Not agency material

set between 3:30-8pm

Beauregard stepped out onto the street gravely disappointed.

He'd paid for, in advance, a private photo session in a Christmas themed space. But upon arrival, the reception had been unfriendly. Apparently, someone wasn't modeling material. Or, far more likely, the little photo studio was fucking speciesist.

Why would you allow a dog or a cat in for photos and not a chinchilla? Chinchillas were remarkably clean animals. If Annabel was messy or had an odor, he wouldn't keep her in his damn apartment. Was he supposed to stage a Christmas scene in his own home just to get a charming picture of a chinchilla in fake snow? Apparently fucking so.

Now he stood here, a Santa Claus-deprived chinchilla lovingly slung in a carrier on his arm, glaring out at the street for his car. Which he'd parked... right here, Beauregard was certain.

Pulling his keys from his pocket, he clicked the lock button, listening keenly for a honk.

Nothing. Not a sound.

That was about when he noticed a sign across the street where he'd once parked his car: EVENT PARKING, KEEP CLEAR, TOW AWAY ZONE.

"Oh, Annabel," he said quietly, agonizing realization in his voice.

He was going to kill whatever driver had taken his car. Beauregard glanced down to the carrier and frowned deeply.

all you need to know for outfit is he's carrying this with a chinchilla inside



 It was daytime! Or, well, sort of. The sun would be setting in like, an hour, which was pretty wild. Still, on her day off, Minnie had been out with the intention to take advantage of what daylight she could get, and getting to know her new neighborhood a little better! The latest thing had been, of course, a coffee shop, a little mom and pop sort of place that had been advertising a new Cinnabun coffee-based drink. She had not been disappointed!

 Upon stepping outside, she would spot a familiar face. She would remember him as the man who had taken a chinchilla home - and made a donation - with having just discovered what sort of animal it was. With a.... pink purse? He looked a bit lost.

 "Hey! Mister Henry!" she greeted him, enthusiastic. "How are you!"

There was something about having one's car towed that left a deep sense of helplessness. Beauregard had his phone, he had funds. He was not abandoned permanently on this street. But there was the question of where his car was now, who to call. He'd only been parked for ten minutes, had they pounced on it immediately?

Annabel's carrier was not for long term use. He would need to take her home first before he retrieved his car. And good heavens, if they'd scratched it-

A familiar voice caught his attention, and he turned toward it, some lingering concern on his face. Of all people, it was the little artist, someone he had not visited in a time. Perhaps Whitewing would need to stop by the barn in a month or so.

"Oh, Minerva," he said, smiling with some forced sheepishness. He continued in something of a sigh. "I've been slightly better. I think my car was just towed."

Within the carrier, Annabel snuffled up through the mesh, one little paw grasping at the screen.

 Hey! He remembered her! She grinned a bit more broadly, but it would shrink, her expression folding into something gravely concerned. Towed! Minnie had never had her car towed, but she imagined it was a very unhappy feeling. Cars were kind of important.

 "Oh, no, that's such a bummer!" she said, as if Henry wasn't very aware of that fact. Her eyes fell to the carrier as noise and movement came from it, and her expression would light up again. Momentarily, she would be utterly distracted from Henry's woes. "Aw, Annabel!" Wow, that was extremely amazing! How heart-warming, seeing this older gentleman toting his fluffy little pet around. She was glad it was working out.

It was a considerable bummer. A grand bummer. A colossal day ruiner. He agreed wholeheartedly, and it was soothing to be reassured.

But as attention shifted to Annabel, his expression shifted to one of very sincere warmth. Minerva would likely think he was a madman, having only "met" him twice, both times accompanied by a rodent.

"She was just getting her picture taken with Santa Claus," he said. It was a small lie, but a kind one. A sweet girl like Minerva did not need to hear that Annabel had been unkindly rejected. "She was a very brave girl."

 Wow! Santa Claus chinchilla pictures were very, very important. Minerva made a face, as if the cuteness of it all physically pained her. "Ugh, adorable," she said, her grin springing back into place. "They're gonna look so great!" Of course they would, though. Minerva couldn't imagine a single scenario in which Santa and Annabel didn't come out perfectly in photos. "How have you guys been doing together? She looks totally spoiled!" This, in a very approving tone, sporting the same broad grin.

Minerva was darling. Beauregard glanced between her and the chinchilla, smiling, thoughtful in ways he could not express in this form.

