Flash: Still See His Teeth (Pets 3)

Photo by Guido Coppa on Unsplash

“Thank you for taking the time to see me, Dr. Longfurrow.” After shaking his hand, Christine Wall sat down opposite the director of Alternative Medicine in the windowless office, that somehow still felt light and airy. Pale wood paneling, sealed variegated sandstone flooring, and a high ceiling made the repurposed mining shaft a modern wonder. Local artists paintings of the Mojave Desert added bright bursts of color, while indigenous pottery and woven blankets added a feeling of comfort. The only concession to business was the heavy wooden desk and the high-end ergonomic chairs. She noted the inkblot center pad was clean, but the in and out boxes had neat stacks of paper with today’s date. No pens were in sight, likely stored within the desk. A balance between something in use but not used much. The only weird thing was the skeleton in one corner, a little shorter than the standard seen in most doctor’s offices. As a medical research facility, not out of place, but her understanding was Alternative Medicine specialized in blood reproduction and storage research not bones.

“Thank you for accepting an after-hours appointment, Detective.” He smiled without showing teeth. “Today’s experiment didn’t allow one to walk-away. I hope the drive out wasn’t bad.”

She laughed. “No problems once I got outside city limits. Inside, well, you know what Las Vegas traffic is like, Dr. Longfurrow.”

“I do indeed.” The man brushed his longish hair back, giving a clear view of his dark eyes. “And please, call me Reggie.”

“Would you mind if I record our interview, Reggie?” Christine took out her cell phone to place on the desk between them.

The businessman stared at it a moment, considering. “I do believe I might. Before we begin, may I ask exactly what this is about?”

The detective reached to pull her phone back.

“No, leave it out. Just so I can make sure you don’t turn on the recording by accident.” The welcoming tones Reginald had been using turned as icy as the man’s hand felt when she shook it.

She jerked her hand back in surprise, glancing up at his black eyes. His eyes, for a moment, took on the dead stare many of the owners of the casinos had. “Um. Okay.” Christine cleared her throat “I’m here about,” she pulled out her handwritten notes that she used since about half the time her phone got confiscated before she could see people in Vegas, “a Miss Erica Halverson. I understand she worked for you as an accountant.”

The man’s eyes crinkled at the edges and the lips curled a little more, revealing a flash of teeth. “Ah, yes.”

“Do you need to consult someone to make sure she works for you?” Christine was used to the corporate run-around of avoiding admitting anything.

“No, I’m well aware of Miss Halverson’s position in my company.” Dr. Longfellow leaned back a little. “That is before we released her four days ago. Are you here about her embezzlement?”

“Embezzlement? No, that would be a different department. Which officers are you working with?” Christine pulled out a pencil and made a note in her pad.

“Officers Connell and Rickerd. We’ve been working with then since she was fired.”

“I’m surprised it didn’t come up when we searched her name in the database for priors.” Christine raised her eyes again to meet the black orbs, but she kept wanting to look away at one of the blankets behind him or the really well done sunset over Red Rock Canyon landscape. She forced her eyes back. “She disappeared three days ago.”

“Did she now?”

The speculative, satisfied tone was completely at odds for someone now at the top of her list for foul play. “Yes.” Christine narrowed her eyes, tapping her pencil against her pad. “You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”

“Why would I?” He laughed, a rich, deep laugh, one that invited you to join the joke, and Christine’s stomach flipped. “But, if I were speculating, Miss Halverson either took the quarter million she stole from me and ran, or whoever she owed the money to might have collected it with interest.”

Having not heard anything about owing money from Erica’s family and friends during the six hours since she got assigned the case, Christine raised an eyebrow. “She owed money?”

“Usually, one doesn’t start stealing without a good cause. People are not villains by nature, they become villains out of habit.” Dr. Longfurrow pulled out his phone. “Let me call up my head of finance, she can help explain what our audit revealed.” The man tapped in a number and set it on the center of the desk beside her own. When someone answered, he said, “Mary, mi amiga, perdon por llamarte a casa. I have you on speaker phone with a Detective Wall. She is investigating the Halverson incident from another angle. Could you log onto your computer?”

“De nada, Don Reginald. Las ninas ya estan en la cama. Un momento.”

Christine waited, making a note that the very white research professional spoke flawless Spanish, though with the same underlaying accent indicating neither English nor Spanish was his native language – “Good Spanish, accent?”. Beside that note she scratched he also talked to staff on friendly terms.

“Do you understand Spanish, Detective?” Dr. Longfurrow asked.

“Not as well as you seem to, Reggie. Enough to get by on the streets, but I bring in a translator for interviews.”

“Very good. Mary, did you hear that?”

“Si, Don Reginald, I speak English.”

Mary’s accent could steam tamales. If Christine needed to interview her directly, she would need to bring Ramirez. No wait, he sucked at business things, it would have to be Solorzano. She hoped Ana wasn’t undercover again.

“Ask your questions.” The research doctor waved at his phone.

Christine hoped the other detectives would forgive her for stepping on their case, but a missing person took precedence. “Um, how much did Miss Halverson steal?”

“She steal $297, 642.32.”

