CANDY HARLOW: Space Detective
Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
Accidental death; this was suspiciously not one for Molly: who said her check was a perfectly good one, and yet she had chosen to cash it after opening a new account. What? And why, for that matter, had she bothered opening a new account when she had a rather sufficient amount in an active account at another bank?
There are only questions in security work, but they do not all add up to murder. Some add up to cold cases, and nobody in the galaxy likes that. The fools of the 17th would have preferred to sit on their behinds and sip Whisky, but the how-comes were there, so they put on their protective vests and their automatic plasma weapons and tried to find some convenient answers.
Malcolm Strumack systematically interrogated each and every person in the luxury apartment where Molly Fox had been killed. They all had alibis' tighter than a businessman who just stole someone's investments. In his report to the chief, Malcolm expressed the belief that none of the people were guilty of homicide. As far as he was concerned, they were all innocent.
Governor Packard attacked the 17th as incompetent fools. There were money-launderers galore in the district and the city, people who took ill-gotten gain and cleaned it, for a price. If someone had cashed a 750,000 gems check for Molly and kept 100,000 gems during the process, couldn't that person conceivably be one of the suspects? He put the district on the edge, telling them to look around for word of an Inter-Solar System Corporation check. The cronies came up with nothing.
Detective Hacker took her laboratory personnel to the briefing room and went over it again. Once more. And once more. She reported that the lock on the door was a robotic lock, the kind that has AI, shut automatically when the door is pushed too. Whoever killed Molly Fox could have done so, without leaving an identification record. What they had to do was open the door using a computerize filter. Packard also reported that Molly's bed had apparently not been slept in on the night of the murder. They found her shoes had been placed at the foot of a large comfort-chair in the room and an e-book was left on by the arm of the chair. She suggested that Molly had fallen asleep while reading, had awakened, and gone into the other room where she had met her murderer. She had no suggestions as to just who that murderer might have been.
Malcolm Strumack was miserable and impatient and ignored. There were other things happening in the district, things like burglaries and threats and vice and assaults and children with too much time on their hands. It might have seemed like all this was just too much for a small security station on a small moon orbiting a planet that was being raped of its natural resources.
The atmosphere on the main planet was incapable of supporting human life. But that didn't stop a whole plethora of machines and robots and other sorts from doing the dirty work of the human race. It was the way business was done. But how do I fit into all this misery and mayhem? My name is Candy. Candy Harlow and I'm a private detective working here in space.
Out here in the Badlands, that area of space where law and order is scarce, but surprisingly lots of frontier settlers seem to want to migrate, there is an atmosphere of adventure and often excitement due to new discovers. I guess you could say that mankind had come along way since the early days of impulse rockets. Those things would have never been able to cross the vastness and the perils of interstellar space. It was with the invent of the lightning engine by Dr. Everet T. Pystrum that marshaled in a new age of exploration. It was said that if you want to travel at the speed of light, then look to nature and see what she has done to get there. After all Mother Nature always had done it first, the human race was just trying to figure out what she had known from the beginning.
Later a Doctor Patricia Ingram postulated that dark matter could travel faster than the speed of light, due to the Quantum Expansion Theories of the 20th and 21st Century, which predicted that dark matter in the expanses of the universe had to be moving faster than light in order to compensate for the Heisenberg Principle. There was no stopping mankind after that. Big business suddenly found it more profitable to mine other worlds and drill for preciousness, on planets that didn't have the laws and restrictions that were placed on Earth. If a planet or moon or asteroid had something of value on it and people knew about it, chances were, it was owned by some super-corporation.
