In creating my blog a few months ago, I’ve been asked how I came up with the name of CJT’s Word Vamp. It was from a dream that I had right after I started writing again. At the time I was busy filling notebook after notebook with my pieces. My dear friend and Co-worker, Alisa, suggested that I start a blog. I grew up being computer literate, but a blog was something I had really tried to avoid. Same thing with Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. I finally broke down on Facebook, and now check it periodically, but it isn’t something I look at consistently nor post to. Anyway, back to this dream I had. I was trying to come up with a name for my blog and possibly a pen name for myself. The dream has sat in my mind, dormant, waiting for the perfect moment to wake up so I could write it down and tell you the story behind CJT’s Word Vamp.
CJT’s Word Vamp
I was walking in an alley, it was late and the sun had already dropped below the edge of the city. Buildings stood stories high, staring down at me and making me feel minuscule. I had somewhere in mind to go, and was worried that I was going to be late. I was dressed to impress with a black blouse, grey skirt and heels, covered with a black jacket to keep off the chill, and a folder in hand. Running a hand through my fire red hair, then checked my watch, the time screamed at me to hurry, I began walking even faster, cursing myself for not wearing boots or calling a cab.
I could see a street light ahead and was making my way towards it when I heard someone call out, “Someone help me, please, help me!” followed by sobs. I turned my attention to the direction the call had come from and began making my way through the trash lined alley to my right. I’m going to be so late! I thought to myself as I rounded the edge of the building. The scene before me was harrowing. In front of me was a woman, beaten and bleeding, smelling of the trash around her, most likely a vagabond who had come here to find something to eat or a place to sleep that was a little more protected than the street or a park bench. Her clothes were in tatters, and covered in wet blood. Bruises were beginning to color her face; a large bruise on her right cheek and a black left eye were completed with fat lip that was swelling to an enormous size.
“God, what happened?” I leaned down trying not to get my skirt soiled. “Do I need to call the police or an ambulance?”
“No, I know I’m going to die, but I have to deliver a message to you.” Her voice had dropped from a high wail down to almost a whisper. I helped to prop her up against a trash can, she whimpered then began explaining to me her story, starting with her attacker.
“He blended in so well with the shadows, with his dark clothes, even his hair was black. I remember thinking to myself why would anyone dress like that in knowing that they’ll be out in the middle of the night. He stayed to the shadows, he did.” She coughed, tried to clear her throat, and started again. “He was well dressed, and he slowly approached me. He asked for the book I had taken. I told him that I had taken no book.” She looked at me, her striking blue eyes bore into mine, making me feel uncomfortable. I peeled my eyes away from hers and checked my watch. I was definitely going to be late.
“I had taken a book a few days before; I had nicked it from a street cart and ran. I needed something to keep my mind occupied. I always return them after I’ve read them, and this was going to be no exception to the rule. He came close to me, and leaned into my face. He seemed so tall when talking to me, but once in my face was actually quite short. I could look him straight in the eyes, even his eyes were dark as night.” She paused, as if trying to make her words sink in.
“Yes, yes, continue please.” I was growing impatient waiting for the woman to finish her story so I could continue on my way.
“Well, he leaned in and looked me in the eyes and said, the book you took two days ago. I know you took it and I need it. I need it back, Now! I told him I had no book. He began shaking me, hard, and telling me to speak the truth to him. When I still didn’t answer him, he then began clawing, biting, and hitting me- like I would think a rabid animal would do. I tried to scream but no words could come out. I felt fear so prominent that it suffocated everything else. He beat me, and then as he was turning away told me I would live long enough to give a message. He said the person who would come to my aid was searching for a new name and that I was to tell them that they should use the name CJT. I don’t know what it means, but be warned! I should not have called out, but the pain, the pain was too great. I know I’m going to die,” she tried to reach into her coat, her hand settling on something, I looked and it was a book, “I want you to have this.” I took the book from her, put it in my purse, and stood up.
