Once upon a time, many, many severals of bunches of years ago, when I was but a “baby author,” I had this bizarre experience. This is not to say that I don’t have bizarre experiences now, because I do. In fact, I have experiences these days that are even more bizarre than they were back then, but hey, we aren’t here to talk about today. We’re here to talk about yesterday. No, not the Beatles song… No, not the Tommy Shaw – Jack Blades song either.
Sheesh… And y’all claim that I’m the one who chases random chickens. Maybe you need to look in a mirror, ya’know?
Anywho, let’s get back to the story… Way back umpteen years ago, I was scheduled to appear at a local Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. It was called, Name That Con. Yeah, a little weird, especially since folks would submit names for it and a winner would be selected, but they would still called it Name That Con. Not the winning name. Not any other name. Just Name That Con. I kinda think maybe they should have just called it, This Is The Name Of This Con, or something of that sort… But I digress. Sort of…
You see, being a new kid on the block as authors go, exposure was the thing, and I was out to get myself a big ol’ slice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing a very good job of pacing myself. I would arrive early, stay late, and volunteer to fill in on panels wherever needed, all in the name of getting my… well… name, out there to folks. It’s what you’re supposed to do. But, as I said, I wasn’t really pacing myself. These days I’m a lot older, and slightly wiser – but only slightly. I pace myself quite a bit. In fact, when at a convention when I am not at a panel or autograph session where I am scheduled to be, I can usually be found in the hotel bar – Yes… Pacing myself.
So anyway, Saturday afternoon rolled around and there I was, sitting in the lobby next to the registration tables, signing books for all three or four of my adoring fans. Actually, there were a few more than that, but remember, I was new on the scene, so while LKH, who was immediately before me, had a line around the block, I had not quite as many. No worries. I’ve been working to change that, with a modicum of success.
But, anyway, there I was. I had already been going full tilt since Friday afternoon and I wasn’t done yet. As if that wasn’t enough, about an hour or so after my book signing was supposed to end, I was scheduled to be at Union Station downtown (the con was being held at a hotel out in the burbs) in order to be a guest on a paranormal radio show called, Shaowworlds. (Good show… Too bad it’s not around anymore. I was on there a few times actually, but this particular instance was the first.)
And so, the book signing ended, and I milled around the lobby of the hotel for a bit, chit chatting with my publicist/personal assistant Scott (aka Chunkee), who was ferrying me about and making sure I was where I needed to be, when I needed to be, and how I needed to be.
This is when things started to go South. By that I mean I was suddenly approached by Vampirella…
Now, given that this was a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Con, you would probably surmise that I am talking about a long-legged, buxom, raven haired beauty with crimson lips and sharp fangs, who is wearing a skimpy costume. After all, costuming and SF Cons go hand in hand. And, had this been the case, things probably wouldn’t have gone South [it would have (insert your own gratuitous erection inference here)], provided I kept in mind that I was a married man.
However, this was not the case. Not about the married man part. I mean about the babe in a vampire costume part. You see, the Vampirella in question was none other than a lovely young lady who worked in some capacity or another for the Red Cross. It seems the convention was running a blood drive and they were behind in their goal of 12 Quadrazillion Pints of bodily fluid extraction.
And so, Vampirella cajoled and charmed me into surrendering a pint of the red stuff. I have to say, she was a hell of a salesperson, or, ummm, whatever-person I guess, because she wasn’t even a redhead, nor was she wearing leather and stilettos – therefore I really had no reason to fall for her pitch. However, being younger, less wise, and not pacing myself, I agreed to the exchange – blood for cookies and OJ (In retrospect, that must have been how she roped me into this whole thing.) So, off to the Blood Mobile I went, promising my publicist that I would most certainly be finished in time to make it to the radio station. Why would I make such a promise? Well, because Vampirella told me I would be.
After signing the paperwork, getting poked, prodded, stuck, interviewed, inspected, detected, and otherwise abused by Vampirella’s assistants in the traveling exsanguination chamber, I was directed over to a cot and told to lay down. Soon after that, Vampirella’s chief henchwoman, we’ll call her Hildegard Renfield for lack of a better name, wrapped a bungee cord around my arm fourteen times, slapped me repeatedly, then drove a hollow railroad spike into the same arm, and attached a garden hose to it. As the precious red fluid drained from my person, she began to serenade me with a litany of things I was not allowed to do for the next 12 to 24 hours. Honestly, had she been a redhead I would have thought it was just another day at home with The Evil One, but she wasn’t, so I didn’t.
Still with me on that one? Good, because I almost lost myself there in that last turn…
So anyway, as Hildegard Renfield neared the end of this list, she informed me that I was not to drink any alcohol for at least 12 hours. Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you, but I’m an author. Alcohol and coffee are pretty much what keep me going, and for very good reason. Therefore, I said to her, “Wait. What do you mean no alcohol?”
“No alcoholic beverages,” she replied.
Being the sarcastic ass that I am I said, “Honey. I’m a fiction author. I require alcohol in order to function.”
“Why?” she asked, obviously puzzled.
“To stop the voices in my head so I can get some sleep, that’s why,” I told her.
This didn’t seem to convince her. It didn’t seem to amuse her either. No big surprise, I don’t guess. After all, she’s like some kind of undead assistant to the undead or some such. Although, I don’t remember seeing her eat any bugs, so who knows…
So, I asked, “What’s the deal anyway? Wouldn’t I just get drunk quicker?”
“Yes. Exactly,” she replied.
“Well hell, that’s a good thing,” I announced so everyone could hear. “I can get trashed and it’ll only cost me half as much.”
“But, you can’t do that,” Hildegard replied.
“You just can’t.”
“Whaddaya mean?” I pressed. “Are the blood police going to come and arrest me or something?”
The lady being exsanguinated across the aisle from me thought this was hilarious. Hildegard, not so much, nor did she have a reply.
Eventually, when I was officially a pint low (although, I still maintain that she took an entire quart), the railroad spike was removed from my arm, I was patched up with an Amazing Spiderman band-aid, and I got 1/16th of an ounce of orange juice along with some cookie crumbs as they booted me out the back door and right smack into my publicist who was standing at the bottom of the fold out stairs…
Vampirella, however, was nowhere to be seen. Seems she had already crawled back into her coffin.
More to come…
To Be Continued With: Is This Thing On?