The pieces finally start to come together for Detective Don Schanke.
1. I always thought that Knight was a little strange. The fact that he freaks out at the sight of blood and has a skin condition that prevents him from working daylight hours, made me wonder how he ever became a homicide detective in the first place. I'll admit he's a good cop, but sometimes he's just a little too good. And I have to ask myself, how is it he's able to do some of the things he does. Like tonight when we were chasing that slimy gunman through the alley. Taking cover behind a trash dumpster, I almost fire on Nick because I thought he was the perp. I wasn't expecting him to be up on the fire escape about thirty feet up and I still have no idea how he got up there so fast and so quietly. Anyway, the perp starts shooting at me and I return fire. He catches a bullet and goes down.
2. Then I make a mistake. I let my guard down, still wondering how Nick got up on the fire escape. Next thing I know, the perp is back on his feet and he's one second away from putting a bullet right between my eyes. And before I can even lift my gun to fire at him, Nick is on the ground right in front of the guy and punches his lights out. There's no way he should have been able to move that fast, but he does. I wanted to question him on just how he managed that little trick but the thought completely slips my mind when he comes up to me and starts talking.
3. He gets right in my face saying something to me, but I guess I sort of zone out for a moment because I swear I can't remember a single word he says. Anyway, backup arrives and after all the hoopla is over, I offer to drive Nick home. Since my car is in the shop, I tell him that I'll keep the Caddy for the day and pick him up for work tonight. I even offer to wash it for him. Now where that idea came from, I haven't a clue, but he's quick to accept. The sun is about to come up, so he tells me that he needs to ride in the trunk because of his sun allergy. I'm thinking, he's just overreacting. It can't be all that bad. I ask him, "What's a little sunburn?" To which, he replies, "I don't tan. I don't burn. I implode."
4. That gets me to thinking about when we first started working together and I asked why he drives the Caddy instead of something more conventional. And he said, "Trunk space. The 1962 Cadillac has more trunk space than any car made in the last thirty years." Hey, who can argue with logic like that? After dropping Nick off at his place, I stop off to see Nat to sign some forms. The perp ended up dying from the bullet I put in him, so that adds up to a ton of paperwork. And I know that I should probably be thinking about how I just killed someone in self defense, but instead, my mind is still on my weird partner. I ask Natalie if she thinks there's something different about Nick, that maybe he's some kind of psycho, which of course, she doesn't.
5. For some reason, I can't help but think that Nick is a little too gallant under fire, like the time that news crew was following us around and we had to go into a dangerous situation with a guy firing a machine gun at us. While everybody else is diving for cover, SuperNick just dashes on in, chases the guy outside and miraculously nails him without firing a shot. I never got the chance to see the video footage from that night. It somehow got destroyed or lost, but I sure wish I could have seen exactly what went on. All I know was that the guy was terrified of Nick, but he never would say why.
6. I tell Nat about how Nick acts like he's got nothing to lose or that he seems to think that he can't be killed. Of course, she defends his actions. I know she's got a thing for Mr. Irresistible and can only see him through rose-colored glasses. But me, I realize now just how little I honestly know of the guy. I start to worry that if he's thinking he's completely invincible, that one of these nights he's going to rush into a situation that might get us both killed. I don't want a partner who's an occupational safety hazard. If he's a certifiable nut case, I think I deserve to know now. I decide that I'm going to start asking questions and find out just who Nick Knight really is.
I go back to the precinct and try giving my partner a call, but as usual, he doesn't pick up during the day. When Captain Cohen drops by my desk, I can't help but let her know how bugged I am at my partner, and about how he always has to be the first cop on the scene charging in like he's at Normandy.
7. I think back to when we first started working together, and there was this hostage situation that Nick instinctively knew was going down blocks away from where we were headed. Dodging a spray of flying bullets, he's able to see the perp and his victim inside the darkened apartment, and tells me to get the guy talking while he goes round back. Hey, we're like on the third floor, so I'm wondering what 'round back' he's talking about. Anyway, next thing I know, I hear glass breaking. I'm not sure what happens, but either the guy all of a sudden jumps out of the closed window or my partner has just yanked him through it. For some reason, I never think to question him on exactly what went down that night.
