Not Quite Twilight

My husband has put up with it for years.  My sister and I have a pact about it.  If I wake up in the middle of the night and it’s not done, I’ll do it.

I believe with every fiber of my being that if I go to bed without pulling the covers up to my chin, vampires are going to somehow not only be alerted but also line up for a slurp of my A positive.  Perhaps brag to their friends to my piquant taste and vintage bouquet.  Sell raffle tickets in the Vampire Gazette for a tasty drink of my blood.

I have my good buddy Stephen King to thank for this, as one of the many times I was shoved out of the house and told to go find something to do during the summer, I went to the library and picked up the book ‘Salem’s Lot.  At the tender age of 14 or so, I think that my mother probably should have been monitoring my weekly library checkouts a little more carefully.  It’s one more blame to hang on the maternal mantle.

At this point, I don’t remember if we rented the movie ‘Salem’s Lot or it was on a special TV night, but in the end, does it matter?  What matters is I became familiar with the bloodsucker material along with my brother and sister, who are four and six years younger than I, putting them at 10 and six at the time of the viewing.

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“Come back later.” Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

Fourteen, ten and six, people, and we’re watching ‘Salem’s Lot.  Floating vampires outside your window, using their squeaky talons to request access into the home.  Let me in, they’d say.  I’m so cold.

We probably should have flipped the channel to something more age appropriate; for instance, Little House on the Prairie?  Zoom?  Flip Wilson?  The Sonny and Cher Show or Donny and Marie?  No one flipped the channel, however, and there we all sat, glued to the TV.

After watching this movie, whichever of us kids drew the short straw to take the dog out would skreek our fingernails down the bay windows to make the exact noise of the flying Glick boys in the movie, giggling the entire time.  We said we were doing it to scare the others but I think it was more that we wanted a connection, no matter how tenuous, to the people inside while we were outside, with things unseen in the dark, and a big, stupid dog that would rather sniff 1100 things rather than pee.

It was only funny until bedtime.  At that point, lying in bed and frozen with fear, that shit got real.   Any sound, especially crickets, began to resemble the sound of those long, green, brittle, broken fingernails scraping the windows.  Looking for entrance.  Begging the children of the household to obey their trancelike urges and open the window or door to let them in.

For a quick snack, that’s all.

It was at that point, 32 years ago, that I began pulling the covers up as high as I could to cover every inch of neck that might be exposed.

I never forgot.  I never relaxed.

Fast forward to every single night after that.  When it’s time for bed, I brush my teeth; kick the 130 pound Labrador out of the way long enough to slide under the flannel sheets and…

This part is important.  Stay with me.

I AM 51 YEARS OLD. I still pull the covers right up to my chin.  Still.   And that’s where they remain, even when my icy-footed husband kicks the giant black creature fully out of our bed and climbs in.  Even when he gets into bed and I reluctantly allow him a meager portion of our covers.  Once he is settled I simply retuck the covers around my neck.  My husband is long used to this procedure.  Sometimes he even does it for me.  I think it’s husbandly concern but it’s more likely he’s just indulging me and my weirdness.

Yes, I’m afraid of vampires, folks. Not to the point where I can’t read about them or watch movies about them (hello, Lost Boys).  I’m fine during the day.  But nighttime?  Nighttime is a different story, ever since I saw that ‘Salem’s Lot movie and countless vampire movies since.  My vampire phobia strikes at night, when my mind is a little more open to those sorts of things.  When I’m a little more vulnerable.

I have a feeling–sometimes a certain resolute knowledge–that at night, a sly vampire is crouching in a corner of my room, waiting for the exact moment when I forget to pull the blankets up high enough, leaving a tiny, succulent strip of skin exposed.  The one watching me from the corner is the same one who has been assigned to watch me since I was 14.  He’s not cute.  There’s nothing sexy about him.  He’s not suave like George Hamilton was in “Love at First Bite.”  I imagine he’s got glittery eyes.   Yellow skin.  Long, sharp teeth.  Stringy hair.

He also has unholy patience, which is why I cannot let my guard down for even one minute.  He’s a vampire who means business.

