Scott was getting antsy. The paramedics had been dismissed, but the police were lingering in the office. There was a chalk outline on the hardwood floor and yellow arrows pointing at shell casings on the floor and the hole in the large painting behind Josie’s desk. Pictures had been taken, and the gun and casings and Scott’s bloody shirt were carefully bagged and labeled.
He had been vaguely interested in watching the procedure—considering that such crime scene investigations could potentially make or break a case for him in the future—but as the hours had stretched by, he had become bored, then anxious. Dawn was not too far away.
At last, the officer in charge told Scott and Josie that they were free to leave.
Scott looked at Josie. “Would it be too much to ask if I could use your shower really quick?” When he had moved into the basement, he hadn’t worried about the fact that the office didn’t have a bath; he neither sweated nor produced body oils, so there was no real reason for him to need to shower, or even wash his clothes. But now he had blood dried all down his arm, and while he could wash up in the bathroom sink upstairs, he really wanted a shower.
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“Yeah, it’s too much to ask?”
She almost smiled. “No, you can use my shower.”
Josie normally walked the few blocks to work, but Scott wasn’t sure he had time to walk to her house and back, so he offered to drive. She accepted without hesitation. She seemed so weary, Scott would have offered to drive her home regardless; he didn’t think she could have made it walking.
Josie’s house was small and looked to be from the ‘40’s. It had recently been remodeled, though, and it looked quite neat with its gray vinyl siding, red shutters, and decorative rockwork around the front door. Inside, the living room was painted a deep peach color, with the thick trim in white; the honey-colored hardwood floors were warm and gleaming. Everything was tidy and clean.
“You have a nice house,” he said, as she tossed her house keys in a bowl next to the door.
“Thanks, but it’s not mine; I rent.”
She lead him through the house and showed him the bathroom. It was small, but had a large, claw-foot tub. “There are towels up there,” she said, gesturing to the cabinet hanging above the toilet.
Scott was surprised to find that a hot shower still felt nice, even though his body was permanently room temperature. He wished he could soak in the big bathtub for a couple of hours, and relax away the night’s stress, but he didn’t have the time.
He washed up, then dried off and put his clothes back on. He was just tying his shoes when his phone—in his pants pocket—started beeping.
“Damnit,” he muttered. Sunrise.
He really wished they’d alter the app so it gave him a ten minute warning. Not that sunlight would kill him, but it did burn and it made him slow—both physically and mentally.
He hurried out of the bathroom. “Thanks,” he said to Josie, as he breezed through her living room
“Scott?” she asked timidly.
He stopped and looked at her. She was curled up on her couch, her eyes still wide and face pale. “Would… would you stay here with me? I… don’t want to be alone.”
He hesitated. “I would, but I can’t be in the sun,” he said, gesturing to the large, old windows in the living room.
“My bedroom is dark. I have the windows covered so I can sleep during the day.”
Scott didn’t know quite what to say.
“I’ll sleep on the couch,” she offered. “I… just don’t want to be here alone. I don’t think I could sleep if I was.”
He nodded, understanding—although a small part of him wished she was inviting him to stay for a very different reason. He couldn’t remember the last time he had sex. Not that his last time was particularly worth remembering—not with his ex-wife.
Josie showed Scott her bedroom. She had taped cardboard over her windows, so the room was perfectly dark.
Scott nodded. “I can stay here.”
“Thank you,” she said, sounding relieved. “Do you need anything?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Goodnight then.” She shut the bedroom behind her as she left.
Scott stripped down to his underwear and crawled into Josie’s bed. He suddenly realized how exhausted he was. So much for having a quiet Friday night at work.
Thank God tomorrow was Saturday.
* * *
Scott woke up disoriented. Where the hell was he?
It took him a few moments to remember he had stayed the day at Josie’s house.
He leaned over the edge of the bed, picked up his pants, and pulled out his phone, checking the time.
He sighed. He still had about an hour and a half to go before he could leave the bedroom. That made him feel trapped and anxious, although he didn’t know why; if he had been at home, he would have been stuck in the basement there too.
He ended up sitting up in bed, playing the game of Angry Birds that he had abandoned the night before. He had just lost his fifth attempt at one level when there was a soft knock on the door.
“Scott?” Josie called out softly, as if afraid of disturbing him.
“Oh, I didn’t know if you were awake or not. Are you decent?”
“Um… give me a minute.” He hopped out of bed and hurriedly pulled on his pants. He felt a little embarrassed about the fact she had caught him still indecent.
“Okay,” he said, taking a seat on the side of the bed.
She slipped into the room, shutting the door behind her as quickly as possible. “I think you might want to watch the evening news,” she said.
She picked up a remote and turned on the small television which sat on the dresser opposite the foot of the bed. Then she went around the bed and sat on the other side.
After a ridiculous car commercial, the news came on.
“And now, a story out of Clarksboro. Yesterday, at around 9:00 PM, a gunman walked into Attorney Scott Cunningham’s office in Clarksboro and began shooting. Attorney Cunningham—who is a vampire—struck the gunman and disarmed him before calling the police.”