“I’m assuming it was over a period of time.”


“When was the first incident of the theft?”

“Ah, four month ago. Nine June. She embezzle two thousand that day.”

“Why did it take four months to find the theft?”

“She good. Otherwise, no hire her, si? Found in quarterly check. Investigate a month to catch total.”

“And when did you report it to the proper authorities?”

“I report to Don Reginald when investigate start.”

“I mean like to the police.”

“Don Reginald do so.”

Christine leaned back in the chair, glancing at the business owner. “Thank you, Mary.”

“De nada. Algo mas, Don Reginald?”

Dr. Longfellow leaned forward, “No,” he glanced up at the Detective who gave him a slight nod, “Gracias por su ayuda y tiempo. Buenas noches.”

“Buenas noches.” The glow on the cell phone faded after the green circle turned red.

The handsome twenty-something male, who looked far too young to finished an advance degree and become the business owner of a multi-million dollar research facility, pulled his phone back and slipped it inside his tailored jacket. Must be nice to come from money.

“May I ask when you reported the embezzlement to the police?”

“Fifteen minutes after she was escorted off premises.” Dr. Longfellow responded. “We confronted her in a secured area, and she admitted to a gambling habit, begging forgiveness for her addiction and promising to enter therapy. We provided the detectives the recording … hmm … yesterday? This morning? Let me see.” He reached into his outgoing pile, flipping through a few pages. “Ah, yes, this morning at ten we sent it by courier to the station.”

Christine wrote down “Therapy” on her pad beside Cancun and collectors. “Why did you not suggest checking into therapy as option?”

“Detective, she had a quarter million dollars,” He shook his head sadly. “of my company’s money. Money being used in medical research to save lives. Being so near the strip, we have had gambling addicts before and have an extensive program in place to help our workers. She did not avail herself of it. So, she either ran or committed suicide.”

“Suicide?” Christine jerked up.

“Suicide by mob, or,” Reginald smiled, this time showing his full teeth with two very pointy canines on the outside, “by me.”

Christine gulped, then whispered, “Suicide?”

“I would recommend marking this a cold case, Detective Wall.” The researcher, and who knew what else, lips lowered into his welcoming smile and Christine relaxed just a bit, slipping from defcon 9 to 8. “Miss Halverson is never going to show up again, anywhere, ever. No need to waste resources.”

Dr. Longfurrow stood and offered her his arm. “Would you like a tour of the facility?”

Christine tucked her phone away on her belt holster, considering the arm and the display of teeth. “Thank you.”


By the time Christine returned to the precinct, it was well after midnight. She sat at her desk and, finally, allowed herself to start shaking. Putting her head on the scarred desk, tears leaked out of the corner of her eyes onto her jacket.

“Anything wrong, hot shot?”

“No Walker.”

She heard the chair opposite hers pull out and a heavy coffee mug hit the table, no Styrofoam cups for him. “Comeon, tell Daddy Eldrige what is wrong.” The black officer leaned over and touched her arm.

Christine jerked it back, but pulled up, letting the older Senior Detective see her red, wet face.

“Oh, that looks bad.” He tilted his head to the side, “Golden Bar bad or Randy Pithouse bad.”

Christine shook her head. “One without other cops bad.” Detective Walker was a longtime friend of the family and got her into law enforcement. He would understand.

“It’s Vegas, we’ll find something.” He nodded to her computer, “Enter what you gotta and then we can cut lose.”

Staring at the computer like staring into a tunnel waiting for the train to hit, she bit her lip. She pushed back the wobbly chair and stood. “It’s a cold case.” Christine closed her eyes and choked back a sob, then sighed, shaking her shoulders. “It’s a cold case and can wait until morning.”

Christine clocked out, then went to the cage and turned in her belt and weapons to the officer in charge there. Walker did the same, informing the balding man, “Going drinking, we’ll pick these up once we are sober again.”

“Don’t drink and drive.” The man told them.

“Never do.” Eldridge waved as they walked away.

Christine whispered under her breath, “You always do.”

“No more than three,” Eldridge jiggled his belly, “and that is still under quota at my body weight. Being fat has some advantages.”

“The chief is going to make you lose weight soon.”

“Not before retirement.” Walker laughed. “It isn’t worth the battle to him. One year and six months and four days out.”

Pulling out of the station parking lot, he chose a direction away from the strip, toward where they both lived. After a few moments he asked, “So, what happened today?”

“I interviewed the CEO of Alternative Medicine for my missing person case.” Christine stared out the window at the passing neon signs.

“Alternative Medicine, good company.”

Christine looked over at Walker. “Really?”

“Yeah, when Charlene had cancer, before she died, they took her in for a clinical trial.” Walker activated the left turn signal while they waited at a light. “They were testing 3-D printing of blood.”

“Blood, right.” The younger detective shuddered.

“Yeah, her type of cancer destroyed red blood cells.” The light changed and he turned. “Anyway, that shit worked. Printed blood, who would have thought? And they paid for everything during the trail that insurance wouldn’t cover. Even gave a little extra, kept me out of debt until funeral costs hit.”

