Short Story Sunday: College Daze

Ninety percent of my time as an undergrad was spent in weird Dr. Harrison’s biochemistry lab. The other ten percent of my time was living vicariously through my roommate Tony, who partied and got laid enough for an entire frat house full of horny guys.

Mavis stood up and stepped away from the keyboard. Earlier in the week she’d dropped her eighteen year old son Axel off at college – the same college she’d gone to. Now she was starting notes for her seventeenth novel in the popular Detective Star Landers Mystery Series.

She didn’t want her son to be like either one of the characters in her novel. She knew he wouldn’t be like Tony, but then again you never really knew what your kids were up to when they weren’t with you.

Axel was the youngest of her three kids. Jared and Zoe were also in college at opposite ends of the state. Axel was in the middle. She went outside with her coffee cup and looked at the backyard the kids had played in for years. Two dogs of unknown breeds were sleeping under the shade of the trees. Both animals were from the county shelter. The kids were helped pick them out. A lot of memories were in that yard and with those dogs.

After making more coffee Mavis sat down at her laptop again. She looked outside through the window and thought of her own college days. She didn’t think about it much. She didn’t keep in touch with anyone. After taking a sip of coffee she started to write again.

He did make time for Darcie. All he had to do was show up at her door and she’d screw him silly. She never expected love. Just friendship and sex. He was always up for that. One night he’d shown up at the little house she’d rented behind a bigger house. It was really more of a shed with a kitchen and bathroom added on to it. Anyway, it was 2:00 a.m. and Darcie was wearing a robe. Her face was red and swollen. It looked like her hands were covered in blood. 

She told him that she’d been attacked by a guy named Clayton Jones. Sure everyone knew Clay. He thought he was God’s gift to women, but slutty Darcie would never sleep with him. Clay called her a whore. She shrugged. 

Darcie had been to a party that night. Clay had tried to get her to fuck him. As always she said no. About twenty minutes after she got home Clay came to call. He beat her up and raped her. When he was done she hit him on the head with a lamp. 

Mavis looked up and rubbed her eyes. Then she started in on her notes again.

He was bleeding. He called her a bitch. She said she’d take him to the hospital. Down the road, behind a warehouse, she covered his car with lighter fluid and dropped a match on it. Poof. It with up in flames with Clay in the passenger seat. She walked home, and that is where I found her, sitting in her robe, covered in blood. 

Mavis saved the file. Then she deleted it.

She sipped her coffee again. Earlier in the week Axel had asked her about her college years. She’d told him it was sort of boring. She liked the classes but didn’t get into the social life part. Then her youngest son asked her if she knew that guy Clay who’d been murdered. She told him no. She didn’t know anything about it.

“You met dad in college. Did he know that guy Clay?” Axel had asked.

“He might have,” said Mavis, then she changed the subject.

She started a new page.

I never told anyone what Mavis did. 

Then she erased that line, and called her husband. Not for any reason. Just to tell him that she loved him. That was all

 

~ end

 

 

 

Jury Duty

Friday was High School Graduation. Saturday was, well, Saturday. We spent Sunday with Wonder Woman (I wish they’d just call her Diana and forget the Wonder Woman title.)

Monday was jury duty.

I’ve been getting out of jury duty for years on the excuse that I had child care issues, which was true. Now it is summer. I work from home. My kids are out of school. They drive. No excuses.

Even as a Vampire I believe in my civic duty and in our justice system (I bet you didn’t think I’d bring up the Vampire thing did you?)

So yesterday morning came. I knew what I’d wear. Conservative but comfortable business wear. A royal blue blouse, black slack, black flats, a white sweater, shiny brown hair slightly flipped up, black marcasite jewelry, easy on the eyeliner. Once I got there I saw that most people had come in jeans and were more on the comfort scale than I was.

I first stopped for coffee at the corner donut shop. This was not one of the awful national chains (aka Dunkin Donuts which sells something called coffee that resembles dirty pond water and I wish had not opened in my neighborhood) but a small family run place with a funny name (Ducky’s Donuts) and friendly young owners. The coffee is in pump containers, and you have to get your half/half out of the fridge yourself. As always the coffee was excellent. No donut – just coffee, but I hear the donuts are great.

It took me a little over an hour to get to the court house. Morning traffic from my house to downtown was heavy but more than I expected. But hey, one has to see the bright side. I took a less traveled road through Midtown to Downtown and got a great morning view of the Capitol building (yes, Sacramento.)

