Gule Goes to Pot

“This is your definition of a beach day?” Niles Gule complained as he pondered the Maine coastline.

Peg nodded.  “Yup!  This is a beach day in Maine.  Pretty good one too.  The sun was out today.”

Niles shot the native a nasty look.  Being a vampire, he wasn’t particularly fond of the sun.  Fortunately, that golden orb of death was disappearing beneath the horizon behind them, leaving a panorama of deep purples, reds and blues over the ocean.

Niles loved visiting the shore, so when, on his vacation to Maine, Peg offered him a day at the beach, he’d happily agreed, not considering what a beach day in January meant above the 45th parallel.  The air temperature had risen to a high of -7 at midafternoon, chilly even for Maine.  But the kicker was the howling wind which gusted up to twenty miles an hour and dropped the windchill to -28.  Cold even for a vampire.

Peg was bundled for the weather.  In her knitted wool hat with its stiff bill, down parka, scarf, gloves and duck boots, she belonged on the cover of Maine Fisherwoman.  All she needed was a lobster pot to complete the picture.

She’d brought Niles to the seaside village of Wells which was closed up snug against the winter blast.  Signs swayed in the wind in front of surf shops and ice cream emporiums shuttered for the season.  The wind blew lonely veils of snow along the street, piling it up in deep drifts at the foot of buildings.  Most of Wells hadn’t even been shoveled out of the last storm which had dropped a foot of new snow on the village.

“I’m going out,” Niles said, grasping the door handle.

Peg raised a brow.  “I’m proud of you.  Even a dedicated Mainer isn’t going out in this.”

“You promised me the beach,” the vampire grumbled.  “I’m getting my beach, polar vortex or no polar vortex.”

“More power to you.  I’m staying in the car.”

The wind snagged Niles’ silk scarf and sent it fluttering around his pale face as he faced the onslaught.  His boots crunched in the icy snow.  Floundering through a drift, the tall, lithe vampire struggled to where the wind and tide had left frozen sand clear of snow.  There he stood with his hands thrust into the pockets of his coat, the wind clawing at his corn-colored locks and his face slowly freezing.

Before him the Atlantic roiled.  As brilliant a blue as his eyes, the sea churned with white foam that blew onto the beach and froze into fantastic shapes.  The air was so bitingly cold the saltwater was boiling.  Ethereal clouds of steam rose from the frothy waters and drifted like ghosts across the bay.  A crazed lobsterman, chugging past in his white fishing boat, appeared as a vague shadow against the sea smoke.

The coldest day of the decade, Niles muttered.  And she brings me to the beach.  He wondered what plans Peg had in mind for the promised “lake day”.  Ice fishing probably.

Niles enjoyed the view for a few minutes and snapped some pictures to show to his friends in Baltimore, felt his feet turning to ice, and decided to return to Peg’s warm car.  As he trudged along the smooth, gray sand he watched two young men running along the beach with a yellow lab yapping at their heels.  Niles cringed and moved closer to the surf to allow the offending animal to pass him by.  He and dogs did not get along.

Something caught the dog’s attention and sent it crawling onto a pile of boulders jutting into the bay.  At the very edge it started tugging at something in the rocks.  Its owners called for it to return to the safety of the beach but it wouldn’t let go of its prize.  In the dimming light of sunset, Niles squinted to make out what the dog had found.  Something made of bright red fabric.

One of the men edged onto the boulders which were slippery with ice and seaweed.  When he reached the dog, he grabbed its collar.  Then he shrieked.

Niles sprang towards the natural jetty and picked his way across the boulders following the same trail as the man.  When he arrived beside the man and his dog, his exquisite eyesight immediately saw what had so upset the dog and its owner.  A body lay crammed into a crevice in the rocks.  The dog was tugging on a red windbreaker.

“It’s a dead guy!” the young man exclaimed, his face ashen.

Niles nodded.  “Agreed.  Pull your dog back.  We’ve got to call the police before the tide comes in and washes him away.”

“The tide’s probably would put him there in the first place!” his companion complained, still wrestling with his dog.

Noting the well-washed cuts and bruises on the dead man’s face, Niles suspected the assessment was correct.  The body had been in the icy waters for a while.

The dog growled again.  When his owner used all his strength to pull the animal back, the dog finally released its hold on the jacket.  Then he spied the vampire who was studying the body, his tongue absentmindedly sliding along his ever growing fangs while he considered if he had enough cell service to call for help.  A wave roared over the boulders, soaking the body and spraying spume over Niles’ elegant wool coat.  The dog growled again.

Niles gave it a hard stare.  That set the dog snarling and lunging.  Its owner couldn’t hold onto it with wet hands and it leaped for Niles’ throat.  The vampire fended it off with his arm but slipped on the ice and tumbled backwards.  His head hit the rocks with a crack.  He saw stars, felt the bone-jarring cold of the water, then nothing.

 

Something was bubbling.  The air was hot and steamy.  Niles cracked open an eye to find he was back at Peg’s house lying on her couch.  Across the room, the Mainer was humming while she tended to a boiling pot that steamed like the ocean.

“Am I dead?  Or dreaming?” he asked.

Peg smiled and gestured with her wooden spoon.  “Neither.  You’re just half drowned.”

Niles realized he was more undressed than dressed with a fleece blanket thrown over him to keep him warm.

“What happened?”  He rubbed the back of his head which throbbed unhappily.

“You went for a swim!”  Peg laughed.  “Not exactly the right day for it.  Cracked your head on some rocks.  I had to call emergency services.  Fortunately, that young man waded after you before you floated out to sea.  I thought letting them take you to the hospital was a bad idea, so I brought you home.”  She looked him up and down.  “I guess vampires have hard heads.”

Niles nodded then regretted the action.

“Well, all’s well that ends well,” she said, puttering around her kitchen.  “That fisherman who went missing a week ago has been found.  That’s the man you found out there.  You’re alive and kicking.”  She peered at him quizzically.  “Or as alive and kicking as a vampire is capable of being.  And we’ve received a free dinner.”

Twitching the blanket around him, Niles sat up.  He frowned.  “What do you mean, we got a free dinner?”

Peg chuckled and pointed at the huge, steaming pot.  “Courtesy of you!  When that man pulled you from the water, a few things were clinging to you.”  At Niles deepening frown, she burst out laughing.  “Only in Maine can you fish for lobsters with a vampire!”

 

© 2018 Newmin

 

Niles Comments:  Yes, indeed!  I went to Maine over the Christmas break!  Not the brightest idea, I must say.  I don’t think the temps ever broke zero for the three days I was there.  And I refuse to discuss drivers in the state of Connecticut.  Suffice it to say, I’m going to avoid that state in the future.  For those of you (probably all of you) who’ve never seen sea smoke, below is a photo of the Point Nubble lighthouse surrounded by smoke.  I’d never seen sea smoke before either.  Even a vampire can learn new things.

 

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Queens of the Niles

The vile miasma of garlic scorched the vampire’s throat.  His eyes watered.  When the waitress set a basket piled high with garlic bread in front of him, he gripped his chair and closed his eyes, telling himself he could withstand the assault.  He was becoming human after all.  Wasn’t he?

