Varney the Vampire, a Very Short Play, by Brad Vance

VARNEY THE VAMPIRE

by Brad Vance

CHARACTERS

VARNEY, male, 20s, attractive.

THERESA, female, 20s, attractive.

LOCATION

THERESA’s living room.

TIME

Very, very late at night.

 

VARNEY and THERESA sit on the couch, a fairly awkward distance apart.

THERESA

Do you think they’re coming back?

VARNEY

Umm, not if I know Germain.

THERESA

Yeah, and I know Lucy. They’re not coming back.

(Pause)

Sorry.

VARNEY

Why?

THERESA

Well, she invited you guys over, and then she left with Germain and stranded you here with me.

VARNEY

I don’t mind.

(Pause)

And hey, it wasn’t all her idea, right? Germain took off on me, too. Again, not that I mind.

Awkward silence.

THERESA

This is really embarrassing, but… I’m terrible with names and I forgot yours. I’m Theresa.

VARNEY shakes her hand.

VARNEY

Varney.

THERESA

Arnie?

VARNEY

Like Arnie, but with a V at the beginning. And an E Y at the end.

THERESA

That’s a cool name.

VARNEY

Thanks.

THERESA

I’ve never heard it before.

VARNEY

It’s an old name.

Pause, awkward silence.

VARNEY

I could go, if you…

THERESA

No, no.

THERESA gets up from couch and heads to kitchen.

Do you want something to drink?

VARNEY

I’m fine. A glass of water.

THERESA

(From kitchen.)

I only have tap, is that okay?

VARNEY

Sure, no problem. New York City tap water’s the best, right?

THERESA

I know, amazing, right? I never would have thought so when I moved here. So what do you do?

VARNEY

I’m a broker.

THERESA

Oh, what kind, bonds or…

THERESA comes back from kitchen with water and a glass of wine for her.

VARNEY

It’s complicated.

THERESA stops just before handing him his water.

THERESA

Well, I have a masters in finance from NYU so…

VARNEY

Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you…

THERESA

It’s fine. It’s a man thing, I guess.

VARNEY

Assuming a woman wouldn’t understand all those big scary numbers?

THERESA relaxes.

THERESA

Yeah, that.

VARNEY

It’s not the financial aspect that confuses people. No offense, but, people just don’t believe me when I tell them the truth. They think I’m fucking with them.

THERESA

Okay. All people don’t believe you, or just some people?

VARNEY

Most people, I’ll put it that way.

THERESA

Well, I’ll bite.

VARNEY Laughs.

VARNEY

It’s funny you say that.

THERESA

Why?

VARNEY

Because I’m a vampire.

THERESA looks shocked, then laughs. She decides to play along.

THERESA

Okay. You’re a vampire. I think I understand the economics of that. You ravish fair maidens and drink their blood. Then you turn them into your vampire wives, and, I don’t know, set them to work in some kind of vampire sister wife compound.

VARNEY

No, no, no vampire sister wives.

THERESA

You don’t set them to making… blood sausage?

VARNEY

No blood sausage.

THERESA

(Sips wine)

Okay. Broker, let me think. Blood diamonds?

VARNEY looks at her, hurt, offended.

THERESA

Wow, sorry, yeah, okay. That was tasteless. Sorry.

VARNEY

Yeah. Even vampires have morals, you know.

THERESA

(smiles)

Blood oranges?

VARNEY relaxes, laughs.

VARNEY

You know, the whole drinking blood thing, it’s just an analogy.

THERESA

For what?

VARNEY

What I’m extracting from a person is… an essence.

THERESA

So, their soul?

VARNEY

No, that’s too expressly religious to cover it. But for convenience, let’s use the word “soul” without any specific Christian or whatever context.

THERESA

Okay, fine with me.

VARNEY

Each soul is the sum total of a person’s experiences, their beliefs, their knowledge…

THERESA

Their decisions? As in, I know we’re not getting religious here, but, their sins?

VARNEY

Partly. But that’s the problem with the soul metaphor, you get into religion and then the soul is about who’s damned and who’s saved and all that.

THERESA

Yeah, I went to Catholic school. People who think that the soul is just an… abacus for sins, a tally of what you did right or wrong according to…

(Shrugs)

VARNEY

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Which is so wrong. Because your soul is also… how you felt when your cat died. How you felt when you ate a truffle for the first time. How you felt when you first heard Sinead O’Connor singing Troy, the way you froze in place and every hair on your body stood on end and it was like you’d witness the raising of a banshee.

THERESA

How hard you laughed the first time you saw Alec Baldwin impersonate Donald Trump.

VARNEY

That too, definitely. Each soul is like… a bottle of wine. Each one has a different composition of scents and tastes, of notes, overtones, undertones. Some are just plonk, overwhelmingly tawdry and noxious, others are… subtle. Some are smooth but earthy, rich and fruity, some with a hint of…something dark, something that grows underground that would be distasteful, if it wasn’t part of the appeal of the whole.

THERESA

So how does pure goodness taste?

VARNEY

Oh God. That’s the silliest part of the myth, that we love ravishing cloistered innocent virgins and all that. They’re fucking boring. They taste like… nothing. Like a… white wine spritzer.

THERESA

And you have a nose for souls. You’re a soul sommelier.