While all of this might be fine and interesting, it doesn't fully explain me. Oh. Did I happen to mention, that with all my other talents and attributes, I'm a vampire. My clan isn't from the old school, like way back in the day. We don't go around sucking the life out of people, like they did centuries ago. My clan, headed by Victoria, long since opted to join the modern days. We have millions of nano-robots in our veins, compensating for the thirst. In fact I was brought up believing that such practices, as the old ways, were barbaric and offensive. The vampire society had evolved like everything else on Earth. My clan went about its business in a more dignified way. The same could not be said for our rival clan, headed by Beltaziar. Victoria and Beltaziar were distant cousins, think Hatfield's and McCoy's, then you get the picture. Beltaziar's clan hated everything that we stood for. And then there were the Lycans. Packs and hordes of werewolves that really didn't like anybody who wasn't them. Truth of the matter was, they didn't like other packs of werewolves. So. You have the humans, the vampires, and the werewolves, and oh yes, your familiar aliens; which were finally acknowledged when mankind came out of the Dark Ages in the 21st Century. And began to realize the answer to the question, are we alone? The answer was, of course not, silly!
I am co-owner of a small tavern on the outskirts of town. I had my own little booth that I used as an office and general place to sit and drink. The atmosphere in the tavern was mostly upbeat with folk songs from the old days, my partner, O'Mally liked it that way. Reminded the regulars of Earth and what was once home. O'Mally ran the business, while I found need to pursue my private investigator career. If you could call it that. Truth of the matter was that if it wasn't for the revenue of the tavern, I'd be broke and homeless most of the time.
I was at my spot and sipping a local made wheat brew that the tavern specialized in. Wheat-beer had a more robust flavor and a special thickness along with a fine frothy head. While we did serve other beers that was my favorite. A short man, well dressed approached my booth, asked if I had a moment an indicated that he wanted to hire me. Turned out he was the grandfather of Molly Fox. Apparently he wanted someone to find his granddaughter's killer.
When the third captor had come on duty and settled down for the night, I started to practice with the long stick, stuffing a coat into my end of the air vent so that the thud of the pegs could not be heard. The strips of cover had shrunk into even tighter coils. It was a more powerful weapon than I needed, and heck to pull; I had to use both hands, my left on the shaft of the part, my right gripping the ring, held vertically so that it did not catch as it drew through the aperture. At a range of six feet the part drilled clean through two cans of beans and buried itself three inches in the earth. I shot it off a few dozen times, for the construction was none too robust.
I unstopped the air vent and fanned for several hours to change the air. I don't know whether it really made any difference, but it was worth trying since my next task was to persuade my captor to shut up his end of the air vent, and keep it shut while I arranged my escape.
I began to complain and mumble to shake his nerves a bit. When he yelled at me to stop it, I said I would if he would give me something to eat.
"You eat when I say you do," he answered sulkily.
I stayed quiet for several hours, and then started my act all over again, sobs and manic laughter and pleads to him to let me out. He endured my madness with annoying patience hoping perhaps for that hypothetical peace of mind, but that compelled me to such a show of hysteria before he plugged the hole that I managed to begin to raddle my own nerves as part the act. My acting was good enough to be believed as release for my feelings.
The rearranging of the hole was easy and quite silent. I dug with a piece of wood and gathered the earth handful by handful. At times I let off some moans to discourage him from removing the plug. The sides vanished, and in its place was an empty hollow, like a snake's nest, with two ends. The plug was a piece of cloth. I opened out its folds on my side without bothering its position. I could breathe without any problem and heard every sound in the area.
I arranged my sleeping covers under my shoulder blades, and lay on my back in the mud with the weapon presented and the part fitted to the flexible area. I had to be ready to fire the moment that anyone's head appeared at the hole. The removal of the covering would give me time to draw, and if anyone peeked into the hole and noticed that its shape had been altered, that would be the last thing they ever saw.
I hoped that my captor would leave the covering alone. I felt no regret in killing him, but if he removed the plug immediately after the head of this group's arrival I might not be able to dig my way out in time to surprise my captors. I kept up enough annoying cries to prove that I was still in some sort of discomfort. But I knew it would be just a matter of time and I would be able to escape from this situation. It was what I got for snooping around and asking amateurish questions about the dead woman. Whoever killed Molly was not going to take to it, having a private investigator looking into the mess. Especially one that really was trying to solve the case, not like the cronies at the district, where half of them were on the take. And the other half didn't care one way or the other. I had told the dead woman's grandfather that I'd do the best I could. Took a nice retainer and began to make good on that promise. I hadn't anticipated such a response from whoever was behind this. These were rich people. I could tell because of the way I had been abducted, it was professional, and discrete. My supposed death would be explained as something uninvolved and nefarious. But that was all premature because at that moment, a head popped up. I tensed myself and in the next instant the man was dead and I was one step closer to escape. The opportunity had presented itself and I was not sticking around for an explanation.
