I'm a Vampire Keeper. It's one of those jobs that sounds really glamorous and fun but in reality is just like any other where you end up dragging yourself home every night, overworked and underpaid and wonder how the hell you ended up like that. Keeper is a title I came up with after 'babysitter' got ixnayed and I refused to be called a 'personal assistant.' Personal assistants don't have to put up bail money on a regular basis and I hope to god they don't have to know a hundred ways to remove blood stains from carpets and clothes.
Instead, like a zoo keeper, I have to make sure my charges are kept content and well-groomed, clean up their living areas after they make a mess and keep them from wreaking havoc on the general public when they get out. And like animals at the zoo they expect me to arrive unfailingly every day at the same time, no matter what's going on in my life, and tend not to like my boyfriends. My boss laughs when I tell him this, and then asks which tie will best set off his eyes. So I end up dressing him and wonder how he got on for the two hundred years he didn't have me around. He tells me that's what valets were for, that and a pre-dinner snack.
This is one of the reasons I always wear turtle necks or scarves to work. The other is that they refuse to heat the house above sixty, ever. They even put a lock on the thermostat to keep me from messing with it and I was instructed to 'wear more clothes.'
Besides picking out their clothes, making sure curtains are closed and being an expert steam cleaner, I also get to go to all their boring business appointments for them. I think they purposefully schedule the worst ones for daylight hours. If he can have discussions of stock options and futures over wine in an upscale restaurant at 11PM, I don't see why I have to sit under florescent bulbs and listen to yet another progress report on a project that's he's already decided to axe but just hasn't gotten around to the paperwork for, or sit through another budget meeting.
I was an environmental policy major for Christsake.
Today I have one of my favorite tasks, it ranks up there with bailing one of my charges out of jail at 4AM and racing the sun home so that come the next night I'll still have a job. Somehow this is right around that level. I have to meet with the social worker. Only he's not a social worker.
They call themselves Paranormal Investigations, what they are is the biggest group of busybodies and failures I've ever seen. The kind of people who like nothing more than to spend their days running other peoples lives and interfering in what doesn't concern them, or who just couldn't hold down a normal job and turned to the occult. I can't stand them, but the boss absolutely hates them. In fact the first time they showed up at the door, with their silver crosses and clipboards he threatened to break their necks. Now they only come calling in the middle of the afternoon.
The social worker who's not is actually a psychic. Somehow, somebody thought this made him qualified to deal with vampires. Whoever it was obviously didn't understand the difference between the undead and the dead. Maybe he finally pointed this out to them, he's never really struck me as the brave type, and maybe that's why he's got a partner today.
She says she's a witch. She looks like my favorite stereotype of those girls from high school: long blonde hair, bored expression and clothes so fashionable they push the bounds of ugly. I've already filed her away as an obnoxious brat, which doesn't quite fit with the guy's image of biker-wannabe. I think he took the last Indiana Jones movie a bit too seriously and wonder how such an odd pair ended up in this foyer.
"I thought this was a job, not a welfare service," she says to him as they sit down on the uncomfortable Victorian couch. "Why the Hell are we here if no one's paying us to investigate something?"
I think I might just like the little high school skank after all.
Ricky rolls his eyes and looks at me as if to say 'you understand,' which I don't.
"I'm Anna Romano," the girl says carelessly as she flips that hair over her shoulder and looks past me. Seems she finds the room more interesting, not that I can blame her. It's probably the first time she's been in a vampire's living room.
"Romano," I repeat as it takes a moment for the name to sink in. The sheer incongruity makes me blink and look to Ricky. He looks shifty and avoids my eyes, so I know it must be true.
Here then is a relative of the Queen Bee herself, the trouble maker whose little company has been stirring up the occult world for the past five years. Not only does Paranormal Investigations root through the lives of the darker side of the supernatural to make sure we're all being peaceable, they also offer lessons in witchcraft. Their 'Teach Yourself Magic' line of self-help books is said to be the best on the market, not to mention empowering every teenager with a grudge to carry out little revenge wars. Apparently the Queen Bee thinks covens are too clique-y.
