A Night in the Life of the Undead

The general tone of the precinct was calm, controlled chaos.  As Niles Gule, detective consultant for the Baltimore Police and resident vampire, entered, his brilliant blue eyes saw nothing unusual.  Detective Jackson shoved a suspect into an interrogation room.  Two uniformed officers struggled to plant a young man into a chair.  Even though he was handcuffed, the wiry individual fought them with grim determination.  Detective Krewelski tried to soothe an elderly mother whose son had been killed in a drive by, offering her tissue after tissue as she sobbed beside his desk.  Officer Williams ate a burrito.  His fellow officer Cooksey peered myopically into a computer screen and pecked intermittently at the keyboard, getting nowhere.

Typical night at the office.

Niles’ partner, Mariella Cruz, had beaten him in and was on the phone.  She motioned that he shouldn’t make himself comfortable so he stood listening as she noted details of a jewelry store burglary.

“Looks like Lenny the Brute is up to his old tricks,” the perky little Latina said, hanging up the phone.  “His gang of thieves loves smash and grab.”  She snatched her coat as she rose.  “Let’s check it out.”

After a ten minute, hair-raising ride with Cruz at the wheel of her little Fiat, the detectives arrived at Finklestein’s Silversmiths near the fort.  As he unfolded his long, lanky form from the tiny car, Niles gazed at the shop askance.  The front windows were smashed.  Glass glittered like ice on the sidewalk.  But that sight wasn’t what dismayed the vampire.  Cruz didn’t notice his hesitation.  In her ever ebullient way, she plowed straight into the store, brandished her badge and demanded to speak to the manager.  Niles trailed reluctantly behind.

Cruz did all the talking as she questioned the manager about the security system, possible video footage, suspicious activity and questionable employees.  Niles remained silent, rigid and uncomfortable, his gaze studying the merchandise that hadn’t been stolen.

When she finished, slapping closed her notepad, Cruz considered her partner with a frown between her brows.  “Ready to go?”

“Whenever you are,” the vampire murmured.

Noting his ashen pallor, whiter than even his normal ghostly white, she assessed what had caused it.  All around them silver gleamed under bright lights.  Silver pendants and charms.  Handmade rings and necklaces.  Entire tea services, pots, mugs and platters of silver.

“Oh!”

Niles smiled wanly.  “Yes, oh.  Fortunately, silver is less toxic to me than to most vampires.  But even I find this much unnerving.”

Cruz shrugged sheepishly.  “Sorry.  Wasn’t thinking.”  She gave him a shove out the door.

Never one to allow an uncomfortable silence to stand in her way, Cruz consulted her notes as she headed for the car.  “Lenny’s been hanging out at La Piazza lately.  Let’s see if we can find him.”

Into the car Niles compacted himself and away they went at ninety miles an hour.  La Piazza was a trendy restaurant on the north side of the city.  They arrived towards the end of the dinner hour.  Once again, Cruz marched into the place like she was raiding it for illicit alcohol.  Niles followed grudgingly.

While Cruz spoke with the hostess, Niles’ dark loving eyes swept through the space.  As soon as his eyes landed on Lenny the Brute at a table near the back, the hulking lug spotted the blond and pale vampire looking for him.  Knowing Niles on sight, he didn’t wait for the two detectives to find him.  He bolted.

“The kitchen!” Niles said.

Together, he and Cruz sprinted for the kitchen.  Niles slammed on the brakes when the overwhelming miasma of garlic struck him.  While his eyes watered and he struggled to breathe, Cruz raced after the Brute who was out the back door in a flash.  Planting a linen handkerchief to his nose and mouth, Niles followed but couldn’t keep up.  By the time he got the back door, Cruz returned, bumping into him as he went out.

“Lost him,” she grumbled.  “What happened to you?  You can outrun anybody.”

Niles still blinked tears.  He coughed and drew a deep breath of cool night air.  “The atmosphere was a little thick in there.”

Cruz poked her nose into the kitchen, sniffed then turned a quizzical look at the vampire.

“Garlic!” Niles growled.

“Oh!”

Planting her hands on her hips, the Latina screwed her face in annoyance, though at the Brute or her partner, Niles wasn’t sure.  Before she could say whatever was on her mind, her phone rang.  Taking the call, she nodded and said ok a couple of times.  Then, “we’re on it.”

Thumbing off the call, she stomped along the alley to reach the front of the restaurant where the Fiat awaited.  “Got a call about a theft at St. Margaret Mary.  Lo wants us to check it out.”

“No rest for the weary,” Niles murmured.

Across town they zoomed, cutting off cars and sending pedestrians fleeing.  Cruz slammed to a halt in the church parking lot and popped out of the car.  Niles moved more slowly, not just because unkinking his limbs from the little Fiat was a struggle but because he was not a fan of churches.

Cruz was on a mission, however, and into the granite monolith she strode, Niles straggling behind.  The apse was silent and dark.  Only a handful of lights from the ceiling high overhead lit the space at intervals.  But Niles could see perfectly.  Row upon row of pews marched towards the altar where a huge cross looked down upon them.

Niles swallowed.  The wives tales that vampires could be repelled by a cross were just that, tales.  Crosses didn’t actually repel vampires.  The Vanapir had simply developed a hatred for the symbol because the most ardent hunters of their kind had been church officials.  For almost a thousand years, the Catholic Church and the Vanapir had been at war.  Niles was distinctly uncomfortable entering his enemy’s lair.

Cruz found the church secretary waiting for them in an office.  Flipping open her notepad, she blasted the man with questions about the theft.  She surmised the loss of some silver plate was probably an inside job since no one had found indications of a break in.

Another frown burrowed between her brows when she realized Niles was yet again silent.

“What’s wrong now?” she asked.

Niles pointed above his head.  “Church.”

Cruz’s dark eyes looked up, seeing the cross on the office wall.

“Oh.”

She hastened through the rest of the interview, thanked the secretary, and headed out.  This time, Niles kept pace with her.

“Anything else on our list tonight?” Niles asked.  He just wanted to head back to the precinct and do some computer work.

Cruz glanced at her notepad.  “One last thing.  We should check with Elmert’s TV and Appliance about that car theft last week.  The owner was going to pull his security video of the front door.”

With a sigh, Niles followed her back to Fifi, stuffed himself inside and hung on while Cruz took them to Dundalk.  The TV store was a throwback to the fifties.  It still even did repairs.  Crawling out of the car, Niles’ face finally lit up, after that long, tiring night.  Cruz gave him a curious look.

“What’s up now?” she asked.

Niles’ couldn’t stop his grin as he pointed to the huge sign filling the window.

It said “Huge Plasma TV Sale!!!”

Cruz thought about it.  Then she laughed.

“Oh.”

 

 

 

 

© 2018 Newmin

 

 

Niles comments:  As you can see, my visit to the appliance store was caught on video.  Below is a screen shot to prove it.

 

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Gule Has Grave Concerns

“Good God in Heaven!”  Niles Gule threw his hand up in front of his nose as he staggered away from the hole at his feet.  He’d never in his long life smelled such a vile stench.  Which was saying a lot because he was one-hundred-fifty-eight years old.  And a vampire.  He’d seen a lot of vile things but none compared to the miasma of rot that assailed his delicate nose.

Officer Jonas Williams of the Baltimore Police stood beside him, not flinching.  Of course, he’d known what to expect.  He was often called to investigate corpses but never got sick at crime scenes.  Niles wondered just what Williams did for fun that gave him such a cast-iron stomach.

“I thought you were a Ghoul!” Williams chortled, watching the vampire’s face turn several shades of green.  “Isn’t this something a Ghoul would get into?”

Niles shot his nemesis a hateful glare.  He kept his sleeve in front of his nose so he could breathe.  “I’m a vampire, not a ghoul, and vampires don’t relish rotting corpses any more than humans do.”

“Really?”  Williams planted his hands on his hips while he considered the open grave and the moldy corpse it contained.  “I expected you to jump right in there and start feasting.”

The thought was so repulsive, Niles spun away and nearly lost his dinner.  He leaned against a large monument and drew the cool night air into his lungs while he waited for his head to stop spinning.

Keeping his back to Williams and the awful view, Niles grated, “You should know by now vampires like fresh blood.  Warm from a vein.  Room temperature if we don’t have a choice.  That…”  He pointed blindly towards the grave, “is hardly fresh.”

