Tales of a Night Walker
By Bert McKenzie
Copyright 2010

Chapter 15

It didn't take long for the police to arrive.  They questioned everyone and
insisted on searching the building.  This made me very nervous.  I knew
Jeff had to be somewhere still in the building as the sun had not yet set.
Of course I was assuming he really did have an allergy to sunlight.  But
since Jeff said a vampire had killed George, I figured that the killer was
probably also still in the building, and I wasn't sure if it was one and
the same person but I was beginning to believe the story of my new lover.
At least I believe he believed it.  And after all, during the curtain call,
Steve was already missing.  I tried to point that out to the police.  Jeff
must have heard something and went off in search of Steve.  But the police
had another theory.  They believed that Jeff had already knocked Steve out
and left the curtain call to go finish him off.  They made sure all of the
actors and staff were accounted for and then herded us into the lobby where
we all had to wait while a number of police searched the building.  I kept
waiting to hear that someone had found Jeff, but no such call came.
Finally the police all met back in the lobby together.  They were sure that
Jeff had slipped out of the building before they ever arrived.  They
cordoned off the backstage area with their ubiquitous yellow crime scene
tape and watched as the actors left the lobby.

I told the officers that I had work to finish up in my office and that I
would only be another ten minutes.  I assured them I would not go back
stage.  They had already searched the building and the body had been
removed, so no one was particularly concerned about me staying for a few
minutes.  An officer said he would wait outside until I was out and safely
in my car.  They were also on their way to check out Jeff's house.
Apparently they were in the process of getting a search warrant.  Once the
police were gone, I sneaked back into the house.  "Jeff," I called in a
harsh whisper.

"Here," he said directly behind me, making me jump as Jeff startled me half
to death.

"Jeez!  Was that necessary?"

"Sorry," the actor mumbled.

"The police searched the building.  Where were you hiding?"

"I was hiding in the light gallery," he replied.  There was a narrow bridge
over the top of the house, built into the ceiling that held the spotlights.
Apparently the police didn't know how to climb up there or didn't think to
look.

"What happened?" I asked him urgently.  I needed to hear his explanation.

He looked nervously around.  "Not here.  I'll tell you at my house.  Meet
me there."

"You can't," I told him.  "He police are getting a search warrant.  They
will be at your house by now."

"And they will find a refrigerator full of blood.  This just gets better
and better."  He sighed.

I thought quickly.  "You know the Dollar General Store just up the road.  I
can meet you in the parking lot and we'll go to my place."

"Fine, I'll see you there in ten minutes."

I suddenly thought how impossible this was.  "How will you get out of the
building?  There are police outside.  Do you want me to create a
diversion?"

He shook his head.  "I'll climb out onto the roof.  There's a door off the
grid.  I can jump down from there."

"Jump from the roof of the flywell!  That's over 90 feet!"

He just smiled at me with a devil-may-care grin.  "You forget the vampire
stamina.  Besides, I'm pretty sure that's the way the killer left."

"Ten minutes then."  I gave him a quick kiss and watched as he hurried
backstage.  I thought if he could actually jump off a 90 foot roof and not
hurt himself then his story must be true and he must be superhuman.  I
quickly left through the lobby, double checking the front doors to make
sure they were locked, more for the benefit of the waiting officer than any
other reason.  I went around the building to the parking lot, got in my car
and drove off under the watchful eyes of the police.  I drove the five
blocks to the Dollar General Store.  It was still open as it was only 7:30
in the evening.  I pulled into the lot and drove to the darkest corner,
farther away from the lights of the front of the building.  No sooner had I
stopped and unlocked the car doors than Jeff slipped into the passenger
seat and ducked down.  So it was true.  He really was a superhuman vampire.
I pulled back out and onto the road to drive home.

"There was a faint scent in the building.  I thought it was my imagination.
There are so many smells there with all the actors and the makeup, not to
mention the chemicals from the scene shop, the paint and so on," Jeff said
as we drove back to my apartment.  "I was on stage for the curtain call and
suddenly I smelled blood, human blood.  That was an unmistakable aroma.  I
ran offstage in the direction of the scent, and up the stairs to the
designer's office.  Steve was already dead.  The one who killed him was
sloppy and quick.  He made quite a mess and spilled a great deal of Steve's
blood.  Actually, I think he did that to cover his scent, so I wouldn't
know who it was.  But he must have known I was there, and he did it on
purpose to call me out.  Buddy followed me up the stairs and saw me
kneeling there, examining Steve.  I'm sure it didn't look good."

"I can't believe this," I replied.  "I finally fall in love with the man of
my dreams and he turns out to be a vampire, and now a vampire wanted by the
police for a murder he didn't do.  How lucky can I get?"  I pulled into the
parking lot and we quickly hurried into my apartment.  Once the door was
shut, I immediately wrapped my arms around my inhuman lover.  "Oh my God,"
I breathed, but my lover held me back.

"Frank, do you see how dangerous this is?" he asked.  "Even if I'm not a
danger to you, someone else might be."

