The Story of the Breasts

~3900 words :: Vampire Chronicles :: Louis/Lestat :: 1/8/03
When Lestat accidentally kills David by reading Merrick to him, he and Louis must set off on a cross-country trip to catch Anne Rice before any more innocent lives fall victim to the book’s powers. (Note: Loosely based on Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby. Co-written with Becky.)


We’re standing in yet another Barnes and Noble store in yet another city, and there is the familiar pyramid display of books, reflecting the neon strip lighting of the store back at us like so many trashy gold covers.

Which, of course, they are.

What the writing on the placard placed behind them reads is this: “A wonderfully energetic, Gothic tale of intrigue and mystery…sure to go down in history as one of the great works of fiction…rarely, since the days of Shakespeare himself, have we seen such skilled, focused writing.”

And underneath that, in small print:

John H. Smith

And underneath that, in even smaller print:

–Main Shareholder, Randolph House

Louis gives the most ungentlemanly snort, and looks at me. “We missed her.”

“Yes.”

“I told you we shouldn’t have stopped off to watch that last episode of American Idol!”

“Well, so-rry! I called in five hundred and twenty-three times for Kelly and I’ll be damned if I was going to miss seeing Justin lose. That floppy-haired Muppet was too full of himself for his own good.”

He sighs and rolls his eyes, muttering something under his breath about the colour of pots and kettles before changing the subject. “What’s the next book-signing on the itinerary?”

“Um…there isn’t one. Denver was the last stop.”

“Damn you, Lestat!” he snaps, watching as an unsuspecting shopper picks up one of the books.

These Mary Sue-a-holics. These cohesion-o-phobes.

With a thought, I set the book on fire. The customer yells, dropping it in fright. A moment later, the entire display is in flames.

“Very subtle, Lestat. I was simply going to point her towards the literature section, but I see now the error of my ways,” says Louis. “Come on, let’s get back on the road.”


I scowl as he leads me out of the store and back towards the Mercedes. This is getting old fast.

“Don’t you look at me like that,” he says, “this is all your fault.”

“Of course it is; everything is my fault.”

He nods in agreement and starts up the engine. Damn him.


I’m not a bad person, you have to understand that.

Okay, I am.

But I didn’t mean it.

Really.

Not the first time, anyway. Not with David.

I thought it was harmless fun, you see. It was a tradition with Louis and me. We would wait for the latest book by our ghost writer to come out and then we would sit there and deconstruct it, laughing until our cheeks were stained red with tears. Only, on the day the new one came out, Merrick, he had been on one of his solitary jaunts, so I brought it back to the flat and sat there laughing as I read through it. Laughing that anyone could believe this…creature was my Louis.

“Breasts…breasts… What is with this…?”

I heard the door close, and there was David, shaking his head at me. “Why do you keep saying breasts?” he asked.

“Because you’re obsessed with them?”

“I am not!” he snapped, looking offended.

“Yes, you are,” I said, opening up the book. “Listen to this – ‘Merrick’s breasts were young and firm…she was naked underneath her clothes.'”

“What on earth?” he asked, his eyelids drooping as if he were tired.

“Sit back and listen,” I said. “It gets better…”


“What are you thinking about?” Louis asks as we hit the freeway.

“Oh, just that time I read Merrick to David.”

“How could you forget?” he asks grimly, and I shrug. No use crying over spilt milk and all that.

“Just drive. We have to find her before it’s too late.”


“…And we all lived in a big house together, Louis’s hang-ups about Claudia and Lestat cured, me still unsure of my sexuality, and the breasts. The end.”

I slammed the book shut. “What did you think, David?” I laughed. “A masterpiece, non? One for the ages?”

He didn’t reply. He had pretended to go to sleep, although really, it would have been more convincing with a few snores. But then David’s not the consummate actor that yours truly is, so don’t judge him too harshly. Not everyone can be the Vampire Lestat.

“I know, I know! I thought I would die of boredom halfway through the stupid Mask incident!” Not so much as a smile. “Oh, come on,” I said. “Don’t blame me – I didn’t write it! In fact, if you believe the book, you did!”

