Gule is Jammed Up

“I am going to kill someone!” Mariella Cruz’s knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel.

Not before I do, Niles Gule thought as he leaned away from her in the passenger seat, trying to put some distance between them.

The pair of Baltimore City police detectives was stuck in a traffic jam on 95 south of the city.  While most of the population of Baltimore-Washington was rising for their day, the two detectives were trying to get home at the end of night shift.  They’d become mired in the jam of the century.  According to news radio, a chicken truck had overturned ahead of them, spewing hundreds of chickens who raced around like… well… chickens loose on a highway.   95 was a parking lot from Ridgley’s Cove to 695.  Cruz and Gule had gotten stuck on the bridges.  The Patapsco River shimmered below them in the dim light of a new day.

“I knew I should have gotten off at 295,” Cruz grumbled as a pair of chickens raced past going much faster than they were.  She sat up, chin high, and tried to look over the traffic that surrounded them as if she’d find a way through the disaster if she looked hard enough.

“You might as well relax,” Niles said with a sigh.  “We’re stuck until they catch all those chickens.”

She glared at him, her dark Latina eyes flashing fire.  “This isn’t funny, Gule.  I’m off for a week starting tomorrow.  I’m not spending my vacation stuck on a highway bridge!”

Niles raised his brow but said nothing.  Cruz was a maniac at the wheel on the best of days.  Stuck in traffic she became a raving lunatic.  She couldn’t even sit still in the car.  She kept twitching in her seat as her nerves drove her to move.

Niles, meanwhile, felt like a tuna in a can.  Fifi, Cruz’s little powder blue Fiat, was not designed for a six-and-a-half foot tall vampire.  He was tired of his knees pressing into his chest.  Worse, the sun was rising.  Niles gritted his teeth, knowing he was going to fry.  Vampires and sunlight did not mix.

Cruz opened her door to peer out then closed it again.

Finally, Niles had had enough.  He grabbed her arm with his long, white taloned fingers and gave her a shake.  “Stop it, Cruz!  Before you drive me to kill someone.  You!”

His sharp tone froze her.  Her dark eyes stared at him, shock making her speechless.  He never spoke harshly to her.  He couldn’t.  Not to the woman he was hopelessly falling in love with.  But today, her nervousness, the impending sunrise, and the chickens had driven him over the edge.

“You wouldn’t, would you?” she mewed.

Niles cursed and turned his face into the window, uncaring that the sun was now burning it.  He hated that even his own partner questioned his determination to remain on a human-free diet.  The thought made his heart hurt.  He closed his eyes as sunlight made his skin itch.

“Gule?”  She rattled his shoulder.  “Gule?  You’re smoking!”

Niles turned back to her.  “It’s sunrise, Cruz.  I’m a vampire.”

“Oh, God!” Cruz looked around even more frantically.  “We’ve got to get off this bridge!”

“Good luck with that!”  As he gestured at the sea of vehicles, he realized his hand was burning.

Cruz wasn’t the sort to sit around as her partner was vaporized.  She threw Fifi into gear and hit the gas.  Niles yelped and grabbed the door handle as she jammed her little car between the delivery truck ahead of them and the motorcycle beside them.  Ignoring the cyclist’s yell, she forced her way onto the small bit of concrete between the bridge railing and the travel lane.  Niles found himself staring down at the swirling waters of the Patapsco directly below him.  He felt sure they would fall.

“Jesus, Cruz!” he complained, now leaning towards her as if his weight could keep them from slipping to their doom.  “What are you doing?”

“Getting my vampire out of here.”  She said this through gritted teeth.  She was leaning forward into the wheel, her eyes steely as she plotted a course off that bridge.

Niles, too, was gritting his teeth, but for totally different reasons.  She’s gonna take us both over the side, he thought, looking down.  “I’m a vampire, Cruz.  It takes a lot to kill me, but trust me on this one.  If you dump us into the bay, I really will drown.  I swear I will.”

She snorted. “I’m not dumping you into the bay.”

As if to prove her point, someone on foot ahead of them threw himself in front of her car.  She slammed on the brakes, pitching Niles into the dash, even though they were only going five miles an hour.  Cursing, she poked her head out the window and yelled at the guy who’d interrupted her high speed dart to freedom.

“Get out of the way!”

The man brandished a gun at her.  “Give me your purse, wallet and any jewelry.  Come on!  Let’s go!”

“You’re robbing us?”  Cruz’s voice squeaked in surprise.

The man nodded, his gun bobbing with his head.  “Yeah.  Traffic jams are great places to rob people.  You can’t go nowhere.  And no cops.  Now shut up and cough up!”

While Cruz sputtered, Niles pulled his wallet from his back pocket.

“You aren’t going to let him rob us, are you?” she demanded.

Niles shot her a look from his brilliant blue eyes before turning them towards their tormentor.  He flashed his badge.  “We are police, you idiot.”

A snide smile curved the man’s thin lips.  “Sure ya are.  And I’m the tooth fairy.  If you don’t cough up, I’m shooting you.”

Niles fought to roll his eyes.  “Ok, fine.  We’ll do this the hard way.”

Because he didn’t own a gun, Niles only traveled with his silver vampire hunting knife.  He was incredibly quick with it.  In the flash of an eye, he drew it and flicked it at the robber.  It hit the man in the wrist that held the gun.  The man yelped, the gun flew up in the air, and fired, killing a chicken that was frantically running through the traffic.  Cruz leaped from the car, grabbed the man and plastered him up against Fifi’s hood while Niles raced around from the other side.  He slapped cuffs on and just for his own satisfaction, wapped the man’s face into Fifi’s hood once for fun.

“Get in the damned car!” Cruz insisted as the risen sun singed Niles’ face.  “You’re going to vaporize.”

Niles wanted to tell her that vaporizing vampires was a myth.  He would merely suffer horrendous radiation burns until he finally died.  But she was busy forcing the robber into the back seat.  He retrieved the chicken that had landed on the hood, climbed in and turned his face from the death pouring down from the skies.

When Cruz had gotten her criminal belted in, she climbed into the driver’s seat and started inching forward again, this time holding her badge out the window to keep anyone from complaining about her illegal tactic.

“Police!”  She shouted.  “It’s an emergency!  Coming through!”

Niles would have laughed if his burning face didn’t hurt so badly.  He sat with the chicken on his lap and watched as his mad partner broke every traffic rule in existence to get them off the bridge.  Meanwhile, a dead chicken oozed warm, red blood onto his hands.

“Why did you grab the chicken?” Cruz demanded.

Niles shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Dinner?”

He lifted his bloody hand to his mouth and savored licking it clean.  The man in the back seat choked.

Niles half turned as he finished cleaning his hand.  Then he opened his mouth in a wide, vampiric grin to brandish his fangs.

“What some?” he asked his passenger.  “Tastes like chicken.”

The man fainted.

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gule Battles Pirates in Baltimore

Niles didn’t duck fast enough.  He took the blow right between the eyes.  If his vision hadn’t been swirling from too much alcohol before, it certainly was now.  The woman who’d belted him with the beer stein frantically apologized and tried to soothe his brow with the back of her hand but only succeeded in almost dousing him in beer.  Niles backpedaled as he waved the buxom beauty away.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor tilted then righted itself as his drunken vision steadied.  Niles Gule, vampire guardian of the Crab Cake Capital of the World, was lost at sea.  At least he felt that way.  His boss Sergeant Tan Lo was turning thirty-five today.  To celebrate his team booked an Urban Pirates cruise around the harbor.   Forty officers crammed the ship along with its crew of sailors and pirate actors.  Pretty much everyone had over-indulged in the five kegs of beer the celebrants provided.