“Are you all right?” Brenda asked.  She grabbed a piece of bread and munched, savoring a flavor only a human could love.

Niles Gule felt his stomach roil.  Gritting his teeth, he forced a smile to his pale lips and hoped his blue eyes hadn’t turned yellow.  They could do that when he felt sick.  He hadn’t fooled Brenda.  She moved the bread basket to the far end of the table.

The vampire had attempted the impossible.  He’d dared to enter that emporium of torture, masochism and evil in the center of Baltimore known as Amicci’s Italian Restaurant.  The little place had a funky flair with eclectic art and a modern bar.  That evening the atmosphere was heavily perfumed with the smell of garlic and olive oil.  Niles didn’t mind the olive oil.  The garlic was making him gag.

He sat at a table with three ladies, widows he’d met on a trip over the summertime.  Brenda, Deb and Pat had agreed to come to Baltimore for trivia night at Amicci’s only if Niles accompanied them.  They weren’t afraid to be out after dark in the city.  They weren’t afraid to be out with a vampire.  No, they were afraid of facing trivia night without their secret weapon, Niles Gule, who’d lived through most of the decades any trivia night could cover.  To make the event special, Amicci’s was running a Gothic Night.  Patrons had painted their faces white, outlined their eyes in black and wore clothing Morticia Addams would have approved.  Vampires were de rigeur for the evening.

Oddly enough, blue-eyed blond, Nordic Niles with his carefully tailored Saville Row suit, didn’t fit in at all.

“What’s our team name?” Deb asked.  “Don’t we need a team name?”

Brenda tapped the answer sheet with her pen.  “We do.”  Her eyes pondered the ceiling then a brilliant smile filled her with light.  “I know.  Queens of the Niles!”

Niles propped his chin on his fingers and gave her a disparaging look.  “Please don’t let that get around.  If my co-workers in the Baltimore PD find out, I’ll never hear the end of it.  They think I’m a queen already.”

Deb dared to pat his cold hand.  “You’re a queen to us, Niles.”

Niles rolled his eyes and took a large swallow of beer.

The first question read by a blond with a microphone cut through the hubbub of the crowd.  “What do all bats do when they leave a cave?”

Brenda looked disgusted.  “What kind of question is that?”

Pat snorted.  “I think they fly.”

Niles chuckled.  “No, they turn left.”

Brenda frowned.

Niles tapped the paper so she wrote that answer down.

“Do you know that from personal experience?” Deb asked.

Niles snorted.  “No.  I gave up bat transformation in my youth.”

He’d meant it as a joke, but the women seemed to think him serious.  He decided not to explain.

“What is the legal requirement for anyone interested in dueling in Paraguay?” the blond woman with the microphone asked.

Niles heard complaints from the tables nearby.  No one, it appeared, knew the answer to that one.

When he saw his three ladies gazing at him expectantly, he sighed.  “Duelists in Paraguay have to be registered blood donors.”

The women howled and Brenda scribbled.

Pat clicked her wine glass against Deb’s.  “I told you he was a gold mine.”

“Sssh!” Brenda hissed.  “Next question.”

“What common word today was once considered foul speech in 1880s England?”

“Oh for the love of God, come up with a sports question!” an overweight man wearing a Raven’s shirt shouted.

Niles’ three widows turned to their vampire, knowing he’d lived through the 1880s.  He sighed.  “Pants.”  When they blinked at him he repeated himself.  “Pants was considered a foul word back in the day.”

Brenda almost fell out of her chair she was laughing so hard.  She scribbled that word down.

When the question, who sued the restaurant chain Cheeseburgers in Paradise for copywrite infringement, Niles was stumped.  His ladies stared, refusing to believe he didn’t know Jimmy Buffett.  He shrugged.

When he said, “Sorry, I don’t do cooked food,” the trio laughed.

The ladies handled two questions about television then came: “Name the vampire at the center of a Rhode Island vampire flap of 1892.”

Again three pairs of human eyes fixed on Niles.  “Mercy Brown,” he said without thinking.  “I remember it well.  Really had my people in a stir.”

Brenda’s pen raced.  “We are so going to win this!”

“Come on!” complained the Raven’s fan.  “No one knows these questions!”

Deb giggled.  “We do.”

“Give us a sports question!” yelled Raven.

The blond with the microphone smiled and sashayed up to him.  “You’re in luck.  The next question is a sport’s question.  This trotting horse won so many races and became so famous in 1866 that his image became the standard found on weathervanes to this day.  Name that horse.”

The Raven thumped his beer stein so hard on the bar it sloshed over himself and his companions.  Cursing, he stormed for the men’s room.

Niles sipped his own beer as he watched the man leave.  “He needs anger management.”

Brenda poked Niles.  “Do you know the name of the horse?”

Niles barely needed to think.  “Dexter.”

“Is there anything you don’t know?” Pat demanded.

“Yeah, who Jimmy Buffett is!” chortled Deb.

Brenda was too busy writing.

“Last question,” said the blond.  “If all the iron in the human body was collected together it would make how big a nail?”

Groans met the question from all over the bar.

Niles couldn’t help but roll his eyes.  “These are just too easy,” he complained.

“For you!” Brenda laughed.  “Some of us don’t live and breathe weird blood trivia.”

“So what’s the answer?” Pat asked.

Niles considered what he knew of human anatomy and his personal lust for the iron it carried.  He held out his hand to imagine weighing it.  “I’d guess about a 3 inch nail.”

“Good enough for me!”  Brenda laughed as she jotted that down.

They handed in their answer sheet then Niles’ girls brought each other up to speed on how parents were doing, gardening tips and the state of the Dr. Phil show.  Niles blithely drank his beer and tried not to breathe all the aromas.  The bread was gone so that made life better.  But now Niles was growing hungry thinking about blood and iron.  He tried not to lick his lips when he looked at the ladies.

The blond was ready to announce the winner.  She started with last place and worked her way up.  “Finally,” she said, “with a perfect score!  Queens of the Niles!”

Brenda, Pat and Deb burst out laughing.  Brenda even jumped off her stool to give Niles a hug.

“Our secret weapon,” she said.

The bartender arrived carrying their winnings.   To each of them he gave a box.  The ladies all cooed over their prize but Niles nearly fell off his stood to escape it.

The box contained a garlic baker.

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Niles comments:  Anyone who knows me, knows I love trivia!  If you’re into it too, give me a call.  I’m available evenings.

 

 

079 Gule Strikes it Rich

The whirl of noise and lights should have been annoying, but somehow the casino’s machines sounded soothing even to a vampire.  For the first time in his long life Niles Gule was in Atlantic City aka Las Vegas, New Jersey as he called it.  Not that he’d had any reason to avoid Sin City.  He was a vampire at all, and the vampire code of conduct was silent on gambling.  It was silent on pretty much everything.  Murder, blood -letting, and theft were considered de rigeur in the vampire world.