Was she still painting? Good heavens, what if she could paint Annabel.

"She is deeply spoiled," he said fondly. Beauregard carefully lifted the bag into his arms so that Annabel was properly facing her.

"She wriggles less when handled these days. Enjoys considerable time in an exercise ball. I think she eats better food than I do."

One could argue that Beauregard did not eat food at all!

For a moment, he could forget his car was likely in some greasy mongrel's truck on the way to some horrifying car yard.

 Deeply spoiled! Minerva's grin stretched to its limits for the thought, eyes squinting with an appreciative laugh. She clasped her hands together before her, watching as Henry adjusted the carrier to allow her a better look at Annabel. She wondered if the chinchilla remembered her, too! Unlikely, probably.

 She was so happy to hear these details, giggling a little for the idea of Annabel eating some fancy meal while Henry had something out of the microwave. A bit sad for him, but also, wholesome in a way! "Awww, I'm glad she's warmed up so much. Aren't they so darn cute in the little exercise balls?" That was, of course, a rhetorical question! It was an inarguable fact!

It was good to bring delight. Beauregard smirked down at the little rodent who by now had as much of her nose between the mesh as possible.

Good thing she didn't mind the cold. Heat would be another story entirely. Dreadful for a little chinchilla!

He pulled his phone from his pocket, thumbing slowly to the Uber app as he talked.

"How are things at the shelter? Is it sufficiently warm in the winter?"

Perhaps a silly question, but the place was a tad run down.

 Guh! That little nose! Minnie grinned, bending slightly to get a better look. "Hiiiii," she greeted the chinchilla sweetly, then straightened back up for Henry's question. "Pretty good, yeah! They just got some extra money from a fundraiser, and a local organization donated a few space heaters, so. It's not like, top tier fancy or anything," she confessed with a laugh. But, well, he'd seen the place! It could use all the help it could get. "But it's enough that no one gets chilly." And that was what counted.

 Oh yeah! His car! "Oh!" she exclaimed, looking around for some sort of... towing company sign. "How do - well, do you know what company has your car?" This as she sidestepped some, looking for any such sign still, to see if maybe she could help Henry find their phone number. Maybe that was what he was already doing with his phone. Whoops!

Good that they weren't being frozen to misery. Beauregard considered the place as potentially something of a pet project (ha, ha), perhaps worth the occasional chunk of generosity. Maybe they could even name part of it after Annabel!

"I need to get her home first before I meddle with tow trucks," he sighed. He tapped his way through the Uber application before gasping audibly.

"An hour wait!" he sputtered. "I suppose I'm-"

An hour! What the hell was going on! The same event that had blocked his parking, perhaps!

"I suppose I'm looking for tow trucks."

He could ask Raziyya, perhaps. Edvin. But how shameful to need to be picked up on a date with his chinchilla because his car had been towed off.

 Oh, yeah. Annabel would probably not appreciate a wild tow truck chase! Minnie hummed in agreement, ending her hunt for a telltale sign. Henry had an exclamation shortly after though - an hour wait! For a ride, she figured.

 "Well - where do you live! I could give you and Annabel a ride home!" It seemed a fitting offer for a man who appeared to be so generous. Paying it forward, except, well, paying it back. Besides, she was probably of no use, searching for tow trucks. She didn't know how any of that sort of thing worked out.

That wasn't a habit he had any reason to encourage in Minerva. She scarcely knew him. Many, many people could take advantage of a young woman's kindness. And often, Beauregard was among those people.

But Minerva fell into the place a few did. Katya. Agostina. More before them. Nearly always artists, though that was not necessarily the defining characteristic that made them special.

"I'm in Lavender Heights, but I would hate to inconvenience you," he said.

She lived all the way out in Avondale, after all.

 The gravity of how bad this could be completely evaded Minerva. She had already sorted Henry into the "good people" list. How could someone who took their chinchilla for a Santa photo shoot be a bad person, obviously!

 "No way, I insist!" She gestured at him loosely with her hands. "It'll be way too cold for you guys in an hour!" She had already reasoned that she could get Henry and his precious cargo home, and be back to her home just as the sun was setting! Probably!

"I certainly can't argue if you insist," he said with some amusement.

A car ride with her would... tempt, to be truthful. Beauregard was not impervious to the smell of her blood even if he decided he would not take it from her. But Beauregard was not a starving vampire, and he was a Dominus.

