Yum-Yum Vampire Hunter
By: Darnell Cureton

Franklin covered the two holes in the dead woman's neck with tissue builder and cosmetics when he finished the embalming process. After walking the earth for more than 100 years, he finally found a job he liked as a vampire.

"Night Mortician for Bell Funeral Home," he said gleefully while punching out for the night. The 9pm to 5am shift kept him out of the sun and gave him a 20 percent night shift differential in his paycheck. "More money to entice the ladies," he snickered. "And I get to suck off all the stiffs. What The What?" he gasped as he looked around the morgue, embarrassed even though he was alone. That didn't come out right, he said to himself. "No matter. I got to get out of these smelly embalming clothes and into my civvies if I want to bite that cute treat in Sweets Bakery before sun up," he vainly said to hear himself talk. "And get some fresh cookies to boot."

Franklin looked at his reflection in the water puddle he made on an empty embalming table, a trick he learned over the years since he couldn't see himself directly in a mirror. He combed salt and pepper hair in place with the 'slick it back' gel he used on the dead. Then he covered his pale white skin with a color concealer. His appearance became a cross between a handsome graying man and a young millennial."Got to be on top of my game if I want to snack on the ladies," he said while putting on black tweed pants from 1930, a white cotton shirt from 1990, a skinny black leather tie from the 70s and a black cape from the Halloween rental costume he never returned from the previous year. With a smile and a sing–song voice he sang "I'm too sexy for this shirt, so sexy that it hurts," his version of the Right Said Fred song as he headed out the door to Sweets Bakery.

***

Sallie Ann could not stop the telekinetic voice her dead grandma wove into her dreams. "Sallie Ann Sullivan, you are the closest vampire hunter in the area. Wake up my little pumpkin!" Grandmas voice caused Sallie Ann to toss and turn, but not wake up. Frustrated, grandma shifted her telepathy to the sleeping Golden Labrador Retriever in the room. It woke with a start. Jumping on the bed the lab licked her face and ear intensely with its wet tongue. Hot morning breath and saliva went up her nose and coated Sallie Ann's face. She shot up from the bed wide awake, wiping her mouth and ear with the back of a hand.

"Yuck! Yum–Yum, you crazy dog! How many times do I have to tell you no licking! Eeew!" she said while using her pillow to wipe off the rest of the dog's dribble. Suddenly, the mobile on her night table loudly played the military tune of 'Reveille.' The trumpet sound made the 19 year old raise her arm and place her hand on her brow as long honey blonde hair covered her eyes. "Wait, I'm not in the military!" she huffed, even though the gestures made her feel like Goldie Hawn in a scene from Private Benjamin. "Grandma, stop it!" she yelled looking around for a floating apparition in the room. Not spotting one, she reach over and turned off the phone. As if by magic, the phone came back to life and beeped a familiar sound telling her she had a text message. 'There's a vampire in your area. Dispatch your lab guardian to hunt him down. Confirm when he is eliminated, my little pumpkin. Love grandma.' Sky blue eyes flashed rapidly as Sallie Ann jumped on her bed like it was a trampoline.

"Yum–Yum, this is so cool!" Sallie Ann remarked as she scratched the labs ear. "Grandma has a vampire she wants us to hunt. So guess what boy? You are no longer a hospital therapy dog," she concluded. "Yum–Yum, you are now a hunter guardian." After a quick shower, she dressed in her favorite hunting clothes. A beige long sleeved crop top with matching pants and flat shoes. Aviator shades on a booney hat and clutch purse accessory. Opening her weapons safe, she grabbed a small silver cross, 2 cloves of garlic, and a six round Sig Sauer compact pistol with her initials engraved on the handle. She put the items in her purse.

"Time to go boy. Can you pick up the scent of the vampire?" she encouraged Yum–Yum as she strung the garlic cloves around her pets collar and shut the door. The dog pulled ahead on his leash, already picking up something. She followed behind as the lab trailed a scent of death no one else could detect. The trail lead them around the corner and up the block towards Sweets Bakery.