Williams grunted.  “Nope.  Probably been down there a couple of weeks.  It’s oozing into the padding.  Almost total mush.  No maggots though.”

Niles pressed his hand to his stomach to keep from vomiting.

“Get your act together, Ghoul.”  Williams slapped Niles on the shoulder, nearly knocking the teetering vampire to the ground.  “We need your laser night vision tonight.  Someone’s robbing graves.  Since this one was dug tonight there oughta be trace.  The perps may even still be in the cemetery.”

Niles dragged two more deep breaths through his lungs then straightened.  Williams was right.  Someone had been digging up graves in the Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery over the past few months, desecrating the corpses and leaving bones scattered at the site.  The families involved were justifiably furious.  Niles and his team had planned to start night surveillance but hadn’t even determined where to set up to watch before they’d stumbled over yet another opened grave.

“I think our perp was disturbed,” Niles commented, studying the grave.

“I think he’s more than disturbed!” Williams complained.  “He’s certifiable.”

“No, I think we interrupted him.”  Niles pointed at the grass.  “The body wasn’t lifted from the grave like all the others.”  His eyes narrowed as he looked around.  “He, or they, might still be here.”

Williams’ hand landed on the butt of his gun.  “They?  You think a group of sickos is doing this?”

“Might be a Satanic ritual.”

Williams gave the vampire a hard look.  “You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?”

Niles shook his head with a sigh.  He pointed at his chest.  “Vampire.  Not ghoul.  Not ogre.  Not Satan worshipper.  Vampire.  We have taste, Williams.  Discernment.  A certain cachet.  We don’t rob graves or worship the devil.  Usually.”

Williams made a rude up and down gesture with his hand.   “Yeah, yeah.  So you keep telling me.”

Niles gave up.  He’d never make a friend of Williams and decided that was a sign of his enlightenment.  Only Neanderthals understood Williams.

With his pale face and blond hair highlighted by the moon, Niles knew he wasn’t going to steal upon anyone in the darkness.  The cemetery had been built on flat ground in a grid pattern with a low stone wall separating it from the street.  Niles suspected if a Satanic band had been prowling the grounds, they’d seen the police enter through the main gate and escaped.  He therefore found a convenient platform at the base of a mausoleum and searched the cemetery with only his eyes.

Being a vampire, his night vision was excellent.  He saw the world in shades of gray and white as clearly as a human could see in daylight.  He swept the closest row of graves and worked his way outward, back and forth, seeking movement or other disturbed graves.  The cemetery was silent and still.

A hint of motion caught his eye from beyond a group of ornamental trees.  Someone in dark clothes ducked down behind a grave stone.  Niles was unarmed except for his vampire hunting knife, but he feared little humans could do to him.  He knew he had only to yell for Williams, Cooksey and his own partner Mariella Cruz to come running.  There were certainly enough police in the cemetery that night.

Stepping off the platform, Niles marched directly for the hidden person.  He sensed someone scrambling to get away but he was too quick.  He pounced like a cat, his taloned fingers capturing a dark coat.  A simple pluck hauled his catch off its feet.  It squeaked in a voice so high pitched Niles knew it wasn’t human.

He spun his prey around.  Little, ancient Marrensten peered up at him with dark, luminous eyes.  He was a vampire, so old the centuries were catching up even to him.  His skin clung to his bones like a wet tarp; his white hair gleamed in the moonlight.  As was his habit, he clicked his fangs on his lower teeth.  It gave off a sound Niles detested.

“Marrensten!”  Niles gave the smaller vampire a shake.  “What the hell?”

He looked around and found a second opened grave.   Marrensten had hauled the body out and dismembered it.  He’d apparently eaten one arm and had been getting ready to start on the second when Niles interrupted him.

Niles fought to hold in his temper.  Vampires honored their elderly.  He hated to abuse poor old Marrensten in deference to his age.  But there were some things….

“Please don’t tell me you’ve been eating these corpses!” he moaned.

Marrensten blinked and looked down at his toes.  “Ok.  I didn’t eat these corpses.”

“Jesus God!”  Niles released Marrensten and ran his hands through his hair.

“You said I wasn’t allowed to kill humans,” Marrensten insisted.  “So I haven’t.”

Niles gave him a condescending look.  “I didn’t suggest you dig up bodies!”

Marrensten clicked his teeth.  “What’s an old vampire to eat these days?”

“Have you considered beef?”  Niles fought to keep from roaring.

“It’s expensive,” Marrensten complained.  “Plus it smells bad.”

“And this doesn’t?”  Niles waved at the rotting body, pieces of which were all around him.  The smell almost knocked him from his feet.

Marrensten shrugged.

Niles stared at the little vampire, whom he’d allowed to remain in his territory out of respect for his age.  Niles also suspected if he’d driven Marrensten from Baltimore, the poor thing would die from starvation.  He really wasn’t up to hunting anymore.  He blinked at Niles hungrily.  Niles growled in frustration.

“Clean up this mess!” he ordered, pointing to the body.  “Put everything back.  I’ll get you something to eat.”

Marrensten nodded rapidly, anything to appease the reigning vampire lord of Baltimore.

With a sigh of annoyance, Niles marched to the road where Cruz had parked her Fiat.  He found her there talking to Williams.  When they saw him, he waved them off and headed for the car.  He popped the hood, grabbed the grocery bag Cruz had left there for him, and headed back into the cemetery.

Marrensten had been good to his word.  He’d kicked the body and all its parts into the grave and slammed the coffin shut as Niles walked up.

Niles tossed the bag at Marrensten’s feet.

“Cat food,” he explained.  “The good canned stuff.  It should hold you for a while.”

Marrensten snatched up the bag and held it behind his back.  He nodded fervently to the younger, more powerful vampire.  “Ok, Guldendal,” he said, using Niles’ Vanapir name.  “No more live or dead humans.  Got it.”

Niles’ eyes narrowed when he noticed Marrensten turned every time he moved, keeping his back away from Niles. He frowned with suspicion.

“Ok.  Out with it.  What are you hiding behind your back?”

Marrensten blinked unhappily.  “It’s just a snack.”

At Niles’ glare, he grudgingly brought his hand around and opened his long white fingers.  In the center of his palm lay a rotting index finger covered in red slime mold.  Before Niles could even choke a comment, Marrensten popped the treat into his mouth, crunched the bones and swallowed it.

Niles held himself together for only one more minute.

For the first time in his life, Niles lost his lunch.

 

 

© 2017 Newmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gule Gets Hopping

Mariella Cruz giggled as she dipped a hard-boiled egg into a bowl of violent pink dye.  The dye avoided the lines she’d drawn in clear wax, leaving a pattern reminiscent of Russian painted eggs.  The three little girls surrounding her chattered excitedly as their aunt’s design was revealed after multiple dips of the egg.

“Can you show us how to do that, Aunt Mari?” Luz asked, her dark eyes aglow.

“Of course!”  Cruz leaned her forehead lovingly against her niece’s.  “That’s what aunts are for.”

“When are you are Uncle Niles going to get married?” Carmen asked.  She was the oldest of the girls and a hopeless romantic.  Already her bookshelves were filled with romance novels.

Cruz shot a nervous glance around the room, afraid of who might have overheard the comment.  Fortunately, the four had Mama Cruz’s kitchen to themselves that Easter morning.    Cruz scolded Carmen by gently tapping the girl’s dark head with a spoon.

“None of that.  Your Uncle Niles and I are partners on the police force.”

Carmen’s look was sly for a ten-year-old.  “But you do like him.  I can tell.”

Around the table, three heads bobbed in unison.

Their aunt froze, unable to think of a clever answer to distract the girls from their match making.  They’d been at it for several months now, ever since Cruz’s tall, elegant, gorgeous partner visited the Cruz house for a party.  The children had become so attached to Niles, they started calling him Uncle Niles, not knowing he was a vampire.  He indulgently allowed the name to stick.

Cruz was saved from answering by the clomp of feet descending the stairs.  Her older brother Xavier came first, followed by the man in question, the vampire her nieces only knew as their kindly Uncle Niles.

That early morning, Niles blinked sleepily.  He and Cruz had been up all night booking a gang of thieves.  When he learned Cruz promised to spend Easter morning with her family, he insisted they go straight to the Cruz house in East Baltimore.  After he saw her safely home, he’d take public transportation back to his apartment in the Inner Harbor and do what vampires did—sleep away the daylight hours.

