Writing Prompt: A High-Powered CEO…

Use these in your story: a high-powered CEO who is hiding his identity as a vampire, a grungy ‘50s-themed diner, a bottle filled with blue liquid


                Nicholas Remmer sat in a booth at Bobby Taylor’s Classic Diner staring at the clock on the wall. This wouldn’t have been his choice of restaurant – it felt both too gimmicky with its waitresses in poodle skirts, and too forgotten when you noticed that the linoleum tabletops were yellow with age… and the waitresses were, as well. However, this is where his son had insisted they meet. Mr. Remmer didn’t understand the youth, these days.

A different man may have fidgeted – twitching his fingers or shifting in his seat, but Mr. Remmer sat rigidly. In the board room, it was the little things that could cause one to lose the hard-won respect (or even fear) from one’s colleagues or subordinates.

Theodore was seven minutes late, so far. It was these sorts of things that made a man look incompetent. It was these sorts of things Theodore was going to have to fix if he had a hope of taking over the company. Mr. Remmer wanted his son to succeed him – the idea of having his empire endure appealed to him – but Theodore simply wasn’t shaping up to the job, so far. Perhaps Theodore did not really understand everything his father had given up in order to become the man he was. Mr. Remmer paused for a moment in his reverie to wonder if he regretted the hiding, the lies, the changes he’d made and the relationships he’d lost to build his legacy and quickly decided that he did not.

The door banged loudly behind him and, a moment later, his son slid into the booth opposite him.

“Hello Theodore, you’re late.”

“I did have a good birthday, thanks for asking dad. How are you?”

“I have been doing well, thank you,”he said brusquely. “I’m pleased that your birthday was enjoyable. Where were you?” Theodore’s wild dark hair was longer than the last time his father saw him. Mr. Remmer thought the smallish tattoo on his forearm was new, as well. What had his son been up to these last months? It wasn’t his studies, that’s certain, because although his grades hadn’t been terrible last semester Mr. Remmer knew Theodore was capable of better. He hadn’t even picked up an internship, despite Mr. Remmer’s email notifications that a position could always be arranged at RemmerCorps.

“We lost track of time at the skate park – hi, Stacy, I’ll have the burger and a coke, please.”

“Just a water,” said Mr. Remmer and waited for the waitress to go away before returning to the conversation. Instead, she turned to Theodore and began chatting with him about his day, her two kids, and the upcoming festival which she thought might make the diner a little busier next weekend. Theodore made the waitress laugh with a joke before she finally turned away and he leaned in to talk to his father.

“Come on dad, just because you don’t have to eat doesn’t mean you can’t! Go ahead and enjoy a burger now and then,” Theodore said conspiratorially.

Mr. Remmer shot him a chilling glare and glanced at the retreating waitress to be certain she hadn’t heard before hissing back, “be quiet, Theodore! This is no place to talk about that.” He knew his son was careless about many things, occasionally prone to slacking off or getting distracted by menial diversions, but he also knew that Theodore was smart enough to not run his mouth wildly about such a secret.

“It’s never the place to talk about it, with you,” his son said, frowning. “And it’s Ted. It’s been Ted for over 15 years. What’s so wrong with that?”

“It’s not the name I gave you.”

“I wouldn’t think that would have mattered to you – Nicolae Renescu.

At least Theodore had the sense to whisper this. Mr. Remmer tried a new tactic and changed the subject. “I was hoping that you would come to work at the company this summer. There’s always next summer, of course, but you really need to begin working on your dependability – not to mention your presence – if you’re going to take over eventually.”

“Why would I do that, dad? I’m not interested in business. I don’t want what you have – I want to be happy.”

Mr. Remmer thought that he had never heard something so ridiculous. “Of course you’re interested in business. You’re majoring in business at school. And what do you mean by happy? Building this company has brought me satisfaction and pride. Those are good emotions. You’re young and still don’t realize that what people call happiness is often only a fleeting emotion. We must build our lives on things that are more lasting.”

Theodore snorted at this phrasing. “It’s not wrong to seek happiness, now and then.” He rubbed his pronounced nose anxiously and took a deep breath. “Which brings me to this: I’m dropping out.”

Mr. Remmer was prevented from answering immediately by the return of the waitress with Theodore’s food. As soon as she left, he rounded on Theodore.

“You’re what? How could you do this to me Theodore? I had planned to have you take over the company. Why are you throwing away your future?” Despite the rage that he felt inside, his countenance was deathly calm as he watched his son pour ketchup next to his fries.

