Gule Takes a Trip

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


Gule Leaps Over the Moon

A vampire couldn’t ask for a prettier night be abroad in the Maryland countryside.  A full moon rode white in the sky, painting the world in shades of silver.  The shadows of trees still bare of leaves gave the earth a crackled appearance, black lace cast upon the fields.

Niles Gule drew a deep breath of pleasure before turning his attention to his horse.  Why anyone had named the raw boned, vile tempered beast Marvel remained a mystery to his current owner.  The roan gelding was downright ugly with an attitude no better.  To prove he deserved his reputation, he tried to nip Niles on the arm as the vampire tightened the saddle girth.

A swat with a taloned hand on the soft nose fended off the attack.  Marvel pinned his ears and bared his teeth threateningly.

“Don’t try to intimidate me,” Niles replied.  “I’m a vampire.”

Marvel curled his lips back.  Niles did as well, his two ever growing fangs flashing white in the moonlight.  Marvel tossed his head as if to grudgingly concede.

“This is going to be so much fun!” Mariella Cruz said as she led her horse out of the barn.  She drew a deep breath and gazed up at the stars.  “Whoever thought of moonlit trail rides?”

“Genghis Khan?” Niles offered.  He finished readying Marvel then temporarily tethered the horse to the nearby fence.

Cruz flashed her tongue at her partner then pretended to coyly offer her bent leg and foot.

Niles lifted a brow.  “Need a leg up, do you?”

The pretty Latina twitched her lips.  “I’m only five-feet-four, Gule.  This horse is like ten feet tall.”

“He’s fifteen hands,” the vampire replied.  “A pony really.”  Ignoring Cruz’s scowl, he grasped her leg and tossed her easily into the saddle.

Cruz wriggled her luscious little butt to find a comfortable position, forcing Niles to swallow the surge of lust he felt at the sight.  Her dark eyes sparkled in the moonlight.  “For once I get to look down on you!”

“Enjoy it while it lasts,” Niles murmured.

Rather than mount, he remained on the ground as more people led their horses from the barn.  He and Cruz were at the Fair Hills Equestrian Facility in northern Maryland which was where Niles boarded Marvel.  When he’d learned that on some nights with a full moon, guides offered moonlit trail rides, he’d suggested the outing to his partner as something fun to do.  Cruz had taken him up on the offer, commenting it would be like her childhood when she’d taken riding lessons.  Fortunately,  being able to ride wasn’t a requirement at the facility.  The rental horses were calm, good-natured creatures who tended to simply follow the leader.  No guidance from their riders was required.

A good thing, Niles thought, as he studied the group of thirty horses and riders preparing for the event.  He suspected that other than the tour leader, he and Cruz were the only two people who actually knew how to ride.

A smallish woman with short dark hair fretted with her horse.  “I’m not so sure this is a good idea,” she muttered.

Niles considered her mount.  The aging palomino was interested in nothing but the new spring grass springing up from all the recent rain.  It chomped placidly, ignoring its rider and her occasional tug on its reins.

“I’ll never get on it,” she said, and Niles almost laughed.

She was probably around five feet herself while the palomino, unlike Cruz’s bay Morgan, topped out at nearly sixteen hands.

“May I assist you?” Niles asked, ever the gentleman.  He proffered his hand.  “Niles Gule.”

The woman shook it.  “Karen McDougall.”  The chilliness of his hand made her rub her fingers together in puzzlement.  “I’ve never ridden before.”

Niles leaned down and offered his cupped hands for her.  “It’s like riding a bicycle.  Easy.”

As Karen set her foot in the vampire’s hands, she said, “Yeah, but bicycles don’t move unless you tell them too.”

With an easy lift, Niles hefted her onto the palomino’s back.  Her face washing white from nervousness, Karen grabbed the reins and a bit of mane.

“Steady there, Seabiscuit,” she murmured to the horse even though it hadn’t moved.

Untying Marvel, Niles agilely spun the roan around and swung into the saddle.  Marvel snorted and stomped his feet.  He was ready to roll.

The lead rider set off at an amble to allow everyone to acclimate to their mounts.  One by one, horses and riders fell into line behind him, the horses knowing what was expected of them.  Except for the palomino.  He continued to crop the grass, disinterested in a midnight stroll.  Poor Karen tried to kick him with her heels but the horse ignored her.  She tugged on the reins ineffectually.  She wasn’t strong enough to haul his head up.

She gestured at Niles, who after telling Cruz to stay with the group, remained waiting for Karen’s palomino get with the program.  “You go on.  I’ll just commune with nature right here.”

Smiling, Niles nudged Marvel towards her.  “Give a hard pull on the reins.  Get his head up.”

Karen scowled and tugged again.  “I’ve tried that.  My horse is defective.  I think someone jammed the parking brake.”

Coming alongside, Niles bent down to grasp the horse’s bridle.  One strong pull from the vampire jerked the palomino’s head up.  The horse glared at Niles.  Marvel glared at the palomino.  Too late, Niles realized his mistake.  Marvel bared his teeth and with a lunge plunged them into the palomino’s fat rump.

With a squeal, the palomino bolted.  But it didn’t follow the group heading into the fields.  Instead, it saw the open barn door and headed for it, Karen hanging on for dear life and yelling for the horse to stop.

Cursing, Niles put his heels to Marvel and charged after her.  He caught her just before she crashed into the barn.  In a move out of an old Western, he reached down and grasped the palomino’s bridle, then hauled back on Marvel.  Marvel slammed on the brakes.  The palomino crashed into Marvel, popping Karen into the air.  Niles caught her in midflight but the impact threw him from his saddle.  He tumbled and landed flat on his back, Karen still held safely in his arms.

The landing was surprisingly soft, for which he was briefly thankful.  Karen let out her breath with a rush and collapsed against him.

“Thank you,” she said, winded.  “I thought I was a goner.”

“I thought we both were,” Niles laughed.

Then it hit him.  The smell.  They’d landed in the manure pile alongside the barn.

With a muffled curse, Niles staggered to his feet, being careful to keep Karen out of the muck, then surveyed the damage.  His exquisite English riding breeches were plastered from his ass to his knees.  He could feel the ooze seeping through to his skin.  Ever immaculate, Niles shuddered.

“Oh wow!” Karen said.  “I’m so sorry!”

Niles brushed her concern aside.  “Don’t be.  It wasn’t your fault.”

He shot an evil glare at Marvel who now stood nearby looking innocent.

“You did that on purpose,” the vampire growled.

Marvel bared his teeth at Niles.

The horse had gotten the last laugh.


© 2018 Newmin

Gule Has Aspirations

“You gonna eat that breadstick?” Police detective Mariella Cruz eyed the offending bit of processed vegetable matter threatening to tumble from Niles Gule’s plate.