And this was my day:

I arrive at the court house. Then I waited in a line to sign in. We were all told not to sit on the benches or tables outside of the court house because homeless people camped out there at night and the clean up crew couldn’t guarantee how clean anything would be. A judge explained the reason we go to jury duty and the history of it all. It was nice. He also said to send in any suggestions and thoughts to the court. I read about 100 pages in my book (John Sanford, Escape Clause. Extremely entertaining), then I pulled out my iPad and watched videos on YouTube about cats, deep sea creatures, deep sea mysteries, why dogs turn their heads when you talk to them, and a super lame high voiced silly British comedian I’ll never watch again (a lot of British humor seems so old fashioned to me these days.) We were excused for lunch and I almost stepped on a condom on the courthouse steps. Then I saw my husband at the lunch break and asked him how to quickly light a car on fire, what fuel to use, etc etc etc. He didn’t bat an eye because I’m always asking him stuff like that. No, I’m not going to really light a car on fire, I’m just writing about it. He doesn’t read what I write but is always willing to give technical advice. Went back to the court house. I dozed in my seat. Looked out the window and counted palm trees (about five from where I sat.) Read another chapter in my book.  Several people around me mentioned that they’d finished their books. Everyone started talking to each other. Sat for another hour, closed my eyes and figured out how to smash a guy in the head, get him to his car, drive him four or five miles away, light the car on fire, walk home, then have a horror writer in Canada tell an old friend of mine (under a full moon by a camp fire on a beach) how such a sweet woman could be such a cold hearted killer, but hey, the guy deserved it, and it fits into the novel I’m working on. Then at 2:00 my jury group was excused. Jury duty done for another 18 months.

Needless to say my experience was nothing like the movie/play Twelve Angry Men. It wasn’t even like Witness for the Prosecution. It wasn’t like a Vampire movie either. It was real but not gritty or dramatic. It just was.

Luckily there was no traffic on the way home, except right before my house in the never ending messy three miles of road construction. When I arrived home I helped the girl child find her shirt for the senior trip (high school graduates, not old folks) to Disneyland. They should have arrived at the Magic Kingdom about an hour ago (it is now 8:08 a.m. PST.)

All of this reminds me that despite all of the political assholery going on right now, we have a system that works. Juries are picked. People are allowed a fair trial. People participate. People gather peacefully. This isn’t about politics. It is about what is right.

So that is all I have this morning. I’ll need about another gallon of coffee and maybe even another hour of sleep before I get going on today’s agenda…

Have a great day everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Juliette: Parenting, Ghosts, and Change

Ask Juliette is a somewhat regular Thursday feature at vampiremaman.com

I answer real questions from real readers. If you have a question feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me at juliettevampiremom at gmail dot com

Before we get to today’s questions I have an observation…

This morning while I was out in my neighborhood walking my dog… it was an attempt to train the dog, which is sort of working. Anyway we walked over to where the Bald Eagles are nesting. Due to the influx of asshat photographers who feel as if they are gods and have a right to pester the poor new parents, the park service has put us signs telling everyone to stay away from the eagles and not bother them. Yes, there was a woman hauling a ladder out to where the eagles are.  I was ready to go out and scream at her. I assume somebody already did because I haven’t seen her around in the past few weeks. There has also been people climbing the fence (which was put there to prevent idiots from falling off of the steep bluff.)

In the wee hours of the morning my dog and I were alone with the eagles. I watched as they flew from the lake to the nest with fish. The babies flapped their small brown wings and hopped about the nest. As I walked home up my own street, my husband was driving out. He stopped and told me one of the eagles was flying over our house, about twenty feet from the deck.

I thought about the eagle parents. No parent likes to be pestered or watched when they are with their kids. Seriously, no matter what species someone is just let them alone in peace. Don’t bug them or pester them with advice. Don’t invade their privacy in order to get your daily cute fix.

Dear Juliette,

Why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Why must they haunt the living?

As most of my regular readers know, there are a few ghosts who regularly visit me at my house – mainly Nigel and his girlfriend Mary.

So why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Because they’re frustrated. They live in a world where they cannot participate. They’re reminded daily of what they are missing out on. For example Nigel’s 40th High School Reunion is coming up. He missed his ten-year reunion by a year. He is haunted by the thoughts of what could have been. He is angry because he never got to see his career progress, he never got to fall in love and get married, he never got to be a dad. He can’t even have a dog as a ghost, unless some dead dog attempts to latch onto him, but that rarely happens. What bugs Nigel the most is the fact that in the reunion program he’ll once more be listed with those who have also died since high school graduation. Only he can’t even see them because that isn’t how the ghost world works. Even the dead have left him behind.

Ghosts are trapped. They’re pissed off. They can’t communicate with most people. Nobody understands what it is like to be dead. So they hang out with Vampires, most of whom have died but are back in their bodies – so that even pisses ghosts off even more.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t be hating on ghosts. Sure they’re obnoxious but have some understanding and sympathy.