CJT, it has a nice ring to it, I’ll admit that. I pulled out my cell phone and called 9-1-1. I gave the location of the woman and my name, telling them they could contact me once I was out of my meeting. A pen name was what I had been searching for. I had a very controversial book to publish, which indirectly was where I was headed- to meet a publisher.
I left the woman sitting against the garbage can, gave her the handful of ones that were in my jacket pocket and hurried away. I really hope that he hasn’t left or thought I stood him up. I told myself.
Only a few blocks now from my destination, my breath quickened. Excitement and nervousness coursed through me as I crossed the final stretch to the building. The door, locked, was intimidating. The name scrolled on the door read: Esquire Publishing, est. 1902. I lightly fingered the gold lettering. Stepping back slightly I knocked on the door, three solid knocks. My heart pounding in my chest in anticipation kept repeating the letters in my head. .C..J..T..C..J..T.. I knew this was the name I should use.
“You kept me waiting.” A strong voice came from behind me, startled I dropped my folder on the ground. He beat me to it and handed it back to me.
“Yes, I’m sorry, There was an accident I had to attend to on my way here. I should have taken a cab-” I was rambling, and noticing his look of boredom, I fell silent.
“Well shall we go in then? Or would you rather stand outside to discuss this ‘controversial’ book of yours?” His dark eyes held mine.
“Yes, please.” I managed to let out. This was much more exciting than I had thought it to be. I swallowed hard and prayed that he couldn’t hear my pounding heart as I followed him inside and through another door with the same gold lettering on the entrance that read: Sir Leramie Esquire, Pres.
He took my jacket and motioned for me to sit down. He removed his and put it on the coat tree next to mine, then sat down on the other side of the desk. I gingerly placed the folder on his mahogany desk and stared at him wide eyed. He looked splendid in his black suit. I drew in a sharp breath.
He watched me, almost curiously for a moment before speaking again.
“Your book, Mrs. Hirschi, you wanted me to look at your book.”
Stammering something incoherent I slid the folder across the desk to him. He opened the cover and stared at it. Managing to get my voice back I weakly began to explain to him, “I have included a hard copy manuscript as well as a CD with the manuscript in PDF format.”
“I see that you do not have your name on this, is there a reason why Mrs. Hirschi?” He asked staring across the desk at me.
“Nicole will do, and that’s because I’ve been thinking about putting a pen name on this one.”
“Hmmm,” he rubbed his chin in deep thought, “well, it had better be a good one if you want it to sell or be remembered easily.”
“I’ve decided that I want to publish this, that is if you decide to publish it for me, under the name of CJT.”
“That’s it? CJT?” His dark eyes probed mine deeply as if trying to look into my soul. I shifted uncomfortably and looked down.
“Yes, I know its short, but I think it suits me and the book as well.” He nodded his head in agreement and took out a fountain pen and wrote: Written By: CJT on the front page underneath the title.
“I will take a look at this and be in touch with you in a few days.” He stood and I followed suit.
“Thank you, Mr. Esquire, I-”
“Leramie, please, and no need to thank me, at least not yet.” He shook my hand, then pulled my jacket off the tree and helped me into it. I followed him back to the entrance taking in all of the antiques and wood work that I had somehow missed on my way in. “Have a good evening then, Nicole.” Again those soul searching dark eyes held mine for a minute. Finally looking away he opened the door and I saw my way out onto the street.
Knowing that I should probably get back to where I left the dying woman, gave me the motivation to turn away from the door and begin walking. Finding the exact place I remembered leaving her, I was surprised to see no trace of her anywhere. Not even a drop of blood could be found on the ground- I was using the light of my cell phone to check. Intrigued by her sudden disappearance I opened my phone to call dispatch back to see who had come to pick up the woman. When I hit the redial button, I noticed that my last number called was one of my girlfriends from earlier that afternoon. 9-1-1 was not present on my call list.