That intensely, blueish coloration found on primitive tribes who spend a good deal of their time outside. The conclusion seemed to be a reasonable one, but death is a great equalizer not without a determined humor all its own, and the funniest kind of joke is a visual one. Death changes yin to yang, and when that grisly reaper comes marching in there's no question of coloration, pal. That woman in the photo looked blueish, but she was not, and whatever else she was, also very cold and dead, and that's the worst anyone can do to anybody.
The report explained that the woman's body was in a state of advanced putrefaction, and it went into such enlightened terms as "ranked distention of the body cavities, tissues, and blood vessels with fluid," and "blueish discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and other things caused by hemolysis and action of hydrogen compounds on the blood pigment," all of which broke down to the simple fact that it was a damn hot week in July and the woman had been lying on a rug which retained heat and exasperated the post-mortem putrefaction. From what they could tell, and in weather like this, it was mostly a guess, the woman had been dead and decomposing for at least seventy-two hours, which set the time of her demise on July fourth or thereabouts.
One of the reports went on to say that the clothes she'd been wearing had been purchased in one of the town's swankier department stores. All of her things, those she wore and those found in her apartment, were rather expensive, but someone at the lab thought it necessary to note that all her underwear were trimmed with Meljanian lace and retailed for six hundred gems a pair. Someone else at the lab mentioned that a thorough examination of her things and her body had revealed no traces of anything of consequence.
The coroner said the cause of death was strangulation. It is without doubt how much an apartment can sometimes yield to science. It is equally interesting, and more than a little disappointing, to get nothing from the crime scene when you are desperately seeking a clue. The furnished room in which Molly Fox had been strangled to death was full of suggestive surfaces conceivably carrying hundreds of latent clues. The closets and drawers contained piles of clothing which all seemed to belong to the deceased.
Detective Hacker entered the room, looked around as if trying to psychically discover evidence. Then she turned her attention to me, "So, you are here."
The detective and I had worked together on other cases before, I wouldn't call us friends, but we knew each other's ways, when it came to solving a crime. "Official business. The victim's relations hired me to look into the murder."
"What's wrong, the family doesn't have much confidence in local security's ability to solve the case?"
I responded, but not accordingly, "About a century ago, back on Earth, there was this case where this little girl was murdered. The locals and media persecuted the mother and father. Turned out, ten years later, they were all wrong. There was a third person who was the actual killer. So, no, the family hired me because they have the utmost confidence, that if this case can be compromised and screwed up: it will be."
Hacker laughed. "You know, you are right. Poor people can't get any justice and fall victim to the system. While rich people forge their own type of justice and control and manipulate the system."
"This family is very rich." I said while noticing something in the corner but then deciding 5
I didn't want to share the discovery with Hacker.
Huddled in my overcoat, I merely set the moves and then crouched over the sofa, I was not going to fail, I wasn't just another pure blood vampire acting like nothing had happened.
When he was done, Malcolm Strumack shut his e-book and said: "Thank you, men and women and robots. Midnight going on morning, time to go home." He put a stick of gum in his mouth and went down into the hall and out through the front of the building.
Left alone in the building, I struggled with a sharp attack of deflation. I tried to call myself to order. This in itself hurt my pride, if not a salutary, exercise. If, I thought savagely, I had been a proper young lady, I would at this juncture have given up and locked myself away with an e-tablet and, after crying some mortified tears, forced resignation upon of myself. As it was, I set my jaw and worked it out there and then. The truth was, I told myself, I'd been up to my old habits again: I'd indulged in the most blatant kind of self delusion. I'd thought up an alternate theory and dumped myself down in the middle of it with half a dozen half baked ideas that needed vetting. Because I looked younger than I was and because last night I'd had some mild success with a few clues adding up I was playing it off my nerves, I'd actually had the gall to hope. Then I felt my scalp creep and my face flush. "Okay now," I thought, "spit it out."
