Undead and Unemployed Chapter 8: Cohesive Chapter Content? What’s That?

Jessica was as good as her word. I hadn’t even gotten unpacked before I started seeing people in and out of the house, or Vamp Central as Marc liked to call it. There were at least three housekeepers and two gardeners; Jessica had hired them from The Foot, her nonprofit job-finding organization, so it worked out well for everybody. 

Except for people who don’t like awkward sentence structuring. But, y’know…if you’re after quality, this is not the series for you!

I would also like to mention that in the first book, Betsy specifically said that The Foot (remember when it was The Right Foot? MJD doesn’t!) was just for women. But everyone Jessica hires to clean her home (boy, that doesn’t look good…hey, everyone I’m supposed to help! Why don’t you become my personal servants!!) is said to be hired from The Foot, and they do have male employees. So, yet another wonderful catch by the amazing editor and the amazing memory retention of our amazing author.

According to Betsy these so-called “helpers” even do their shopping for them, although apparently just for a little while as later books whine about shopping! Ah, consistency. I miss you.

Betsy tells us how easy it was to pack up her home, and how sad that made her that in thirty years she only had enough stuff to fill a few boxes, or something. She talks about how depressing it is that, while I was finding places to put things away, I was really forced to look at the junk I’d gathered over a lifetime.

The clothes and makeup weren’t such a big deal, though I was so pale these days, I hardly ever wore anything but mascara. I just want to interrupt to ask why is this a thing? I know all vampire stories mention how pale and alabaster they are, but Betsy sleeps facing the sun. Betsy has only been dead for 3 months. Betsy could and likely would totally still have a tan–especially with how fucking vain she is and the fact that tanning beds exist. The books were something else.

My room had, among other things, amazing bookcases built into the corner, and while I was unpacking boxes and putting books away, I realized the gap between my old life and my new one had gotten huge without my noticing. It had been such a crazy summer, I hadn’t really noticed that there hadn’t been time to do any rereading of old favorites. And now there never would be.

What? “There never would be”…what?! Why?! You really think your afterlife, which is apparently going to at least last for a thousand years, will never have any downtime? You think you will NEVER read AGAIN, just because you’re a vampire?? Or does she mean now there never would be time to read with her heart still beating more than every three minutes or whatever time MJD uses? Because that’s…stupid. That is so stupid. Of COURSE you will have time to fucking read within a thousand goddamned years. You could probably start reading RIGHT NOW and be FINE except for having some more boxes to get back to later…seriously, what the FUCK is the problem? What the FUCK is she sad about?? I don’t understand.

Okay, she DOES follow up this completely asinine statement with what she thinks qualifies as a reason why she could ‘never read again,’ but it remains deeply fucking stupid and likely only exists so MJD can tell you books she likes outside of Gone with the Wind:

All my favorites: the Little House series, all of Pat Conroy’s work, Emma Holly’s erotica, and my cookbook collection–they were useless to me now. Worse than useless…they made me feel bad.

I loved Beach Music and The Prince of Tides because not only could Pat Conroy write like a son of a bitch, he had the soul of a gourmet chef. The man could make a tomato sandwich sound like an orgasm you ate. And my days of eating tomato sandwiches were long gone. Oh yeah, because you can’t eat a sandwich you obviously can never read about them again. That’s why no one is reading this series–none of us can subsist solely upon blood, so why would anyone bother?!

How many times had I escaped to my room with a book to avoid my stepmother? (Judging by her vocabulary, twice at best?) How many times had I bought a cookbook because the glorious color pictures literally made me drool? (yeah, picture books, that sounds about right) But it was done, now. (superfluous comma! Argh!) Luke, Savannah, Dante, Mark, Will, and the Great Santini were all lost to me. (does she expect all of us to have any idea who she means based solely upon their first names? Let me guess: Luke Skywalker; Savannah, Georgia; the dude who wrote The Divine Comedy; Mark Twain, Will Smith, and..the Great Santini. Okay, that last one works.) Not to mention The All-American Cookie Book, Barefoot Contessa Parties, and all of Susan Branch’s stuff.

I put the books away, spine-side in, so I wouldn’t have to look at the titles. Normally I kept too busy to feel bad about being dead, but today wasn’t one of those days,

This chapter is strangely paced. It has three parts–three scenes, I suppose. And they’re really not connected to each other at all. It starts with that woe-is-me book unpacking, then immediately goes into “I saw the kid for the first time when I was vacuuming the inside of my closet. This was the third time in five minutes–no way was I just dumping my shoes into a two hundred year old closet that smelled like old wood and dead moths. Thank goodness I didn’t have to breathe!” She really does meander off into a fuckton of random bullshit thoughts, doesn’t she?