A drunken pirate outing.  Not exactly Niles’ cup of tea.

Urban Pirates was definitely designed for the kid-at-heart, something Niles was not.  The company provided costumes, so Niles’ coworkers were sporting eye patches, head scarves and ridiculous jewelry.  The actors maintained a steady stream of “Ahoy maties” as they pranced and waved cutlasses with abandon.  Staged sword fights and bad dialogue conveyed the feeling that the birthday party was adrift on the high seas with enemy craft on the horizon.  What was really on the horizon was Baltimore’s skyline lit up like a Christmas tree and the twinkling of watercraft plying the harbor.  A houseboat drifted dangerously close, its captain singing Barry Manilow songs at the top of his lungs while he wafted a bottle of Hennessy high and allowed his boat to ram its neighbors.

Ah, yes, the cream of the American naval tradition, Niles thought.

The vampire was trying to avoid the drunken chaos.  Being the tallest man and strikingly blond, he was an easy target in the summer night.  He’d been hit twice by cutlasses swung in the air.  Now the beer stein threatened to send him over the side.

He hoped if he stayed near the gunwales he might escape this affair in one piece.  Meanwhile, he indulged in all the beer a vampire could stomach, which was an amazing amount.  He was surprised he was still standing.

Officer Williams grabbed a pirate wench and danced what might have been a jig.  Niles wasn’t sure.  The actress tolerated the huge man’s embrace with gritted teeth and a plastic smile as Williams whirled her around and bellowed.

“Come on, Gule!  Grab yourself a wench and let loose for once.”

Nile folded his arms and shook his head.  “No interest, Jonas.  But thank you.”

“Suit yourself.  More for me!”  Williams’ drunken sway nearly took both he and his dance partner over the side.

Cooksey had another woman on his lap.  “You forget he’s a Ghoul.  Likes to stick it into things in an unnatural way, if you get my drift.”  He laughed insanely at his own joke.

Niles debated how to respond to the idiot.  Cooksey hated minorities, whether Asian, Latino, black or otherwise.  Because he found Niles’ stiff manner an affront to his manhood, he’d dumped Niles into the only category a Nordic vampire seemed to fit.  He’d declared Niles gay.

Niles had given up trying to explain that vampires only came in one flavor.

Thinking to torment his annoying coworker, Niles ran his tongue over his growing fangs.  They were sharp again and becoming prominent.  Though a dentist filed them down on a monthly basis, the damned things always grew back.  Knowing few people would remember tomorrow, he let his fangs show.

“You’re right, Cooksey.  How about I sink a little something into you?”  He lifted his brows in a beckoning fashion.

“Hell, Ghoul!  That’s disgusting!” Cooksey complained.  “Put those things away!”

A large boat loomed in the darkness and thumped alongside the pirate boat.  Niles watched curiously as a host of new wenches leaped aboard his vessel and jiggled through the crowd.  Two bore tambourines which they crashed over their heads to a throbbing beat.  The crowd of mostly drunk men welcomed the troop with open arms.  Niles grimaced as virtually every one ended with a woman in his lap.  They were doing things in the half-light that human eyes couldn’t see.  Unfortunately Niles possessed excellent night vision.  His eyes widened as he saw one man after another get more than he’d paid for.

Hell, he muttered.  He closed his eyes and swigged more beer.

When one of the lovelies sidled up to him, Niles smiled politely and shook his head.  Her hands wormed into his clothing, seeking to work him as her sisters worked everyone else.  Niles breathed in the heady aroma of human blood that instantly made him hungry.  He salivated instead of sweated.  The woman had no idea she was tempting a vampire.  Her hands were all over his hips.  Niles pushed her away.

“All right!” she complained as she sashayed off.  “Uptight prig!”

Had Niles not vowed to abstain from human blood, he might have shown her a vampire’s kiss.  Instead, he swallowed his lust and finished his beer.

The women rose as a unit and danced around the ship in a display of something more fitting on a Greek island.  Laughing, one by one, they popped back to their own boat and with cooing calls moved away.  The men hooted and begged them to return.

Wearing a stupid grin, Williams stumbled into Niles.  “You should have joined us, Gule.  I know you aren’t gay.”  His eyes narrowed.  “Are you?”

Niles shook his head.  “No, Jonas.  I’m celibate.”

“Shit!  That’s a crime.”

Niles shrugged.

Williams reached into his back pocket to fetch his wallet.  He wanted to bribe another actress onto his lap.  His face went white.  His hands scrambled.

“Hey!  Who stole my wallet?”

One by one, the men of the boat denied they’d done it.  Their hands went to their own pockets.  A chorus of complaints filled the air.

“It was those women!” Williams moaned.  He leaned over the side of the boat, trying to see where the second ship had gone.  “They robbed us!”

“The entire night shift of the Baltimore police?”  Niles struggled to keep from laughing.

William’s dark eyes burned with embarrassment.  “Hell!”

Niles couldn’t hold back the smile.  “Who’da thought it could happen in Baltimore.”

Williams frowned.  “What?”

Niles gestured to the darkness.  “That actual pirates would rob a bunch of pirates.  It was a damned good show!”

As Williams scowled, Niles laughed.

 

 

© 2016 Newmin

 

 

Niles comments:

 

Urban Pirates offers cruises in the summer around the Inner Harbor for those interested in a bit of fantasy fun.  Both day and night cruises run through the summer months.  Here’s your chance to be silly for a day.  Hopefully your cruise will end on a happier note than ours did.  Normally, the Urban Pirates aren’t robbed by rogue ladies… but you can always dream!

Image result for urban pirates cruise

Gule Weighs In

Niles Gule sometimes wondered when the average human male officially reached adulthood.  The vampire was well aware of what was taught in middle school health classes; that somewhere around the age of eighteen, boys became men.  After having lived for more than a century among them, he still wasn’t convinced.

The situation before him was a case in point.

He stood with his arms folded, his weight on his heels, watching as a monster of a man held a smaller fellow in the air by the nape of his neck with a single, giant paw.  The move was remarkable.  Even Niles, with his vampiric strength, was impressed.  Unfortunately, the smaller man wasn’t.  He squawked like a baby and fought to free himself from the clutches of his enemy.

Officer Jonas Williams stood beside Niles, his notebook and pencil in hand as he questioned the pair.  “Explain to me why you feel the need to hold this man captive,” he intoned in a bored voice.  Williams was also a giant.  He refused to be impressed by anyone except himself.

“He stole my machine.”  Monster Man’s voice was so deep it rumbled the bones in Niles’ chest.

Niles glanced around.  The Five X3 gym hummed with business as the after work crowd from central Baltimore descended upon it for their evening routines.  Music boomed from overhead speakers which competed against a spin class’s tunes.  Men grunted, women pumped on ellipticals and weights banged up and down.  Niles twitched his nose, finding the aroma of overheated humans tantalizing.  Had he still hunted them, that smell would have indicated prey on the run.  Instinct begged him to leap at someone, anyone, and sink his fangs into them.

His tongue ran over his fangs.  Good thing they’d been recently filed flat, he decided.  He couldn’t act on his desires.

“How does someone steal a machine?” Officer Cooksey asked.

Niles guessed the little bald man had never seen the inside of a gym before.  He was as round as he was tall, pasty white and out of shape.  He kicked the closest weight machine with his toe but the enormous contraption refused to move.

