Kitty Goes to Washington Page 1

Chapter 1

“We have Beth from Tampa on the line. Hello.”

“Hi, Kitty, thanks for taking my call.”

“You're welcome.”

“I have a question I've been wanting to ask for a long time. Do you think Dracula is still out there?”

I leaned on the arm of my chair and stared at the microphone. “Dracula. As in, the book? The character?”

Beth from Tampa sounded cheerful and earnest. “Yeah. I mean, he's got to be the best-known vampire there is. He was so powerful, I can't really believe that Van Helsing and the rest of them just finished him off.”

I tried to be polite. “Actually, they did. It's just a book, Beth. Fiction. They're characters.”

“But you sit there week after week telling everyone that vampires and werewolves are real. Surely a book like this must have been based on something that really happened. Maybe his name wasn't actually Dracula, but Bram Stoker must have based him on a real vampire, don't you think? Don't you wonder who that vampire was?”

Stoker may have met a real vampire, may even have based Dracula on that vampire. But if that vampire was still around, I suspected he was in deep hiding out of embarrassment.

“Even if there is a real vampire who was Stoker's inspiration, the events of the book are sheer fabrication. I say this because Dracula isn't really about vampires, or vampire hunting, or the undead, or any of that. It's about a lot of other things: sexuality, religion, reverse imperialism, and xenophobia. But what it's really about is saving the world through superior office technology.” I waited half a beat for that to sink in. I loved this stuff. “Think about it. They make such a big deal about their typewriters, phonographs, stenography—this was like the techno-thriller of its day. They end up solving everything because Mina is really great at data entry and collating. What do you think?”

“Um… I think that may be a stretch.”

“Have you even read the book?”

“Um, no. But I've seen every movie version of it!” She ended brightly, as if that would save her.

I suppressed a growl. “All right. Which is your favorite?”

“The one with Keanu Reeves!”

“Why am I not surprised?” I clicked her off. “Moving on. Next caller, you're on the air.”

“Kitty, hey! Longtime listener, first-time caller. I'm so glad you put me on.”

“No problem. What's your story?”

“Well, I have sort of a question. Do you have any idea what kind of overlap there is between lycanthropes and the furry community?”

The monitor said this guy had a question about lycanthropes and alternative lifestyles. The producer screening calls was doing a good job of being vague.

I knew this topic would come up eventually. It seemed I'd avoided it for as long as I possibly could. Oh well. The folks in radioland expected honesty.

“You know, I've hosted this show for almost a year without anyone bringing up furries. Thank you for destroying that last little shred of dignity I possessed.”

“You don't have to be so—”

“Look, seriously. I have absolutely no idea. They're two different things—lycanthropy is a disease. Furry-ness is a… a predilection. Which I suppose means it's possible to be both. And when you say furry, are you talking about the people who like cartoons with bipedal foxes, or are you talking about the people who dress up in animal suits to get it on? Maybe some of the people who call in wanting to know how to become werewolves happen to be furries and think that's the next logical step. How many of the lycanthropes that I know are furries? That's not something I generally ask people. Do you see how complicated this is?”

“Well, yeah. But I have to wonder, if someone really believes that they were meant to be, you know, a different species entirely—like the way some men really believe they were meant to be women and then go through a sex change operation—don't you think it's reasonable that—”

“No. No it isn't reasonable. Tell me, do you think that you were meant to be a different species entirely?”

He gave a deep sigh, the kind that usually preceded a dark confession, the kind of thing that was a big draw for most of my audience.

“I have this recurring dream where I'm an alpaca.”

I did a little flinch, convinced I hadn't heard him correctly. “Excuse me?”

“An alpaca. I keep having these dreams where I'm an alpaca. I'm in the Andes, high in the mountains. In the next valley over are the ruins of a great Incan city. Everything is so green.” He might have been describing the photos in an issue of National Geographic. “And the grass tastes so lovely.”

Okay, that probably wasn't in National Geographic.

“Um… that's interesting.”

“I'd love to travel there someday. To see the Andes for myself. Have—have you by any chance ever met any were-alpacas?”

If it weren't so sad I'd have to laugh. “No, I haven't. All the were-animals I've ever heard of are predators, so I really don't think you're likely to meet a were-alpaca.”

“Oh,” he said with a sigh. “Do you think maybe I was an alpaca in a past life?”

“Honestly, I don't know. I'm sorry I can't be more help. I genuinely hope you find some answers to your questions someday. I think traveling there is a great idea.” Seeing the world never hurt, in my opinion. “Thanks for calling.”

I had no idea where the show could possibly go after that. I hit a line at random. “Next caller, what do you want to talk about?”

“Hi, Kitty, yeah. Um, thanks. I—I think I have a problem.” He was male, with a tired-sounding tenor voice. I always listened closely to the ones who seemed tired; their problems were usually doozies.

“Then let's see what we can do with it. What's wrong?”

“It all started when these two guys moved to town, a werewolf and a vampire. They're a couple, you know?”

“These are two guys. Men, right?”

“Right.”

“And the problem is…”

“Well, nothing at this point. But then this vampire hunter started going after the vampire, I guess he'd been hired by the vampire's former human servant.”

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