Michael David Matula
is the author of the short story
MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE in the
NEW Vampire Anthology
He is also the author of
MY BOSS IS A VAMPIRE
“Well, Ms. Bailor, do you have any prior experience as a personal assistant? Bartholomew Gannen expects a certain level of professionalism and know-how out of his employees.”
Cameron Bailor shrugged, the warm Louisiana air feeling stale in the mansion’s extravagant drawing room. The whole place smelled of dust and antiques; almost like the mansion had hardly been lived in over the past century or two.
Mr. Haberson noticed her eyes wander down to the bandage plastered to his neck, half covered by the collar of his gray mock turtleneck. Strangely, the bandage looked like it had been applied by a seven-year-old in the midst of a coughing fit.
Two rather distressing splotches of red had seeped through the gauze, and were starting to bleed into the fabric of his shirt.
Clearing his throat, Haberson shifted his backside in the premium leather of the lounge chair, angling his torso so his injury would be less noticeable.
“Not exactly,” Cameron replied, her eyes skipping back up to his face now that the seeping neck wound was hidden from view. After looking at his sallow, droopy cheeks for a few seconds, she found herself starting to miss the neck wound. “I can make a mean cup of coffee, though. The kids I used to babysit for would absolutely rave about my cappuccinos.”
A frown drew his hangdog features even lower, looking like he’d just tasted something sour. “I see.”
It took all of her restraint not to face-palm, as she could almost feel her ice-breaker falling flat and shattering the surface of the lake.
Why did she say that? Why did she even attempt to crack a joke? She wasn’t funny, not in the slightest. She was the last person who should be cracking wise in the middle of a harrowing job interview.
Cameron could see him judging her in his bloodshot little eyes. She couldn’t say she hadn’t been judging him from the moment she walked in the door, but still, it never felt particularly good to be on the receiving end of such withering contempt.
Should she tell him it was an attempt at humor? That she wasn’t actually a caffeine pusher for toddlers? Or would that be an insult to his intelligence? Perhaps he knew it was a joke, and he was simply judging Cameron for her poor comedic timing.
“Do you mind if I ask…” she started to say, hoping to switch his mind off of her own shortcomings as a comedian and onto something he’d prefer thinking about.
Namely, himself. Men loved talking about themselves. If there was one thing she knew about men, that was it.
Except for when they had something to hide, of course.
“…what happened to your neck?” she finished asking, realizing the folly of her ways the moment the lead-laced words had fallen onto what remained of the proverbial ice.
She couldn’t help but wince at his complete lack of an expression.
“I’d rather not talk about it,” he grunted.
Of course he didn’t want to talk about it. It was the one thing he’d been hoping she wouldn’t notice. Why couldn’t she have asked him about the weather or something equally bland and unalienating? Why couldn’t she have complimented him on his fashion sense? No, that might have actually made him like her.
After all, he probably injured himself in some sort of kinky asphyxiation thing, and no one wanted to discuss their deviant sexual practices with a total stranger. Much less a pushy twenty-six-year-old who seemed to be unable to keep her mouth shut.
Mr. Haberson sighed. “Ms. Bailor, I’m sure you know that Bartholomew Gannen is a very important man. He may have retired from the limelight, but he still requires a capable, sturdy individual to fend off negative press and overeager fans. He needs someone who is willing to work long daytime hours, and someone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty. Do you really think you would be capable of handling these responsibilities?”
Cameron tried to pull herself together. He was still talking to her. That was a good sign, wasn’t it? At least he hadn’t grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and tossed her sorry derriere out onto the regal front porch of the mansion.
She still had a fighting chance. And she still had four full “release-in-case-of-emergency” buttons to go through on the blouse. She had undone the first one in the car. She’d wanted that casual look.
The second button would show that she could be playful. She wasn’t desperate enough to release button number two yet, but she was getting there.
If she undid button number three, it would show that she could be saucy. A real firecracker. A fourth button would cross the line into epic levels of inappropriateness. But she might still get the job.
She’d never had to go four full buttons before. She knew the day would have to come eventually, though.
“Absolutely.” Cameron’s mousy voice did its best to sound confident.
“I must admit, Ms. Bailor,” Mr. Haberson continued, “that I’m somewhat short on time this afternoon. Today was the only day I could interview replacements for my job in person, for I’ll be unable to work days following tonight.”
“Um-hm.” There you go, Cam. Smile and nod. Keep eye contact. Don’t look at the gross sex bandage…
All right. Well, don’t look at it again.
“It saddens me to say,” he told her with substantial hesitation, “that you’ve got the job, Ms. Bailor.”
Cameron flashed her best “deer in the face of blinding headlights” look.
“Really? This isn’t some sort of joke, is it?”
“It saddens me to say,” he added, with just as much hesitation as before, “that it is not. We haven’t had many applicants for the position, and I find myself unable to wait for anyone else. If Mr. Gannen is not satisfied with your work, then he’ll deal with you later.” Haberson cleared his throat. “He’ll hire someone later, I should say.”
She actually got the job? Seriously? With only one button undone?
She must be better at this whole interview thing than she thought.
