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April 15, 2024

Dark Whispers 09

By Lydia Manx

Have Gun Will Travel

I plopped on the couch next to Harry and grabbed his PDA from him. I looked at what had been keeping him entertained while I was on the phone with Kenyon. Horror enveloped me as I saw what had been keeping him so busy.

"Tetris! You are playing Tetris?" The little shapes mocked me free falling slowly on the small screen.

Harry took back his toy and looked at me, "Well, it wasn't like you needed me to help you with Kenyon. What was that all about?"

He was trying to distract me from teasing him about playing a child's game. I was not going to forget it any time soon, that was for sure. I let him redirect me and replied, "It was about Kenyon's bad choices. His latest baby vampire or near-vampire had the poor taste to be followed by Lani and her Goths. Never did ask Kenyon if that Tiffany thing was fully fanged or just in training. Doesn't matter now since Donnie is mid-disposal by now."

I reached over and snatched Harry's PDA away again. Batting off his halfhearted attempt to take back the device, I started clicking through the screens until I found his email, which was open. So the Tetris playing was a ruse to distract me from what he was in the middle of writing.

Tapping the mini-screen with a finger tip I said, "Okay, Harry, why are you contacting Kirk about me? Doesn't he know you and I are acquainted?" Talk about an understatement. I waited to see what Harry's game was.

"No," Harry simply replied to my last question. I waited to see if he would continue. I kept clicking through his PDA and the various screens available. I could see he had more on his than the standard gadget came loaded with. Harry finally had enough of my exploring and put his hand out. I smiled and gave it back to him.

He rewarded my prompt compliance with a smile and a response, "Cassandra, Kirk doesn't know about our past. He knows me only as one of his bosses. I doubt he even credits me with having a life outside work."

I arched an eyebrow and said, "Then why did you think he had stolen the wrist weapons from your place last summer if that is true?"

Here Harry paused, trying to figure out how little he could share with me and keep me appeased. The problem with Harry and I being close for so many years was he that had learned to block me from reading anything but his most basic thoughts. One of the best vampire traits is our ability to read minds fairly easily. Humans were open books for the most part, which came in very handy when calling for a meal. We vampires could and did read each other pretty well, but Harry was Byzantine in his logic and thought process. He used that elaborate and convoluted puzzle-like thinking to cloud others from peeking. Given enough time, I usually could discern what was going on in his brain but this time he was definitely blocking me.

Time stretched, and finally I sighed deeply. Harry knew I had reached the end of my rope and began to talk, "Cassandra, my dear one." Damn, he was sweet talking -- this meant it was totally going to suck whatever he had decided to share. He continued, "Kirk Grady is one of mine in a way. I trained and groomed him to be part of my team five years ago and have always had an interest in his career. I had to let him go out his own a year ago because he was shadowing me too closely at murder sites and was starting to notice I made some leaps of logic that defied the evidence presented."

That was pretty scary to think that Harry had become so reckless that he was using his vampiric talents to solve a crime, and more shocking that a human was noticing. Harry exhaled noisily in his disgust with his own failings and went on, "When Kirk went out on his own he started to track back some nasty rogue vampires. I found out and took them out before Kirk could figure out what he had. So I thought. Then last summer I came back from a hunt and found Kirk literally sitting on my doorstep. He calmly explained that he was delving deeper into a murder that kept puzzling him and needed my expert eyes. I let him inside and tried to find out what he meant. I figured he knew something was different about me but he wasn't quite sure."

Here I interrupted. "Harry, why didn't you just dine and dash?" This empathy towards the food was really beginning to work my nerves. Vampires like Harry didn't keep pets, much less allow them any access to their homes.

He turned to me and said, "Because I wasn't sure if he was working with anyone and -- he is very good at blocking his thoughts from me. I felt it would do more harm to just take him out without finding out what he knew. I needed to discover what game exactly he was playing."

I rolled my eyes and said, "Okay, sure. You've convinced me." My tone was definitely mocking.

Harry smiled at my tones and continued with, "So we sat around my living room and he shared his mystery murder file with me. Thankfully it was a straightforward murder and the clues were there to be read without having to go to the site. He said he had missed talking over cases with me. Then the phone rang in my office, I hadn't had a chance to turn the answering machine down and knew it was someone calling to thank me for my clean up in Alabama."

