I entered Martin Springafalt’s Vampire Insurance Agency at about 10:00am thinking that I must be safe, it was a bright Summer day and the place was well lit. Besides my breakfast of garlic bagels with garlic cream cheese should ward off even a swarm of New Jersey tourists.
“Good Morning.” From behind the big desk the very tall blond man greeted me. Square jawed and thorlike, his golden hair swung into his face as he stood up. From the desk the little sign flashed that his name was Martin Springafalt. “It’s nice to meet you.” His large right hand waved at the seat in front of me.
I stood 5’71/2″ and pudgy in comparison, about 230, okay 240lbs wearing only the most common of faces and undistinguished brown hair and eyes. Not to mention I was a bit of geek or nerd, and my brother used to call me a dweeb but when he was particularly annoyed a quimby. In other words, I was wholly intimidated. I knew how the vikings felt when they met the ice giants.
I decided to take control of the conversation early, with “Well, I’ll get right to the point . . .”
“You want vampire insurance.” Martin smiled cutting me off and pulled a couple of brochures from the reception desk’s display and lay them in front of me. I was aghast, this was going to be more expensive than I’d thought. Along with the usual property damage and undeath riders there were witch, werewolf and faerie riders as well. I definitely preferred uninsured motorist, collision and medical payments coverage as topics of discussion.
“I was just looking for the standard policy really, I . . .” was cut off again by Martin.
“Lyssna, Johnathan Lyssna.”
“You’re in a high risk category Mr. Lyssna?”
“Yes, well, A-B negative,” I almost whispered. My voice shook as I did. The last thing you ever want to do is shout out that you’re A-B negative when vampires have been reported in the area.
“Then you already know how important coverage is. Let’s take a little time because even the standard policies have major differences now, new wrinkles. We’ll have to go over those before you know what you’re looking for. Are you married Mr. Lyssna, have children?”
“No children yet, but soon to be married, my fiancée, Annika, would like to be sure that we’re covered immediately. Because well . . .”
“One never knows.” Mr. Springafalt opened a brochure describing the main types of standard coverage. “Pay special attention here, of course you’re getting the property damage rider, it’s cheap and the amount of property damage from vampires is typically minimal. Sometimes you cannot even tell how they got in.” Clearing his throat he pointed at the 3rd page. “You see, up until here the policy is your standard term life insurance policy, but from here, you see three, actually four contingencies.”
Yes, I could clearly see them. “Option one, I die and the standard term life pay out goes to my beneficiaries.”
“That’s correct. But see here?” Mr. Springafalt pointed at option two with his long fingers and lightly tanned hands. “What if you live?”
“By ‘live’ you mean as an undead, is that right?” I asked.
“No, on rare, let’s say extremely rare occasions, you just live, you’re not undead, you’re not dead and you just live and they don’t come back and finish the job. Perhaps the vampire in question is himself extinguished or doesn’t like the taste of your blood, who knows. In any case you’re alive at least three weeks later.” He smiled and was shaking his head at the same time. “Apparently they don’t like leftovers.” Martin paused and looked at his fingernails for a moment. “But what kind of life would that be?”
“I, I uh, I don’t, I don’t know.” I had this momentary vision of, what if Hugh Grant were a lonely chubby fat guy with a fiancée buying vampire insurance in a farflung suburb of San Diego. It was hard to picture. Really I just had to see myself and hear his voice to do it. Sucked. I had to get a grip on myself.
“Most people experience acute hemophilia for the rest of their lives including joint pains, head aches, muscle pains and difficulty maintaining your weight.”
“Really, sign me up for that one.”
Martin Springafalt smiled and quietly said, “as I said it seldom works out, my mom made that same joke but when the vampires got her she died.” He looked out the window for a moment and a single tear ran down his cheek. “Listen, it’s the least likely outcome but the most expensive, so it’s the first coverage I always recommend, it’s not going to add much to the policy because it’s so unlikely.”
I felt fidgety and darted my eyes from brochure to brochure to keep them busy. “What about a vampire apocalypse?”
“Forget it, that’s never going to happen. Listen would you intentionally kill yourself by killing off all of your food supply?” I furrowed my brows, he continued, “if you owned a ranch, would you eat all of the cows so that you had nothing left over?”
“So, we’re cattle?” I asked.
