"A vampire?" he said.
"And you're serious?"
"As a corpse."
"I don't know whether to laugh or be afraid."
"You can laugh, if you want. Lord knows I've done it a few times. Of course, my laughter usually turns into tears. But you certainly don't need to be afraid, Detective."
Yet another police car pulled up to the hospital. A young officer dashed out and headed for the hospital's main doors. Through it all, Sherbet hadn't taken his eyes off me. I didn't blame him.
"I have a secret, too," he said finally.
"Oh no," I said. "Please don't tell me you're the Werewolf King or something."
He chuckled lightly. "No, but I would have loved to see the look on your face."
"What's your secret, Detective? Seems like a good night to spill them."
"I've known you were a vampire for some time."
"It's the only thing that made sense. Your strange disease, the dead gang banger drained of blood, the punch through the bulletproof glass, the dead prisoner."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"Because it was a new theory and I was still debating whether or not I was going insane."
"A question I've asked myself a thousand times."
"I have another secret," he confessed.
"I don't think I can handle any more secrets," I said.
"I've seen Twilight five times."
I wasn't sure I'd heard him right. "You saw what five times?"
"Twilight. My boy loves it. He can't get it enough of it. We've seen the sequels a few times, too. Also, I watched them for, you know, research."
Detective Sherbet loved his boy. Of that there was no doubt. That he had been worried sick that his young son was showing early signs of homosexuality was almost comical. With that said, I had been touched by Sherbet's ability to come to terms with the concept. If anything, he loved his boy even more. Still, the thought of the gruff detective sitting through the various naked torso scenes in Twilight and its sequels for "research" would normally have had me laughing so hard that I might have peed. But not tonight.
"Anyway," he said, clearly embarrassed. "You could say I'm something of a vampire expert now."
"I see," I said, and now I did laugh. "I hadn't realized I was sitting next to an expert."
He laughed, too, but then quickly turned somber. "But those are just movies. This is real, isn't it, Sam?"
"I'm afraid so."
"You really are a vampire."
I shrugged, my old defense kicking in. "I don't know what I am, Detective."
"What does that mean?"
"It means I'm the same person I've always been, except sometimes when I'm not. It means that I feel the same that I've always felt, except sometimes when I don't. It means I act the same, think the same, and do the same things I've always done.
"Except when you don't," said Sherbet.
"Yes, exactly. It means I'm still me. I'm still a mom. I'm still a woman. I'm still a sister. And I'm still a friend."
"But you're also something else. Something more."
I nodded. "And sometimes I'm that, too."
We were silent for a minute or two. The detective's heart rate, I noted, had increased significantly. "It happened six years ago, didn't it?"
"It left you…the way you are now."
"You never asked for this, did you?"
I shook my head.
"And it's ripped your life apart, hasn't it?"
I nodded and fought the tears. Enough crying. I was sick of crying, but it felt so damn nice to be understood, especially by a man I respected and admired so much.
"And now you're doing all you can to keep it together."
Shit. The tears started. Damn Detective Sherbet.
He reached over and patted my hand. A grandfatherly gesture. A warm gesture.
"So you believe me?" I asked.
"I believe something. What that is, I don't know. Most of me thinks you're insane, or that I'm insane. Most people would think, in the least, that you're a hazard to your kids."
"Do you think I'm a hazard to my kids?"
"No. I think you're a wonderful mother. I really believe that."
"Thank you," I said, moved all over again.
Sherbet touched the back of my hand again. My instinct was, of course, to retract my hand, but I didn't. Not this time. His fingertips explored my skin, almost like a blind man would the face of his lover. "Your cold skin always confused me. And your skin disease never felt right."
"Because it wasn't."
He nodded. "And Ira Lang…sweet Jesus. The visiting room."
Sherbet was referring to the time a month or so ago when I had punched through a bullet-proof piece of glass to grab a piece of shit named Ira Lang, and proceeded to let him know what I thought of him threatening me and my kids.
"You killed him, Sam."
I said nothing. I wasn't admitting anything, especially to a homicide investigator.
"You nearly ripped his head off."
I kept saying nothing.
"Of course, I should arrest you. For his murder, and for anyone else who's gone missing or been killed on any of your other cases." He turned his shoulder and propped a meaty elbow up on the seat's head rest. "Just tell me one thing, Sam: do you kill people for blood?"
"Do you drink blood?"
His tone was challenging. I felt like a daughter confronted by her father about smoking weed or drinking booze.
"I have to," I said, looking away.
He stared at me so long and hard that I wanted to crawl under a rock.
"Please don't judge me," I finally said. "I never asked for this."
"I'm not judging, Sam. I'm just trying to wrap my brain around all of this. I mean, a part of me suspected something was up, and perhaps even a very small part of me began to believe…this. But to hear it now, from a pretty young investigator I've grown to admire, is something else entirely."
"I'll deny everything, Detective. So let's get that clear now."
I wasn't looking at him but I felt him grin. I sensed only confusion and compassion and more confusion from him. And also a steady sense of alarm. But not for his own health or well-being. We still had a missing boy out there, after all.
"And I'll never admit to watching the Twilight movies," he said.
"I'll take your secret to my grave," I said.
"I thought vampires were immortal," he said.
"So what do we do about Eddy?" said Sherbet. "The kidnapped boy?"
"If it's a ransom," I said. "Then I'll be hearing from his abductor."
Sherbet nodded. "Makes sense. And his abductor…would he also be a vampire?"
"More than likely," I said.
"And what's this about a relic?"
I reached inside my jeans pocket and removed the medallion. I didn't trust it anywhere except on my person. He turned on the car's interior light, and I showed him the golden disc.
"It's a necklace with ruby roses," he said.
"Your observational skills are second to none, Detective."
"Don't sass me, young lady. What's so special about this?"
"It's reputed to reverse vampirism."
"Ah," he said. "And that's a good thing?"
"And you don't want to give it up?"
"I can't," I said. "Under any circumstances."
"Even to save a little boy?"
I put the medallion back in my pocket. Just having it out made me nervous.
"I need it," I said.
He heard the anguish in my voice, and since Sherbet also happened to be a helluva detective, he looked at me sharply. "Your son," he said.
I buried my face in my hands.
"You need it to change your son back, don't you?"
Now I was rocking in my seat and crying, and talking incomprehensibly about saving my son, and doing all I had to do to keep him from dying, and knowing I was a horrible mother, but what else could I do? I loved him so much, and I had a chance to save him, and I had to take it, I had to take it…
And as I babbled nearly incoherently, Detective Sherbet reached out and put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me in close and told me that everything was going to be okay. Somehow, someway, everything was going to be okay…READ MORE >>