I knew what he was talking about and could see how that would prove to be awkward. Selma was the head vampire in that region and had asked my help in taking out her little rogue problem, but at that time I was busy with my own area and had to decline. Selma was wired tightly and tended to exude far too much enthusiasm both live and on phones. Discretion was not the better part of Selma.

Harry caught my thought and nodded, "Yes, it was Selma. I picked up before the machine and it took about ten minutes to get her off the line. She doesn't take hints well."

That was a major understatement. Selma had had problems with vampires in her region for decades. I blamed too much inbreeding in the food combined with too few branches on the vampire tree of Selma's little clan. She always means well and pays even better but she was work.

"So?" I asked dryly.

"So, I came back to the living room and Kirk said he had to go. He was agitated and wouldn't meet my eyes."

Not good.

"That brings us to present day. From what I could tell, he has been watching Greg for nearly as long. I figured he might have found my wrist weapons and stole them. Seeing the tape, I now know that Selma's little problem had me out of the house long enough for Seneca and her crew to steal them. And I knew they were taken by human hands but the odor of Kirk was still strong in the air when I looked."

I understood what Harry was saying, but still asked, "Why did you let him go?"

"Because of Greg. I found out when I was in Alabama that Greg had acquired new shadow and was becoming a problem. I knew Kirk liked to work with a team and I hadn't found his partner."

"Have you yet?"

"No." Harry admitted and looked upset.

I got up from the couch and went to another book on the shelf. I toggled it forward and a hidden drawer slid out at the bottom of the bookshelves. Harry said, "Too much Nancy Drew as a child?"

I smiled and pulled out a large box. The wooden case was deceptively ornate. I placed my thumbs in the appropriate spots and the box opened up with a click. Inside were a few of my other toys. I was happy to see them all still safely nestled inside the box. Harry came over to look them over.

"Nice, really nice." He seemed to respect my choice in toys. I took that to be a compliment. I pulled out my favorite guns and handed one to Harry. He handled them reverently and commented on the action, "Sweet. Cassandra, what do you have loaded in these?"

I smiled. "A little bit of this and that. I worked out the load problem on the bullets and have some treats encased in them."

"Holy water and what?" He looked interested. Guys always got excited by my toys.

"That's for me to know and you to find out," grinning, I handed one of them back to Harry. He had placed the one he had looked at back into the appropriate spot. I gave him the other one he had not picked up. He turned it and saw his initials on the grip.

"You had this made this for me?" I was happy to see him pleased. I had this little treat designed a while ago and held it until I felt he needed something to perk him up.

"Of course, Harry. Once the gunsmith finished them I christened them with his blood while I feasted. They were doubly blessed by their maker's hard work and life's blood." Only Harry would appreciate such a thoughtful gift. I beamed at his look of awe.

Harry nodded and began to work the action on the revolver. I'd had the guns for a while. Very few people used revolvers nowadays, but I had always liked the way they felt. I thought for a moment and realized had I not killed that gunsmith, he would have long been dust by now. Time sure flew.

I pulled out a box of ammo to go with the gun and handed it over saying, "Red-tipped ones are for vampires, and blue-tipped for humans. The humans can be killed with the red ones also but why waste good ammo?"

Harry smiled and said, "You no longer owe me a new knife!" He put the gun down slowly and walked to his coat, "Let me give you a little something I have had for you."

I clapped my hands lightly. What woman doesn't like presents?

He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small box. I sat down and slowly opened the box. He'd had my initials etched on the case inside. I opened to see a PDA.

"My own personal geekware?" His taste in gifts was not as good as it used to be, I thought. Laughing, he went back to his coat and pulled out a small black velvet bag. He tossed it to me saying, "Here's the sparkly. The PDA is loaded and ready to go." I put down the tech toy and caught the bag. Inside was a long gold chain with a cross pendant. I had long gotten over my allergies to crosses and laughed seeing the blood ruby centered in the middle of the cross. A delightful gift for a vampire.

"That should throw off Kirk and whoever his partner is. They all still think crosses will automatically harm us." Not discounting what damage they could do to some vampires, it wasn't all vampires who reacted to crosses.

"Yes, that is their fault for believing what they see on the screen and read in trashy novels. Sheesh, like we don't write books and make movies? Some of the best blood suckers out there are in the business," I replied, and Harry joined me in a laugh. Some of Hollywood had it right while other aspects were carefully crafted misdirection. Since it looked like we were under some scrutiny, it would be in our best interests to keep the watchers off balance.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2018-10-29
Image(s) are public domain.
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