He was there as the guest of his partner, Detective Mariella Cruz.  She’d won a free weekend at the Taj Mahal then surprised Niles by inviting him to join her.  These impromptu trips were becoming a habit with her and Niles could sense the sharks swimming around him.  She was circling, ever closer, intent on landing her man.  Niles wasn’t doing much to fend her off.

Cruz chortled and danced in a circle when her slot machine spit out a cupful of quarters.  Niles watched with a fond smile and pretended a few dance steps in support.  Niles wasn’t a gambler.  He considered the activity a waste of money but he appreciated the free drinks.  As soon as the scantily clad waitresses laid eyes on the tall, elegant blonde with his piercing blue eyes, they fell all over themselves to serve him.  He’d been indulging in vodka tonics most of the afternoon.  He wasn’t sure if the casino spun of its own accord or because he was drunk.

Cruz held out her hands as quarters cascaded from them.  “Jackpot!”

“So I see,” the vampire murmured.  He took another sip of his drink.

“You really ought to try it,” she prodded, scooping the quarters into a plastic pail.

“I’m having a grand time simply watching you.”

She hesitated at the warmth in his normally cool voice.  Then smiled brilliantly.

“I thought vampires had the power of voodoo,” she said, gesturing at the machines.

Niles shrugged.  “We do in a sense.  We can mesmerize other living things if we put our minds to it.”  He patted the slot machine.  “It’s not living so I can’t work my magic on it.”

Cruz shot him a hard look.  “Have you ever worked your voodoo on me?”

“No.”

She continued to eye him then accepted his terse reply.  She gestured at the casino.  “What’s the point of having a vampire’s voodoo magic at my command if you can’t use it to help me?”

Niles lifted a brow.  “Is that why you invited me along?  You’re using me?”

Cruz laughed.  “Absolutely!  What can you do for me?”

Niles considered the casino.  They stood next to the doors that led onto the boardwalk where a stormy afternoon tossed snow at a broiling sea.  An ocean of slots surrounded them.

“Best bet would be the poker tables,” he said.  “I can influence the other players.”

Cruz beamed.  Clutching her plastic pail, she headed for the poker rooms.

Just as Cruz stepped into the main aisle, Niles heard a woman shriek.  Near the dollar slots a lady waved frantically.  A dark shape barreled towards Niles.  A man plowed into Cruz and sent her spinning, coins flying in all directions.  He dashed past towards the doors without apology.

“He stole my card!” the woman yelled.

Niles knew regular casino patrons could purchase gaming cards.  They deposited money on the card then as they won or lost the value was added or deducted from the card.  The little bits of plastic were as valuable as cash.

He checked that Cruz was all right as she scrambled to collect her quarters then bolted after the thief.  He charged through the glass doors onto the boardwalk and was blasted by spitting salt water and a biting wind.  His quarry was in a dead run up the boardwalk.  Niles launched after him.  With a flying leap, he tackled the felon who squawked in protest.

Niles wrenched the card from the man’s hand.

“Not cool!” he said.

He heard the rumble of feet on the boardwalk.  Niles looked up to find a pack of huge, dark-clad men wearing mirrored sunglasses descending on them.  He noted spiral cords behind ears that indicated these men were wired for sound.  All had ID badges marked casino security.  One had a gun drawn on him.

Niles raised his hands and proffered the gaming card.  “I stopped him.  Don’t shoot!”

The brute in charge snatched the card.  Two of his compatriots hauled Niles to his feet while three more took control of the thief.  Niles found himself forcibly marched to the Taj Mahal surrounded by hulking men who rivaled him in height but outweighed him by tons.  In the bitter cold he decided to hold his protest until they went inside.

The group headed straight for the back offices.  Niles was thrust into an opulent space while his two captors took up position at the door with stoic, unmoving faces.  He didn’t know what happened to the thief.

Niles studied the office.  A huge desk was surrounded by video feeds from the casino floor.  He saw Cruz being interviewed by security in one of them.

The door opened and another dark-clad, ominous looking man stormed inside.  His pig-like eyes considered Niles as he settled behind his desk.

“That was a damned stupid stunt,” he growled.  “Did you think you’d get away with it?”

Niles jerked at the implication that he was party to the theft.  Carefully he drew his identification and laid it on the desk.  “I’m a consultant for the Baltimore police.  When I saw that man stealing a gaming card, I chased him.  I I’m not a thief.”

The man glanced at the ID then flicked it back with a finger.  “Convenient.”

“What’s the problem?  Why am I here?”

“Because I’m not happy about what happened!”

“Nor am I.”

“It won’t be repeated,” the man added as he cracked his knuckles and glared at Niles.  “You’ll make sure it doesn’t, won’t you?”

Niles pondered the unspoken threat behind the man’s words.  He suspected the group intended to break his legs and felt a rush of heat as he calculated how to escape the room with all his bodily functions intact.  As a vampire he could take two or three men, but not the five that surrounded him.

“I am sure it won’t recur,” he said, turning his blue eyes on the nearest guard.  He caught the man’s gaze and held it.  Started working on him.  “I certainly won’t be involved.”

“Like hell!” said his captor.

Niles frowned, his concentration broken.  “I’m sorry?  You want me to rob your customers?”

The man snorted.  “No!”

He must have seen Niles’ look of bewilderment because his swarthy face broke into a smile.

“Hell no!  We’re offering you a job, Mr. Gule!  You’ve got a future in casino security!”

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Niles Comments:  Welcome to 2018!  I wish all my fans well in the coming year.  Stay warm.  Watch out for each other.  Remember, we’re all in this together whether we like it or not.

Gule Gives Kisses by Candlelight

Niles Comments:  Today’s story is my Christmas gift to three of my favorite ladies Peg, Lis and Agnes.  I hope you enjoy it.

To all my readers, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Huge flakes of snow softened the edges of buildings, walls and fences.  The season’s first major snowfall blurred lights and cast an ethereal mist over the rolling farmlands of southern Pennsylvania.  Riding in the passenger seat, his talons clawed into the armrests, the vampire, Niles Gule, wondered yet again where his crazed partner was taking him.

Because Niles didn’t drive, Mariella Cruz sat behind the wheel.  Ordinarily, she was a crazed maniac who loved to speed, peal around corners and generally terrify her vampire co-worker who’d never acclimated to her rambunctious style of driving.  That night, however, given the weather, she was being cautious and tore along the back roads of PA at the posted speed limit, still far too fast given the conditions, but sane for her.

She hadn’t told him where she was taking him, only that she’d wanted to give him a gift for Christmas.  Since he was the wealthiest person she knew yet lived frugally, she struggled to find gifts for him.  She’d decided on an experience rather than an object this year.

Niles noted the well-lit sign as Cruz fishtailed her little Fiat into a driveway.  Hans Herr House 1719.

“The oldest house in this county,” she explained.  She shot him a brilliant smile, white teeth flashing.  “It’s even older than you are!”

Niles chuckled.  “That’s saying a lot.”  He was, after all, one-hundred-fifty-eight years old.