“One man jumps ahead of another man in line for the machine,” Niles explained in annoyance.  He couldn’t help himself.  Sometimes Cooksey grated on his nerves.

Williams half turned to stare at the vampire.  “When’s the last time you hit the gym, Ghoul?”

Keeping his arms folded, Niles flicked a glance down his long, lean form.  “Saturday.  I work out at Under Armour three times a week.”

That stunned his co-workers.  Ignoring the hapless man still hanging by the neck, they studied the vampire.

“It doesn’t show,” Williams jibed.

Niles narrowed his blue gaze hatefully.  “I come for the cardio.  With my diet, it’s important.”  He gestured to the two men who’d caused the ruckus in the first place.  “Can we keep our minds on business?  A man has been assaulted here.”

Williams heaved a sigh as he faced Monster Man.  His tone revealed just how important he didn’t find this call.  “You can’t hold people by the neck, sir.  Please put him down.”

Niles stared hard at Williams, trying to get the man to take the call seriously.  “The report stated that a riot was in progress.”

The gym’s manager, a person almost as beefy as Monster Man, shrugged.  “Ok, so maybe I exaggerated a little.”

“A little?” Niles studied the gym where everyone else was happily grunting in pain.  Most of the crowd that had been watching the fracas had since wandered back to its torture routines.

“I didn’t want it to get out of hand.  That can happen sometimes when people get hot under the collar.”

“I’m getting hot under the collar,” Niles grumbled.

“I didn’t think your kind got hot,” Williams shot at him.  “Aren’t you cold blooded?”

“Yeah!” Cooksey piped up.  “A reptile?  A gay reptile?”

Niles jerked at the words.  He noted the stiffening of several of the spectators, all big men with bulging muscles, and not the type to suffer gay men in their presence.  Their eyes trailed over his long, lean form, carefully coifed blond hair and exquisitely tailored suit as they made their assessments. He saw fists clench and knew a beat down was headed his way if he didn’t act.

Ignoring them all, he glared at Monster Man.  “Put that man down!”

Monster Man’s dark eyes narrowed.  He pushed his face into Niles’.  “Who’s going to make me?”

A small, audible gasp went up from the small crowd of onlookers.  Cooksey’s eyes went wide as he took a calculated step backwards.  Williams stood grinning, his pencil poised above his notepad as he waited for the tall, slender vampire to answer.  His gray eyes sparkled with anticipation.

“Oh, this is gonna be good!” he murmured.

Niles chose not to respond.  Instead, keeping his face inches from Monster Man’s, he used his right hand to pry the man’s fingers from his victim’s shirt, dropping the smaller man to the floor.  Monster Man seemed mesmerized by Niles’ fierce stare.  He blinked and freed himself then looked at his huge hand in amazement.  He opened and closed his meaty fingers as if testing to see that they still worked.

Niles eased his stance.  “I suggest you beat it before this gentleman decides to press charges against you.”

“Maybe I should!” exclaimed said gentleman, climbing up from the carpet.  His dark eyes flashed with courage now that he had a champion to protect him.

Niles gave him a vicious look.  “Don’t press your luck!”

The man swallowed then, ducking from the vampire’s glittering blue gaze, shuffled away.

Monster Man didn’t hesitate.  He slammed a fist into Niles’ gut.  Niles took the blow with a whoosh of breath as he flew backwards into a weight rack.  His arms tangled in the metal bars, keeping him upright.  Meanwhile, Monster Man stormed towards him, fists poised to finish Niles off.

“Need help?” Williams offered in a voice that said he had no intention of helping.

Niles straightened and stared daggers at Williams.  He ducked as Monster Man swung at him but made no other move to engage his attacker.  He avoided two more swings as Monster Man pursued him around the weight set.

“Stand still, dammit, you light footed queer!” the man demanded.

Niles flashed his badge.  “I’m a cop, you idiot.  Do you really want to go to jail?”

The man scoffed and stalked around the weight set a second time while Niles continued to back around it in a circle, keeping it between him and Monster Man.

Niles decided this guy had meat for brains.  “You think you’re the tough man?  You can beat me in a fight?”

“With my eyes closed!” Monster Man snorted.  Both his fists clenched.

“Ok, fine!”  On his next turn around the weight set, Niles grabbed the largest set at the bottom.  He hefted it up and with a gentle toss, flipped it to Monster Man.  The man caught it, thinking it couldn’t weigh much given how Niles had tossed it, only to find it weighed over 400 lbs.  He went down like an imploded building.

Niles wiped his hands to signal he was done.  As he stepped over the stunned man, the spectators backed away, their eyes wide.  No one dared to get in his way.

As he stormed from the gym, Niles looked back to find half the gym’s staff trying to figure out how to get Monster Man free from the weight.

Came to break up a fight, he thought.  Who knew I was the one who’d be fighting?

 

© 2017 Newmin

Gule Discovers Dragons in Baltimore

Niles Gule was stunned Cooksey could run so fast.  The short, chubby Baltimore police officer might be the department’s resident idiot but he could sprint when he had a mind.  He outran the vampire and disappeared towards the harbor.  Niles chased him, hearing a panting Mariella Cruz, his partner, following behind him.

The three pursued a man who’d robbed the Starbucks on Pratt Street.  He’d picked the most inopportune moment to do so, not realizing Officer Cooksey needed his evening pick-me-up at just the same moment.  The clueless Cooksey walked smack into the robbery.  A brief, totally ineffective gun fight ensued sending Cooksey diving under a table with the other patrons.  By the time Niles, Cruz and Cooksey’s partner Williams barged in the robber was out the back door.

To catch the suspect, Williams split wide to cover Calvert Street while Cooksey, Niles and Cruz went straight ahead.  Their man was in a dead run for the harbor, possibly hoping to hide in the midst of the tourist crowd.  The summer evening was sultry.  The sun had just set as an orange ball beyond the city skyline and shadows stretched as Niles raced after Cooksey.

Their suspect, a wiry white man who could run like a gazelle, chanced a look back.  As Niles pelted along the harbor, dodging tourists and shoppers, he suspected the man was stunned to find little Cooksey hot on his trail.  The robber doubled down, sprinting for the waterfront.  With a graceful leap, he twisted over the fence that kept people from falling to the docks below.  With another jump, he landed in the only transportation available, a self-pedaling dragon boat.  He shoved its renter into the water and was off, pedaling madly.

Cooksey didn’t hesitate.  He scrambled over the same fence a little less gracefully and launched himself into another dragon boat just as a family of four was trying to enter it.  He slammed his pedals to the metal.  The dragon boat sped from the docks, leaving a wake of white water behind.

Gasping, Niles crashed into the fence and hung there, trying to get his breath back.  Moments later Cruz jogged up beside him and drooped wheezing with her hands on her knees.

“Damn those two are fast!” she panted.

Niles wasn’t joining the race.  He puffed as he watched the robber head into the harbor.  Cooksey was hard on his tail. The robber realized he hadn’t escaped and drew his gun.  The crackle of gunfire echoed across Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as the robber and Cooksey exchanged shots.

Niles couldn’t hold back the chuckle.

“What’s so funny?” Cruz demanded.  The little Mexican-American straightened and slicked away strands of black hair sticking to her face.

Niles grunted.  “Those two. That has to be the slowest police chase in the history of the world.”

Cruz watched as the two dragon boats headed towards the Rusty Scupper restaurant on the south side of the harbor.  They continued to shoot at each other, the reports sounding like fireworks as they echoed off the Trade Center building.

“What now?” she asked.

Niles took out his cell phone.  “I’m thinking the Coast Guard.”

