Seeing the bloody clothing I'd just shed tossed onto the floor mentally slammed my husband's murder right front and center for me. I picked out another set of jeans and a black t-shirt from my luggage. Lackluster with the choices and frozen by the reason for my changing again, I slowly pulled on my jeans. I still wasn't sure why I saw one vampire slice off the head of another in front of me. I had no clue what Joel thought it would do for me. But then it probably wasn't about me, but his control of his vampires.
Theo hammered on the door with a heavy hand, "Come on, Josie, let me in so we can talk. It's not like I haven't seen those gorgeous breasts of yours before, you know."
He was referring to my dropping my towel earlier as if we'd had sex. Naughty vampire behavior but I wasn't interested in playing with the fang boy. Besides Theo wasn't what he seemed. He did know about Billy but I needed to get my head straight before going for round three with him and the others.
"Yeah, but I'm not feeling like playing 'show and tell' just now." The t-shirt I was dragging over my face muffled my voice but I knew he heard me perfectly fine.
A chuckle and then softer tapping, "Ah, hurry up then. Joel doesn't like being kept waiting."
"And I don't like being sprayed with blood." I raked my fingers through my hair and thankfully found nothing sticky or gooey. The lip-gloss was still fresh enough and I wasn't able to think of anything else to do to delay heading back into the fray.
Yanking open the bedroom door abruptly, I disturbed Theo while he was busy text messaging. Seeing me, the cell phone was quickly tucked into his pocket. I brushed past him and lifted the phone from his pocket without a word. I punched the keys and read his last text message.
"So you think you can handle me, huh?" While reading his message to Joel it struck me as quite arrogant. Even when texting vampires were smug -- color me surprised -- okay maybe not so much.
"That's my cell phone, damn it! Give it back," he sounded all of twelve.
Pulling further from his grasp I saw he had an incoming message and I paraphrased the message for him as I read it aloud, "Oh, he said you make sure you know what you're doing."
Theo tried to grab his phone back while I continued to push the tiny buttons.
"I replied to him that you didn't have a clue and to meet me in the entry hall without the toothy crew." I tossed him back his cell phone. He caught it inches from the floor and I practically skipped down the stairs. Joel met me at the bottom without reinforcements.
"You wanted to talk with me alone?"
"Sure, since I haven't had enough pain in my day, I thought I'd cap it off with a one-on-one with you. So who killed Billy?" I went for the direct approach. Theo finally hit the bottom step to hear my question to Joel.
Joel didn't immediately answer. It made me wonder how much he knew about his vampires. Not enough, as far as I could tell, so it came as no surprise when instead Theo replied, "It was all part of Bob's attempt to overthrow Joel. He had three other vampires involved not of our family. They were rogues in the area that he'd picked up and was trying to organize into a new crew. My team has since slain them."
"Oh, gee, that's fucking terrific news. So let's review here. You've let my husband escape from your 'protection'. He ran home to see if he could find me, and decided in his confused state to call into a live talk radio show so the whole world could hear. While out he was wandering around with half a brain or something, he calls out for me still on air with some listeners getting to wonder if I was finally coming home to forgive him for cheating on me. In turn your vampire shot him when he was still on the air, so the cops naturally think it's me who gunned him down.
"Nummy, let's add in you now have had the vampires killed who were the real murderers, thus reducing the chances of anyone actually getting confessions from them. Oh, lest we forget to include the fact that they are actually damned vampires making it rather unlikely they could withstand any sort of lengthy daytime trial. The whole vampire thing and all." My sarcasm-laced rant felt good, but I knew it was futile.
If nothing else, I'd figured out that as a human I wasn't even a blip on their radar. My personal well-being wasn't even a concern to them. I felt the motto of vampires was roughly summed up in, 'Screw middle-class angst of the human beings -- there are only two things vampires are interested in: blood, and power, and not necessarily in that order.'
And Joel Paulson was just proving my theory.
"Josie, it's not like that." Joel tried to soothe me.
"Sure it is. And now we have another nasty bit to consider about my house. Won't they send over some sort of CSI or murder investigative team?" Both the vampires nodded simultaneously, obviously confused and not getting my drift.
I spelled it out, "And in their investigation through my house trying to either find clues for tracking me, or evidence to convict me of Billy's death, I would imagine they would use something like Luminol."
Suddenly the light went on in Theo's brain and he said, "Oh fuck."
"Yeah, that's my thought. Babette screwing Billy, bleeding and such like in my bed must have left traces. The missing rug and bedding will be commented on and more than likely a starting point for more investigating." I softly added.
"So my DNA will be in my home, as will Billy's and his disgusting asshole friend, Oliver. Which is fine given we are standard human beings. But, Joel, what exactly will Babette, Tammy, Greta and you show up as when they find your trace elements? You all clock in as humans? Yes?" I dryly asked. I didn't bother listing the cleanup crew that came in for the bound vampires or whoever he used to remove Babette, Billy and Oliver from the house. All those folks left traces since my home hadn't been industrial cleaned when I got home from work.
Theo and Joel didn't reply. They hadn't thought it through as well as they'd pretended. I wasn't excited about knowing more than them, but rather horrified by the idea. Superior creatures how? I mean long-lived I'll give them, but they weren't the brightest bulbs on the chandelier from what I'd seen and heard.
I heard a chirp and Theo looked at his cell phone. Joel sighed, "What now?"
Tapping and typing Theo said, "They found Oliver's body."
I sighed. That was probably going to be blamed on me also.
"I thought Oliver was being held in different cell from Billy." Joel wasn't pleased.
"He was, but he was freed when Billy was," I guess Theo had been saving that little bit for later.
"And I am just hearing about this now why again?"
A flush and then, "We had a lead on him and thought we'd have him back by now."
"You guessed wrong," Joel replied flatly.
Oliver's death didn't concern me other than peripherally. Even knowing I was probably being sized up for his death. Which reminded me, "How'd Oliver die?"
I'd have guessed that the dog just spoke given how nonplussed they both looked. Joel nodded and Theo replied to his unspoken command.
"He was gutted and left on the corner of a known hooker hangout."
"Cool." And I meant it. That piece of scum couldn't have died painfully enough to suit me.
"Theo, did they give up the internet sites before murdered?"
That was a real good question. I didn't much care if the rest of the world found out about vampires but Joel wasn't very keen on the idea. Why should I be the only human left having all the fun?
Head bent Theo kept tapping and asking questions on his cell phone. From the look on his face he wasn't getting the right answers. The already pale vampire went porcelain white and fragile. Theo wasn't happy. Joel didn't look thrilled either.
"Theo?" He wasn't patient either.
"Just a second." Theo tapped and then groaned.
"No, Master. They didn't give up their sites."
"Because they were already free and the sites are up and running. It's hitting the news as we speak. Most folks think it's a joke. It's being picked up and run with everywhere. Vampires are among us seems to be the top story." They both slumped.
I smiled. Maybe it wasn't going to be such a bad night after all. Now all I had to do was beat a murder rap. Given the Internet shots of Babette, Oliver and Billy running around the world as we spoke, I was probably going to be okay.
End. September 10, 2008 7 pm Southern California. -- Lydia Manx