wasn’t it the same thing? He had shown compassion to a small beast. He’d shown his soul.

The kitten didn’t start to talk. He kissed the top of her tiny head but she didn’t turn into a princess.

Taking out a piece of paper and a pen he started to write.

Tonight a strange skinny man offered me three wishes in exchange for a small kitten I found on the side of the road. The man said he could make you love me. I wasn’t tempted by the offer. If you love me I want it to be honest and true for me. No magic. No games. No more lies. 

He wadded up the letter and made it vanish with a flash of blue smoke.  It was no use.  Heading up the stairs with the kitten in his arms he stopped at the sound of someone knocking on the door. “Damn you, I do not want your wishes.”

Jerking open the door Miles yelled, “I’m not giving you my kitten.”

But standing at the door wasn’t the tall skinny man, it was his princess. He brought her in and told her the story of the strange skinny man and the kitten. She listened in wonder and then they both went upstairs.

And did they live happily ever after? Maybe. Only time, or maybe the cat will tell.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Pandemic ABC’s

A is for asshole who won’t wear a mask.

B is for baking at home because it makes the house smell good and it is a comfort.

C is for cat. We’re at home more and our cats have strong opinions about that. C is also for conspiracy theories. See A.

D is for  dogs who are ALL glad we’re home all of the time.

E is for the elephants who hide in our backyards and closets and sometimes right in the middle of a room.

F is for friends we haven’t seen in person in a long long long time.

G is for grandstanding. See A. G is also for gardening. I’ve always had a garden of some sorts. Even my kids have porch gardens in their apartments. I’m happy to see so many people are growing their own gardens now or starting community gardens. That is a good thing. G is for good.

H is for hate. No need to explain. Figure it out. Don’t hate. It will eat you faster than any demon or any virus or any great white shark.

I is for ignorance. Too many people are embracing ignorance when they should be embracing their children and their cats and other things that really matter.

J is for joy. Find joy even if you’re home alone. Joy is found in small things in small amounts. It ads up.

K is for kids who can’t go to school because so many people (see A) wouldn’t wear masks or take this thing seriously in the beginning. Wearing a mask isn’t political. It isn’t about rights. It is about being a sane human with half a brain.

L is for love. It is also for checking in on those we love who need extra help or extra encouragement.

M is for my friend Mandy White who has some wonderful stories featured in the new book Goin Extinct Too. 

N is for nothing. We’re all doing a lot of nothing these days. It is also for Netflix. We are all watching a lot of stuff on Netflix.

O is for OVER IT. We are all over famous people telling us how good they look in their swimsuits and yoga pants during the pandemic lock down. We’re tired of hearing about their relationships, their vaginas, their woes. Shut the fuck up. We’re OVER it.

P is for pandemic. P is for painting too. We painted the inside of our house. Now I’m painting some POP ART. Seriously, I’m doing some pop art projects. I might show some photos later.

Q is for quiet.

R is for rest.

S is for sanity. S is also for hands sanitizer. Mostly it is for sanity. S is also for sense of humor. You must keep a sense of humor.

T is for together. We are all in this together. If you don’t agree see A.

U is for unusual. These are unusual times.

V is for Vampire. We are doing very well thank you.

W is for Werewolves. They’re doing ok. Summer is a difficult time because of the heat and all of that fur.

X is for Xanadu a horrible awful movie you get to see after you’ve seen everything else on Netflix, Prime, YouTube and every other cable network and streaming service. Make sure you have strong cocktails and maybe some a joint first.

Y is for YOU. Not for U but You. You’re going to be OK.  You have value. You are loved.

Z is for Zallia. I know a lovely 90 year old woman named Zallia. It is also for Zebra. Everyone loves these distant striped relatives to horses. Z is also for ZOOM.

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I wrote this little list in about fifteen minutes on a borrowed tablet. We make due when we have to. In fact we’re all making due right now but that is ok. We’re good at it. 

Now I’m going to work on ART. Yes, A is also for art.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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As We Were: Sharp Dressed Man

Nothing says confidence or sexy like a sharp dressed man, even if that man lived in the 19th Century.

Formal yet casual and confident is how I’d describe our handsome friend in the photograph below.

1880’s style. Then again, a look like this never goes out of style.

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Fortunately this is a cabinet card so the details are clear. Unfortunately neither the subject of the photograph or the photographer are identified. I’ll have to do some research on this one. If I find out anything I’ll let you know.

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For more 19th Century photography fashion and fun see the As We Were page, or check back every first and third Wednesday.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Lost Keys and Lies

Every have one of those days when getting out of the house seems nearly impossible?

I couldn’t find my keys this morning and of course I was running late. And no I can’t just change myself into a bat.  That only happens in fiction.

I’m scouring the house but nothing. Then I heard a throat clearing.  I turned around and behind me is the Ghost, damn him, with my keys.

“I believe I have something of yours.” He said that with a nasty curl of his lip then flicked a lock of black hair out of his eyes.

I reached for the keys and they vanished, along with the Ghost.

I let out a string of not so nice words (the kind moms pretend not to know) and then tried to sense where he could have gone.