The vampire, a supreme carnivore, gazed at the breakstick in revulsion.  Not only was it made of vegetables, but it had been doused in garlic butter.  He was surprised he could share the same table with it.

He flicked a disaparging white talon.  “No.”

With a chortle, Cruz pounced.

Niles’ blue gaze caressed his partner’s curvaceous form, so Latina in every luscious way.  “How do you stay so trim the way you eat?”

Cruz’s secretive smile would have made a vampire proud.  “Wouldn’t you like to know?”  Her grin disappeared behind the breakstick as she munched on it.

“I would,” Niles asserted, earning himself the view of her heavenly lips parting in surprise.  “Between the crap you eat when we go to dinner and all the chocolate Duchamps bestows upon you, I’m surprised you aren’t a candidate for My 600 Lb Life.”

His partner gave him an arch look.  “Gule!” she purred.  “You sound jealous.”

Niles snorted and returned his attention to his plate oozing with bloody goodness, a porterhouse steak so rare it qualified as tartar.  He’d just savored the last rich, flavorful bite when his cellphone vibrated.

His hand flipped the phone over to see a text message had arrived.

“Tsk tsk!” Cruz murmured.  “No electronic gadgets while we’re eating.”

Niles’ face froze when he read the name of the text’s sender.  Although he possessed a vampire’s pallid complexion, he could still blanch, earning himself a concerned look from his partner.


Niles thumbed open the text.  His heart sank as he read it.

Clicking it closed, he tossed his napkin onto the table and fumbled for his wallet.  As he dropped ample cash to cover the tab, he rose.

“I’ve got to deal with this,” he murmured, distracted.

Cruz was immediately on her feet.  “What is it?  Vampires don’t go white very often.”

Niles considered brushing her off then recalculated.  She could help.

“A friend’s in trouble,” he said, handing Cruz her coat.

He didn’t need to ask.  Cruz was at his side, ready to roll.

Together they hurried to Cruz’s powder blue Fiat.  As always, Niles needed to fold his long, lanky form to fit into it.  His blond locks brushed the roof while his knees scraped the dash, but he made it in.  Then Cruz was tearing out of the parking lot, full bore, because Cruz never drove at less than the speed of light.

“Where to?” she asked.

Niles considered the text message.  He prayed it spoke the truth.

“Boston St.”

Cruz did a U turn, almost throwing Niles out the window.  Tires squealed.  Horns blew.  The vampire squeezed his eyes shut at the sight of oncoming headlights, then Cruz had them whizzing towards the harbor.

Never taking her eyes off the road as she wove through traffic, sometimes using the wrong side of the street, Cruz asked, “What’s going on?”

Niles shook his head.  “I’m not sure.  We’ll see if she’s there.”

“Who? Where are we going?”

“The Sip and Bite.”

Cruz knew the name.  The restaurant was a Baltimore fixture, having opened in 1948.  It offered great diner food twenty-four hours a day in the Canton neighbor not far from the harbor.  That night its red neon sign was, like always, aglow in the darkness.  After confirming with Niles she could park out front, Cruz slid into a pace near the stretch of glass windows on Van Lill Street.  The brightly lit watering hole looked quiet.  The only patron visivle was an elderly gentleman who sat near the window nursing a cup of coffee.

Niles crawled from the Fiat.  His brilliant blue eyes studied the restaurant worriedly, half concerned he’d find his friend inside, half concerned he wouldn’t.

With Cruz following, he headed into the restaurant.  The place was small, just a line of booths along the window and the kitchen open behind a long, stainless steel counter.  The cook staff was cleaning and looking bored.  Eyes glanced at the vampire, blinked at his towering height, then turned back to business.

At the far back of the diner, tucked into a booth beneath a flat screen TV showing sports highlights, crowded a woman and three children ranging in ages from three to ten years old.

Niles’ heart flipped with relief.

With a nod, he indicated to Cruz the family was his target.  She nodded but said nothing.  She would follow his lead.

As he strode to the table, the woman flinched, and Cruz flinched in sympathy.  Because her face was a mass of purpling bruises and cuts.  Her left eye was swollen shut and her lip was split.  Her hands trembled as they clutched a glass of water.

Slowing, Niles softened his worried expression and offered a smile.  His heart winced seeing her beaten face and the cowering of the frightened children.

“Hi, Charlotte.  I got your text.”

She nodded, her eyes not quiet focusing.

Niles greeted each of the children in his formal way.  They’d been crying and wore tired, terrified expressions, but none had been injured.  They stared at the vampire with wide eyes, not knowing what to think about their parents’ horrible fight and the escape in the middle of the night.  All of them were still wearing their bunny sleepers and grasped plush stuffed animals to their chests.

“This is my partner, Cruz,” he explained to Charlotte.

Charlotte nodded again.

“It was time you left him,” Niles said gently.  His talon tenderly touched her cheek.  “This cannot continue.”

“I know,” Charlotte whispered.

“For the sake of your children if not for you,” Niles added.

He gave the youngsters his most brilliant smile and threw a little vampiric charm in with it.  That brightened the face of the girl who stared in rapt wonder.  Her little mouth dropped open.

“I’m so scared!” Charlotte admitted, her body quaking.  Her eyes darted to the windows. “He’s going to kill me! I was scared to even come here.  He might have followed us.”

Niles shot a look at the windows.  He wanted to say he hoped the bastard did come so a vampire could show a male human what it felt like to have the crap beaten out of him by someone bigger and stronger.  But that wasn’t what Charlotte needed.  “We’ll move you right now.”  He withdrew his cellphone and started thumbing numbers.  “I warned the folks at the House of Ruth about your situation.  They have room for you.”

While Niles made arrangements with the shelter,  Cruz, sensing the need to get the family out of the neighborhood, coaxed the children from the table and shepherded them to the car.  Meanwhile, Niles aided Charlotte to stand, and with the quivering woman leaning heavily on him, led her from the restaurant.  Getting a Latina, a vampire, a battered woman and three small children into the Fiat was like loading a clown car, but they managed.  Niles held the middle child on his lap, while Charlotte held the youngest in the back seat.  Cruz then drove slowly for the first time in her life to the House of Ruth.

The sun was peaking over the horizon when Niles and Cruz started back towards the precinct to make their report.  Charlotte and her family were safe at least for the moment.

“So tell me about Charlotte,” Cruz said.

Niles shrugged.  “I knew her in another life.”

“And yet she texted you when she needed help.”

Niles’ lips twitched.  “She trusted me.”  He glanced at his phone which he held in his hand.  “Thank God for Aspire.”

Cruz frowned.  “Aspire?”

“It’s the app she used.”  Niles shoved the phone in his pocket.  At Cruz’s quizzical look, he said, “It’s an app that a battered woman can use to call for help with the tap of a finger.  I made Charlotte set it up.  We agreed if it got too bad, I’d meet her at the Sip and Bite to get her away from her husband.  The app sent the text.”