A line of luminaries cast a gentle glow along the snowy driveway which curled around to a parking lot in front of an older, but not ancient building aglow with electric light.  As he unfolded himself from Fifi, Niles tucked his silk scarf into the throat of his charcoal wool coat and looked around.  Beyond the Victorian era farmhouse stood a second, far older building.  Spotlights splayed against its side to reveal heavily mortared gray field stone and a steeply pitched roof.  Tiny windows glazed blackly out at the wintery night.

“This is my gift?” he asked as he took Cruz’s arm to lead her to the farmhouse.

Cruz nodded.  The knitted wool cap she wore on her thick, black curls was already dusted with snow.  “This experience is.”

Frowning, she brushed snow from his neatly shorn, corn-colored head.  “Aren’t you going to be cold without a hat?”

Niles again chuckled.  “No.  I’m a vampire.  We don’t get cold.”

“Lucky you!”  Cruz stamped her feet to remove the snow.  “I’m already cold and we haven’t even started.”

“That’s because you should be in Mexico,” Niles laughed.  “Warm seas.  Palm trees.   Hideous, brilliant sun.”

Cruz joined in his laugh as he opened the door for her.

The experience, as she’d called it, was a candlelight tour of the Colonial Era homestead.  Built long before any major towns existed west of Philadelphia, the Herr farm had been at the very edge of civilization at the time.  Passed down through the Herr family, the homestead eventually ended in the hands of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society which continued to maintain it as a museum.  The Christmas candlelight tour was just one of many seasonal events held at the site.

Charmed to be immersed in a world much like his childhood, Niles hopped into the historic Conestoga wagon the tour used to transport guests.  Cruz snuggled up against him tightly for warmth as a tractor pulled them around the property, stopping first at the Long House.  Jumping down, Niles grasped Cruz by the waist and easily deposited her on the ground as if she weighed nothing.  Then, taking her hand, he followed their guide into the Long House.

This was a replica of a lodge home that would have been typical of the Native Americans who called the eastern woodlands their home before Europeans arrived.  The lodge was like a Quonset hut made of tree trunks and bark.  Inside a fire burned, keeping the place smoky but warm.  Niles set Cruz ahead of him so that she could warm herself while a guide explained how up to thirty Native Americans in family groups might have lived inside the lodge.

The next stops on the tour were a visit to the sheep barn, complete with two curious black-faced sheep and a root cellar beneath the main house.

The last stop was the Hans Herr House itself.  The one and a half story building retained all its Colonial charm.  The first floor held three rooms, a small, cramped kitchen, the central meeting and living space, and the master’s bedroom.  Children would have slept on the second floor.

As he stepped inside, Niles breathed in the scent of herbs and wood smoke.  The house with its foot thick masonry walls was cozy against the wintery night.  The tour group packed together in the kitchen where a re-enactor described how flax was processed into thread which was then woven into fabrics.

The tour ended in the meeting room.  This room, delightfully warm due to the fire in the hearth, drowsed in the light of fifty candles, giving the space a mystical air as if the group really had left the modern world.  A volunteer handed out lyrics for Silent Night, written in German, which was the language the Herr family would have spoken.  Clutching Cruz to his side, Niles joined the chorus, easily singing in German which he’d learned during World War II.  His voice was a rich baritone and Cruz stopped to stare up at him in wonder as he led the singing.  When the group sang the second verse in English, Cruz joined in again, although for fun she sang it in Spanish.  As the voices faded away, everyone stood in silence, absorbing the beauty of the night in that magical place.

As they trailed out of the house and walked to the blacksmith shop where volunteers offered hot chocolate and a bonfire, Niles kept Cruz at his side.  He handed her a cup of the chocolate but took coffee for himself.  Chocolate and vampires were a potent mix.  He then stood staring at the fire while Cruz warmed her toes with the blaze and her innards with her chocolate.

“So did you enjoy my gift?” she asked.

Niles’ smile was enigmatic.  His blue eyes flickered yellow not just due to the firelight but due to the emotions he felt.

Without a word, he took the chocolate from Cruz’s hand and set it on a nearby fencepost.  Then he pulled her into his arms.

“I am beyond charmed,” he murmured, his voice growing husky.  “It was the second best gift anyone has ever given me.”

“Only the second best?” she breathed in complaint, captured by those mesmerizing eyes as the yellow grew stronger.

Niles nodded.  He bent his head and stole his kiss.  Cruz didn’t refuse him.  Her mittens crept around his neck, drawing his tall frame down as her tongue tickled his.

Pulling slightly away, he smiled tenderly.  “That, Mari Cruz, was the best gift of all.”

 

 

© 2017  Newmin

 

Cooksey Bags Thirteen Points

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,” the small, fat balding man murmured as he sat like a garden gnome in the midst of the forest.  A light snowfall had accumulated on his purple Ravens Christmas hat, enhancing his gnomish appearance.

“And I’ve miles to go before I sleep,” finished the vampire who stood at his side.

The brief exchange, the first words the two men had spoken in the past hour, surprised Niles.  Just as Walter Cooksey continued to surprise the vampire.

Niles switched the rifle he held from one shoulder to the other then leaned his back against the rough bark of a tree.  His breath puffed steam into the icy air though he couldn’t see it.  Although the day was overcast with intermittent flurries, the light was bright enough to blind a vampire.  Niles hated being outside in daylight.  Being a nocturnal creature, his colorless skin suffered radiation burns and his brilliant blue eyes couldn’t tolerate full sun.  That wintery afternoon, deep in the woodlands of Maryland, he wore thick, black sunglasses to protect his delicate vision.  Fortunately, the day was dark enough he could venture out without a hat, so his carefully coifed blond locks shimmered, the sole spot of color in an otherwise colorless landscape.

“I didn’t know you read poetry,” the vampire commented.  He desperately wanted to develop some sort of relationship with Cooksey.  Not that he desired to be friends, but he hated that Cooksey viewed him as a freak.

Cooksey grunted.  “I don’t.  I just know that one.”  He peered up, up, up and the vampire looming over him.  “Figures you would.”

Niles lifted a brow.  “Why would you say that?”

The little man laughed.  “Reading poetry is such a froufrou thing to do.  Ya know.  Gay.”

Niles bit his tongue.  His co-worker suffered from the misconception that the tall, elegant vampire was homosexual.  Because, Niles thought in disgust, only gays could be tall, elegant and carefully dressed.

The Gay Vampire.

Sounded like a Hollywood movie.

“Catching anything yet?” Cooksey asked.

Niles scented the air, his only purpose for being there.  He was under no illusions about Cooksey inviting him on this journey into the back of beyond.  The little man needed his skills.  Specifically, his incredible sense of smell.

Cooksey was deer hunting, but not using the usual method.  He owned no tree stand.  He possessed no camouflage.  He didn’t even own a rifle and had borrowed Niles’ sporting gun.

Niles glanced at the rifle in his hands.  Cooksey hadn’t even bothered to borrow the rifle.  He’d borrowed the vampire who owned it and brought both on his deer hunt.  Niles was expected to smell the deer, which he could easily do when one was in range.  Then Cooksey would shoot it, or at least that was the plan.  So far no deer had come close enough for Niles to smell it.  Niles suspected Cooksey had picked the only patch of woodland in all of Maryland that didn’t have a resident deer population.

