03 T.J. Washington In “B Is For Basement” Pt. 1

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I. “B” Is For Basement

Sam and I were in an elevator. It was a Tuesday morning, not my favorite morning of the week if I’m being honest. Truth of the matter is I’m more of a Wednesday type fellow when it comes to mornings, that’s if I have to choose, which I don’t. My opinions about the times of day and how I feel about them were neither here nor there, though. Sam and I were on a case.

A local law firm suspected there was a vampire living in the basement and called me to have a look see. I called Sam because he likes going into law firm basements. I asked him why. He just said, “You’ll see.”

Vampires are pretty common and usually not that much of a problem if you’re smart about it, which I usually am. Easiest way to get rid of a vampire is get it when it’s sleeping. Killing something while it sleeps is one of the easiest ways to kill something mechanically speaking. Emotionally and morally it can be a different story, depending on what or who’s getting 86’d. I focus mostly on killing monsters, so I don’t usually find myself in the middle of an internal moral struggle when it’s time to kill them.

This particular elevator we were in had three buttons: “B”, “G”, and “U”.
I pushed the one labeled “B” because that’s the button that usually takes you to the basement. It’s a lucky thing that elevator buttons are pretty standard. It’s the one place where things can’t go wrong.

“Why’d you do that?” Sam said with a slightly disgusted tone. “We need to go underground, you should’ve pushed ‘U’, not ‘B’. No telling where we’ll end up now.”

Sam was used to haunted elevators, not standard ones, so his slight disgust was warranted.

“Sure you’re not thinking about haunted elevators? No telling what the buttons mean on those. This is a standard elevator; I checked the certificate in the maintenance office. It’s on file, anyone can ask to see it.”

“Wait, what? That’s amazing. You can just waltz in off the street and ask to see the elevator certification certificate?”

“Yep, anyone can, it’s a gods-given right. You don’t even have to want to take a ride in it, and it sure is- elevators are amazing.The certificate even had a diagram of which button to push to go where. ‘B’ is for ‘basement’, ‘U’ is ‘upper’, and ‘G’ is for ‘ground’. It’s simple when they aren’t haunted.”

“Huh, that’s refreshingly uncomplicated. I could get used to non-haunted elevators.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. We stepped out into the basement.

“You brought your piece?” Sam asked. He was referring to my gun, a dime plated five shot .38 caliber revolver, to which I had made special modifications.

“Yup,” I said as I produced my pistol for his inspection.

“Loaded special?” Sam was referring to the special bullets I make. Silver coated wooden spikes. They kill most monsters.

“Yup.”

“Look at mine,  just got it from Danny,” He said as he handed me a .45 caliber Colt semi -automatic pistol.

“It’s .7 better than a .38. That makes a difference in most cases.”

“Since when did Danny get into special modifications?”

“Don’t know. Said he picked it up in a story he was recently in.”

“Life of Riley, that guy. You ready?”

“Sure am. We have a plan?”

“Do we need one?”

“Don’t think so. I just want to look around after we kill the vampire.”

“Sure, that’s why I invited you. I know how you like law firm basements.”

“They always have good stuff in them. Look at this!” Sam gesticulated toward a motor cycle helmet sitting atop an ancient IBM electric ball type typewriter.

I handed Sam his pistol back and cocked the hammer on mine. “Let’s get this over with. I have an appointment in a few hours.”

“Sure, I have things to do myself. It’s just the one vampire?”

“Far as I know. Lawyers are pretty good at counting.”

“You think they’re as good as accountants?”

“I doubt it. Accountants are specialists when it comes to counting. I’d say lawyers are fourth best at it.”

“Yeah, that’s where I had them on my list. Accountants, bank tellers, cashiers, and lawyers.”

“Makes sense to me.”

“Want to split up? If it’s just the one vampire we should be fine.”

“Eh, splitting up never works out in movies.”

“This is real life though.”

“Yeah, but this basement is pretty small. I don’t think there’s enough room to split up.”

“I see your point,” Sam said. “What if I went over there? It wouldn’t be as exciting as splitting up since we’d still be able to see each other,  but I think it’s the move.”

“Follow your heart, Sam. I’ll go over there,” I answered. rtfgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggI started walking to the far right-hand corner of the basement, which was indicated earlier. Sam wandered off to the near left-hand quadrant to have a look around.

A few minutes later I had found nothing. A few seconds after that Sam called out “Hey, T.J. I think I found the vampire’s bed, but there’s no vampire.”

“It’s daytime, right? Today isn’t that day where they switch the time around and everyone gets tired, is it?”

“That’s next month, this is now.”

“Should be a vampire in the vampire’s bed then. What gives?”

“Shit,” Sam whispered as he bent down to pick something up.