Alright, then. I'd dreamt up a further theory opposite Strumack's. I'd noticed myself responding cautiously to his detective work, I'd heard him say regretfully that if there were more evidence, things would be different, I had been, at this point, overtaken with self-loathing, Strumack was giving up but that was a childish exercise of throwing in the towel. I began walking, violently, and thrusting my fingers through my long silky jet black hair.
"For crying out loud," I said, pitching my voice to the back of the room.
"Things are not quite as bad as all that." The voice was a familiar one.
Victoria came out of the shadowed area and down the center hall of the building. She rested her hands on the support of the stairwell. I gaped at her.
"You've got the right idea," she said. "Think it through again by yourself before taking any action. Then you can begin to think about the murdered victim. Get the sense of the building in your head. Come to know the environment. What was she doing that day before she was murdered? What was she thinking about? Why did she say the things she said and do the things she did? Listen to your inner wisdom. Come. Walk with me for a few minutes and we'll see what must be done to solve this case."
I was taken back by the way that Victoria was helping me. She had long since expressed a dislike for the profession I had chosen. Something about it not being a refined enough job for a vampire of my upbringing. Maybe she was right and maybe there were more noble professions out there for a vampire like myself. But I had long since felt the need to be something I wasn't expected to be. It wasn't that I was being rebellious, though that obviously was part of it, but I found myself needing to help those who needed help. I think it all started when I discovered the horrible things that vampires had done through the ages. I was shocked that I was part of that kind of culture.
"It is a culture that has nurtured and cared for you all these years, Candy." Her voice was filled with a kind of dark wisdom that came with being immortal, yet, her tall voluptuous body moved with such elegance. "There are others that are watching you. Watching to see if you fail."
I said. "I can't fail. Not this time. Not this case. Can you help me?"
It was evening and I took my little walk up to my apartment in the nicer part of town. I had never written a government official a letter, but I had been tempted to a few years back but with this Molly Fox business things were different. The first time I thought about it I was at my wits end and was running out of ideas, but the notion kept on nagging at me. The reason for considering it was that I had the impression I was getting nowhere due to secret internal influences coming from top officials or I was infatuated with the case and had run into a dead end, but when the impression still stuck after awhile I knew. Rich heiress' should be seen and heard, but not murdered. At that, I might have given the impression another thought in a different way if there had been an opportunity, but there wasn't. Molly had died suddenly and abruptly, for some time, there was even talk of a cover up.
So I read the official report again, twice again. It didn't say that she had been pronounced murdered, officially and finally, since there was conflicting evidence, but a nearly empty pill bottle had been there on a table, and on the floor by the couch that she died on, there had been a glass with wine in it, enough left to identify cyanide, all conflicting. I looked at a picture of her, the way she had been when she was full of life, I had gotten that impression. I asked O'Mally if he had ever seen Molly Fox, and he asked what circles she had frequented, and I said spoiled rich ones, she was much too wealthy for our level of engagement.
I didn't get to suggest calling Malcolm Strumack or Detective Hacker because when I came down from my apartment at seven o'clock they weren't there. As I was finishing my second mug of beer a call came from the Governor's office inviting me to drop in, and I went and spent a couple of hours at Holm's Street with an assistant to the governor named Vandyke. When we got through I made sure I knew slightly more than I had when we started, but he didn't. He had a copy of the security statement on his desk, and wanted to know what could I add to that? I had a lot of fun, though. He would put a question to me and spend a lot of time studying the statement to see if I had tripped.
Getting to the bar late in the evening, I was prepared to find O'Mally grumpy. He likes me to be there on certain days, when he comes down from the office, and while he can't very well complain when the Governor calls me on business that concerns my case, this wasn't his affair. I had a client and no hard evidence and no new prospects. But I was surprised. O'Mally wasn't grumpy; he was too busy. He had my e-book turned on before him at he bar. He had actually gone to my desk, searched to find my e-book, lifted it, and carried it down to the bar. This was unheard of for him to mess with my things.
"Bottom of the evening," I said. "What's the big emergency?"