My extreme vamp phobia even caused me to call my sister one time a few years ago, in a complete panic, just to make sure she knew that if I was ever in a coma, she needed to come in every night and pull my covers up to my chin so that the vampire wouldn’t be able to bite me in the middle of the night.

Without even batting an eye, she agreed and had a condition of her own; if she was ever in a coma I had to come and pluck any chin hairs.

It’s a price I’m willing to pay.

Stuff it, Miss Muffet

It’s not that I’m afraid of spiders. I’m really not. As long as I can see and squish them.

Last night before getting into bed, Joe and I were changing the sheets. I was trying to get my pillow into a pillowcase by stuffing it in then hurling it over my head and down onto the ground again and again. I was having a hard time because putting my pillow into a pillowcase is like fitting ten pounds of flour into a five-pound bag…but WORTH IT.

Mid hurl, I noticed up on the ceiling a gigantic black spider. Big enough to have a driver’s license. Big enough to qualify for a zip code. More importantly, big enough that if that sucker landed on my side of the bed while I slept, I would have felt the mattress move. And don’t even get me started on the fangs.

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actual size.

Well, obviously this wouldn’t do. I would have to kill it. Meaning I’d have to have Joe kill it, once I got my stupid pillowcase on.

A couple more overhead hurls with the pillowcase and I looked back up to find that the spider was gone.

Gone.

I think the puffs of air from the vigorous pillowcase action had blown him down, because he was not skittering down the wall, not moved over on the ceiling a little bit, but gone as in could be anywhere, could be under the bed, could be hiding on my side of the mattress. Obviously we’d have to get the flamethrower out.

Joe indicated he’d rather hold off on the flamethrower and instead got down on all fours to look under the bed with a flashlight. There were lots of things under the bed. A slipper I thought I’d lost. About fifteen purple earplugs that had gone missing. An earring. And about two hundred pounds of dog hair…

But no spider.

“I’ll go get the flamethrower now,” I told Joe.

“Why don’t you just get the other flashlight and help me look,” he responded patiently.

“I’m not sleeping in this room unless we find the spider,” I said, as I peered under the bed with my light. “If you want to be gobbled up in the middle of the night, that’s your business. But I won’t be in here to save you.”

It’s then I see it cavorting under the bed. It’s the size of a ping-pong ball and hairy, and it’s in a hurry because it knows when there’s a flashlight shining his way, the sole of a shoe is about to follow. The drawback is that to pull him out and squish him, I have to lure him closer to me. Closer is not a word I like to associate with spiders.

I take the aforementioned slipper and a deep breath, then scoot Gigantor out into the open, where I use Joe’s good dress shoe to pound him into oblivion.

At least I’ll be able to sleep tonight, though, as long as there isn’t any spider family who’s going to come looking for retribution.

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“Looking for Chris Cacciatore. Have you seen her?”

The Swamp Monster’s Skin Cancer Check-Up

Waiting for a new tire Saturday, I decided to amuse myself (and my sister) by sharing an embarrassing story with her about my visit to the dermatologist.

I had basal cell carcinoma last year (you can read about it here) so I have to be more cautious about these types of things now.

After a long day of work sitting at a desk in a warm office, I had a late afternoon appointment for a full body skin cancer check. I wasn’t able to go home and change and felt…swampy.

So I texted her, and below is an absolute exact transcript.

Me to sister: Settle in. So, yesterday…

Sister to me: *puts the tea on

Me: I had a full body skin check, which was all clear, so good for me

Me: But

Sister: Butt?

Me: I was super conscious of my naked thighs sticking together

Me: Keep in mind I had sat my ass down all day

Sister: Like fruit strips on the roll. Hoo boy this is going to get good

Me: So she checks front of thighs and all is well.

Me: Then asks me to stand up and turn around

Me: Please refer to sitting all day

Me: So I stood up and tried to turn around

Sister: *blinking.* Paper got stuck up your crack?

Sister: DID YOU FALL

Sister: NEKKED

Sister: AND SHE HAD TO CATCH YOU

Me: The very tippy top of my fat ass thighs stuck together (I’m standing on the footstool part of the patient table)

Sister: Suction sound?

