An entry into the weekly flash fiction contest at terribleminds.com. This week’s contest, 1000 words while also using three of the following; Cockroach, Fountain, Tax, Bottle, Box. Also, you must include vampires somehow.
“Welcome to the International Monetary Bank of Transylvania, Mr. Clemens.” Mathew Clemens accepted the handshake, the banker’s long fingers wrapping around his hand. It lasted just long enough to seem awkward, holding the banker’s dry, cold hand.”Please, have a seat.”
“Thank you.” Mathew managed, pulling out one the ornate, high-backed carved chairs and settling into it, shifting in a vain effort to get comfortable despite the lack of padding. The banker moved behind his desk, and then made a show of shuffling his papers. Mathew glanced around the office, taking in the ancient-looking wooden desk, the thick velvet curtains that blocked all traces of the setting sun and the numerous filing cabinets that filled the walls. A out-of-place looking Macbook sat humming on the desk, the pearl-white in sharp contrast to the dark tones of the rest of the room. At the front of the desk sat a name plate that read “Count Grigor Alistar.”
“Well, Mr. Clemens. What brings you here today?” Grigor’s voice had nary a hint of nastiness in it, but the man’s thin-lipped smile seemed calculating. It was certainly calculated to hide the fangs that Mathew knew lurked there.
“I’m hoping to get a loan.” Mathew told him. “I’d like to buy a house with my fiancée, Erin Campbell.”
“It is a good time to be buying into the housing market.” Grigor mused. “The price of housing is very low in many parts of the country.”
If you have money. Mathew thought. It used to be that the tax men and the bankers were just like Vampires, and not actually undead. Who would have thought, five years ago, that the solution to the American debt problems, the European bank crisis, the Greek financial collapse, even the unexpected Chinese economic slowdown, would have been Vampires? Apparently, they had been quietly investing for centuries, building up gigantic fortunes, buying real estate and controlling interests in corporations and companies. And then, one day, they’d seen an opportunity and decided to get involved openly.
It had been quite a shock to the world, when they had put out a press release announcing the formation of their International Monetary Bank, but they’d been willing to lend trillions to the United States and Europe and China at such low, long-term rates that it had solved all the short-term instability problems. Now economic growth was finally starting to look up, but the cost of servicing all that debt was still high, and unemployment was creeping up, thanks to government austerity.
And regardless of all that, Mathew Clemens just wanted to buy a house, so he’d come to the only people who still had money. The Vampires.
“Yes.” Mathew finally managed, realizing the banker was waiting for a reply. “It makes financial sense for us to stop paying rent and start building equity in a home.” To him, as long as there was no blood drinking involved, he had no real problem being there. It was just a little creepy.
“What do you do, Mr. Clemens?” The banker picked up a long, black fountain pen and pulled the tip off.
“I’m a software engineer. I work in program development.”
The pen scratched something down on a sheet of paper. “Can you estimate your income?”
“About fifty thousand a year.”
“How about your fiancé? Will she be named on the loan?” Mathew nodded, and the pen scratched again. “Her occupation?”
“She’s a fitness instructor. She makes about forty thousand a year.”
“That’s a very respectable income for a family at your age, Mr. Clemens. How about major debts? Car, credit card, anything else?” The pen tapped Grigor’s thin lips.
“I drive a used vehicle. Erin has a car loan of about $8,000 that she’s paying off. We both pay our credit cards. We have a few things we’ve financed, but nothing over $5,000.”
“Your financial responsibility is excellent for such a young couple. Many people I’ve seen carry far more debt.” Mathew nodded at the compliment as Grigor put his pen down and retrieved a metal water bottle, uncorked the nozzle, and took a long, leisurely drink. Mathew watched his adam’s apple bob before looking away. When he finished, Grigor wiped his mouth with a tissue, then stored the water bottle away. “Shall we go through your financial documents?”
“Yes. I brought everything you asked.” Standing, Mathew walked back to the office door where he’d left the box containing everything from his tax forms to his pay stubs to receipts for every major purchase for the last three years. Say what you would about the International Monetary Bank of Transylvania, they seemed determined to avoid taking on any sub-prime mortgages or toxic debt. When he picked up the box, something small and black scuttled away towards the wall. He hoped it wasn’t a cockroach.
Going through all the documents took nearly two hours. It was well after eight o’clock when Mathew finally glanced at his watch. “Well, Mr. Clemens, I think everything looks very positive.” Grigor finally told him. There is still some paperwork to do, but I think I can conditionally approve you.”
“Thank you!” Mathew shook the outstretched hand eagerly this time. He knew to read the small print, but he would have taken the loan from a werewolf if he’d had to, so long as it wasn’t more than two points above prime. He left the office humming tunelessly to himself, eager to get home so he could tell Erin the good news.