8. I tell the captain that I must have worked 52 arrests with the guy and he's always the first on the scene. I'm Detective Tortoise while he's Detective Hare. Cohen takes my comments about Nick as somehow being a reaction to the shooting incident. She asks me if I'm all right with it. I tell her I'm fine. The perp was a cold-blooded murderer so I'm not too unhappy about putting him down. Still, the captain seems concerned. She practically gets all mushy as she offers to be available if I need to talk about it later. When she mentions that a background check is being done on the perp, it gives me an idea. To find out more about my mysterious partner, I figure I need to do a background check on him. I start by creating a list of the things I know about him so far. The one thing I know is that besides Nat, the only other woman who seems to be a constant in his life is that little French number named Janette. She owns that weird night club called the Raven. It's where Nick likes to hang out but doesn't like me to set foot in. I'm thinking that maybe now's a good time for a little visit.
9. When I get there, the place is all closed up. I try knocking but when I don't get an answer I think about the keys Nick gave me to drive his car. Just so happens that he's got a key on the ring that fits the door to the Raven. I let myself in and call out to Janette but still nobody answers. Man, I thought the place was spooky at night. It's just as creepy during the day. I'm reminded of the first time I visited the place without Nick along. This cute but really weird chick started coming on to me like I was James Bond, the young Elvis and Nick Knight all rolled up into one. Janette came along and interrupted what could have been the end of the line for me. I don't know what that chick had planned for me but I believed that Janette definitely saved me from a fate worse than death.
10. I've spent a little time with Janette since then. I remember when I had broken up with Myra and was looking for answers in a bottle, Janette offered a few encouraging words that turned me around and helped me to see what I was throwing away. That's when she told me about her and Nick and how they used to be a hot item but she left him because he started to get too clingy. Women...if you don't pay them enough attention, they feel ignored and if you pay them too much attention they feel smothered. Anyway, since me and Janette's got a little history behind us, I figure she wouldn't mind answering a few questions about her ex-lover. Since she's not present at the moment, I begin to poke around a little and come across an unlocked chest. Inside the chest, I find pictures. There's a recent picture of the Nightcrawler, the radio guy that Nick listens to almost religiously, and there's a picture of Janette in a costume dress looking like Scarlet O'Hara. Then I come across this really old picture of Janette, the Nightcrawler and Nick together. Looks like it was taken around the turn of the century or something.
11. While I'm studying the picture, Janette pops up out of nowhere, nearly scaring the life out of me. She's more than just a little ticked off at me for breaking and entering, but I'm quick to explain that the reason I'm there has to do with Nick. Apparently, I say the magic word because she calms down and is willing to sit down and talk to me. She explains that what I thought was a photo of the three of them taken over a hundred years ago, is really a picture of their grandparents. I find that almost impossible to believe but what other explanation could there be? Anyway, I start talking to her about Nick. I ask her if she's ever witnessed him doing anything bizarre or suicidal; which I'm guessing she hasn't by the way she's just looking at me like a shrink listening to the mad ravings of a mental patient.
She doesn't show much interest until I tell her about last night, when I shot the perp and nearly shot Nick as well. I get a full, "Oh dear," out of her at that point. Then I ask her what she knows about the Nightcrawler, because I'm thinking he's somehow tied up in there with how Nick acts. But as I'm talking, I find myself lost in her eyes and I'm thinking that I should just let all this drop, that I should just go home and get some rest. Suddenly, I sort of snap alert like I'd just dozed off to sleep for a moment. I realize how late it is and I decide its time to leave.
12. When I go outside, I find a traffic cop writing a ticket for the illegally parked Caddy. I don't gain any points with her when I identify myself as a fellow cop. She merely insists on seeing the car's registration. I figure it's got to be in the glove compartment, but I have trouble finding it. What I do find however, is a New York driver's license -- sans photo -- belonging to someone named Nicholas Forester. The thing's over thirty years old. Still, no current registration is found, so with parking ticket in hand, I head back to the office where I have Vera run a background check on the Forester license.
Man, oh man. I'm so exhausted that I doze off for a while and I dream about Janette and Nick hypnotizing me into dropping my investigation and forgetting the weird stuff I've seen Nick do. When Vera nudges me awake, she's got the info I requested on that driver's license. This time, there's a picture available, and except for the beard and mustache, this Forester guy looks exactly like Nick. Things are getting weirder and weirder.
