Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
Virgil "Duffy" Gestard
Voyeuristic snitch & exterminator-cum-electrician
“How we love sequestering, where no pests are pestering.”
“What is commonly called a pest is nature’s way of bringing back into balance an imbalance that man has created.”
“The worthless and offensive members of society, whose existence is a social pest, invariably think themselves the most ill-used people alive, and never get over their astonishment at the ingratitude and selfishness of their contemporaries.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Modern life is an unholy mix of voyeurism and exhibitionism. People perpetually broadcasting their internal and external selves.”
“More or less, we’re all afflicted with the psychology of the voyeur. Not in the strictly clinical or criminal sense, but in our whole physical and emotional stance before the world. Whenever we seek to break this spell of passivity, out actions are cruel and awkward and generally obscene, like an invalid who has forgotten to walk.”
“Voyeurism was a form of control, like mental abuse, like rape, like bullying. It was nothing to do with the physical action, and all to do with the feeling of power it gave the perpetrator, the balancing out of delicate ids and egos.”
If you ask Virgil, he’ll tell you he was a modern-day Adonis, with looks that could make Arikel herself blush. Hair like flowing rivers of sunlight, skin like supple bronze, and honey-golden eyes that could melt hearts faster than butter on a hot skillet. Chiseled jaw, chiseled pecs, and chiseled abs. A 21st century Pygmalion touched by Aphrodite. No, not just touched by the goddess, but outright groped.
Then again, if you ask Virgil, he’ll also tell you he’s pen pals with the alleged thin-blood primogen of New York City.
But if you ask others? They might say he’s the sexiest Nosferatu in all of New Orleans–if he actually was one. A real one, that is. But he isn’t, so it’s more apt to describe him as the ugliest thin-blood in the Big Easy. A dubious honor, but thin-bloods have to take what they can get.
And what Virgil got with the Embrace is ugly. Not monstrously so, but ugly all the same. He looks decades older than his thirty-odd years. His outdated metal rock hair has become the color of navel lint, and his half-inch eyebrows unsatisfyingly quit like a two-pump chump. His horseshoe mustache makes him a poor man’s Hulk Hogan. Like cardboard-sign-begging poor. His tanned skin has become the shade of sun-rotted peanut butter, marked by wrinkles, sallow eyebags, and a blemish below his left eye that might be a port-wine stain, a mishealed cigarette burn, or squamous carcinoma. His beady pupils and irises resemble the black-brown carapace of roaches, while his porcine nose looks like a gift from Dr. Moreau.
Previously chiseled edges have become blubbery. Biceps now flaccid, a beer gut that sags out of his shirts and covers his crotch like a fleshy fanny pack, and a double chin whose creases stink like spray can cheese, rat bait, and palmetto bugs–with a few of the latter slithering in and out of his skinfolds. His rank B.O. competes with his perpetual breathalyzer-breaking hallitosis, as he was Embraced drunker than a whole surfeit of skunks on a Blue Stripe kegger.
In terms of apparel, Virgil prefers a peckerwood take on the Canadian tuxedo: pesticide-discolored jeans and sleeve-ripped, half-unbuttoned denim shirts. He “accents” this wardrobe with industrial workboots and a dozen wedding rings he’s pilfered from past victims. In short, his fashion looks exactly what you would expect from someone whose business card reads, PESTS: God Created ‘Em So I Can Kill ‘Em
Name: Virgil Lazare Gestard
Aliases: Duffy Gestard
Date of Birth: December 12th, 1964 (Frisco, Louisiana)
Date of Embrace: April 6th, 2006 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Apparent Age: Early 40s
Real Age: Approx. 60
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Gray
Education: Some high school
Occupation: Electrician (2006), pest exterminator (1991—2005), insurance salesman (1986—1991), pest control salesman (1983—1986)
A native son of Frisco, Louisiana, Virgil spent most of his mortal life in that tiny unincorporated community of Pointe-Coupée Parish. Beside Bayou George and the surrounding backswamps of Highways 78 and 979, he and his brothers killed time by feeding hotdogs to their pet snapping turtle, watching pro wrestling VHS tapes, attending wet T-shirt contests, and shooting paintballs at Blue Stripe empties and passing train cars. He almost earned a high school diploma (and more importantly to him, his welding certificate) from Livonia High School, but the then-senior knocked up two of the principal’s daughters within the same month.
