L. A. Screams

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Overview

Mike Sullivan is a rookie cop in late nineteenth-century Los Angeles. There are only seventy officers on the squad, and they still ride horses to catch criminals. As the city population reaches over one million, crime drastically increases, but Mike is a cop, ready to face any foe-at least of the human variety.

Following the mysterious deaths of two men, an old sailor named William Shakespeare O'Brien appears, claiming the deaths were the work of a female vampire who boarded his...

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LA Screams

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Overview

Mike Sullivan is a rookie cop in late nineteenth-century Los Angeles. There are only seventy officers on the squad, and they still ride horses to catch criminals. As the city population reaches over one million, crime drastically increases, but Mike is a cop, ready to face any foe-at least of the human variety.

Following the mysterious deaths of two men, an old sailor named William Shakespeare O'Brien appears, claiming the deaths were the work of a female vampire who boarded his ship. Mike is skeptical, but at O'Brien's coaxing he reads Bram Stoker's Dracula and begins to wonder how much of O'Brien's story is true.

As Mike delves deeper into the murder investigation, he is distracted by his mother's serious illness and his love for Jennifer Fitzgerald, the woman he hopes to marry. There is no time for distraction, though, as Mike soon realizes O'Brien is right: a vampire hunts the streets of Los Angeles, and conventional police work will not stop this bloodthirsty murderess.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781475991505
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/29/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Read an Excerpt

L.A. SCREAMS

The Cop and The VAMPIRE Series Book 1


By SU BODDIE

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Su Boddie
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4759-9148-2


CHAPTER 1

A SHIP DOCKS AT SAN PEDRO


"OKAY, ROOKIE, PUT THE TOYS away. Cap wants to see us in his office." I looked up at Sam Gallagher, my longtime friend and new partner. What I saw was a tall young man, twenty-three years old—brown and brown, as we cops say. His hair was a bit long, to my way of thinking, but then, maybe it was jealousy. My red mop had to be kept short in order to keep it tame. I glanced down at the "toys" laying on the scarred wooden surface of my desk: a pair of fourteen-year-old, nickel-finished Colt 45 six-shooters. I sighed and got to my feet. I knew most of the others thought my guns to be old-fashioned since most of them now carried the 1890 Remington revolvers, but my father gave the Colts to me when I joined the force this year, and they worked just fine. I wrapped them in the cloth I'd been using to oil them, put them away in the drawer, and went, with Sammy, to see what the captain wanted. I'd strap them on when it was time to head out. I glanced at the big calendar page hanging on the wall outside Cap's office. It was Monday, November 19, 1900. The month, the year, and the century were almost over.

The muster room was crowded. Cap had called in everyone he could reach. There were seventy of us on the force; I counted fifty-seven heads, perched everywhere: in the chairs, around the walls, even on the sills of the windows that looked out on the city of Los Angeles. I wondered if I had missed something important.

"Boys, we got us a mess." Cap was trying to look at all of us at once. "A ship, the Adelaide, docked at the port two nights ago, unloaded its cargo and crew, same as always. Except this time a couple of bodies came off the boat, too. They are at the doc's office right now. He said he thinks it may have been typhoid fever."

The room went still—the kind of still that falls over a room when they hear something really awful. Murder wasn't unheard of in our teeming city, but this is the first time since I became a cop that I'd heard of typhoid fever. Of course, I'd only been a cop for nine months, so what did I know?

"Most of you know what we have to do." The old-timers nodded, but most of the younger ones just looked as blank as I felt. "Why don't you get going, and I'll fill the rookies in." This should have been funny, but no one was laughing as they filed out of the room.

The captain turned his chair so he could look out the window and then sat down, heavily. At six feet even and about 180 pounds with his guns on, sitting down heavily was not something Cap usually did. Somehow he managed it this time. The six of us "rookies" waited as quietly as we knew how.

In truth I was the only raw rookie having just gotten my star. The others had been on the force for up to two years. I figured it was our lack of knowledge of what we were dealing with that lumped us together. I looked at Sammy, who'd been on the force over a year already. Even though we were separated in age by almost two years, he and I have been friends forever, and we could read each other—though he's a lot better at it that I am. He seemed to understand what Cap was talking about, although he waited as quietly as the rest of us to see what we were going to do about it, whatever "it" was.

When I became one of the first to pass the new entrance requirements just being implemented, it was expected that they would make us partners, so, naturally, they weren't going to, until Sammy talked them into it. I don't know what he told the captain, but it worked. Now Sammy looked worried. It must have been something he'd heard about that he'd never discussed with me, which was unusual. He saw me looking, shrugged, and started to say something, but Cap turned from the window at that moment.

"Listen up, you guys." The captain hadn't found whatever he was looking for outside. "What we have to do is locate everyone who was on that ship, legally or illegally, and get them checked out. And we've got to do it fast. We're talking about a crew of from fifty to sixty men. And I understand that there were a few passengers aboard, also."

