Mortimer Mortician

1

Mortimer loved being a mortician because not only did he get to dress dead bodies—he had had a bit of a necrophiliac streak ever since he was little and traumatized by all those crime shows he used to watch with his grandparents on weekend nights while his mum was busy at her part-time job as a waitress—but also because it was great for scaring little kids. Mort didn’t know why he enjoyed freaking people out so much—but it probably had something to do with his watching of crime shows. Once he even pretended to be dead in order to rise up out of the coffin during the wake and scare everybody. This had an interesting set of consequences.

It was a bright and stormy Tuesday evening, and everybody was so busy being sad that they didn’t notice when they approached the coffin that the body was moving. This was all part of the plan. Without warning and armed with only a pair of cheap vampire fangs, the kind you get five for a dollar at the corner shop, Mort rose up cheerily from his mahogany coffin and yelled blarg! as the lights switched off and Gothic music began playing. A panic and a minor fire later, the party finally figured out that it was just Mort playing a cruel joke on them. Half of them left, and so did the other half, too, but not before they had guilted the guest of honour into promising to make them a torte. Mort’s tortes were famous for being delicious.

At the after party, consisting of Mort and his partner-in-crime Todd, halfway through the third round a voluptuous vixen approached (it is necessary to add that their apparent voluptuousness and vixenity may have hinged on the intoxicating nature of tequila) and said, “I saw what you did today.”

“What?” Mort asked, wondering if this was some weird hallucination.

“The playing dead trick. That was priceless,” the vixen said, ordering something extremely sexy-sounding, although its sexiness may have also hinged on the intoxicating nature of tequila.

“Ah, yes. Well, I couldn’t have done it without the help of my trusty partner, Todd. He manages the business side of things…” A pause, and then: “Do I know you?”

“Only from your dreams,” she said between sips of her Hemingway champagne.

Mort pulled out his dream diary and skimmed the pages. Finally, he found what he was looking for: An entry entitled “Voluptuous Vampire Seduces Me Then Drinks My Blood”. “Huh,” he said, wondering why he carried his dream diary around with him. Well, he thought, I’m pretty sure this couldn’t end too badly…

2

They followed the voluptuous vixen vamp down a narrow side alley. “It’s just a bit further,” she said. “We’re almost there.”

Mort, growing concerned, said, “I didn’t catch your name before.”

“Nina,” the vamp said. “Ah, here we are.” The three of them entered a hole-in-the-wall bar called The Bier Joint. Inside several pale individuals sat at a table and talked about the best way to prepare a steak.

“I like mine hardly cooked—bloody as hell, I always say.”

“Steak tartare for me,” a big man wearing a Strokes t-shirt said. Mortimer knew this was a bad sign: Only two types of people listened to the Strokes, and one of those types was people in the Strokes.

“Unless Julian Casablancas is about to come through that door,” Mort said to his friend, “I think we’re about to die.”

Just then, Julian Casablancas did step through the door, but this was also a hallucination; in reality it was Maurice Golding, de facto leader of the vamps and all-around badass. “I like my steak marinated in spiced sheep’s blood and well-done.”

There was an awkward pause, and then Nina said: “Maury, I found some guests. Mort and Todd, was it?” They nodded.

“Excellent,” Maury said, flashing his large white canines at them. “Do you guys like steak?” Mort held his tongue but Todd, the more intoxicated of the two, said: “Yeah. Rare for me.”

“Come to the back room,” Maury commanded with his glorious browline. “I got a grill goin’.” He turned to Mort. “What about you, hombre?” Mort shook his head.

He checked his cell phone and pretended someone had texted him. “Ah, I forgot—I have to give my cat medicine. Tell Todd I said goodbye.”

“Wait,” Nina said. “We should exchange contact information so we can get together sometime.” She wrote her number on a sheet of paper and handed it to him. “Sound cool to you?”

“As long as you don’t drink my blood,” he said. She didn’t know he wasn’t joking.

That was the last time Mort ever saw Todd—or, at the very least, the last time he saw Todd until the next day. “Dude,” Todd said. “So, after you left we ate steak and then it turns out that everybody there was in this really great band—-called the vamps, you know, like v-amps—and they let me jam with them and now they’re talking about letting me in the band. Awesome, huh?”

“Awesome,” Mort said, putting the first torte into the oven, and decided that he was far too paranoid.

“There was one thing, though…”

Mort stopped. “What?” he asked, wondering if he spoke too soon.

“Nina seems to think that you seem to think that she’s a vampire.” He said it like it was a joke.

“Well, what do you think?”

Todd smiled grimly, baring his teeth to reveal that his canines, too, seemed ethereally long. They got him, Mort thought, and looked around for a stopgap weapon. Before Todd knew what hit him, a pan did. As he hit the ground, the teeth fell out and Mort saw his mistake. He pulled out a pen and a pad of paper and wrote: Next time don’t get the five pack.

~~La Stranezza

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