Suddenly it makes a lot more sense, if this girl is a relative of the head witch, then it's not half so odd she and her oversized sunglasses and yellow tights are here. I have heard it referred to as a family business after all. But how someone related to the punk rock star of the occult world ended up dressed as Little Miss Popular is still something of a mystery.
"So," she drawls, and I can just imagine her chewing gum and popping it in somebody's face. "Your vampires kill anyone lately?"
"Anna, that's not how we do the interview. You have to establish rapport first and ask the questions subtly."
"Like you've ever been subtle, Ricky. Want me to look the other way so you can check for bloodstains under the carpet again?"
He's dark complexioned, but I can still see him flush.
"I still say it was blood."
"Even if it was, they have to eat; it doesn't mean they killed anyone."
"Oh and all those people just give their blood willingly?"
"No," I drawl. "Not necessarily. But they don't remember later, either."
"So they haven't killed anyone lately then?" Anna interjects again.
"Good." She slaps her legs and reaches for her purse. "Let's go."
"Anna! We have to go through all the questions."
"Look," she shoots back, her index finger less than an inch from the end of his nose. "This isn't what I signed up for. If they haven't killed anyone then I don't care what they do, like call me when we get to stake somebody. There are fluffy woodland creatures I could be, like, confiscating right now."
Ricky sighs and rubs his eyes, still nothing written on his clipboard.
"We would like to check the cars and the basement for bodies," he says after a minute of rubbing his forehead.
"Be my guest," I shrug. I'd like to see them find anything in that basement; even I haven't been able to make a dent in two-hundred and fifty years' worth of junk. I offer the attic too; it's equally packed. Ricky drags the petulant girl along with him. I let them check the car trunks and then leave them to have fun in the basement.
They seemed to have forgotten that it was the middle of winter, and it gets dark pretty early. They wandered back up as the shadows were getting pretty long in the living room and sat back down across from me. I mute the TV and turn to them with a sigh.
"Ok, so I'll believe you this time. We'll be back in—"
"Sweetheart, I need your opinion on something!"
The call rings through the quiet house, sending Ricky into a state of panic. He wasn't here the first time, but I'm sure he's heard the stories. Footsteps come down the stairs to the hall while I try to imagine all the unpleasant things he'll threaten them with and how I'll feel it is all worth it if I can see Ricky piss himself, just once.
My boss is tall, lean, pale, all those vampiric traits that I don't really find attractive. I like my men dark, broad-shouldered and with a heart beat. He lounges into the doorway and wedges himself neatly against the frame, all languor and unbuttoned shirt.
Ricky is in paroxysms of fear. Anna looks unimpressed. While her partner is literally shaking in his boots and pulling out God-only-knows how many crosses, she's eyeing my boss.
"Aren't there like any fat vampires?" she asks and I imagine gum popping again.
"Well," boss man drawls as he slithers into the room. "There are a few, but they're hardly the ones teenage girls like to see."
She shrugs, unaffected, and glances at her manicure. "Yeah, well, Goths and weirdoes go for anything, so don't rule it out."
"Ah, and you would be?"
Ricky is sliding from the couch as unobtrusively as possible, but he seems to think it's time to intervene, and says "Ah, well, um, yeah. We're glad to see that everything's going fine and we'll uh—we have another appointment to go to..."
Suddenly, there's a vampire lounging behind my chair and leering somewhat lecherously as the pair across from us. "Oh yes, you'd better go before the ghosts come out. They get a bit restless after dark." He sighs as I catch the sound of a door slamming upstairs.
"Ghost?!" the girl shouts and is out of her chair before I can even quip that that joke is getting old. "Let's go. Now." She grabs Ricky's hand and drags him out the door before he can even agree.
I follow just to make sure they've left, and to bolt the door. The last I see of them is her jumping off the property and doing a little witch dance on the sidewalk with salt and chalk and black ribbons falling out of her pockets while Ricky just shakes his head. Then I turn to the boss, who's lounging against a wall again, and smirking and looking smug. All those vampiric things.
"Know your enemy," he laughs and holds up two neckerchiefs. "Which one will go with my leather pants and this shirt?"
I might have managed to get him into the right century, clothing-wise, but the decades still manage to elude him.