Niles Gule winced as the crowd roared and people jumped out of their seats. A burly man with his face painted red and black bumbled into the tall, lithe vampire, nearly sending him to the ground. Niles balanced himself and his cardboard carton with difficulty then shoved back at the over-exuberant fan. All around him pandemonium broke out as Atlanta gained 28 to 9 against the heavily favored New England Patriots. The Atlanta fans were ecstatic. The New England fans stunned. This Super Bowl would go down as the upset of the century.
Niles soldiered on down the stairs until he found his row. He then edged sideways in front of people who continued to hoot and holler about the shellacking the northerners were taking from the southerners. A woman bopped him in the ear with her elbow as she jumped up and down waving a giant foam finger. He cursed and glared at her with his piercing blue eyes. At first she looked ready to pop him with her first, but when she took note of his handsome face and corn-colored blonde hair, she instead stood mesmerized. He smiled politely and continued down the row.
“Finally!” Deshawn Jackson stretched out his large hands to take the carton of beer and food from Niles. “I was starving! What took you so long?”
Niles blinked at the huge African-American. “Are you serious?” He pitched a shoulder at the crowds. “This stadium is a madhouse. I had to wait in the beer line for twenty minutes.”
Jackson gestured for him to sit down and stop blocking the view.
“This is epic!” he hooted. “Atlanta just scored again.”
“So I noticed.”
Niles settled himself next to his co-worker. He snatched his pair of hotdogs from the carton, discarded the buns and munched on the dogs.
Jackson gave him a hard look. “They’re better with ketchup and mustard.”
Niles glanced at the bare hotdog. “I’ll take your word on that.” He bit deep into his dog.
“Leave it to me to get stuck at the Super Bowl with a freaking vampire,” his companion muttered.
“Don’t complain! I got tickets. I could have invited Williams or Cooksey instead of you.”
Jackson chortled. “I know how much you love those two! No way.” He poked Niles with his elbow. “Besides, this is so much better. A southern gentleman like me getting to watch my team clean your team’s clock.”
Niles sipped a beer. “I wasn’t aware I had a team.”
Jackson twisted. A frown puckered his brow. “I thought you were from Boston.”
“I am.” Niles looked down on the field. “But that doesn’t necessarily make the Patriots my team.”
“Bull crap! You just can’t stand you’re losing big time.” Jackson studied the vampire, noting the neat, expensive black frock coat, the cashmere sweater and tailored slacks Niles wore. Niles was a finicky individual. He liked to look presentable even at the Super Bowl. He was never mussed. “I swear you never lose at anything, Gule.”
Niles lifted a brow. As he sipped his beer, he murmured, “I have been known to lose on occasion. On very rare occasion.”
“Well, you’re losing today!” Jackson sank back into the stadium seat and folded his arms, looking very pleased with himself.
Niles turned his eyes to the game. It had been a bloodbath so far. The Patriots hadn’t even bothered to show up to play for the first quarter, leaving Atlanta to run all over them. Tom Brady, supposedly one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, seemed unable to stop the disaster. Niles twitched his lips unhappily. He’d lied to Jackson. He was a Boston man and a Patriots fan. He just refused to admit it when his team was floundering on the field like a beached whale. This whole thing was depressing.
“Too bad you can’t work your voodoo on someone,” Jackson commented. He plugged his mouth with a French fry.
Jackson shoved him with a shoulder. “I’ve heard the stories. Vampires can mesmerize people with just a look. You use it to hold us hostage until you can bite us. Like a spider holding prey in a web.”
Niles considered those words. They were true. Vampires did indeed use a subtle form of persuasion to make hunting easier. Strangely, it only worked on humans. He’d tried it on a cow once and got kicked for his efforts.
The bloodshed on the field continued. He sighed. The situation was embarrassing. New England needed a wake-up call.
Excusing himself, Niles rose and picked his way down to the bottom of the stands. He used his vampiric voodoo on the ushers at the gate. They let him onto the field without demur. Then he wandered along the sidelines, first on the Atlanta side and then on the New England side, looking various players hard in the eye before moving urbanely on. When he was finished, he wandered back to the hotdog vendor and bought a couple more.
By the time he’d returned to his seat and handed Jackson two more hotdogs, the tide had turned. New England had scored 31 unanswered points and the score was tied. For the first time in Super Bowl history, the game would go into overtime.
Niles munched contentedly on his hotdogs, sans bun, while the overtime period played itself out. New England scored first, winning the game in the biggest comeback in history.
Jackson wailed in pain as the final score flashed on the Jumbotron. He gripped his Falcon’s hat to his head as if it would keep his brains from exploding. Meanwhile, Niles fastidiously licked his fingers clean.
“You!” Jackson glared at the vampire. “You did that! You voodooized everyone.”
“Two entire teams?” Niles asked innocently.
Jackson’s eyes were narrow. “I don’t know how you did it, but you did. Dammit! We had it won.”
“Just remember Tom Brady is considered one of the best quarterbacks ever.”
“Bull!” Jackson slumped in his seat. “You stole my win, Gule!”
Niles shrugged and started to clean up the trash.
“Why can’t you ever simply lose?” Jackson complained. “Is there some rule in the vampire code that says a vampire can’t be wrong?”
Niles thoughtfully fingered his chin. “Vampires can be wrong. I was wrong today.”
Jackson quirked a brow at him. “Oh yeah? How?”
“You were right. Boston really is my team.”
© 2017 Newmin
Niles Comments: For those of you who are Atlanta fans, I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t let the Pats down. The entire world is wondering how such a turnaround could have happened. It seemed like such a mystery. Well now you know! Watch some of the footage of the game and you might just catch sight of me working the sidelines. Post a comment if you find me. We’ll hold a ‘where’s Waldo’ contest.