Welcome back to The Cactus Killer. We left off with Liz telling Vic they were going someplace nice to eat for once. Unfortunately for our favorite werewolf and vampire, they can’t even go to dinner without problems. What happens? Only one way to find out…
It was weird being in a Jaguar. Whereas the most current feature on the Mustang was air conditioning, Elizabeth’s ride had wireless calling, satellite radio, and a GPS that talked to you. To top it off, she made me dress up a bit. Vetoed were jeans and a button down and in was a pair of Dockers and a dress shirt. She said she wanted to expand my horizons and take me some place cultured. Judging by her cocktail dress and the sparkling white gold she had on, I was certain I was in trouble.
“Vic, you can handle being shot, religious zealots, and a bullet ridden werewolf. You would think I was taking you to be tortured! You need to see the world, my cute little pup!”
Before I could even offer a rebuttal I saw the sign ‘Welcome to Texas!’ and that was it. “You’re taking me to Texas? What the hell is wrong with you, lady?”
“Oh calm down. To get you some real food, I am taking you to El Paso. Believe it or not, there is a place there where I hear the steaks are magic.”
“You don’t understand. I am entering a new territory; I have to get the okay from the local pack leaders before I go wandering around.”
She rolled her eyes. “You werewolves slay me. Well you happen to be in luck, unlike you New Mexican wolves who tend to be isolated and unsocial to the rest of the world, the Texas pack is in open communication with the vampires. More specifically, Red Alpha Josh Greenfoot of the west Texas community, White Wolf and I do quite a bit of business. I already texted him before we left.”
I knew us wolves in New Mexico were considered backwoods, but the idea that a pack so close to us not only was on speaking terms with vampires, but did business together was news. I guess this is what Argent wanted me to find out, were other packs more progressive than us?
“I can see you are conflicted so let me enlighten you some more. This is why I brought you down here, to show you the world is not little towns but a big place. Most werewolf packs in the United States, at the very least have open lines of communication to the respective vampire ambassador. I have tried for many years to get the New Mexican packs to open up to me, but never once did I get a response.”
“Are you sure? Mayor Argent is usually very prompt with his responses to requests.”
“I do not know, only what I have seen on my end. However, I am most pleased with my current dealings and when this is all over I would like to extend the same courtesies to your pack as I do with the rest of them.”
“I am truly sorry that we had to come to an understanding with such a black cloud hanging over us. This guy has gotten away too long, but soon everyone slips and we will catch him.”
I was starving by now and thankfully we were pulling into the restaurant. I had to do a double take at the sign, it was called ‘Guy’s Grille’ but it looked like a five star quality place. The parking lot was crazy and the wait outside looked like hours.
“Do not worry, I have everything all set for us. I heard your stomach growl as soon as we left your house.”
Sure enough, Elizabeth waltzed right up to the host stand and within seconds, we were being seated. Complimentary wine soon followed as did a tray of assorted appetizers.
“Not that I am going to complain, but how did you pull that magic trick off?”
She laughed again, like I missed the obvious. “Easily, I am well known in the entire region and certain contacts have been made. I really do not eat, but I know this place has a delicious Menudo, which is a Mexican soup.”
Soup was not for me and I ordered the house special steak. Twenty-four ounces perfectly cooked medium rare with all the spices one could imagine. I also polished off most of the finger food the waiter sat down as Elizabeth drank the expensive wine. If this was high society, I could get used to it.
The whole evening was incredibly nice. We talked, we laughed, and we even shared details of our lives together. It had been so long that I forgot how good it felt to be in someone’s company as a person, not as a defect or law enforcement. I knew I was being stupid though, as a wolf and a vampire could never possibly happen, but in life you can’t help your feelings. All I could do was keep them to myself.
I was really surprised when no bill came and our waiter said everything was compliments of the house. He handed Elizabeth a note and bid us a good evening.
“I can only imagine who owes you a favor that comped us an entire meal.”