“You ever dig out of that?” Christine asked, back to staring out the window.

“Yeah, the guys put together a collection, and the kids helped out some too.” Walker brought the car to a stop. “Alright, we’re here.”

Christine looked up at the neon sign on the outside of the beat-up bar. All it said was “The Dive.” Sounded like the perfect place.

Walker directed her to a sticky table in the back with the vinyl seats were less split than most before he walked over to the bar.

After dropping two large beers on the table, and a shot of rotgut for her since she wasn’t driving, he spun around the chair and sat down. “So, spill.”

“I think I’m comprised.” She stared at the foam on the beer.

“Oh.” Walker slid his beer from one hand to the other on the table. “That’s a problem.”


“How?” He took a pull of his drink while waiting her out.

“Um,” she started. “The CEO…um.” She pulled the shot to her and slammed it back, shaking. The Dive’s whisky didn’t have a top shelf, but certainly had a bottom shelf. Maybe even a basement shelf.

Turning the cup upside down, she placed it on the table.

She cleared her throat one more time. “Do you believe in vampires?”

“Vampires?” Eldrige turned his head sideways considering. “And one has comprised you?

“Yeah … no … I don’t know.” Christine pulled her hair out of its pins, stacking them on the table in front of her beside her untouched beer. “He offered to pay for house repairs.”

Walker nodded his head sagely. “Your house is in need of repairs.”

“Yeah, but how did he know?”

“Who’s he?”

“The CEO, Dr. Reginald Longfurrow.” After scrunching her hair around to release tension, Christine reached for the beer and took a drink.

“And did you accept the offer?”

“No, but then he offered anything else he could help me with…”

Walker drew a finger down through the condensation. “And you suggested something.”

“Yeah … no … yeah.” Christine gulped down half the beer. “I … I already knew I would make it a cold case. Suicide, he said it was suicide, and she had to have known, right? She worked for him. In a freaking place that makes blood. So, it is kind-of like suicide. So why not? … I said I needed a new engine for the clunker, you know, so Angelo would have something to drive when he finishes driver’s training in December.”

“Not a bad choice,” her lifelong advisor, the one who told her her marriage had been an extremely bad choice from the very beginning, who never cut corners, but also said, do what you got to do to come home once she had her babies, didn’t chastise her for taking the bribe. “No one will question why the POS is still moving, at least no more than the fact it is still moving.”

“But I shouldn’t have,” begging for forgiveness or accusation, or forgetfulness colored Christine’s voice. “Should I?”

“If he really is a vampire—”

“Wait, vampires are for real?” Christine squeaked.

“Yeah,” Walker sighed, “they are. And if he really is a vampire, well their code of ethics is as fucked as the mob. Tit for tat sort of thing. Unlike the mob, he won’t expect follow-up. You helped him, he helped you. You are even. You aren’t bought.”

“Really?” Hope wrestled with fear in the alcoholic pool of Christine’s stomach filled with the whisky and, when did she get two empty beers? She blinked. “I’m good?”

“Yeah, you should be in the clear, unless you want to work with him more.” Walker waved his hand. “Some of the monsters like keeping law enforcement around like pets.”

“There is more?”

“Yeah, but here is Vegas I think the vampires are the top of the food chain. Well, except for the mob. It’s been a while since they duked it out.” Walker finished his drink. “Mostly they stay out of each other’s way. The vamps only run the Coven-Tree Casino and a few of the brothels; they remain more legit than the rest. Have to, since they can’t have the light of day shining in their business, literally.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Well, working in the organized crime unit, you run into things at the higher end of crime, and vamps, they live long enough to get money.” He gathered their glasses and came back with another three. Two for her and one for him.

Unlike Walker, she wasn’t pushing three hundred pounds of muscle and fat stretched across a six nine frame. If she downed another two, she would be staggering out of her and paying the piper with a big hangover when she woke up after passing out.

The detective grabbed a mug and chugged half.

“Why…” she burped, “why you no tell me about all this?”

“Because the underworld … and the underworld … you don’t need that shit in your life, hot shot.”

“Well, it is now, so what should I do?”

“You can step away—” he started before being cut off.

“Not happening.” She finished her third mug.

“You can step away until Angelo graduates.” He suggested.

“Oh,” Christine held up a finger, “maybe, that would be good. Stay alive until the kids are out of the hose … house.”

“You got one out already. She is nearly done her associate.”

“Yessh, Graduating early from shummer clashes.” Christine face broke into her first smile of the night, rightly proud of her accomplishment after her husband abandoned her.

“Exactly, and Angelo already is working in the trades.”

“Gradu-eats in two years, got appretiz-ships offers.” She pulled the other mug to her, “Wait, it broke.” She stared in confusion at the empty mug.

“Another one?”

“Yesh please. I can still see his teeth.”

(words 2948, first published 9/29/2022)

Pets for Vampires Series (Order of Creation)

  1. Pets: Another One, Reginald? (5/17/2020)
  2. Veronica Visits (Pets 2) (6/7/2020)
  3. Still See His Teeth (Pets 3) (11/29/2020)
  4. Hair of Dog (Pets for Vampires 4) (12/6/2020)