Cruz made a humpf.  “Never heard of it.”

“Now you know.”

Niles stared out at the city passing by in the pink twilight.  His heart hurt and yet was filled with hope.

“Tonight was the night,” he murmured.  “She finally used the app.”


© 2018 Newmin



Niles comments:  Voted as one of the two “best apps for domestic violence prevention”, the Aspire News App is a potentially life-saving app that allows victims of abuse to call for help at the touch of a button. The app contains summaries of top stories in world, sports, and entertainment so that on the surface it appears to be nothing more than a typical news app.  However, behind the scenes, the user can load predetermined texts that when the app is tapped correctly, the texts are sent automatically and invisibly.  It is available for download on iPhone and Android smartphone devices.

I hope none of you needs to use such an app, but maybe you do.  Or maybe you know someone who’s in a violent relationship and should know about it.   To learn more, visit

I also highly recommend visiting the Sip and Bite.  Great food.  Good prices.  Open all night long for all you vampires out there.  I often catch a “bite” to eat there.  Love it!  Yum!


Gule Has Had Enough

“Don’t even think about it!” Baltimore Police Detective Mariella Cruz warned.  Her voice had the steel of a Toledo sword and an edge that could cut.

Although she was a tiny thing, barely over five feet tall, she faced down the hulking Officer Jonas Williams like a Chihuahua taking on a Great Dane.  And winning.

Williams scowled at the Latina gnat standing in his way then relented, removing his hand from the butt of his service pistol.

“Ah, hell!” he muttered.  “I wouldn’t have shot anyone.  Just scared them a little.”

Infuriated, Cruz tromped on the big man’s toe ineffectually and stared daggers at him.  “It’s not funny.”  Pointing a quivering finger at the stream of high school students marching past, she added, “It’s life and death to them.”

Williams rolled his eyes.  “Damned, prissy, over-privileged white kids.”

Cruz lost it.  She slugged Williams in the gut.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t particularly strong while Williams was built like an ox.  He gave a slight oof then grinned at his antagonist.

“Gule!” Cruz gestured.  “Please do the honors.”

Niles Gule, Cruz’s partner on the Baltimore PD and resident vampire, gave both his companions a baleful look from his brilliant blue eyes.  With a fluid motion of his white taloned hands, he bade both of them to go away.

“I’m not assaulting a fellow police officer,” he said.  Giving Williams a hard look, he added, “even this one.”

His words, to his unending annoyance, placed a smirk on Williams’ heavy face.

Cruz huffed and scowled at her partner, a man as tall, blond, and lithe as she was short, dark and voluptious.  Her black ponytail swinging fiercely, she turned her back on both her fellow officers as if to separate herself from them.

From his towering height, Niles received a good view of the march.  The event had caught everyone off guard.  A handful of students, protesting the latest mass shooting at a Florida high school, which had left seventeen people dead, had left school without permission to walk to DC.  Those handful had quickly grown into a hundred or more, chanting, singing, and holding signs that said “How Many More” and “We’ll Not Be Next.”

No one had tried to stop them.  Instead, the police had cordoned off a portion of Colesville Road to keep the kids from being hit by traffic.  Niles, Cruz and Williams happened to be returning from the DC area after dropping off evidence in a smuggling case only to be caught up in the moment.  Cruz had pulled over so that they could watch the scene unfold.  Now the three officers stood by the side of the road watching what might be history unfolding before their eyes.

“Reminds me of the sixties,” Niles commented as he stood squinting from behind wrap around sunglasses to protect his sensitive eyes from the weak winter sun.

“Protestors were a pain in the ass then, too!” Williams grunted.

Niles gave the officer a hard look which Williams refused to acknowledge.

“I wasn’t born yet,” Cruz said wistfully.

Her words startled the one-hundred-fifty-eight year old vampire.  He kept forgetting what a tiny baby the woman actually was.

“Let’s hit the road,” Williams complained.  “I don’t care that a bunch of stuck up suburban kids have their noses out of joint over something that happened in another state.”  He pointed at a sign demanding a ban on automatic weapons.  “It ain’t gonna happen, kid!” he yelled.

Cruz whacked him with the back of her hand.  “Stop it!  I think what they’re doing is wonderful.”

“Marching against gun ownership?” Williams protested.  “A man’s got a God given right to own a gun.  Says so in the US Constitution.”

“It says a well-armed Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” Niles quoted.  “It doesn’t say anything about what type of gun.”

Williams sneered at the vampire.  “It says I got a constitutional right to my gun.  You want to take that right from me, you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”

Niles shrugged.  “Someday, someone might, Jonas.”

Cruz stomped her foot.  “The Founding Fathers could not have imagined a mentally ill person taking an AR-15 into a school and killing children.”

“Arm the teachers,” Williams retorted.

“Oh, sure!  Let’s just have the shootout at the OK Corral in the locker area!” Cruz exclaimed.

“Better that than leaving the American people at the mercy of an attacking army.”  Williams scowled.  “We have the right to protect our homes and families from intruders.  If the government ever comes to my door demanding I give up my guns, it’ll be war.”

Folding his arms as he watched the battle, Niles lifted a brow.  “You against the US military?”

Williams nodded forcefully.

Behind his glasses, Niles flicked a glance at the sky.  “I can’t wait to watch one Jonas Williams take on the US drone fleet, a couple of F-16s, and maybe even an ICBM or two with his trusty Luger 9mm.”

“Ah, shut up, Ghoul!”

Niles spread his hands.  “I’m being serious, Jonas.  Your argument is specious.  The idea that anyone with infantry style weaponry could hold onto ownership of his backyard barbeque let alone win a war against the US military is delusional.”

Cruz thumped her finger at Niles.  “Like he said.”

The vampire had earned himself a gaping stare from Williams.  “Are you saying you’re for Americans giving up their guns?”

Niles scowled.  “Certainly not!  I like to hunt, Jonas.  I own a couple of rifles.  But they’re single shot and I’m not inclined to kill a human with them.”  He brandished his silver vampire hunting knife.  “In case you haven’t noticed,  I don’t even carry a sidearm.  This is my weapon of choice.  I’d have a hard time killing a pack of school kids with it.”

Williams tried to intimidate the vampire by puffing out his barrel chest and pushing his face into Niles’.  He was one of the few people Niles knew who was tall enough to do it.  He clenched his fist and planted it in front of Niles’ nose.

“I’ve got a right to carry a gun, Ghoul.  I’ll be damned if you or a bunch of snot nosed suburbanites will take it from me.  You push me too far and I’ll shoot you.”

With a taloned finger, Niles nudged the fist aside.  “You do what you have to do, Jonas,” he said softly.  “Just as I’ll do what I have to do.”

Cruz drew her breath, having never heard her partner threaten another person before.

“Whatcha gonna do?” Williams goaded.  He continued to thrust his face into Niles’.  “Huh?  Whatcha gonna do, big man with the little knife.”