Cruz found her attention riveted to his tall, lithe form, breathtaking in a tailored Perry Ellis suit of deep navy blue.  The dark color contrasted sharply against his pale white skin, corn-colored hair and brilliant blue eyes.

“You need to get moving, Gule,” she said, setting aside her dyed egg.  She glanced out the window.  Pink sunshine splashed across the sky.  “It’s daylight.”

The vampire nodded but showed little concern because of the early hour and the spring sun’s weak rays.  As long as he was protected by a hat, sunglasses and SPF 75, he could make it home without radiation burns.  Assuming he didn’t dally.

As his blue gaze considered the mess of dyes, bowls, egg cartons and spattered newspaper spread over Mama Cruz’s kitchen table, Niles pretended confusion.  “What are you doing?”

“Dying eggs!”  Luz lifted her latest creation, a nauseating mixture of neon colors, for the vampire to view.

“For Easter!” Nilsa cheeped.  She hopped excitedly, ready to start another egg.

Niles nodded sagely.  “Ah, yes.  Ancient fertility practice.”

Cruz smacked him lightly.  “Gule!  Not in front of my nieces.”  She clapped to get their attention.  “I think your parents are finished outside.  Time for the egg hunt.”

With a chorus of squeals, the girls abandoned their egg project in mid dye and sprinted for the backyard.  Cruz watched them go with a smile.

“Best get moving,” she said to her partner, lowering her voice.  “Bedtime for vampires.”

Niles’ gaze drifted towards the back door.  A wistful look flitted in its blue depths.  “I’ve never taken part in an Easter egg hunt.”

Cruz shrugged and started cleaning the table.  “That’s because they happen in daylight.  Go home before the light gets too strong.”

She turned her attention to stacking bowls in the sink, barely noticing her partner leave.  She filled the sink with hot, soapy water, dumped in the mess from the dying project and began to scrub.  Occasionally, she glanced out the window above the sink to watch the action in the backyard.  She could see her ten nephews and nieces racing around looking for the treats her brothers and their wives had hidden in the bushes.  The occasional shriek announced success.  Some were more triumphant than others because their parents didn’t just hide eggs in the grass.  Xavier especially possessed a sweet tooth, so he planted plastic eggs filled with Rheb’s candy.  Those were the hottest eggs to be found.  Cruz smiled, content that her huge, extended family was so happy chasing for chocolate in a vegetable garden.

“I think you need to come out here,” Manolo said from the back door.  Younger than Xavier, he was the serious brother and that morning he looked it.

Dropping her drying towel onto the counter, Cruz frowned at Manny’s serious expression.

“What’s wrong?”

“You need to see this.”

Cruz wrapped a shawl around her shoulders as she stepped outside because the morning air carried a bite.  The wet grass soaked her feet and chilled her toes.  Baltimore’s last snow had only just melted away, leaving a muddy mess of Mama’s lawn.  Her eyes swept the yard which was tiny but backed up against a neglected, weed infested hillside.  The children had finished their egg hunt and broken into the goodies.  Some of them scrambled up the hill and were rolling down it.   Mothers Jocelyn and Rosa stood at the bottom screeching for the children to come down before they ruined their clothes.

Cruz glanced at Manny.  “Do you think they’ll listen to me any more than their own mothers?”

Manny pointed.  “No!   Not them.  Him.”

Cruz stood stunned as she watched the long form of her partner tumbling down the hill amongst the boys.  He was laughing as hard as they were, seemingly unconcerned about the grass stains and mud that covered his expensive suit.  When he landed in a heap with the rest of the children at the bottom of the hill, he howled, making no attempt to free himself from the tangle of arms, legs and children.

“Niles Gule!” Cruz chided, standing over her partner.  “What do you think you’re doing?”

After the kids jostled clear, the vampire remained prone on his back, squinting up at her against the brightening sky.  “I dunno.  Having fun?”  His words were slurred.

“Has he been drinking?” Manny asked.

Since none of her family knew her partner was a vampire, Cruz decided leaving them to think Niles couldn’t handle his alcohol might be the lesser evil.  She knew what had happened.  Niles had indulged in some of the Rheb’s chocolate.  He was addicted to the stuff.  Its effect on him was worse than alcohol.  The vampire was high on chocolate and loving it.

“Something like that,” she muttered.  “Help me get him inside.”

With Manny taking one arm and Cruz the other, they tugged Niles to his feet. Grinning madly, he staggered between them, too drunk to keep himself upright.  Together, the brother and sister muscled him to Cruz’s bedroom and deposited him on the carpet.  They then stripped off the worst of his muddy clothes and Manny wrestled the vampire into Cruz’s bed.

“Light weight,” Manny muttered, stomping off to find his family.

Cruz stood by the door, watching as her vampire dozed happily in her bed.  She turned when Carmen sidled up to her.

“He sure doesn’t handle chocolate well, does he?” the ten-year-old asked.  She tilted her head.  “He looks cute sleeping in your bed, Aunt Mari.”

Cruz’s lips twitched.  “How much did he eat?”

“Most of my basket.”  The child’s grin was impish.  “You got what you wanted.  Uncle Niles for Easter.”

“I’ll pay you back,” Cruz said, lifting her hand.

With a sly grin, Carmen completed the high five.

 

 

© 2018 Newmin

 

Niles Comments:  Just for the record, Cruz told this story.  I deny any recollection of it occurring.  No, I can’t explain how I woke up Easter evening in her bed, but I did enjoy a great dinner with the family afterwards.  I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful holiday with lots of love… and of course chocolate.  If you’re gonna do chocolate, make it Rhebs!

Happy Easter

 

https://rhebs.com/

 

 

Matchmaker Gule

Nights like these were made for vampires.  The black sky was spangled with stars.  A warm breeze eddied through the marsh and night birds chirped as they dove for insects or sea creatures lurking in moonlit waters.  The Baltimore First Responders annual dinner dance for charity was being held at the Sparrows Point Golf Course south of the city on a spit of land surrounded by Bear Creek.  The glitterati of Baltimore had turned out for the black tie event to enjoy an evening of eating, drinking and dancing under the Milky Way.

Like his fellow officers on the Baltimore police force, Niles Gule was dressed in his finest evening clothes, but due to his towering height, bright corn colored hair and brilliant blue eyes, he stood apart from his human co-workers.  Because Niles was a vampire, albeit a vampire on the wagon.  He’d sworn off consuming human blood products in his quest to find peace between the species.  That night, he strolled between the darkness of the golf course and the lights of the terrace, sipping from a glass of champagne and smiling benignly to friends and acquaintances.  Unlike most nights when he attended these events alone, this night he had a woman on his arm.

Miranda was as stunning as he.  Nearly as tall, lithe and curvaceous, she filled out her turquoise silk sheath to perfection.  While other women slyly surveyed Niles’ tall, elegant form, men allowed their eyes to caress Miranda’s extraordinary chest and shapely legs.  Her dark hair was bound up in a sophisticated French twist studded with little diamonds that winked in the light.  More diamonds swayed from her ears and encircled her pale throat.  The pair made the most striking couple on a terrace filled with striking couples.

“You’re cramping my style,” Miranda murmured, ruby lips curved in a faint smile.

Niles kept her arm tucked into his and continued strolling.  “Not for long.  I promise.”

Her lustrous dark eyes surveyed him hungrily.  “I can abandon my hunt for a partner tonight if you have any interest.”

Niles’ body shuddered as the purr ran through his nervous system.  Oh, how his instincts demanded he take her up on the offer.  But he couldn’t.  He reminded himself that the fun he was seeking tonight was of another sort.

As they transited the gathering, Niles caught sight of his partner, the ever stunning Mariella Cruz, lovely in an off-the-shoulder ivory gown speckled with pearls.  She’d pulled her wealth of satiny curls atop her head and allowed tendrils to drip towards her shoulders.  Niles felt a different shudder at the sight, wishing he could stroke that cocoa skin.  Then his eyes met hers and he saw annoyance flash in dark depths.  She lifted her chin to look down on Miranda, which was impossible given Miranda’s height.  With an amused smile twitching her lips, Miranda returned the look and tightened her grip on Niles’ arm.