Silence.

How dare he ignore me?

“Fine!” I shouted. “Two can play this game!”

So, I tried to read some more of it, but my mind was beginning to hate me. I put on obnoxious music. I danced. When Louis came in, I was cooking spaghetti.

Just because.

“Lestat,” he murmured, as he came in, “may I ask just why you are cooking?”

“Because David’s an ass,” I snapped, flinging random pieces of pasta at David. He didn’t move as they splattered against his forehead.

“Don’t be so rude!” snapped Louis, going over to David and shaking him gently.

I scowled and turned back to my cooking. “You want cheese with it?”

“Lestat, we’re vampires. We don’t eat!”

“You could at least pretend for me.”

That blood-a-holic. That cheese-o-phobe.

“Lestat,” he said dramatically, coming over and shaking me. “David’s dead!”

Well guh, Louis, I felt like saying. We all are. Hello? Vampires? But that’s not what he meant.


I tried to blot out the sound as Louis paced back and forth in front of me, ranting. “Whatever possessed you, Lestat?” he snapped. “Why on earth would you do something like this-!”

“Because I’m an asshole,” I said. “Want to go have sex?”

Anything to shut him up. And it usually works, too, but apparently now David’s death was more important. It’s always about them, never about my needs.

He glowered at me. “How could you be so stupid? How could you forget that two-year coma you slipped into after reading Memnoch the Devil?”

Coma?

“…Or that bout of amnesia that had you thinking you were with Marius in 1793 after reading Blood and Gold?”

Ah. Yes.

“We have to do something about this,” said Louis. “We have to stop her! Innocent lives are at stake here!”

I sighed. “But she’s on a book tour at the moment. We’d have to traipse across America to get her.”

“Then get your coat,” said Louis, “because you’re going to help me stop this before anyone else dies.”

“Still,” I said, “death by boredom. That was kind of ironic for David, you have to admit.”

The book was a surprisingly painful missile when aimed at your head.


“Wait a minute!” I said. “I am the maker here! I decide where we go!”

“Oh, really?” he asked in a tone that might be taken by the casual listener to be polite and unassuming, but which to me suggested scythes and great, blazing fires and long, long nights filled with exactly no sex whatsoever.

“Yes, we have important business, you know!”

“Like what? Are we out of spaghetti?”

Oh, haha, Louis. Yes, very funny.

I cast about in horror. There must be something! “Um…er…the videos!”

“The videos?”

“I feel so guilty about them. Can I at least return the videos first?”

He scowled. “Go on.”

I walked over to the video cabinet and scooped up the collection of videos that had been laying there dormant for the last month or so – Serial Mom would love me – and stopped at the door haughtily. “Well, come on. We have videos to return.”

“The more important thing is-”

“-people are missing out on watching Big Daddy. Come on!”

He sighed as he picked up the book and put his coat on. He walked over to the Mercedes, swinging the car keys. “I’m driving. I’m not putting up with any more of your nonsense tonight. Honestly, Lestat, it’s not as if one more day is going to make any difference. You’ve already paid for those many times over in late fees.” The part he didn’t actually say, but I could hear loud and clear all the same was, you’re not fooling anybody, you know. I’m only humouring you.

I scowled as he threw the book into the back seat, and slid in. “You know,” I said threateningly. “I can remember each and every paragraph of that book. Photographic memory and all.”

“So?” He arched an eyebrow at me.

“Don’t make me use it.”

“Don’t make me laugh.”

I was fuming as he started up the engine.


We pulled up outside the video store, Louis glancing in at the spotty teenager behind the counter. “Good. There are only a few customers. Hurry up, Lestat.”

“Yes, your majesty,” I spat, getting out of the car. “Remind me to tell you about the breasts later.”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

I scooped up the armful of videos and staggered over to the store. A woman entered just before me, and I smiled gratefully as she opened the door…and then she just let go! The little bitch… Why, she could use a culling…

Grr.

