Chapter 8: It’s not that I don’t like you, I just want to kill you
Copyright © 2013 by Brian Bixby.
I wake and prepare to put step one of my plan into action: prove the Chicago cops won’t ever accept me. It’s a strange way to start, but it’s essential that I know precisely how the cops feel about their vampiric ex-brethren. So my second stop tonight is going to see my ex-partner Phil Patowski.
My first? I need blood, and I succeeded in getting rid of Homer last night. Too bad that, I actually liked the guy. But Martha’s observation about blood types being more important than skin color makes me wonder if it’s true. So I decide to find a local victim. Figure that’s also safer, since this would be part of Scratch’s territory, and if I get caught he might go easy on me, on account of Martha.
Problem is that I’m a big white guy in a black neighborhood. It makes me something other than inconspicuous, and I want to be inconspicuous. After a few stares, I decide to take to the alleys. Fewer people there to see me. I even consider changing into a bat as a last resort, but don’t. And then I walk by this ground floor window and see this middle-aged woman sitting in her living room alone, watching TV. I vault in, streak across the room, and have my fangs in her neck before she knows what’s happening.
I’m drinking her blood when something hits me hard on my back. I yank out my fangs and confront a short black man, maybe five-four, in his undershirt, swinging a baseball bat that catches me in the stomach. I wrench it out of his grasp and seize him, sinking my teeth in and really enjoying the taste of victory over a fighting opponent.
I finish with him, have him sit down by the woman. And curse myself for being such a fool as not to check beforehand whether anyone else was in the place. I look over the rest of the apartment, find it otherwise empty, and return to the couple in the living room. They’re both in my thrall, so they haven’t moved.
I curse myself again. As part of my plan to become a vampire cop, I intended that I would be like the Vic of Martha’s story, a do-gooder vampire, and here I barge in and attack two total strangers without their consent. I find out their names, James and Hilda Thompson, and that their biggest wish is to move to a quieter neighborhood. I make a note on the paper Homer left me, and then leave their place, dropping the enthrallment as I depart. Someday, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, I’ll do something for you. If my plan works. If we’re all still alive, or whatever I should call my state of existence.
My wallet still contained my money and identification, so I ride the buses to get most of the way to my ex-partner’s house. I don’t trust my navigation skills while flying, not yet, apart from flying to someplace as familiar as my own home. When I get there, I see Patowski is home, to judge from the lights and the sounds of a ball game coming from a TV in his house. I go up to the front door, ring the bell.
Myra, Phil’s wife, comes to the door. Through the screen I see she recognizes me, is starting to become alarmed. I bare my fangs, trying to put her into a light enthrallment. It works. She stops looking alarmed, just stares at me, passive and still.
I open the door, step in. I don’t want Myra involved, she’s been good to me, so I say to her, “You’re tired, Myra. Go upstairs, go to sleep, and forget that I was here tonight.” She turns around and heads up the stairs. Good, she’ll be out of the way.
I walk into the Patowski living room. Phil’s watching the game on TV. He says, “Who was that, Myra?” When no one answers, he looks over.
I say to him, “Hi, Phil. I have to talk with you.”
Phil stares at me. He looks past me. He starts to get up. “Where’s Myra?”
“I sent her upstairs to sleep, Phil,” I reply. “I didn’t touch her. She’ll be fine in the morning, she just won’t remember I was here. I didn’t want her involved in this discussion. I like Myra. I wouldn’t ever hurt her.”
Phil is standing. He still doesn’t look happy. “What do you want, Ned?”
“To talk to my partner, or at least my ex-partner,” I say, walking over and sitting in a chair facing Phil. “I don’t intend to hurt you, either, unless you try something, Phil. You were my partner.”
Phil sits back down, grabs his beer, takes a swig, puts it down. “OK, we’re here, Ned. Talk.”
“What do the police know about what happened to me, Phil?”
Phil scratches his chin. He’s always had some white stubble there, and is always scratching it. Reminds me I haven’t checked to see if my beard is growing. I reach up, and find that it has since two nights ago. I’ve got a layer of stubble across my face.
Phil speaks. “You disappeared off your beat, and then two nights later headquarters got a note saying Martha Fokker got you. So you were listed as dead, possibly a vampire.” Phil takes a good look at me. “Fokker really get you, Ned?”
