Niles Gule was stunned Cooksey could run so fast.  The short, chubby Baltimore police officer might be the department’s resident idiot but he could sprint when he had a mind.  He outran the vampire and disappeared towards the harbor.  Niles chased him, hearing a panting Mariella Cruz, his partner, following behind him.

The three pursued a man who’d robbed the Starbucks on Pratt Street.  He’d picked the most inopportune moment to do so, not realizing Officer Cooksey needed his evening pick-me-up at just the same moment.  The clueless Cooksey walked smack into the robbery.  A brief, totally ineffective gun fight ensued sending Cooksey diving under a table with the other patrons.  By the time Niles, Cruz and Cooksey’s partner Williams barged in the robber was out the back door.

To catch the suspect, Williams split wide to cover Calvert Street while Cooksey, Niles and Cruz went straight ahead.  Their man was in a dead run for the harbor, possibly hoping to hide in the midst of the tourist crowd.  The summer evening was sultry.  The sun had just set as an orange ball beyond the city skyline and shadows stretched as Niles raced after Cooksey.

Their suspect, a wiry white man who could run like a gazelle, chanced a look back.  As Niles pelted along the harbor, dodging tourists and shoppers, he suspected the man was stunned to find little Cooksey hot on his trail.  The robber doubled down, sprinting for the waterfront.  With a graceful leap, he twisted over the fence that kept people from falling to the docks below.  With another jump, he landed in the only transportation available, a self-pedaling dragon boat.  He shoved its renter into the water and was off, pedaling madly.

Cooksey didn’t hesitate.  He scrambled over the same fence a little less gracefully and launched himself into another dragon boat just as a family of four was trying to enter it.  He slammed his pedals to the metal.  The dragon boat sped from the docks, leaving a wake of white water behind.

Gasping, Niles crashed into the fence and hung there, trying to get his breath back.  Moments later Cruz jogged up beside him and drooped wheezing with her hands on her knees.

“Damn those two are fast!” she panted.

Niles wasn’t joining the race.  He puffed as he watched the robber head into the harbor.  Cooksey was hard on his tail. The robber realized he hadn’t escaped and drew his gun.  The crackle of gunfire echoed across Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as the robber and Cooksey exchanged shots.

Niles couldn’t hold back the chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Cruz demanded.  The little Mexican-American straightened and slicked away strands of black hair sticking to her face.

Niles grunted.  “Those two. That has to be the slowest police chase in the history of the world.”

Cruz watched as the two dragon boats headed towards the Rusty Scupper restaurant on the south side of the harbor.  They continued to shoot at each other, the reports sounding like fireworks as they echoed off the Trade Center building.

“What now?” she asked.

Niles took out his cell phone.  “I’m thinking the Coast Guard.”

“Harbor Patrol,” Cruz corrected.  “Call the Department of Natural Resources, Gule.”

“Should I add the US Navy?” Niles asked.

Cruz laughed.  “That might be overkill.”

“I’m not sure how to report two stolen dragon boats in an armed standoff in the middle of the harbor,” Niles complained as he dialed.

Niles relayed the information to the harbor patrol then he and Cruz returned to her vehicle.  At his suggestion, Cruz searched for Williams. They found him on lookout at the south end of the Calvert Street Pavilion.  When he was apprised of the situation, Williams darted into the back seat and the three headed for the Rusty Scupper.

Given the lovely evening, the deck was crowded with patrons enjoying dinner overlooking the harbor. Brandishing her badge, Cruz asked them to evacuate to the parking lot in case Cooksey or the robber was still shooting when they landed.  She didn’t want civilians injured.  She and Niles then stationed themselves at the end of the deck and waited another twenty minutes as the dragon boat chase came to its exciting conclusion.

The robber had fifty feet on Cooksey. Both men continued to fire intermittently but neither one had hit anything, even the huge fiberglass dragons.  Watching, Niles rolled his eyes, disgusted.

When his boat landed, the robber leaped clear and fired two-handed at Cooksey.  This time he hit.  Cooksey yelped then fell overboard. He went under and didn’t come up.

Williams squawked.  “Cooksey!”

“Shit!” Niles glanced once at the robber who was clambering onto the deck, then at the bubbles where Cooksey had gone down.

Williams thrust Niles towards the water.  “I’ll get the perp.  You bail out Cooksey.  Maybe the harbor germs won’t get you.”

“I’m not immune to germs!” Niles protested.

Williams snorted.  “You don’t carry a gun either, Ghoul.”

Niles caught himself.  Williams was right.

While Williams and Cruz apprehended their perpetrator, Niles stripped off his jacket and shoes.  Then, with a graceful dive, he plunged into the murky harbor.  Fortunately, he’d learned to swim while crossing the Atlantic in the 1880s so he was a strong swimmer.  He reached the second dragon boat and found Cooksey flailing wildly.  Niles grasped him around the chest.

Cooksey plunged both of them under in his panic.

When they came up, Niles swatted him.  “Stop fighting me, you idiot!  You’ll drown us both.”

“Ghoul?” Cooksey croaked.  “When did you learn to swim?”

“When I arrived in America with Christopher Columbus!”  Niles scoffed.

“You’re two hundred years old?” Cooksey gasped.

“Yes,” Niles sighed.  Holding Cooksey above water, he kicked for shore.  “We arrived just in time for Chris and I to join the Revolution.”

“Wow,” Cooksey said.

Niles got them to the dock.  Cruz helped them up.  Both Niles and Cooksey sat dripping while their perpetrator was taken away in a patrol car and calm was restored to the restaurant.  Surprisingly Cooksey had only been grazed by the bullet.  He was essentially unharmed.

“I owe you,” Cooksey said grudgingly.  He wasn’t the biggest fan of Niles.  He shuddered, knowing he’d been saved by someone he considered a gay vampire.

“Just doing my job.”  Niles sighed.

“I don’t know how to repay you,” Cooksey grumbled, hating to be indebted.

“I do.” Niles slapped him on the back.  “Make Baltimore a better place.  Go back for remedial history, Cooksey.”

He walked off, shaking his head.

 

 

© 2016 Newmin

 

 

Niles Comments:  See the harbor from a unique perspective.  Paddle boats are available for rent throughout the summer at Baltimore Paddle Boats http://www.baltimorepaddleboats.org/.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that a mysterious creature similar to Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) inhabits the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s Chessie!  The Chesapeake Bay Monster.  An actual photo of the monster:

 

'Chessie' Paddle Boat

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