***

At 5:00am, Sweets Bakery was ready to serve the public. Amy Sweet, manager and owner, was proud of her brightly colored bakery. It's cheerful orange and yellow paint combined with a wood interior gave the place a pleasant comfortable look. Aromas of home cooking filled the air, mixed with the smell of fresh brewed coffee. An assortment of muffins, scones, croissants and cookies filled glass displays behind the counter. Clean tables and chairs for six filled the dining area. Amy wanted more room for seating, but most days it didn't matter. Busy customers usually came in for takeout or to pickup phoned in orders.

"Sweets Bakery, this is Amy, what can I getcha?"she answered her first phone call of the day in a cheerful natural voice she didn't have to work at.

"Six chocolate chip cookies and two fruit filled croissants," the caller said.

"Got it. It will be ready in ten minutes," Amy replied, then hung up the phone. As she prepared the order, another call came in. "Sweets Bakery, this is Amy, what can I getcha?" she asked again just as pleasant. "What? No we don't have happy endings. That was the old massage parlor that was here two years ago. Sweets Bakery is here now," she told the caller patiently. "Bakery. Not Buns. No sex. Have a good day." She sighed as she hung up the phone. "I should have change the old number for that seedy massage parlor when I bought this place. I still get people asking for happy endings," she lamented, wanting to kick herself for making that one bad business decision.

***

When Franklin entered the bakery, the room took on a winter chill. Amy's breath became visible as she adjusted the thermostat on the old air conditioner that kept the bakery cool during the summer months.

"I was going to buy a new A/C unit, but this old thing still does the trick," she said to herself as she spotted Franklin standing in the doorway. "Good morning, what can I getcha? She said as her auburn red hair and freckles competed with her chirpy voice for the strangers attention. Franklin looked around the bakery. He was the only customer inside. Yes! This was the perfect opportunity to take a bite out of the pretty woman he had desired on previous occasions. He turned the open for business sign on the door over to closed. Amy's gray eyes grew wide as she saw him close the door. Her hackles shot up as she slowly backed away towards the phone to call 911 emergency service. Using his hypnotic powers he looked into Amy's eyes. "Come to me my sugar sweet. Let me sweep you off your feet," he said using his romantic sing song voice while stretching out open arms. "And bring me a half dozen of those amazing chocolate chip cookies too." In a trance, Amy filled a bag full of cookies and walked over to Franklin. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close, taking in the scent of the bakery woman. "Mmm, thirty years old with a hint of cinnamon," his senses told him as he bared teeth. Before he could strike, the front door opened quickly breaking the trance.

"What's going on here?" Sallie Ann shouted as she entered the room holding the silver cross in front of her. Yum–Yum growled at her side and showed teeth to Franklin. Amy blinked a few times as her head cleared. The bag of cookies fell to the floor, spilling out.

"What The What! Curse you woman, didn't you read the sign? We're closed," Franklin said impatiently. He looked into Sallie Ann's eyes. "Mind your business, forget what you see. Leave here now, let me be," he snarled, showing pointed teeth. Sallie Ann held her ground. She didn't move. The hypnotic power that worked on Amy had no effect on her while she held the cross.

"What The What? How can this be?" he wondered as Sallie Ann removed the leash on Yum–Yum. The fur on his back rose up causing the garlic cloves to jiggle as the lab waited for a command from his master. Amy shook off the last of the trance but didn't remember wanting to call for help. She went back to work behind the counter as Franklin waved a hand, trying to get her to look into his eyes. Sallie Ann yelled to get his attention away from Amy.

"Hey! You are my business, you spawn of Satan. Your evil has no effect on a vampire hunter," she said. Franklin looked at his watch. He favored the cheap Timex over a smart phone. 5:45am. Sunrise was at 6:37am. Damn, he thought. 52 minutes before sunrise. The sun could kill him, just like in the movies. He had to quickly to take control of the situation.