Me: So when I turned around the back of my left leg stayed turned around.

Me: I had to physically spread my legs so my other things could CATCH UP

Me: All while this doctor is seated about four inches from my crotch

Me: Refer to sitting all day and underpants were probably soaked with old lady sweat and fecundity effluvia (I have to apologize to you, dear reader, if I am offending you in any way, but I was trying to get my point across, plus I was going for maximum effect)

Sister: The word that comes to mind is…waft

Me: I know those aren’t two words that normally go together but they sure applied in this case

Me: Waft. Yes, waft.

Me: God. And she was pregnant and probably would have preferred to smell my feet again than do another upper thigh check

Me: *takes swiftest glance ever. “Yep, all good.”

Me: That is all. But I’m laughing telling you.

Sister: Probably needed a quick foot sniff to replace the lingering odor

Sister: What did her face do?

Me: Remained perfectly professional

Me: But probably wanted to do thisScreenshot_20180506-225036

Me: I had to tell someone and this surely will be my blog tomorrow.

Me: I did manage to gather much of the paper up in my underwear-wearing crack, though. Good catch there.

Me: I never felt so old and stinky in my life

Sister: Nothing like the good old butt print on the paper.

Me: I never even thought about my underwear or wiping down, changing my undies, just about putting Vicks on my feet in the morning because she checks in between each toe (Please remember that I’m just trying to provide the facts, and I did in fact say this was an actual transcript, so I’m leaving in the not so savory part.)

(The rest of the conversation, via screen shot)

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About the author:

Christine Cacciatore is a multi-published author who lives—and loves—to write. Together with her sister, Jennifer Starkman, she has published the magical novels Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed, with the third book Elise, Evermore coming out soon. On her own, she has written Noah Cane’s Candy, a sassy holiday short romance and Knew You’d Come, a spicy paranormal romance novella. Also, Chris ventured into the Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly paranormal series and has written Trouble Lake and Grave Injury. They’re the perfect books to curl up with any time of year but especially Halloween…because they’re chock full of ghosts!

Chris is a member of the In Print Professional Writer’s Group in Rockford, IL and the Chicago Writer’s Association. In her spare time, Chris enjoys writing, reading, and coloring in her grandchildren’s coloring books with the good crayons. Chris is married to a devastatingly handsome man she met on eHarmony, has three children and a gigantic black dog who helps her pack lunches in the morning. She also has four of the most beautiful, intelligent grandchildren in the world, (#5 coming in August!) and their antics keep her in stitches.

Me, a cage fighter? Only on April 1.

 

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(free photo via WordPress)

(Author’s note: this was written for a special edition April Fools in our office newsletter. The funniest part wasn’t the article, it was when someone who read the newsletter called to congratulate me on my new profession – and he didn’t know it was a fake article. It IS satire, by the way.)

Those who are used to calling the corporate office and talking to Chris Cacciatore will have to do without her for the next several months, as she is taking an extended leave of absence to fulfill a dream she has had since she was young—to be a WWE wrestler.

“I grew up around my two uncles, who were more like older brothers.  My formative years were spent fighting off offers of ‘Hertz Donuts’ and twisty Indian burns, among other things.  I also learned that the suggestion of ‘let’s see who can hit the softest’ was clearly not to see, in fact, who hit the softest.

“I grew tired of being pummeled.  I began working out in the gym and eventually honed my body into a fighting machine.  Soon, a trainer approached me about getting into the ring to do some professional wrestling and I thought, why not?”

Chris spent ten years in the wrestling circuit, learning famous moves such as the “Tombstone”, the “Flying Headbutt”, and perfecting “the People’s Eyebrow”.

“I stole that last one from The Rock after I beat him in a cage match,” Chris snickered.  “I also have a new move that I plan on debuting later:  “The Reverse Dog Lay”.  It’s adapted from the “Downward Facing Dog” pose used in yoga.  It lulls your opponent into a false sense of security before you steamroll them completely.”