Anyway, we have a short scene with a small blonde girl “curled up like a bug in the chair beside the fireplace,” so apparently she has a fireplace in her room that I’m pretty sure runs off with the jacuzzi for their own crazy love story, even though the fireplace doesn’t know the jacuzzi likes to drown people as a sadistic practical joke, and the jacuzzi doesn’t know that the fireplace is obsessed with manga but has problems trying to read it, because of all the fire an’all.

Whatever, there’s a fireplace and a small child in old-fashioned dress who keeps referring to her “mama” and speaking in such an odd tone it’s like an author pounding your face into the dirt, shrieking, “SOMETHING STRANGE IS GOING ON HERE,” while rubbing said dirt into your open wounds. “HEY! DID YOU HEAR ME?! THERE’S SOMETHING STRANGE ABOUT THIS GIRL,” as if wasn’t already odd enough having an unknown child sneak into your room. She is also wearing saddle shoes, which Betsy covets. But when she asks where her “mama” got them, all she says is, “The shoe store,” and you can practically hear the studio audience in hysterics in the background.

So there is a strange young girl named Marie, who tells Betsy she knows all of the house’s shortcuts when asked if she can tell her where the kitchen is from here. Get it?? The house is so big Betsy can’t find the kitchen, DO YOU GET IT?

Well before she can go attempt to quench her unholy thirst with a liquid she knows won’t do shit to help, Jessica comes running into the room, literally panting out of breath. She wheezes out “Marquette–Tina–in trouble,” then makes a comment about there being “like a thousand stairs in this place,” which Betsy smugly replies that Jessica of all people is not allowed to complain about the size of anything within the mansion, now what did she say about Tina?

Instead of telling her to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut (HEY GUYS that’s a REFERENCE do you GET IT it’s a REFERENCE should I tell you what I’m REFERENCING omg no one would ever get such an OBSCURE REFERENCE OMG). Ahem. Instead of telling her to take a flying fuck at the mooooooooooooon, she tells her that Sinclair is on the phone, and hands it to her.

“This better not be a trick,” I snarled into the receiver.

“Get here now.”

I ran.

And that takes us to the third scene within the chapter! It’s actually strange for her to not just make it an entirely new chapter, as she already wrote a dramatic ending and the juxtaposition of “these are the books I like,” “there’s some creepy kid in my room,” and “TINA’S HURT!” is a bit off-putting.

It was a good trick, not screaming and then barfing when I saw what had been done to Tina. Luckily, I’d been audited (twice!), and was the child of ugly divorce proceedings, and had loads of practice keeping my dinner down. I always begin to read it was a good trick as a callback to the prior statement she made on the phone, but I’m always wrong. She’s just chosen to use a word which she already used under a different meaning, subtext be damned.

Oh, who am I kidding? Subtext?! Like she even knows the word.

Also, I once again really don’t get why MJD thinks she’s special for being “the child of divorce.” She brings this up a few times–I’ve even noted it before. And…even in 2004, the divorce rate was high. Even in 1974, the year of Betsy’s birth, the divorce rate was climbing. Sure, it’s been getting higher and higher, but it was still significant back then, and using it now as something to denote what a strong character you are for surviving such a feat…well, it just looks fucking stupid.

And yes, I know for a fact what her birthday is, because coming soon we will see her tombstone which plainly states the dates April 25, 1974-April 25, 2004, and unless she changes it in the last fucking book (which wouldn’t honestly surprise me at this rate), that remains true.

Betsy immediately starts…joking?…with Tina: “Another one of your tiresome ploys for attention,” but then Tina attempts to smile at her and Betsy immediately says to herself, I hoped she’d knock it off soon. Half her face was in tatters. In fact, half of her bad self was in tatters. She floated listlessly in the tub, which was full of pink water.

Floated listlessly?” I’ve never been in a fancy hotel before, certainly never a suite, but…do they have bathtubs big enough to float at all? If so, eat the rich.

Anyway, she eventually gets Tina to tell her what happened: “Just that whole tiresome humans killing vamps thing,” and Betsy has the fucking gall to say That stung. “Well, shit, Tina, I didn’t think they were going after the good ones!”

Didn’t you? Because she showed so little interest in learning anything about what was going on whatsoever, it is fully possible that every single vampire slain was “one of the good guys.” She just didn’t give a single shit about them until she personally knew one of them. Oh, excuse me, a “tin shit.” For some reason she always says “tin shit” when expressing what shits she does or does not give. No, I don’t know whether she’s referring to literal feces made of tin, or what. Probably she just thinks it sounds cool. This is a woman who later LITERALLY CLAIMS to have COINED THE TERM “asshat.” LITERALLY. She thinks she ‘invented’ “ASSHAT.” No, MJD. No, you didn’t. Nor did you “bring back leggings,” you silly tin shit.

Anyway, while Betsy is apparently flailing around the room (why?), Sinclair grabs her by the wrist and nicks her with a small knife. “Ow! You want to ask before you start gouging me?”

