A Lullaby For The Lost

Chapter 15: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Chapter 15: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Shelby Trammel Frog sat at her desk, subconsciously stabbing little holes in her desk blotter with a letter opener. She glared at Commissioner Erickson, who sat across from her in a padded guest’s chair.

“I swear, I should call Animal Control; have you tossed in the Pound and neutered,” she hissed, “You are way out of line!”

“There, there, my dear Mayor. Animal Control is under Police jurisdiction,” Erickson wisecracked.

“That’s alright. I really don’t require the Pound for a proper castration. A good sharp Machete would do the job nicely. Isn’t that right, Mr. Owens?” Shelby asked with a sick smile.

David, sitting next to the Commissioner in a padded chair of his own, returned her smile with a twist of his own lips.

“Actually, I’d prefer a dull one,” he replied, “A dull silver one.”

“With all due respect, Madam Mayor, it’s very late. Can we get down to business?”

“I’d be quite happy to. I don’t like getting calls at eleven o’clock at night informing me that detectives on your squad are blatantly out of compliance with proper arrest and detainment procedures. I understand you have Dwayne Runningwolf in custody. Kindly tell me what he’s being held for?”

The Commissioner smiled something akin to a wolfish grin.

“Come now, Mayor, you know what he’s being held for.”

“I thought you said you wanted to get down to business. I’m not in the mood for your stupid games.”

“We want to question him in regards to his involvement in the events on the night of December 16th and the disappearance of Leah Emerson,” Erickson answered.

“So you pumped him full of Holy water and stuck him in a cell where the sunlight will hit him come dawn?” David snapped, “Sounds like you’ve already sentenced my boy to death!”

“Did your detectives even inform Runningwolf what the charges against him were? Did they read the Miranda to him? Offer him a lawyer?” Shelby asked.

“I-I can assure you t-that they followed proper police procedure…” Erickson stammered.

“I’m sure they didn’t. I’ll be asking Runningwolf myself just as soon as we leave here. Further more, the area where he was arrested wasn’t even Police jurisdiction because it’s just outside the City Limits, making it Sheriff’s jurisdiction. The worst charge Runningwolf could have been brought in on was trespassing, but that could have only been possible if the Martinez’s had actually called in a complaint to the Sheriff’s department. Since they didn’t….”

“Well, my men did catch Runningwolf in the act of trespassing, making it a viable charge, regardless of jurisdiction,” Erickson stated.

“Yes, but that’s not what you brought him in on, is it?” Shelby countered.

“No, but I’d be happy to add it to his rap sheet.”

“Meet me at the police station in one hour. So help me, if Runningwolf is hurt, you’ll be in for a world of hurt. No one is to ask him any questions, do you understand?”

“Why the hell not?” the Commissioner asked. His eyes were bulging from his head with anger.

“Because I’m fairly certain he hasn’t been appointed a lawyer, and it’s his right, that’s why.”

“You act like this case is going to court. What’s with you?”

“The kid has mortal parents. You never know what might leak out. We have to treat this investigation like any other, as much as possible. Why do I have to spell that out for you?”

The Commissioner was shown out of the office, and after he left, Shelby was not shy about slamming the door behind him. To hell with any security guards and janitors that might be working in the building after hours.

David got up and met Shelby at the door. He could tell that she was livid with anger. Her eyes had an odd, glassy shine to them, even though she was no longer inhabited by the fear demon.

“You handled him rather well, I think,” he smirked, giving her a congratulatory nod.

“This isn’t over yet. I still have to find Dwayne a lawyer. If those bastards did manage to get anything out of him, they’ll be able to make the trespassing charges stick, and even though they’ll be forced to let him go tonight, they could come back to your hideout with a real warrant tomorrow.”

“Son of a bitch,” David swore.

“Don’t worry. Trespassing is a misdemeanor, and it’s not in my Uncle’s edict. He can’t get banished over it. Worse comes to worse, he’ll get fined. It wasn’t like he caused any threat or damage to the Martinez property.”

“No, actually, the officers shot up a tree on the Martinez property trying to arrest him….I would have taken the bullet as proof, but it was soaked with Holy water, and I wasn’t wearing my gloves. I couldn’t get it.”

“Do all of your boys have cell phones?”

“The two back at the hideout do.”

“Are your gloves back there?”

“Yes,” David answered.

“Call one of them; tell them to put your gloves on. Then, tell them where the tree and the bullet are. Have them get the bullet for you.”