“Oh, it was no favor. The owner of this restaurant is a vampire who I lent money to many years ago to follow his dream of cooking. Now, every time I come here, I never pay for a thing.”
“You really are something else. I don’t know much about vampires but I do know a lot about people and you’re a good person.”
She actually blushed at that. I didn’t think it was possible to happen, but you can embarrass a millennia old vampire with compliments. “Thank you. Some people see us as soul-less monsters, but we are truly people at heart. I am glad you see me for who I am.”
I stood there awkwardly for a second, not knowing what else to say. I didn’t have to say anything though, she leaned in and kissed me. I’m not sure how long we stood there in the parking lot and I didn’t really care. Nothing could spoil that moment for me, except a gunshot and screaming. Yeah, that ruined it.
As soon as we broke off, her cell phone rang. She answered it and there was just silence for moments. When she hung up, I got the scoop.
“That was Josh Greenfoot. The shot we heard was from a party hall the Reds and Blacks around here rented out to celebrate the young ones turning. A civilian, as you call them came running in and shot a werewolf before shooting himself. He is asking for our assistance in the matter since you are a law enforcement agent.”
No matter where I was, the law needed to be upheld. “Of course, I will assist in any way I can. I do suggest you phone your agents who are supposed to be meeting us in Full Moon. I am sure they are wondering where we went.”
“Oh yes, I did not tell them I was taking you out of state to charm you into falling for me.”
“I don’t know whether you’re joking or not, but either way it worked.”
“We will discuss that later.” She tossed me the keys to the jag. “You drive and I will inform my people to meet us here.”
“Do you have Billy’s number?”
“Yes; he gave it to me, I was instructed to use it in an emergency.”
“Good, call him and let him know what is happening too. I want to be prepared in case this turns out to be connected to what we are dealing with.”
We got into the car and I have to admit, I was impressed with it. While she was making the calls, I really put the Jag through the paces. While it didn’t roar the way the Mustang did, it had a quiet power to it that I enjoyed. I wouldn’t be looking to trade my car in any time soon, but if Elizabeth asked me to drive, I wouldn’t say no either.
“The agents will be here within the half hour and William says he will get everyone informed and on standby. Now quit messing around with my car and get us to the crime scene.”
When we reached the hall the local wolves had rented out, it didn’t take long to figure out who was in charge here. Josh Greenfoot was not the biggest of men, but he commanded the situation like one expects of the Alpha. The other thing I noticed was this pack had a distinct Native American look to it. In New Mexico, we were more Spanish and, ironically, Irish.
Greenfoot came over to me and shook my hand. “A pleasure, Mr. Inglewood, though meetings of packs should be more of a happy occasion.”
“I am sorry for your loss and whatever I can do to help, I will. I will honor the west Texas pack just as if it was my own.”
“Thank you, fellow Red. We are getting ready for our run of sorrow if you care to join us.”
This was always awkward. Rarely did I meet new werewolves, but when I did, trying to explain my condition was always touch and go. Some turned those noses up at me and others just felt sorry for me.
“Chief Greenfoot, my associate here suffers from an unknown condition that does not allow him to transform. I thought I had mentioned that in my message I sent you earlier.”
“Oh yes, you did and I apologize. Sheriff Inglewood, I hope I did not offend you as you graciously offered to help us.”
“It’s nothing Chief; you learn to grow tough skin when you are the oddball wolf. Anyway, I thank you for treating me as an equal and I will stay here and do what it is I do best.”
“I wish you success. Elizabeth has my telephone number and if you need to contact me further, please do not hesitate. We will be back after you conclude to give our fallen a proper burial.”
I nodded and one by one the wolves filed out. Some looked at me with curiosity and others looked at me like a bug. Soon the place was empty except for the two of us and the dead bodies. As I was getting ready to start my investigation, I heard the howls of the wolves in their natural form. No matter how many times I hear it, each and every time I get a little choked up knowing I will never get to experience that myself.
You can find all my work, including “The Cactus Killer” @ www.amazon.com/author/jeremycroston