Allegheny County Rotary Club Biannual Botanical Bruncheon
Doubletree Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA
Saturday, June 4th, 2007
“Our next speaker has flown in from Europe to be with us today. He’s an entrepreneur, volunteer, retired serviceman, self-described “Lamaze nut,” and a devoted father. Please welcome Dracula!”
“Haha, thank you, thank you everyone. It’s an honor to be here.”
A voice is heard from the back. “Why are you here?”
“Haha, thank you. I’d like to speak today about community service. In a business like mine, building relationships with the community is crucial. But building a relationship is easy – maintaining it is the tricky part! Take me, for example. Sure, it’s no problem to bring a nice fruit basket over to those new neighbors, but how do you foster that relationship once the mangoes are gone? I use this simple acronym.”
He clicks the device in his hand and a PowerPoint slide appears on the screen: ‘B.A.T.,’ the acrostic reads.
“The ‘B’ stands for ‘blood.’ ‘B’ the ‘blood’ of your community!”
“Altruism! Give, and you shall receive!”
“And lastly, terror!”
Several Rotarians squirm.
“Haha, relax! Terrorize your opposition with artisanal watermelon carvings mounted on simple balsa wood pikes!” Click. Dracula motions to the screen “Here’s a photo of my daughter Draculina carving one now!”
“You’re a monster.”
Another click and a sputtering whirr. The projector goes dark as Dracula turns back to the audience. “The point, folks, is that anyone can be Voivode of Wallachia, but three-time Voivode of Wallachia demands that little extra something! I’d like to tell a story from my youth-“
“Get off the stage.” Several boos and hisses from the audience. A tomato sails over the count’s head.
Dracula is stunned. ‘I don’t understand,’ he thinks. ‘This went so swimmingly in my dry run! Perhaps it’s time to bring out the big guns.’ He reaches into his mantle and produces a pile of papers and a pair of reading glasses. “My resume, ladies and gentlemen! May it be an inspiration to you all!”
The mic is cut. Some of the Rotarians in attendance stand and begin filing out. “Who thought this was a good idea?” one was heard to remark.
“Big Brother program, 133 years… and counting!”
“This is horrible, he’s horrible,” says another.
Without a microphone and amid rising commotion, Dracula raises his voice. “Volunteer dog-walker!”
“This is worse than when they Skyped in that cursed painting.”
“Best Severus Snape, PotterCon 2008!”
“I’m going to quit the club and sell my business.”
“Best Hans Gruber, DragonCon 2004!” His voice begins to grow hoarse.
“I’m going to hang myself in the Arby’s bathroom across the street.”
“1,000,000th customer, Phoenix, Arizona area Taco Del Mar!”
“Fully licensed Bickram yo-” Dracula stands alone in an empty room. Tears well up in his eyes and fall silently, turning into little tear-bats and flying away on tiny dripping wings. He slumps down and pulls out his Android.
“Mike? Yeah… No, not very well. I… Maybe this whole career relaunch was a mistake… I appreciate that, but- hold on, I’ve got another call.” Dracula struggles to slowly lift his head and pushes a button.
“Bat Man, how’s it going!” says the enthusiastic voice on the other end.
“Not so well, Ravi, not so well. I bombed another one. I was just telling Mike that maybe this image change was a bad idea after all.”
“Big Drac Attack, what are you saying! I just got off the phone with NBC, they want to give you the lead role on this new sitcom they have lined up for next season!”
“I- they what?” Dracula immediately sits up straight.
“Yeah, this character called Alex Fry-Oil or whatever! It’s some kind of sitcom about a guy living in Japan!”
“This is… oh man! What brought this on?”
“No idea, Drac baby, but if I had to guess I’d say that our most recent advertising campaign paid off!”
Dracula pulls a crumpled sheet of paper from under his resume. It is the final draft of a full page newspaper ad depicting him and his daughter, smiling and playing golf, with the caption “Have you seen me lately?” spread across the sunset background. “Hold that thought, Ravi.”
“Mike! I did it, Mike! I’ve turned it around!” The tears are back, but this time with a smile. “TV, Mike! NBC! Yeah… yeah! I dunno, Alec Frailty or something.” He stands and walks excitedly through the dark and empty bruncheon hall, pausing at the door, still smiling, smiling so hard it hurts. “Yeah, I’ll call you back later. Drinks are on me tonight!”
Dracula hangs up the phone and exits the hotel lobby into the sunniest afternoon he has ever seen. An energy seizes him, and though he tries his best to contain it, he lets loose with a life-affirming bellow so great that the city of Pittsburgh itself quakes beneath him:
“Drac’s back, baby!”