"There's no emergency. I needed to know a few things."
"Okay. Well, can I help?"
"No, not right now. But if you must know, this is about spotting the of a pack of lycans over on the eastside. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the case you are working on but it might be something you want to look into."
Lycans? I hadn't had any real contact with the likes of them for a long time. Mostly because of the treaty worked out by the vampires and the lycans and the humans and familiar-aliens. Everyone knew to leave everyone else alone, because everyone had something to lose and everyone could make trouble for the other. There was a time when humans were greatly disadvantaged but those days had long pass. With the emergence of mankind's technological boom, everyone stood on somewhat equal ground.
"There is no evidence that lycans killed my client's granddaughter. What makes you say that?" I was seriously puzzled but looking for new clues even if they didn't add up.
"Not everyone kills so that a trail can be left leading to them. Humans are smart. Vampires are smarter. And while lycans are somewhat slower than the latter, we all evolve."
The eastside had bushes of bramble and wild fruit extending far out into the pasture. I cut the fern and scraped out a channel for the water that ran down the lane after every shower. Then I hurled timber poles from bank to bank, where the distance was a bare seven feet, making a surface platform on top of them with twigs and fern. A few days later, I stole some bricks from a broken-down farm and propped up my poles in the middle, the platform was strong and dry as a floor of latticework.
The eastern part was full of animal holes which ran into the heavy topsoil along the upper level of the sedimentary rock. On the same night I began to work on them, which provided me with shelter from the rain and with a fireplace. By morning I had made an opening about three feet in diameter, and long enough for me to move about. The roof and sides were of dirt and clay while the floor of sedimentary stone.
Digging into the stone, soft though it was, proved an interminable amount of effort; but I found that it was easy to reshape the surface, and thus lower the level inch by inch. In five days I had a stakeout shelter to be proud of. The ceiling had a high vault, packed with clay. The water trickled down the sides and was caught on two projecting ledges which ran the length of the stakeout and was channeled to lead the water into a path. The level was four feet below the
ledges and crossed by a short bundle of wood which kept my sleeping bag from resting on wet stone. The stakeout was very much the size and shape of two large containers, one turned inside out upon the other.
As soon as I got to a point where I could stop, I walked into town and came back with a backpack full of groceries, a grate, iron pots, and a short implement, one arm of which was shaped like a small shovel. I'm not sure what it was for, but it seemed admirably fitted for working sedimentary rock in a confined space. I aroused no particular interest in town, a mere untidy woman, wearing old clothes, which gave out that I was one of the homeless that lived just across the back area. I had a hot meal at an inn and read the e-papers. There was only a passing reference to the Molly Fox murder. The coroner finally admitted that she had been murdered by a person or persons not known. When I climbed down the way onto the path I felt that I had come home in strange kind of way, but feeling melancholy as I realized I might be here for awhile, gave me no tranquility.
I started a routine of sleeping by day and observing at night. There wasn't much to see by day and was too dangerous; lycans might walk past the area while I wasn't underground, and discover that a vampire was spying on them. That vampire being little old me. There was a morning when I was nearly caught by a party of lycans who were doing something I couldn't quite make out but involved killing some poor slob, along the edge of the pasture.
My overall goal was to stay as long as I could. Stakeouts usually meant that I would have to do what I had to do and in this case, I had planned to observe for as long as it took. I was sure that the lycans had a part in the murder but not directly. This conclusion came after a long and hard disagreement with myself. I had managed to forge a theory as to the murder and was reluctant to change my mind. It was only after talking to Victoria that I realized that there were layers of deception going on in this case. Obvious wealth pulling the strings and manipulation of lesser bodies; like using the lycans in some capacity, if not directly. I hunkered down and waited.
"One would think that the thing was obvious," I uttered, the group was comprised of mostly humans and some familiar aliens.
A reporter asked, "If the daughter of the wealthy politician was murdered why then did the first report state that it was some sort of an accident?"
I didn't want to get into details. That was my whole point. To make the killer or killers think I have solved the case and was holding out for some kind of reward. It didn't matter what kind of reward, when dealing with beings that killed on a regular bases, it would be easy to convince them that I was more like them than different.