“This is hopeless!” Cooksey sighed.  He rubbed his mittens together and stared gloomily at his steaming breath.  “We’ve been here for hours.  Does it always take this long?”

“I have no idea.  I’ve never hunted deer before.”

That earned him a despairing moan from his companion.  Cooksey planted his head in his hands and rocked like a baby.

Niles knew Cooksey was totally out of his element.  He’d only been goaded into participating in the national hunting pastime by Krewelski and Williams, two of their fellow police officers on the Baltimore PD.  They’d convinced Cooksey he wasn’t a man until he’d killed his own deer.  Now a bet was on the line, one hundred bucks for the biggest buck.  Knowing he had no chance on his own of killing a fawn, let alone winning the buck bet, Cooksey decided to cheat.  Upon learning Niles hunted, he dragged the vampire with him on this trek.

He’d neglected to ask just what Niles hunted.

“So what do you hunt?” came Cooksey’s voice, muffled by his mittens.  He still held his head in his hands.

“Mostly quail and pheasant.”

“Oh, God!  I should have known better!  That’s what gay people hunt.”

Niles sighed and forbade himself from conking his companion on the head with the rifle.  “No, it isn’t.  It’s what Victorian gentlemen hunted in the 1880’s, which was when I learned to hunt.”  He smiled fondly, remembering those days when life possessed a gentle grace since lost to the bustle of the modern world.  Sometimes he regretted his longevity.

“I’m doomed!”

Niles decided to take pity on the little man.  He was chilled from standing around in the woods doing nothing, tired because he was up past his bedtime, and growing hungry.  Not a good thing considering the only food available was the human crouched at his feet.  Even as his stomach growled, the vampire gazed at that warm bundle of blood and muscle and started salivating.  The craving to plant his fangs into Cooksey’s fat neck was growing as his hunger grew.  Eventually it would become overwhelming and he’d either act on the impulse or flee headlong into the woods, seeking a squirrel.  Neither idea was palatable.

“I’ve got an idea.”  He grasped Cooksey by the arm and raised him to his feet.  “Come on.”

Together the pair marched out of the woods, the snow crunching crisply under their feet.

 

The precinct buzzed with activity Monday evening as the night shift got underway.  Niles nodded greetings to his co-workers as he sauntered to his desk and pulled up his list of open cases.  On the desk opposite, his partner, Mariella Cruz, gestured hello but kept her phone to her ear while she jotted notes on her blotter.

Krewelski and Williams stormed in like a pair of bumbling St Bernards.  Both giants, their voices boomed over the general drone of conversation.

“… think you’ve won it,” Williams was saying as he handed a cellphone to Krewelski. “Where did you find it?”

“State game lands up in New York.”  Krewelski was beaming.

He flashed his phone with the photo of him holding up a dead eight point buck.

“All I found was a couple of four pointers,” Williams moaned.  “Weren’t worth taking the shot.”

Williams handed over the envelope with the prize money.  “I guess this is yours.”

“How do you know Cooksey won’t win?” Niles asked.

Both Krewelski and Wlliams howled.

“Are you kidding?” Williams belched.  “Cooksey’s aint never even been in the woods.”

As if hearing his name, the aforesaid Cooksey appeared, his face flushed from the cold but his pale blue eyes shining.  Without saying a word, he thrust his phone at his two tormentors.

“Thirteen points!” he exclaimed.  “Can you believe it?”

Williams’ face was a portrait of disbelief.  He snatched the phone and stared at the picture of Cooksey holding up the head of a giant buck.  With a snort of disgust, he handed it to Krewelski.

“Where did you find that monster?” Krewelski demanded.

“Not too far from here, actually,” Cooksey chirped.  He grinned at Niles who smiled back.

“Maryland doesn’t grow them that big!”

“Does too!” Cooksey squeaked.

“I don’t believe it!” Williams complained.

“The Ghoul can vouch for it,” Cooksey insisted.  “He was there.”

When all eyes turned on him, the vampire nodded.  “I was indeed.”

“I wanna see that head when you get it from the mounters,” Krewelski demanded.

Cooksey flicked a glance at Niles who nodded.

“Sure.”  Cooksey grabbed the envelope from Krewelski, thrust his nose in the air and strutted away, leaving his two astounded co-workers gaping in his dust.

Cruz leaned towards Niles to whisper, “There hasn’t been a thirteen point buck shot around Baltimore in decades.  How did you do it?”

Niles chuckled.  “A friend landed it in the forties.  Had it mounted on his wall.”

When Cruz gestured she didn’t understand, he added.  “Photoshop cures all.”

Cruz fought not to laugh but couldn’t help herself.  “You’re evil, Gule.  Pure evil.”

Niles grinned, allowing his fangs to show.  “What do you expect?  I’m a vampire, after all.”

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

Bleeding Heart Gule

The vampire’s entire body quivered with longing at the overwhelming smell of blood.  Closing his blue eyes, he briefly indulged in the fantasy that smell engendered.  He breathed deep and sighed.

Get a grip on yourself, Gule, Niles thought, opening his eyes.  No blood for you.

Stiffening his resolve, Niles plunged into the shop, determined to obtain his order and get out before he started licking the merchandise.  The man at the counter, a beefy fellow, greeted him with a wide smile.

“Evening, Mr. Gule!”

“Picking up an order,” Niles explained.

With a nod, the man disappeared into the back of the shop.  After a while, he and another fellow returned, carrying a large box between them which they placed on the counter.

“250 bucks,” the man said.

Niles handed him cash.

Eyeing the box, he asked, “Do you gift wrap?”

The man grunted.  “No.  What do you think this is?  A department store?”  When he saw Niles’ crestfallen look, he relented.  Pointing out the shop windows, he said, “The Salvation Army does gift wrap for donations.  Two doors down.”

“Ah!”  Niles brightened.  “Thank you.”

Clutching the box to his chest, the vampire easily lifted it from the counter and headed for the door, earning himself gapes of astonishment from the two men behind the counter.  They were large individuals and yet they’d struggled with the burden.  Meanwhile, tall, lithe, elegant Niles carried it with ease.

One of the few advantages of being a vampire, he thought as he shouldered open the door and headed into the frosty night.

Two doors down, a woman in red, green and white standing beside a kettle rang a shrill bell.  Fumbling the big box against his shoulder, Niles scrambled through a pocket, found a wad of bills and stuck them into the kettle.  The woman started then beamed brightly.

“Merry Christmas!” she chirped.

Niles’ pale lips curved.  “And to you, lady.”

Muscling his box into the store, he found the gift wrap counter and dropped the box onto it.  The two women behind the counter considered the giant box, then the handsome blue-eyed, blond man who’d delivered it.

“Can you wrap it?” Niles asked.

“We can wrap anything you want, honey,” the older of the two women chortled, looking up and down at his long form in its camel colored coat.  “Name the time and place.”

“Marcie!”  The younger girl blushed at her co-worker’s audacity.  She ripped down a huge swath of green and red foil paper, then while Niles shifted the box for her, wrapped it prettily.  She finished it with a bright red bow.

“What have you got in there?” Marcia asked.  “A dead body?”