“Harbor Patrol,” Cruz corrected.  “Call the Department of Natural Resources, Gule.”

“Should I add the US Navy?” Niles asked.

Cruz laughed.  “That might be overkill.”

“I’m not sure how to report two stolen dragon boats in an armed standoff in the middle of the harbor,” Niles complained as he dialed.

Niles relayed the information to the harbor patrol then he and Cruz returned to her vehicle.  At his suggestion, Cruz searched for Williams. They found him on lookout at the south end of the Calvert Street Pavilion.  When he was apprised of the situation, Williams darted into the back seat and the three headed for the Rusty Scupper.

Given the lovely evening, the deck was crowded with patrons enjoying dinner overlooking the harbor. Brandishing her badge, Cruz asked them to evacuate to the parking lot in case Cooksey or the robber was still shooting when they landed.  She didn’t want civilians injured.  She and Niles then stationed themselves at the end of the deck and waited another twenty minutes as the dragon boat chase came to its exciting conclusion.

The robber had fifty feet on Cooksey. Both men continued to fire intermittently but neither one had hit anything, even the huge fiberglass dragons.  Watching, Niles rolled his eyes, disgusted.

When his boat landed, the robber leaped clear and fired two-handed at Cooksey.  This time he hit.  Cooksey yelped then fell overboard. He went under and didn’t come up.

Williams squawked.  “Cooksey!”

“Shit!” Niles glanced once at the robber who was clambering onto the deck, then at the bubbles where Cooksey had gone down.

Williams thrust Niles towards the water.  “I’ll get the perp.  You bail out Cooksey.  Maybe the harbor germs won’t get you.”

“I’m not immune to germs!” Niles protested.

Williams snorted.  “You don’t carry a gun either, Ghoul.”

Niles caught himself.  Williams was right.

While Williams and Cruz apprehended their perpetrator, Niles stripped off his jacket and shoes.  Then, with a graceful dive, he plunged into the murky harbor.  Fortunately, he’d learned to swim while crossing the Atlantic in the 1880s so he was a strong swimmer.  He reached the second dragon boat and found Cooksey flailing wildly.  Niles grasped him around the chest.

Cooksey plunged both of them under in his panic.

When they came up, Niles swatted him.  “Stop fighting me, you idiot!  You’ll drown us both.”

“Ghoul?” Cooksey croaked.  “When did you learn to swim?”

“When I arrived in America with Christopher Columbus!”  Niles scoffed.

“You’re two hundred years old?” Cooksey gasped.

“Yes,” Niles sighed.  Holding Cooksey above water, he kicked for shore.  “We arrived just in time for Chris and I to join the Revolution.”

“Wow,” Cooksey said.

Niles got them to the dock.  Cruz helped them up.  Both Niles and Cooksey sat dripping while their perpetrator was taken away in a patrol car and calm was restored to the restaurant.  Surprisingly Cooksey had only been grazed by the bullet.  He was essentially unharmed.

“I owe you,” Cooksey said grudgingly.  He wasn’t the biggest fan of Niles.  He shuddered, knowing he’d been saved by someone he considered a gay vampire.

“Just doing my job.”  Niles sighed.

“I don’t know how to repay you,” Cooksey grumbled, hating to be indebted.

“I do.” Niles slapped him on the back.  “Make Baltimore a better place.  Go back for remedial history, Cooksey.”

He walked off, shaking his head.

 

 

© 2016 Newmin

 

 

Niles Comments:  See the harbor from a unique perspective.  Paddle boats are available for rent throughout the summer at Baltimore Paddle Boats http://www.baltimorepaddleboats.org/.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that a mysterious creature similar to Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster) inhabits the Chesapeake Bay.

It’s Chessie!  The Chesapeake Bay Monster.  An actual photo of the monster:

 

'Chessie' Paddle Boat

Gule Eats His Guts Out

Niles Gule decided he should be immune to humiliation by now.  His co-workers Williams and Cooksey took perverted delight in tricking him into compromising situations and this was one of their better ruses.  Niles squinted in the dull sunlight of an overcast day as he offered drinks to patrons at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading PA.  Problem one: the vampire was out in daylight.  While the sun’s radiant glow wouldn’t vaporize him, it made his eyes sting and burned his fragile white skin.  Problem two: he was dressed as a captain of the Nazi Wehrmacht circa 1945, cap, coat, jack boots and all.  Problem three and the final humiliation: a German shepherd had taken a large hunk out of his trousers.  He flashed more white skin on his backside than any self-respecting vampire should tolerate.

A Nazi, he muttered as he feigned a smile at a patron buying a grape Nehi from him.  Sadly he fit.  He was tall, slender, blue-eyed and blonde.  During the war, when he’d worked as a saboteur in Germany for the Allies, he’d easily passed as the ultimate Aryan.  Ironic, really, that the Nazis worshipped a patriotic-to-the-core American vampire determined to destroy their budding empire.

That rainy afternoon, Niles had been tricked by his two supposed friends into attending the WWII reenactment as costumed security.  He’d not known the two Baltimore police officers hadn’t been hired at all.  Instead, they’d come simply as re-enactors and conned Niles into joining them.  His tangle with the German shepherd and the resulting damage to his borrowed uniform landed him in his current predicament.  Denise Deems, the woman who’d loaned him the uniform, expected payback for the hole the dog had bitten in his rear end.  So there he was, selling vintage sodas and tugging on his jacket to cover the hole.

I will have revenge, he swore as he smiled politely to a little girl and pondered how he would torture his enemies.

Biting them was out, he decided.  It lacked finesse and one thing Niles prided himself on was his finesse.  A vampire biting someone was just too… expected.

Activity at one of the tents caught his attention.  With a wicked gleam shimmering in his blue eyes, Niles returned to Denise’s tent.  He set down the empty soda crate that she could fill with more bottles.

He pointed to the hospital tent down the row.  “How do they choose patients?”

Denise rummaged around her sales tent where she sold equipment and uniforms for re-enactors.  “People volunteer.”

“So I could do it.”

Denise twitched her lips.  “You could.  But you should know those doctors are really into their craft.  They use actual cow’s blood and intestines to make the re-enactment look real.  It’s incredibly gory.  I almost threw up the last time I was near the place.”

Niles felt his nose twitch.   The scent wafting over the encampment smelled as good to him as frying bacon smelled to a human.  He salivated and bit his lip to hide his eagerness.

He considered his uniform.  “Since I’ve ruined it, do you mind if I go all the way?”

Denise laughed.  “Ruined is ruined.  You’ve sold more stuff for me today than all three of my pin-up girls.”

“When you see Williams and Cooksey, tell them where to find me.”  He added a few extra instructions that she accepted with a grin.

When Niles arrived at the hospital tent he clenched his teeth to keep from groaning over the lush aromas of blood and cattle entrails that bathed the area.  While humans found the smells appalling, they were perfume to a vampire.  The “doctors” welcomed him when he agreed to be a patient totally eviscerated by a bomb shell.  Niles fought to contain his glee as he lay down on a cot.  The re-enactors sliced open his uniform and stuffed cattle guts into the hole.  Then they splashed a gallon of blood over him.  Immediately flies swarmed.  Ah, heaven!

While Niles had a grand time moaning for the crowds that streamed past, Denise tracked down Williams and Cooksey.  As she approached, Niles heard her following the script he’d given her.

“He was hit by a jeep!  God, it’s awful!  The ambulance is on the way but you really need to be here with him.  He’s been calling for you.”

Niles squeezed his eyes shut and fought not to smile.  He heard scuffling then a strangled gasp.