“Marko has gloves of his own. Wait. I got a digital camera for Christmas. I’ll have him get pictures of the tree, too.”

“Have your other boy…Paul Gifford, right?”

“Yeah, Paul.”

“Have him meet us here. I have a job for him, too.”

“Wait..he can’t come. He’s uh..not feeling so well. You know some werewolves tried to come to our hideout this afternoon…and Paul heard them and woke up. Well, he tried to chase them away and got a bit too close to the opening. He’s nursing some burns tonight,” David lied.

“He’s okay, isn’t he?” Shelby asked. Her face reflected genuine concern, and David actually felt bad about lying to her.

“He will be. He’ll just need a night or two to recover.”

“Okay, well then, Marko is going to be a busy boy, then. When he’s finished with the pictures and the evidence retrieval at the Martinez site, I want him to investigate down at the pier again. If the evidence has been cleaned up, I want him to take pictures again. We’ll compare the shots he gets with the shots we took earlier. Then, we’ll take some more after the full moon passes.”

“Maybe you should have run for Police Commissioner,” David joked.

“Too many damn werewolves on the squad,” Shelby replied.

“By the way, did you ever get my copies of those pictures?”

“I have them. I’ll get them to you after we get Dwayne out of the tank. But you’d better get a hold of Marko. I’m going to work on getting Dwayne a lawyer.”

David had to suppress a guffaw.

“Who’s going to defend a vampire?”

“I have connections,” Shelby answered.

Shelby went back to her huge mahogany desk, and started flipping through her rolodex. There were some numbers that her secretary just didn’t have possession of. Meanwhile, David hit Marko’s number on his speed dial, and gave the hasty instructions to his Childe. He could hear Paul’s loud protests in the back, but he chose to ignore them. As usual, Marko made no argument. Of course, he knew Marko would carry out his orders exactly as they were given.

A business card was stapled to one of the manila dividers on Shelby’s rolodex file, and she selected this file and pulled it from the rolodex. She hoped her contact would be up at this late hour. Already, it was half past twelve in the morning. How time flew when one was not having fun!

‘Tori Marie Finch-Attorney At Law: Specializing in Defense and Disability-Will Work on Contingency. Tel: 510-555-8651 Fax: 510- 555-8655.

She worked the business card away from the manila index, and found Tori’s home number written in ink on the back. Of course, Tori would not be in her office at 12:30 in the morning. Then, she dialed. The call was answered on the third ring.

She and Tori had been friends in college. Though Shelby had been possessed by a ghoul at the time, she had gone through the motions of pretending to be normal as not to arouse suspicions, so that she could attract people to herself to feed from when they became afraid. One night, she and Tori had been invited to a frat party, and they’d accepted. One of the jocks there had taken a liking to both of them. Shelby, the petite, pert little red head, and Tori, the mysterious, long legged brunette had intrigued him, and he’d invited them both to a private little grouping with some of his friends. There, some wine had been passed around. Shelby had taken one sniff of it and had declined, knowing that there was something funky with it. Still, being a fear demon, she didn’t bother warning her friend. Tori had cheerfully chugged, not knowing that the drink would change her life forever.

The cops busted up the party not long afterwards, and Shelby and Tori had returned to their dorms. They never saw the frat jocks again, and Tori never knew what was in that weird wine she drank. All she knew was that she started feeling strange….and she started having bizarre cravings. A few nights later, some weird men cornered her. She’d never seen them before. They weren’t the jocks from the party. They told her that she was an intruder, and that she’d have to leave, or they’d kill her. A couple of them started to rough her up. Tori saw fangs, glowing eyes and long fingernails…

And one of them saw her college ID when it fell out of her book bag. They realized that she was a university student, and the leader demanded to know what happened to her. How did she become a ‘half vampire’? Tearfully, she told him about the jocks and the wine and the party at the frat house. Suddenly, the gang seemed to lose interest in the piddly little half vampire they were taunting. They warned her to never make a kill; if she did, she would either have to join up with them, or leave San Francisco for good. Then, the leader turned her around and stuck his fangs deep into the back of her neck; sealing the deal. Tori never saw the Bay Area Fang Gang again, but she knew they still had to be around. 13 years later, she fought the cravings and still hadn’t succumbed to them.