Feeling a little shaky, and ill, I rushed as quickly as I could back to my apartment and waiting husband. I took off my jacket and heels as I stepped inside the entry and sat on the bench next to the door.
“How did it go?” My husband asked from the other room, I could hear the voice of Jim Carrey in the movie ‘Horton Hears a Who’ emanating from the Television where he and the kids were at.
“Fine, just fine.” I called back. I didn’t make mention of what I thought had happened, and went into the bedroom to change.
I slept uneasy that night; dreams of the woman kept coming back and her voice saying CJT resonated through my mind. Deciding that I couldn’t take anymore tossing, I crawled out of bed and down into the office where my computer was. I began writing the story about the dying woman and what I thought I had seen. The eerie quiet in the house kept making my thoughts stop. I decided to get my I-pod out and listen to some music to stave off the feeling of being utterly alone. Opening my purse to retrieve my I-pod, I came across the book that the woman had given me. I knew I wasn’t imagining things!
I took the book out and began reading. I kept reading until it was finished, and when I looked up the sun was just starting to peek through the window. I heard my children rising and set the book down to prepare breakfast. After getting them off to school I sat back down at my desk and looked at the book again. The words danced in front of my eyes, re-arranging themselves before me. I opened my computer and began to type what I was seeing.
The next few days went by in a blur. I spent my time typing and was now looking at a promising new novel. I was drinking a cup of coffee and typing when the phone rang.
“Nicole-” a soothing voice answered and immediately I knew who it was, “this is Leramie. I have reviewed your book and would like to setup a meeting to discuss my thoughts. Would three this afternoon work for you?”
“Yes, that will work fine.” I quickly jotted it down on my notebook.
“I’ll see you then. Oh, and please call a cab this time.”
“Yes, I will.” I heard the click on the other end and put the phone down.
I rode in the cab to Esquire’s Publishing and had taken my latest work with me to show Leramie in case he decided he was interested in the other book. I paid the cab fair and stepped out onto the curb and headed straight for the door. It was unlocked this time and the smiling face of a receptionist greeted me.
“Welcome to Esquire’s Publishing, do you have an appointment?”
“Yes, I’m here to see Mr. Esquire, I have a three o’clock appointment with him, my name is Nicole Hirschi.”
“Ah yes,” she nodded her head in acknowledgment, “so you are CJT. You are more than welcome to go straight to his office, he’s expecting you.”
Picking my jaw up off the floor, I went directly to his door and knocked. “Come In.” I heard him say and entered the tidy office.
Standing to meet me again, he quickly shook my hand and said, “Have a seat, Nicole.” I did as I was told and looked inquiringly at him.
“I’ve decided to publish your book, here is a contract with the terms, take a few days to review it then let me know if it is agreeable or not.” He passed the paperwork across the desk to me.
“Oh Thank You, Mr. Esquire-”
“Yes, Leramie, thank you.”
“I’m also curious about some of your other writing, are you working on anything else at the moment?” Well if this wasn’t just coincidence I wasn’t sure what was.
“Yes, I am,” I pulled my laptop out and pulled up my latest work. “I started this the day after my visit with you.” I told him, feeling quite proud of myself. After all I was up to almost a hundred and fifty pages.
He skimmed through the first few pages while I sat in silence.
“You have something here.” I smiled at him, “Where did you come up with this idea?”
“Don’t think I’m crazy, but I came across this book that seemed to change my perspective a little. Ever since I put it down, I have not been able to stop seeing letters forming into the story that I now have before you.”
“I think the title of this piece you are working on should be named, ‘CJT’s Word Vamp’, it gives the appearance that you are almost like a vampire feeding off of other author’s books then creating your own, in a sense vamping up their words to create something extremely enthralling!”
I left his office a while later, knowing that my book was being published and that I wouldn’t have to search for another publisher once the new one was finished.