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This story originally ran on Lex Chase’s Flash Fiction pages on October 30, 2015.
While investigating a car crash, Officer Davis learns on Halloween, nothing can be taken for granted. Not even his heart.
Love Comes in the Dead of the Night
by Pat Henshaw
“Tell me what happened right before the crash, sir.”
The guy sitting with his head bent on the side of the road looked vampire pale. I took a blood pack from my back pocket and pumped it few times for it to liquefy before I handed it to him. Since the night was chilly, the blood wouldn’t be at room temperature whatever that was, but it would be nourishing.
“A ghost. I saw a ghost,” he muttered as he grabbed the pack and starting swilling it.
I would have told him to slow down, but I knew these guys got testy when they were peaked. I may live in Podunk Nowhere, but I can read.
“So this ghost…” I left it open-ended for him.
“The ghost got in the car and threatened me.” He wiped the back of his hand over his mouth. Drops of blood flew in an arch into the night.
The vampire turned to me and I realized I knew him. It was Jim Johnson from down at the hardware store.
“So, Jim, what did this ghost say?”
Jim blinked a couple of times. Now that his color was back it hit me again, like it always did when I went in to get a screw or molly bolts, how handsome he was. If I was into vamps, he’d be my type. But I’d never been with one, so I wasn’t positive about that.
“The ghost said writing off this boondocks was a mistake. He said the love of my life was here, and all I had to do was look around.” He looked up at me and blinked a couple more times. Then his eyes widened. “Oh, uh, hi, Officer Davis. Uh, you got another of those packs? Wouldn’t want to accidentally bite you.”
“Will. My name’s Will,” I muttered as I retrieved another pack and pumped it. I wondered what it would be like for him to take some of my blood. Would it hurt? Or feel really, really good?
After he’d gotten that one down, I sat next to him.
“So how’d the ghost get you to crash into the town sign?”
He rubbed the back of his neck. He looked so young and vulnerable like he did sometimes down at the store. Like then, I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and hug him. Tell him everything was gonna be all right.
“We started arguing. I mean, everything’s been so awful since I moved here to take care of my, well, let’s call her my aunt.” He sighed, giving me a whiff of blood breath. Wasn’t too bad. I could get used to it. “Then the ghost started yelling at me. He said I was miserable now and I was always going to be more miserable if I didn’t change. I tried to tell him it wasn’t me who was supposed to change. This town needed to change. Then he tried to hit me and I swerved.”
He slumped next to me. Well, shoot. What was I supposed to do? I put my arm around him and gave him a sideways hug.
“What’s so wrong with this town?” I asked. “Sure, it’s small, but it’s got some nice people in it.”
He snorted. “There’s nothing to do and nobody to do it with. Far as I can tell, I’m the only gay man within two hundred miles.”
I gave him a squeeze. “No, you aren’t. There’s a bunch of us.”
His head perked up.
“A bunch. Promise you.”
Now he was staring at me. “You too?”
“Sure. Now let me get your statement, and when I’m off duty, I’ll show you some of the places where we hang out. There’s a special party going on right now.”
Brick had just hauled off Jim’s car to the shop, and the night noises started to settle in the wind. It was Halloween, and a big gathering was down at Crawford’s farm.
If I could get this report filed before midnight, I’d be free. Then if Jim wasn’t too shook up, we could go to the party.
Somewhere off in the distance I heard a ghostly laugh. “Take care of him,” a voice whispered through the trees.
Jim had put his arm around my waist and his head rested on my shoulder.