Dear Juliette,

If I became a Vampire would anyone be there to help me adjust? Would I have to be shown how to suck blood out of people or would it just come naturally? Is there training for new Vampires?

Yes, unless you end up being a soulless Shadow Creeper someone will be there to help. We have a wide ranging support system for those who have just become Vampires. A range of issues have to be taken into consideration when one becomes a Vampire. Did you become a Vampire of your own will, or was it thrust upon you? That makes a big difference on how you’re going to react to the change. You know, anytime someone makes a profound change, be if biologically, or mentally, there are going to be adjustments. It isn’t always easy.

One of the hardest things to deal with isn’t sucking blood, but keeping your existence as a Vampire secret. You can’t tell anyone, or at least those who will in turn tell others. We don’t have a lot of rules. We don’t have many consequences to our actions except maybe forcing someone to become a Vampire, or telling someone about us.

But sure, there are people here to help. I’m one of the go-to folks for helping newbees. Like with most profound changes, everyone is different.

 

Dear Juliette,

What’s up? What are your plans for the blog?

What?

Dear Juliette,

Why are Vampire men so damn sexy?

Sigh. Survival my dear. Survival.

 

Dear Juliette,

I just wrote a novel. I believe it is quite good, but none of my family and friends will read it. I need feedback. Now what?

If you want some feedback go online and reach out for beta readers. Most authors find that often family and friends aren’t interested in your work, especially if it a genera they don’t usually read.

Find a writing peer group either online, or with one of your local writing groups. Don’t get mad if someone reads your book and doesn’t fawn all over it. It is better you hear what you need to hear now – rather than getting a bad review or zillions of rejection letters later.

Also search blogs for like-minded individuals you think might enjoy your book, or have good, honest, educated input.

Another suggestion is to make a list of questions for your Beta Reader. Do they connect with the characters? Do the plot twists make sense? Ask what part they like best or least, and why.

Good luck.

That is all I have for today. If you can add to any of these answers please do. Everyone can always use a second opinion. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

An Afternoon Haunting Over Coffee (With A Ghost)

Some are haunted by the thoughts of “what if.”

Some are haunted by loves lost and missed opportunity.

Some are haunted by terrors in their closets, that come out at night and stare at the foot of their bed with lifeless black eyes, and claws like razors.

Some, like me, are haunted by another kind of ghost.

This afternoon, as I was working on an outline for a book, I heard music coming from the family room of my house.

Telegram force and ready
I knew this was a big mistake
There’s a fine line drawing
My senses together
And I think it’s about to break
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

Nightshades on a warning
Give me strength at least give me a light
Give me anything even sympathy
There’s a chance you could be right
If I listen close I can hear them singers, oh
Voices in your body coming through on the radio

The union of the snake is on the climb
Moving up it’s gonna race it’s gonna break
Through the borderline

I looked from where I was sitting in the breakfast room to see a figure singing and slowly swaying to the music. Black shining shaggy hair came down to the top of his shoulders, hiding the collar of his white shirt. He turned and glared at me. The music stopped. His form went in and out of an odd translucent state. I hate it when they do that. I hate Ghosts.

Then he started to talk. “You’re writing. How quaint. Well, maybe it isn’t so quaint considering you’re a blood sucking cold as death Vampire. Have you prepared your speech for the National Book Awards yet?”

“Go away Nigel,” I said to The Ghost.

And he continued to talk. “You should write something edgy that you can make into a movie. How about a powerful handsome black man, played by Michael B. Jordan who marries a beautiful blonde played by Jennifer Laurence. He promotes one of his younger men, played by Zac Efron over an older man. The old guy, that would be Robert De Niro, gets pissed and makes the Michael B. Jordan character think Jennifer Laurence is having an affair with the young guy and…”

“Othello.”

“I know, I know, but do a new twist on it. Make everyone black except make Othello white. Othello sounds sort of Italian. He could own a chain of successful upscale restaurants. You can add in a character called Mama Othello. Kathy Bates. It would be great. You could get the current pop-star-de-jour to do the music. Someone like Ariana Grande.”

“Go away Nigel, you’re bothering me.”

“Good. That was my intention.”

I continued to work on my writing trying to ignore him.

“I need coffee.”

I ignored him.

“Coffee would be nice. You could have some too. Heaven knows you could use it.”

I continued to work.