“Holy Mary Mother of Jesus!” Williams’ deep voice rumbled.  “His guts are ripped out!”

“Yeah, the jeep’s front corner hit him at an angle.  It really ripped him open.”

“I think I’m going to be sick!” Cooksey wheezed.

Niles heard Williams fall to his knees beside the cot.  “Ghoul!  Ghoul!  You still alive?”

Niles lay absolutely still.  He knew his white skin would make him look like a corpse.  He let his tongue loll out.

“How are we going to explain this to Sarge?”  Cooksey moaned.  “You know how much he likes his personal…”  He cut himself off before he said the word vampire.  “I told you this joke was a bad idea!  It’s all your fault!”

Niles’ sensitive hearing caught the sound of Williams scratching his head.  “His insides don’t look so good.”

“They don’t smell so good either!” Cooksey complained.  “Oh!  This is bad!  What are we going to do?”

“Maybe we can lie to Sarge.”  Williams’ voice sounded doubtful.  “Ah, hell!  We can’t do that.”

“An ambulance isn’t going to help!”  Cooksey’s voice rose to a squeak.  “He can’t be treated by any regular doctor.  They’ll figure it out and kill him.”

“Oh, Christ.  You’re right.  What the hell do we do?”

Niles decided to let them off the hook.  He sat up and smiled.

Williams leaped fifty feet backwards.

“Jesus, God!” he swore as he tried to get his breath back and thumped his heart.

Cooksey simply fainted.

“What the hell?” Williams demanded.  His eyes were wide staring orbs.

Niles gazed at his nemesis with innocent eyes.  “What’s wrong?”  He looked down at himself with the cattle entrails spewing from his uniform.  “Oh this?  No problem!  A minor scratch.”  He extended one long white finger to scrape up some blood.  He looked Williams in the eye as he popped the finger into his mouth and sucked on it.

Now it was Williams’ turn to faint.
© 2016 Newmin

 

Niles comments:  Paybacks are hell… he he he…

Gule Joins the Nazi Party

“But why do I have to be the Nazi?” Niles Gule complained as Denise Deems smoothed the gray Wehrmacht uniform over his shoulders and shoved a replica 1945 pistol into his hand.  The short woman couldn’t reach the top of the vampire’s head to add the Schirmmutze cap, so she ordered him to put it on.

Niles’ co-worker Jonas Williams tested the fit of his American bomber jacket.  “Because no one’s going to believe I’m a Nazi.”  He pointed to his dark hair and eyes.  “As for Cooksey!”  He snorted.

Walter Cooksey, his partner on the Baltimore police force, glared.  Where Williams was a soaring six-foot-three, Cooksey topped out at five-five and was as round as he was tall.  Cooksey was also dark complexioned with a balding patch of steel gray hair.  Niles was a six-four Nordic god.  As he considered his appearance in the full-length mirror, he decided he did make a convincing Nazi.

“For the record I fought with the Allies,” he murmured in Williams’ ear.  Denise didn’t know she had a full-blooded one-hundred-fifty-seven-year-old vampire in her sales tent and he didn’t want her to find out.  Most people freaked when they learned he drank blood for a living.

Williams half turned.  “Seriously?  In what capacity?”

Niles vacillated.  The war had erupted when he was a young eighty-three years old.  Although he hadn’t been drafted, as a patriotic American he’d done his part for the war effort.  After a crash course in German, Niles stole onto the continent and sabotaged several industrial installations without his cherished US ever knowing.   A secretive smile creased his pale lips when he considered Allied victories that might not have happened but for him.

Williams looked like he wanted to dig behind that smile but thought better of it.

“You look perfect,” Denise commented, adjusting Niles’ captain’s cap.  “Bring it back in the condition you borrowed it!”

The lady was a property mistress who found props for Hollywood movie producers.  As a sideline, she joined World War II reenactments like the one that afternoon.  Her tent in the vendors’ area sold anything a re-enactor could want, boots, packs, helmets, even replica edible rations.  She would join the mock battles if she could slip away from her customers.

“Why are we dressed in period costume?” Niles asked.  He absolutely hated the Nazi uniform.  As he’d once hated the Nazis.

“We’re security,” Williams insisted.  He puffed out his chest, proud to be an American bomber pilot.  “Gotta look the part.”

When she noticed Niles’ annoyed look, Denise pointed to the far side of the airport where the Germans were staging.  “Look on the bright side.  The Germans bring really good beer!”

Niles’ spirits instantly perked up.  “Well, why didn’t you say so?”  He straightened his shoulders and strode onto the field with Williams and Cooksey following behind.

The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum reenactment was being held at the Reading PA airport.  Hundreds of WWII enthusiasts blanketed the field to view vintage aircraft, jeeps, tanks, hospitals and tents.  Re-enactors portrayed generals, and enlisted men, pilots and army nurses.  Talks were given on field medicine and the proper breakdown and cleaning of a period firearm.

As Niles moved through the crowds, earning himself nods of approval from many who appreciated his pressed German uniform, jack boots and cap, he felt as if he was returning to those darker days.  He’d not relished the war years.  They remained a dark stain on his memory and he resented that he was garbed as the enemy regardless of how well he fit the uniform.

When he arrived at the German encampment, its general studied him with surprise.

“You’re new,” he commented.

Niles shrugged.  “I’m security.”

The man frowned.  “I didn’t think security was in costume.”

Niles followed his gaze.  Near a food tent, two men in modern clothing wore black jackets with the word “security” emblazoned across their backs.  Niles felt his blood boil.  Williams! He should have known.  Seething, Niles plotted how to get revenge on his scheming prankster co-workers.   When the Germans charged, he would be aiming for those two jokers.

Rather than cause a scene, Niles decided to play along.  Not that he was happy about being fooled.  He tromped towards a group of men in Wehrmacht uniforms, thinking to blend in.  One of them held the leash of a huge, beautiful German shepherd.  The animal studied him with its mesmerizing blue eyes, sniffed, realized this was no human, and began to growl.  Its owner tugged on the leash to quiet it, but it growled louder.

Niles wasn’t in the mood.  He stared the dog in the eye then bared his fangs.  That snapped it.  The dog barked violently then leaped.  It took its owner by surprise.  The leash went flying, as did the dog, followed by Niles when it collided with him.  Niles fell with a startled cry and tried to beat the animal off with his hands.  It grabbed hold of his leg and jerked its head back and forth.  Niles heard the fabric of his trousers ripping.

The owner scrambled to grab the leash.  While he pulled one way, Niles crawled the other, half dragging the dog behind him.  Finally, with a vicious tug, Niles freed himself, leaving a large hunk of his pant leg in the dog’s mouth.

“Jeez, I’m sorry!” the owner exclaimed.  “I don’t know what came over him.”

“I do,” Niles grumbled.  “He doesn’t like Nazis.”

Niles scrambled to his feet and marched for Denise Deems’ tent.  He intended to change back into American wear and no one was going to stop him.

Until he came face to face with Denise.

“You ruined those trousers!” she exclaimed upon sight of him.  His snowy behind gleamed through the massive hole in his pants.

Niles threw his hands in the air.  “It happened.  I’m sorry!”

“You were only gone five minutes!” the woman exclaimed.  She planted her hands on her hips and considered him.  “You’re going to pay for them.”

Niles slapped his pockets but his wallet was still in his regular clothes.  “Let me find some money,” he muttered.

Denise’s eyes lit up.  “No!  I have a better idea.”  She thrust several bottles of vintage sodas at him.  “Go sell something.  You’re a walking advertisement for my booth.”

