For Want of a Toothpick
The arrival of the vampire, who immediately sat in her section of Merlotte’s, almost made her lose her cool. First, some out of town yahoos thought just because she was more endowed in the chest area then other girls, they had the right to fondle her “goods.” Then Jane Bodehouse had gotten so wasted, Sookie called up the woman’s son to escort her out of the bar. When she felt the void that heralded a vampire’s presence, she almost groaned. Years of training prevented this and she plastered a smile on her face that was as false as the supposed “Southern Charm” her fellow Bon Temps residents possessed. She sauntered over to Sam, whose shoulders were raised and eyes bore into the vampire’s body.
“What is it Sookie?” he inquired. Sookie suppressed the urge to snort; if Sam honestly thought that lying about his species was going to get to like him, he was high or delusional or both.
“I think Bon Temps has gotten its first vampire!” she squeaked in excitement as if she’d just won the lottery.
Sam, used to her antics, rolled his eyes. Sookie ignored his rudeness, and strode over to the newcomer. He was dark haired and average sized for a man. However, it was his eyes bore into predatorily. While she might have dismissed this thought under normal circumstances, he was a vampire and considered all the people in this diner as potential prey, she noticed he discriminately watched her and ignored everyone else in the bar. She’d definitely need to keep her wits about her, if she was going to make it out of this alive.
“Hello, my name is Sookie; I’ll be looking after you this evening. Is there anything on the menu you’d like?” While she did not like this man at all, her Gran raised her to be polite. Moreover, her sweet tone would lull the vampire into a false sense of security.
The vampire did not volunteer his own name, which made Sookie disdain him more. “Do y’all have Tru Blood?”
She shrugged slightly. “Sorry, Sam bought a case a couple of years back, but no one used it and it went bad.” The incident validated Sam’s stupidity. That wasn’t to say Sam was a terrible businessman: he just occasionally made stupid decisions, like randomly buying the Tru Blood, and keeping Arlene, in spite of the fact that the woman skipped her shifts frequently, leaving the other waitresses to cover for her.
“I’ll just have a glass of red wine then.”
“I’ll be right back with your order,” she replied. If he wanted to order something he couldn’t consume it was none of her business. Hopefully, it would make the other patrons less nervous.
Her lofty goals smashed to pieces when she encountered Tara sitting at the bar, nursing a shot of bourbon. “Don’t tell me, you lost your job.”
“That bastard was asking for it,” Tara grumbled. “I mean there’s only so many times you can let people touching you slide.”
“Oh.” Sookie didn’t blame Tara for standing up for herself; in fact, there were times she envied her friend’s strength and wished that she was strong. “Well, worst comes to worst, you could always get a job here as a bartender,” she suggested. “I’ll even write a character reference.”
Tara chuckled. “Girl, you’re always seein’ the good in people. I’ll have to think about it.”
If only her friend knew how much she distrusted Mr. Dark and Broody. She poured a glass of red wine, and was returning to the vampire’s booth, when Arlene intercepted her. “The Ratrays just sat in your section,” she warned. There were very few times Arlene genuinely empathized with someone; having to serve the Ratrays was one of those times.
Mack and Denise sat in the same booth as the vampire. In fact, Denise was sitting so close to the vampire, she was practically sitting in his lap.
Wonder how much we’ll get for the vampire’s blood,” Mack pondered.
Sookie swiftly placed the drink in front of the vampire, and when neither Denise nor Mack suggested any orders, she stated loudly, “Don’t go anywhere! I’ll be right back with a big pitcher of beer for y’all.” Although she held a lot of distaste for this vampire, no being deserved to be killed by drainers.
She efficiently filled a pitcher with the first beer tap she could find, not caring if it wasn’t a brand the Ratrays liked. She was on her way back to her section carrying the pitcher, when Tara interrupted her.
“Sookie,” she stated simply, and pointed.
The booth that the vampire and the Ratrays occupied was bereft. Dammit. She scanned, struggling to screen out the other patrons, before finally locating the three in the corner of the parking lot. Grabbing the chain that Sam left in his unlocked pick-up truck, she dashed across the parking lot. The first thing that struck her was that the vampire wasn’t fighting as hard as she would have expected him to.