“Yeah, Phil, she did.” I laugh. Phil looks puzzled, so I explain. “Martha Fokker, terror of the department, stands under five feet tall. But she could break you in two, Phil. Or me, before she got me. Not that she needed to. All she had to do was put her spell on me, and I did what she told me to. Couldn’t fight it.”
“Christ. So you’re really a vampire now, Ned?”
“Yeah, Phil. I’m not here to bite you, but I’ll show you my fangs.” I let the fangs come out, open my mouth, close it. “Problem is, Phil, if you like people, their blood tastes better. So I don’t want to go near my family. I especially don’t want to go anywhere near Eileen. I don’t want to turn her into a vampire. She deserves better. And while I always liked you, Phil, you’re old and leathery enough that I can resist sucking your blood.”
Eileen, besides being my girlfriend, is also a distant cousin of Phil’s. I could see him tense up when I mentioned her name, then relax when I said I’d be leaving her alone. And he appreciates a joke. So he smiles at my concluding line. He’s fifty-four, and is always complaining about young cops. “Being bald offer me any extra protection?” he asks.
I shake my head. “Nah, just your patience and sweet disposition.”
Phil laughs, a bit uneasily, but he still laughs. Then he grows serious. “So now what, Ned?”
“I’m a cop,” I tell him. “I want to work for the force again.”
Phil shakes his head slowly. “You’re not a cop any more, Ned. And while I might like to have you, knowing my disposition keeps me safe, the force will never accept a blood-sucker. Never.”
“I know, Phil. But tell Captain Snyder I said so. I’m a cop. You can tell him anything you want about our meeting, but tell him I insist I’m a cop.”
“OK. He won’t like it, but I’ll tell him.”
“Thanks, Phil. I’d better go.” I get up.
“Ned,” Phil addresses me in a hesitant voice. “I shouldn’t say this, but I appreciate that you’re going to leave Eileen alone, and . . . hell, you were my partner. I’m going to have to get my gun out and try to kill you as you leave. Orders.” And he looks over to where his holster is hanging, off the chair to his right.
I get what he’s driving at. “Do I have to break one of your arms, Phil, or will just bruising you a lot be sufficient evidence?”
Phil sucks on his lip for a second. “Bruises will do. But they’d better be convincing, Ned.”
I nod. “Go for your gun, Phil.”
Phil starts to turn. For the first time, I appreciate vampire speed compared to regular humans. Phil seems to be moving in slow motion as I close in on him. I grab his right arm, twist it around his back, and start pummeling his arm and shoulder with my free hand. I’m surprised at how hard I can hit, and pull back a bit, whereupon Phil tries to struggle free to go for his gun again. So I hit him some more. This time when I let up he doesn’t move. I guess I’ve done enough, and leave. It’s about as much as I can take, too, because seeing Phil’s bruises form was causing my fangs to grow out.
So, three jobs done. I’ve seen Phil, which I wanted to do for old time’s sake. I expect Phil will pass along my message, which will at least stick a bug in Snyder’s ear. And by claiming disinterest in seeing my family and Eileen, I hope the police won’t be shadowing them in the near future. If I do decide to see them, I don’t need my brother cops disrupting the meeting.
It occurs to me that Martha was right that first night. I still hate her for what she did to me, and I can’t figure out her character, but she did do a good job in teaching me how to be a vampire, in the few nights we were together. Have to grant her that.
But she didn’t teach me everything. I need to practice enthralling people to different levels, and I need to think about strategies to take prey safely. So I go to the Italian and Polish neighborhoods where there haven’t been any organized gangs since Martha killed their leaders. Then I spend the night practicing. Every time I run into prey, I try to enthrall them to different levels, and then release them. Supposedly there’s a way to give them fake memories, not just confuse their memories, but I don’t have any luck with that, as near as I can tell. Guess I’ll need to practice more. And in between, I think of strategies to find and take prey, and then put them into practice. I think of a few that would be easy to do with my police uniform on, but I don’t want to use it for that. I’m not sure if I have any honor, but I’m not going to dishonor my uniform by using it to take prey. At least not until I’m a cop again, and it’s official.
I get back to my basement lair, as I now think of it, with a sense of accomplishment. Tomorrow night, step two begins. It’s going to make step one look simple and risk-free.
End of chapter eight.