// OLD GALANTOME ESTATE //
The nights have been steadily lengthening in the suburbs of New York City. The trees are nearly bare as the fall season threatens to leave. In an aging Queens mansion lives CASSANDRA GOTH and her two guests. The foreign national LUCIA has not been seen in days, leaving the young woman alone with the mage LARRY POTTER.
LARRY came offering his ghost hunting services at the behest of the MARSCAPONE family shortly after the death of their Matron in the preceding spring. After the surprising success of his summoning rituals, CASSANDRA found herself a believer. She allowed the ‘exterminator’ to take up residence in one of the spare bedrooms in the hopes that he would rid an already spooky mansion of paranormal influence.
It is the day before Thanksgiving and CASSANDRA has no plans for the holiday. It is only the second holiday season since the death of her father. Last year she’d felt numb, still in shock over the loss of her parents. It hadn’t yet seemed to touch her heart. But this year, it all feels too real: she is the eldest of the two Goth heirs.
But none of that seems to cloud her worries at the moment. She and LARRY are enjoying a late breakfast.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE KIDS, IT ACTUALLY USED TO SNOW?
WHEN ‘WE’ WERE KIDS?
CASSANDRA doesn’t respond to his goading; she gives a sly smirk, unyielding.
IT’S STILL A LITTLE EARLY IN THE SEASON, DON’T YOU THINK?
I DON’T KNOW. IT SEEMS LIKE IT SHOULD BE COLDER EVEN BY THIS TIME OF THE YEAR.
WE’VE SEEN NOTHING BUT RAIN. NOT EVEN FLURRIES.
THERE’S STILL TIME.
THE BIG SNOWSTORMS WILL FORM WHEN IT’S BEEN COLD FOR A LITTLE LONGER.
JANUARY, FEBRUARY, THAT KIND OF THING.
THE BIG ‘96 STORM WAS JANUARY.
CASSANDRA remains quiet again.
YOU’RE RIGHT, THOUGH – THE 2003 BLIZZARD WAS FEBRUARY, WASN’T IT?
AROUND VALENTINE’S DAY.
LARRY shudders as if he’s outside in the cold.
A BAD YEAR.
She changes the topic.
I TALKED TO KEVIN YESTERDAY.
HE SAID… A VAMPIRE SNUCK INTO MY PARENTS’ HOUSE.
WELL, TECHNICALLY, HE SAID ‘VAMPRESS’, BUT…
THEY’RE THE SAME THING, AREN’T THEY?
THEY’RE THE SAME THING.
THEY THINK THEY’RE BEING RESPECTFUL WHEN THEY TALK THAT WAY.
I’M SORRY YOUR FATHER CHOSE THEM AS YOUR EXECUTORS.
IT’S ONLY FOR A FEW YEARS.
A FEW YEARS TOO LONG.
IT’S YOUR MONEY.
CASSANDRA seems a bit bashful and embarrassed about this particular topic.
YEAH… I KNOW.
She looks down at her empty plate.
IF YOUR FATHER CHOSE THEM AS THE EXECUTORS OF HIS ESTATE, THAT LIKELY MEANS…
She holds up her hands to request his silence.
STOP… I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS.
IN THE LAST MESSAGES TO MY BROTHER, HE CALLED HIMSELF…
IT’S UNLIKELY THEY MET AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD BLOCK PARTY.
I DON’T WANT TO THINK ABOUT IT.
DID YOU EVER NOTICE ANYTHING STRANGE ABOUT HIS BEHAVIOR?
ONLY GOING OUTSIDE AT NIGHT?
SLEEPING LATE DURING THE DAY?
I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!
The pair sit in an awkward, dejected silence for a minute or two. CASSANDRA feigns interest in the water that remains in her glass.
I’M SORRY, TOO.
YOU JUST – AND I’M SURE EVERYONE GOES THROUGH THIS –
DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE YOUR PARENTS WERE ANYTHING BUT THE PEOPLE THAT RAISED YOU.
THAT THEY WERE THE SAME PEOPLE YOU BELIEVED THEY WERE WHEN YOU WERE A BABY.
I CAN IMAGINE…
WELL YOU HAD MYRTLE, RIGHT?
SHE WAS LIKE YOUR MOTHER.
AND YOU DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE THAT SHE WAS BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF.
AND YOU CERTAINLY DON’T WANT TO BELIEVE THAT SHE WAS COMPLICIT IN HER HOUSE BEING TAKEN OVER BY VAMPIRES.
There is a quiet moment of shared shame as the two remember those who are now lost to them.
THAT REMINDS ME.
THERE IS SOMETHING I WANTED TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT.
CASSANDRA affirms wordlessly.
BEFORE WE MET, BEFORE THE MATRON DIED…
I WAS LOOKING FOR AN OLD FRIEND OF MINE.
I HADN’T HEARD FROM HER IN MANY YEARS.
WE WERE GOOD FRIENDS IN SCHOOL; SHE WAS ANOTHER ONE OF THE ORPHANS –
WE KEPT UP FOR A WHILE BUT THEN SHE JUST… STOPPED RETURNING MY CALLS.
I SUSPECT FOUL PLAY BUT I CAN’T BE CERTAIN.
I WENT TO THE MATRON LOOKING FOR HELP BUT SHE WASN’T ABLE TO SEE ANYTHING.
YOU DON’T HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT HAPPENED TO HER?
NOT A LICK.
THE MATRON ATTEMPTED WHAT’S KNOWN AS SCRYING.
IT’S A RITUAL MAGIC WHEREIN YOU TRY TO FIND SOMEONE WHO’S ON YOUR PLANE. SEE WHAT THEY’RE SEEING, SEE WHERE THEY ARE, WHAT THEY’RE DOING… ANYTHING.
BUT IT WORKS BEST WHEN YOU HAVE SOMETHING OF THEIR PERSON. SOMETHING RECENT, SOMETHING MEANINGFUL.
A LOCK OF HAIR, AN ARTICLE OF CLOTHING.
WE DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING STRONG TO GO BY. A SIGNATURE OF HERS FROM OUR YEARBOOK.
NOW THAT THE MATRON IS GONE…
CASSANDRA listens dutifully.
NOW THAT THE MATRON IS GONE, SO TOO IS SOMEONE WHO KNEW HER.
I COULD ALWAYS OUTSOURCE THE JOB BUT WITHOUT SOMEONE WHO KNEW HER…
I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO DO.
WELL I’M MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP.
WITH WHATEVER I CAN DO.
They meet each other’s gaze and smile gently.
I APPRECIATE IT.
I WANTED TO ASK…
DO YOU HAVE ANYWHERE TO BE FOR THANKSGIVING?
NOWHERE AT ALL.
YOU’RE MORE THAN WELCOME…
THAT WOULD BE… GREAT.
YEAH. I’D LIKE THAT.