We still on for tonight?
Meet me at the 30th Ave station and we'll walk from there.
See you then.
See you then.
It has been a fairly normal day at STRAUD MANSION. Except, of course, that MANDARC has done all of his chores the night before. And with unusual vigor.
STRAUD has begun the early evening at the violin. He is in the middle of a movement when MANDARC can wait no longer.
I’M SORRY TO INTERRUPT YOUR WORK, MASTER, BUT –
WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO DRIVE ME TO THE TRAIN STATION IN A HALF AN HOUR OR SO?
A strange cologne wafts through the air.
STRAUD raises one thin eyebrow at his assistant.
WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING AT?
‘PLAYING AT’, SIR?
I’M NOT PLAYING AT –
YOU MOST CERTAINLY ARE PLAYING AT SOMETHING.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT THIS EVENING.
MANDARC waves his hands in defeat, hoping to calm the man. And himself.
(quietly) Friday Perkins.
YOU KNOW. THE GIRL WE MET AT THE ACADEMY THE OTHER DAY.
… YES. I AM AWARE.
IT’S NOTHING SERIOUS.
SHE JUST WANTED TO THANK US FOR CONTACTING THE MATRON ON HER BEHALF.
SHE TALKED TO THE MATRON AND WANTED TO –
YES. I SEE THAT.
I DON’T CONSIDER CEDRIC’S REACTION TO THE MENTION OF HER NAME TO BE A GLOWING RECOMMENDATION OF CHARACTER.
CEDRIC DOESN’T KNOW EVERYTHING.
HE HATES WIZARDS AS A CATEGORICAL.
SHE WAS NOSY.
WHO WOULDN’T BE ABOUT THE CLOSING OF THE SCHOOL?
SHE SEEMED DOWN ON HER LUCK.
I AGREE WITH THAT ASSESSMENT AND SUGGEST YOU TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY.
AREN’T ALL OF THE MATRON’S STUDENTS ORPHANS?
THEY ARE NOT STRICTLY ORPHANS BUT THEY ALL HAVE…
ABANDONED BY THEIR MOTHERS,
SHUNNED BY THEIR FATHERS.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN ANYTHING.
SHE JUST WANTED TO GO OUT FOR DRINKS.
THE LAST THING WE NEED IS A WITCH PRYING INTO OUR BUSINESS.
THE MISSUS IS A WITCH.
IS THE WIFE OF VINCENT MARSCAPONE.
There is a lull in the conversation.
I WILL DRIVE YOU TO THE TRAIN STATION.
BUT I INSIST YOU WASH OFF THAT HIDEOUS PERFUME.
Leaving Queensboro Plaza now -- sys.
MANDARC detests the throngs of people that gather in the avenues of public transportation. But how else is he supposed to avoid detection as an Immortal?
He is a shapeshifter, able to take animal form in an instant. But this does not help quiet movement in a city of millions of eyes that never sleep. He cannot simply take form atop a building when crawling down the side would attract unwanted attention. Nor would a bat flying in city corridors seem commonplace. It is not worth the risk. Not today.
The final stations crawl by and the train finally announces its arrival at 30TH AVE, whereupon MANDARC exits the train, unnoticed, seemingly none-other than an ordinary strap-hanger dressed in dark colors. He descends the station’s staircase and stands on the streetcorner, attempting to exit the flow of pedestrian traffic.
He types out one last text message addressed to FRIDAY but doesn’t send it; when he looks up, there stands the young woman, looking somewhat different with her hair affixed to her skull.
MANDARC! IT’S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU!
YOU GOT HERE OKAY.
ASTORIA IS A LITTLE FAR FOR ME.
OH. I’M SORRY.
NO, IT’S FINE, I SUGGESTED IT. JUST NOT USED TO TAKING THE TRAIN.
I LIVE IN JAMAICA.
YOU LIVE IN JAMAICA?
MY MY, THAT’S OUT THERE.
LAND OF THE CAR.
BUT THAT’S NOT IMPORTANT.
THIS PLACE IS JUST NEARBY.
OH. I’M DOING OKAY.
HAD SOME DELAYS GETTING HERE BUT THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT GOES.
I’M STAYING WITH SOME FRIENDS IN ALPHABET CITY.
MANDARC’s ears seem to twitch and he wonders if she’s lying.
WHAT IS THIS PLACE CALLED?
IT’S CALLED THE BLUE VELVET.
MY BOSS IS A CO-OWNER.
SEEMS AN INTERESTING BIT FOR A PROFESSOR.
The rest of the street’s crowd drowns away and leaves them in a bubble of privacy as they walk down the street, following MANDARC’s lead.
HE BELIEVES IN KEEPING DIVERSE INVESTMENTS.
hey man please let me know if you need picked up.
The BLUE VELVET is located on a busy street but seems to avoid the hustle and bustle. Outside the bar is seated the valet who gives FRIDAY a solid look-over.
She’s not dressed very formally; her coat is fluffy down, done in cyan. But nothing that seems to warrant such harsh judgement.
They walk into the building. A waitress waves at them and suggests a seat in full view of the window.
MANDARC thanks the Night on this dark, fall evening.
They sit down. There is a hesitation, and then a force of speech during which both try to talk at once. FRIDAY succeeds in getting her voice heard first.
SO HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING FOR THE PROFESSOR?
He pauses a moment, thinking over the passage of time.
OH… UH… ABOUT TWO YEARS.