He could resist.

"I hope I'm not taking you too out of your way," he said and ultimately would follow wherever the darling girl led him.

 He agreed, and she grinned, turning on her heel towards her Subaru, parked in a lot at the end of the strip of buildings. "Not at all!" she informed him. "I live in the area, actually, so it'll be a pretty quick trip for me."

 The Subaru beeped affirmatively as she unlocked it, and she trotted up to the driver's side to slip in and get it started. The vents blasted air on high, but it wasn't immediately warm. Soon!

 She knew the general beginnings to get to the heights from here, at least. "Feel free to put music on, if you like," she offered brightly, once Henry and Annabel were both settled in securely. And then! They would be off!

Did she, now.

In Lavender Heights or Larkspur, he wondered. Beauregard didn't imagine one was much safer for her than the other. He wished he could put some stamp on women like Minerva. Leave this one alone, pigs.

"I am tremendously lucky to run into you, then," he said, stepping into the vehicle and buckling himself in. He placed Annabel's carrier carefully into his lap, mindful to angle her away from a direct blast from the vents. Chinchillas did overhead very easily. She was a tad restless, turning round in the carrier, paws at the mesh again.

"Soon, darling," he muttered, some automatic murmur to a pet. He carefully poked a finger into the screen, and she put a paw against it, staring with her usual vacant expression.

"I hardly know what's on the radio these days," he admitted. "What does a young person listen to?"

 Yeah! Lucky! Funny how stuff worked out like that sometimes.

 Minnie grinned to herself for Henry's quiet comforting of his dear pet, and with the heat kicking in properly, she would turn down the force of the air so it didn't blast them in their faces the whole drive.

 Not a radio man, was he! Minnie grinned without taking her eyes off the road ahead of her, religiously using her blinker to change lanes. "Guess it depends on the young person you ask!" she said, chipper, and would sort of fumble at the touch screen radio, reaching for buttons from memory rather than looking for the right one. "I like pretty much any kind of music."

 Except, you know, death metal. Joaquin.

 She didn't want to play something that might annoy him, though! Some older people could be pretty picky about new music. They were at a red light soon enough, anyway, and Minnie could put a little more focus into navigating local radio stations. Spotify would have been easier for her, but she didn't want to subject Henry to trying to figure it out if he wasn't familiar with it.

 Willie Nelson's voice came on, singing about Pancho and Lefty. She glanced at Henry, questioning. He didn't seem like the country kind, but who knew!

Pretty much any kind! A generic answer, but one that suited her, he supposed. Choosing a favorite might be confrontational.

Annabel pulled her paws away, then returned them to his finger again, sniffing. Considering a curiosity nibble. Beauregard wisely pulled his hand away, fairly knowing of the signs by now.

He did not expect Minerva's choice of music, however, and chuckled some.

"I would not have called you as a Willie Nelson fan," he said. As was necessary, he would provide her some direction on where to turn. "Are you from mountainside originally?"

 Minnie grinned broadly through the windshield at the green light for Henry's observation. That didn't sound like he was particularly opposed to Willie! Anyway, she took his directions with affirmative nodding, putting them on the highway relatively quickly!

 "Yes, sir!" she confirmed cheerfully, peering into her side mirror, and then over her shoulder as she merged with traffic. "Born and raised in Avondale. What about you?"

So she truly had moved. Beauregard had so many questions he couldn't ask. It was painful, nearly. Who had she moved with? Was she alone?

"Avondale! I've only visited there a few times," he said. "I am from Canada originally. Moved to the US a few decades ago, ended up here within the last few years."

He supposed that throwing out decades aged him, but he hardly looked like a boy.

Annabel gave up on escape and curled into a ball at the bottom of her carrier.

 Canadian! Minnie rose her eyebrows, surprised but also not - migration happened! Her eyes moved to her mirrors again before she changed lanes to make way for someone else trying to merge. "Oh yeah? Neat! How do you like it so far?" She figured that after a few years of being around, he must like it well enough, but it didn't hurt to ask!

Neat was a word for it!

He looked out at the passing scenery, at gray clumps of lingering snow and barren trees. Winter was a good time to be a vampire, but not always the most charming season.

"I quite like it. The Heights are very lively, which I think keeps me youthful," he said, some teasing at himself in his tone. "It seems to be a bit... supernatural heavy. But they haven't troubled me yet."