“This isn’t about you. I have an opportunity to do sound mixing at a good studio. I enjoy it, dad, and it’s not bad money. Janelle thinks it’s a good idea.”

“Janelle – is she that one you told?” He didn’t bother to hide his distaste.

“She’s my girlfriend. I know you’re still mad about me telling, but I’m not going to lie to her. You’re always hiding, always covering up. You’re so afraid that your business “friends” will find out you’re a vampire. I’m not going to live like that.”

For the first time in years, Mr. Remmer lost a little bit of his composure. “Don’t talk about that in public! I’ve told you about what could happen if people discovered where we come from! You’re making a damn foolish decision with your life, but you’re not going to throw away mine with it!”

Theodore fixed his large eyes on his father’s face. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” he said calmly. “It’s not quite so bad as that. Listen, Janelle is understanding and open-minded – it’s not as likely for people like you to be burned or staked these days. I did take a risk in explaining to her that I was a… that I was your child, but she has been cautious about our secret and even enthusiastic about learning more about us. I swear that I’ve never been careless about it.

“The thing is… running a business is your domain. It has never been mine. There is actually a lot of opportunity for me if I take this job and I even have the chance to meet some really influential people in the field in just a few months. Do you think you could just… give me the chance to prove myself in this? You many not believe me, but…” he looked down at his plate. “I do want you to be proud of me.”

Mr. Remmer felt unable to respond. A long minute passed.

His hot anger was suddenly changed by that one sentence. Theodore wanted him to be proud? If that was the case, why didn’t he follow the plan that Mr. Remmer held so dear – the plan to step into his footsteps and continue the company. He had given up so much to start something, to do something impressive and stand out with RemmerCorps. As he thought this, Mr. Remmer had a sudden insight… He hadn’t followed someone else when coming to America – he’d crossed the ocean on his own, alone in a coffin filled with dirt. He hadn’t followed anyone when founding his company – he’d built it from the ground up. Perhaps Theodore himself shared that desire to cut his own trail. Maybe he was like his father in other, subtler ways.

…But sound mixing? Wasn’t it all some youthful day dream of mixing with musicians and celebrities, checking out from the world with a pair of over-sized headphones, and (more likely than not) doing drugs? Where could that really take him?

Let me show you. Mr. Remmer had said persuasively all those years ago when pitching his business plan to the bank.

So this was Theodore’s pitch to him. Would he take it? Should he give his son the opportunity to fail horribly? The words stuck in his throat somewhat.

“I don’t understand. But I will try… Ted.”

Theodore looked up.

Mr. Remmer succeeded in not looking down. He felt a little shaky. He was somewhat surprised at this; he hadn’t felt that way since he had once been forced to hide from Van Helsing. He pulled a small bottle filled with bright blue liquid out of his pocket.

“Here is your birthday present,” he said. “Just like you asked.” He reached across the table to place the bottle in front of Theodore’s – Ted’s – plate.

“Thank-you.” Ted wasn’t looking at the bottle when he said it.

“What – what do you want it for?”

“It’s actually for her – for Janelle. She was curious.”

Mr. Remmer stiffened. “Vila tears can be dangerous. Does she know what she’s -”

“I know. She’s just curious. I’ve been very thorough in explaining the precautions to her. Thank you for getting this, I know it wasn’t easy.”

“You’re welcome. It was actually – interesting – to get in touch with the home country again.”

Ted smiled, and Mr. Remmer noted that his toothsome grin was actually quite charming. Mr. Remmer rarely smiled, even though he’d had his eye teeth filed down to a normal size by a secretive dentist years ago. As a dhampir, Ted’s teeth were large, but not an alarming telltale.

“I actually have to leave, now,” said Ted. “Maybe we can have dinner next month? Or if not dinner… something. I can keep you updated on my new job, if you’re interested.”

Mr. Remmer tried to muster – with limited success – an unfamiliar tone of warmth in his voice as he replied, “I am interested. Thank-you. Have a good day, son.”

Ted stood up and rapped the table twice with his knuckles as a farewell before leaving through the front door. Mr. Remmer watched him turn and walk past the window. He was a brave boy, in some ways. Proud of him? He supposed he was, albeit it felt far different than he had anticipated it would. Dreams and goals were funny things, he thought. They could take many forms – rather like a vila.

Mr. Remmer – Nicolae – he whispered to himself mentally – raised his hand to beckon the waitress. “I’d like to order a cheeseburger, after all,” he said to her.

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