Renée is, like many Malkavians a victim as well as aggressor.
Abandoned by her mother in her infancy, Renée was raised by her father, Robert, who - at best - was under qualified for the job. He worked long hours as an auto mechanic and, as the years passed and the stress of being a single parent accumulated, Robert succumbed to alcoholism. His meager paternal skills quickly deteriorated, and Renée got used to spending dinnerless evenings in the basement.
Renée’s only diversion was reading books she borrowed from her school library and writing stories – usually about a lucky little girl who lived in a blissful environment. Disaffected and introverted, she began being cruel to animals when she was seven years old – smashing baby birds and suchlike. By the time she was twelve, she would lure neighborhood pets into her backyard and strangle them. In this way, she provided a twisted compensation for her sense of disempowerment. Fortunately, she only felt the need to do this two or three times a year – and she quickly learned to go further afield for victims, so that her neighbors would remain unaware.
She would faithfully write about her excursions in her journal, which she began keeping when she was ten. She still has these journals and takes them with her when she moves across country.
Upon entering her adolescence, Renée’s troubles took a turn for the worse. Robert lost his job – drinking and the mechanical trades rarely mix – and he spent nearly a year on welfare, hanging around the house with his personality disintegrating and only Renée to take the brunt of it. And bear the brunt, she did. Renée soon became adept at the usual excuses wielded by victims of abuse, “I’m clumsy,” “I fell down,” “He only hits me when he’s drunk,” but she never once fell victim to the fallacy that she deserved it. Oh no, Renée was too smart for that.
Renée moved out when she was seventeen – sexual abuse had recently been added to the litany of other grievances she had to bear, and she wasted no time in leaving. Renée survived by working two jobs as a waitress – quickly graduating to bartending – and she took writing classes at the local junior college. From time to time she would hear about her father – who was now being arrested regularly for disorderly behavior and DUI – but she tried very hard to not care. Sometimes, she even believed it.
Under the mentorship of a professor at her college, Renée began to realize that perhaps she had options other than slinging booze. She could write – and quite well, at that. She started on the college paper, and soon moved on to the town paper – a twice-weekly chicken-dinner journal, but ‘serious’ press nonetheless – accompanied with occasional short fiction pieces to independent horror magazines. What the editors of those magazines didn’t need to know was that, all too often, her stories derived from her own horrific experience…
Renée finished at the junior college, and applied for scholarships to larger schools. She managed to obtain a partial scholarship to NYU, from whence she acquired a BA in writing, and her first gigs for more serious magazines reporting on NYC life and culture. Renée covered a variety of beats, but she particularly enjoyed nightlife, pop-culture and the restaurant circuit.
Shortly after graduating college, Renée’s father died. His chronic alcoholism finally proved too much. The news of his death prompted Renée to seek therapy in an attempt to reconcile herself to her terrible past. Psychotherapy had some positive effect, but not much – Renée had left matters too long. She discovered that killing people was much more satisfying.
In 1986, just as Renée’s reputation was taking off in New York – she was being recognized as an accurate judge of the newest nightspots and eateries – she suddenly decided to take an offer from a publisher in Chicago, and she moved there. The fact that she had killed three men and buried them in various spots in Long Island prompted this move – Renée was smart enough to know that mobility would be a key to her survival.
From 1986 to 1989, Renée enjoyed Chicago. She managed to
continue improving her reputation and only felt the urge to kill twice.
However, Renée was badly scared by the pressure building up in her mind after
the second kill, and she abruptly left Chicago for Seattle. She put a freelance
spin on her career, and hoped that if she moved around quickly enough, maybe
she could leave the urge to kill people behind her. Of course, she only felt
guilty long after the deed…
Something in the Washington air seemed to agree with Renée and she enjoyed Seattle quite a bit for nearly two years. Then, as it always does, the pressure built and she went out to the usual haunts looking for a victim. Unfortunately the man she lured home – David Kurtz – turned out to be quite immune to a blackjack across the head. In the aftermath, David alternately compelled and cajoled Renée’s story from her, and found it rather enchanting in its way. He decided to make her “safe” from her father forever.
Of course, things didn’t really turn out that way… And her Sire’s resemblance to her father caused all sorts of issues that I will get into some other time.
In the intervening years, Renée has kept moving – rarely staying anywhere for more than a year. Either the bodies pile up too quickly, or the pressure in Renée’s skull convinces her to run away – although the killing no longer frightens her as it did (she’s on her way to becoming a full blown sociopath), she is well aware of the risks of remaining in one place for too long. She has a few controlling mechanisms to cope with her urge to kill, but they are sporadic and dangerous in themselves. More on those in a moment.
Renée arrived in the Bay Area recently, looking forward to reveling in the culture hereabouts – lots of material for her to write and sell. But, of course, the old urges are inescapable.