Refusing to be provoked, Niles took a step back.  He wouldn’t give Jonas the satisfaction of ruffling his feathers.  Instead, he glanced at the stream of high schoolers still marching past.  Full of misguided good intentions they might be, but they had conviction and were determined to make a change in this world.  The world that would very soon be theirs.

With a gesture of farewell, he fell into step beside them.

“I think I’m in the mood to walk,” he said over his shoulder.  “It’s time someone my age helped change the world.”


© 2018 Newmin


Niles comments:  I’m saddened to say that the horrible mass murder of school children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida hasn’t stunned me as it should.  Indeed, my first reaction was, “well, here we go again… sigh.”  I, like probably much of our country, am becoming inured to these events, which is a scary thought in itself.  How many more have to die before we take action?  I’m a gun owner, but even I can’t condone the widespread ownership of military style weaponry.  And when are we as a nation going to stop turning our backs on the mentally ill?  We wouldn’t leave a person with cancer to die without care and yet every day we blame the mentally ill for their illness.  Seriously, people.  Enough is enough.

Gule Faces His Worst Fear

Okay, Gule, you can do this.

The vampire drew a breath and willed himself to keep walking.  When his feet slowed, he uncharacteristically stumbled.  He cursed.

It’s for a great cause.

Determined to complete the mission he’d set for himself, Niles Gule marched on towards an unassuming residential building in a mundane, carefully manicured suburb of Baltimore.  Cars whisked by along Wilkens Avenue, their headlights stabbing the vampire’s delicate vision and forcing him to keep his gaze on the sidewalk.  All was quiet and serene.  The neighborhood was a safe one lined with single and twin homes on one side of the street and a medical complex on the other.  No reason for a vampire to be afraid.  And yet Niles was terrified.  Completely and utterly terrified.  Still, he kept walking.

A few more steps took him up the walkway that led to a shop inside an unassuming gray and white house.  He shuddered as he passed the neat sign proclaiming Rheb’s Candy Company, in business since 1917.  It was, he thought wryly, almost as old as he was.

Pulling the door open, Niles stepped inside then froze, petrified. The rich, luscious, evil smell of warm chocolate bathed his quivering nose.  He immediately began to salivate as he inhaled that incredible aroma.  To a vampire it was more intoxicating than the smell of blood.  Impossible.  And yet, once Niles had tasted that confection of perfection, he was hooked.  A chocolate junkie.  He craved it like he craved blood.  Like an addict craved drugs.

He walked straight into it’s den.

Rheb’s Candy Company made specialty chocolates in a vast assortment.  Truffles.  Creams.  With nuts and without.  Dark chocolate, milk chocolate or mixed.  Made on the premises in the same house where the founders Louis and Esther Rheb first started creating their own recipes in the basement.  A long, red counter displayed a bewildering number of candies, nearly all in chocolate.  Pretty boxes, ribbons and stuffed toys decorated the walls, offering buyers the chance to add some bling to their gift purchases.

Niles drew his breath and demanded his quaking bones obey his will.  He marched to the counter.

The lady gave him a smile that faded when she saw his stark white face and brilliant blue eyes glittering too brightly.

“May I help you?” she asked.  She sounded worried.

Wordlessly, Niles nodded.  His hands were clenched in his pockets, his talons digging deep into his palms.  He planted his fangs into his tongue to keep from salivating all over the store.

The woman gestured towards the chocolates.  “Is there something in particular you’d like?”

Again, Niles nodded.

The lady waited, looking more concerned.

Niles knew he couldn’t stand there frozen all night.  He gulped, sucked in a great gasp of air and blurted.  “I’d like to build a tower of chocolates.  Four boxes.  And I want to pick each piece that goes in them.”  He pointed a shaking finger at a set of bright red, satin boxes.  “Those please.”

The woman continued to eye her tall blond customer strangely, but she selected a set of matching boxes and set them on the counter to fill them.  “What would you like to go in them?”

Niles proceeded to torment himself by selecting one individual piece at a time which he requested through clenched teeth.  A number of truffles, some caramels, and orange creams in the lowest box.  Cherry cordials, chocolate covered marshmellows and pretzels in the second.  An assortment of nut clusters for the third tier.  And chocolate hearts for the top.

While Niles stood like a frozen statue, the saleswoman weighed his order, stacked the boxes and tied them in a pyramid using red chiffon ribbon.

“Would you like a heart card to go with it?” she asked.

Once again, Niles nodded, unable to speak.

After the lady added the card and tallied his purchase, Niles threw more money at her than the chocolates cost, snatched the bag and fled the store.

He tumbled out onto the sidewalk, gasping for air as if he’d run a marathon.  Gathering himself together, he straightened, smoothed his hair and suit coat and glanced around, hoping no one was out walking that chilly February evening to see him acting like an idiot.  Then, holding the bag of chocolates as far as his long arm could extend, he headed for the bus stop.

On the bus, he shoved the luscious smelling bag under the seat in front of him and planted his feet against it to keep himself from lunging for those boxes himself.  Then he spent the ride back to center city counting anything he could think to count.  Most humans weren’t aware that vampires suffered from arithromania, or the obsessive need to count objects.  But the legend is true.  Count von Count of Sesame Street  was the first vampire to actually come forward and admit his disability.   Niles was fortunate that he was a dyslexic arithromaniac so he had developed numerous coping skills to avoid obsessive counting.   That night, however, to keep his mind off his purchase, he gave in to the compulsion to count.  The task kept him sane until he arrived at the precinct.

Striding to his desk, Niles noted the assortment of Valentine’s Day observances scattered around the room.  Jackson’s wife had given her husband a huge coffee mug painted with red hearts which the officer dutifully used to sip coffee for one night only.  The switchboard operator was cooing over a bouquet of flowers from her boyfriend.  And Officer Cooksey, cullinary sprite for the department, flitted around the room dropping off homemade heart-shaped confections of lemon and sugar to every single person on shift that night.  Including Niles.

As he settled into his seat, Niles made note of his partner, Mariella Cruz, fussing with her own Valentine’s gift, an enormous heart-shaped box of candy and a huge crystal vase of three dozen perfect red roses.  She inhaled deeply a scent that Niles considered cloying.

He gestured with a talon.  “Malcolm Deschamps came through, I see.”

Cruz shot him a smug smile.  Her hands fluttered around the roses.  “Indeed he did!  Not like any of you Neanderthals thought to do something nice for the ladies of the department.”  She gave Officer Williams a scathing glance.

Williams grunted, unperturbed.  “I’ve done my stint with women.  I’m on the wagon.”

Cooksey piped up, affronted.  “Hey!  I gave you a lemon tart!”

“Yes, you did.”  Cruz corrected her error by pecking the strange, chubby man on the cheek.

She gave Niles an arch look.