 Minnie laughed a little. Gotta stay young! The Heights were a good place for that, for sure! Her laugh devolved into a hum, agreeing. Stuff was pretty ~magical~ around this place! "Well, you do have a fearsome guard chinchilla," she joked warmly. "I like the Heights, too, though. Lots of interesting people!" And there really were, it was kind of a melting pot, but the main ingredient definitely seemed to be college students.

He chuckled to her joke, but ultimately, she didn't bite. Perhaps they could have bonded over sharing abilities! Beauregard wondered if she'd made progress on hers, if she had the sort of discipline to improve.

Not all of the psychics did.

"What sent you from Avondale over here? School, perhaps, or just closer to work?"

 "Oh, closer to work, sort of," she said with a grin, watching the big green information signs perched over the highway as they approached them. "It also just worked out that a friend of mine needed roommates for her apartment!" A very happy coincidence! "I was in school in Lavender Heights for a while, but I'm taking a break for a little bit." Oversharing, maybe! But relevant!

A friend! Needing a roommate! For her apartment! That was the information he was looking for. There was some little tragedy there, a girl growing up enough to leave her family, but perhaps it would prepare her more for the world.

"A break," he said. "With a planned return date? Academic breaks have a way of sticking around, I've found."

More questions, and talking required breathing which required finding some unwanted near taste of her in the air.

Oh, psychics. They did tempt.

 Ah! Busted! It sounded like something grandpa had said to her, but Henry was a little more eloquent about it. She smiled in a way that was also a guilty sort of grimace. "Ehhh... I plan to return when I don't have to rely on my parents to pay my tuition," she confessed, chuckling sheepishly. "I've looked at a few scholarships! I just haven't applied for any of them yet." It was sort of a plan! Just a bit half-baked!

Money, money, money. Women were so desperate to prove that they were independent that they cost themselves opportunity afforded to them by others. He couldn't imagine she was making much money working at an animal shelter. Minimum wage, perhaps.

While they were driving, it was unlikely he could catch her eye. But he could be patient.

"I see," he said. "What are you studying?"

 Henry seemed to understand! Or maybe he was just saying "I see" in the way that older people did when they didn't necessarily agree. Anyway!

 "Majoring in social sciences and minoring in art!" she informed him, changing lanes. "I dunno, though, I'm kind of considering dropping the social sciences part." The question beyond that was, major in art, or find something else, something more impactful? Life was hard!

Oh, good heavens. Dropping perhaps the only valuable part of her degree.

"Oh? Why is that?" he asked, lifting Annabel from his lap to glance into her carrier. She was huddled within, napping and unwilling to be stirred.

Spoiled girl.

 "Well. I'm just not sure if that's what I really want to do," she admitted, shrugging with the same big, goofy grin. "There's just - so many options! It's kind of overwhelming. I could be a doctor instead, or a lawyer." All the big important things her parents really wanted for her - things that she could do to bring loving care or justice! Things she didn't realize she wouldn't ultimately have the heart for. "Or a teacher, or an entrepreneur, or... you know. The list goes on." Another shrug. "I don't wanna pick the wrong thing."

 She didn't want to wake up in thirty years and feel like she had taken the wrong path and wasted so much time!

A very girlish series of worries. Beauregard nodded, lowering the carrier back to his lap with slow care. He hoped Annabel was not terribly unhappy for having been in it for so long. But taking her out in a moving car was... unwise. She could wriggle mightily if she saw to it.

Minerva was not doctor material. She was not lawyer material. She would crumble under the pressures of both varieties of schooling, he was certain.

"And so if you drop your major in social sciences, do you replace it with art? You're an artist, then?"

 "I am! Most days," she piped, cheer renewed. "I think I would replace my major with... something else." Though, uncertainty remained in her voice. She had enough sense to know that, realistically, just majoring in art could leave her floundering. She didn't have the social prowess to throw a splash of red on a background of yellow paint and sell it for twenty grand - and the more functional ways to apply such a degree sounded kinda soul-sucking.

 "I've got to think about it a lot more. Do my research and all that." Minnie spoke with a little more confidence for that bit. It was okay to have a lot to learn and consider! Not having it all figured out left room for lots of opportunities!

"Research is wise," he said with a nod. She would likely be too indecisive to come up with a decision from it, but perhaps she would get lucky and something would call to her.