“Get away from him!” she yelled, brandishing the chain.
“And what’s a fat, little bitch like you gonna do ‘bout it,” Mack taunted.
Sookie hissed, and smacked Mack with the chain, knocking him several feet back. She swung at Denise, but the woman was smarter than her husband was and ducked. Just as Sookie finally thought they were safe, she heard the engine of the Ratrays beat-up Volkswagen Rabbit kick-start.
“Move!” she yelled at the vampire, and jumped back, narrowly missing being run over by the Ratrays. After checking herself for bruises, she glanced at the vampire. “Are you ok?”
The vampire stood up and ignored her for a few moments. “I could drain you in this parking lot and no one would ever know ‘bout it.”
Sookie was appalled. “Excuse me, but, Sam and my co-workers would notice if I suddenly “disappeared.” For another, I just saved your ungrateful butt from drainers, and you haven’t even told me your name.”
“My apologies, my name is Bill, and thank you for helping me back there.” Although, he attempted to act like a Southern gentlemen, Sookie could discern from his “wooden” facial expression that he was insincere. Fortunately, Sheriff Dearborn arrived at the scene, preventing any further conversation. After giving the police her statement returned to work, only for Sam to inform her that she could “have the rest of the night off,” which brought a smile to her face. While Sam’s one-sided obsession with her was nauseating, he could sometimes be sweet. As she drove home, Sookie mentally compiled a list of things to do to deal with her “situation.” Her godfather, Mr. Cataliades would need to be informed. After that, she would most likely have to wait and see what Bill’s intentions were.
Sookie crept down the stairs, and peaked into the living room. Vampire Bill, as the locals Bon Temps dubbed him, was still sitting on her grandmother’s couch playing the role of Southern gentleman. To add insult to injury, her beloved Gran attempted subtlety to play matchmaker between Sookie and Bill. Not that she could entirely hold Gran accountable for her actions. In fact, she wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Compton glamoured her grandmother into liking him.
She called Mr. C and had an appointment with him at his office in Shreveport, but her godfather / supe lawyer suggested that she continue, either “observing” Bill’s behavior and make a response based on that, or she could request outside help. He’d suggested contacting Eric Northman, who was the vampire sheriff for Area Five of Louisiana, for assistance in “dealing with” Bill. However, Sookie was loath to ask for outside assistance in dealing with her problem. Moreover, Bill had not done anything to harm either herself or her grandmother. Sookie set aside a few minutes each day and practiced utilizing her light, that way when Bill the Broody made his move, she’d be ready.
Unfortunately, her grandmother chose that particular moment to notice her presense. “Sookie, darling, did you know Mr. Compton was in the Civil War. In fact, I’ve convinced him to speak at the Descendents of the Glorious Dead meeting.”
Her cheerful tone made Sookie want to vomit up the chicken noodle soup she’d ingested for dinner. Instead, she smiled slightly. “I may have heard something to that effect,” she replied. She was tempted to escape to her room, but knew her grandmother would not allow her to do that while they had a “guest” in the house. Therefore, she walked into the living room and feigned interest in Bill’s “war stories,” all the while planning how to deal with him when the time came.
The day or night came, when the Ratrays seemingly pinpointed her location and ambushed her. It was times like these, that Sookie was grateful that she practiced using her light, as the blasts of light buffeted Mack and Denise backwards. However, she knew her light was finite, and she would soon run low. After evading a strike from Denise, she kneed Mack in the stomach. He immediately bowled over and went down, spitting out the toothpick he’d been chewing on.
Suddenly, Denise wrapped her arms around Sookie in a vice grip. “No one makes a fool outta me and my husband.”
Sookie sank her nails into the woman’s arm, forcing Denise to release her. “Believe me, you and your drug addict husband are already the laughing stocks of the town.”
