“Since when is dudebro a word?” Niles Gule demanded.
The vampire and his team from the Baltimore PD night shift sat around Walter Cooksey’s kitchen table playing Scrabble©. Niles’ Mexican-American partner Mariella Cruz sat on his left, his nemesis Jonas Williams on his right. Martin Krewelski and Deshawn Jackson sat across from them while Cooksey fussed over the array of food he’d set on his counter. They were all drunk. Cooksey had invited the team to his tiny bungalow for beer, food and football on a bleak winter’s evening. They’d started with beer, then Cooksey broke into his stash of bourbon and things went south from there.
Niles hadn’t planned on attending the little bash. Cooksey wasn’t his favorite person. The police officer was convinced his colleague wasn’t tall, elegant and exquisitely groomed because he was a vampire. No, it was because Niles had to be gay. After two years, Niles finally surrendered to Cooksey’s delusions. He was gay. Even if he lusted after his luscious partner Cruz and vampires didn’t actually come in a gay variety as far as Niles knew.
Williams had talked Niles into attending. Unbeknownst to Niles, Cooksey was not only an idiot he was also an incredible cook. No one, Williams insisted, ever rejected a meal from Walter Cooksey. When Niles protested that he only ate raw meat, Williams told him Cooksey could whip up something to suit even a vampire’s vile palate.
He’d been right, Niles thought as he eyed his empty bowl. Cooksey made ceviche for him. Beef with a mysterious mix of spices that made Niles drool the length of his fangs. Cooksey was a culinary genius.
Williams flourished his cellphone at Niles. “Right there in the urban dictionary. Dudebro. A man who uses the words dude and bro in the same sentence on a regular basis.”
Niles snatched the phone and read the entry. “We’re allowed to use slang?”
Jackson laughed, a deep, rolling bass of a laugh. “This is urban Scrabble©, Ghoul! If it’s in the dictionary, it’s allowed.”
Through his drunken haze Niles tried to process the idea that these people played Scrabble©. He’d always considered it a literary sort of endeavor. Words like quaternary or xyst. Not dudebro. The team, being thoroughly wasted, had become raucous and played words Niles didn’t know existed.
Cruz chortled as she placed her tiles. “Yolo! Triple score on the Y.”
Niles rubbed his brow. “What’s a yolo?”
Cooksey shook his head in disgust as he placed a tray of crab cake canapés in front of his guests. “It means carpe diem in street lingo.”
“Why don’t they just say carpe diem then?”
Cruz snorted. “That would require street thugs to speak Latin.”
Niles wanted to say even though he didn’t speak Latin he knew carpe diem but his head spun too much.
Jackson whooped and pounced. “With Williams’ D, I get dankrupt.” He slid his tiles into position. “87 points. Take that suckers!”
Niles’ brow puckered. “Do I want to know what that means?”
Jackson grinned brilliant white teeth. “To be out of weed.”
Niles sighed. He pondered his tiles, dreading placing his next word. It sounded so… normal. “Pat.”
Sounding like a pig, Cruz snorted a second time and almost fell out of her chair.
Williams shook his head. “I thought you were the smart one, Ghoul.”
Cooksey peered over Williams’ shoulder to reach his tiles while he offered white truffle mini cheese quiches to his guests. “Hoar,” he said, placing his tiles.
“That’s not how it’s spelled!” Krewelski complained.
Now Niles could scoff. “It’s a kind of frost, you idiot!” He blinked at Cooksey. The man was a simpleton with the papers to prove it. And yet, he’d just hauled that one out of his ass. Once again, Niles had discovered a hidden aspect to the bizarre little man.
Cooksey beamed, pleased that one person understood his genius. He handed Niles the quiche plate which the vampire hastily passed to Jackson. The smell was atrocious to his sensitive nose.
“Time for some complex math,” Williams stated as he boldly shoved three tiles onto the board.
“Since when is sex math?” Niles demanded, looking at the little word.
Williams grinned. “Sex has always been math. You add the bed, subtract the clothes, divide the legs and hope you don’t multiply!” He howled drunkenly and slapped Niles hard on the back.
Cruz rolled her eyes. Then she started laughing. “Oh lord! Niles!” Using William’s S she put the name on the board.
“I’m not sure I want my name associated with Williams’ mathematics,” Niles grumbled. He played the word font and got howls of derision for his lack of creativity.
Around the table they went, Jackson playing strugglebus, Krewelski swapping tiles, Cooksey spending all his vowels on zoeae and Cruz getting a good score with marry.
When Niles got stuck, Williams peeked at his tiles and pointed out meh.
“Is that a word?” Niles asked. He wondered how he’d survived supposedly speaking English for one-hundred-fifty-seven years and yet had never obviously learned it.
Williams shrugged and said “Meh!”
Cruz snortle laughed. She twisted when she heard the beep of a car’s horn. “That must be Malcolm. He said he’d pick me up.” She smiled. “He doesn’t want me driving drunk.” She added her last letter E to the board, grabbed her coat and hastened for the door. “Good thing too. Because I’m trashed.” She giggled inanely, swayed, and plowed into the door frame.
“Lightweight!” Williams yelled.
Niles watched as Cruz stumbled into the arms of her new boyfriend, Malcolm Deschamps. The tall, always composed attorney caught her with a displeased smile then assisted her out with only the briefest nod to the men. Niles’ sensitive ears overheard him chastising her for her unseemly behavior as they made their way down the walk. He sighed. His heart hurt.
“God I hate that guy!” Krewelski commented. “Such an ass.”
“He could have said hello,” grumbled Jackson.
Cooksey seemed deflated that the elegant man had turned his nose up at the tray of micro-filets wrapped in bacon he offered. Niles thought poor Cooksey looked like a wounded puppy and suspected he didn’t look much better.
He found William’s gray eyes studying him. “It’s not so bad,” the big man commented. “Don’t give up.”
Niles gestured. “I’m a vampire. She’s not. It’s not to be, Jonas.”
Niles lifted his brows. “Pretty sure.”
When Niles scowled at him, Williams gestured to the board. “You might just want to keep your mind open, Ghoul.” He slapped Niles on the shoulder and sauntered off to find the bathroom.
Niles looked down at the board. Within a crosshatch of words surrounded by some of the most vulgar expressions ever known to the English language lay the last three words Cruz had played. Niles felt his heart stop then start to thunder. Before anyone else could read them, he bumped the board with his hand to jumble it. Only he and Williams knew what Cruz had played.
© 2016 Newmin
Niles Comments: For those of you who know me well, I’m addicted to Words With Friends©. Give it a whirl! Maybe you’ll become addicted too and we can spend an evening together learning the most obscure words in the English language. I’ll be looking for you.