VARNEY

(Laughs)

I’m like a wine taster, in that I will… sample a soul. Test its flavor, its composition. See if it would hold up if a bottle of it was put down in a cellar over the years.

THERESA

So you… take people’s essences?

VARNEY

I bottle it, so to speak, and sell it, to customers who have a need for it, or a taste for it, or who just collect it. That’s where the broker part comes in.

THERESA

And then when you’re all done bottling their souls, they die.

VARNEY

No, no. Think of the body as a vineyard, that produces the grapes that make the wine. Why would I kill the vineyard to get the wine? Now, to be honest, some people produce… plonk.

THERESA

The Three Buck Chuck of souls.

VARNEY

Right! And, the lower the quality of the essence, the more of it I have to bottle and sell in mass quantities, to people whose taste buds aren’t that refined. But to be honest, souls like that, well, you can drain a lot of plonk and they won’t miss it.

(Pause, leans in.)

But… there are finer vintages. Vintages from which you deliberately bottle only very small quantities. Quantities where the bottles are numbered, there are so few.

THERESA

Like DeBeers and diamonds. You restrict the supply to keep the price up.

VARNEY

Yes. And because… because things that are that good, should be rare. Should be difficult to find.

THERESA

And what if it’s so popular that your customers demand more?

VARNEY

They just have to wait. For next year’s vintage. And even then, of course, there’s no assurance that next year’s will be any good. A lot can happen to a soul in a year to change its flavor. Some of which can add a pungency that only a few connoisseurs can appreciate. Some of which can ruin the crop.

THERESA

Like committing some horrible crime.

VARNEY

Or being the victim of one. Something that throws the soul out of balance, or shatters it completely.

THERESA

So what’s in it for the vineyard?

VARNEY

Excellent question. Some, the plonkier ones, just want to be… stripped bare. They just want to be emptied of all their pain and sorrow and fear and worry. Their soil is exhausted. They just want that one moment, what Goethe [note: GUR-TUH] called the perfect moment. When everything comes right, when everything is all right, at last, if only for that final moment.

THERESA

Like a hit of heroin.

VARNEY

(Shakes his head)

A massive heroin rush, set next to that moment, would be like the taste of canned corn, set next to the flavor of a freshly plucked ear, buttered and and barbecued on a mesquite grill.

THERESA

And for the tastier ones? What do they get out of it?

VARNEY

They experience themselves, in the portion you’d get in a glass at a wine tasting. And like a truly fine wine, it leaves them with a powerful and transformative memory, without any addictive, burning need to have more of it.

THERESA

So it’s like ayahuasca. A cosmic journey of self discovery.

VARNEY

Hmm. Yes. But no. Because you’re not leaving yourself, you’re not seeing an alternate reality. You’re experiencing your own reality. Yourself as a symphony, the sound turned up, on a high end stereo. Yourself as a painting, the colors all brilliantly, perfectly lit. Yourself as a garden, roses and thorns, berries and weeds in a post-rainstorm sunlight. Yourself as you really are, all seen at once. Not in pieces, the way you see parts of yourself in an ordinary day, picking up and criticizing this bit or that from moment to moment. But all your good, all your evil, all at once. Your own personal judgment day.

Pause.

THERESA

Fuck.

(Pause.)

So which one am I? Not the plonk, I hope.

VARNEY

Definitely not. Of course, I haven’t sampled you yet, but just from this distance I’d say…

(Closes eyes, composes a review.)

“A bold, adventurous wine, hints of blackberry and citrus with a firm but springy, mossy and foresty foundation.”

THERESA

A real 98 rating from Blood Spectator magazine.

VARNEY laughs, appraises her.

VARNEY

Yeah, I think so.

THERESA

But you couldn’t say without a sample.

VARNEY

No.

THERESA sets down her glass, gets up, goes into her bedroom. She turns to him from just inside the doorway.

THERESA

Are you coming?

VARNEY gets up, stands in front of the doorway.

VARNEY

You have to invite me in.

THERESA

(Laughs nervously.)

Right. The crossing the threshold thing. But you’re already in…

VARNEY

I’m in the house you share with the person who let me in. But this… this is your room. Your decision. You have to invite me in.

THERESA hesitates. They look at each other. She unbuttons the top button of her blouse.

THERESA

Won’t… won’t you please come in.

VARNEY

It would be my pleasure.

VARNEY steps across the threshold.

BLACKOUT

3 Comments on Varney the Vampire, a Very Short Play, by Brad Vance

  1. Have you read the Victorian horror serial, then? The theory is interesting, the sampling of souls, but alas, I, as a connoisseur of all things vampire, am unable to comment without prejudice 🙂 Also, vampires don’t drink water 🙂
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varney_the_Vampire

    • I thought you’d get the ref! No they don’t drink water, but it’s a polite thing to accept when offered a drink, and no one is offended if you don’t drink it. Do Not Think, Madame, that all these things are not accounted for! Xoxo

  2. This is true 🙂 I don’t read a lot of Vamp fiction because I don’t want it to color my own.You’re right–he didn’t drink it, so I’ll give you that one. One of my vamps (unpublished as of yet) did pick up a few unsavory habits when he dined on naughty individuals, and he had to find a decent victim to counteract the effects, like an antidote 🙂

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