13. I pay another visit to Nat and tell her what I've discovered so far. When I mention to her that I'm positive that both Nick and Janette have hypnotized me into forgetting things, she doesn't believe me. She still refuses to see that there's anything odd about him. I guess I've done the same thing for a long time. Even when the facts were staring me right in the face. I've even defended his actions to others. So what if he has an aversion to sunlight, that he has no family, he shies away from all social functions, still hasn't bought me not one meal, doesn't seem to ever eat himself -- not even doughnuts -- and he keeps bottled blood in his refrigerator? What's so eccentric about that? Hey, I may have overlooked all that stuff in the past, but not anymore.
I head back to the station and add a few more notes to the list I've been making using John Doe instead of Nick's name. And it's Vera (bless her heart) who figures out what has been eluding me all along. Reading the list over my shoulder, she quickly adds up the facts. "Allergic to sun, hypnotizes, needs blood. Oh, you're looking for a vampire, right?" Jackpot!
14. I rush out to the library and get a stack of books on vampires. As I'm reading about how vampires exist, I start to think about how some of Nick's actions fit the profile. I've seen just how far he'll go to avoid sunlight hitting him. And he's incredibly strong for someone who's not the muscular, bodybuilder type. I've seen him hold a man suspended out the window with just one hand. I believe he was actually angry enough to drop the poor slob, but I was able to talk him out of it. I recall the guy referring to him as a monster after Nick flung him like a rag doll onto the floor.
15. Then there's the blood he keeps in the refrigerator. He says he uses it in his oil painting, but that would mean he's using more blood than actual paint. Then again, if he really drinks the stuff, why is it he seems to gets so freaked out around bloody crime scenes? Or could it be that he's just trying to control himself around fresh human blood?
The book goes on to mention stuff about a vampire's aversion to religious symbols. I remember Nick almost had an accident while driving when someone innocently showed him a necklace with a cross on it. And there was that time that we had to stakeout a church and he passed out just from being inside it for a while. The more I think about it, the more it's beginning to all add up. I think my partner is a vampire!
16. I'm convinced that Nick isn't the only vampire. I believe that Janette's one too, and the master vampire has to be that Nightcrawler guy. I find a copy of the same picture of him that Janette had, in Nick's desk drawer. If I'm going to get any answers at all, I figure they've got to come right from the top. So, I go down to the radio station. The guy is even creepier in person, and it's probably not the greatest idea I've had to confront him like this, but I have to know. I ask him straight out if Nick is a vampire. Then I add, "Are you?" For a moment, I think he's going to sprout fangs and swoop in after me, but instead, he just looks at me like I'm a bug under his shoe and says, "You tell me."
17. So, I tell him about some of the weird things I've noticed about Nick, and like everybody else, I can tell that he just doesn't see it. He asks me what has changed in my life to make all these things about Nick suddenly so apparent. I tell him about last night, about the shootout and about me killing a man. He asks me how did it make me feel. I remember that my heart was beating like a rabbit at the time. When the guy managed to momentarily get back on his feet and draw on me, it would have been curtains for me if Nick hadn't been there to save my...
Jeez, have I been an idiot! Been running around all day butting my nose into Nick's affairs when the guy saved my life! The Nightcrawler begins to put it all into prospective for me. He can tell that I'm tired, stressed and traumatized and he tells me that any shock to the system like that can play on the imagination. And boy, has my imagination been working overtime today. The Nightcrawler advises me to go home to my family and let Nick be with his. He confesses that he and Janette are the only family Nick has. He implies that Nick is adopted and of course is not a vampire. (Hey, I knew that.) I thank the man for listening to my ramblings and ask that he not tell Nick anything about my little visit. Before I can leave, the Nightcrawler offers one last comment. "Detective, you asked me if Nicholas is different. Au contraire. The Nicholas that I know is very much like you. He doesn't like to kill people either."
It's been a hell of a busy day for me, so I book off sick from work to get some much needed rest and get my head back on straight. First thing in the morning, I go out and finish up a little business. I remember I promised to wash Nick's Cadillac. It's the least I can do for the man who saved my life. My partner. My friend. Yeah, I still think he's a little weird, but hey, I can live with that.