The Vampire With The Dragon Tattoo Chapter Eleven
I was sitting in Detective Sparks office at the Central Station on Vallejo Street.
He and I had gone over and over the events at Borders Books and Music. He didn't like my answers and had only grudgingly started to wrap his mind around the fact that something very strange had indeed gone on in his city.
He rubbed his eyes and drank some more coffee and stared at me for a long minute.
’’So you really think this thing was a vampire?’’ he asked.
’’I think this thing was a monster. But call it what you want.’’
’’A monster?’’ he said.
’’It killed her parents and tried to kill her. It had its face buried in her neck and was drinking her blood. And when I shot it with the arrow, it turned to dust before my very eyes. What would you call that?’’
’’A long night of drinking.’’
’’No one was drinking, detective.’’
’’The Crime Lab analyzed the remains. Human DNA. They're telling me that these remains are at least a hundred and fifty years old. They're still testing them.’’
I said nothing. What the hell was there to say to that?
Sparks said, ’’And you shot him with a silver arrow?’’
’’And he just started smoking?’’
’’Like a chimney.’’
’’He say anything?’’
’’I think he was too busy smoking and dying,’’ I said.
We were silent some more. Veronica was in the hospital. Apparently, she was going to make it. Gladys and her husband were on their way up to be with her. At least Veronica had someone.
’’So what am I supposed to do with all of this?’’ asked Sparks. He waved at the reports on his desk.
’’You'll think of something,’’ I said. ’’It's why you make the big bucks.’’
’’They don't pay me enough for this shit.’’
’’So am I free to go?’’
He nodded wearily. ’’I'll be in touch, Spinoza. We know where to find you.’’
’’Lucky me,’’ I said.
It was late evening, and I was sleeping fitfully in my office when someone knocked on the door.
I had been dreaming of my son, of course. Once again, we were in the forest and I was holding his hand, only this time his hand wasn't charred. This time it was healthy and alive and soft and warm, and my little boy was looking at me with joy and love in his bright eyes.
This is different, I remembered thinking in my dream. Something is different.
My son nodded and swung my hand and I sensed great peace from him. He nodded again and laughed and squeezed my hand. I sensed something else. I sensed that he wanted me to move on. I had been about to ask him how when the knock came again.
My hand went automatically under my arm, gripping my pistol. I was a little jumpy these days after my run-in with the vampire.
’’It's open,’’ I said, reluctant as hell to release the image of my healthy and happy son.
Veronica opened the door and stepped inside. She was wearing tight jeans and a tank top. A far cry different than the loose-fitting boy jeans she had been wearing a week earlier at Borders. Her dark hair was still cut boyishly short and even from here I could see the red scarring around her neck. Her torn throat had needed a lot of stitches. I didn't see any stitches now. She seemed pale and sickly and not as confident as she had been in her pictures. No surprise there, since she had nearly had her throat torn out.
’’Can I talk to you?’’ she asked.
She shut the door behind her, turned, and sat across from me in one of my client chairs. I released my grip on the pistol.
’’I wanted to thank you for saving my life,’’ she said. Her voice sounded stronger than she looked.
Despite myself, my old shyness returned. I forced myself to power through it.
’’Well, it was drinking your blood,’’ I said. ’’It was the least I could do.’’
’’Where did you learn to shoot a crossbow like that?’’
’’Maybe I was Robin Hood in a past life.’’
She grinned, and seemed about to rub her neck, but stopped herself.
I asked, ’’So he really was a vampire?’’
She said it so matter-of-factly that my next question died in my mouth. I was left stumbling over words until I finally said, ’’So how many of them are out there?’’
She shrugged. ’’I don't know, but I don't think many. The ones who are really old and smart rarely kill anymore. They find other ways to get blood.’’
’’So, um, how many have you killed?’’
’’Just three. Storm would have been the fourth.’’
’’And he's the one who killed your parents.’’
’’I hated him for so long.’’ She paused, composed herself. ’’I spent the past three years hunting him.’’
’’How did you find him?’’
’’I'm a hell of a detective,’’ she said.
’’Maybe you could work for me someday.’’
’’Maybe,’’ she said. ’’Anyway, if you meet the right people and make the right friends, yeah, there's a whole scene out there.’’
She leveled her stare at me. Her eyes, I saw, were lightly bloodshot. ’’But you took care of him for me.’’
’’Spinoza the Vampire Slayer,’’ I said. ’’So he's really dead?’’
’’Of course, you saw him turn to dust. That's what happens to them when they die.’’
I nodded. ’’Of course. Silly of me to ask.’’
Veronica's neck was surprisingly healed. Just a big red blemish. She saw me looking at her neck. Now she reached up and touched it self-consciously.
’’It's hideous,’’ she said.
’’It's not that bad,’’ I lied.
’’You're a bad liar. The doctors tell me that it's healing surprisingly fast.’’
’’Ah, youth,’’ I said.
’’Sure. Youth.’’ She smiled again and stood. She reached out a pale hand across my desk. ’’I just wanted to thank you, Mr. Spinoza, for saving my life. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for you, and a monster would still be out there killing innocent people.’’
’’All in a day's work,’’ I said, and shook her shockingly cold hand. I nearly winced at her icy flesh.
She saw my reaction and released my hand. ’’They're always cold now, since the attack.’’
’’I, um, hadn't noticed.’’
’’You're a bad liar, Mr. Spinoza.’’
I told her to call me if she ever needed any help or needed a job, and she assured me she would. At the door, she looked back at me and seemed about to say something, but decided not to.
As she turned to leave, I saw a fresh tattoo above her low-riding jeans. It was a tattoo of a black dragon.
I sat back in my chair and put my feet up on my desk and laced my hands behind my head, certain that I had just seen my second vampire.