Seeking safer pastures, Virgil dropped out and joined one of his friends to become a door-to-door pest control salesman, traveling throughout rural Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Due to his peckerwood charm and alleged (pre-Embrace) good looks, he steadily racked up commissions. Not enough to be rich (even by his trailer trash standards), but enough to always have money for “the essentials:” beer, gas, jerky, chewing tobacco, motel rooms, and lap dances. Several years later, Virgil’s “career” ended after his company received a last straw complaint from an irate cuckolded husband ranting about Virgil “taking advantage” of stay-at-home wives.
So fired, Virgil temporarily joined the likes of Ricky Mouton selling fire, accident, and terminal life insurance on both sides of the Mississippi. He lacked Cash Money’s carnival rhetoric, but his country charm and Fabio-esque physique made up for it. However, his days as a traveling salesman ended after his US 11-bound truck was T-boned by what he swore was the Cajun Sasquatch of Honey Island Swamp. Thereafter, long automobile rides proved intolerable due to two slipped discs that never fully recovered. Falling back on something he knew (or knew something about), he used the last of his lunchbox “bank account” to pay for his state-issued pest control license–which at that time in the Pelican State did not require a GED, diploma, or EPA-approved training course.
The Pest Exterminator
Some claim Virgil apprenticed under a pre-law Bertam Villars, but the timelines don’t coincide. Moreover, in a state as pest-infested as Louisiana, exterminators are a dime a dozen. Aware of that stiff competition, Virgil returned home to Frisco, sold his recently deceased father’s Civil War memorabilia (much to his brothers’ ire), and purchased a 1-ton cargo van. The latter he stocked with pesticides, rat traps, and other tools of the exterminator’s trade.
Compared to his former jobs as a traveling salesman, being an exterminator was harder, requiring far more disgusting toil (though Virgil found it far less disgusting than most). Still, the new gig had its perks. He was his own boss, set his own hours, and didn’t have anyone skimming his profits (save Uncle Sam). His business was far from booming in Pointe-Coupée, but it paid for Virgil’s “essentials.” Moreover, after marrying Rita “Margarita” née Honoré, the daughter of Livonia High’s principal (a younger sister to the ones he had previously knocked up), he scored a much-coveted (at least by himself) contract as Pointe Coupee Parish School Board’s official exterminator for not only Livonia High, but also Rougon, Upper Pointe, Valverda, and Rosenwald Elementary Schools.
With that stable influx of cash, Virgil bought Frisco’s abandoned post office building, outfitted a second exterminator van, and took on an apprentice: his brother Levi, who had recently completed “rehab” (i.e., a 5-month stint in the Pointe Coupee Parish Detention Center). During this same time, he got divorced, remarried to a rodeo buckle bunny, divorced again (after 3 weeks), and re-remarried to his first ex-wife. He also had kids, some of which were with his wives or ex-wives, and some not. With Rita at least, he had three: Bo, Cephus, and Louisianne. It wasn’t domestic or professional bliss, but it was enough to largely content a semi-lazy, unimaginatively selfish man.
Rita had other plans.
Not his wife, but the hurricane.
Virgil had largely weathered Katrina without a hitch. However, with water levels still high a few weeks later, Rita’s storm surge flooded Virgil’s office, ruining expensive supplies. Worse, wind damage shut down several parish schools, cancelling annual pesticide maintenance–and the money upon which Virgil’s business relied. To add insult to injury, the next week, his brother Levi crashed a company van into a storm-downed tree, and insurance refused to pay a dime because Levi was driving three sheets to the wind on a triple DUI-expired license. The following months proved little better, with Virgil’s other customers more concerned about getting back into their hurricane-evacuated and -damaged homes versus getting pests out of them. That year, Virgil’s Christmas present was filling for chapter 7 bankruptcy.
No stranger to switching careers, Virgil swiftly picked up a new profession with his eldest brother, Verne, in New Orleans. There, Verne had become an apprentice electrician working for one of the ubiquitous FEMA-subsidized renovation companies drawn to Katrina’s wake. Verne promised Virgil on-the-job training, easy money, and an easier excuse to get away from his nagging wife and bawling kids. Despite having to leave behind his pet snapping turtle and paintguns, Virgil still had plenty of time to watch pro wrestling, drink Blue Stripe, and attend wet T-shirt contests in the Big Easy. Over the following months, Virgil became a fair-to-middling residential electrician, and began to augment his income by also working as a home security installation specialist.