“You have an admirer,” she murmured as they continued their stroll.  “A pretty little thing.”

“She’s my partner.”

Niles hated the heavy feeling in his heart at the look on Cruz’s face.  He wanted to believe she was jealous but yet wished she wasn’t.  She was a human, with a human life span.  He was a vampire who’d live to see one thousand if luck was with him.  A relationship between them, regardless of how much either of them desired it, would never work out.

Miranda said nothing but Niles saw a speculative gleam in her lovely eyes.

On the second turn around the party, they came face to face with Officer Jonas Williams.  He’d pealed out of the crowd when he saw the pair coming and placed himself in their path.

Niles halted and looked haughtily at his nemesis.

Williams’ gray eyes scanned first him then Miranda more slowly.

“I see you’re in fine fettle,” he said.

Niles gave a faint nod.  “No thanks to you.”

Miranda turned a curious look towards him.  “You were ill, Niles, darling?”

Before Williams could voice the quip Niles saw hovering on his lips, he gave the officer a hard look.  Then he answered Miranda’s question.  “Jonas thought it would be funny to slip me some LSD.”

“What happened?” she asked.

“Nothing!” Williams complained.  He returned Niles’ hard look.  “Absolutely nothing.”  He turned a ten megawatt smile on Miranda.  “It was a joke.  I’m funny like that.”  He extended his hand.  “Jonas Williams.”

Miranda freed herself from Niles’ arm and briefly shook hands.  “Miranda Jolie.”

Tres jolie.”   Williams leaned towards her to wink.

Vous parlez francais?” she asked, surprised.

En peu.”

Miranda laughed delightedly.  “I haven’t spoken French for so long.”

Williams extended a hand to usher her away from the terrace.  “Why don’t we go for a stroll along the river bank and chat?”

“That would be tres jolie,” Miranda replied, slipping her hand under his arm now.

“Yes, tres jolie,” Williams repeated.  He gave Niles a smug look as he stole the vampire’s gorgeous date for the night.

With an annoyed shake of his head, Niles let them go.  He wasn’t going to start a scene in front of his entire department.  Let Williams have his fun.  Instead, Niles wandered towards the buffet table in search of another glass of champagne.

He found little Walter Cooksey surveying the spread with a look that said he found it lacking.  Cooksey wasn’t much of a police officer–he was too old and fat for that—but he was an incredible cook.  His annual barbeques made the golf course chef’s offerings seem skimpy.

“Didn’t Jonas have a date for the night?” Niles asked.  He nibbled on a piece of chicken.

Cooksey shrugged.  “He did but she dumped him for the commissioner.”  The little man nodded his bald head in the requisite direction.

“Ah!  That explains it.”  Niles’ blue eyes twinkled.  “Well, that’s what happens when you bring an escort to a party like this.”  Niles knew the lady.  He’d arrested her twice for prostitution.

He knew the moment Cruz sidled up beside him without even turning his head.  He knew her scent.  It made his nose twitch and his body shiver with longing.  She stretched her bare arm across him to pick up a bit of brie.

“Don’t tell me Jonas stole your date!”  She gave Niles’ a reproachful look.

“Only for a moment.”

Niles turned his exquisite night vision on the golf course.  The couple had stopped beside a copse.  They were probably invisible to the humans on the terrace but Niles could see them well enough.  He noted Williams’ sudden backpedal.  He saw Miranda lunge after him.  Williams tripped on underbrush and went down into the woods.  Miranda leaped after him.

With a curse, Niles tossed his toothpick to the table and hastened off the terrace.  Several strides from his long legs brought him to the copse where he found the pair writhing on the ground.  With a roll of his eyes, he grabbed Miranda by the arm and jerked her off Williams with a single tug.

“What did I tell you?” he said in reprimand.  “Look, but don’t touch.”

Williams was scrambling backwards to escape the pair.  “She’s a fucking vampire!”

Niles lifted a brow.  “Really?  Are you sure?”

“She tried to tear my throat out!”  Williams’ eyes were bulging.

“Tsk!  Tsk!”  Niles shook his finger at Miranda.  He gave her a gentle push towards the terrace, sending her off with a loving pat on the behind.  Then he turned to Williams and offered him a hand up.

His eyes glinting hatefully in the moonlight, Williams allowed Niles to pull him to his feet.

“You deliberately sicked her on me, didn’t you?  To pay me back for the LSD gag.   You knew she was a vampire.”

“Did I?” Niles asked, all innocence.

Williams clenched a fist, considered punching the vampire then thought better of it.  He seldom won against Niles.

“You had to know.  You always know when vampires are around.”

“You don’t say?  Usually I can smell them.”  Niles snuffled.  “Hmmm.  Can’t smell a thing.”

“Bull!” Williams complained, dusting himself off and tramping angrily towards the party.  “You never get sick.”

“I suppose I don’t,” Niles commented, keeping with him.  “Must be a side effect of some bad drugs I received this week.”

 

 

© 2018 Newmin

Gule Takes a Trip

Niles watched Williams watching him.  The vampire’s brilliant blue gaze narrowed as he wondered what vile trick the hulking police officer was up to now.  Because Williams had a shimmer in his gray eyes that spoke of mischief.

Niles glanced at the evidence packet he held in his slender fingers but saw nothing unusual about it.  It contained two bullets retrieved from the robbery of a mini-market in Baltimore.  He and his partner Mariella Cruz had been assigned to the case, one of those boring chores that brought little satisfaction to the pair of police detectives.  Because the attendant at the market knew the man who’d robbed him.  Security cameras caught the guy in di flagrenti.  The bullets would no doubt be traced to the man’s gun which had probably been stolen.  The two detectives would then canvas the neighborhood, find the man’s mama who would turn her son in, and a wasted trip to a court room to testify might result.  Yada, yada, yada.

His eyes still fixed on Williams, who still watched him as if expecting his co-worker to suddenly go native and bite someone, Niles licked the packet closed, initialled and dated it.

“Need me to take that to the evidence room?” Williams offered.  He schooled his face to look innocent, but Niles sensed an underlying tension.

What was he up to now?

Rising to his full six feet four, Niles shook his head.  “I can make it downstairs, Jonas.  But thank you for the offer.”

Williams shrugged his huge shoulders.  He continued to watch as the vampire stepped around his desk and threaded through the office.  Niles could feel those eyes burning into him every step he took.

When he reached the door, Niles turned only to find Williams still watching his every move.  The vampire sensed Williams’ growing annoyance.

“Is there something I can do for you?” he asked pointedly.

Williams started.  Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he shrugged again.  “Nope.  Nothing.”

Niles silently watched as the police officer gave him one last, disappointed look before giving up whatever he was after and heading for the coffee maker.

Annoyed, Niles continued on his errand.  When he returned to the elevators, he found his partner waiting for him.

“Got a lead on that burglary in Fells Point.”  Cruz waved a piece of paper then grabbed the vampire’s arm and pulled him behind her as she sailed for the outside.  Typical whirlwind Cruz.

As he folded his long, lanky form into Cruz’s tiny powder blue Fiat, he caught sight of Williams emerging from the precinct, his little chubby partner Cooksey at his side.  The giant officer stopped and watched Niles insert first one leg, than the other and finally his torso into the little car.  The stare was more intense than the mere amusement Williams normally got from watching Niles install himself in Fifi.  His gray eyes seemed to shine in the semi-darkness of the parking lot.

“What’s with Williams?” he demanded, buckling up because any ride with Cruz was an experience in Formula One racing.

The perky little Latina glanced at Williams then shrugged.  “Dunno.  You two at each other again?”

“Apparently.”  Niles wondered what he’d done now.

He was forced to stop wondering because Cruz hit the gas and tore from the lot with squealing tires.  A wild ride took them into the Fells Point neighborhood with its rich night life and vibrant restaurant scene.  They visited Register Street to speak to the man whose house had been broken into and show him a photo of their suspect.  The victim didn’t recognize the perpetrator.  That led to a second trip out to Mondawmin where Cruz thought their perp might be hiding.  At midnight, they responded to a call of shots fired in Middle East where Niles’ exquisite night vision was put to use finding shell casings.

By five am, the pair was hungry and in search of breakfast.  They ended up in Canton at Niles’ favorite all night eatery, the Sip and Bite.

Niles was just finishing up his extra rare steak when his eyes narrowed.  Into the diner strode Officer Williams, little Cooksey at his heels.