Niles grinned, grateful his fangs were newly filed down for the festive holiday season and all its requisite smiles.  “Something like that.”

He hefted the package and proceeded from the store.

The early darkness of winter had fallen over Baltimore.  A chill wind scuttled curled, brown leaves along the sidewalk.  East Baltimore wasn’t the best area of the city and most of the businesses were shuttered with steel cages. Niles was grateful the one he frequented kept late hours.  Maybe, he thought, they knew one of their best customers was a vampire.

A pair of young boys jogged down the sidewalk towards him, tossing a basketball between them.  The random pickup games at the empty lot on Pratt must have ended and the kids were scattering for home.  They darted around Niles, throwing the ball over his head for fun.

The squeal of tires announced a car rounding a corner at high speed.  Niles stopped to watch as it screamed onto Pratt towards him.  As it roared past he saw someone on the passenger side hanging out the window.  A second car rounded the same corner.  Gunshots ricocheted off concrete.    The flash of gun bursts looked like stars in the street.

Startled, the two boys lost control of their ball.  It bounced into the street.

Seeing them standing transfixed in the direct line of fire, Niles dropped his box.  Instinctively, he grabbed one boy each with an arm and threw himself behind his box.  Gunfire erupted from the leading car.  Glass shattered.  The window behind Niles exploded into a thousand deadly shards and rained over him.  He pressed the kids’ heads close, using his arms to protect them.  More shots were exchanged then the mobile war raced away down Pratt, the shots fading as they disappeared into the distance.

Drawing a breath, Niles released his two captives.

“Are you okay?” he asked as he knelt and studied them.

The two kids at first stared with eyes white and round in dark faces.  Then first one, then the other toughened up and put street wise expressions over their features.

“Yeah, no sweat, dude.”  The first pretended a confidence Niles suspected he didn’t feel.

The second scoffed.  “That was nothing.  They wouldna hit us.”

Raising a brow, Niles jogged across the street to retrieve the ball and tossed it back to them.  He saw them studying the box.  They turned eyes once again wide and flashing at him.  Then one plugged the other with his elbow.  A wordless signal passed between them.  They took flight like frightened birds, leaving Niles alone with his box.

Shrugging, Niles hefted his box again and continued his journey deeper into East Baltimore.  His long, steady strides carried him through the darkened city until he came to the small Latino enclave where his partner, Mariella Cruz, made her home with her overflowing family.  He headed for their house, a small bungalow bursting with Cruz’s, trotted up to the front door and elbowed the doorbell.

When Cruz herself answered the door, she drew her breath before smiling and ushering him in.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

Niles proffered the box.  “I brought your family a gift.”

“What?  That wasn’t necessary.”

Mama Cruz trundled out of the back room which flashed bluish white from a television set.  She considered Niles, then the box.

Niles proffered it towards the elderly lady.  “I know you have a huge family and struggle to afford the sort of celebration you’d like to have, so I thought I’d help out.”

“By bringing us a dead body wrapped in foil?” Cruz asked.  Her eyes were almost as wide as the two boys’ had been.

Niles frowned.  “No.  Why would you say that?”

Cruz pointed to the puddle of red pooling at his feet.  “Because your box is bleeding.”

Niles set the box down.  Sure enough, some of the bullets had hit his gift and the box was indeed bleeding.

“It’s not what you think,” he murmured.

Cruz swished her mother out of the room by asking her to get something to clean up the mess.

She leaned towards Niles to whisper.  “I think when a vampire brings me a bleeding box there’s a high chance I’ll find a body inside.”

Niles jerked, affronted, but before he could respond, Mama Cruz returned with rags and scissors.  She ordered her daughter to clean up the floor while she pounced on the box.  It opened to reveal a complete side of beef, fresh from the butcher, not even a day old.

“Gule!” Cruz exclaimed, her eyes shining.  “You didn’t need to do this!”

Niles shrugged.  “I wanted to.”

“This will be a first,” his partner said as she used her feet to swish paper towels over the blood.  “No one’s ever brought me an entire side of beef before, complete with bullet holes.”

She stood on her toes and kissed his cold cheek.

“How sweet.”

Niles grinned.  “Nothing quite says Christmas like bloody beef.”

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gule Gets Into an Argument

Gule Gets in an Argument

 

 

“Look, there’s no such thing as vampires,” the man said, spreading his hands out in a gesture of complete confidence.

Niles Gule, resident of Baltimore and a vampire, lifted a brow as he planted his chin in the palm of his hand.  The long white talons of his fingers caressed his cold cheek while his brilliant blue eyes considered the man sitting beside him on the bleachers.

“Really?”

Dave Jacobs nodded.  “Sure, it makes for a great story, but come on!  It’s just superstitious nonsense from the Middle Ages.”

The vampire turned his eyes back to the field hockey game being played under beaming halogen stadium lights.  A dozen girls ran up the field chasing a ball to the cheering of their parents.  “What makes you so sure?”

Jacobs yelled encouragement to his daughter before he answered.  “This business about frying in daylight?  It’s nonsense.  There’s no scientific basis for any creature getting burned up by sunlight.”

Niles considered the man’s nearly bald head.  “I assume you haven’t been to the beach for a while.”

His companion scowled and ran a hand over his bald dome.  “I’m not talking about a simple sunburn.  I’m talking about getting totally fried.”

“But if a creature evolved to exist only at night, it might not develop the skin pigments required to survive in daylight.”  Niles gave a thumbs up to Mei Li Lo as she scampered along the sidelines to collect the ball when it bounced out of bounds, her sleek black ponytail flopping as she ran.

Jacobs pointed at Niles with a finger.  “Except vampires are supposedly dead people.  People have skin pigment.  So vampires would have skin pigment.”  His expression said he’d scored a point.

Niles twitched his lips.  “Vampires are not dead people.”

“Legend says they are.  And what’s this about being afraid of garlic?”  Jacobs punctuated his point by thrusting a garlic fry at Niles, causing the vampire to recoil.  “Garlic’s just a bulb and it’s not poisonous.”

“To humans,” Niles murmured.  He edged away on the aluminum bleacher seat but not so far he revealed himself for a vampire.  Jacobs had no idea he was sitting right next to the creature he was convinced was a figment of human imagination. Niles had little desire to correct him.

He countered.  “Grapes aren’t poisonous to humans, but don’t feed them to dogs.”

“All I’m saying is, the whole thing is a crock.”  Jacob paused to take a sip of beer.  “There’s no such thing as vampires.  Why they’re so popular in books and television is beyond me.  If you’re going to write stories, you should get your facts straight and have them make coherent sense.”  He looked his companion up and down.  “You said you work for the Baltimore police.  Do you think there are vampires working the night shift?”

Niles spit beer as he fought back a cough.  “Um… well… I can honestly say I’ve never run into one.”

“There ya go.”  Jacobs nodded as if he’d won the argument.  He returned his attention to the game and cheered for his daughter when she took control of the ball.

Niles wiped spattered beer from his face and considered the situation.  Why were humans so danged competitive about things that didn’t matter?  Jacobs’ desire to out argue Niles seemed almost visceral.  He looked proud of the fact that he considered himself the victor.  It made no sense.

