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.
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.
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