Without a word, Niles lifted his bag and placed it on her desk.  He then turned his attention to his computer and started typing.

With a cry of delight, Cruz dove into the bag and removed the tower of chocolates.

“Rheb’s!” she exclaimed.  She undid the ribbon and peered into each box.  She gasped as she tried to catch Niles’ gaze.  “These are all custom assortments.  Did you pick these out yourself?”

Keeping his eyes on his screen, Niles nodded.  “Every.  One.  Myself.  In person.”

Williams snorted.  “Nice try, Ghoul.  You’ve been outclassed by Dechamps.  Again.”

Niles kept typing.

Cruz held the smallest box to her heart as she gazed at Niles in wonder.  “You know how difficult it is for Niles to face chocolate.  He’s addicted it to.”

“Tell me about it!”  Williams moaned.  “I’m the guy who bailed him out of a New Jersey jail for running around naked the last time he indulged himself.”

Niles growled low in his throat but willed himself to say nothing.

Cruz punched Williams then scampered around the desk so she could plant a kiss on Niles’ cold cheek.

“I know what it meant for you to do that,” she whispered in his ear.

Still Niles typed.

She turned her scathing look at Williams.

“Sometimes,” she said, “There’s more to a gift than the object given.”

Williams made a rude gesture with his hands.

Sniffing, Cruz strutted around the big man and happily popped a cherry cordial in her mouth.

Niles kept typing.  But he couldn’t hold back his smile.

© 2018 Newmin


Niles Comments:  I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  In these difficult times so full of anger and violence, we could all use a little more love.    When in Baltimore, a visit to Rheb’s Candy Company is a must.  There’s a reason they’ve been in business for one hundred years.  For my more distant fans, they take internet orders!  Check it out.

Gule Tries Macaroni Salad

Baltimore police detective Mariella Cruz shook her dark head as she reentered the gas station.  Behind her, the ambulance carrying the wounded attendant pulled away with a shriek of sirens.   The sound made Niles Gule wince.  As a vampire, his hearing was exquisite.  It seldom appreciated human alarm systems.

“What’s Jocco’s status?” he asked, his blue gaze following the ambulance’s curve into traffic.

“EMTs say he’ll survive.”  Studying the blood that spattered the floor behind the cash register, Cruz gestured helplessly.  “Why would anyone do this?  They didn’t even rob the register.”

Niles too was focused on the blood.  Like all violent crime scenes, this one made his nose twitch and stomach grumble.  He survived exclusively on blood and raw meat.  Instinct begged him to drop to the floor and lick up the mess.  Fortunately, he’d snacked on steak before answering the call so he could ignore the rumblings in his gut.

“This was personal.”  He gestured to the tire iron that lay on the floor.  “They wanted to beat him up, not rob the place.  We need to question his friends and relatives.  Find out who had it out for him.”

Being the night shift, Cruz and Niles had been assigned to investigate the robbery at the Eat Here Get Gas quick mart on Lombard Street.  Niles was always in big demand at nighttime crime scenes.  His night vision exceeded the best crime scene equipment, and his nose was second to none.

Cruz pointed at the cameras.  “Damned things weren’t hooked up to a recorder.  No video.”

Niles considered the little store.  Along with gas, it sold snacks, chilled products, car supplies and sodas.   His nose twitched a second time as a foul smell struck him.  With a puckered brow, Niles slowly picked his way through the aisles, sniffing and studying.  Cruz remained by the register, watching him circuit the store.

When he returned to the register he crooked a long white finger at Cruz.

“Follow me.”

Lifting a brow, Cruz fell into step behind the vampire as he headed outside.  The frigid night was biting.  A sprinkling of snow swirled in a light wind.  Due to a lack of street lights, Cruz flicked on a flashlight for which Niles had no need.  With a full moon behind the clouds, he could see the world as clearly as a human could see in daylight.  Although a faint cover of white crystals dusted the ground, he saw no tracks.  The breeze wiped them away within minutes.

“Where are we going?”  Cruz eyed the dilapidated buildings slumbering in darkest night.  Forced to take two jogging steps for every one of Niles’ long, sweeping strides, she was panting.

“We’re tracking our prey.”  Niles continued forward without hesitation.  He kept sniffing and watching the ground.

“Prey?  We aren’t eating them, Gule.”

Niles grunted a laugh.  “Too bad.  These are really stupid people.”

“How do you know that?”

“Trust me.”  Niles took a left turn down a side street.  After several minutes of chilly walking, he turned right into an alley.  He never slowed his pace.

Cruz kept up, trusting her partner knew what he was doing.  “How does this cold compare to Maine?” she asked to pass the time.

“It doesn’t!”  Being a vampire, Niles was more tolerant of cold than humans, but even he found his three week vacation in Maine too frigid for comfort.  He was glad to be back in Maryland and back at work.

“What does a vampire do for Valentine’s Day?”

Niles shot her a quick look.  Interesting question to pull out of the air.  “Nothing.”

“Not sending flowers and chocolate to a sweetheart?”

He snorted.  “I don’t suggest giving vampires chocolate.”  His sole experience with the dangerous substance had ended with him arrested for streaking in New Jersey.

“I wasn’t necessarily thinking of vampires.”

Niles caught the wistful note in her voice.  His lips twitched, threatening to smile.  One thing Cruz wasn’t was subtle.

“Who else would I give chocolate and flowers to but a lady vampire?” he asked innocently.

“Oh.”  She sounded deflated.  “I forgot about your little tootsie pop.  What’s her name?”

“Tara.”  Niles shot her a second look.  “And she’s not my tootsie pop.  She’s a young vampire and a pain in my ass.”

“She sure seems sweet on you.”

“Sweet isn’t the word.  Voracious is.  She’s a youngster.  I’m becoming the territorial lord of Baltimore.”

That caught Cruz’s interest.  “So she’s looking to bag herself a big shot.”

“Something like that.”

Niles didn’t want to discuss Tara, the fifty-something vampire he’d encountered over Halloween.  Having switched alliances from another older vampire to Niles, Tara wasn’t going to let her catch escape her.  Niles knew she planned to ride her association with him to power.  So she’d moved into the apartment next to his and kept watch on him with hungry eyes.  She was waiting for her chance because a youngster didn’t force an alpha male.  She would lay her sticky traps in his path and hope he became ensnared in them.  Niles’ job was to avoid becoming entangled.  He needed to convince her to give up blood drinking, find an honest job, and move to some other country.  Afghanistan sounded good.

“Don’t encourage her,” Cruz stated.  “No chocolate or flowers.”

Again Niles’ lips twitched.  “Noted.”  He glanced at her.  “Expecting any for yourself from anyone?”

“Of course!”  Her voice was unnaturally high pitched, the little liar.  “Malcolm’s taking me to the movies.  I fully expect flowers.”