Chris’ husband, Joe, supports her sabbatical completely.  “I pretty much have to,” he confided, looking to see if his wife Chris overheard.    “You don’t want to mess with her.”

The Do’s and Don’ts (all Don’ts) of Texting and Driving

pexels-photo-230557.jpegWhich of these things don’t go together? A) Peanut butter and jelly. B) Cereal and milk. C) Bat and ball. D) Texting and driving.

Unless you have been living under a large cellular rock, the correct answer is D) Texting and driving. The weather is turning warm and sunny and people of all ages are making plans. You out? You out? You up? You out? Sup? Who dis? The problem is too many of those people can’t wait til they get home to make those plans…they’re texting while driving.

Here’s a thought…Don’t.

It might be my advanced age, but it infuriates me when I see people texting while driving. I’m livid when I’m behind a car and when the red light turns green, they’re paying no attention, resulting in a seven-car length gap between the first car and the texter. I only have a 13-mile commute back and forth to work every day, but during that time I still see tons of people pecking away at their tiny keyboards, not paying the slightest bit of attention to the road. Or the fact that I am having a fabulous hair day.

Your full attention must be on the road. Two years ago, I mistakenly thought I was the only person on the face of the earth who was talented enough to text and drive safely. I was “knee” driving while texting, and while I was looking down, my knee slipped, and I went into the other (empty, thank God) lane. God only knows what was so important it couldn’t wait. It scared me so bad that to this day there are gray hairs no Clairol will cover. It was enough to teach me a big lesson.

You should not text even while sitting still. Last winter, I was waiting to turn left into my work. There’s a wide turn lane in the middle of the four-lane road where everyone waits to turn left into the office building. A woman (not a teen, but an older woman) in her white SUV was traveling toward me, and she was paying no attention to anything but her not-so-smart phone. I was a sitting duck. To my horror, her car drifted out of her lane and veered directly into mine. I laid on the horn, and she looked up just in time to swerve over. The speed limit on that road is 45 and she would have hit me head on. I guarantee she didn’t need any coffee the rest of the day (maybe an ekg for her heart, though) as the adrenaline pulsing through her body at the near miss was enough to keep her up for several nights.

You should not text and drive, even if you’re stopped. If I had been looking down at my phone and not paying attention to traffic, even though I wasn’t moving, I would not have seen the White SUV of Death barreling toward me. I was watching and able to alert her to the impending crash, thereby saving my favorite shirt.

Mind your own business. This morning I was heading to work and a teen in a white car ahead of me was texting up a storm. She was weaving slightly from one lane to another while looking down. I figured if I could get up next to her, I would have her roll down her window and self-righteously tell her off. I’m old and crabby like that. As luck would have it, traffic halted for a red light and I was almost even with her when I noticed several things simultaneously. First, it was not a teen, it was a senior citizen. Second, she was not texting, she was drinking coffee, and third, I was so intent on busting her for texting that I failed to notice the car ahead of me was stopped for the red light. Only by the grace of God was I able to slam on the brakes and avoid an accident. I avoided humiliating eye contact with others around me. It was the longest red light of my life.

Texting and driving is extremely dangerous. Please don’t do it. No message is ever, ever that important that you should risk your life or the lives of others to check your phone. Not even if you think you’re skilled at doing both at the same time.

You’re not.

***

About the author:

Christine Cacciatore is a multi-published author who lives—and loves—to write. Together with her sister, Jennifer Starkman, she has published the magical novels Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed, with the third book Elise, Evermore coming out soon. On her own, she has written Noah Cane’s Candy, a sassy holiday short romance and Knew You’d Come, a spicy paranormal romance novella. Also, Chris ventured into the Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly paranormal series and has written Trouble Lake and Grave Injury. They’re the perfect books to curl up with any time of year but especially Halloween…because they’re chock full of ghosts!

Chris is a member of the In Print Professional Writer’s Group in Rockford, IL and the Chicago Writer’s Association. In her spare time, Chris enjoys writing, reading, and coloring in her grandchildren’s coloring books with the good crayons. Chris is married to a devastatingly handsome man she met on eHarmony, has three children and a gigantic black dog who helps her pack lunches in the morning. She also has four of the most beautiful, intelligent grandchildren in the world…with one on the way…and their antics keep her in stitches.