“I am?” Niles was affronted.

“Oh yeah!”  Denise nodded fervently.  “I’ve got the little pin-up girls working the men of the crowd.”  She grinned at Niles.  “You can work the ladies!   They’re gonna eat you up.”

Niles blinked at her.  That, he thought, would be a first.

© 2016 Newmin

 

Niles comments:  No, I’m not a fan of the Nazis and I resent that I happen to look like one.  I did fight for the American war effort, but that’s a story for another day.  Remind me to tell my biographer about those dark days some time.  He can post the stories here.  In the meantime, the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum does hold its reenactment days.  They are a lot of fun when you aren’t being eaten alive by German shepherds.  Check it out.

 

https://www.maam.org/maamwwii.html

 

Gule Takes Music Lessons

The sudden explosion of brilliant white light stabbed Niles Gule’s eyes as fireworks celebrating the Fourth of July spangled the dark sky.  The resounding concussion made him wince.  As a vampire trying to pass as a human, Niles’ hearing was ten times more sensitive than a human’s just as his eyes had evolved to see exquisitely in the dark.  He was in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on the steps of a small amphitheater where carnival acts often performed during the day.  For Niles it was prime time, ten at night.  The vampire hour.

Officer Jonas Williams stood beside him ostensibly surveying the crowd in case of trouble, but actually watching the fireworks with childlike delight.

Although Niles was a patriotic American, as a vampire, he’d never understood humanity’s obsession with fireworks.  The explosions hurt his ears and the sudden blaze of light as each spread across the heavens made his eyes ache.  So Niles wasn’t watching the fireworks.  Instead he did the job Baltimore paid him to do, night surveillance.  He studied the crowd.

Most of those gathered were families with children who stared with bright dazzled faces at the display overhead.  Niles noticed several young couples using the cover of darkness to snatch an illicit kiss or two, his night vision able to make out every thread of their clothing and his ears each gentle sigh.  He looked wistfully at the elderly couples who stood holding hands enjoying the show.  How lucky they were, thought the one-hundred and fifty-seven year-old vampire.  They had each other, their children and grandchildren.  A lifetime of memories spent together.  While he, the lone vampire who claimed Baltimore as his home, had nothing to remember but a lifetime alone.

His nose caught a familiar scent even in the midst of the people standing around him.  He could memorize hundreds of such scents and recall them at a moment’s notice.  This was a man the Baltimore PD had been searching for.  Niles studied the crowd, seeking the face that matched that scent.  When a yellow firework cast a warm glow over the crowd, Niles found him.  A thin, sallow man, more bone than flesh, stood about fifty yards away.  Rodrigo the Shadow.  He was a capo in Lenny the Brute’s drug cartel and a man with a host of warrants for his arrest.

Niles jerked on Williams’ arm.  “The Shadow’s here.”

Ignoring Williams’ grunt of surprise, Niles started picking his way through the crowd.  Another brilliant burst of white dazzled on Niles’ honey blonde locks.  At six-foot-three, he towered over the crowd.  Rodrigo happened to glance his way.  Saw that sheaf of pale hair and knew to whom it belonged.  He bolted.

Cursing, Niles gave chase.  His legs were twice as long as Rodrigo’s but the little Hispanic had agility on his side.  He flashed through the crowd, shoving to the ground anyone who got in his way.  Then he was in a dead sprint along Calvert Street.  Niles dashed after him.  Only because of his excellent night vision was he able to stay on the Shadow’s trail.

Niles saw his prey make a left onto Key Highway.  The cretin ran like a gazelle south along the harbor.  Niles’ long legs carried him swiftly in pursuit.  He heard Williams panting to keep up.

Rodrigo darted into a brilliantly lit bar whose door stood open.  A crowd of people mingled on the patio, drinks in their hands, as a woman’s voice sang over the rumble of conversation.  Niles slowed, not wanting to scare Rodrigo into doing something stupid in the midst of a crowd.  His eyes made quick note of the notice board by the door.  Little Havana Welcomes Dani Hoy.  Corona longnecks two bucks.

As Niles edged into the bar, his hand fell on the haft of his vampire hunting knife.  Rodrigo was no vampire, but the knife was Niles’ only weapon.  He couldn’t get a license for a gun.

The voice of the singer, Dani Hoy, lofted melodiously above the conversation.  The lady’s got talent, he thought, as he shoved his way through the crowd.  Rodrigo was ahead of him, heading for the stage on the far side of the bar.  The felon shot a nervous glance over his shoulder and saw Niles heading towards him.  His dark eyes flashed with panic.

Niles saw the man draw his knife.  He leaped onto the stage, startling the singer so that she strangled off in mid chorus.  Rodrigo grabbed her and shoved his knife towards her throat.

“Stop!” he yelled, “or I’ll kill her!”

Niles knew better than to hesitate.  There were too many people in the bar, most of whom had frozen at the sudden silence when Dani stopped playing her guitar.  Niles crashed through the last of them and dove for Rodrigo.  His long, lithe body barreled into the smaller but beefier man, separating him from Dani who kicked Rodrigo in the shin.  Niles and Rodrigo crashed to the stage while Dani spun to the side.  Niles landed hard.  Rodrigo slashed at him with the knife.  Niles recoiled and reared backwards, trying to grab that flashing hand.  It jabbed at him, almost relieving him of an eye.

Something dark flashed then Niles heard what sounded like a piano being smashed.  Rodrigo howled and fell flat.

Niles blinked up at the little woman who stood over him with sparkling brown eyes, a destroyed guitar in her hands.

“Thanks,” he murmured.

“You owe me a new guitar,” she insisted as she offered him her hand.

Niles rose slowly.  “Ok.  Why do I owe you a guitar?”

Dani rattled what was left of her prized Martin in his face.  “Because this was my best guitar!  I assume you’re police.  If you’d done your job right I wouldn’t have smashed it saving your ass!”

Niles glanced down at the moaning Rodrigo as Williams, who’d finally caught up with them, slapped cuffs on him.

“I’ll send you a check.” Niles offered.

Dani glared at him.  “I’m on a plane for Key West tomorrow night.  I don’t trust you sending me a check.  You’re buying me a new one as soon as the stores open.”

Niles protested.  “I work the night shift.”

“I don’t care!”

Niles’ boss, Sergeant Tan Lo, shoved his way through the chattering crowd that had gathered around the stage.  The little Asian beamed happily.

“I’ll need statements from both of you,” he said to Dani and Niles.

“I need a new guitar,” Dani insisted.

Niles turned to Lo.  “I need tomorrow off.”

When Lo blinked at him, he added.  “I’m apparently buying a guitar.”

© 2016 Newmin

 

 

Niles comments:  I’ve long been a fan of the Tropigal, Dani Hoy.  Her music is an effervescent mix of country and rock with some Caribbean spice.   You can find her working most weeks somewhere in Key West or throughout southern Florida.  Sometimes she comes north and we get the chance to see her in the Baltimore area.  I was lucky enough to catch her that night in Little Havanna, and yes, I did replace her guitar for her.

 

Check out her website:  http://danihoy.com/music/

 

Her music is for sale as CDs and downloads.  Click here for her title song Tropigalhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrzyE2sJwB4

 

Gule is Surprised

Niles Gule couldn’t imagine a worse scenario.  A humid summer night in Baltimore, the air so thick he could feel its brush against his pale white cheeks even though not a breath of wind stirred.  The harbor steamed, perfuming the city with a dank, murky smell unique to the Crab Cake Capital of the World.  It overwhelmed even the smell of crab cakes frying.  People were out in droves, filling the restaurants around the harbor, shopping in the Pratt and Lombard Street Pavilions, streaming between the Inner Harbor, Borders Bookstore and the Hard Rock Café.  Thousands of people were loose in the city, enjoying the wealth of entertainments available there.