Niles understood competitiveness.  Vampires were cutthroat creatures.  They were just as quick to kill one another as they were a human to eat.  Territorial by nature, they fought to hold ground and would challenge any vampire that encroached on their turf.  Niles was no exception.  Although he’d turned his back on his heritage and no longer consumed human blood, that seething instinct to hold what was his still burned hot in his cold heart.  And like the majority of his brethren, he was a loner.  He had no mate and few friends in the vampire community.  Most vampires he encountered immediately challenged him, forcing him to fight them.  It was reasonable behavior.  Fight for territory.  Fight for mates.  Fight to defend your life.

But this?

Niles watched the kids race down the field.  Their parents often leaped to their feet, screaming when the ball got close to one of the nets.  When a referee made a call a father didn’t agree with, a screaming match ensued.  Niles watched with fascination as the ref threatened to have the man evicted from the stadium.  That just set dad off the more and pretty soon security was called in.

The vampire studied the fracas empirically.  While vampires were territorial loners, Niles had decided humans were tribal by nature.  The family unit was the immediate tribe, but humans also created any number of ersatz tribes to feed their primitive hunger.  Tribes that were centered around sports teams were one of the biggest of such convenient structures, but so were political parties, and language, religious and ethnic groups.  The carnage humans had wreaked upon each other over the centuries in tribal conflicts made the losses they’d sustained to vampiric hunting miniscule in comparison.

Jacobs answered his cellphone with a rolling of his eyes to tell Niles he really didn’t want to take the call.  While security wrestled their recalcitrant parent out of the stadium and Jacobs discussed labor rates and pricing models, Niles waved to Mei Li.  The Chinese-American girl shouted up at him, asking if he would take her and some friends for ice cream after the game, to which he nodded indulgently.

The game got underway for the second half.  Niles cheered for Mei Li’s Wildcats as the score seesawed back and forth.  As the last minutes of the half ticked down, the Wildcats were in the lead.

“So, have I convinced you?” Jacobs asked, stuffing his phone in his pocket.

“That vampires aren’t real?”  Niles scratched his blond head with a talon.  “I don’t know.  I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Hell!”  Jacobs moaned as the buzzer sounded, ending the match.  Mei Li’s team had beaten his daughter’s.

Niles grinned though he wished his fangs weren’t filed down.  He would have loved to see Jacobs’ face.  “We won.”  He couldn’t resist the dig.

“I teach my daughter it’s having fun playing the game that’s important,” Jacobs replied, collecting his trash as he rose.  He climbed down off the bleachers.  “Remember,” he said.  “Vampires aren’t real.”   When he hit the flat grass, Jacobs spread his arms wide.  “It’s all fantasy.  Even this.”

Niles frowned.  “How so?”

Jacobs laughed.  “My daughter plays hockey in the York area.  There’s no way she’d be playing a Baltimore team.  Nor would her team lose.”

Picking his way down the stairs, Niles considered the man’s boastful words.

“Maybe,” Niles said, descending to the grass.  “Maybe not.  Just be careful.”

Jacobs arched his brow.  “Yeah?  Why?”

Niles stalked behind him as they left the stadium.  “Because some day, you’ll turn around and a vampire will be right behind you.”

Jacob grunted.  “Yeah!  Like that’s gonna happen!”

Niles opened his mouth to take a bite of the neck ahead of him but reconsidered since he hadn’t the fangs to do it right.

Watch your back, Mr. Jacobs, he thought.  Because I’ll always be right behind you.

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masochistic Gule

Such nights were made for memories, Niles Gule thought as he strolled through the exquisite gardens and sipped champagne.  The moon was a silver crescent rising out of a brilliant red sunset over Pennsylvania.  The soft warm air carried the smell of newly mown grass and the muted sounds of quiet conversation.  He’d strolled this exact garden before on a night very much like this one decades ago.  The music had been different, soft jazz then, Michael Buble now.  But the feeling of quiet gentility was the same.

His steps were hushed by the thick turf as he studied topiaries sculpted into birds, animals and abstract shapes.  They hadn’t changed since the 1920s when he’d last visited this place.  Even the same time piece remained on its concrete platform.  He couldn’t call it a sundial because while it did measure time using the sun it wasn’t a dial.  Instead it was a complicated metal armature that needed to be moved each day to give an accurate reading.  Not that Niles had ever seen it in action.  He was a vampire.  He seldom saw the sun.

The place was Longwood Gardens.  The event was a charity gala to raise money for emergency responders.  Once the private retreat of industrialist Pierre DuPont, the estate had been transferred to a public trust in the 1950s shortly after the man’s death.  Since then it remained open to the public as a stunning gift of beauty to the American people.

During the 1920s and 30s, the DuPont family escaped the city of Wilmington by visiting their country estate where they would entertain lavishly.  Back then Niles came to dance under the stars to music from the theater organ housed in the enormous glass conservatory.   He was surprised by how little the conservatory, like the gardens themselves, had changed in the nearly 100 years since he’d last visited.  The conservatory sported new wings and pools for water lilies.  But the terrace overlooking the fountain gardens hadn’t changed, nor had the topiaries.  As he ambled towards the conservatory, Niles could imagine the year was still 1925 and he was a vampire only sixty-seven years old.

He arrived on the terrace to find Don Kinnear hustling towards the organ room.  Compared to the towering six-foot-six Niles, Don was a diminutive fellow but what he lacked in height he made up for in rambunctious energy.   He would be playing the organ for the gala, a special privilege given the Longwood Aeolian organ was the largest in the world held in private hands.

“I’m taking requests if you have any,” Don said as Niles followed him to the organ room.

Niles’ pale lips twitched.  He watched as Don settled himself on the bench and arranged his sheet music.  “Depends on who will be willing to dance with me.”

Don twisted around, his eyes flicking up and down the tall, elegant vampire.  Not that he had a clue he was talking to an actual, full blooded vampire.  Niles didn’t advertise his biology.  He even filed his fangs to hide the fact that he had any.

“I can’t imagine you’ll have trouble finding a dance partner.”

Niles shrugged.  “Who can say?”  He mulled a thought.  “Tell you what.  If you see me land a perky, luscious little Latina lady, play that.”  He pointed to a particular piece.

Don tilted his head in question.  “Are you serious?”

Niles nodded.  “Very much so.  Trust me, it’s appropriate.”

Don laughed and turned back to his organ.

Smiling to himself, Niles returned to the terrace where banquet tables stood arranged under the clear summer sky and guests milled in evening clothes.  Men wore black tie while the women were a colorful flock of birds in blues, greens, reds and yellows, the finest of their elegant dresses.  Niles had opted for black that evening which made him look taller and even more dashing than normal.

Don’s hands touched the organ and music swelled over the terrace.  The piece was a samba.  Several couples separated from the crowd and drifted like windblown leaves across the terrace.  Niles stopped near the railing that looked out over the fountain garden to watch.

