Niles watched Williams watching him. The vampire’s brilliant blue gaze narrowed as he wondered what vile trick the hulking police officer was up to now. Because Williams had a shimmer in his gray eyes that spoke of mischief.
Niles glanced at the evidence packet he held in his slender fingers but saw nothing unusual about it. It contained two bullets retrieved from the robbery of a mini-market in Baltimore. He and his partner Mariella Cruz had been assigned to the case, one of those boring chores that brought little satisfaction to the pair of police detectives. Because the attendant at the market knew the man who’d robbed him. Security cameras caught the guy in di flagrenti. The bullets would no doubt be traced to the man’s gun which had probably been stolen. The two detectives would then canvas the neighborhood, find the man’s mama who would turn her son in, and a wasted trip to a court room to testify might result. Yada, yada, yada.
His eyes still fixed on Williams, who still watched him as if expecting his co-worker to suddenly go native and bite someone, Niles licked the packet closed, initialled and dated it.
“Need me to take that to the evidence room?” Williams offered. He schooled his face to look innocent, but Niles sensed an underlying tension.
What was he up to now?
Rising to his full six feet four, Niles shook his head. “I can make it downstairs, Jonas. But thank you for the offer.”
Williams shrugged his huge shoulders. He continued to watch as the vampire stepped around his desk and threaded through the office. Niles could feel those eyes burning into him every step he took.
When he reached the door, Niles turned only to find Williams still watching his every move. The vampire sensed Williams’ growing annoyance.
“Is there something I can do for you?” he asked pointedly.
Williams started. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he shrugged again. “Nope. Nothing.”
Niles silently watched as the police officer gave him one last, disappointed look before giving up whatever he was after and heading for the coffee maker.
Annoyed, Niles continued on his errand. When he returned to the elevators, he found his partner waiting for him.
“Got a lead on that burglary in Fells Point.” Cruz waved a piece of paper then grabbed the vampire’s arm and pulled him behind her as she sailed for the outside. Typical whirlwind Cruz.
As he folded his long, lanky form into Cruz’s tiny powder blue Fiat, he caught sight of Williams emerging from the precinct, his little chubby partner Cooksey at his side. The giant officer stopped and watched Niles insert first one leg, than the other and finally his torso into the little car. The stare was more intense than the mere amusement Williams normally got from watching Niles install himself in Fifi. His gray eyes seemed to shine in the semi-darkness of the parking lot.
“What’s with Williams?” he demanded, buckling up because any ride with Cruz was an experience in Formula One racing.
The perky little Latina glanced at Williams then shrugged. “Dunno. You two at each other again?”
“Apparently.” Niles wondered what he’d done now.
He was forced to stop wondering because Cruz hit the gas and tore from the lot with squealing tires. A wild ride took them into the Fells Point neighborhood with its rich night life and vibrant restaurant scene. They visited Register Street to speak to the man whose house had been broken into and show him a photo of their suspect. The victim didn’t recognize the perpetrator. That led to a second trip out to Mondawmin where Cruz thought their perp might be hiding. At midnight, they responded to a call of shots fired in Middle East where Niles’ exquisite night vision was put to use finding shell casings.
By five am, the pair was hungry and in search of breakfast. They ended up in Canton at Niles’ favorite all night eatery, the Sip and Bite.
Niles was just finishing up his extra rare steak when his eyes narrowed. Into the diner strode Officer Williams, little Cooksey at his heels.
“Surprise! Surprise!” Williams exclaimed when he saw the two detectives sitting at the counter. He plopped onto a stool beside them. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Fancy that,” Niles murmured.
Cruz viewed the two officers askance. “Somehow this doesn’t feel like a coincidence.”
Williams tried to look innocent. Cooksey just looked lost.
“What do you want?” Niles demanded. “You’ve been on me like a tick on a dog’s tail all night.”
Williams’ gray eyes studied the vampire with more than the usual interest. “Are you feeling all right?”
Niles huffed and turned his attention back to his steak. “I’m fine. Why do you ask?”
“Not sick?” Williams probed.
“I’m a vampire,” Niles grumbled. “We don’t get sick.”
“Huh!” Williams’ face fell.
“Sorry to disappoint you!” Niles retorted.
Cruz’s gaze flashed between the two men. “What’s going on with you two? Williams, out with it!”
The giant man sagged, disappointment visible in every sinew. “Ah, hell! I was hoping to have some fun.”
“In what way?” Niles felt his hackles rising.
Williams looked between the two detectives as if hopeful of seeing something. When it didn’t come, he surrendered. “I tried to pull a prank on you, Ghoul. But apparently it didn’t work.”
Niles’ blue eyes flashed. “What sort of prank?”
“Ya know that evidence kit you handled at start of shift?” When Niles nodded, Williams plowed on. “I tampered with it. Stuck a tab of LSD to the flap so when you licked it… bam!”
Cruz gasped. “You slipped Niles LSD?” She punched Williams. “What the hell were you thinking?”
Williams shrugged, looking sheepish. “I wondered how a vampire would react to the stuff. That’s all. Hey!” He lifted his hands. “No harm was done. The Ghoul never even felt it.”
Cruz whirled on Niles. “Are you okay?”
Niles shrugged. “I guess. I don’t feel any different.”
“See?” Williams insisted. “No harm done.”
Cruz punched him a second time. “Lucky for you. You might have killed him.”
Niles didn’t know what to think. Furious, he shoved his empty plate away and turned to Cruz. “Do you mind heading back alone?”
Cruz blinked. Sliding from her stool, she asked, “Ok. Where are you going?”
“Home. I think I could use some fresh air. I’ll walk back.”
Cruz gave him the hairy eye then shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
“Aren’t you worried you’ll get mugged?” Cooksey asked as Niles swept past him heading for the door.
Niles grunted. “I’m a vampire. Who’s going to attack me?”
He didn’t wait to hear whatever obnoxious response Williams came up with. He plunged into the night.
The walk didn’t take long. Niles lived in an apartment with a view of the Inner Harbor. His long legs made short work of the trip from Canton and he arrived at his building just as the sun painted the sky pale pink.
Letting himself into his apartment, he noted the lights were on which was odd because he didn’t really need lights. Then he saw his cat Lenny lounging on the sofa. The ginger colored alley cat lolled with his back against the cushions like a human and his eyes fixed on the door. A brown fedora was perched on his head as he puffed from a long, thin cigarette holder. He was dressed nattily in a white shirt, satin vest and Jerry Garcia silk tie that Niles knew was his own. The cat’s back foot, wearing highly polished wingtip shoes, tapped impatiently.
“About time you got home,” the cat sniffed.
Niles stood frozen, willing his mind to understand how his tattered little cat had morphed into a gangster and learned to speak English all in a single night. He stared blankly.
“Cat got your tongue?” Lenny demanded. “I’m hungry! Where’s my fancy feast?”
© 2018 Newmin
Niles Comments: Fortunately, my brief spell under the LSD only lasted a day, in case you’re worried. I’m fine. But I haven’t forgiven Williams. Warn him to watch his back!
When in Baltimore, check out my favorite watering hole, the aptly named Sip and Bite. Just the right place for a vampire to hang out. Stop by for a bite of your own. If you keep your eyes peeled, you might just meet me there.
© 2018 Newmin