Monday, September 22, 2008

In The Company Of Vampires Part Two

I watched a bit of HBO's "True Blood" today, and between that and getting a copy of the new paperback "First Blood" (thanks, Meljean!) I'm in a bloodsucking mood. This is a chapter from a vampire novel I wrote in 2005, known by many names -- "Vamptopia," "Hex In The City," "Fools and Vampires," and, when I'm just feeling sorta punchy, "The Book Of Evil." The question is asked: corporate life is cut-throat enough, but what if you add vampires and witchcraft into the mix?

All rights reserved, 2005 Valerie D'Orazio


In The Company Of Vampires Part Deux

*** *** ***

Tara Amadeo, a.k.a. Amanda Tarantino, found herself the possessor of many an idle hour in her new position, having performed the actual hexes in question back at the hotel room. But at least, Tara thought, as she played Plinko on her computer, she had a nice, private office to perform the nothing in. Though it was rather dull, what with the bullet-gray metal file cabinets full of office supplies and reference books on cosmetology and marketing, and some snoozers of wall decoration, framed ads for Dermaco products. The one for Victorian Allure wasn’t bad, with the emaciated chick in the bustier sitting on the swing set with the curious black sheep sniffing her butt. Tara had many many hours to stare at it (many hours), and few visitors, as she wasn’t quite plugged into the matrix of Dermaco and yet was employed by Pris Baxter to karmically undermine its very structure.

She had forgotten all about Rache, and Kinky Witter, and Alex and Armand and the rest, forgotten about that former life that seemed to have been lopped off like a withered, petrified limb. Instead, Tara grappled with weightier issues, such as what exactly to do with this new infusion of cash. And how she might maneuver things eventually to get an office with a window. And she knew, Pris was angling to be President/CEO of Dermaco one day, though she scrupulously never mentioned the topic (as if she might jinx her chances?). Perhaps Tara, as Amanda, would follow her up the ranks, be VP one day. VP of...nothing.


VP of Hexes and Witchcraft.

Every company should have one, Tara thought smugly as she plinked her last plink and soaked in the electronic winner’s music. She shook her fist in victory and spun around on her ergonomic chair:

“Yes--I rule!”

On the second spin she noticed the young man standing in the doorway. At first glance he seemed rather attractive--tall, blond wavy hair, blue eyes, soap-opera actor looks and a dimple in his chin. Then he opened his mouth.

“Are you having fun?” he asked in that bitchy way that didn’t wear too good on a heterosexual male.

What the fuck--

“Hi!” Tara shouted, her teeth gritted in a phony smile she put to good use in the office. “I don’t believe we’ve met!”

The man matched her smile with one of equal caliber and stepped into her office uninvited. Well, Tara thought, at least I know he isn’t one of the vampires.

“I’m Glenn Mandible. Sales. And you must be Amanda, Pris’ new Assistant.”

“Sure am,” Tara perkily replied, her smile stock still, her hands covertly clicking closed the Plinko window and opening a spreadsheet.

“It’s funny,” Glenn said in his New Jersey Girl’s accent. “I didn’t think Pris was going to need a new assistant anymore, what with the secretaries and all. Though she’s had other assistants before.”

Oh?” Tara’s mind flashed to what she assumed were personal items of a predecessor that she found in the file cabinets--a hairbrush, a mirror, a pack of sanitary napkins.

“Yeah, but she never seems to have a lot of luck with them. The last one just up and disappeared several months ago--Pris said she had to move Upstate to live near her dying mother.”

Or maybe Pris ATE her, Tara mused sardonically.

“Wow, that’s really sad! Well, everything’s pretty great here, so I can’t complain.”

Glenn flipped his long wavy bangs back in a motion that Tara thought was either incredibly conceited or unconsciously effeminate. If he didn’t talk or move much he’d probably be a decent lay.

“So...what is it you do here, anyway?”

“Spreadsheets, Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint,” Tara answered, reading the different applications off her computer screen.

“Well, I must give you credit for choosing to work with Pris.” he spoke in a throaty whisper. “She’s a little bitc--you know, opinionated. Bossy. A little crazy, hormonal. You know...hahaha.”

He spoke to her in that clubby, confiding way as if she were one of the young, corporate, and rabidly ambitious, speaking to her as if she wasn’t Tara the Witch, as if Pris was not the Vampire. In his own pseudo-world of copying machines, TRS reports, bad coffee, and phantom promotions. Dick.

“Teehee,” Tara politely and timidly whispered back behind her hand like a Japanese stewardess, as if she actually empathized with what this load was talking about. “You so funny! But seriously, Pris is really very good to me.”

Glenn walked up to the witch and patted her convivially on the back, his sweaty hand lingering on the bas relief of her bra-strap.

“Well, anyway--welcome aboard, Amanda. Can I call you Mandy--are you ever insulted by people calling you that, do you mind if I call you that?”