Mr. Haberson knitted his fingers together. “I must insist that you begin working immediately, however, as there is much you need to do, and I have limited time before the dawn arrives on the morrow.” He inclined his head toward the rather fusty coffee table to his left. “Your job responsibilities have been printed on the parchment there. Mr. Gannen has been somewhat… quiet, shall we say, over the last few days, so I took an educated guess at what some of his needs would be. If you require anything, try my mobile phone. The number’s at the top of the page. My flight’s at three o’clock this afternoon, though, so you may have some difficulty reaching me after that.”
So, two and a half hours from now. Well, that should give her enough time to look over
the list and see if she…
“It’s settled, then.” Haberson unfurled his fingers and rose to his feet, extending his right hand toward Cameron. “Welcome aboard, Ms. Bailor. Do strive to do your best, whatever that amounts to in your particular case, as Mr. Gannen is rather quick to do away with incompetents.”
She accepted his hand, too giddy about the fact she just got the job to concern herself with the heavy-handed dose of condescension.
He grunted daintily as he lifted up his suitcase, then started to power walk through the mansion toward the entrance hall.
“You’re leaving already?” she asked his rapidly retreating form.
“You know how the rat race can get,” he called back to her as the door creaked open. “Busy busy busy.”
The door slammed shut behind him.
She waited to hear the tires squeal as he raced away in madcap cartoon fashion, but the walls and blacked-out windows of the mansion were much too thick to allow for it.
With him gone, Cameron finally allowed herself to take her first real gander around the place. She hadn’t wanted to look like she was casing the joint in front of Haberson before.
As antiquated as it was, the mansion was still quite impressive, absolutely dripping with Southern charm and class. Aside from Mr. Gannen’s apparent love of doilies, that was, as it looked like he had allowed his great grandmother to decorate the place.
“You’ve finally made it, Cam,” she said, talking to herself and referring to herself by name, which was by no means the mark of a crazy person. “Actual, honest-to-goodness employment. A career, if I can keep from screwing things up like I normally do.”
No more selling electronics of varying legality out of the trunk of her car.
Nope, she was in an actual building this time. A mansion. The kind of house that little houses wished they could be when they grew up. READ MORE
Michael Matula is a novelist and story writer from Chicago, IL. He was born on a Friday the 13th, which could explain some of the darker themes in his writing. He once dreamed of becoming a comic artist, sketching pictures and caption bubbles in class when he really should have been studying. Unable to draw fast enough to keep up with all the words and images tumbling in his head, he started writing stories based on his characters instead. He ended up falling in love with writing and never really looked back.
The INTERVIEW with Fiona
Name Michael Matula
Where are you from
I was born and raised in the Chicago area.
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc.
There isn’t too much to say. I went to Glenbard North High School, enjoy watching movies when I can scrape up the time, and I find that I’m getting more obsessive-compulsive as each day goes by.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest short story, “My Boss is a Vampire,” will be appearing in Wrapped in Red, the new anthology from Sekhmet Press, on October 29th.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I always wanted to be a comic book artist. I wrote and drew my own comics as a teenager, usually during study hall, but occasionally during classes. But I had too many ideas for the stories, and I couldn’t draw fast enough to keep up with everything I wanted to do. Nor could I quite match the images that I was seeing in my mind. So I wrote out a side story for one of my characters, and I never really looked back after that.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Pretty much right away. I finished writing my first book in high school. Looking back, it wasn’t very well-written, and I’d probably die of embarrassment if anyone read it now, but I still hold a lot of the characters and the story very close to my heart, and I hope to one day rewrite it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your story?
I had an idea for a woman who was not too dissimilar to me. She’s struggling to find work, doing lots of odd jobs while trying to be a writer in an age where print is dead. And basically, every job she takes goes wrong somehow, though she would never admit to it ever being her own fault.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I mostly just write the story as the character, placing myself in their heads as much as possible, and whatever they would think is usually how I tell it. I always think that the key to writing is to find characters you like. Then, the characters do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I think I had the title before I actually wrote the story, which is often how I do things. A good title can give you inspiration for the story, and makes me excited to write it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your story that you want readers to grasp?
Be wary of kids who learn voodoo curses off the internet. You might have career trouble later in life.
Fiona: How much of the story is realistic?
Not much, if I’m being honest. It’s part parody, part suspense, and hopefully all fun. If any parts of it are realistic, then it’s probably unintentional.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most?
Sunglasses After Dark was one of the books that made me want to be a writer. That, and the Wheel of Time series, along with some of Michael Crichton’s books.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I just completed the sequel to my first novel, Try Not To Burn, which is about three people struggling to escape eternal damnation and redeem their sins. It’s part suspense, part psychological thriller, and part monster movie.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
A teacher I had in elementary school, Mrs. McArdle, pushed me to join an advanced program, which may have helped steer me into a creative path. I also remember one time that I was supposed to write down an answer to a question “What’s one thing you do better than anyone else?” It was supposed to just be a fun thing, a throwaway question, but I didn’t have an answer, as I’ve never felt particularly special. So I asked her, and she said I was better at making her laugh than anyone else. It was something that will always stick with me, and it was one of the first times as a kid that I’d ever felt like I mattered.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d love it to be. There’s nothing I’d rather do full-time than write. READ MORE