Off of the bookshelf I grabbed the box with all of the spare keys. Does anyone else have keys to cars, doors, and safe boxes they don’t even remember?

Anyway I grabbed the spare keys to my car and yelled, “If you don’t give me my keys back I’ll pour a bottle of Pinesol on your grave. I’ll pour a gallon on it.”

Nothing.

“I know where your grave is Nigel. I looked you up. I know all about you.”

I heard a clang as the keys dropped on the tile floor of the kitchen. I picked them up and headed for the front door.

He stood there waiting for me. “How’d you find out where my grave is?”

“I don’t even know your last name. How would I know where your grave is?” I looked at him with such calm as his eyes narrowed and threatened to turn me to ice.

“You’re a Vampire and a liar,” he snarled at me.

“And I’m really good at being both.” Then I smiled and headed out the door.

Anyway, tell your kids that lies and bad words are not acceptable…of course unless you’re dealing with a Ghost.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Note: This was first posted in 2013. Today is a busy day for me so I thought you’d like more fun and a blast from the past from Nigel and me. Sure he’ll hate me for it but the guy is a Ghost. What do you expect? On the other hand being a Ghost has nothing to do with it. I bet he was an asshole when he was alive.

~ J

Hooks

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Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

On TV whenever a hot girl sees a guy she likes she will run up to him, do a flying jump and wrap her legs around him as she plants him with a huge sloppy kiss.

NOBODY does that in real life. There would be a trip to the emergency room after he falls and cracks his skull on the pavement, and she falls with him and breaks her arm when it twists behind his back.

I just had to say that.

This morning after a long walk with my dog I fixed coffee and a second cup for Nigel. Being a Ghost, Nigel never drinks the coffee, he just puts his hands around the cup and takes in the aroma.

This morning we were not discussing stupid reality TV programs. We talked about creativity.

“Why don’t you finish anything?” Nigel asked with a sneer, as he shook a lock of dark hair off of his forehead.

“I finish blog posts and short stories,” I said.

“Novels?”

“I’ve finished a couple.”

“You never edited them or had them edited? What the Hell Juliette?”

I made more coffee and ignored his completely true comment.

“I’m writing today,” I said. “I’m working on a novel. I’m going to get a real editor to edit it.”

“What’s the hook? In one sentence,” said Nigel.

“A story that proves that Empty Nesters had lives before they had kids, and deadly secrets the’ll never tell.”

“I’d read that,” said Nigel. “Now give me the hook for another one.”

“Would you rather have a trophy wife on your arm or a raptor?”

“Oh, I like that. Go on.”

“Sometimes you have to die to find a love life.”

“OK. That hits home. Another.”

“After the fourth apocalypse in three years he decided to do something about it, and he didn’t really care what anyone else thought.”

“That one needs some work.”

“After the fourth apocalypse in three years he decided to do something about it, even if he was just a cat.”

“There you go. Is it about a cat?”

“It could be. I haven’t done much with that one yet,” I said. Wasn’t that the truth.

“Tell me another.”

“Get your gun, and get in the motorhome, said Grammy, “We’re going to hunt some Vampires.”

Nigel laughed out loud. “That was unexpected. Another.”

“I’m done for the day,” I told him. I need to write.

Yes, I do need to write before all of the ideas and inspiration drains out of my left ear and onto the floor. I need to write before I notice the floor needs to be mopped. I need to write before the dog needs more food, or the cats lie to me again and tell me they need more food. I need to write before another person drunk dials me, or I get distracted yet again by Ghosts or anyone or anything else.

I have to finish those stories and send those hooks out and catch some readers. My goal is to tell those tales and maybe entertain someone along the way.

And as always…

  • Talk to your kids
  • Wash your hands
  • Wear a mask
  • Check in on the elderly folks and others in your life you might need extra help.
  • Kiss a Vampire.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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The Fisherman

The Fisherman

A story from Adelia Hoff

There once was a fisherman who lived alone by the sea. One night he came across a beautiful woman dancing naked in the moonlight. When he called out, asking if she was alright as it was a very cold night, she swam away into the ocean. The fisherman saw her again and again after that, and every time he called out, asking if she was alright. It was only on the fifth time that he noticed the seal skin draped across a rock, and saw her run to it before swimming away.

There once was a fisherman who lived alone by the sea. One night, the beautiful woman’s skin was nowhere to be found, for she had danced too far down the beach from it. The fisherman saw this, and thought that the ocean would be very cold without it, so he carefully folded it in his arms and brought it to her. When she approached him to take it back, he asked if she was alright.

There once was a fisherman who lived with his family by the sea. Every day he and his wife would take their children out fishing, him in his boat and her in the waters below. When they would get back home, he would hang up his coat and she and the children would hang up their skins, and they would eat their dinner. They all loved each other very much, and when the moon was bright in the sky, they would all go dance together- clothed, of course. It was cold.

 

~ end

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This is where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

For more stories from Adelia Hoff click on the links below.

Charade by Adelia Hoff

The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy) by Adelia Hoff