Certain human belief systems remained a mystery to vampires, the one under discussion being a prime example. Niles Gule, vampire and consulting detective for the Baltimore Police, rubbed his aristocratic brow while he wrangled with the various opinions he confronted. Some of the night shift had met for dinner at Sullivan’s Steakhouse to celebrate Krewelski’s divorce. Niles’ partner, Mariella Cruz, sat beside him munching on a hamburger. Uniformed officers Jonas Williams and Walter Cooksey sat beside her respectively, gorging on delmonicoes, while officers Krewelski and Jackson rounded out the table enjoying chicken and a vegetarian dish. Niles, being a vampire and a strict carnivore, had chosen the rarest prime rib the restaurant could legally provide.
“You gonna eat those breadsticks?” Cruz pointed her fork at the two offending bits of vegetable matter pushed to the edge of Niles’ platter.
Niles didn’t respond. He merely transferred the vile objects to her plate.
At the avaricious gleam in Cooksey’s eye, Niles forked over his green beans and nudged his salad towards Jackson. He carved into his steak and savored the bloody juices pooling on his plate.
“I don’t get what all the fuss is about,” Williams complained. He sat back in his chair and patted his large stomach contentedly. “He just spoke the truth.”
Cruz gave him a hard glance from her dark, Latina eyes. “Ignoring the flip flop, which takes the matter to a whole other plane, he showed his ignorance about what happened.”
“And that he’s a racist,” added Jackson, stabbing the air with his fork. A green leaf waved.
Williams scowled. Niles knew what the man would say if he dared to voice his opinion. Damned tree hugging liberal.
“It wasn’t about that!” Williams thumped his elbows on the table, making the water glasses clink.
“Then what was it about?” Cruz demanded.
“Heritage!” Williams lifted his big chin. He was a massive man in his fifties, and a lifetime police officer. He was also a conservative with certain ideas about his rights as an American. He poked the table with a fat finger. “I think we should leave Robert E Lee’s statue alone. He was an important historical figure. Yeah, he fought on the losing side but he was a great man. He changed this country. I don’t see why we’re suddenly trying to pretend a decade of our history didn’t happen. It did!”
“People find those statues offensive,” Jackson growled. He was as big a man as Williams, and as black as Williams was white. While they both agreed on the subject of gun ownership, it was the only subject on which they agreed.
Williams made quotes in the air. “People!” His tone expressed his disgust.
“Don’t go there!” Cruz warned.
Niles sat bewildered by the conversation. As a vampire, he stood outside human society and watched with the eyes of a bystander. “Can someone explain to me why this topic has you so stirred up?”
When everyone at the table stared at him, Niles spread his hands. “What? I honestly don’t get it. You’re all humans. Same genetic structure. Same basic faculties. Just some of you have darker pigments than others.”
His words made Cruz smile and she patted him on the arm. “God love you, Gule. You are so right.”
Williams scowled. “No, he’s not! He’s a damned vampire.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?” Cruz shot back.
Jackson also looked with scorn at Niles. “You have no idea, Ghoul. You with your lily white face, blue eyes and blonde hair. You’re a walking advertisement for the alt right.”
Niles’ eyes widened. “Excuse me?”
“Don’t call Gule a racist,” Cruz insisted. “He’s the only person at this table who’s colorblind.”
Niles used sipping his wine to cover his confusion. The conversation revolved around the protests in Charlotte between rightists, including members of the KKK and other neo-Nazi organizations, and some counter protestors. One protestor was dead, several others were injured, and two police officers had died when their helicopter malfunctioned. All over the scheduled removal of a Confederate statue. Niles didn’t understand the connection between a statue, Nazism and killing people.
Williams huffed. “I’m saying the statue is history and should stay.”
Krewelski held up his hands to ward off the next barrage from Cruz and Jackson. “Ok, let’s agree that the man has a right to that opinion. I personally can’t disagree. We shouldn’t be trimming our historical record simply for the sake of political correctness. That said, how can you defend running a car into a bunch of people?”
“I can’t!” Williams looked disgusted. “And I don’t. I’m just saying that they had the right to be there to protest the removal. Those tree huggers got in the way and got pounded.”
“So the fact that they got in the way makes it all right to kill them?” Niles asked.
Williams raised his brow. “Anyone with half a brain should know not to push people. I say those counter protesters pushed too much and got burned for it.”
Cruz dropped her head backwards and stared up at the ceiling. “You’re missing my point. Our fearless leader tacitly condoned the attack, backpedaled when his advisors warned him he was in the wrong, then turned around and reaffirmed his original statement. He proved everything I’ve been saying for months.”
“The man’s a racist,” Jackson insisted.
Krewelski’s face was pensive as he pushed a bit of chicken around his plate. “I don’t follow how what he said makes him a racist.”
Cruz straightened. “He said there were many sides to the issue. Implying what the alt right did was ok.”
“There were many sides!” Williams insisted.
Niles hated to get between the battling sides but he did anyway. “There were only two sides at the protest, Williams.”
He earned himself a glare from his nemesis.
“Even if you believe that,” Williams said, “which I don’t… it still doesn’t make the man a racist.”
“Condoning neo-Nazi behavior by insinuating protesters were in the wrong makes him one in my book,” Jackson stated.
“Bull!” Williams shot back.
Little quiet Cooksey had spent the evening eating his steak and watching the volleys like a spectator at a tennis match. He finally put his knife down, looked his team in the eye one by one and said:
“I know I’m not the smartest guy here, but I do know what my mother always told me. Do right by people. Regardless of where they come from, the language they speak, the religion they follow, the clothes they wear, do right by people. Because God isn’t going to judge them on what they do when you treat them badly. He’s going to judge you for what you do to them.”
He looked his partner hard in the eye. “You know I’m conservative. But even I have to draw the line somewhere. And here’s where I draw the line. This country didn’t lose thousands of lives fighting the Nazis just to let that evil thrive and grow here. No sir. And I am not going to stand silent while uneducated Neanderthals beat up and kill innocent women because they mistakenly think that somehow they’re going to reverse history and bring back a white, Euro-centric US. It’s not going to happen. It’s wrong. Anyone condoning such behavior is wrong.”
Williams started to open his mouth to protest but to everyone’s shock, Cooksey slammed the table with his hand.
“It’s wrong, Jonas. So shut up.”
Niles glanced around the table, seeing everyone staring at the little man wordlessly. Cookey turned back to his steak and started eating again.
Niles patted his arm. “God love you, Cooksey.”
© 2017 Newmin
Niles Comments: I try to stay out of human politics and generally forbid my biographer from doing so as well. But some things just have to be said. I fought the Nazis in WWII. I don’t want to do it ever again.