"Rich people have always controlled our society. There are those who aspire to be rich and therefore cling to the ways and traditions of the wealthy. And there are those who seek to appeal to our better angels. They know that in order for a society to flourish and not to die, that we all must have the same freedoms and rights, even if those things once belonged to the wealthy. There is no secret that the wealthy can afford better lawyers and get lighter sentences even if convicted. The proof is in the pudding. . ." I let things go at that point seeking effect. It was better if the public, those that were interested in this sort of thing, managed to draw their own conclusions.
Another reporter said. "If she had bodyguards outside her home on the day she was killed, why is it that no one saw anything?"
That was a good point and I wanted to blurt out the answer but my whole plan counted on those involved becoming nervous. Rich people didn't like to leave loose ends. I wanted to make myself out to be that loose end. Up until this point, I'd been kidnaped and threatened. No doubt that whosoever was behind this was powerful and well positioned in society. They didn't want me here from the beginning. That point was obvious. But I needed a way to flush them out. Make them think I had discovered more than I really had. And the best way to do that was to appear to be holding back for some kind of a bribe.
"I have a few things that I still have to confirm. I don't want to unduly make an accusation until I have managed to close everything up tightly." Again, to those who were guilty, it wouldn't matter if I really knew anything or not, it was the perception that Molly Fox was murdered by those folks not yet revealed. An it came down to this: Do you take a chance that I might really know something that ties them to the crime or just to be safe, kill me and get rid of all the evidence I was suppose to be sitting on.
Yet another reporter said. "The police have threatened you with obstruction of justice. What are you going to do about it?"
I smiled because that was exactly the question I was hoping someone would ask. I answered, "The police are corrupt and on the take. Most of them already have a clue as to who killed Molly Fox but they are sitting on the evidence. When an innocent person is railed through the justice system, the government withholds evidence of exculpatory nature, in order to convict. In this case the opposite is happening. Evidence is being held back that would prove that one of our so called pillars of society is behind it."
Then came the question I had to have anticipated before all this went into play. "Do you have proof?"
"Right now," exclaimed Dr. Quomo. "I'm also deputy coroner of this area!"
And they took some men and they went back to the old burying ground, and in the darkening day they dug up the remains of Molly Fox and they opened the casket and found, in the corpse's hands, a small diary made of paper and cloth but not locked. And, while two strong men held the grandfather to keep him from hurling himself at the expensive coffin, Doctor Quomo of the Coroner's Office held his breath while he raised the lid.
And it was crammed to the brim with all sorts of small gifts.
In memory of the young woman.
No one said anything for some time, not even I felt the need.
Then I said, "It stands to reason. We found all of this buried with her at the family mansion cemetery. She was obviously loved. If we are going to be digging her up again after she as be laid to rest then it is expected that we'd find items of sentiment in the coffin with her. They probably had some faint hope that it might show some respect. Those who loved her didn't care if the things were worthless, they decided to show how they felt. This has been a private moment of those who cared about her.
When Molly died a while back, the killer probably decided that, as the last to see her alive he ought to have the honor of being the first to view her body in rest and the modest treasure in perpetuity. Some one managed to slip the diary into the coffin before the lid was screwed on. And Molly's grandfather's note bequeathing his fortune to his beloved granddaughter, in view of what I've seen of his beloved granddaughter today, was the final blow to the killer."
Everybody nodded; and the corpse was mirthless as I continued on, the silence heavy, to be broken by a weak curse from Molly's grandfather and her grandmother nearby: "But Candy Harlow, that doesn't explain who murdered Molly Fox." said Strumach.
"Well, now, Detective Strumach, it does," I said; and then I said in a very different tone: "Suppose we put poor Molly back the way we found her, for your re-exhumation later for another autopsy, Dr. Quomo," I turned, " and then we'll close the book on your granddaughter's murder."
I closed the diary back at the mansion, in the dusk, on the porch of Molly Fox's grandparents house, which was central and convenient for everybody. Myself and Detective Hacker and Dr. Quomo and Strumack and VanDyke, the grandfather was now clutching the diary dazedly, also on the porch, security was there as well.