It was a long wait to see the clerk behind the counter, namely because he obviously did not care that there were people waiting, and was happy to pretend to be busy whilst everyone huffed and sighed.

And I’m thinking breasts, breasts, breasts, Chanel, breasts, rum, breasts

When I finally got to the counter, spotty-boy glared at me with barely concealed contempt. “Oh,” I said dramatically, “I am so sorry to bother you, Kevin, deputy-second-in-charge store manager.”

He glared at me evilly as he covered his name badge and then clicked the scanner. He gasped at the details that came up on the computer. “Oh!” he said in mock-horror. “Would you look at that! This video is two weeks late.”

“All right,” I said, irate because the other customers were listening and he was ruining my suave image, “don’t have a coronary over it, will you?”

“Well, sir will of course have to pay a full, hefty fine of $1.50 per hour, which will obviously run into several hundred dollars, given the number of late videos here,” he tutted, obvious glee in his voice.

“Look, Kevin, it doesn’t matter, Kevin; I’ll happily pay the fines, and you can be promoted to second-third in charge middle-manager of the shop, can’t you?”

Kevin glowered at me. “And look at the state of this video,” he said dramatically, holding up Big Huge Donkey Dicks for the entire store to see.

I smiled. “That doesn’t bother me.”

The pretty young lady behind me giggled.

“…But this cover is all ripped,” he gasped, and he reached for it. I watched in horror as he picked up the video in question and showed it to the people behind me, watched in slow-motion panic as Big Daddy was waved in the air. The woman who had thought me suave and funny, the little man against the video-shop tyrant, looked at me with new horror, realising that I was a buffoon who laughed at slapstick comedy.

Raging and bile ducts don’t even come into it.

Louis is always saying I should just ignore Kevin and be the adult here. What does he know?

I took hold of the video from him and gazed at him calmly. “Kevin,” I said, “I would like to tell you a story.”


Louis gazed in shock at the ambulances that came screaming into the parking lot as I got into the car. “What happened?” he asked.

“Oh, the store clerk fainted or something…maybe even died,” I murmured happily.

“Lestat,” he said slowly, “was Kevin serving?”

“Yes. So?”

“You’re despicable!”

I put on my sunglasses and flashed him my most evil smile. “Just drive!”


So, there we go, leaving a trail of dead across America. You tried to cheat us with the gas, sir? Well, have you heard the Story of the Breasts? Put your finger up at me will you, White Van Man? Oh, you haven’t lived til you learn about the Harry Potter Photographs!

Louis was getting irate, to say the least. “If you’re going to do it, you may as well do it to those who deserve it!” he snapped.

I asked him if he had heard the story of the Mask Adventure.


Rubbing my black eye profusely, I told him to stop the car at a certain house when we reached New York. Louis pulled over, and stared up at the building. “Why on earth would you want to go here?” he whispered in horror.

“You’ll see,” I said, getting out of the car. “Come on.”

“No way am I going in there!” he gasped.


He was still clinging to the doorpost an hour later when I finally extricated his fingers from the wood and gripped his arm, dragging him across the porch.

“No,” said Louis, struggling to get out of my grasp. “No, no, noooooooo!”

“Don’t be such a whiner, Louis,” I said. “I have a plan.”

I unlocked the front door with the deft use of my mind, and dragged my struggling companion up the stairs. The Appassionata was played maddeningly, over and over again, chorused by Louis’s screams of desperation. “Please, Lestat, not that tune again! I can’t bear it! Please…!”

I paid no attention as I dragged him into the huge drawing room upstairs, where Sybelle, Goddess of Annoying and Pointless Lives, was sitting there – you guessed it – at the piano.

“Sybelle,” I announced, taking the book from my backpack. “I have something to say to you!”

She didn’t even turn around, the rude little bitch.

That piano-holic. That sane-o-phobe.

“Sybelle,” I said, “Sybelle…” She took no notice of me as she played the same maddening combination of keys. “Sybelle! I have something to tell you!”

Louis was slumped against the wall in hysterics of laughter.

Grr.

“Sybelle – listen to me – it’s important! Er…the house is on fire! Yes…it’s on fire! We have to get going!”