The Power Plant was no exception.  A street, and yet a mall and a music venue, the Power Plant was a series of restaurants and bars lining a courtyard that had been transformed into a concert hall under the stars.  At one end stood the stage where the band Tommy’s Rocket was pounding out Green Day’s American Idiot in a feverish fashion, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.  At the other end stood Leinenkugel’s Beer Garden filled with people swigging beer, eating pretzels and singing off key songs that were not Green Day.  The space was a flickering collage of light and shadow as the band’s strobes flashed in multi-toned jewel colors.  The people shifted as a dark mass, coalescing in bunches and breaking apart like leaves swirling in a stream’s eddy.

With so many people in the street and so many dark corners for cover, the location was a vampire’s dream.  The territory begged to be hunted.  Niles would know because he was a vampire.  Had he still been one who indulged in hunting humans, he would come here for his meal.  Right here.  Next to the fountain just outside the Power Plant courtyard.  He could watch the flow of humans around him, seeking, as all predators did, the weak, the elderly or the foolishly alone.  He found them all in plenty that night.

His blue eyes swept the area, occasionally flickering yellow with both barely restrained lust for blood and irritation that his fellow Baltimoreans had set such a perfect trap for themselves.  Although he’d taken a vow of abstinence, Niles nevertheless considered Baltimore his territory and its people his people.  He’d become protective of them.  He watched over the city like a benevolent godfather, always seeking the vampire interloper who would poach on his land.

“Is our perimeter set?”  Sergeant Lo’s voice sounded fuzzy over the radio.

“Fountain area is set,” Niles responded.

“Beer garden set,” radioed the voice of police officer Deshawn Jackson.

“I’m good,” said Niles’ partner, Mariella Cruz.  She was stationed upstairs in Angels’ Rock Bar with a view of the crowd below.

Additional calls came from other officers scattered through the crowd.

“Are we sure a vampire is working here tonight?” Niles asked officer Jonas Williams who stood beside him.

The big man shrugged massive shoulders that strained his uniform.  “We’ve had five people turn up dead from vampire attacks.  The mayor is understandably annoyed.  Doesn’t help with his re-election campaign if your buddies keep eating his constituency.”

“They aren’t my buddies,” Niles growled.  His eyes scanned the wide yard that extended from the Power Plant towards the street.  Shadowy people wove around him.  Finding a single vampire in that maelstrom of movement would be difficult, even for a man with eyesight like his.  “How do we know the vampire is working here?  Couldn’t the victims have come from anywhere?”

“They were all young, well-dressed, and party loving.”  Williams gestured at the courtyard.  “This is where those types come for fun.  And they all came here before they were murdered.  So either the vampire is working this crowd, or he’s choosing his victims here but killing them elsewhere.  Whatever.  He’s here.  We’ve got to find him.”

“But do we know he’s going to be here tonight?” Niles turned in a circle, trying to examine each person in the courtyard.  Not only did the crowd’s milling make that difficult, but standing beside the fountain obliterated any chance he’d hear a vampire hunting cry.  Nor could he smell a darned thing.  The fountain had a chlorine smell, which along with the stink of the harbor and the aromas from the restaurants, overwhelmed his sensitive nose.  If he’d been stationed somewhere else, he might have had a chance to sniff out a vampire because they had an odor distinct from humans.  He’d protested to Sergeant Lo about his placement next to the fountain but Lo had brushed off his concerns.

“Nope.”  Williams didn’t sound concerned.  In fact, in Niles’ opinion he was too unconcerned.  Instead of focusing on the job, he seemed to enjoy ogling the young women in their skimpy party dresses.  When a pair of girls strolled by each with a pair of girls popping from their too small bandeau tops, the man’s tongue almost kissed the pavement.

“Then why the huge police turnout?”  Niles knew probably half the night shift was in on the sweep.  Even those who normally had the night off.  Perhaps fifty in total.  All to catch a single vampire?

Ordinarily, once the police discovered vampire activity, they tossed the case at Niles and left him to his business.  What he did to drive his brethren away they neither knew nor cared, just so long as the city was rid of the vermin.  The Baltimore PD had never staked out a vampire before.

“So why are we here?”  Niles couldn’t let the puzzle go.  He was a police detective after all.

“To catch a vampire.”  Williams shot him an evil look.  “The mayor wants a show of force.  Lo’s giving him a show of force.  Are you done questioning your superiors now?”

Niles gave the look back then returned to his surveillance.

“I’ve got something up here!”  Cruz’s voice was urgent.

“Converge on Angels’ Rock Bar,” Lo commanded.  “All personnel, converge on Angels’.  Keep a sharp eye.  Don’t let our perp sneak through our lines.”

“Not happening,” Williams responded.  “We’ll get him.”

With Niles at his side, Williams plunged into the crowd.  Niles, being taller but more slender, allowed the brute to bully his way past the beer garden.  As they approached Angels’, Jackson and his partner Krewelski joined them.  When they attained the stairs, Williams’ partner Cooksey fell in behind them.

“No weapons,” Niles warned as they climbed the stairs.  “We don’t need to panic all these people.”

“You’ve got your knife, right?” Williams asked.

Niles nodded but didn’t draw his silver knife.  The weapon was the most effective available against vampires.  Bullets maimed but seldom killed his kind.

Williams motioned Niles to take the lead when they reached the top of the stairs.  Angels’ main room stood before them, half lit and filled with people.  Niles scented the air, seeking the telltale aroma of cold vampire, but instead caught a shot of warm, bloody meat.  He flinched at the rush of pleasure that ran through him even as his mind tried to parse why he’d smell something so luscious in a bar.  His long fingers tightened on the hilt of his knife although he still didn’t draw it as he edged forward.

As soon as he turned the corner, the house lights blazed on, blinding him.  He threw his arm up to shield his vision as a chorus of voices yelled, “Surprise!”

Blinking against the glare, Niles made out first one face, then another.  Cruz’s Latina face beaming, her dark eyes adance.  Little Lo grinning like a fool.  And Gundersen, Bailey, Detweiler and on and on.  Virtually the entire night shift of the Baltimore PD surrounded him, plus a few other humans Niles had come to know, like Lis King from Lancaster, and Julia Buzinski and her family from Philly.  Even Brenda the former widow had managed to make an appearance.

Cruz bounded to his side and kissed his cheek.  “Happy birthday, Gule!”

Niles lowered his arm as his eyes adjusted then his lips tried to twitch into a smile which he fought down.

“Not funny,” he said, pretending to glare at his co-workers.

“Yes it is!”  Williams chortled.  “You should see your face.  Who knew a vampire could go white?”

Niles plugged the man in the ribs with his elbow then allowed himself to be ushered to the gathering.

“Better blow out the cake before we burn down Baltimore!” Lo called.

Niles considered the celebratory offering.   In the center table rested two cakes, one a human birthday cake with so many candles, it could start a major conflagration, while next to it rested what could only be a creation Cooksey had dreamed up.  A tower of raw, bloody meat awaited him, decorated with flowers made of thin slivers of air cured meats.  A wedding cake could not have been more elaborate.

With his teammates egging him on, Niles blew out one-hundred-fifty-eight candles.  The cheer when he was done was almost as dense as the cloud of smoke that rose from the cake.