The screen cut to a daytime picture of the office—complete with crime scene tape still across the door.
“When police arrived on the scene, they found the gunman dead from a single blow to the head. Attorney Cunningham was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, and a woman on the scene was treated for shock.”
The screen cut to a family picture. The gunman was smiling, his arm around a woman whose face was blurred out. There were two small children in the picture too, their faces also blurred.
“The shooter has been identified as Paul Scofield of Clarksboro. Mr. Scofield did not have a prior history of violence, however, public court records show that he was involved in a contested divorce. His wife is represented by Attorney James Rutherford, who shares the office building with Attorney Cunningham.”
The screen cut to an interview with the police officer who had headed the investigation the day before.
“Do you think that Attorney Cunningham’s office was the intended target of this shooting?” the reporter—offscreen—asked.
“I am not at liberty to theorize about his motives at this time; we are still in the process of conducting our investigation. However, I can say that neither Attorney Cunningham, nor his secretary, had ever seen the shooter before, and they were not working on any cases in which he was involved.”
“But Attorney Rutherford was, wasn’t he? Could he have been the intended target?”
“We’ll know when we conclude our investigation.”
“Will there be charges filed against Attorney Cunningham in this matter?”
“At present, this is being treated as a case of self-defense. Mr. Scofield shot at Attorney Cunningham’s secretary—his human secretary—then he shot Mr. Cunningham when he came out of his office.”
“Do vampires have a right to use deadly force in this type of situation, when they themselves can’t be killed?”
“I can’t answer that. But in this case, there was a human present, and the gunman was a clear and present danger to her. Self-defense can be applied to defending other people who are in danger.”
The screen cut back to the anchorwoman.
“The news of his death stunned Paul Scofield’s family.”
The screen cut to a very angry-looking woman who was identified as his mother.
“I can’t believe they’re not going after that vampire who killed my baby! He shouldn’t have killed Paul. He shouldn’t have! He could have taken away that gun without killing Paul. There wasn’t no need to kill him. This is what’s wrong with letting vampires run loose around normal people. They do this sort of stuff.”
The screen cut to an interview with another woman, identified as Mary Peters from the Society to Eliminate or Remove Vampires from the U. S. The capitol building was in the background.
“This is why vampires can’t live among us—can’t be in normal society,” Mary said. “I don’t know if Vampire Cunningham intended to kill the human victim or not, but that’s what makes them such a danger—even when they’re not trying to be bad, they are. And, really, it’s not that they’re intrinsically evil, but they are just so far beyond what humans can handle, it’s like living with a lion in your house. You may think it’s tame, but if it ever loses its temper for a second, you’re dead.
“That’s why my organization, SERVUS, is committed to separating vampires from humans and relocating them to a colony—kind of like an Indian reservation—where they can live among their own kind and they will not be a threat to humans.
“And I would encourage anyone who is living with a vampire, working with a vampire, or in any type of relationship with a vampire, to get out of that relationship immediately. You can call our organization at 1-866-A-SERVUS and our counselors will be happy to give you the information you need to get free.”
Scott laid back on the bed, covering his face with his hands and groaning. He had become a lawyer to help other vampires fight for their right to be equal citizens. But in his very first week of practice as a lawyer, he had set vampire rights back. He didn’t know how far, but possibly as far as a reservation in Western Canada.
Josie turned off the TV. “Maybe I should have let you sleep through that?” she asked.
Scott uncovered his face. “People like that make me feel like a monster.” He looked at her. “The difference between me and a lion is that a lion doesn’t give a shit if you live or die. If it’s tame, it’s only because it’s been conditioned to be tame. But I have free will; I can choose to act any way I want. And I do care if people live or die.”
She looked at him for a long moment, then glanced down. “Did you mean to kill him when you hit him?”
“No,” Scott admitted. “But, I will say this: if I had been human, I would have had a gun in the office—for just this sort of emergency. And if the same situation had played out in that case, I would have shot him. And I would have shot to kill. He actually had a better chance of living because I’m a vampire and indestructible; I could afford to be lenient in that situation.”
“But you weren’t. You meant to be, but it didn’t work out that way.”
“Josie, how long did it take you to be really good at walking?”
She looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”
“How long was it before you learned to walk and run without falling down very often?”
“I… don’t know. I guess I was a year and a half or two years old when I started walking.”
“And probably three before you were capable of walking and running without falling down too much?”
“I’ve been a vampire not quite two years. In some ways, I have a very different, very new body. A baby’s not expected to walk at birth; why am I expected to master of all of my new physical abilities immediately? Hell, I never fought with anyone as a human. I never learned to box or do martial arts or anything like that. I don’t know how hard you’re supposed to hit someone. I guessed, and I guessed wrong. Of course, if the man hadn’t come into my office and tried to kill people, I would have never had to guess. A man with a gun who is shooting at people is not a victim.”
Josie considered his words for a moment, then smiled a little. “I think you make a pretty good argument, Mr. Cunningham.”
He smiled a little too. “Well, that is my job.”
Read the entire series–The Bloodsuckers: Vampire Lawyers of Middle Tennessee