This latter “hobby” led to a newfound vice: digital voyeurism. First, it started with wiring additional security feeds in private locations, particularly bedrooms and bathrooms. This was driven mostly by carnal curiosity, but also the rush that came with secretly, illicitly watching individuals in their most vulnerable, raw states. Thus, Virgil made sure to install secret cameras inside his Frisco house during his next visit home, which allowed him to spy on his wife and kids. To his surprise–and surprising arousal rather than ire–he discovered that his wife and brother were having a torrid affair in his own bed more nights than not. Rather than call them on it, he decided to self-indulgently watch. In time, he learned to recognize the sinful patterns of other unknowningly spied upon individuals via his growing “channels” of spycams and hacked security feeds.
It’s unclear what brought down his perverted house of cards. Some believe Virgil tried to install secret surveillance equipment while wiring Allison Eskew’s latest suburban neighborhood, only to discover some of her secret entrances and crawlspaces. Thereafter, he allegedly was caught, or similarly trapped when he tried to blackmail the builders or “get in on it.” Others suggest a similar plot, but one that involved Ramon Korda rather than Baptiste’s childe. Others in turn suggest it wasn’t Ramon, but rather his sire, Louis Maddox, or the equally tech-savvy Gerald Abellard, that discovered Virgil’s “indiscretions” after he started selling access to his illicit feeds to other online would-be voyeurs. More rarely, gossipmongers suggest it was Gutterball’s itinerant childe, Marcus Addington, who came across the sinful Virgil during a temporary visit to his former home. Even rarer is the rumor that it was Didi Miller, who allegedly had not died during Katrina as supposed but was–and maybe still is–in hiding inside the city for reasons unknown.
Perhaps being cautious or cagey, Virgil claims he doesn’t know his sire–as his Embrace occurred suddenly under the cover of darkness. As with other thin-bloods, a peculiar amount of time transpired between his death and “rebirth” as a vampire. In Virgil’s case, it was when his “corpse” was being loaded by Levi into a truck bed to be driven to a cheaper funeral home in Livonia, per Rita’s request. So awakening, the famished Virgil drained his brother dry and tried to drive home to do the same to his adulteress wife. Dawn, however, forced Virgil to turn back to the city to seek shelter from the skin-melting sun.
Virgil likely would have been soon found and slain by the scourge, sheriff, or hounds, except that he was first discovered by Lateef Fouad, a fellow thin-blood and recent expat from Astoria, Queens. Lateef was also a shovelhead who survived the Camarilla’s 1999 takeover of NYC, the subsequent post-911 oppression of Arabic minorities, and the thin-blooded pogrom by Aisling Sturbridge, High Regent of the Chantry of the Five Boroughs. Barely escaping the latter, Lateef immigrated to New Orleans after hearing of “Prince Savoy’s acceptance of thin-bloods.” Among the first thin-bloods to inhabit the post-Katrina French Quarter, Lateef was eager for an ally, or at least fall guy. As a consequence, Lateef helped Virgil make sense of his new undead existence, their ‘clan’ status in the Camarilla, and Antoine Savoy’s unique rules for them within his domain.
The Katrina Looter
Together, Lateef and Virgil looted numerous havens within the French Quarter. Initially, they stuck to ex-domiciles of Katrina-slain thin-bloods and Caitiff, but as time passed, those targets dwindled. Consequently, they began to tail and spy on newer “living” Quarter Rats, waiting for them to be destroyed by Caitlin Meadows or the Guard de Ville, at which time, Lateef and Virgil swooped in to rob the now-vacant havens, drain dry domitor-less ghouls, and perform other tasks allegedly to protect the Masquerade. More than once, when they didn’t have the patience to wait for one of their fellows to be “naturally” caught, they dimed them to the scourge, betrayed them to the Baron’s forces, or framed them for poaching.