“Well, Mr. Lyssna, in theory . . . there’s always the immortal food chain no matter where you find your place in it. We used to think we were at the top of it, but now we’ve found out we’re on the 2nd rung. That’s all.”
My mouth was dry but I chocked out the next question anyway. “What if I end up joining the ranks of the undead, does it still pay my fiancée?” For a moment I felt like the planted audience member of an infomercial studio audience.
“Of course it can, but recent legislation which has already passed through the courts gives us two more options.”
“What? Really?” I had never heard anything about vampire lawsuits before ever.
“Yes, you can have the policy pay to you directly, to your undead self, as a secondary form of viatical contract. As a member of the newly undead, you’ll need a bit of scratch to get yourself started out. Nice quiet country estate, your own little bit of graveyard, heavy duty security systems, of course complete privacy, and 100 head of cows or if you prefer, sheep.”
“Are you serious? I think I saw a ranch like that on the way into town today. Do vampires really eat cows and sheep?”
“No, not at all, but most people don’t know that.” Mr. Springafalt rubbed his nose. “And that ranch is the old Draklesayer ranch, perfectly harmless. They have a graveyard there because that’s how old the ranch is, it predates the cemetery in town.” I must have looked incredulous because he continued, “yes, the livestock in the plan are just for show, unlike our neighbors down the road.”
“What’s option number three?” I asked.
“You’re going to like this, option three is a combination of one, where your beneficiary is paid a percentage of the pay out, plus then the rest up to 50% is used to hunt you down and stake your undead corpse to a tree where you’ll be crucified to the sun the following morning.”
“Does that hurt?”
“How should I know? But you’ll be dead anyway so what would it matter? I have heard though that they scream for hours and hours, most of the morning in fact. It takes quite a while to burn a vampire with sunlight, even longer if it’s raining.”
“So, they don’t sparkle?” I asked tentatively.
“Oh, no, well maybe.” Mr. Springfalt had a far away look in his eyes for a moment, and said, “maybe as their skin starts to boil and bubble . . .”
I remembered that a woman not two weeks earlier had accused her husband of being a vampire. Her boyfriend had him staked to a tree and burned him the next morning with gasoline. She almost got away with it because the new boyfriend was the local firechief but then the sheriff smelled the gas and that was that. “Did they have one of these policies?”
“Um, well yes, the Vastras, I sold them the policy. And I’m glad to say that we didn’t pay a penny on that policy to Mrs. Vastra because we paid the 50% of the policy which would have gone to Mrs. Vastra directly to her children’s guardian after she went to prison.”
“I think I’d rather have the money and the sheep.” I mused outloud. “What’s option number four?”
Turning the page he pointed out that the fourth payout contingency was if you simply disappear. “For whatever reason, if you’re a newly minted vampire and you just decide to go to Finland and so you’re just gone. What if they hide your bag of dried bones after they’re done draining you of your life giving nectar? If you’re in a high risk category, you’re covered even if you just vanish and are never heard of again.”
“I think I’d rather just have the money, and then disappear.”
“A wise choice,” answered Mr. Springafalt.” Of course money can be a way of tracing you even if you don’t want to be found. Now the faeries really are quite rare enough and we’re nowhere near England, and the werewolf rider is probably also something you can skip without more thought as the nearest forests are at least an hour away in the local mountains and they don’t drive when they’re changed.”
“What about zombies?” I asked, and Martin just laughed at me.
“Okay, so they’re not alive, but they’re not undead, or rather, they’re not supernaturally undead, they’re just dead. Right, so how come a bullet to the heart doesn’t kill them?” I shook my head that I didn’t know. “Because if you’re not supernaturally undead, you’re just dead, so anything that would kill you if you were alive will kill you if you’re a zombie.
“But if that were true, there wouldn’t be any zombies at all in the first place.” I blurted out.
“Now you’re catching on.” After punching numbers on an oversized calculator he said, “if you want a binder right away, as you stated earlier, then the policy downpayment is $102.51 payable in cash. You’ll be immediately protected that way. When you see your Annika next you’ll be safe in the event of any untoward encounters with vampires. What duhyah say?”
“And if I do, maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t live through it, and I won’t die either.”
Mr. Springafalt smiled, “I hear it’s all a matter of if they take a liking to you.”