“Sure, that’s fine!”

Sweet! Well, we must do lunch sometime.” (Hand still on her bra-strap, doing this queer little focused Shiatsu massage bullshit...Tara wondered if she should ask him to pop that boil on her lower left shoulder blade while he was in the area.) “Do you do sushi?”

“I’ve been known to chow down on it from time to time.”

Sweet! By the way, did you hear about Desjardins?” Glenn’s eyes joyously twinkled in the excitement of a good gossip.


“The word in the halls is he’s got until noon, then...” he made a cutting motion across his neck.


“I’m going to miss, him, though. He was my boss, after all.”

*** *** ***

The termination of Barclay Desjardins was privately celebrated between the hours of 6 and 8 PM by Pris Baxter, Tara Amadeo, and a bottle of champagne that Pris would never drink. Of course, Tara couldn’t properly celebrate the sacking of Desjardins, since she hardly knew the man, the intimacy she had with a few strands of his fakely black hair and a greasy post-it note notwithstanding. But she could share in the general sense of chaos that pervaded a fairly large, browbeaten establishment such as Dermaco when such an event took place--the gaiety of the pencil-pushers, suddenly brought to life just like the sweat-shop workers at the end of The Wiz, enthusiastically spreading the news in hushed tones of Desjardins’s demise, and the conscientious secretaries rushing back to their desks to update the phone lists and erase his name from the databases...

Tara fairly ate the chaos, savoring the taste in her mouth, and her few weeks of contrition for her wicked wicked ways aside, she felt no pull to counteract the buzz and feelings of security and wealth this entire situation gave her. Besides, Desjardins, by all accounts, was an asshole, so he deserved it. Imagine--five sexual harassment complaints by past and present employees of Dermaco all being called in to the poor beleagured HR department at the same time! Whaaat a focking coinkydink, gloated the witch to herself. But of course, according to the Amazing Randi, it’s all just focking coinkydinks--which left her off the hook. Ha! (She accepted the Vampire’s offer of more champagne.) Desjardins was only getting his just desserts, a bit of justice in a lawless land--the witch was merely a karmic warrior in an $60 Macy’s business suit.

The sun had gone down on Manhattan and the lights of times Square were out in full force, and the City seemed so sexy to Tara in her inebriated state, bathing in the glory of Pris’ approbation.

“Cocksucker,” Pris said to the air, to the invisible effigy of Barclay Desjardins, her face beaming, her blood-red lips outstretched as far as they could go and the fangs reflecting light. Tara tore her eyes away from her lust for the City (all of it, just fucking all of it) and regarded her boss.

“He was one of the bad guys, huh?”

“The worst. How I fucking hated him. And when I rose up the ranks and became his equal--his so-called equal, because truly Bersee never saw it that way--I still hated him, wanted to slay the cocksucker.” Pris had folded up her arms as she spoke, holding one arm bent up at the elbow so she could shake her little balled hand.

“Why didn’t you?” Tara asked as she slurped up more champagne from the long, thin glass. “I mean, at least scare him a little bit or intimidate him with your vampireness--“

Nobody knows I’m a vampire here,” Pris sharply interjected, turning around and fixing her ice-blue eyes upon Tara’s brown ones. “Except for a few. I try to give my own kind a break...and promote others. But coming out to Dermaco as a whole? No. Not for a good long while.” The vampire looked away and out into the Times Square night, her image reflected in the glass. “I always wanted to.”

Tara, beverage in hand (as it had been non-stop since six o’clock), stood next to her; she shuddered slightly at the recognition that Pris’s image showed in the window beside her own.

“ reflect.”

“Hm?” Pris said absently, without turning around.

“You cast a reflection.”

“Of course I do. How do you think I got my picture on the ID card?”

“Yeah, but--vampires aren’t supposed to do that. I thought.”

Pris faced Tara, her familiar subtle smirk returning.

“Tara. Amanda.” She put her cold hand on the witch’s arm, sending a chill through the rayon material that sank to the bone and then was very quietly followed by the strangest sensation. “We’re not a book. We’re not a movie. We’re here, in the flesh--more or less. And we’re complicated.”

“I’m complicated too.”

“ How complicated could you be?” Pris asked, suddenly appearing four inches closer to the witch without apparent movement. “You don’t drink blood, after all.”

“Drinking blood,” Tara replied, leaning in to receive the Vampire’s mouth, “that would be easy.”

When the witch woke up late that night in her hotel room bed, her work clothes still on and a massive hangover throbbing in her ears, she thought,

I’m a bossfucker. And a lesbian. And a--

She put her hand on her neck and felt it up, stopping when she was convinced that she wasn’t bitten.

And that’s ALL I am.

---> continued in part three

The next morning, she carefully examined her body in the bath to make doubly sure.

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