Fun female field trip. (Not really.)

IMG_wkavozFor those of you who are squeamish, please, for the love of God, look away now. Don’t read any more.

For those of you who yearn to live vicariously through me…please, pull up a chair. Let me tell you about my day.

At 51-almost-52, my baby factory has been shut down for quite some time, due to the fact that I had my tubes tied after I had my youngest daughter almost 25 years ago.

I am now 300 months postpartum; I guess I should work on getting the baby weight off. (#tryharder)

A while back, despite having my tubes tied, I exhibited every single symptom of pregnancy. Sore boobs, lack of period, bloating, mood swings, nausea. In short, I was really, really fun to be around.   When I say really, really fun to be around, I am lying through my teeth.

Just when the symptoms made me think I should go buy a pregnancy test, (despite the slim odds) or a priest for my exorcism, what should happen?

Aunt Flo came to town.

And the flipping bitch didn’t want to leave.

I asked her nicely to leave. When that didn’t work, I pouted. I threw fits. I threatened.  I drank.  I bribed.

My family wisely hid the knives behind the furniture.

I finally said Uncle. I went to the doctor, explained everything, was examined, had blood drawn, levels tested, and a negative pregnancy test. All tests normal. (Praise God.) So far, so good. She then started me on something to help staunch the…well…you know. Besides the referral to an actual gynecologist, I thought that was the end of that.

Except that I had to get an ultrasound today.  And not just any ultrasound, mind you.

(*here’s where I would normally insert a picture.  However, I don’t have any pictures from the events of today that would be appropriate here.  After all, I don’t know you that well.)

The medical test from hell started when I had to drink 48 oz of water from 12:30 until 1:00 pm. I’m quite the water drinker. I drink water all day long. However, drinking this much water in ½ hour was enough to make even me gag.

I parked the car at the hospital and despite having my legs crossed tightly the entire time was able to get to the ultrasound department. It was approximately 7.5 miles from where I parked.  I was afraid I was going to be late.  The panicked staccato taps of my high heels on the tile floor took my mind off how badly I had to go to the bathroom.

Chris has a bad day

The first part of the test was uneventful. I greatly enjoyed the warmth of the ultrasound gel on my lower belly. It was very soothing. The room was quiet and the light was dim and I would have fallen asleep except for the excruciating pressure on my straining bladder.

When the test was over, I was led to the bathroom and told to take my time. I peed as if I hadn’t seen a toilet in a month. The relief was immediate and immense.

The ultrasound tech was hiding in the hallway and sprang out at me when I exited in the bathroom.

Her: “Are you ready for the second part of your test?”

Me: “Do you mean the part where I walk down the hall and find the exit?”

Her: (chuckling expansively) “Silly you. The second part, the internal exam.”

Me: (smile fades, face pales.) “No.  No, I’m not ready for that.”

Despite the elfin size, her iron grip lead me directly back into the room, where I am forced to “take off everything below the waist, but if you want to leave your shoes on you can.”

Leave my shoes on? Really?  And take everything else off?  I have on black high heels, no pantyhose. The thought of being nekked below the waist except for black high heels was a bit…pornographic to me. The shoes came off with all the other below the waist things, and I was grateful that I had a cute pedicure.

Funny what you think of, grooming wise, when you’re having an internal ultrasound. My toesies were not the only thing I had groomed, and I was glad.

“You’ll feel a slight pressure.” It was the only warning I got before the “wand” was “inserted” by Vlad the Impaler.

She apologized for the “pressure” over and over while applying said pressure and also for the fact that a couple of times I choked on it as it was coming up my throat.

Finally she finished up and withdrew the entire 3 feet of wand. I am thrown several dry washcloths to absorb all of the gel. I feel like the guy in the shower in “The Crying Game.”

She escorted me down the hall. I noticed that she kept looking to the right and left.

Me:   “Did you lose something?”