“Tori, I’m glad you’re still up. Listen, I have an interesting case for you. I hope you don’t have too many retainers already, because you’re going to want this one…”

Toir recognized the voice as her old school chum, Shelby Trammel. Well, more correctly, Shelby Frog. She’d been at Shelby’s wedding a few years back. Who could marry a guy with the last name Frog?

“Yeah, I’m up. Aren’t I always?”

Tori didn’t sleep much. She really didn’t have to. It was one of the advantages of being a freak. She jacked herself up on Red Bull, black tea and Chinese vitamins during the day, and got a natural energy rush at night.

“It’s a defense case, so your paycheck is guaranteed from the City of Santa Carla, but it’s on the hush-hush. Your client is a man by the name of Dwayne Runningwolf. He’s being charged with a schmoo of crap ranging from trespassing to kidnapping, and God knows what else the Commish wants to throw in the bag. And, here’s the kick. He’s a bloodsucker, so the two of you should get along famously.”

“Gee, thanks. I don’t consider myself a bloodsucker, Shel.”

“Well, you know what I mean. Will you take the case? The guy is actually innocent. Your favorite kind of client….and your favorite kind of case; you know, the kind where you actually get paid up front,” Shelby said.

“Okay, sign me on. I have to sign some paperwork tomorrow morning at the DA’s office at nine o’clock, but I can swing by after then,” Tori replied.

“Great. Just come straight to City Hall. I’ll be here. I’m working on getting your client released tonight, but I’ll arrange a meeting between the two of you for tomorrow night.”

Shelby gave the lawyer directions to City Hall, and then they concluded their phone conversation. David raised an eyebrow at her.

“I told you I had connections,” she said to him.

“The lawyer is a vampire?” David asked.

“No, she’s a half. She’s been for about 13 years or so, and she plans to remain that way indefinitely. Don’t ask me how she got that way; it’s a long story. Now, before we head to the police station, there’s one more thing I want to discuss with you.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s about keeping your ass out of trouble. David, there’s no reason any of this trouble had to happen tonight if you and your boys hadn’t gone looking for it. I may not be a fucking ghoul anymore, but I’m still the mayor, and I know everything that’s going on in this town. I want you to promise me something….”

She got up from her seat and planted herself in front of David so that the desk no longer hid the expanse of her growing stomach.

“I don’t make promises I can’t keep Shelby, you should know that,” David told her.

“Maybe you should start re-evaluating what’s important. I know that Sam Emerson is in town, and I’m fairly certain I know what’s on your bloodthirsty mind. But, forget about it! If you try any funny stuff, David, you’ll be banished, and I won’t be able to prevent that. I may be powerful, but I’m not God around here.”

“I don’t expect you to be,” David hissed.

“Then what do you expect? Is some mortal’s blood worth the price of being banished?”

David gazed into Shelby’s blazing green eyes. The emotions and lack of sleep she’d experienced that night cast an almost demonic glow into them, yet all he saw when he looked into them was a frightened, tired mortal who was expecting a child of a not entirely human nature. The stress was beginning to take its toll on her body, even if she didn’t know it yet. He could smell toxins building up in her blood; excretions that stress put there. Maybe he should have found a way to get his Childe out of harm’s way without involving Shelby…yet could he have done it as cleverly as she had? He doubted it.

Gently, he took her face between his two, cool hands, forcing her to look into his powder blue eyes.

“No mortal is going to force me to leave my home. I was here long before they were, and I will be here long after them. I promise you,” he told her.

“That’s not what I mean. I don’t want empty promises. I’m well aware that no mortal can make you leave. The edict, David. I want your word that you will obey the clause and not seek any revenge on Sam Emerson. He’s been through enough, don’t you think?”

“No, I don’t think. That little bastard ruined my Childes’ mind! He fried it! And since Dwayne can’t remember enough of Sam Emerson to take care of him on his own, it’s up to me…”

“No, God Damn it, David! Sam Emerson was acting in self defense that night! Why can’t you get it through your peroxide blond head! It was either Sam or Dwayne! What makes you think that Sam didn’t have the right to defend himself? I sure the hell would have! What sort of moron would have just stood there and said ‘oh, shucks…go ahead and rip my throat open?” Shelby demanded.

“What sort of retard would sneak into a vampire’s lair and stake my Childe…while he slept! What a lowlife, cowardly thing! They all deserved to die; your husband included!” David spat.

