She’d wanted a blood red sunset, vermilion clouds screaming skywards over the Empire State and night piled bruiseblack at the horizon, but the day fades as it often does in New York in January, with demure peaches and yellows. It seemed unfitting for a decisive battle, like Rommel showing up in baby-blue plus fours, but while Creighton Crossley could do many things, controlling the weather was not one of them.
She and NYPD detective Macky Humboldt sit in the lobby of Louis’ building, waiting for the last light to fade so they could be sent up. Creighton was peeved to notice that in the presence of a bona fide officer of the law, the unpleasant little doorman was practically obsequious, and so she ignores both of them out of spite, reading the new Murakami with overacted hauteur. She and Macky had come to an agreement - one that Creighton called collaborative quid pro quo, and that Macky called one back scratching the other - but, linguistic differences aside, they were set to meet the third member of their odd triumvirate.
“Do these things actually work?” Macky asks, brusquely fingering the gold crucifix looped around his thick neck.
“Never have for me,” Creighton looks up from her book. “Then again, I’m an atheist, so…” Macky looks vaguely affronted, and Creighton sniffs. “It’s not like I’m a Satan worshipper. I simply reject the premise that there are any deities, benevolent or otherwise, who can affect physical properties or human behavior. It’s like believing in ghosts.”
“Uh, you believe in vampires,” Macky accuses, face going an unflattering shade of ham.
“I have proof of vampires, duh,” she exasperates back. The elevator slides open, and Louis glides out. “Exhibit A, QED” and they troop up to Louis’ apartment, Macky muttering the alphabet all the way up. Creighton’s abandoned platform booties are lined up neatly next to the exit. She lets out an involuntary “aah,” and scoops the pleated leather and swooped wood to her chest.
“You left your shoes here, mon ange,” Louis says silkily. Macky goggles. She flings them at the Aubusson.
“I’ve never seen them before in my life,” wincing as a wooden heel bashes into the leg of a metal side table. “Let’s discuss why we’re here. For the first time. Ever.” Macky looks unconvinced, but perches awkwardly in a chair too delicate for his bulk.
“Very well. Minerva has finally graduated, if you’ll excuse my pun, from the indigent to the Ivy league. I think you’re both familiar with Oh, the Horace Mann-ity: Scions Slain, and Trinity of Murder: Triple Homicide Rocks Manhattan Prep School.” Louis brandishes copies of the Post. “It goes too far.”
“We’ve been stumped,” Macky allows. “If you think it’s her - uh, Minerva is a girl name, right? - it’s my duty to help you stop it.” His flush has receded during the elevator ride, and he actually looks solemn and brave in the light of the chandelier.
“Right,” Creighton rises to standing. She’s wearing flats in deference to the mission, and barely comes up to Louis’ collarbone. She fluffs her hair to gain an inch. “We know her lair. We know the consequences if we fail. Let’s go.”
They exit the lobby with more bravura than they entered, the Igor-doorman rushing stooped to open the gilded front door. Creighton almost expects him to hiss “Masssster,” but he just efficiently hails a cab. “Eh,” she thinks. “Wrong narrative. Either way.”
Minerva’s building looms grotesque in sodium arc. Macky has his hand on his gun, Creighton’s rummaging in her coat, and Louis just looks annoyingly serene. There’s no guard, this time, and Creighton throws out a hand. “Is she in there?”
“I can sense her,” Louis replies cryptically, and so they creep in the door. Minerva is standing in a blaze of white light, girded in Roman armor, a disgruntled owl clutching her wrist.
“An owl?” Creighton can’t help but sputter. “Taking this namesake thing a bit seriously, aren’t we?”
“The mortal speaks,” Minerva says in a venomous but surprisingly bubblegum voice. “Glaukos, sic!” but the owl just rearranges his grey feathers and blinks his eyes against the brightness.
“In Latin, sic means ‘how it appears in the original,’ dummy,” Creighton says. “Not ‘attack.’ That’s dogs.” Minerva scowls prettily, but her eyes are already skating away.
“Louis! How lovely to see you, darling. It’s been ages.” She titters.
“Minerva,” Louis sketches a half-bow. Creighton’s getting pissed. She knows him?
“Oh, what was the last time I saw you?” Minerva trails a hand down her hip. “Ooh, the baths at Sokobanja! The blood, the steam - I still think on it fondly.” Macky, who they’d all forgotten, pulls out his service weapon.
“Hands up, demon spawn,” he yells, Brooklyn accent coming out in his stress. Minerva laughs and flicks her fingers at him. He collapses against the far wall, flight too quick to see.
“I’m busy catching up, how rude!” Minerva giggles. “Perhaps later I will have you shoot yourself with your own pistol,” clasping her hands like a girl at Christmas. Louis is just looking at her with wide, limpid eyes.
“Oh, fuck this,” Creighton yells in frustration. She pulls a dart gun out of her coat and fires at Minerva. The fine, hairlike needle impacts in the hollow of her pale throat. “I do everything I think possible or acceptable to escape from this trap!”
“Silly girl,” Minerva says, amused. “You really think that this -” the dart bobs nauseatingly with her laughter, “would stop -” but she’s suddenly on the floor, writhing. Creighton leaps past Louis’ ensorcelled stance and jams her stake into Minerva’s reddening chest.
“Derrida, bitch,” she says triumphantly. Louis shakes his head like someone coming out of a trance. Macky stirs in the rubble.
Back at the apartment, both of the men are staring at Creighton in something approaching wonder.
“What was that,” Macky manages, “in the dart?”
“Oh,” Creighton preens. “I’ve always wondered about the sunlight thing, phenotypically. I mean, metaphorically it all adds up, what with foul fiends” her eyes meaningfully skewer Louis “banished from the light. But it had to have some physiological basis. So I hypothesized that vampires suffer from acute sensitivity to Vitamin D.”
“You took out that bitch,” Macky says, incredulous, “with a vitamin?”
“Well, and a stake,” Creighton replies, edging toward smug. “It was just a hypothesis.”
“One that, if I may say so, turned out to be well-founded,” Louis offers, still looking a bit dazed.
“You,” Creighton spits, “you don’t even get to, you don’t even -“
“All’s well that ends well,” Macky interrupts.
“Was that Shakespeare?” Creighton cooes like a proud kindergarten teacher.
Creighton Crossley is luxuriating with a well-deserved Boscia face mask and a glass of Red Breast. To be honest, it’s her fourth glass. She’s scrolling through the texts on her iPhone, all from Louis. Most of them center on something like “I’m sorry.” Then another. “I hope we can - work - together again,” she reads, spilling a fine stream of whiskey down her chin.
“Whatever, whatever, whatever,” she chants, as she deletes each one.
“Please reply. I’d miss you, ma petite.”
“Whatever,” she says again, but she doesn’t delete this one, and before going to bed for the next eleven hours, Creighton Crossley carefully blots the booze from her Valenciennes lace nightgown.
- goldenmesh said: The vitamin D dart hypothesis is pretty awesome.
- goldenmesh likes this
- logodrome said: “Oh, Horace Mann-ity”? Oh, Bartleby!
- portersnotebook said: Science and cranky owls!
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- courtbouillon said: Not the end! Alas!
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- mollyculetheory posted this