“Hmmm.”  Niles allowed himself a knowing smile.  It hid, however, a pang to his heart.  He hated that she dated the supercilious, arrogant attorney.  She deserved better.  Malcolm was too. … obnoxious… for her.  She needed someone with integrity.  With teeth.

He chose to ignore the way his tongue traced over a growing fang.

With a gesture, Niles indicated caution.  He edged forward slowly towards his destination, an open carport.  Inside two young men sat warming themselves beside a barrel flickering with flames.  They were chortling about how they’d plastered Figueroa.  That little bastard wouldn’t dare come sniffing after their little sister a second time.

“Nice,” Cruz whispered.  “Beat the hell out of someone who wants to date your kid sister.”

She radioed for assistance and they waited until a patrol car rolled up, lights off.  With two uniforms alongside them, they trapped the young men inside the carport, cuffed them and read them their rights.

Holstering her weapon, Cruz watched as Niles knelt beside the barrel.

“How did you know they were the perps?  Or where to find them?”

Niles rose, holding an empty plastic container.  “Basic detective work.”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.  “It was some sort of vampire voodoo, wasn’t it?  You could track their heat signature on the ground.”


“Smell their blood on the wind.”


“Sense psychically where they were.”

Niles chuckled.  “No.”

Cruz lightly punched his arm.  “Ok, give.  How did you track them here?”

Niles extended the container.  “Macaroni salad from the Eat Here Get Gas.  They must have been hungry.  They left a trail of the stuff the whole way here.”

As Cruz gaped at him, he chuckled.  “I told you they were the stupidest criminals on earth.”

© 2017 Newmin


Niles comments:  This isn’t the first time someone felt the urge to indulge as they fled their crime scene.  Check it out:


Gule is Miserable

Life, or in the case of a vampire, undeath, could often be uncomfortable.  Sometimes even downright miserable.  Which was how Niles Gule described his emotional state that wintery evening.  Baltimore’s vampire sat in on a sagging, flea infested couch with his long legs propped on a battered, cheaply made coffee table.  His brilliant blue eyes were fixed on a jar of beach pebbles near his feet.

Don’t do it, Gule.   BeachPebbles2

Those nasty little blue and white stones weren’t what they seemed.  His nose, exquisitely tuned to parsing scents, quivered at the rich aroma of chocolate coming from the jar.  The stones were actually candy.  A Maine specialty.   But chocolate and Niles didn’t mix well.  The last time he’d indulged in the delicious, vicious substance, he’d found himself arrested after he’d gone on a naked hallucinogenic rant through Point Pleasant, New Jersey.

“I’m not helping you,” he growled at his supposed captors.

Todd, the chief miscreant, glared back.  “You have to.  We need you to help us convince Stephen King to write our story.”

Niles stared up at the ceiling and drew a huge sigh.  “He’s not going to write your story.  The world is full of frustrated Goth youth wanting their tales of woe and abuse heard.”

“Eff off!” Jonathan snapped as he shot Niles the finger.  He flipped a hank of his artificially dyed black hair out of his pallid face with a studied head toss.  “I don’t even think you’re a real vampire.”

Niles couldn’t hold back the snarl that bared his stubby fangs.  He wanted to tell the five lads his fangs were short only because he kept them filed so he could pass as a human.  But he didn’t because he’d decided these five were some of the stupidest human beings on the planet.  They had to be.  First they’d kidnapped the Duck of Justice from the Bangor Police Department which triggered a furious response from the police.  Then they’d tried to trade it for Niles, the only known vampire police officer in America.  Fortunately for them, the police had been desperate to get their duck back and had eagerly tossed the vampire to them, leaving Niles as the group’s ersatz prisoner.  Not, he thought, that he couldn’t simply strong arm an escape out of the dingy little apartment they rented over a barn on a farm outside Bangor.  He felt, being an officer of the law, he ought to do something to rein in this band of nose-ringed hooligans.

He fastened his piercing blue gaze on the group of young men.  “I’m a police officer.  I won’t help you break into King’s house.”

“Fine!”  Todd flipped his own long black hair out of his face in a move Niles decided was de rigeur for Goths.  He snatched up his coat.  “Come on, guys.  We’ll just have to do it the hard way.”

Niles watched in alarm as the group dragged on outerwear.  When he rose to stop them, Jonathan pulled out his secret weapon, a jar of crushed garlic and wielded it like a sword.  Niles hissed at the stench and backed away.

The group headed for the door, Jonathan coming last using the garlic as a shield.  Niles let them go, curling his lip in a sneer when the young man set the open jar in the doorway just as he pulled the door shut.  Moments later, Niles heard the engine of their Thunderbird roar to life and they were gone.

Cursing, he strode to the door and kicked the jar of garlic aside.  When he stepped outside, he looked out across a frigid night with flurries skirling around.  Almost a foot of new snow covered the landscape.  As he stood leaning on the stair railing, Niles calculated how to stop the Gothic posse before someone got hurt.  But he didn’t have a vehicle and he couldn’t drive.  Walking all the way to Bangor was out of the question.  The fireworks would be over long before he arrived.

The snort and stamp of a horse caught his attention.

In an instant, Niles was down the stairs and into the barn.  A gentle-eyed gray mare whickered and kicked the wall of her stall, asking for dinner.

“Sorry, gal,” he murmured as he searched for a bridle.  “You and me have an appointment with a horror writer.”

He hastily tacked her up and threw himself aboard, then put his heels to her.  She responded with a grunt and trotted from the barn.

Close to an hour later, Niles jogged into Bangor, earning himself lots of strange looks from drivers trying to understand why anyone would ride a horse in the dead of winter on a dark, snowy night.  He simply smiled and poured on the charm, earning himself rapturous stares from the women and annoyed glares from most of the men.

After obtaining directions for King’s house by riding his mare through the drive thru at the nearest Dunkin Donuts, Niles found himself trotting down West Broadway Street.  He located the house easily enough.  The structure was fitting for a man who wrote horror.  A Victorian mansion with two towers and a scrolling front porch, the property was surrounded by a protective wrought iron fence.  The gate, Niles noted in amusement, looked like a spider web.  Two gargoyles watched over the entrance.

Sliding off his mare, Niles studied the property.  A quick survey told him the posse had scaled the fence on the right side.  With his perfect night vision, Niles could see the tracks of the buffalo herd through the snow leading towards the house.  Lights were on.  Someone was home.

Niles knew he had to act.  Deftly, he climbed the fence, dropped to the far side and slogged through the snow to the house.  A look in one of the windows revealed two of the Goths pacing in agitation in the den.  Niles slipped through the French doors the posse had used to gain entrance, scaring the two lads half to death.

“Where’s the rest of the Dalton gang?” he demanded.

His face even whiter than normal, Bill pointed upwards.

Niles stabbed the pair with a long finger.  “Stay put if you don’t want to be in any more trouble than you are now.  I do bite.”

