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.”
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.