“May there be another one-hundred-fifty-eight,” Cruz said, sneaking her arm around his waist.

Niles gazed down at her affectionately.  “You know, for the first time in all those years, I don’t find the thought of living that long horrible anymore.”  He lowered his head and pecked a kiss on her cheek.

“What was that for?” she asked.

He smiled.  “For being here this past year.  Thank you.”

 

 

© 2017

 

 

 

Niles comments:  Can you believe it?  One year ago this week, I began this adventure, telling my stories to my biographer and posting them here weekly.  I would never have thought it would last this long.  Here’s to another year.  Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third Gule’s the Charm

Saturday morning.  A vampire’s favorite moment of the week, or least a working vampire’s favorite moment.  Niles Gule, resident vampire of Baltimore, savored it because he worked the night shift for the Baltimore PD Monday thru Friday.  His shift was over and he could relax, preparing for a long nap as the sun rose over Maryland.  He’d abandoned his suit and tie into for a pair of fleece lounge pants as he trundled bare footed around his apartment above Lombard Street.  He carried a glass of his personal Bloody Mary concoction, pigs blood and vodka with a shot of Tabasco © for heat.  The celery stick was merely for appearances.  Niles didn’t eat vegetables.

He worked the kinks out of his shoulders as he sauntered towards the window to lower the blinds.  As he did, something small, blonde and fuzzy rubbed across his ankles, damn near tripping him.  Niles caught himself on the back of the sofa, assured that his drink was unruffled then cursed at the cat.

Leonardo Da Vinci hissed at him.  Niles, snarling to reveal fangs almost as sharp as Leonardo’s, hissed back.

“Keep it up and I’ll eat you for lunch,” the vampire grumbled.

Lenny, as Niles had named him, sniffed in disdain.  He paced sedately to the window with his tail in the air, gave one last hiss at Niles, then hopped out onto the balcony and disappeared in search of prey.

Niles squinted at the day revealed by his tenth floor balcony above the Inner Harbor.  He could tell a steamy summer day was on tap by the amber cast of the sky as the sun rose beyond the Under Armour building.  Already the harbor teamed with tourists.  They milled like ants far below him, unaware an apex predator stood on his balcony watching them with hungry eyes.  Niles licked his fangs, reminded himself for the fiftieth time that day he’d taken a vow of abstinence, and forced himself to drink the pigs blood instead of what he really wanted.

The knock on his door startled him.  No one ever visited a vampire.  Except damned Vampira Tyra, the young vampire who lived next door.

Niles looked down at his half clothed body and cursed anew.  Before answering the door, he grabbed his blue silk-satin dressing gown from his bedroom and tied the sash around his waist.  He peered through the peephole to find a curly mop of black hair taking up most of the view.

Surprised, he opened the door.

“Cruz!  I wasn’t expecting you.”

Niles stepped back to allow his partner, Mariella Cruz, to enter.  Like him, she’d changed clothes and wore a simple white tee shirt and faded jeans that clung to every luscious curve of her cute little body.  She’d freed her hair from its normal ponytail, and her dark locks tumbled about her shoulders in disarray.  Niles clenched his fists to keep his fingers from delving into all that black silk as they desperately itched to do.

She held up a plastic grocery bag.  “I brought you some supplies for Lenny.  I figure you wouldn’t know what to do with a cat.”

As he closed the door, Niles lifted a supercilious brow.  “I’ve been on this planet for more than a century, Cruz.  I have some clue about cats.”

She shrugged and handed him the bag.  “You looked a little lost standing there soaked to the skin and holding a pissed off wet cat.  I thought I’d help.”

Niles poked in the bag to find cat toys, cans of Fancy Feast © and a small bag of litter.  With a look of puzzlement, he pulled out a miniature fishing rod with a lure of multicolored feathers on the string.

Cruz watched his face.  “It’s to play with him.”  She grabbed the toy and jiggled it so that the feathers danced.  “He’ll chase it.”  When Niles continued to eye her wordlessly, she planted her hand on her hip.  “You’re his owner now, Gule.  You need to take care of him.”

“I believe you are operating under a misconception,” he said, causing her to lift her chin.  “Never in a thousand years has any cat been owned by anyone. Lenny is no exception.  Besides, he hates me.”

Cruz laughed.  “How do you know?”

“He hisses at me.”  Niles sipped his drink.  “So I hiss back.  We’ve come to an arrangement.”

She peered around the obsessively tidy apartment with its carefully chosen works of art and exquisite furniture.  “Where is he?”  She jiggled the toy to entice him out.

“He went out the window.”

Cruz gasped.  “We’re on the tenth floor!”  She raced to the balcony so fast she slammed into the railing and almost tipped herself over.

Abandoning his drink, Niles chased after her.  He caught her around the waist before she visited all ten floors of his building from top to bottom.  His arms clasped her tightly, drawing her to his chest.  Startled, she spun around and planted her palms against his skin where the robe had fallen away.

Niles prayed she couldn’t feel the thundering of his heart.  She was so warm and cuddly, all curves and softness, so unlike a female vampire.  A flare of desire shot through him, not for blood but for something even more primeval.  His entire body shivered.

With a massive force of will, Niles set her away from him.

Her hands, however, remained, palms flat against his chest.

“We need to do something about this,” she said in a breathless voice.

“About what?” Niles had trouble finding his own.

She slid her hand across his skin, sending more shivers through him.  “This, Niles.  This.”

He closed his eyes at her soft voice saying his name.  She never called him Niles. The sound was so sweet, his heart tripped then thundered forward again. For a single breath he considered acting on his raging hormones and his hands tightened on her small waist.  Her warmth made his fingers tingle, reminding him of what she was.  What he was.  A vampire.

He pushed her away and returned to the apartment.  “There’s no here here, Cruz,” he said, keeping his back to her.  He picked up his drink and downed the remainder in a single swallow.  “You’re a human and I’m a vampire.”  He glanced over his shoulder.  “You’ve got someone.  Deschamps.”

She was frozen on the balcony.  He could see the longing in her eyes.  “Malcolm is nice.  Rich and nice.”

Niles grunted but didn’t respond.

“He’s not you,” she whispered.

“He’s human.”  The words were bitter bile in Niles’ mouth.  “You deserve better than a vampire.”

He heard her approach him.  Her hands slid over his shoulders and tugged, asking him wordlessly to turn around but he refused to do so.

“Niles.”

He stiffened and stepped away.

He heard her soft whoosh of breath.  “What’s so wrong with a vampire?  You’re smart.  A good dresser.  You’ve got a gentle spirit and more heart than ten humans.  Plus you’re sexy as hell.”

Niles fought the surge of desire that raced through his cold veins.  He so wanted to turn around.  To take her in his arms.  To accept what she was offering.  He…

She screamed.

Niles whirled around to find Cruz atop the sofa.  He looked down.  Lenny had returned with a giant, juicy rat in his mouth.

“Oh, God, Gule!” she shrieked.  “Get rid of it!”

Trying to hold back his laugh, Niles bent down and accepted the rat Lenny offered him.  Holding it by the tail, Niles considered it.  “Hmmmm.  Breakfast.  Thanks, Lenny.”

Cruz made some sort of awful noise then she was gone like a shot from the apartment, leaving the vampire alone with his cat and his rat.

Niles stared bleakly after her.  “I guess that was the wrong thing to say,” he said to the cat.

Lenny hissed at him.

Niles hissed back.

As he carried the rat to the kitchen to prepare it, the vampire said, “You and me, cat, are going to get along just fine.”

 

 

© 2017 Newmin