Bill gulped.  Vinny blanched.

Niles headed upstairs.

He found Todd and Jonathan in King’s bedroom.  To his horror, Niles saw they’d cornered the author.  Somehow, they’d wrangled King to the bed and tied him up so he was forced to listen to their literary pitch.  King’s eyes darted with a mixture of fear and hope as the vampire entered the room.

Todd whirled.  “Don’t interfere!  We aren’t going to hurt him.  We just need him to hear us out.”

Niles grunted.  He turned towards King.  Pulling his ID from his coat pocket, he said, “You’re saved.  I’m with the Baltimore police.”

“Baltimore?” King squeaked.

Niles shrugged.  “We fight crime wherever we find it.”

King looked like he didn’t know what to believe.

The flicker of a television screen caught Niles’ eye.  King had been watching a movie before he’d been interrupted.  Kathy Bates screeched at James Caan.

Niles’s brow scrunched.  “Isn’t that Misery?” he asked King.

King rolled his eyes.  “Yes.”

Niles turned back to Todd with a gesture.  “Well, finish up your pitch.  Because once you’re done, I’m having you arrested.”

“Aren’t you going to arrest them now?” King demanded.  He pulled on his bindings.

Niles sat down on the edge of the bed.  “Nah, not yet.”  He pointed to the screen.  “I haven’t had the chance to see this one.”


© 2018 Newmin

Gule Gets His Ducks in A Row

Tension gripped the group.  Fingers sat poised on triggers.  Sergeant TC Cotton of the Bangor Police Department held his breath as a group of Kennebunkport police officers in flak jackets stole forward, lights glinting off their night vision goggles.  They were the best special ops team north of Portsmouth, Chief Craig Sanford of Kennebunkport insisted.  Trained by the US Secret Service who frequented the harbor village when former President Bush came to visit.  You never knew when a seaside tourist resort might be attacked by foreign commandos.  Cotton, being out of his jurisdiction, had no choice but to trust him.

Niles Gule, vampire, and the subject of this ridiculous affair, stood leaning his back against the weathered boards of the Clam Shack waiting for someone, anyone, to come to their senses.  At his feet lapped the icy waters of the Kennebunk River.  The stench of fish and seaweed perfumed the frigid winter night, causing the vampire to curl his lip in annoyance.  He watched with no small amusement as three of Kennebunkport’s finest crept stealthily towards the Matthew J Lanigan Bridge in the center of town, their guns primed, their goggles leading them through the black night.  Niles, being a vampire, had exquisite night vision, albeit in black and white.  But no one had asked for his assistance in this endeavor.  He was being held back by Cotton because, the police said, his tall, lanky form and bright, corn-colored hair made him such an obvious target.  Their opponents would spot him from the far side of the bridge.

But wasn’t that the point?  Niles drew a heavy breath and folded his arms.  The whole purpose of this exercise was to trade him, the only known vampire police officer on the planet, for a stuffed duck.  A group of Goths had stolen Bangor’s icon, the Duck of Justice, directly from under the department’s nose and demanded a real vampire in trade for it.

So here I am, waiting to be traded for a duck.

Niles wished he smoked.  This night called for a cigarette.  Or a drink.

With perfect clarity, he watched the stealth team scurry between a fishing shack and an art store like cockroaches through a benighted kitchen.  To him, the scene was surreal.  How could anyone fail to see those black shadows, smell the sweat of their fear even over the stench of the river, hear their rubber soles slipping along the docks?

Humans!  Niles sniffed.

He could see their quarry just as clearly as he could see the swat team.  A group of five individuals wearing black sweat suits were clustered on the far side of the bridge, hunkered against the wall of Saxony Imports for cover.  Niles studied them, seeing nothing dangerous about them.  Five young men, probably in their twenties, with no weapons and a dead duck.  As he watched the swat team steal ever closer to them, he decided the Goths themselves were dead ducks.

The problem for the police was the bridge.  It was open ground without a stitch of cover.  Even in the dark of night, that stretch of tarmac was a death trap for anyone trying to cross into Gothic territory.  They could get pelted by sardines or hit in the head by knick knacks purloined from Saxony, for God’s sake!  This was a dangerous endeavor.

Niles watched with a raised eyebrow as the police settled themselves in cover position, one man each at four different points with sniper rifles trained on the Goth side of the bridge.  Then Chief Sanford raised his bullhorn.

“All right.  We’re here,” he announced.  “We’ve got what you want.  Return the DOJ before anyone gets hurt.”

Niles winced as all around the harbor lights flicked on in darkened windows.  He saw faces peering out at the ordinarily sleepy harbor town.

One of the Goths stepped forward, holding the DOJ out over the side of the bridge.

“Do anything stupid and the duck takes a swim!” a young, quavering voice yelled.

Sanford made a placating gesture with his hand.  “Now, now!  Let’s not do anything hasty.  We’ve got your vampire here.”

He turned towards Cotton and waved for Niles to come forth.

With a snort, Niles shrugged off Cotton’s grasp and strode confidently forward, unfazed by the darkness or a bunch of unarmed hoodlums holding a stuffed duck hostage.

“You know the duck is dead, right?” he asked Sanford when he arrived at the chief’s side.

Sanford glared.  “Don’t joke about the DOJ, Mister!  I’m ready to go to the mat for that duck.”  He signaled his team.  Niles saw fingers tighten on triggers.

“Oh, for God’s sake!” Niles exclaimed.  “It’s a stuffed wood duck!”

That was the wrong thing to say.  Niles saw the men around him bristle with anger but no one said anything.

The Goths must have seen him, not that he was hard to miss.  Niles stood over six feet tall.  That evening he wore his camel colored overcoat and silk scarf.  His pale face, blue eyes and blond hair made him shine like the moon.

“Prove you’re a vampire,” the kid with the duck demanded.  He continued to hold the DOJ over the water, threatening to drop it.

Niles rolled his eyes.  Taking a step forward so that he stood under a street light, he bared his fangs.  They were on the stubby side because he kept them trimmed but hopefully they were enough.

“You call those fangs?” the kid yelped.  “Paleeze!  I’ve seen better fakes at Halloween Haven!”

Niles scowled, affronted.  A vampire’s fangs were his pride and joy, his sense of self.  The saying in his community was that the length of a vampire’s fangs indicated the length of a vampire’s….

Sanford cut off his thoughts.  “He’s genuine.  We’ll trade him for the duck, as promised.  Place the duck on the bridge.  Gule will cross over and we’ll take the duck.  No one gets hurt.”

The kid with the duck looked back towards his fellows for confirmation, then, receiving it, inched forward onto the bridge, always keeping the duck hanging over the water.

