Few things could frighten a vampire. After all, they dealt in human terror and bloodshed on a daily basis. In his younger days, Niles Gule had brutally murdered hundreds of people without a qualm. This situation, however, caused the vampire’s long, lithe body to quiver.
“A dental convention?” he demanded to his partner, Mariella Cruz of the Baltimore PD. “Someone just had to murder someone else at a dental convention?”
Cruz shrugged as she ducked under the police tape that surrounded the crime scene near a display booth featuring invisible braces. “It happens.” She glanced over her shoulder then hesitated when she saw the vampire’s utterly white face. Being a night creature, Niles was normally pallid. Today he was positively ghostly. “Is there a problem?”
“I hate dentists.” Niles ran his tongue over his ever-growing fangs. In order to pass as a human, once a month he visited Dr. Luca Delorento, the only dentist in the city brave enough to defang a vampire. Since Novocain didn’t work on his biology, Niles suffered the procedure without painkillers. He usually spent his dental day totally smashed on vodka until the pain receded.
To be surrounded by dentists, dental equipment, sales people brandishing plastic teeth, tooth brushes. Yikes!
The murder at the convention center had taken place just at the start of the night shift, which meant Niles and Cruz, being the night shift detectives, had pulled the case. While Cruz worked with the crime scene processors, Niles was tasked with questioning witnesses. Of which there were hundreds, none of whom saw a damned thing, or so they claimed. The convention floor was a sea of sales booths pitching every dental device and product imaginable. Through that sea swam schools of dental professionals collecting freebies the way blue whales trolled for krill.
In the ever swirling pool of people, Niles circulated, asking for details of individuals’ movements. Everyone was willing to talk, but no one had anything to say about the dead guy. The victim was a sales person peddling a fancy laser system for whitening teeth. An obnoxious individual according to most and a frequent annoyance on the dental convention circuit. Niles had a hard time finding sympathy for the poor soul.
The strange feeling of a hand slapping him on the shoulder made him jump. Humans never touched vampires. Even though few knew Niles belonged to that species, some deep instinct warned people not to touch him.
“I’m surprised to see you here, Mr. Gule!” Dr. Delorento’s voice boomed even through the babble of the crowd that surrounded him. He winked a twinkling eye at the vampire. “I didn’t think you cared much for my profession.”
Niles planted a polite smile on his pale lips. “Forgive me, but I’m not fond of it.”
The doctor laughed then his brow puckered. “You’re growing out again.”
Niles wiped the smile from his face to hide his always growing fangs. “I’ve got another week.”
A strange light started to burn in Delorento’s eyes. He grabbed Niles by the arm and hauled him down the aisle. “Fortune has smiled on me. You’re perfect for this lecture.”
Ever urbane, Niles would never cause a scene. He demurred as he was dragged behind the doctor. “Dr. Delorento, I’m here to investigate a murder.”
“Yes, well, Faherty is dead and no one’s gonna miss him.”
Niles tried to protest not just being kidnapped, but the dismissiveness of the dentist, but Delorento chugged on. He tugged Niles to a small stage in front of several rows of chairs which were filled with dentists. A young, Japanese woman addressed the crowd. She paused in the middle of her lecture when Delorento motioned to her. She bent down and listened then straightened.
“We are lucky to have an actual example of Yaebaism here in the hall tonight,” she said brightly. “Mr. Gule, will you come up on stage please?”
Niles resisted Delorento’s shove. “I don’t think…”
“Oh, come on! Just smile for the crowd and nod at whatever Dr. Yoshimura has to say.” He patted Niles shoulder. “She came all the way from Japan for this lecture at my request. It’s harmless, I swear. You owe me.”
Niles gave him a hard look but couldn’t really argue the point. He did owe Delorento a lot.
The lady beamed as he stepped onto the stage. He loomed over her by almost two feet.
Yoshimura asked Niles to smile. Reluctantly, he did so, revealing the stubs of his fangs growing out. They weren’t fully formed yet, and so looked juvenile rather than fierce. Still he hated showing them off.
“Mr. Gule has obviously had the treatment done,” Yoshimura explained. “You can see his pronounced canines which give him a vampiric look.”
A man in the front row raised his hand. “Why would anyone deliberately change their teeth into fangs?”
“It’s a fashion statement,” Yoshimura said. “In Japan prominent canines are considered young and hip. Among Australians it’s become something of a fad. Since youngsters can’t shock us with tattoos and piercings anymore, they’ve come up with yet another way to make themselves stand apart. I think it’s important that the dentists of the US be aware of this trend and nip it in the bud. Having one’s mouth deliberately destroyed is a waste of money. Patients face a lifetime of improper bite alignment that can lead to TMJ and other painful problems. And frankly, it’s hideous.”
Niles turned his vivid blue eyes hard the lady. She didn’t back down from her statement, however. She gave his look right back at him.
“Then there’s the cost of correcting the mess after it’s been done,” she stated. “Self-mutilation is never a good decision.”
“I’m going to mutilate someone,” Niles grumbled.
Thereafter, he suffered the indignation of having a half dozen dentists examine his supposed self-mutilation while he plastered a frozen smile on his face.
“That’s gonna be a mess to fix,” a dentist commented. He handed Niles his card. “Call me.”
More dentists huddled around. Niles found himself in what amounted to a house of horrors to a vampire. Finally, he decided he’d taken enough. He allowed his anger to turn his eyes yellow and he roared, brandishing his stubby fangs.
“Enough!” He glared in a circle at the dentists who scampered backwards in fright. “If one more person sticks their nose in my mouth, he’s going to discover what I can do with these! God, I hate dentists!”
Unable to retain a serene appearance, he pushed himself through the crowd and stormed off, in search of the sanity of a murder investigation.
“Talk about over sensitive!” one of the dentists grumbled at his back.
“What does he expect when he mutilates himself?” another asked.
“He’s an anti-dentite!” complained a third.
“He’ll be back in twenty years when it’s not such a fashion statement anymore,” commented a woman.
Dr. Delorento chuckled. “Oh, he’ll be back sooner than that. Trust me. A lot sooner.”
© 2017 Newmin