Beauregard nearly continued clumsily, his first instinct to ask about her painting. But she had not yet said she could paint, Beauregard!

"What sort of art do you do? Could it ever feature a chinchilla, perhaps?"

 Research was wise! It felt good to be assured of that much, like she was getting a little boost in the right direction!

 He questioned her art specifics, then! A chinchilla! "Oh, wow, absolutely!" she gushed, immediately excited by the idea of it. She had never tried to draw or paint one, but a mental image of the end product almost immediately had claws in her. "I paint, mostly! A lot of animals!" So many animals, Henry, look how qualified she was to do this!

Good girl. He smiled, a sincere thing that crinkled the corners of his eyes.

"I would happily pay you for your work," he said. "How is it best done? Should I send you a picture of her? Or do you have a studio space she could terrorize?"

Beauregard hoped for her sake she would not invite a stranger into her home.

 Art, in its purest form, was not made for money or for acclaim. But being paid for something that held a little bit of her soul was so utterly rewarding! "Aw! Okay, yes, uh, we can exchange numbers, and you just send me a few pictures of her!" Audrey might be particularly unfond of a chinchilla in the house, and she didn't want to invade her roommates' space with an older gentleman stranger and his pet. Even though, she figured, they would probably love Annabel.

That would work splendidly. He pulled his phone from his pocket and would slowly thumb to a new contact, adding her number whenever she would list it off to him.

"I could take a fairly large size, if you have the canvas for it," he said. "Something I could put up above her cage. Do you have a rate you typically charge?"

Beauregard was certain she would underprice. It was a question of curiosity.

 Minnie would, indeed, rattle off her phone number to him, and when it came to canvas sizing, she tried to recall what she already had at home. What sort of rate did she charge! Sorry, Henry, she was definitely winging it.

 "Ummm, wellllll," she said thoughtfully, maneuvering the Subaru in preparation for her upcoming exit. "I'll have to get back to you on the canvas size and the price." Which probably sounded very sadly unprepared! But she didn't know how long it would take her, or how much a canvas of the preferred size would cost! She was, mostly, a bit too distracted and excited to think very straightly about it. "But I can probably let you know later this evening!"

"Take your time," he said with an approving nod. "You are charging for supplies, but also your time, and to some degree the time spent learning the skills required to make the piece."

Perhaps she already knew that. But artists like Minerva rarely priced their work correctly, he thought. If nothing else, she should have been able to recognize him as a man with deep enough pockets to cover the actual value.

 Wow, he was so kind! She briefly cast him a grateful, close-lipped smile, before looking back to the road ahead. There was some urge to tell Henry that the cost for learning the skills had been repaid by the simple joy of learning them at all, but figured maybe it was better left unsaid. She didn't know what to say, really. She just didn't want to be unfair to anyone who might want a piece of her art!

 "Pricing something that's objectively valued is pretty tricky," she confessed to him, slowing down as she took the ramp down onto the feeder road. "But I will do my best." To be fair to both Henry and herself! That was hard, but important.

A sympathetic nod. Many things in life were, indeed, tricky. There was a faint aching in his gums, complaint from fangs deprived woefully of screen time.

"Your best is all anyone could ask for," he said, an untrue but comforting statement.

They were not far from his apartment building, and he would point out the tall structure as they approached it.

"You are tremendously kind, Minerva," he said. "I am in your debt."

 Minnie beamed for his reassurance. She fully believed that - that trying one's best was very important. She thought again how kind Henry was, and how much she adored being around such people. It was warming to have the same sort of thing said about her!

 "Aw, it's no problem, Henry," she said with a firm shake of her head. No debts here, she meant to relay, steering the Subaru into the little guest parking lot of the man's apartment, rolling it to a stop in one of the parking spots. "Sorry your car got towed. I hope it works out easy." A sympathetic smile came with her well-wishes.

It would work out as easy as possible if Beauregard could manage eye contact and a bit of luck. Why, he was fairly certain they'd even pay to have his car detailed.

"I'm certain it will."

He moved a hand to the door, opened it, then paused for a moment to glance into the carrier.

"I'd have Annabel say goodbye as well, but she appears to be napping," he delivered with a chuckle. "Take care, Minerva."

This with a smile, and when partings goodbyes were complete, he'd make his way to the apartment to tuck Annabel back into her home.

And then begin the inevitable headache of attempting to locate his car.

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)