“You could write a book about a widow who goes to live in a big house by the ocean that is haunted by a handsome ship captain. The ship captain falls in love with her, but she lives in real world, and he tells her to find someone with a real body. And she writes. She writes his story and doesn’t have to move back with her horrible in-laws from Hell. Then she gets involved with some married shit for brains asshole. She goes home and finds out that her daughter knew about the ghost all along, then she dies and is with the man she loves, you know, the ship captain. It is so sad and romantic, kind of like a Nicholas Sparks novel. Did you know he went to the same high school as your kids? Not the ship captain, but Sparks. Lynn Anderson the singer went there too. Tom Hanks, Hill Harper, and I also went there. I went there too. Did you know that?”

I continued to ignore him.

“Don’t tell me you don’t know The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It is one of your favorite movies. About a GHOST no less. You’re such a fucking hypocrite, even for a Vampire.”

I continued to try to write.

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. You like Ghosts. Admit it.”

“Enough. I’ll make coffee.”

“Thank you.”

“By the way, I hate Ghosts.”

“I am not particularly fond of Vampires.”

We sat at the table and watch the rain with hot mugs of coffee. Nigel put his face over the mug and took in the scent. I drank mine with half and half.

He looked down at my pad of paper where I made notes. I use both computer and yellow legal pads.

“Do you think you’ll ever…” he started to say something.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I like it.”

I looked up. He locked his eyes in mine.

“This is good Juliette.”

“Thank you,” I said, and finished my coffee.

“You should…”

“Don’t.” I shook my head and looked away.

“Fine. But don’t say I didn’t tell you. Don’t you ever say I did not tell you,” he said.

Then he smiled and vanished in a gray wisp of smoke, that smelled like coffee and the ocean.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Who and what haunts your days, nights, and even your coffee?

 

 

 

 

 

Outtakes (from a parenting/vampire blogger)


These are the recent outtakes (the absolute real reason I’ve started so many blog posts lately and not finished a one, hence all the dead space and reruns.)

THIS

I received my 11th telemarketing weirdo freak call of the day and I tell the guy, “Hey, you know what, go suck your own dick.” He tries to say something. I continue. “And while you’re at it go to a dark room and close the door so nobody can see you. Just do it you fuck head.” Then I turn around and see my daughter’s sports coach looking at me in a somewhat shocked manner.

OR

From the truth is more disgusting than fiction files… this morning a kid in my daughter’s English class accidentally left a window in his car cracked. Someone broke into his car, crapped on the seats, then smeared it all over the car. He had the car towed because he couldn’t drive it. He said he could smell it about five cars down. If the kids who did it are caught they won’t be able to graduate, and if it isn’t a seniors they’ll be kicked out of the school. Ugh. The poor kid with the car can’t figure out who could hate him so much. Of course every kid in the school knows about it now so I’m sure they’ll find the criminal crappers soon.

OR

It is International Women’s Day and….

OR

A question for my advice column: Dear Juliette, an agent requested I send her my vampire romance. I haven’t heard from her in two years. Now what? Do I keep sending it out to agents? Do I self-publish? Do I go back to law school? ~ Writer in Waiting.

OR

My daughter is graduating from high school on June 2. And this is where I started to cry and couldn’t think of anything else to write.

OR

A few weeks ago I went on a high school field trip with two bus loads of advanced art students. It was fun. The kids were great. A crazy guy said one of the girls assaulted him in Golden Gate Park. My mind just went totally and completely blank.

OR

I’ve filled my twitter feed with political rage. Maybe that wasn’t the right branding choice.

OR

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Snakes. Ireland. Vampires. Drinking. Small children… Actually, I might have a story here…

OR

The frustrations of training a 13-month old German Shepard Dog. Let’s just start cussing NOW.

OR

Why I HATE Cover Reveals and fifty other ways to offend other bloggers.

OR

I was going through some old photos the other day and I found a couple of CIA Operatives.

OR

I’m not getting enough sleep. I have a lot of demands and shit like that. Seriously, I am not getting enough sleep and I’m losing my mind. Wait, I lost it a long time ago, I think. Maybe…

OR

Why are so many people reading my story The Travelers?  I’ve posted the story quite a few times, but this is the original 2012 post. This is traditionally a Christmas story. But seriously, the traffic for this story has gone through the roof for about six months. I thought people were coming here for love letters. They’re coming here for love letters and THE TRAVELERS. WHO ARE YOU??? I even put a note on the end of the post and nobody will get back to me about it. Please let me know if it is on a story list or what/why/who.

OR

I got nuthin.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Disgusting Thoughts and Inspiration

I tried to come up with something, not exactly a metaphor, along the lines that if you beat a dead horse long enough you’ll get horse burgers, and a nice horse skin coat. Then it just seemed disgusting. Keep writing, and rewriting, and rewriting.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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