“Surprise!  Surprise!” Williams exclaimed when he saw the two detectives sitting at the counter.  He plopped onto a stool beside them.  “Fancy meeting you  here.”

“Fancy that,” Niles murmured.

Cruz viewed the two officers askance.  “Somehow this doesn’t feel like a coincidence.”

Williams tried to look innocent.  Cooksey just looked lost.

“What do you want?” Niles demanded.  “You’ve been on me like a tick on a dog’s tail all night.”

Williams’ gray eyes studied the vampire with more than the usual interest.  “Are you feeling all right?”

Niles huffed and turned his attention back to his steak.  “I’m fine.  Why do you ask?”

“Not sick?”  Williams probed.

“I’m a vampire,” Niles grumbled.  “We don’t get sick.”

“Huh!”  Williams’ face fell.

“Sorry to disappoint you!” Niles retorted.

Cruz’s gaze flashed between the two men.  “What’s going on with you two?  Williams, out with it!”

The giant man sagged, disappointment visible in every sinew.  “Ah, hell!  I was hoping to have some fun.”

“In what way?” Niles felt his hackles rising.

Williams looked between the two detectives as if hopeful of seeing something.  When it didn’t come, he surrendered.  “I tried to pull a prank on you, Ghoul.  But apparently it didn’t work.”

Niles’ blue eyes flashed.  “What sort of prank?”

“Ya know that evidence kit you handled at start of shift?”  When Niles nodded, Williams plowed on.  “I tampered with it.  Stuck a tab of LSD to the flap so when you licked it… bam!”

Cruz gasped.  “You slipped Niles LSD?”  She punched Williams.  “What the hell were you thinking?”

Williams shrugged, looking sheepish.  “I wondered how a vampire would react to the stuff.  That’s all.  Hey!”  He lifted his hands.  “No harm was done.  The Ghoul never even felt it.”

Cruz whirled on Niles. “Are you okay?”

Niles shrugged.  “I guess.  I don’t feel any different.”

“See?” Williams insisted.  “No harm done.”

Cruz punched him a second time.  “Lucky for you.  You might have killed him.”

Niles didn’t know what to think.  Furious, he shoved his empty plate away and turned to Cruz.  “Do you mind heading back alone?”

Cruz blinked.  Sliding from her stool, she asked, “Ok.  Where are you going?”

“Home.  I think I could use some fresh air.  I’ll walk back.”

Cruz gave him the hairy eye then shrugged.  “Suit yourself.”

“Aren’t you worried you’ll get mugged?” Cooksey asked as Niles swept past him heading for the door.

Niles grunted.  “I’m a vampire.  Who’s going to attack me?”

He didn’t wait to hear whatever obnoxious response Williams came up with.  He plunged into the night.

The walk didn’t take long.  Niles lived in an apartment with a view of the Inner Harbor.  His long legs made short work of the trip from Canton and he arrived at his building just as the sun painted the sky pale pink.

Letting himself into his apartment, he noted the lights were on which was odd because he didn’t really need lights.  Then he saw his cat Lenny lounging on the sofa.  The ginger colored alley cat lolled with his back against the cushions like a human and his eyes fixed on the door.  A brown fedora was perched on his head as he puffed from a long, thin cigarette holder.  He was dressed nattily in a white shirt, satin vest and Jerry Garcia silk tie that Niles knew was his own.  The cat’s back foot, wearing highly polished wingtip shoes, tapped impatiently.

“About time you got home,” the cat sniffed.

Niles stood frozen, willing his mind to understand how his tattered little cat had morphed into a gangster and learned to speak English all in a single night.  He stared blankly.

“Cat got your tongue?” Lenny demanded.  “I’m hungry! Where’s my fancy feast?”

 

© 2018 Newmin

 

Niles Comments:  Fortunately, my brief spell under the LSD only lasted a day, in case you’re worried.  I’m fine.  But I haven’t forgiven Williams.  Warn him to watch his back!

When in Baltimore, check out my favorite watering hole, the aptly named Sip and Bite.  Just the right place for a vampire to hang out.  Stop by for a bite of your own.  If you keep your eyes peeled, you might just meet me there.

http://www.sipandbite.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2018 Newmin

Gule Leaps Over the Moon

A vampire couldn’t ask for a prettier night be abroad in the Maryland countryside.  A full moon rode white in the sky, painting the world in shades of silver.  The shadows of trees still bare of leaves gave the earth a crackled appearance, black lace cast upon the fields.

Niles Gule drew a deep breath of pleasure before turning his attention to his horse.  Why anyone had named the raw boned, vile tempered beast Marvel remained a mystery to his current owner.  The roan gelding was downright ugly with an attitude no better.  To prove he deserved his reputation, he tried to nip Niles on the arm as the vampire tightened the saddle girth.

A swat with a taloned hand on the soft nose fended off the attack.  Marvel pinned his ears and bared his teeth threateningly.

“Don’t try to intimidate me,” Niles replied.  “I’m a vampire.”

Marvel curled his lips back.  Niles did as well, his two ever growing fangs flashing white in the moonlight.  Marvel tossed his head as if to grudgingly concede.

“This is going to be so much fun!” Mariella Cruz said as she led her horse out of the barn.  She drew a deep breath and gazed up at the stars.  “Whoever thought of moonlit trail rides?”

“Genghis Khan?” Niles offered.  He finished readying Marvel then temporarily tethered the horse to the nearby fence.

Cruz flashed her tongue at her partner then pretended to coyly offer her bent leg and foot.

Niles lifted a brow.  “Need a leg up, do you?”

The pretty Latina twitched her lips.  “I’m only five-feet-four, Gule.  This horse is like ten feet tall.”

“He’s fifteen hands,” the vampire replied.  “A pony really.”  Ignoring Cruz’s scowl, he grasped her leg and tossed her easily into the saddle.

Cruz wriggled her luscious little butt to find a comfortable position, forcing Niles to swallow the surge of lust he felt at the sight.  Her dark eyes sparkled in the moonlight.  “For once I get to look down on you!”

“Enjoy it while it lasts,” Niles murmured.

Rather than mount, he remained on the ground as more people led their horses from the barn.  He and Cruz were at the Fair Hills Equestrian Facility in northern Maryland which was where Niles boarded Marvel.  When he’d learned that on some nights with a full moon, guides offered moonlit trail rides, he’d suggested the outing to his partner as something fun to do.  Cruz had taken him up on the offer, commenting it would be like her childhood when she’d taken riding lessons.  Fortunately,  being able to ride wasn’t a requirement at the facility.  The rental horses were calm, good-natured creatures who tended to simply follow the leader.  No guidance from their riders was required.

A good thing, Niles thought, as he studied the group of thirty horses and riders preparing for the event.  He suspected that other than the tour leader, he and Cruz were the only two people who actually knew how to ride.

A smallish woman with short dark hair fretted with her horse.  “I’m not so sure this is a good idea,” she muttered.

Niles considered her mount.  The aging palomino was interested in nothing but the new spring grass springing up from all the recent rain.  It chomped placidly, ignoring its rider and her occasional tug on its reins.

“I’ll never get on it,” she said, and Niles almost laughed.

She was probably around five feet herself while the palomino, unlike Cruz’s bay Morgan, topped out at nearly sixteen hands.

“May I assist you?” Niles asked, ever the gentleman.  He proffered his hand.  “Niles Gule.”

The woman shook it.  “Karen McDougall.”  The chilliness of his hand made her rub her fingers together in puzzlement.  “I’ve never ridden before.”

Niles leaned down and offered his cupped hands for her.  “It’s like riding a bicycle.  Easy.”

As Karen set her foot in the vampire’s hands, she said, “Yeah, but bicycles don’t move unless you tell them too.”

With an easy lift, Niles hefted her onto the palomino’s back.  Her face washing white from nervousness, Karen grabbed the reins and a bit of mane.

“Steady there, Seabiscuit,” she murmured to the horse even though it hadn’t moved.

Untying Marvel, Niles agilely spun the roan around and swung into the saddle.  Marvel snorted and stomped his feet.  He was ready to roll.

The lead rider set off at an amble to allow everyone to acclimate to their mounts.  One by one, horses and riders fell into line behind him, the horses knowing what was expected of them.  Except for the palomino.  He continued to crop the grass, disinterested in a midnight stroll.  Poor Karen tried to kick him with her heels but the horse ignored her.  She tugged on the reins ineffectually.  She wasn’t strong enough to haul his head up.