Little Sun Yi Lo, the wife of his boss, Sergeant Tan Lo of the Baltimore Police, asked him to dance, even knowing he was a vampire.  Niles’ smile grew wider as he swept the tiny Asian woman across the terrace, taking one step to every three of hers.  He was an excellent dancer, having learned in Victorian ballrooms in his youth.  He could waltz, tango and samba with the best of them.  Sun Yi was a lovely dancer in her own right and moved smoothly in his arms as they swirled around the terrace.

“Where’s the boss man?” Niles asked.

Sun Yi’s mouth curled down.  “Sitting it out, of course.  He swears he doesn’t dance.”  Her dark eyes twinkled.  “You, however, are superb.  I knew the evening wouldn’t be boring with you here.”

Niles smiled fondly, loving the little woman for her acceptance of him as just who he was.  When the samba ended he handed her off to her husband who looked grateful Niles had resolved one problem for the night.  Every time his wife wanted to dance, she’d having a willing partner who wasn’t her husband.

Niles continued to drift through the crowd, chatting with those he knew, which was a great many.  He stopped at the railing overlooking the fountain garden and watched the fountains dance in the moonlight.  He remembered standing in this same place long ago.  He’d been lonely then too.  As he was lonely now.

“Penny for your thoughts,” a soft, feminine voice, lighted accented in Spanish said from behind him.

Niles turned to find his partner, Mariella Cruz, eyeing him.  She was stunning in a Grecian style gown of sapphire blue.

“Where’s Deschamps?” he asked, naming the man who escorted her everywhere.

Her mouth gave away her displeasure.  “Schmoozing for dollars, of course.”  She gestured with her shoulder towards a knot of the rich and powerful.  Sure enough Malcolm Deschamps was there angling for influence.

Cruz held out her hand.  “Dance with me, Niles.”

Niles knew he should refuse.  The two of them had a chemistry that could burn down the estate in which they stood.  But he couldn’t help himself.  He grasped her hand and spun her into the crowd of other dancers.  On a pass near the organ, he nodded to Don Kinnear, who nodded back.  When he finished the salsa, he played Niles’ request.

Cruz’s dark eyes widened at the hot sounds of a tango.  Grinning, she allowed Niles to swing her about with abandon.  Together, they tangoed across the terrace as other less agile couples made way for them.  Niles was debonair in his dark clothes, brilliant blue eyes and pale hair silver in the moonlight.  Cruz was sultriness personified, her curves made to soften the sharp, staccato moves of the dance.  She laughed then sobered when he dipped her and froze, their eyes locked.  The strains of the tango continued as they gazed at each other, lightning flashing between them.  Then the words of the song came to Niles’ mind and he spun her away to leave her beside Deschamps.

Ah yes, he thought as he found more champagne to ease his sore heart.  The song fit his desire for Cruz.  A woman he could never have.

 

Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches
The last time I needed twenty stitches
To sew up the gash
You made with your lash
As we danced to the Masochism Tango

 

It was the Masochism Tango by Tom Lehrer.

 

© 2017

Niles Comments:  If you are in the south central PA area, the Longwood Gardens Christmas display is a must see!  Brother Don will be playing the organ on select dates throughout the holiday season.  Check out Longwood Gardens here:  https://longwoodgardens.org/.  I admit I’ve never seen them during the daylight hours, but the nighttime display is magnificent.   The Masochism Tango is a fun piece of music.  Listen if you dare:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TytGOeiW0aE

Guest Post: Open Wide!

Niles comments:

It’s Thanksgiving week.  For those of you who indulge in the turkeyfest, I wish you well.  I’ll be gnawing on some new raw beef while you binge on cranberries and sweet potatoes (shudder!).

In honor of the holiday, I’ve decided to give my biographer the week off so that Mel can enjoy time with family.  Instead, I’m offering a post by a writer named Marty who has been inspired by my adventures to come up with one of his own.  Don’t confuse the following with reality.  This is purely Marty’s vivid imagination while my stories are always real.

Enjoy!

Puzzled and concerned, Niles Gule studied his old friend, Cole Tender.

“You look lousy,” Niles said.  “What’s wrong? Got the flu or something?”

“Wish I knew, Niles. I’ve been to several doctors who referred me to specialists.  They’ve ordered me to take all sorts of tests. No one has come up with anything.”

“No kidding?  What are your symptoms?  Maybe you have one of the old diseases from back when we were younger. Modern doctors haven’t heard of even half the things that laid us low back then.”

Cole Tender sat down hard on a nearby easy chair, saying, “You don’t mind if I sit while we talk, do you? I have no strength left to stand.”

“No, No. Of course not. Make yourself comfortable,” Niles urged his guest. “Can I get you anything? Wine? Whiskey? Fresh whole blood?”

“No, Niles. Thank you anyway. That’s one of my symptoms. I seem to have lost my appetite for blood. It’s been like this for a couple of months… since our group’s party on Fang Day in August. That night was probably the last time I enjoyed a full meal. Since then, I’ve been living on coffee and an occasional chocolate cupcake or a soft pretzel.”

“Are you getting your share of iron and the rest of the trace elements we need from human blood?”

“That’s the puzzling thing about all this. My blood tests show I am maintaining my normal level of trace elements, although there has been a barely detectable decrease over the last month or so. However, I’ve lost 40 pounds, as you can see by looking at me. I don’t know what to do, which is why I’ve come to you, old friend. Can you help me?  You still possess much of the old knowledge.”

“OK. I’ll try. First, open your mouth.  Stick out your tongue and say Ahhhh.”

“Ahhhhh”

“Wider!”

“AHHHHH”

“Why is your tongue bloody? Have you just fed?”

“No. Honest. I haven’t had a thing today, and I’m not even hungry. That’s what I’ve been telling you.”

“Well, there’s blood on your tongue and your saliva is bloody. You didn’t have a small bite before you came here?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Hmm….. open wide again. I want to check something out.”

“Ahhhhh.”

“Aha!!! I’ve found it. At least I think I have. Your gums are bleeding, and badly, it seems. I believe you’re suffering from a condition called gingivitis; probably caused by periodontal disease. When was the last time you saw your dentist?”

“Er… not since, oh… about 1870. Yes, that’s it, a few years after the Civil War. I never went back to him because he wanted to grind down my fangs to normal tooth size.”

“Well, Cole, as strange as it may seem for a vampire, you’re bleeding yourself to death. Your own blood is satisfying your hunger, so you don’t eat or have the urge to feed yourself. You’re living off your own blood… recycling it, as it were, but each time it goes into and out of your system, it becomes less potent. That’s why you have lost weight and feel weak.”

“Does that mean I’m doomed to a slow death?”

“Not necessarily. But you must get yourself to a dentist… a specialist… a periodontist. Let him work on your gums. Some surgery might be needed, but I don’t think you have any alternative. Also, you must force yourself to eat and, naturally, make sure your new whole blood intake is accomplished twice a day.”

“That will be very expensive, Niles. I’m not sure I can…..”

“Not to worry, old friend. I’ll lend you the money. You can repay me whenever you can.”

“Gee, Niles. You are a real Prince. ….A Prince of Darkness.”
 

 

© 2017 Weiss