With a disgusted sigh, Niles started forward slowly, his hands extended to his sides to indicate he was unarmed.  Which technically wasn’t true because he was never without his silver vampire hunting knife.  But these idiots didn’t know that.  Following the standard Hollywood script—because he decided that was the appropriate protocol in such a situation—Niles strolled across the contested no man’s land, aware he was pinned from the back by people armed with sniper rifles and from the front by people armed with nose rings.  He tried to act nervous but had a hard time holding in his smirk.

“Give me the duck,” he demanded of the kid threatening the embalmed DOJ.

The kid eyed him warily.  Everyone held their breath.  The DOJ hung in the balance.

Niles forced a fake smile, revealing his fangs a second time.

When the kid still hesitated, Niles lost his patience.  With a single stride, he reached the kid.  A sweep of his long arm snatched the DOJ from the lad’s grasp.  That set off the Goths.  With a wail, the group launched themselves at him.  Five youths piled on him so fast, he couldn’t react.  He went down onto the pavement with a grunt, the DOJ flipping from his hand.  While he wrestled with a squirming pile of arms and legs, he vaguely saw a swat team member steal up, rifle primed.  But instead of aiding the downed vampire, the man snatched up the DOJ and scuttled for safety.  Niles heard the all clear call from Sanford and he knew they were going to abandon him.

Damned humans.

© 2018 Newmin


The DOJ is examined after its rescue


Gule is Just Ducky

“The situation is serious,” a deep voice stated over the phone.  “We need you to come in immediately.”

Niles Gule, vampire of Baltimore, gazed balefully out Peg’s front window at the snow storm that had engulfed the state of Maine.

“It’s snowing,” he said, feeling inane for stating the obvious.

A moment of silence met his comment.  Then.  “Yeah?  What’s your point?”

Niles flicked his brilliant blue glance at his friend Peg.  Pressing the phone to his chest to mute it, he asked, “Would you mind driving me to Bangor?”

Peg, a platinum-gray, spunky widow, glanced at her front yard buried in two feet of snow, then at the vampire who’d been staying with her for his winter break.

“What for?” she asked in that direct, no-nonsense way Niles had grown to love.

“A duck has gone missing.”  Niles made a face to show he didn’t understand what that meant.  “The Bangor Police are upset about it.”

Peg gasped, her eyes flying wide.  “The Duck of Justice has gone missing!  Oh my gosh!”  She grabbed her parka.  “Well, don’t just stand there!  Get moving!”

Niles hadn’t even pulled his coat completely on before she shoved him out the front door.  As he climbed into her silver minivan, he asked, “Do I want to know what the Duck of Justice is?”

Peg threw her minivan in gear and, snow flying, sped from her little driveway.  “It’s a cultural icon!”

“But what is it?” Niles complained.

“It’s the mascot for the Bangor Police Department.  It appears in all their Facebook photos.”

Niles fingered his chin while he watched the deep pinewoods of Maine scroll past as Peg steered them slowly but confidently towards the state capital.  Although conditions were nearly whiteout, numerous vehicles were still on the road and Peg chugged along behind a lumber truck, secure in its wake.

“Why would this Sergeant Cotton think I have anything to do with a missing mascot?” he wondered aloud.

“I don’t know,” Peg chirped.  “But we’re going to find out!”

A long, worrisome drive through the raging storm brought them at last to the small city of Bangor and its diminutive police department.  Niles recalled visiting it a year ago with his partner, Mariella Cruz, when they’d come to pick up stolen evidence being held by Bangor.  He recalled the quiet, peaceful charm of the station, so at odds with the rough, loud, abrasiveness of Baltimore’s center city precinct.  While such a quiet life possessed an allure, Niles decided he would be bored without the constant turmoil working for Baltimore provided to his otherwise staid and boring life.

As Peg pulled into a recently plowed parking space, she glanced at her passenger.  “Have you ever considered learning to drive?”

Niles shrugged.  “The thought has occurred to me, but I figure I’d have a hard time coming up with believable documentation.”  He gave her a wicked smile, allowing his fangs to show.  “No birth records.”

“Huh.”  Peg popped out of her minivan.  “The crooks don’t let that stop them.”

Swallowing the smile, the tall, lanky vampire followed his widow into the station.  They were directed to an office where TC Cotton, keeper of the Bangor Facebook page, and the DOJ, was stationed.

He rose and shook Niles’ hand.

As he sank into a chair, Niles looked around, seeing nothing that should involve him.  “Why am I here?”

Cotton flicked a photo at the vampire. A North American wood duck, most likely dead and stuffed, stared back at Niles with beady red eyes.  A bright red balloon was tied to its neck.

“I received that in my email,” Cotton explained.  “Along with a ransom demand.”  He turned to his computer screen.  “Apparently, Stephen King was supposed to make an appearance at a local bookstore, but due to illness, failed to arrive.  Some of the fans who’d waited in a line a half mile long in subzero temperatures were…well… I’d say upset, but that doesn’t really do their frustration justice.”

Niles sat blinking at the officer.  He waved his hand in a circle.  “And?”

“The rowdy group is a Goth club.  They claimed they were actual vampires and King would be a fool to refuse to meet with them.  They had stories they wanted him to convert into books.  Make millions.  You know the drill.”

The vampire simply stared at him.

Cotton plowed on.  “So King, being a man with some sense of humor, told them if they could prove they were genuine vampires, he’d meet with them.  Of course, they can’t prove it because they aren’t, but that never stopped anyone.”

Niles continued to stare at Cotton.  “And that involves me how?”

“Some of these folks decided to take matters into their own hands.” Cotton sighed.  “Since they need a genuine vampire with them to meet King, they decided to trade for one.  It’s Maine.  It’s winter.  They have too much time on their hands.  Somehow, we still don’t know how, they broke into the offices here, staged that picture for their ransom demand, then stole the DOJ.  They’ve agreed to trade him for you, Detective Gule.”

“Me?” Niles stiffened with affront.

“You are a vampire,” Cotton said.  “And a police officer.  We heard you were in Maine.”

“How do you know either of those things?” Niles ran his tongue over his fangs, wondering if they’d gotten so long he was showing again.

Cotton scowled.  “We may be the back of beyond up here, but we do read the internet.  Including your blog.”  He gave Peg a bright smile.  “Nice to meet you, Peg.”  He turned back to Niles.  “So, we of the Bangor Police Department have decided that we’re going to trade you to the King fans so they can take you to meet with the author and we get our DOJ back.”

“That’s outrageous!” Niles blurted.  “What gives you the right to make such a decision?  Don’t you think you should have consulted me first?”

Cotton gestured the complaint away with a wave of his hand.  “Hell, no!”  He stabbed his index finger into his desk as he leaned forward with a steely-eyed glint.  “We’re talking the Duck of Justice here, Detective Gule.  A vampire or the DOJ?”  He scoffed.  “It wasn’t even close.”

© 2018 Newmin

Actual ransom photo of the Duck of Justice with its red “It” balloon.  How this happened remains a mystery.  Just one of many from the great state of Maine.