WARNING! This post actually says something about this chapter!
“I never did repent for doing good,” but in chapter 19 of Martha’s Children, it seems no good deed goes unpunished. The intrusion of sorcerers into the affairs of the would-be vampire police has put everyone on edge. And is Ned O’Donnell’s method of addressing the problem aiming for a solution, or just getting rid of a problem? If you’re not already reading this serialized story of vampires and cops in 1969 Chicago, you can start here.
Now that they’ve actually appeared in the story, a word on the Vampire Bureau’s stars. As mentioned in the previous post where the illustration was introduced, they are based on the stars (badges) worn by Chicago police between 1955 and 2002, which covers the time period for Martha’s Children. Ned explains in today’s chapter why they are not exact duplicates, but he doesn’t go into details on the design.
The first thing to note is that while the official stars point upward, the Vampire Bureau’s star points downward. In magical terms, that’s a reference to diabolical forces. The vampires have lost their souls, so they are damned creatures. However, they are not without hope of some form of salvation, hence the small, upward-pointing star at the top of the interior design. That smaller star and moon, which replace an infant on a shell on the city seal, are a reference to night, the time when vampires are active. The robed figure carrying a sword on the left represents an occult figure, both in the sense of being hidden and magical, willing to use force to uphold the law. The wolf on an American shield represents a vampire’s ability to transform into other creatures, including wolves. The ship and motto are holdovers from the city seal and official badges, though just as the star has had its orientation reversed, so has the city seal design.
If this all seems a bit learned and weird for Ned O’Donnell to dream up, then good for you to realize that, because he didn’t. He had a general idea of what he wanted, but didn’t know how he could get the unofficial stars made. What does a good boy do? He goes to his mother. Ned mentioned his problem to Mother Fokker, and she undertook to have the badges made for him. Martha’s accumulated enough money over her long life to be able to finance such things. (Oddly enough, few vampires bother to accumulate wealth despite having potentially long lives.) And as we saw in the early chapters when Martha was instructing Ned, she’s accumulated a lot of knowledge as well. She put it to use by redesigning the stars, as much whimsically as seriously.
I enjoy reading your explanations. Succinct but informative, as I believe I’ve said before.