"But why are they targeting our theatre?" I asked, still clinging to him.

"Because of me."

"You?" I asked, totally confused.  "Why would someone attack the people in
our theatre because of you?"

"It's a long story," Jeff began.

But he never got any further.  There was suddenly a loud bang and the door
flew open.  Three uniformed police entered with guns drawn.  "On the
floor!" one of them screamed.

Jeff pushed me down onto the floor and out of the way, and then raised his
hands over his head.  "Just calm down," he said.  But one of the cops was
obviously nervous and saw Jeff's gesture as threatening.  He opened fire,
shooting my lover.  I screamed as I saw him stagger back and a bright red
spot appear on his shirt.  I expected him to fall to the floor, but instead
he just kind of stood there hunched over.  "It's okay, I think you missed,"
he gasped as the officers ran forward, grabbing him.  One of the police
stepped close to me with a gun pointed at my head.  "He has nothing to do
with this," Jeff said calmly.  "Take me.  I'm the one you want."  In a
moment they had Jeff in handcuffs and were dragging him out the door.  I
stood on the terrace watching three police cars drive off with my lover in
tow.  I knew he had been shot in the chest.  But he acted like it was
totally inconsequential.

An hour later I was on the phone with Manny, the lawyer for the theatre.
"But he didn't do anything.  I know it looked bad, but he didn't do it.  He
heard a sound and ran off the stage.  Steve was already missing from
curtain call."  Manny said there wasn't anything they could do until a bail
hearing was set.  It would probably be the next day.  "If he's taken to
court tomorrow, he'll be exposed to the sun!" I shouted into the phone.

"You're afraid he's gonna get a tan?"

"He's highly allergic to ultraviolet light.  If he's in the sun, he'll have
a bad reaction."

Manny didn't seem to get it.  "You think the cops care if he gets red and
blotchy?"

I ended up hanging up the phone, not knowing what to do.  I paced, I cried,
I screamed.  A while later the apartment people sent a guy to fix my door.
At least my home would be secured.  I finally collapsed on the couch only
to be startled by the ringing phone.  I jumped up to grab it and a strange
voice asked for me.  When I said yes, the caller identified himself as one
of Mr. Smythe's people.  He had 'people?'  I didn't understand.  But the
guy went on to say they were taking care of everything and Mr. Smythe
wanted me to know it would be alright.

Nevertheless, the next morning I was at the courthouse with Manny.  The
attorney was trying to talk with a judge who was a friend of his.  He
thought he might be able to convince the judge of the seriousness of Jeff's
physical condition thanks to my insistent urging.  But before she even
agreed to see him, things took a turn for the better.  Manny came out of
the judge's office to find me sitting on a hard wooden bench in the hall.
He had a message while he was in their talking to the secretary.  She got a
call for him, so apparently someone knew where we were.  He told me that
Jeff was being released and the charges dropped.  Two things came into
play.  Jeff had placed a call to some high powered lawyers who were able to
move the system very rapidly where Manny wasn't.  And it seemed that while
he was in custody, another murder had occurred.  Mary Jo Parker, who
volunteered for the theatre was found dead, the same wounds.  Time of death
was set by the coroner at 5 a.m. occurring while Jeff was in custody.  The
night security company found her body propped up against the lobby doors
with a note pinned to her blouse that said, 'You got the wrong guy.'

It was noon by the time I was at the county jail to pick Jeff up.  He had
already been processed out and was slumped in a chair as far from the doors
as possible.  He looked up nervously as I walked in.  "Your ride's here," I
said as cheerfully as I could.

"I can't go out there," Jeff replied in a strangled voice.

"Yes you can," I told him.  "I've been by the theatre and picked up a few
things for you."  I handed the vampire gloves, dark sun glasses, a wide
brimmed hat and a long duster.

"You're crazy," Jeff said, his voice laced with panic.  "This will never
work."

"You might get some odd looks, but I think it will work.  The sun isn't
going to touch you if you keep your head down and your collar up."

What choice did we have?  Jeff reluctantly stood and dressed in the odd
costume items.  I went to get the car.  Moments later I double parked in
front of the jail and ran around to open the passenger door.  I then ran up
the steps to the front doors of the country jail and said "Let's go."  Jeff
followed him out and ran as quickly as he could down the steps and into the
car.  I followed and jumped into the driver's seat.  "It worked!" I said,
looking over at my lover.

Jeff was huddled in his seat, his head down.  He kept saying "Hot, hot,
hot."  There was also a faint smell as of burnt caramel.  I drove as
rapidly as possible back to my apartment and we repeated the process to get
Jeff up the steps and inside.  He collapsed on the couch as I drew the
blinds and drapes and turned on lights.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"I could use a drink," Jeff said softly.

"And I have just the thing," I replied laughing.  "I came prepared.
There's a butcher shop just down the street."  I reached in the fridge and
pulled out a bottle of pig's blood.  Opening it, I poured it into a crystal
champagne flute and handed it to the vampire.  I finally saw the hint of a
smile as he took the glass.  "Just because your cocktail is a bit different
from mine doesn't mean we have to be bourgeois," I laughed, pouring myself
a glass of wine and toasting him.