She gestured at Niles, who after telling Cruz to stay with the group, remained waiting for Karen’s palomino get with the program.  “You go on.  I’ll just commune with nature right here.”

Smiling, Niles nudged Marvel towards her.  “Give a hard pull on the reins.  Get his head up.”

Karen scowled and tugged again.  “I’ve tried that.  My horse is defective.  I think someone jammed the parking brake.”

Coming alongside, Niles bent down to grasp the horse’s bridle.  One strong pull from the vampire jerked the palomino’s head up.  The horse glared at Niles.  Marvel glared at the palomino.  Too late, Niles realized his mistake.  Marvel bared his teeth and with a lunge plunged them into the palomino’s fat rump.

With a squeal, the palomino bolted.  But it didn’t follow the group heading into the fields.  Instead, it saw the open barn door and headed for it, Karen hanging on for dear life and yelling for the horse to stop.

Cursing, Niles put his heels to Marvel and charged after her.  He caught her just before she crashed into the barn.  In a move out of an old Western, he reached down and grasped the palomino’s bridle, then hauled back on Marvel.  Marvel slammed on the brakes.  The palomino crashed into Marvel, popping Karen into the air.  Niles caught her in midflight but the impact threw him from his saddle.  He tumbled and landed flat on his back, Karen still held safely in his arms.

The landing was surprisingly soft, for which he was briefly thankful.  Karen let out her breath with a rush and collapsed against him.

“Thank you,” she said, winded.  “I thought I was a goner.”

“I thought we both were,” Niles laughed.

Then it hit him.  The smell.  They’d landed in the manure pile alongside the barn.

With a muffled curse, Niles staggered to his feet, being careful to keep Karen out of the muck, then surveyed the damage.  His exquisite English riding breeches were plastered from his ass to his knees.  He could feel the ooze seeping through to his skin.  Ever immaculate, Niles shuddered.

“Oh wow!” Karen said.  “I’m so sorry!”

Niles brushed her concern aside.  “Don’t be.  It wasn’t your fault.”

He shot an evil glare at Marvel who now stood nearby looking innocent.

“You did that on purpose,” the vampire growled.

Marvel bared his teeth at Niles.

The horse had gotten the last laugh.

 

© 2018 Newmin

Gule Has Aspirations

“You gonna eat that breadstick?” Police detective Mariella Cruz eyed the offending bit of processed vegetable matter threatening to tumble from Niles Gule’s plate.

The vampire, a supreme carnivore, gazed at the breakstick in revulsion.  Not only was it made of vegetables, but it had been doused in garlic butter.  He was surprised he could share the same table with it.

He flicked a disaparging white talon.  “No.”

With a chortle, Cruz pounced.

Niles’ blue gaze caressed his partner’s curvaceous form, so Latina in every luscious way.  “How do you stay so trim the way you eat?”

Cruz’s secretive smile would have made a vampire proud.  “Wouldn’t you like to know?”  Her grin disappeared behind the breakstick as she munched on it.

“I would,” Niles asserted, earning himself the view of her heavenly lips parting in surprise.  “Between the crap you eat when we go to dinner and all the chocolate Duchamps bestows upon you, I’m surprised you aren’t a candidate for My 600 Lb Life.”

His partner gave him an arch look.  “Gule!” she purred.  “You sound jealous.”

Niles snorted and returned his attention to his plate oozing with bloody goodness, a porterhouse steak so rare it qualified as tartar.  He’d just savored the last rich, flavorful bite when his cellphone vibrated.

His hand flipped the phone over to see a text message had arrived.

“Tsk tsk!” Cruz murmured.  “No electronic gadgets while we’re eating.”

Niles’ face froze when he read the name of the text’s sender.  Although he possessed a vampire’s pallid complexion, he could still blanch, earning himself a concerned look from his partner.

“Gule?”

Niles thumbed open the text.  His heart sank as he read it.

Clicking it closed, he tossed his napkin onto the table and fumbled for his wallet.  As he dropped ample cash to cover the tab, he rose.

“I’ve got to deal with this,” he murmured, distracted.

Cruz was immediately on her feet.  “What is it?  Vampires don’t go white very often.”

Niles considered brushing her off then recalculated.  She could help.

“A friend’s in trouble,” he said, handing Cruz her coat.

He didn’t need to ask.  Cruz was at his side, ready to roll.

Together they hurried to Cruz’s powder blue Fiat.  As always, Niles needed to fold his long, lanky form to fit into it.  His blond locks brushed the roof while his knees scraped the dash, but he made it in.  Then Cruz was tearing out of the parking lot, full bore, because Cruz never drove at less than the speed of light.

“Where to?” she asked.

Niles considered the text message.  He prayed it spoke the truth.

“Boston St.”

Cruz did a U turn, almost throwing Niles out the window.  Tires squealed.  Horns blew.  The vampire squeezed his eyes shut at the sight of oncoming headlights, then Cruz had them whizzing towards the harbor.

Never taking her eyes off the road as she wove through traffic, sometimes using the wrong side of the street, Cruz asked, “What’s going on?”

Niles shook his head.  “I’m not sure.  We’ll see if she’s there.”

“Who? Where are we going?”

“The Sip and Bite.”

Cruz knew the name.  The restaurant was a Baltimore fixture, having opened in 1948.  It offered great diner food twenty-four hours a day in the Canton neighbor not far from the harbor.  That night its red neon sign was, like always, aglow in the darkness.  After confirming with Niles she could park out front, Cruz slid into a pace near the stretch of glass windows on Van Lill Street.  The brightly lit watering hole looked quiet.  The only patron visivle was an elderly gentleman who sat near the window nursing a cup of coffee.

Niles crawled from the Fiat.  His brilliant blue eyes studied the restaurant worriedly, half concerned he’d find his friend inside, half concerned he wouldn’t.

With Cruz following, he headed into the restaurant.  The place was small, just a line of booths along the window and the kitchen open behind a long, stainless steel counter.  The cook staff was cleaning and looking bored.  Eyes glanced at the vampire, blinked at his towering height, then turned back to business.

At the far back of the diner, tucked into a booth beneath a flat screen TV showing sports highlights, crowded a woman and three children ranging in ages from three to ten years old.

Niles’ heart flipped with relief.

With a nod, he indicated to Cruz the family was his target.  She nodded but said nothing.  She would follow his lead.

As he strode to the table, the woman flinched, and Cruz flinched in sympathy.  Because her face was a mass of purpling bruises and cuts.  Her left eye was swollen shut and her lip was split.  Her hands trembled as they clutched a glass of water.

Slowing, Niles softened his worried expression and offered a smile.  His heart winced seeing her beaten face and the cowering of the frightened children.

“Hi, Charlotte.  I got your text.”

She nodded, her eyes not quiet focusing.

Niles greeted each of the children in his formal way.  They’d been crying and wore tired, terrified expressions, but none had been injured.  They stared at the vampire with wide eyes, not knowing what to think about their parents’ horrible fight and the escape in the middle of the night.  All of them were still wearing their bunny sleepers and grasped plush stuffed animals to their chests.

“This is my partner, Cruz,” he explained to Charlotte.

Charlotte nodded again.

“It was time you left him,” Niles said gently.  His talon tenderly touched her cheek.  “This cannot continue.”

“I know,” Charlotte whispered.

“For the sake of your children if not for you,” Niles added.

He gave the youngsters his most brilliant smile and threw a little vampiric charm in with it.  That brightened the face of the girl who stared in rapt wonder.  Her little mouth dropped open.

“I’m so scared!” Charlotte admitted, her body quaking.  Her eyes darted to the windows. “He’s going to kill me! I was scared to even come here.  He might have followed us.”

Niles shot a look at the windows.  He wanted to say he hoped the bastard did come so a vampire could show a male human what it felt like to have the crap beaten out of him by someone bigger and stronger.  But that wasn’t what Charlotte needed.  “We’ll move you right now.”  He withdrew his cellphone and started thumbing numbers.  “I warned the folks at the House of Ruth about your situation.  They have room for you.”

