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 the garlic bagel with garlic cream cheese should ward off even a swarm of tourists from New Jersey.
“Good Morning.” From behind the big desk the 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.
“Well, I’ll get right to the point . . .” but he cut me off.
“You want vampire insurance.” Martin smiled and pulled a couple off brochures off 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 rider and undead riders there were werewolf and faerie riders as well.
“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, AB-” I said. My voice shook as I did. The last thing you ever want to do is shout out at midnight that you’re taking a thousand dollars from an ATM in downtown LA. Or that you’re AB- 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 contingencies.”
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 very, 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. 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. “Now if I end up joining the ranks of the undead does it still pay my fiancée?”
“Of course it can, but recent legislation which has already passed through the courts gives us two more options.”
“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 grave yard, 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.”
Explained as fast I could that I was truly shocked. I remembered that a woman 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 boyfriend was the local firechief but 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. 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.
“A wise choice,” answered Mr. Springafalt. “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.”
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.”
To Be Continued . . . .