Just then, Bill came running out of the woods. “Don’t worry Sookeh, I will save you!” However, the foolish vampire tripped over a tree root and fell onto the toothpick Mack Ratray dropped earlier. Wood to the heart killed a vampire instantly, no matter if the wood came from a stake or a small, seemingly benign toothpick. Either way, William Thomas Compton ceased to exist and dissolved into a gross pile of goo.
Sookie swore, and confiscating Denise’s cellphone, she used it to dial Mr. C’s number. “Listen, Desmond. It looks like I’m going to need Sheriff Northman’s help after all.”
“So you’re saying that Bill Compton, who was no spring chicken by vampire standards, allied himself with drainers and then tripped and impaled himself with a toothpick?” Sheriff Northman chuckled to himself. Although she was unable to read anything in his mind, Sookie discerned from his body language that there was no love lost between Bill and the vampire sheriff of Area Five.
“Yeah, pretty much,” she replied nervously.
The guy suddenly abandoned all pretense of maturity let a loud belly laugh. “Oh, don’t worry, you aren’t in any trouble. If anything Compton’s lucky he’s dead.”
“Why is that?” Sookie admitted to herself that she did not grasp most of the logistics involved in the vampire justice system.
“He did not report the drainers, which are threat to our kind collectively, and then he glamoured the drainers into attacking a human, which would have caused a lot of paperwork for me.”
“Oh.” She was saved from having to contribute anything more when Pam, who appeared to be Northman’s progeny entered the room.
“Here’s the files that brooding waste of space kept.” She eyed Sookie briefly, before leaving.
Northman skimmed the pages quickly, his eyes moving faster than Sookie could follow. As he finished reading, Sookie noticed that he frowned ever so slightly. The guy almost zoned out and seemed fixated on the wall.
After several minutes, Sookie decided to bite. “So, um Sheriff Northman sir?”
“Eric,” the vampire replied. “My name’s Eric.”
“So, Eric, what is wrong with those papers?”
“I suppose that would depend on your definition of ‘wrong’ is. Apparently, Sophie-Anne, Queen of Louisiana decided that she could send Bill to procure without letting me know about it!” He was so irate, that Sookie was surprised he hadn’t smashed any of the tacky knickknacks on his desk.
“So they went over your helmet?” Sookie guessed.
For the first time during the meeting, Eric genuinely smiled. “Yes, I suppose you could say that.”
Sookie mentally reviewed her options. She stood very little to no chance of beating the Sophie-Anne, who in spite of her cowardice was a five hundred year old vampire queen who could call on all of her subjects to defend her. While Sookie was unafraid for herself, she refused to put her beloved Gran, or her brother Jason in harm’s way. However, she realized that her answer was right in front of her. If she played her cards right, that bitch wouldn’t know what hit her.
“I have a proposal for you. I’m a telepath, and I can read anyone’s mind, well, anyone that isn’t a vampire. I’ll give you use of my gift, and we can sign a contract that will limit that bitch queen’s access to me.”
“That sounds reasonable to me; however I would like to pay you for your services. After all, you deserve to be compensated for the use of your rare and special gift.”
A week ago, she would have said ‘no way’ and left, but she had to admit the idea of more cash sounded nice, considering Sam was only paying her minimum wage even though Sookie had worked at Merlotte’s since she was eighteen. “How much?”
Eric named a figure.
“That’s way too much,” she groaned. “And besides, you’re not taking into account that Sophie-Anne isn’t going to be too thrilled that you didn’t hand me over to her.”
Eric shrugged. “I’m twice her age, and it won’t hurt to remind her that I could squash like a bug.”
“Fine,” Sookie conceded. It would be helpful to have some extra money in case Gran had to go to the hospital again.
“I’ll have my day person deliver the contract to you by tomorrow afternoon.”
Sookie almost shook his hand, but restrained herself. Vampires did not shake hands. As she walked to her beat up car, she reflected that her life had just gotten a lot more complicated. She’d witnessed a vampire die, and a vampire queen wanted to claim her. Not to mention she was crushing on her new boss, who was a thousand year old Viking who could have any woman he wanted, and then some.
“Well, at least my life isn’t in danger of being boring,” she thought, as she drove off back to Bon Temps.