She stopped a second, glanced at me…

Phew.

…Then pounded the keys once again.

Goddamnit, what the hell had Marius been thinking? Or Armand for that matter? Well they certainly weren’t here, either of them, so I guess they’d learned their lesson. Although why they’d left the girl alive was beyond me.

“Louis,” I said grimly, “cover your ears.” He picked himself up and walked out of the room, his hands pressed tightly over his ears. In a voice so loud it began to make the glass in the windows tremble, I cracked open the book and began, “…Merrick’s breasts were so ripe and firm, and she was startlingly beautiful. Her breasts were naked through the sheer white muslin fabric that she wore, and the delicious scent of that particularly fine Chanel No.5, which can be found at all good perfume counters, hung on the air…”

And the piano stopped. Like a blessed wave of calm, sanity returned to the room. I watched in glee as she slumped forward.

A mercy killing, really.

Louis came walking back into the room, amazed to hear…well, nothing. And it was good. “The neighbours will give you a medal for this,” he said in awe, gazing at woman who had her head slumped forward on the keys.

We both jumped in fright when a heavy bang was heard in the next room. Cautiously, I crept forward to the adjoining door, and then pulled it open. I looked down at the prone figure there, and then back to Louis. “It’s Benji,” I whispered. “…He’s dead.”

Louis stared at me in shock.

Damn, here we go- “Yes, I’m sorry…” I began.

All right!” he laughed, punching the air. “I couldn’t stand that little Groucho Marx wannabe!”

“You couldn’t?”

“No! Didn’t you notice that whenever I met him, I only said, ‘Good evening, Benji’, rather than ‘Good evening, master Benjamin’?”

“Uh…yeah. Louis,” I said, “we need to teach you some good modern-day rudeness.”


We were back on the road.

And each time, we missed her. We did not manage to find her and beg and plead with her to stop, to tell her that there were innocent lives at risk here; people were dying from boredom and bad grammar. And breasts.

Riding out on the highway one night, we came across a hitch-hiker.

Louis stopped the car and gazed at the woman, who was dressed in glowing white clothes, like she thought she was the second coming or something.

“Do you want a lift?” he asked.

“I don’t trust her,” I said. “Anyone who wears that much perfume is up to something.”

“Shut up, Reader Boy,” he said, smiling at her and then gesturing to the copy of some new half-arsed book in her hand.

We drove along in silence. Bored, I turned to her. “So, why are you out here in the middle of the night?”

“I am an all-powerful witch,” she stated. “Everyone loves me.”

“Um…yeah.”

“It’s true!”

“Uh…okay,” said Louis. He glared at me for no reason I could figure out. He was the one who’d asked if she wanted a ride, after all. If it had been up to me I would’ve just read her a passage and been on my merry way. Or maybe made her a little midnight snack.

I just shrugged.


Two days later, Louis turned to the witch. “So, what’s your name?” he asked.

“Merrick Mayfair.”

“Right.”

“Louis!” I gasped. “That’s the thing from the book!”

“You’re lying,” he said, not even looking over at me.

“No!” I said. “She’s a real witch! Merrick, do a spell!”

“Hocus pocus, alakazam, voodoey-woodoey claptrappy stereotypy…” She waved her hand at Louis. “There!”

He did that eyebrow thing he does so well. “And that did what…?”

“Now you are passionately in love with me and all your hang-ups about Lestat and Claudia are cured! Make me a vampire!”

“Alternatively, I could get you committed.”

“You…er…didn’t fall deeply in love with me?”

“No, you silly woman. I hardly think I’m going to suddenly turn straight now.”

“Especially not after having had the Vampire Lestat for two hundred years!” I crowed and for some reason he whapped me upside the head.

She sat back in the car, kicking his seat moodily. “…Must have been something wrong with the cosmos…”

“Are you sure your name isn’t Mary Sue?”


In Iowa, Louis asked Merrick if he could see the book, and asked her what she found so important about it.

“It’s a book of spells,” she simpered, batting her eyelashes at him.

