by Nancy Brewka-Clark
Enjoy this never before published Halloween mystery short story.
Since Miss McKee was as old as dirt, this raised the unpleasant rumor that she was actually a vampire. Even though only the biggest idiots believed in vampires, there were plenty of believers in the little mountain town of Bleu Cheze, enough to make a more sensitive woman think about suicide just to clear her name.
But ‘sensitive’ and ‘Miss McKee’ had nothing in common other than two vowels and a consonant. “I’ve been a native here since birth,” she was fond of saying in the repetitive patois of the region, “and so was my mother and her mother and that mother’s mother before her. And if you can find a single drop of vampire blood in any of us, you’re a damned liar and a good one to boot.”
Bobby Fingertoe had a particular interest in whether or not Old Bat McKee, as he derisively called her behind her back, was truly a vampire. From the time he stole his first comic book he’d been thinking about matters of life and death and money and why he couldn’t avoid one forever while having an abundance of the other two.
“I mean, what if I could, like, suck the old bat’s blood?” he asked his best friend and former fellow inmate Reggie Side over lunch one day not too long after they’d been released from the county jail after serving nine months, fourteen days and six hours for attempting to rob a gun shop with two plastic take-out knives and a slingshot. “Then I’d be likely to stay alive forever and forever.”
“I don’t know, Bud,” Reggie said, and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “How’d you pin her down long enough to find the sweet spot? Old bat’s got more wattle than a Thanksgiving turkey.”
Bobby took another bite of his peanut butter and sweet pickle relish sandwich. “I’m thinking that you could hold her.”
Reggie recoiled. “Me? How? What if she bit me?”
Bobby snapped his fingers, sending half his sandwich into the dirt. “Wait a minute. That’s the real way. I got mixed up. Yeah, she’s supposed to bite me, not the other way around.”
“No, Bro,” Reggie said. “You can’t count on that. Old broad like that, there’s got to be dentures involved. She’d be gnawing on you ’til the cows come home.”
“Huh,” Bobby thought about this for a long moment. “But the blood’s the thing, right? I mean, once her blood’s in me, I’m golden.”
“So, go for it.” Reggie gave himself a high-five, splattering peanut butter and relish everywhere. “And I’ll go with you. Me and you, we make a fine pair. Like salt and pepper. Cops and robbers. Blood and guts.”
Bobby cuffed Reggie’s shaven head affectionately, leaving nutty fingerprints. “You.”
“You,” Reggie said, giving Bobby a wide-open-hand slap on his unshaven cheek.
“No, you,” Bobby said, raising his knee.
“Uh-uh,” Reggie said, raising his voice.
“Yeah,” they said together, and bumped fists.
Miss McKee looked up from her needlework at the sound of something scratching at the back door. “Baby? Is that you?”
Filled with hope that Baby, her forty-pound coon cat, had finally come back after bolting off three nights ago in pursuit of a lightning bug, she padded to the door in her outsized bunny slippers, pink floral housecoat, and hair rollers partially concealed by a pink nylon kerchief with a map of Cincinnati printed on it. Peering at her through the panes were two of the most dangerous men in Bleu Cheze according to the last census.
“Open up,” Reggie said with authority. “We ain’t got all night.”
“What do you want?” Miss McKee quavered.
“Trick or treat,” Bobby said and the two of them burst into snickers.
“I haven’t baked for a week,” she said meekly, “but you’re welcome to take all I’ve got, except the scones.”
“Oh, yeah? We’ll take the scones, too.” Reggie glowered through the glass. “And since we ain’t got a bag, you can fill one up and hand it out here pronto. Oof!”
Having just thumped his partner in crime hard in the ribs with his elbow, Bobby shouted, “Forget the bag, old lady. And the scones. Just open up.”
“It’s open,” Miss McKee said, backing away.
“Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Bobby twisted the knob and sure enough, the door opened. “You’ll pay for this, you old bat.”
Miss McKee backed up a little farther. “What do you two boys want with me?”
“We want your blood,” Bobby snarled.
“Not me. He does,” Reggie said, pointing at Bobby.
Miss McKee shivered visibly. “I see.” She edged back another half foot. “Actually, no, I don’t. Did you say blood?”
“You deaf?” Bobby shouted. “Yeah. Blood. Your blood. I want it. Because then I’ll live forever, just like you, you old vampire.”
“Oh, yes, of course,” Miss McKee said. “Silly me. In fact, you’ll live forever and a day.” When Reggie made a little noise, she looked at him head on. “Don’t you want to keep your friend company?”
Reggie looked nervously over his shoulder at Bobby. “I don’t like the taste of blood. Maybe if you put something in it, like those hot little candy hearts–”
“Shut up.” Bobby shoved his friend aside to menace Miss McKee with yet another plastic take-out knife. “Now, once I get the plastic off, I’m going to commence to saw at your gizzardy old neck.” Digging his teeth into the wrapper, with his free hand he felt in his shirt pocket and pulled out a straw, also wrapped. “And then I’m going to suck your blood.”
Miss McKee sagged against the closet door. “Any idea how much you’ll need?”
Bobby looked confused. “I don’t know.” He looked to Reggie for help. “How big’s that smoothie we get? A quart?”
“That’s an awful lot of blood.” Miss McKee’s hands working nimbly behind her back to find the closet latch. “Even a pint’s a lot. How about a tablespoon, and then you patch me right up?”
“You trying to trick me, old woman?” Bobby snapped, spitting out plastic.
“Who wouldn’t?” she cried, and flung open the closet door.
“Get out of here—go on—get out—out!” Bobby tried to slap down the little creatures as they came at him in a flurry of black confetti.
Under the table, Reggie opened his eyes to find himself in a staring match with a pair of what looked like green glazed grapes. “Nice kitty,” he whimpered. Outraged by this case of mistaken identity, Baby sank the little white needles of her teeth into his nose.
Busying herself in the broom closet, Miss McKee came up with just what she was expecting, a broom. “Get along with you now.” Hearing a muffled plea ending in ‘bats,’ she shouted, “Once they’re outside, they’ll leave you alone. Now, git.”
As Bobby stumbled out into the night, she bent over and jabbed Reggie hard with the bristles. “You, too. Out.”
When Reggie slid out from beneath the table, she had to cackle. “So, that’s where you’ve been hiding, Baby. Come here, sweet’ums, come to Mama. But first, stop biting that man’s proboscis. You don’t know where it’s been.”
Watching them go, Miss McKee sighed, “Vampire, indeed. Anybody with half a brain would know I’m a witch.” She smiled down at the cat twirling about her legs. “Guess my secret’s safe with them.”
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories (including more Halloween ones) in our mystery section and watch for many more Halloween short stories this month.