The Skinny – Renée’s Victims and Modus Operandi
Renée is a serial killer of the “methodical” type. She will peruse many locations looking for a victim, and carefully evaluate her prey before pouncing.
Her victims are always blue-collar/lower-mid class men, 35 – 45 years old, with short dark brown hair (often thinning on top), brown eyes and heavy drinkers. Renée usually goes slumming in lower-end bars for men matching this description. However, she has found victims in other ways too – trolling auto-shops, driving around and keeping an eye on night-time labor crews on the freeway, even the street population.
Once she has picked a potential victim, she will observe him carefully (now with the help of Obfuscate) for several days, determining his habits and routines. She prefers single men, but has killed two married men in the past. Single men are easier for her to lure to her residence – which is always a detached house leased in some semi-rural part of the area, even if that means a significant amount of driving for her work.
The abducted victim – usually lured and then knocked out via the careful application of a blunt instrument – finds himself tied to a chair in Renée’s basement. When Renée was living in NYC, it was a large walk-in closet, and very cozy…
Renée will ask her victims many questions – hurting them severely if they don’t answer – about their lives: who they are, what kind of family they have, their childhood, their jobs, etc. This can last for just a few hours, or up to three days. Renée remembers all these details for later. These conversations will begin in an almost friendly manner, but as time passes, Renée will become more agitated and less satisfied with anything her victim says – particularly pleas for mercy. Renée will berate her victim, shouting that she knows what he’s really like – as the lines between present and past begin to blur for her – and that he has to pay for what he did.
Finally, when Renée can resist no longer, she will thrash her victim almost senseless (preferred instruments: wire coat hanger, hairbrush, phone book – all echoes from her own past) and then drown her victim in a plastic tub of water. Years ago, Daddy wasn’t too happy about how Renée did the dishes once…
If Renée is hungry, she will take vitae from her victims before killing them.
That done, and the body rapidly cooling on the floor. Renée will begin writing her latest journal. These journals are always written first-person perspective, from the point of view of her victim. She will recount their biography, all the way until the moment of death, emphasizing how they (the victim) believe they deserved their punishment, for being such a bad man. Renée’s handwriting and language often regresses during this time, and sometimes her ‘character voice’ slips into that of herself as a young child, but she is unaware of that.
Once the journal is completed – and this might take another two nights to do – then the body is disposed of. Lately Renée has become leery of burying bodies in the countryside – too risky for a vampire – so she has been employing a variety of methods. At the moment, she likes the idea of living near the coast. Being reasonably well off, she can lease a motorboat (night-fishing, you know…) and drop weighted chunks of her victim into the briney several miles away from shore.
No souvenirs from the murders are kept except the journals. Any implements used to beat the victims are burned or destroyed.
When the pressure starts building, Renée will do her best to resist it. However, this causes stress and a sensation of being out of control that she has to deal with. She will often indulge in self-mutilation, often cutting open old scars from her childhood whilst unconsciously muttering some of her father’s favorite stock phrases. Occasionally she will hallucinate – seeing her dead father, which is a bad thing (frenzy!). She’ll also lapse into her old habits of animal cruelty – luring some neighborhood pet into her reach and doing terrible things - please don’t ask me to describe ‘em, Johanna is very squeamish! She will also become increasingly withdrawn and irritable during this time. Depending upon a variety of factors – the availability of a victim, Renée’s own sense of security – either the urge will eventually recede over the next few weeks, or it will culminate and Renée will seek another victim.
And, ever since that little incident that led to her Embrace, Renée is very sure to stalk only humans.
So, Uh, What Is She Like At Court?
Providing she’s not cycling up for a kill – at this point, she gets badly off about four times a year, or whenever the ST wills is – Renee is an intelligent, friendly and charming person. She’s very interested in the Bay Area and will happily dish nightclubs, food or fashion with anyone who shows an interest. Quite often, she is mistaken for a Toreador. When her true clan is revealed – people wait for the other shoe to drop, but it doesn’t… Snoopy questions along the lines of “So, how are you crazy?” are icily rebuffed with a comment about that sort of thing being a very private part of her nature. God help anyone who tries to push it…
Renee has her blind spots. She doesn’t date. She’s not interested in dating. If a person asks her out on a date, she’ll most likely totally misunderstand the request. She “gets” dating, but she also gets that it’s not for her. Under the tutelage of her shrink, she tried to get back into that aspect of society, but she wasn’t able to cope. She’s also just a bit of a control freak. A lot, actually. It’s not that she wants power, but she wants to be in control of every aspect of her own life. Unexpected events are not appreciated. Her house is extremely neat, and even her prose style has a certain briskness to it – rather akin to Ian Fleming’s old features for the Telegraph, appealing, but not mealy-mouthed.