"I don't have time for this." he declared, turning his attention to Yum–Yum. "Sleep dog!" he commanded and the lab dropped down and slept on the floor. Wrapping his hand around his cape he smacked the cross from Sallie Ann's hand. It fell to the floor and slid under a dining table. Franklin snatched the garlic cloves from the labs collar and tossed them behind the counter. With lightening speed he back–handed Sallie Ann into a display of designer bags of coffee, disorienting her as instant coffee spilled to the floor. Amy, watching the commotion screamed. Franklin caught sight of her eyes and coaxed "Pretty woman, I love so, bring me a batch of cookies to go." Under his spell again, Amy brought a second batch of cookies to Franklin just as the front door opened once again.

"Hey, you guys know the closed sign is on the door?" said a large black woman as she barged in the front door. "I'm here to pick up my order I called in. The names Maisey." Once again the disturbance snapped Amy out of her fog and back to reality. She dropped the second bag of cookies to the floor. Yum–Yum woke up when he heard the bag tear open and began sniffing the air, looking for the scent.

"Oh yes Maisey. I have your order behind the counter." Amy's business side kicked in as she grabbed the bag with Maisey's name and receipt for an $8.59 cent credit charge. "Here you are and thanks for coming," Amy beamed, showing her business friendly smile. Sallie Ann, recovering from the back hand, thought about pulling out the Sig Sauer in her purse. She decided to assess the situation before shooting.

"What The What! Doesn't anybody here read?" Franklin whined. "The sign on the door clearly says closed." He huffed.

"Who you talking to paleface? Maisey retaliated, standing with arms akimbo. Anybody tell you it's summer and them hot tweed pants and cape don't mix in 90 degree heat," she snorted. "And somebody need to tell you that skinny ties are out too superman." She finished her tirade with a neck roll and finger snap.

Franklin sighed, then looked at his watch. 6:10am. 27 minutes before sunrise. He looked at this new intruder. A big pear shaped black woman 6 foot 1, tall as he. She had on extra large stretch floral print drawstring pants, sockless sneakers and a loose fit short sleeve blouse. She was holding a ukulele with a cross painted on it and a bag of cookies. He wanted to tell her she looked like a Wal–Mart shopper but she was too big to mess with. His powers might not work on her.

"Who are you?"Franklin asked.

"I'm a homeless woman that plays the ukulele in the park for tips," Maisey said.

"Homeless? But you bought cookies with a credit card," Franklin said.

"I said I was homeless, not penniless you fool", retorted Maisey. "Why you in here with that makeup on? You in a band or some freaky sex stuff? You know the massage parlor closed down a couple years ago. Bet you were a regular right?" Maisey hinted.

6:28am. 9 minutes before I burst into flames because of these crazy people have no fear of vampires, Franklin thought."It was a pleasure meeting all of you…NOT." Franklin mocked. "I must hurry home now, but don't you worry, I never forget a face", Franklin threatened as he closed his eyes and concentrated on changing into a bat. Maisey quickly commanded the lab, calling out his name.

"Yum–Yum! Attack ! Get him!" Maisey ordered. "Yum–Yum, Eatem up, Yum–Yum Eatem up!" She repeated as the lab jumped forward and pounced on the bag of cookies and started to eat the treats with wild abandon. "No dog!" Maisey chastised, as a small puff of smoke completed Franklins change into a bat. His wings flapped furiously above everyone's head as he hit the glass door window trying to smash it to make an escape.

"Sallie Ann! Pull out that Sig Sauer and drop that bird!" Maisey hollered, swinging her ukulele at the winged creature but failing to make contact.

"How'd you know I had a gun in my purse?" Sallie Ann asked, with blond eyebrows raised.