Tina turned her head away and ducked under water. (Again, how big are suite bathtubs?) “And you stop that!” I said, bending over the tub and gingerly prodding her head. I wiped my wet hand off on my jeans. Yech! “I know what I’m supposed to do, dammit. It’s just nice to be asked, is all,” I added, glaring at Finklair.

“Stop wasting time,” he said, typically stone-faced, but his eyes were kind of squinty. I knew he adored Tina. She made him, and they had a bond I respected, even if I didn’t understand it, and thought it was extremely weird. “Let her feed. Now.” (Like Betsy knows what respect is! And, seriously…you’ve NEVER been exposed to vampire sire lore before? Wow, I didn’t mean to rhyme. Regardless. It is SO WEIRD to you that someone might be GRATEFUL for their new lease on…life? You cannot imagine a world where someone feels attached to their creator, their parent stand-in? Whatever, you dumb shit. Dumb tin shit.)

“No,” Tina gurgled from the bottom of the tub.

“I said I’d do it,” I snapped. “Will you sit up so we can get this over with?”

“This is your fault,” Sinclair said coldly. The situation was so alarming, I just now noticed he was wearing cherry red boxers and nothing else. “Now fix it.” (That MJD, always focusing on the important issues. Your friend’s face looks like Harvey Dent post-accident, but oh, what is Sinclair wearing?!)

“My fault? I’m not the one who decided to give Tina a haircut…all over! (Wow. Clever. Wow.) Don’t get pissed at me. I came as soon as you asked me to. Not that you exactly asked.” (And once again, focusing on the important issues! He is so RUDE about saving Tina’s life!)

His hand clamped on my shoulder, which instantly went numb. (abusive relationships are all the rage in vampire romance fiction) “Tina is well aware of your childish aversion to blood drinking. She’s playing the martyr, and I won’t have it.”

“Hey, I’m with you! Get her out here and let her chomp away. I’m on your side.”

Okay, speaking of childish? For once, Betsy isn’t the one acting like a stubborn, petulant child. Tina looks like she went a round with Jason Vorhees and lost, and she’s still like “nuh uh! Go away! If I can’t see you you can’t see me!”

Even then, Tina won’t do it. Betsy tries asking, commanding, demanding, and Tina just says no, I won’t, you think it’s barbaric! This is so fucking dumb. And I actually like Tina–she’s (typically) the smartest, most level-headed, pragmatic one in the room. A Civil War era Southern belle turned vampire…I want to say sheriff, but I don’t mean in the Sookie sense. I don’t think she ever has an official title (besides “Sinclair’s Man,” if that counts) but she’s pretty much their enforcer and she’s on the side of good (like a sheriff ought to be), and I don’t know, she’s more interesting than a Generation X Barbie with a penchant for designer shoes.

“Stop being such a baby. What’s the alternative? You live in the tub like an undead anatomy project and slowly heal over time? The maids will have a fit” Look, I know it can be troublesome to be quick-witted, but I just want to ask what the fuck kind of anatomy project is just someone cut to ribbons chilling in a bathtub? Seriously? What about this situation reminds anyone, ever of a fucking anatomy project? Methinks MJD just wanted to sound like a fast-talkin’ sassmafrass and hoped no one would notice that what she said makes no sense. Well I noticed, MJD! I noticed!

Her nostrils flared and I realized that blood had been trickling down my fingers the whole time I was arguing. I turned around, put my hands on his rock-hard chest, and pushed and kicked and shoved until I finally slammed the bathroom door in his face.

Well that was…random. If only for the fact that Sinclair hadn’t spoken a single word in like a page, so you don’t even fully remember he’s in the room, plus using “his/him” and never once saying his name makes it even worse. And having that right after her nostrils flared…what the fuck even is that sentence?!

Seriously…he hadn’t spoken in so long I really didn’t think he was in the room anymore. But apparently he is and apparently it was kind of a battle to get him out the door, and yet…all it takes is a single, vague sentence.

Betsy says, “I really can’t stand that guy,” and Tina grins and calls her a liar. She is still hesitant–still apologizing and hemming and hawing about drinking Betsy’s blood, but finally does so. Finally!

“So, I said brightly. “Got any other plans for the evening?”

“After a near-death experience, I like to relax by scrubbing a tub.”

“I’d help, but forget it. I’ve got nineteen of my own to worry about,” Ba-dum-TISS! Seriously, that’s the end of the chapter. Yet another confused joke that may or may not actually even be a joke. I have no idea if Tina is serious or is just bullshitting her because she knows Betsy is lazy and useless and would never, but like…neither of them have to even clean up after themselves–Tina is in a hotel, so she has maids, and Betsy is a spoiled brat, so so does she.

Is it a joke? Maybe it’s a joke. A pretty bad joke, if I can’t even tell.

Hey, that could be another subheader for the series! Betsy Taylor: Pretty Bad Jokes, If You Can Tell.

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