I finally said, "Molly Fox was murdered because she dared to fall in love with a being not of her own species. There was a time when couples of different races were discriminated against equally as well. Way back on Earth, a century ago, or so. But history has a way of repeating itself. Specially with the intent on getting it right. If any of you are students of history you'll know that patterns occur in history, there are no real explanations as to why, except that there is an overall divine nature to the universe."
Detective Hacker asked, "So, what are you saying? That this was a hate killing?"
I nodded, "In a sense, yes. God has his eyes on all his children. Nothing done in secret will remain secret forever. In our case, the case of Molly Fox, the secret is out."
Molly's grandfather asked, "Then who killed my granddaughter?"
I looked over at VanDyke, "He did."
They all reacted and Hacker along with Strumack gathered around VanDyke. Of course he protested, sometimes violently, but after I pointed out the now obvious clues, his arrest for the murder of Molly Fox fell upon him with conviction.
The evening crowd was starting to gather at O'Mally's. I found my reserved booth and ordered a wheat-beer. I finally settled in and was just starting to get into the latest news on my leather bound electronic book. I quickly looked up the table of contents and then treed through items I found of interest. The book sprang to life with the articles I'd selected and then filed them in pages that I began to browse through, turning the pages virtually. There was a motion out to the corner of my eye and then I looked up. I was surprised to see Victoria along with obvious vampire bodyguards. She motioned them off and I gestured for her to take a seat across from me.
I cleared my throat, the beer was thick and smooth. "Can I get you something?" I asked, not waiting for the Queen of my vampire clan to respond, motioning for the waiter who came quickly.
She saw my effort and politely agreed to try the wheat-beer I was drinking. Her attention then turned to the business at hand. "I heard about the arrest in regards to the Molly Fox murder.
Well done, Candy. You have made your clan proud of you."
As we settled in I happened to notice a lycan woman who entered the tavern. Some of the people started to give her a hard time. Prejudice and segregation were things of the past and had no place in O'Mally's. One of the bar-keeps glanced over to me for reassurance and I nodded, this sent a few staff and some loyal regulars over to defuse the situation. They kicked out the trouble makers and got the female lycan a nice seat. Others slowly came over to try and make her feel at home. Prejudice was bad for business, if not archaic and stupid.
Victoria having taken it all in said, "You've done well for yourself."
I grinned, "I try. It's not like this all the time. Most of the time this is a really quiet place to come and have a drink. We even have a family section."
Victoria glanced in the direction, "I noticed."
"But that is not what brought you here. In all the time I've co-owned this bar with O'Mally, you have never come in here. Why now?"
Victoria was one of the most stunningly beautiful women around. I often wished I had her looks, might help me find a good boyfriend. She reached over and gave me something. A metal locket. Inside. There was a picture of her holding a child lovingly in her arms. She declared, "I miss you, my daughter. We all do. Come back to us. Where you belong."
Having vampire royalty in my blood was not something I found comforting. I was still ashamed of the awful things that vampires did. Even though my clan was very progressive, there were still clans like Beltaziar's. And his clan was the typical vampire clan. Most clans behaved like his, with disregard for the general public and the humanity of the races. That being vampires and lycans and humans and familiar-aliens.
I took a long sip then neatly sat the German mug down. "I can't be the daughter that you want me to be, mother. It's not that I don't admire what you've done with the clan. How the others have revered respect for you and your authority. But you have to understand how I feel. . ."
Victoria countered compassionately, "I did it all for you. When you were young, I saw how much the reality of being a vampire distressed you and made a decision way back then, that our clan would strive to do better. Instead being part of the problem, our clan is at the forefront of being part of the solution. Surely you see this."
Just as we were starting to reach some area of mutual understanding, a woman came up to my booth. She was obviously upset an in need of help. Victoria sensed this and departed after leaving an invitation open for more conversation. I then asked the woman to sit down and she began to tell me her story. She had read how I was instrumental in solving the Molly Fox crime and that made me some what of a celebrity. I listened and handed out advice. Looked like my business was taking a turn for the upside an I'd find myself knee deep in another case soon.