While Niles made arrangements with the shelter,  Cruz, sensing the need to get the family out of the neighborhood, coaxed the children from the table and shepherded them to the car.  Meanwhile, Niles aided Charlotte to stand, and with the quivering woman leaning heavily on him, led her from the restaurant.  Getting a Latina, a vampire, a battered woman and three small children into the Fiat was like loading a clown car, but they managed.  Niles held the middle child on his lap, while Charlotte held the youngest in the back seat.  Cruz then drove slowly for the first time in her life to the House of Ruth.

The sun was peaking over the horizon when Niles and Cruz started back towards the precinct to make their report.  Charlotte and her family were safe at least for the moment.

“So tell me about Charlotte,” Cruz said.

Niles shrugged.  “I knew her in another life.”

“And yet she texted you when she needed help.”

Niles’ lips twitched.  “She trusted me.”  He glanced at his phone which he held in his hand.  “Thank God for Aspire.”

Cruz frowned.  “Aspire?”

“It’s the app she used.”  Niles shoved the phone in his pocket.  At Cruz’s quizzical look, he said, “It’s an app that a battered woman can use to call for help with the tap of a finger.  I made Charlotte set it up.  We agreed if it got too bad, I’d meet her at the Sip and Bite to get her away from her husband.  The app sent the text.”

Cruz made a humpf.  “Never heard of it.”

“Now you know.”

Niles stared out at the city passing by in the pink twilight.  His heart hurt and yet was filled with hope.

“Tonight was the night,” he murmured.  “She finally used the app.”

 

© 2018 Newmin

 

 

Niles comments:  Voted as one of the two “best apps for domestic violence prevention”, the Aspire News App is a potentially life-saving app that allows victims of abuse to call for help at the touch of a button. The app contains summaries of top stories in world, sports, and entertainment so that on the surface it appears to be nothing more than a typical news app.  However, behind the scenes, the user can load predetermined texts that when the app is tapped correctly, the texts are sent automatically and invisibly.  It is available for download on iPhone and Android smartphone devices.

I hope none of you needs to use such an app, but maybe you do.  Or maybe you know someone who’s in a violent relationship and should know about it.   To learn more, visit https://www.whengeorgiasmiled.org/aspire-news-app/.

I also highly recommend visiting the Sip and Bite.  Great food.  Good prices.  Open all night long for all you vampires out there.  I often catch a “bite” to eat there.  Love it!  http://www.sipandbite.com/menu/.  Yum!

 

Gule Has Had Enough

“Don’t even think about it!” Baltimore Police Detective Mariella Cruz warned.  Her voice had the steel of a Toledo sword and an edge that could cut.

Although she was a tiny thing, barely over five feet tall, she faced down the hulking Officer Jonas Williams like a Chihuahua taking on a Great Dane.  And winning.

Williams scowled at the Latina gnat standing in his way then relented, removing his hand from the butt of his service pistol.

“Ah, hell!” he muttered.  “I wouldn’t have shot anyone.  Just scared them a little.”

Infuriated, Cruz tromped on the big man’s toe ineffectually and stared daggers at him.  “It’s not funny.”  Pointing a quivering finger at the stream of high school students marching past, she added, “It’s life and death to them.”

Williams rolled his eyes.  “Damned, prissy, over-privileged white kids.”

Cruz lost it.  She slugged Williams in the gut.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t particularly strong while Williams was built like an ox.  He gave a slight oof then grinned at his antagonist.

“Gule!” Cruz gestured.  “Please do the honors.”

Niles Gule, Cruz’s partner on the Baltimore PD and resident vampire, gave both his companions a baleful look from his brilliant blue eyes.  With a fluid motion of his white taloned hands, he bade both of them to go away.

“I’m not assaulting a fellow police officer,” he said.  Giving Williams a hard look, he added, “even this one.”

His words, to his unending annoyance, placed a smirk on Williams’ heavy face.

Cruz huffed and scowled at her partner, a man as tall, blond, and lithe as she was short, dark and voluptious.  Her black ponytail swinging fiercely, she turned her back on both her fellow officers as if to separate herself from them.

From his towering height, Niles received a good view of the march.  The event had caught everyone off guard.  A handful of students, protesting the latest mass shooting at a Florida high school, which had left seventeen people dead, had left school without permission to walk to DC.  Those handful had quickly grown into a hundred or more, chanting, singing, and holding signs that said “How Many More” and “We’ll Not Be Next.”

No one had tried to stop them.  Instead, the police had cordoned off a portion of Colesville Road to keep the kids from being hit by traffic.  Niles, Cruz and Williams happened to be returning from the DC area after dropping off evidence in a smuggling case only to be caught up in the moment.  Cruz had pulled over so that they could watch the scene unfold.  Now the three officers stood by the side of the road watching what might be history unfolding before their eyes.

“Reminds me of the sixties,” Niles commented as he stood squinting from behind wrap around sunglasses to protect his sensitive eyes from the weak winter sun.

“Protestors were a pain in the ass then, too!” Williams grunted.

Niles gave the officer a hard look which Williams refused to acknowledge.

“I wasn’t born yet,” Cruz said wistfully.

Her words startled the one-hundred-fifty-eight year old vampire.  He kept forgetting what a tiny baby the woman actually was.

“Let’s hit the road,” Williams complained.  “I don’t care that a bunch of stuck up suburban kids have their noses out of joint over something that happened in another state.”  He pointed at a sign demanding a ban on automatic weapons.  “It ain’t gonna happen, kid!” he yelled.

Cruz whacked him with the back of her hand.  “Stop it!  I think what they’re doing is wonderful.”

“Marching against gun ownership?” Williams protested.  “A man’s got a God given right to own a gun.  Says so in the US Constitution.”

“It says a well-armed Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” Niles quoted.  “It doesn’t say anything about what type of gun.”

Williams sneered at the vampire.  “It says I got a constitutional right to my gun.  You want to take that right from me, you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.”

Niles shrugged.  “Someday, someone might, Jonas.”

Cruz stomped her foot.  “The Founding Fathers could not have imagined a mentally ill person taking an AR-15 into a school and killing children.”

“Arm the teachers,” Williams retorted.

“Oh, sure!  Let’s just have the shootout at the OK Corral in the locker area!” Cruz exclaimed.

“Better that than leaving the American people at the mercy of an attacking army.”  Williams scowled.  “We have the right to protect our homes and families from intruders.  If the government ever comes to my door demanding I give up my guns, it’ll be war.”

Folding his arms as he watched the battle, Niles lifted a brow.  “You against the US military?”

Williams nodded forcefully.

Behind his glasses, Niles flicked a glance at the sky.  “I can’t wait to watch one Jonas Williams take on the US drone fleet, a couple of F-16s, and maybe even an ICBM or two with his trusty Luger 9mm.”

“Ah, shut up, Ghoul!”

Niles spread his hands.  “I’m being serious, Jonas.  Your argument is specious.  The idea that anyone with infantry style weaponry could hold onto ownership of his backyard barbeque let alone win a war against the US military is delusional.”

Cruz thumped her finger at Niles.  “Like he said.”

The vampire had earned himself a gaping stare from Williams.  “Are you saying you’re for Americans giving up their guns?”

Niles scowled.  “Certainly not!  I like to hunt, Jonas.  I own a couple of rifles.  But they’re single shot and I’m not inclined to kill a human with them.”  He brandished his silver vampire hunting knife.  “In case you haven’t noticed,  I don’t even carry a sidearm.  This is my weapon of choice.  I’d have a hard time killing a pack of school kids with it.”

Williams tried to intimidate the vampire by puffing out his barrel chest and pushing his face into Niles’.  He was one of the few people Niles knew who was tall enough to do it.  He clenched his fist and planted it in front of Niles’ nose.

“I’ve got a right to carry a gun, Ghoul.  I’ll be damned if you or a bunch of snot nosed suburbanites will take it from me.  You push me too far and I’ll shoot you.”

With a taloned finger, Niles nudged the fist aside.  “You do what you have to do, Jonas,” he said softly.  “Just as I’ll do what I have to do.”

Cruz drew her breath, having never heard her partner threaten another person before.

“Whatcha gonna do?” Williams goaded.  He continued to thrust his face into Niles’.  “Huh?  Whatcha gonna do, big man with the little knife.”

Refusing to be provoked, Niles took a step back.  He wouldn’t give Jonas the satisfaction of ruffling his feathers.  Instead, he glanced at the stream of high schoolers still marching past.  Full of misguided good intentions they might be, but they had conviction and were determined to make a change in this world.  The world that would very soon be theirs.