This die-a-holic. This intelligence-o-phobe.

He read the title.

“The Vampire Companion.” He flicked through it. “This isn’t a book of spells. It’s a run-down of books, ninety-nine percent of it religious moralising!”

“No, no,” said Merrick. “Let me show you!” She opened the book on ‘CANON’. “This,” said Merrick, “is the patented Rice Anti-Ageing Spell.”

“The wh–?”

She smirked. “Let me show you.” She pointed at Louis. “There! You’re twenty-four now!”

“I still feel the same.”

“Well, yes, it’s only by a year. Just give it time.”

“Hmm.”

She pointed at me. “Lestat is well on his way back to being a teenager! How old are you, Lestat?”

“You won’t catch me out, you silly harpy,” I laughed. “I’m twenty on-twenty…er…um…”

“You see!” she cackled wickedly. “I worked the Rice Burgeoning Height Spell on your friend David. Did neither of you notice that he shot up by a couple of inches over the last couple of years?”

I looked at Louis. He scowled. “I thought he was just wearing heels all the time.”

“Like Prince,” I added.

“May I see it?” Asked Louis.

“Of course, my handsome, green-eyed friend,” she said. “Do you like my breasts?”

“Yeah, whatever,” he muttered, his nose buried in the book.

That Louis-a-holic. That hint-o-phobe.

I glared at her, baring my fangs, and my mouth was just shaping the first syllable of the first word of a long, boring passage about David and jungles and breasts, when Louis looked up from the book.

“Oh, look at this spell,” he said.

“Give that back!” she hissed, reaching for the book, but fortunately the Rice Burgeoning Height Spell had worked its charm and he was well past the six-foot mark now.

“Hmm… Blackwood’s Amazingly Simplified Death of a Mary Sue. Take one fire – Lestat, if you will…”

I set my glare onto a pile of unsold Memnoch the Drivel hardbacks in the corner, creating a blaze so fierce we all had to shield our eyes. “Check.”

“Merci. One cliché-ridden line…”

“Go into the light! Go into the light!”

“…And one Mary Sue.”

I grabbed hold of Merrick. “Check.”

“Take all the ingredients and mix well. The rest will cook itself.”

I pulled back my arm, and then slung the hapless character into the fire. She screamed a little, muttering something about the light and honey or whatever, and that was that. Amazingly simple death in a few lines. “Well,” I said, wiping dust off my Armani suit – Brooks Brothers! Please! – and shrugged, “it was more than our dear author afforded Santino.”

“Indeed. Come on, let’s keep moving.”


And this went on from city to city. Always, always we missed her. She had clever tricks up her sleeve; we tried to call Daniel, but for some inexplicable reason he was suddenly obsessed with Lego sets and was of little use.

“Just do something!” Armand fumed, shouting his message telepathically.

That pain-a-holic. That silence-o-phobe.

Just when we had almost caught her, in a little store in Missouri, this crazy Louis-clone appeared from nowhere and tried to tell me his entire life story and this long diatribe about buttons.

“But don’t you want to help Little Brother?” he cried as Louis dragged me into the car and slammed his foot down on the accelerator.

“No, you cross-eyed freak!” Louis snapped, then asked me why I was suddenly babbling about antiques and buttons.

Damn that woman.


The stars are spattered across the dark night sky as Louis drives along, muttering that it’s all my fault, I shall burn in hell, I am a prick.

“Yes,” I say, “I am indeed evil.”

“Ah-hah! So you admit it!”

“Yes,” I say wearily. “Want to have sex now?”

“No! Now, try to contact her again. Find out what she’s up to!”

I sigh and take out my cell phone. I punch some numbers into it and scowl at Louis as it rings. “Hello?” comes a voice.

“Anne,” I say. “Anne, what are you writing now?”

And the line goes dead.

“Well,” I say, “step on it! We only have till October, and if I have grown another three foot by then, I’ll blame you!”

Louis sighs and puts his hand to his forehead in a dramatic gesture of defeat or something like that and mutters something suspiciously like, why me?