TWO YEARS, HUH?
THE HEADMISTRESS SAID HE WAS A HIGH PRIEST.
TO WHAT GOD DOES HE PRAY?
Of course she breaks into the difficult questions first. MANDARC and his MASTER rarely agreed on matters of religion.
He blinks, holds his tongue, and tries to search for words.
FRIDAY detects the latent discomfort she’s induced.
I DIDN’T MEAN TO MAKE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE.
I DON’T ALWAYS…
SEE EYE-TO-EYE WITH MY BOSS’S LOYALTY.
BUT IT IS SOMETHING WE SEE PAST AIMING FOR THE HIGHER GOOD.
WELL IT WAS REALLY HELPFUL TO ME THAT YOU FORWARDED MY INFO.
I HAD NO IDEA THE MATRON WAS COMPLETELY CLOSING UP SHOP.
IT’S REALLY TOO BAD.
THE SCHOOL WAS EVERYTHING TO ME.
YEAH, IT SEEMS LIKE A REALLY KIND OUTFIT THE MISSUS WAS RUNNING OUT OF HER HOME.
MANDARC fears the word.
IT WAS KIND OF HER. INCREDIBLY KIND.
NOT EVERYONE HAS A FAMILY TO FALL BACK UPON. A MOTHER TO TEACH THEM THE OLD WAYS.
MY GRANDMOTHER WAS NEVER GOING TO TEACH ME A LICK.
WHEN THE HEADMISTRESS CAME FOR ME… THAT WAS THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE.
HOW DOES SHE FIND…
I DON’T KNOW, EXACTLY.
I ALWAYS FIGURED SHE WAS ABLE TO DETECT WILD MAGIC EVOKED FROM NEARBY LEY LINES.
BUT I WOULD THINK THAT WOULD REQUIRE TRAVEL.
I NEVER KNEW THE HEADMISTRESS TO TRAVEL MUCH, BUT THEN AGAIN MY CLASS WAS THE LAST ONE SHE TOOK ON.
SHE MUST HAVE TRAVELED MORE IN THE OLDEN DAYS.
THAT WAS PART OF WHY I WAS SO SURPRISED THAT SHE’D WANT TO END THE SCHOOL ENTIRELY.
SHE NEVER LEFT US ALONE.
I HOPE IT WASN’T KEVIN.
MANDARC is taken aback at her accusative tone.
I KNOW HE WAS SICK AND ALL, BUT…
NONE OF OUR CLASS REALLY LIKED HIM MUCH.
NOT THAT WE HAD MUCH TO DO WITH HIM.
HE ALWAYS STAYED IN HIS ROOM.
DO YOU KNOW KEVIN?
HE’S THE MATRON’S BIOLOGICAL SON.
I KNOW OF HIM, JUST DON’T KNOW HIM ALL THAT WELL.
The last MANDARC had heard, KEVIN MARSCAPONE was trying to cure himself of Vampirism. How that was even possible, and why in the blazes he would want to revoke his Immortality, was beyond him. But it made for an unwelcome turn of conversation.
SORRY. NOT TRYING TO GOSSIP.
IT JUST ALWAYS SEEMED LIKE THE HEADMISTRESS WAS UNHAPPY WHENEVER SHE HAD TO TAKE TIME OUT OF HER DAY TO TAKE CARE OF HIM.
IS HE A MORTAL?
I’D BE PISSED OFF IF I HAD A REGULAR FOR A KID, TOO.
SHE WORKED SO HARD FOR US. SEEMS UNFAIR SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PUNISHED LIKE THAT.
MUST HAVE BEEN THE FATHER’S FAULT.
VINCENT, WAS THAT HIS NAME?
I THINK SO, YEAH.
VINCENT MARSCAPONE had been dead for many years but all of the family was well-aware of the name.
DO YOU THINK IT WAS TRUE, WHAT THEY SAID OF HIM?
The conversation was taking a turn of cordiality, familiarity, almost, familial.
MY CLASS HAD A RUMOR GOING AROUND THAT HE…
HE WAS A VAMPIRE KILLER.
She raises a hand to her forehead, exhausted with herself.
SORRY, FORGOT FOR A MOMENT, THERE.
YOU AND YOUR CLASS THOUGHT THE MATRON’S HUSBAND WAS A VAMPIRE KILLER?
He struggles to use the word with normalcy, feeling anxious that he had stuttered over it. It was not a word their kind used often among themselves. CEDRIC would on occasion, but he had a particular affinity for shock-value. No, the word “Vampire” often signalling a fear that they did not like to remind themselves of in their off-time.
It was a word the Mortals used in otherness, not one they themselves needed to use with their friends.
He tries to bring the conversation back to a place of truth and comfort so that he may speak comfortably.
I NEVER MET VINCENT.
I WOULDN’T KNOW.
HE’S BEEN DEAD A WHILE.
I JUST REMEMBER THE HEADMISTRESS STARING AT HIS PHOTOGRAPH IN LONGING.
MAYBE YOUR BOSS MET HIM.
IT WOULD MAKE SENSE.
MY BOSS HAS DEVELOPED ENMITY AGAINST SOME OF THE MORE PROMINENT VAMPIRES.
WELL I WISH HIM WELL.
I WOULDN’T WANT TO BE CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE.
OR YOU, FOR THAT MATTER.
YOU SEEM LIKE A NICE PERSON.
Please let me you're ok