Several of the guys groaned. I wasn't feeling too happy myself. Los Angeles had blossomed to 102,000 souls—with eight to ten fancy hotels that were almost always full. Those sailors had a three-day start and had probably visited every brothel and bar between here and the docks. They could be anywhere by now, spread over the twenty miles that separated the pueblo of Los Angeles from the port at San Pedro. And what about those passengers all the ships coming to California these days seemed to carry—men with no money, coming out here to find gold or silver or a new life, with or without their families? Now I understood why the old-timers had looked so hopeless as they left to organize the search. The hours that ticked off the days and nights of November in this year of our Lord 1900 were not as troublesome as in the past, but they were still pretty rowdy, and a man could disappear for days, if he wanted to. I returned my attention to what Cap was saying.

"I have copies of the ship's crew manifest. Some of the sailors are local boys, so they ought to be easy to find. Sammy, you and Mike get some help and go looking for them. The rest of you will join the hunt for the other crewmembers. You'll start at the flophouses and work out from there, and you'll have to backtrack all the way down to the docks at San Pedro. Let's just hope most of 'em were too tired or too moral to go looking for company, just got drunk and turned in their first few days on dry land." Cap didn't sound too hopeful, but he tried a smile. It didn't work. "Those of you who get all the way to San Pedro may have to bed down along the trail on the way back. If there's someplace to stash the sailors overnight, fine. Otherwise you may have to chain them together, keep them from running off. Okay, beat it. Report in when you get back. I'll round up the rest of the force and get them working on this as soon as I can."

Sammy stopped at my desk, adjusting his hat, and watched me reload my weapons. One of the things that I thought would help make me a good cop was the speed with which I could break down, clean, reassemble, and reload my guns. In Los Angeles, a town that was only a hard two-day ride to the coast and was growing up around a river, it was a good skill to have. There had been floods every winter from 1888 to 1891, so I had practiced, a lot. No one ever had to worry about my being out of the action just because the Colts got wet. I glanced at Sam as I strapped on my gun belt. Among the things that made us friends was that he never made fun of me, not seriously, anyway, especially about those Colts. I had no idea that I'd ever come face-to-face with a problem my guns couldn't help me solve. That just shows how green I really was.

John M. Glass, who had been chief of police since 1889, had moved the force from city hall to its current location at West Seventh Street and Grand Avenue. The department came of age under Chief Glass. He had originated the first entry-level standards for recruit applicants, standards that Sammy and I had met easily, and he had conceived of, given birth to, and nursed a new level of police professionalism. People used to call the new location "the temporary police department"—I could never tell if they were saying the police were temporary or our new quarters were. After eleven years very few called it that anymore. Now it was Central Station Headquarters. We had more space, for ourselves and for our horses, but I wondered if it was supposed to be a joke of some sort. Earlier that year the Automobile Club of Southern California was established. Central Station was located across the street from the Pioneer Auto Exchange. I hated the thought that we'd have to start using those devil machines in place of our horses. I'd heard talk, but I tried not to listen.

As Sammy and I left headquarters, headed for the stables out back where we all kept our mounts, Sam told me what he knew about this typhoid fever thing. Sammy was always a good storyteller, fitting himself to the cheerfulness or seriousness of the story he was telling. In this case, he was as serious as I'd even seen him. "This is exactly what we joined up for," he said. "To protect the people from themselves and from each other."

"We'll have to be real careful around these guys, won't we?" I didn't try to hide the fact that I was scared; Sammy knew me well, so he knew it already.

"More than you realize, Rookie." He smiled ruefully. "Cap told me that in a bunch of telegrams he got from New York was sort of a warning. There's an outbreak of typhoid fever going on back there. We'll have to be careful, make sure none of these guys are carrying the sickness, keep our gloves on, and not eat or drink anything any of these men touch."

Sammy swung his saddle across his horse's back. "We may have to burn our gloves at the end of each day, depending on what we find out there."

"What?" I nearly dropped my saddle. "You mean we're going to have to buy new gloves? Every day?" I looked at him closely; maybe he was just teasing me. Maybe.

Sammy smiled, and this time it reached his eyes. He knew I was trying to save up so I could have something to offer Jennifer beside myself, when I finally got up the nerve to ask her to marry me. "Don't you have any extra pairs?" He made it a question.

I shook my head. "I haven't gotten around to it."

"Well, then, I guess the wedding will just have to wait a little longer, that's all." Sammy gave me that look.

"No, I am not going to ask Dad for money. You know I want to do this on my own."

"Okay, it's your life." Sammy bent to check the cinch. I could tell he was still smiling. We had this conversation often enough. We Sullivans weren't all that rich, but my dad had done pretty well for himself as a gunsmith, and I'd grown up comfortable. Sammy and I both knew that Dad was just waiting for me to ask and I could get married tomorrow and move into a brand-new house. But what I'd said was true; I wanted to do this on my own.

"At least Ethel will have Jennie to keep her company while we're out looking for those men." My face must have broadcasted how shocked I felt. "Well, you don't think I'm going home, do you?" Sam went on. "Until we get this mess cleaned up and know for certain that none of us is sick, I'm bunking at the jail, and you'd better resign yourself to it." He shook his head. "I am not going to take the chance of her getting sick with her time so near. I want to be there, beside her." His expression was grim as he looked at me. "I want to be there, but I'm not going to take any chances, with her or with the baby."