“You would have been well within your rights if you’d killed them there, or as they fled. But, you sought your vengeance in a private domain. At their home! What you did was just as cowardly. Vampires against mortals…Grown adults against kids, for Christ’s sake! And, since Dwayne didn’t technically die, don’t you think it’s time to bury the hatchet?”

“I’d like to bury the hatchet, right in the back of Emerson’s head! What difference does it make if I rip his damn head off, or he does it to himself. Do you know he’s shredding his nose up on coke?”

“Then let him. Sweet justice is served. Leave him alone. If I have to beg, David, I will,” Shelby said.

“Why?”

“I can guarantee that the Commissioner is getting his rocks off torturing your Childe as we speak. I really don’t want to see him put you through the same thing before he orders me to banish you. It would give him such great pleasure. Don’t forget, he gets at least two more years in office; the same as me…Please, David. Think about it…”

“If he ordered you to banish me, you’d have to do it?” David asked.

“If you disobey this edict and harm Sam Emerson, I’d have no choice. No threat in the world you could heap on me could prevent it, especially if he has you drained and chained. Swear to me, David. Please.”

David lowered his forehead to Shelby’s so that their eyes were just millimeters apart. Then, he tilted her head ever so slightly and settled a soft kiss on her lips.

“Sealed with a kiss,” he whispered to her.

It was the hardest promise he’d ever sworn to.

^..^

The police station was only a short distance away from Shelby’s office in City Hall. By now, Dwayne had been dragged from his dark cell in the holding area to a questioning room. He was still cuffed and was now seated in a folding chair. The only other furniture in the room was a long table, and a couple of other folding chairs. Commissioner Erickson occupied one of them. He had a cup of coffee on the table before him. Steam rose in visible tendrils from the cup. A uniformed guard was stationed at the door. A few minutes later, a knock sounded, and David and Shelby were shown in. Following them were the two arresting detectives, Branch and Montgomery.

David rushed over to Dwayne’s chair, but the Commissioner shoved out of his seat and intercepted him.

“Ah-ah…he hasn’t been released yet. No touching the merchandise. You’re lucky we’re even allowing you in here since you’re not a cop or a lawyer,” he told him severely.

“I’d like to see the arrest reports, right now,” Shelby ordered.

The two detectives looked at each other nervously.

“We’re in the process of writing them up,” Branch declared.

“I guess we’ll have to rely on verbal testimony, then. We’ll start with you two. Suppose you tell me what happened tonight.”

Both the detectives went into a detailed accounting of what had happened that afternoon; how they’d detected Leah Emerson’s scent at the Boy’s hideout, and how they’d found Dwayne Runningwolf skulking around the Martinez residence. That’s when they’d made the arrest.

Shelby raised an eye at David. This was a new development.

“I see. So you know for sure that you found our hideout, do you?” David challenged, “Did you actually see us; you prim assholes?”

“Your damn dog chased us!” Montgomery spat.

“Do you know for certain that it was our damn dog? Did he speak to you in dog language and tell you he was ours?”

“That’s quite enough, Owens. One more outburst; and you’ll be asked to leave,” Erickson said.

“Do you have the child or not?” Shelby asked.

“No.” David lied.

“Dwayne?” she asked, eyeing the dark haired vampire.

Dwayne only stared off into space, his eyes looking glassed over.

“What the hell did your boys do to him?” Shelby demanded.

“They pumped him full of Holy water!” David yelled.

“Owens, what did I tell you!” the Commissioner thundered.

Shelby pushed herself out of her folding chair and went around behind Dwayne’s seat. When she parted the hair on the back of his head, she nearly choked on gorge that tried to shove itself up from her stomach without warning.

Though it was trying to heal, there was a definite hole, through which she could see bits of bone matter and congealed gore. Without enough vampiric blood in his system, Dwayne was unable to complete the healing process, yet of course, he hadn’t been drained to the point of death, either.

“This man needs medical attention, now! I’m initiating orders for his immediate release on the grounds of arrest and detainment under cruel and unusual circumstances. This is disgusting. Any further questioning of the suspect can take place when he’s healed and has obtained legal counseling,” she announced with all the authority she could muster.

“Madam Mayor, I’m beginning to wonder about you….you’re not like your Uncle at all,” the Commissioner mused, just loud enough for the others in the room to hear.

“Oh, you’re quite wrong about that,” she smiled. The bright fluorescent lighting caught the odd gleam in her eyes as she spoke, “I really like watching you squirm. Have a nice night, Commissioner.”