"Everybody knows if you talk about it or show it in a story you have to use it," Maisey said. "That's Chekhov's gun rule. Look it up. It's a rule you must follow when hunting vampires," Maisey said confidently.

"I know that," Sallie Ann answered defensively.

"Well then… light him up! Shoot that evil down!" Maisey shouted.

"No shooting in my bakery!" Amy pleaded, ducking low as she made her way to the door. "Get it out of here first! Then shoot," She urged.

"Let's work together ladies," said Maisey as she took another swing at the bat with her ukulele. "When Amy opens the door, take your shot Sallie Ann!" Maisey yelled.

"I got it!" Sallie Ann yelled.

"Outside! Outside! Outside!" Amy yelled.

"I know! I know! I know!" yelled Sallie Ann as she took aim.Pop, Pop, Pop! Three shots. Three hits. As Franklin fell to the ground, he reverted back to human form. Wounds to his legs and chest began healing as he tried to stand up.

"He's still trying to get away!" Maisey said in a shrill voice. Looking over at the lab, she commanded "Yum–Yum! Eatem up boy. Eatem up!" Yum–Yum quickly ran over to the second bag of cookies on the floor and began eating once again, as he wagged his tail.

"The vampire, not the cookies," Sallie Ann moaned shaking her head.

"Bad dog!" Amy chimed in.

"Look! He's standing up" Maisey said. Franklin fully healed, was about to transform back into a bat when sunlight began to break through the dawn. He looked at the cheap Timex watch he bought with the Halloween costume cape. 6:34am. His body temperature rose as he noticed sun light. The watch was 3 minutes slow.

"What The…" Franklin burst into a bright orange flame and quickly turned to ashes.

***

"I'm glad that's over," said Maisey as she checked her ukulele for damage. Yum–Yum sat next to her licking his paws clean of fruit. He had managed to get into Maisey's cookie bag during the scuffle and ate the middle from one of her croissants.

"Bad dog. Looks like you need to be retrained as a guardian," she said with affection. Maisey reached inside the ukulele and pulled out a dog treat. "Here Yum–Yum. This is much healthier for you than cookies and croissants."

"He is a cute dog," Amy said as she swept up the mess from the bakery floor. Then she swept the vampire ashes from the front of her business so customers wouldn't track in evil. Sallie Ann put the pistol and cross back in her purse. She attached the dog leash back on Yum–Yum and threw out the found garlic. She started to leave but stopped in her tracks.

"Hey, before I go tell me something," Sallie Ann inquired. "First you arrive in time to help me distract a vampire. Then you command my lab by his name. You knew I had a gun hidden in my purse and now you pull a dog treat for Yum–Yum out of a ukulele. Who are you Maisey?"

"My little pumpkin, don't you recognize your old grandma dear?" She said with a smile. "We haven't had a vampire around here is years so I decided to help you in the hunt. You can't blame an old spirit like me for that," she said with a smile.

"Grandma? Wow! I didn't know you could possess a body!" Sallie Ann grinned.

"It's just temporary. I have to return it to the homeless woman," Maisey said.

"If I didn't see a vampire turn into a bat and then burn up in the sun, I wouldn't believe it. But I did," Amy admitted. "Hey, how about giving me a hand getting things cleaned up before you leave her body," Amy asked. "I could really use some help." Just then the phone rang. Amy reached for it but Maisey beat her to it.

"I'll start helping by answering calls," she said. "Amy's Bakery!" she said cheerfully.

"No, it's Sweets Bakery. Say Sweets Bakery and your name," Amy corrected.

"Oh got it," said Maisey as she spoke again. Sweets Bakery, this is Maisey," she sounded cheerful like Amy. "No, this is a bakery, not a massage parlor. We don't do that here…yes you have to keep your clothes on if you dine in. Good bye." Bewildered, Maisy put the phone down and looked at Amy.

"I really have to get that number changed", Amy declared as she turned the closed sign on the door back to open.

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