We mounted up, turned our horses toward the gates, and headed out for the homes of the sailors who lived in Los Angeles. I heard some ominous sounds from the Auto Exchange as we rode by. I did my best to tune them out.

About half of the names on our list would take us into the Spanish section to the homes of those men who were married or who lived with their families. We'd both been there before; sailors were always a rowdy bunch when on land. Sammy reviewed the list of names that Cap had given us, working out, in his head, the best route to follow. While we rode I thought over what Sam had said about not going home until this was over.

"I wish I had asked her to be my wife before all this got started," I mumbled. Of course Sammy heard me. Somehow Sammy seems to hear everything I say. He didn't say anything this time, though, just nodded his head. We headed east on Seventh Street, heading for Alameda. We would work our way back westward from there.

Central Station was a three-story brick building with a kind of dormitory on the third floor. Rooms for talking with suspects shared space with the captain's office and the general meeting room on the second, and lockup cells lined the walls on the first. Usually the new cops without families or wives would stay there until they'd made enough to get a place of their own. Occasionally a fella like me would come along, who just wanted to start out on his own, prove to himself and his family that he could stand on his own two feet. Half the department was made up of guys who'd come to the pueblo from someplace else. Since I'd made the force I'd been staying up there most nights with just one other rookie, a guy from somewhere in Tennessee. Now it looked like we were going to have company. They would probably house the ship's captain and his officers elsewhere, but that only eliminated fifteen to twenty men. Things might be a bit crowded for a while.

In 1882, the Los Angeles Telephone Company received permission to erect telephone poles in the city, and the service had grown from those seven subscribers and three operators. But not everyone had a receiver yet. The station had one but Jennie's family hadn't gotten around to having one put in their new house. Not only would I not be able to see her, I wouldn't be able to talk with her—unless I stood outside and talked with her through the window, and I wasn't sure her family would appreciate that. I didn't like the way this situation was shaping up. I didn't like it at all.

CHAPTER 2

ROUNDUP


OUR PART OF THE SEARCH took up the next two days. We had ten men left to locate from that list of addresses the captain had given us. This list also mentioned whether or not they were married and who else was in the household. Most of them were single, living with their parents and siblings. We went into the Spanish district in the company of Officers Diego Garcia and Ramón Lopez, the "help" the captain had told us to get. We didn't really need those two—no one grew up in Los Angeles without learning something that sounds like Spanish—but their presence always helped calm the citizens.

A lot of people had an unhealthy fear of lawmen; our Spanish citizens were no different and were more likely to pretend to not understand us. It was funny, sometimes, to hear them call us Americans. I'd always thought that we were all Americans, but I guess I can see how they wouldn't feel that way. After all, before California became a state, most of this land had belonged to their families. It had only been fifty years; the wounds were still raw.

"It isn't really that they are afraid; they just don't want to talk with us." How did he do that? I looked over at Sammy. He just smiled and shook his head. "Does it really bother you that I can often tell what you're thinking?"

"No, it bothers me that you can usually tell what I'm thinking!" I tried to sound stern, but I didn't really mind. That was what best friends did. Right?

Each of us held the reins of two spare mounts. It was too much to expect that these sailors would own extra horses; these men were not landsmen. Some of them came from wealth, but they weren't going to turn their livestock over to the police. We gave up trying to convince them that we'd send the horses back or that they would be ridden home by whomever we had detained. We'd borrowed the extra animals from a couple of the stables that keep the force supplied with mounts. It was easier and more dignified to let a man ride a horse than to tie him into a wagon. We had transport wagons available, but Sammy and I preferred not to use them. The streets in the Spanish section, which was also the oldest part of the town, were paved with cobbled stone. The iron-shod feet of our horses made it impossible to approach quietly. It had been a mild fall; the air was sweet with mimosa and jasmine, which grew in nearly every yard. The pine trees that grew everywhere didn't do much to block out the thin winter sunlight. It was a beautiful day. If only my thoughts were equally cheerful.

We followed the same routine at each house: a quiet knock on the door, a smile, and a question. It was usually the mother who opened the door. "Buenos días, señora. ¿Está su hijo en casa?"

She was more likely to produce her son if we didn't show the guns. With our new hip-length, blue serge uniform coats, this was easy. If we kept the coats buttoned and didn't move around too much, the guns wouldn't bulge. Of course the bright shiny badge pinned to the left of the buttons was a dead giveaway but was not otherwise threatening. If the husband was home he was generally the one to kick up a fuss. Only one of the first four families gave us any trouble, generally a rapid-fire denunciation about loss of freedoms and strong-arm tactics by the police. With the weapons out of sight it was easier to maintain the appearance of a peaceful visit.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from L.A. SCREAMS by SU BODDIE. Copyright © 2013 Su Boddie. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Posted June 19, 2013

    Take a story about what;s going on with a loving family and thei

    Take a story about what;s going on with a loving family and their friends, add a portion of turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century police procedural, then mix in a portion of "Bram Stoker was not writing fiction", and you have a recipe for a tasty first novel. A well-written, pleasant read, even if there is a vampire doing what vampires do in 1901 Los Angeles.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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