With a gesture of farewell, he fell into step beside them.

“I think I’m in the mood to walk,” he said over his shoulder.  “It’s time someone my age helped change the world.”

 

© 2018 Newmin

 

Niles comments:  I’m saddened to say that the horrible mass murder of school children at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida hasn’t stunned me as it should.  Indeed, my first reaction was, “well, here we go again… sigh.”  I, like probably much of our country, am becoming inured to these events, which is a scary thought in itself.  How many more have to die before we take action?  I’m a gun owner, but even I can’t condone the widespread ownership of military style weaponry.  And when are we as a nation going to stop turning our backs on the mentally ill?  We wouldn’t leave a person with cancer to die without care and yet every day we blame the mentally ill for their illness.  Seriously, people.  Enough is enough.

Gule Faces His Worst Fear

Okay, Gule, you can do this.

The vampire drew a breath and willed himself to keep walking.  When his feet slowed, he uncharacteristically stumbled.  He cursed.

It’s for a great cause.

Determined to complete the mission he’d set for himself, Niles Gule marched on towards an unassuming residential building in a mundane, carefully manicured suburb of Baltimore.  Cars whisked by along Wilkens Avenue, their headlights stabbing the vampire’s delicate vision and forcing him to keep his gaze on the sidewalk.  All was quiet and serene.  The neighborhood was a safe one lined with single and twin homes on one side of the street and a medical complex on the other.  No reason for a vampire to be afraid.  And yet Niles was terrified.  Completely and utterly terrified.  Still, he kept walking.

A few more steps took him up the walkway that led to a shop inside an unassuming gray and white house.  He shuddered as he passed the neat sign proclaiming Rheb’s Candy Company, in business since 1917.  It was, he thought wryly, almost as old as he was.

Pulling the door open, Niles stepped inside then froze, petrified. The rich, luscious, evil smell of warm chocolate bathed his quivering nose.  He immediately began to salivate as he inhaled that incredible aroma.  To a vampire it was more intoxicating than the smell of blood.  Impossible.  And yet, once Niles had tasted that confection of perfection, he was hooked.  A chocolate junkie.  He craved it like he craved blood.  Like an addict craved drugs.

He walked straight into it’s den.

Rheb’s Candy Company made specialty chocolates in a vast assortment.  Truffles.  Creams.  With nuts and without.  Dark chocolate, milk chocolate or mixed.  Made on the premises in the same house where the founders Louis and Esther Rheb first started creating their own recipes in the basement.  A long, red counter displayed a bewildering number of candies, nearly all in chocolate.  Pretty boxes, ribbons and stuffed toys decorated the walls, offering buyers the chance to add some bling to their gift purchases.

Niles drew his breath and demanded his quaking bones obey his will.  He marched to the counter.

The lady gave him a smile that faded when she saw his stark white face and brilliant blue eyes glittering too brightly.

“May I help you?” she asked.  She sounded worried.

Wordlessly, Niles nodded.  His hands were clenched in his pockets, his talons digging deep into his palms.  He planted his fangs into his tongue to keep from salivating all over the store.

The woman gestured towards the chocolates.  “Is there something in particular you’d like?”

Again, Niles nodded.

The lady waited, looking more concerned.

Niles knew he couldn’t stand there frozen all night.  He gulped, sucked in a great gasp of air and blurted.  “I’d like to build a tower of chocolates.  Four boxes.  And I want to pick each piece that goes in them.”  He pointed a shaking finger at a set of bright red, satin boxes.  “Those please.”

The woman continued to eye her tall blond customer strangely, but she selected a set of matching boxes and set them on the counter to fill them.  “What would you like to go in them?”

Niles proceeded to torment himself by selecting one individual piece at a time which he requested through clenched teeth.  A number of truffles, some caramels, and orange creams in the lowest box.  Cherry cordials, chocolate covered marshmellows and pretzels in the second.  An assortment of nut clusters for the third tier.  And chocolate hearts for the top.

While Niles stood like a frozen statue, the saleswoman weighed his order, stacked the boxes and tied them in a pyramid using red chiffon ribbon.

“Would you like a heart card to go with it?” she asked.

Once again, Niles nodded, unable to speak.

After the lady added the card and tallied his purchase, Niles threw more money at her than the chocolates cost, snatched the bag and fled the store.

He tumbled out onto the sidewalk, gasping for air as if he’d run a marathon.  Gathering himself together, he straightened, smoothed his hair and suit coat and glanced around, hoping no one was out walking that chilly February evening to see him acting like an idiot.  Then, holding the bag of chocolates as far as his long arm could extend, he headed for the bus stop.

On the bus, he shoved the luscious smelling bag under the seat in front of him and planted his feet against it to keep himself from lunging for those boxes himself.  Then he spent the ride back to center city counting anything he could think to count.  Most humans weren’t aware that vampires suffered from arithromania, or the obsessive need to count objects.  But the legend is true.  Count von Count of Sesame Street  was the first vampire to actually come forward and admit his disability.   Niles was fortunate that he was a dyslexic arithromaniac so he had developed numerous coping skills to avoid obsessive counting.   That night, however, to keep his mind off his purchase, he gave in to the compulsion to count.  The task kept him sane until he arrived at the precinct.

Striding to his desk, Niles noted the assortment of Valentine’s Day observances scattered around the room.  Jackson’s wife had given her husband a huge coffee mug painted with red hearts which the officer dutifully used to sip coffee for one night only.  The switchboard operator was cooing over a bouquet of flowers from her boyfriend.  And Officer Cooksey, cullinary sprite for the department, flitted around the room dropping off homemade heart-shaped confections of lemon and sugar to every single person on shift that night.  Including Niles.

As he settled into his seat, Niles made note of his partner, Mariella Cruz, fussing with her own Valentine’s gift, an enormous heart-shaped box of candy and a huge crystal vase of three dozen perfect red roses.  She inhaled deeply a scent that Niles considered cloying.

He gestured with a talon.  “Malcolm Deschamps came through, I see.”

Cruz shot him a smug smile.  Her hands fluttered around the roses.  “Indeed he did!  Not like any of you Neanderthals thought to do something nice for the ladies of the department.”  She gave Officer Williams a scathing glance.

Williams grunted, unperturbed.  “I’ve done my stint with women.  I’m on the wagon.”

Cooksey piped up, affronted.  “Hey!  I gave you a lemon tart!”

“Yes, you did.”  Cruz corrected her error by pecking the strange, chubby man on the cheek.

She gave Niles an arch look.

Without a word, Niles lifted his bag and placed it on her desk.  He then turned his attention to his computer and started typing.

With a cry of delight, Cruz dove into the bag and removed the tower of chocolates.

“Rheb’s!” she exclaimed.  She undid the ribbon and peered into each box.  She gasped as she tried to catch Niles’ gaze.  “These are all custom assortments.  Did you pick these out yourself?”

Keeping his eyes on his screen, Niles nodded.  “Every.  One.  Myself.  In person.”

Williams snorted.  “Nice try, Ghoul.  You’ve been outclassed by Dechamps.  Again.”

Niles kept typing.

Cruz held the smallest box to her heart as she gazed at Niles in wonder.  “You know how difficult it is for Niles to face chocolate.  He’s addicted it to.”

“Tell me about it!”  Williams moaned.  “I’m the guy who bailed him out of a New Jersey jail for running around naked the last time he indulged himself.”

Niles growled low in his throat but willed himself to say nothing.

Cruz punched Williams then scampered around the desk so she could plant a kiss on Niles’ cold cheek.

“I know what it meant for you to do that,” she whispered in his ear.

Still Niles typed.

She turned her scathing look at Williams.

“Sometimes,” she said, “There’s more to a gift than the object given.”

Williams made a rude gesture with his hands.

Sniffing, Cruz strutted around the big man and happily popped a cherry cordial in her mouth.

Niles kept typing.  But he couldn’t hold back his smile.

© 2018 Newmin

 

Niles Comments:  I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  In these difficult times so full of anger and violence, we could all use a little more love.    When in Baltimore, a visit to Rheb’s Candy Company is a must.  There’s a reason they’ve been in business for one hundred years.  For my more distant fans, they take internet orders!  Check it out.  https://rhebs.com/