Carlo came to Bangkok and brought this curious story, written in longhand on a McDonald’s paper placemat, in his handwriting.
He wrote it as a stream of consciousness. Direct. Only a few crossed out words.
Picasso paid for his cafe bills by casually sketching masterpieces on the back of table napkins. One day this story will become a collector’s item.
And I (who kept the original paper placemat) will be immensely rich.
It was an entirely stereotypical dark and stormy night. Mortimer LeBlanc was an entirely stereotypical vampire. You would think that the two would go together stereotypically well, but such was not the case tonight, as Mortimer had just discovered that the new and stereotypically decrepit castle he had just occupied was also stereotypically haunted.
He had first begun to suspect the haunting during one of his nightly prowls through the castle. At first, it had started with fairly innocuous stuff, floating candles, chains clanking, massive gun battles erupting for almost no reason between his security staff and the furniture, stuff like that. But when the itinerant poltergeist launched a devastating attack on the gigantic crystal chandelier that hung in ostentatious, scintillating glory over the grand ballroom, LeBlanc decided that the time had come to deal with the problem once and for all.
He had been saving that chandelier for use as a colossal booby trap and had almost dropped the hammer, er, crystal when a delegation of vampire hunters armed with garlic and water pistols filled with holy water had decided to convey the local populace’s opinion of vampires to him in the most direct possible terms. He had, however, held back at the last second, deciding to save the chandelier for agents of the IRS, who were on the whole more competent than the vampire hunters, whom he had spared primarily because of the high quality of their garlic, which now sat in his kitchen beside several extremely expensive bottles of truffle oil (fantastic with risotto and absolutely divine on meat and poultry) and antigen-free type O blood (purchased under the table from a local blood bank, best served chilled, but without ice – the water causes hemolysis, which kills the flavor).
Those humiliated hunters were actually far less terrifying, he thought with a shudder, than the IRS, whom he owed 127 years in back taxes. The issue of his unnatural longevity never came up, except when he pointed out that he should at least get some sort of senior citizen’s discount. They had just laughed. It was then that he had refurbished the chandelier. Now, with the crux of his grand vengeance on the federal government lying in a million shattered fragments on the ballroom floor, LeBlanc did what any red-blooded, fireball-spewing, razor-fanged vampire noble would do. He called the Ghostbusters.
Things would have ended at this point if not for the exorbitant fees the agents leveled on them all for their unlicensed pest control operations. A desperate LeBlanc, calling upon his last reserves of vampiric charisma, donned his best Bela Lugosi impersonation and attempted to bribe the agents with a bottle of 1872 Amontillado, only to be confronted with the issue of sin tax.
He watched in torment as the ancient bottle’s contents disappeared down the agents’ gullets as if it were soda pop. He almost lost it when they complained that they would have preferred tequila, and probably would have if the ghost had not descended on the horrified agents and dragged them screaming into a conveniently located broom closet.
The agents, frightened out of their wits, declared the whole castle a special economic zone and fled forever, and the ghost, having fulfilled its mission in death, departed as well, leaving a triumphant LeBlanc with the surviving Amontillado and the opportunity to savor his victory over both death and taxes.