Once we had refreshed ourselves I said, "Tell me the whole story.  What's
going on?"  I knew Jeff had a hidden story that I never got to hear the
night before.

"I hid in the light gallery while the police were searching the building,
as you recall," the vampire said.  "That was where I smelled him.  He had
been there before me.  He had hidden there as well, probably through the
show."

"The killer, you mean."

Jeff nodded.  "Yes.  And after we parted, I climbed up to the grid, over
the stage floor.  There is a trap door there that leads onto the roof of
the flywell.  His scent was unmistakable.  This was the same exit he used.
The door was even ajar.  I climbed out onto the roof, but he was already
gone.  I followed the same route over the edge of the roof, dropping down
the 40 feet to the lower roof over the house, then into the trees behind
the building and on to the ground.  I might have tracked him, but I was
worried about you."

"Why worry about me?"  I asked confused.

"Don't you understand?  He's doing this to punish me.  He wants to hurt me.
If he knows about our relationship he will come for you."  I felt a cold
wave of fear sweep over him.  "I will protect you.  I won't let him get
near you."

I shrugged.  "What a time for the human to be caught without a cross and
some garlic."

Jeff laughed.  "Again, you watch too many motion pictures."

"You don't sleep in coffins, you aren't afraid of garlic or crosses and
I've seen you in a mirror.  My biggest disappointment is that you can't
turn into a bat.  Now that would be so cool to see."  This brought another
round of laughter.  "But what about these 'people' you supposedly have, and
those high powered lawyers?  Where did all this come from?"

"I told you I inherited money," Jeff said with a grin.

"That wasn't a joke?"

As evening came on, Jeff grew restless.  "We should leave here," he said.
"We've been here too often.  I'm sure he can track me here and he'll find
you."

"Where can we go?" I asked.

"If this were a bigger city, I might be able to find a safe house," the
vampire mused.

"Safe house?  You make it sound like we really are in the witness
protection program."

"It's not too far from that," Jeff replied.  "As it is, maybe we can go to
a hotel.  If we take a circuitous route, it may throw off the scent."

I stood and hugged my lover, and then went to the bedroom to throw some
things into a suitcase.  "We can stop by your place and pick up some of
your clothes.  And it stands to reason Ramada Inn won't have pig's blood on
the room service menu, so maybe we can grab a cooler and stock it from what
is in your fridge."

"You're assuming the police didn't clean that out," Jeff reminded me.

"If they had it tested, and I'm sure they would, they would know it wasn't
human."

Jeff nodded.  "Okay, but let us be quick about it.  I want to make sure we
throw him off the scent as quickly as possible.  Once I know you're safe, I
can do something about this."

We loaded the suitcase into the trunk and drove back to Auburn, stopping at
Jeff's house.  It was dark and looked like no one had been there.  The two
of us hurried up onto the porch and Jeff, unlocked the door.  The minute he
crossed the threshold he let out a growl and shoved me back behind him.  I
fell back onto the porch and Jeff slammed the door in my face.  All I could
think was that the killer must have been inside the house.  Jeff was trying
to keep me safe.  But that meant Jeff was in danger.  I reached for the
knob but before my fingers could close on it, bright stars seemed to erupt
in my vision and then everything went black.

* * *

My first sensation was the ache in the back of my head.  I tried to open my
eyes, but even that was an effort.  Slowly my sense came back and I
remembered what had happened.  I was about to open Jeff's door.  Now I
found myself lying on my back.  I rolled over and opened my eyes.  It was
dark.  "Try not to move," a voice said nearby.

"Jeff?"

"I'm here," he answered.  "Just lay still.  They hit you awfully hard.  I
was so worried."

"What happened?"  I tried again to sit up and this time Jeff helped me.  He
was sitting on the floor beside me.

Before he could say anything, lights suddenly came on.  We were sitting on
the floor of what looked like a jail cell.  As I looked around I realized
it was more of a cage.  There were close set metal bars, but also a metal
barred roof.  The cage was in a large, empty warehouse.  The lights were on
the ceiling high above.  There were windows high on the walls but it looked
like they had been painted over.  I heard a door open, and in the distance
saw a man walk in, flanked by two others.  He seemed well dressed in
comparison to his two associates.  They were in jeans and t-shits while he
had a three piece suit of an expensive cut.  He walked to just outside of
arms reach from the bars.  "Good evening again, Jefferson," he said with
the hint of a French accent.  "And you would be?" he asked, turning his
eyes on me.  In the dim light of the warehouse I saw the glowing reflection
in his eyes.  Another vampire.

"I'm Frank Williams."

"Ah, the director of that fine play.  I had no idea Jefferson was such a
good actor.  He almost brought tears to my old eyes," he said with a smirk.

"And who the hell are you?" I asked, trying to hide my fear with bravado.

The man looked back at Jeff as if waiting.  Jeff glanced at me and said,
"This is Armand."

 

 

 

 

 

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