As part of these schemes, Virgil frequently used his past professional skills to bypass security systems, install illicit surveillance equipment, and impersonate pest control to perform “inspections” and “fumigation evacuations.” These latter cons became infinitely easier as Virgil developed an unusual aptitude (especially for a thin-blood) for controlling both mammalian and insectile pests, be they rat, bat, possum, roach, fly, ant, termite, or otherwise. His spying abilities similarly magnified when he learned to attach tiny cameras and audio “bugs” on his blood-controlled vermin and varmints. More than once, these augmented spies assisted him with a timely escape from closing-in enemies.
Lateef wasn’t so lucky.
Most assume Meadows got him. Others say his demise came during a sweep by the Guard de Ville, citing charges of poaching (as if being a thin-blooded Quarter rat wasn’t enough). Others in turn say Lateef was destroyed by a krewe of rival rats tired of his predations–or scared they would be next on his private “red list.” In almost all of these tales, though, one part stays the same.
Virgil betrayed him.
He hasn’t even bothered denying it. He has, however, remained cagey as to the motives behind his treachery. Perhaps he was tired of being “No. 2” in their two-man act, or he simply did the math and realized he could get a larger share of the score with Lateef out of the picture. Alternatively, the falling out might have been over a coveted blood doll or looted treasure that Virgil alone wanted to possess. Or maybe Lateef was about to dime his old partner, making it a “him or me” situation.
Or maybe Virgil was simply a morally bankrupt douchebag.
The Top Rat
Since Lateef’s final death, that last position has certainly gained traction amongst the French Quarter’s Rats–and not without good reason. Indeed, Virgil has since established himself as the “top rat” of New Orleans, elevating himself by ruthlessly keeping the other thin-bloods down. Although he still robs dead rats’ havens, his new scheme has been playing “big brother” to the other rats, spying on their havens, deeds, and goings-on in a way that would make both Orwell and the NSA proud. This surveillance network involves myriad bugs—of both the electronic and insectile variety—as well as other mundane pawns and supernatural means. By “virtue” of such voyeuristic tools, Virgil uncovers the secret indiscretions of his fellow thin-blooded and Caitiff Quarter rats, blackmailing them for favors and reluctant “loyalty” in exchange for not diming them to Lord Savoy, Meadows, or the Guard de Ville. Those who fail to “play ball” or jeopardize him or his place amongst the rats quickly find out that Virgil’s threats are not idle. More than one Kindred has aptly compared Virgil to a Gestapo officer, or worse, a concentration camp snitch squealing to the SS for an extra bite of bread or 1-day delay of the gas chamber.
Indeed, Virgil’s illicit intel–and the way he uses it to keep the other thin-bloods in tow–has made him a valued (if far from respected) tool in Savoy’s belt. Or more accurately, Natasha Preston’s belt, as the utilitarian Malkavian always plays the intermediate between Virgil and her master, allowing the Toreador elder to privately reap the power of Virgil’s blackmail while publicly keeping his hands “clean” of the universally loathed thin-blood. Savoy also benefits by making Virgil the “face” (or safer target) of much of the thin-bloods’ malcontent. And it’s warranted malcontent too, as Virgil is possibly responsible for more thin-bloods’ deaths than Meadows. Not directly of course, but Hitler didn’t have too many personal kills either.
That said, all of the rats that have tried thus far to take down Virgil have failed. Fatally. So much so that Virgil has become the longest “living” thin-blood in the French Quarter. He’s also the second oldest one too, with only the ironically child-like Geraldine Maude Danvers besting him. There’s no question that Virgil would have long ago offed the “girl” if not for her “mother” Edith Flannagan’s unceasing protection–and most presume it’s only a matter of time even with it.
Allegedly, this murderous intention–as well as a lot of his other sins–is motivated by what most would consider a laughable goal: a seat on the Cabildo as primogen of New Orleans’ thin-bloods. No, seriously, stop laughing. Admittedly, achieving this goal is absolutely impossible with Prince Vidal, but with Prince Savoy, who knows? And that’s the point. It might be possible. Consequently, Virgil spends his Requiem obsequiously supporting Savoy’s regime and inevitable coup, while attempting to continually gain greater scraps of favor by showcasing his ability to keep the rats in line–or eliminating them when they don’t.
After all, he is an exterminator, and everyone knows thin-bloods are pests.