“I’ll bet you’re voting for Hillary.” Cooksey sounded disgusted.
Mariella Cruz of the Baltimore PD raked her fellow officer with her dark eyes. “I’m liberal, female, Mexican-American and intelligent. In your opinion which of those categories finds Trump appealing?”
Cruz considered her partner, Niles Gule. He was the epitome of a Trump follower, tall, blue-eyed and blond. He was also a vampire. She wasn’t sure where the candidates stood with regards to vampire rights. “So who are you voting for?”
Niles lifted a brow, his pale lips faintly smiling. “Neither.”
“You should vote even if you can’t stomach the choices,” Cruz reproved. “Seriously. Vote independent if you don’t like the major parties.”
“I probably would, if I was registered.”
She blinked. “You’re not?”
Niles laughed. “I can’t get ID, Cruz.”
Niles lifted his shoulders. “How would I explain my date of birth?”
Cruz’s mouth made a soundless O. She tended to forget her partner had been born in 1858.
“All the better,” Cooksey insisted. “We don’t need freaks voting.”
Niles bit his tongue before he commented about the man in line whose bald head was completely covered with multicolored tattoos.
At seven in the morning the group of police officers was out past their bed time. Ordinarily they were the night shift. They’d extended their shift however to cover polling places at elementary schools. Niles’ team was stationed at the William Paca Elementary School in Middle East Baltimore. Ordinarily polling places weren’t guarded by the police, but the threats of violence during rallies had put the city fathers on edge. No one wanted voters injured. Worse, school administrators didn’t want children placed in danger. So Niles and his coworkers stood in the central hallway with children arriving from one end and voters arriving from the other.
“Who would you vote for if you could?” Cruz asked curiously. She looked bored. Rocking on her heels with her thumbs in her belt.
“Clinton of course!” Cooksey insisted. The little man looked disparagingly at Niles.
“Because?” Niles asked.
“She’s pro alien invasion!” sneered Cooksey. “Open borders and all that.” He gave the vampire a poke.
“For the record I’m as American as you are.” Niles’ voice darkened. “I was born in Boston.”
Yet again Niles felt his heart sink. He hated being considered an outsider. He wished they’d treat him like an ordinary human being.
Impossible, Gule, he muttered. You can’t be what you can never be.
The sound of a scuffle interrupted his thoughts. Two burly men had started arguing. A Hispanic delivery driver dressed in coveralls shoved a black businessman out of line causing the businessman to grab him by the collar. The driver raised his fist to plaster the businessman.
“Knock it off!” Cruz yelled, wading into the fray. She might be only five-feet-four but she packed power in her small frame. She used her body to separate them. Niles immediately moved in, gently but firmly pulling the businessman away from the driver to keep him from reacting to either his attacker or Cruz.
“This is America, damn it!” Cruz swore. “We don’t fight over who we vote for. I’m sure your candidates would be appalled by your behavior.”
The man Niles held shook himself free of the vampire’s grasp, smoothed his suit and sniffed.
“We weren’t fighting over candidates, lady! He was butting in line!”
Niles added, “They’re both voting for Johnson.”
Cruz scowled at first one then the other when she realized each wore Libertarian buttons. “Oh for God’s sake! Act like adults.” She shoved them both back in line then gave them a glare, warning them not to cause any more problems.
“What do you expect from a Trumpeter,” Niles heard a woman mutter.
The comment came from an elderly black woman with a cane glowering at the troublesome pair who’d started the disturbance.
“We’re Libertarians!” snapped the driver. “I’m not voting for Trump!”
The second Libertarian came to his defense. “We’ve got principles, lady.”
“Are you implying I don’t?” the woman demanded. She poked the end of her cane at them.
Niles stiffened as a group of school children approached headed towards the administrative offices. He placed himself between them and the line of voters who were growing restive as they waited. Cruz spread her arms wide in an attempt to calm the situation.
“Settle down,” she commanded. “If everyone would just wait their turn we’ll all get through this. Patience.”
“This country is going to hell,” muttered the businessman. “Letting in refugees and riffraff.”
The elderly woman lifted her double chin. Sparks glinted in her dark eyes. She pointed a shaking finger at the businessman. “Who are you calling riffraff?”
“Or refugees?” demanded the driver.
“Stop!” Niles stepped into the fray, hoping his height and piercing stare would quell the impending riot. “We’re all Americans here.”
“Some of us more than others,” muttered Cooksey.
Now Niles glared at his coworker. “Pipe down, Cooksey.”
The businessman seemed ready to pummel the old woman, Cooksey ready to punch Niles and Cruz ready to slap the lot of them in handcuffs.
As the tension grew, a small voice cut like a machete through the arguments. “No fighting!” Its piercing tone caught everyone by surprise. Niles saw a ten-year-old black boy standing with his arms akimbo, his backpack bristling, his face screwed up in disgust. Beside him stood a girl with white beads in her braided hair and a younger boy sucking his thumb while holding her hand.
“There’s no fighting allowed,” the boy insisted in his strident voice. “If you keep fighting I’m taking you to the principal’s office.” His eyes narrowed. “You don’t want to find out what he does to people in there. You really don’t.”
Niles drew back, startled by the vehemence in the boy’s face. As did everyone else. Cruz looked embarrassed she’d been reprimanded by a little boy. The elderly woman pretended to fuss with something in her purse. The businessman huffed and turned his back. Cooksey just looked confused.
The boy studied each of them in turn. “Don’t let me catch you behaving like that again.” He gave a firm nod as if to say “so there” and marched with his little troupe towards the office.
Niles glanced at Cruz. She looked back at him. They both burst into laughter.
“So explain to me why I want to register to vote?” Niles asked.
Cruz smiled fondly as she watched the children walk away.
“For them, Gule. You need to vote for them.”
© 2016 Melinda Newmin
Niles Comments: I can’t vote but you should. Make your voice heard. Please vote!