Her: “No. I’m just looking for the right sized broomstick. You’re not my only ultrasound today.”

***

(ps: everything turned out ok.)

About the author:

Christine Cacciatore is a multi-published author who lives—and loves—to write. Together with her sister, Jennifer Starkman, she has published the magical novels Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed, with the third book Elise, Evermore coming out soon. On her own, she has written Noah Cane’s Candy, a sassy holiday short romance and Knew You’d Come, a spicy paranormal romance novella. Also, Chris ventured into the Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly paranormal series and has written Trouble Lake and Grave Injury. They’re the perfect books to curl up with any time of year but especially Halloween…because they’re chock full of ghosts!

Chris is a member of the In Print Professional Writer’s Group in Rockford, IL and the Chicago Writer’s Association. In her spare time, Chris enjoys writing, reading, and coloring in her grandchildren’s coloring books with the good crayons. Chris is married to a devastatingly handsome man she met on eHarmony, has three children and a gigantic black dog who helps her pack lunches in the morning. She also has four of the most beautiful, intelligent grandchildren in the world, and their antics keep her in stitches.

*I went home and told my friend Lambrusco all about it.
**originally posted on The Life and Times of Poopwa Foley

Swiffer Shenanigans

pexels-photo-733555.jpeg“The dog had a seizure.” My husband is standing in the doorway of our bedroom. The hall light is shining in my bleary eyes. We have both had approximately four hours of sleep. I heave myself out of bed because when our dog has a seizure, it always involves a messy letting go of both bladder and bowel, with a side order of a touchy gag reflex thrown in for shits and giggles. (see what I did there?)

Our dog Cooper is an eight year old lab. His vet is clueless as to why he’s had a couple of seizures in the past four years, and they are just far enough apart that we almost forget how awful they are in between. Plus, once they’re over, he’s completely unaware of what happened and goes back to his normal self. We, however, are left to pick up the pieces and by that I mean clean up after him.

I pull on some clothes and walk into the hallway and realize Coop has pooped in so many places it looks like there’s been a pack of un-pottytrained dogs running loose and wild in the house. He’s peed, too, and thrashed around in it. He’s knocked over a TV tray with a loose, lengthy manuscript on it which I have to toss immediately into the garbage because it’s soaked in pee. Same with my new laptop case. LOVELY.

Aside from the messes when this occurs, Cooper never has an accident in the house but when one occurs, I’m very glad that we don’t have carpeting because it makes it so much easier to clean up. Coop, in the meantime, is ecstatic that we got up early to spend some quality time with him. So happy, in fact, that he insists on threading himself through our legs despite the fact that his coat is wet with urine. Ugh. I let him outside while we clean up.

Because my husband and I work so well together, even in the middle of the night cleaning up dog crap, I take the kitchen and darling hubby gets the living room. I pick up what I can pick up, then steam the kitchen floor clean.

Joe, on the other hand, has the Swiffer and he’s Swiffering the hallway and living room floor.

Wow, I think, as I steam the floor. I’m so lucky to have a guy who can mop so fast. Why, I never even heard him come into the kitchen for a Swiffer pad!

I surveyed the clean, disinfected kitchen with satisfaction. I let the dog back in and scrub him down with hot soapy towels while Joe finishes up. Funny, even with all the cleaning, it still smells rather…earthy in here.

I look down the hallway where my honeybear is just finishing up his floor washing.

“I got the kitchen done,” I say. “The dog’s all cleaned up, too.”

“Oh, great,” he says. He looks up and puts a hand on his hip and surveys the wet hallway. “I’m done here,” he sighs. “Let’s get to bed.” We’re both relieved at the prospect of climbing back into our warm bed and getting a few more hours of shut-eye.

I hold my hand out. “Honey, peel the Swiffer pad off and I’ll throw it in the garbage before I wash my hands. How many pads did you end up using?”

My cheerful helper looks at me with a questioning glance. “Pads? What pads?”

I realize the hallway and living room floors have just been mopped with a padless Swiffer. A lot of liquid cleaner pushed around by a empty Swiffer mophead.

Looks like we’re going to be up a little longer.