“What did you find?”

Sam handed me a pill bottle.

“Solitol.” I read the label out loud for some reason, and when I was done I also whispered, “Shit.”

“Solitol. Damn it. Thought this was going to be easy,” Sam offered in the way of support.

“Leave it to pharmaceutical companies to complicate things,” I mumbled.

“What’s Solitol?” asked Sam with genuine concern.

“Solitol is an antidepressant for vampires.”

“How does it work?”

“It lets them walk around in the sunlight so they get to absorb some vitamin D and not be so sad and mopey.”

“What are the side effects?”

“Let me check. Loose stool, second death, Jac-u-laism…”

“Wait- Jaculaism? Shit,” Sam said.

“You mean the condition that…”

“Turns a vampire into a Jack the Ripper Vampire,” he answered.

“That’s gonna double my fee for sure.”

A regular vampire wasn’t so bad. A regular vampire that could walk around in the day time wasn’t the best case scenario, but it was far from the worst vampire related bullshit that I’ve had to deal with in the past. A Jacula was the third worst vampire scenario that most people are capable of conceiving. The first was more than 6 Jaculas working together under a super Jacula, which is rare but it happens. The second was more than one but less than 6 Jaculas working at all.

“Let’s find the hole and get it filled in,” I said as much to Sam as to myself.

I find talking to myself to be a bit odd. It implies that me and my self are separate from each other. Of course, they aren’t, they’re the same thing. The apparent sense of separation is an illusion, one I didn’t feel like seeing through at the moment, so I turned my attention back to the present. Funny how life is.

Vampires who hide in basements usually have a hole in the ground near by which they use to get into the sewer system. That way they can come and go as they please without letting the people on the G and U floors know what they’re up to.

This particular vampire’s vampire hole was under its bed.

“There it is. Did we bring any concrete?” Sam asked.

“I didn’t, did you?”

“Nope.”

“Alright then. I’ll wait until you’re done looking around and then we should go back upstairs and talk to the head lawyer and tell her to fill this hole in with concrete,” I said.

“That enough for you to get your fee?”

“Should be. We’ll know soon enough.”

I waited by the elevator while Sam had his look around. When he was done he came to the elevator holding a motorcycle helmet.

“Anyone asks, I had this when we came in.”

“Suit yourself.”

“I do.”

We stepped into the elevator and I hit the ‘G’ button.

“This will take us to the main floor. I’ll ask for who hired me once we get there.”

Sam knew as well as I did that a trip on an elevator isn’t much more than a promise. It worked out as intended most of the time, and that’s pretty good odds, but it’s good policy not to go around assuming you’re beyond the reach of mechanical failure.

“Suit yourself.”

“I will,” I replied.

That’s what I did. When the elevator doors opened we were on the ground floor.

“It’s like magic, ain’t it?” Sam asked.

“What is?” I return asked.

“Elevators. Magic, even when they aren’t haunted, they’re still magic,” he answered.

“They sure are. If more people stopped to take the time to enjoy the miracles they take advantage of every day, they wouldn’t take so much for granted,” I said.

“I hear ya. Louie was right about this world.”

“Armstrong or Jordan?” I asked. There are several Louies and it’s important to know which one someone is referring to.

“Either one,” Sam answered.

“He sure was.”

We found the lawyer responsible for hiring me thanks to the competency of the receptionist. We told her who we were and why we were, and she ushered us into a conference room where we waited for five minutes or so until the door opened and a sharp dressed woman with short reddish hair and stylish glasses entered.

“You must be Mr. Washington?” she said as she extended her hand towards me. I extended mine towards her so we could shake ’em. After we shook ’em I said, “Hello, Ms.?”

“Rohamas, but call me Kate. Did you find a vampire?”

“Sorta.” I started and went on to explain the Solitol and the hole in the ground. I left out the parts about the Jaculaism since I didn’t want to explain them.

Wanting to get to the point so I could get on with my day, I said, “The vampire isn’t there right now. The Solitol lets it operate during the day, but if you fill that hole in it won’t come back.”

“Is that something you can do?”

“Well, I’m certainly capable of filling in a hole but I’m a detective, not a hole filler.”

“Fair enough, I’ll have Harry get on it. Thank you for your time Mr. Washington and Mr…?” she said while looking at Sam.

“…Oddley. Sam Oddley, but call me Sam,” answered Sam. They extended their hands towards each other and shook them, as is proper.

“Nice to meet you, Sam,”  she said before returning her gaze to me. “Thanks for looking into this. Your check should be mailed later this week if that’s ok?”

“It is,” I answered.

We spent a few minutes jib-jabbing and shit shooting before politely excusing ourselves. Both Sam and I left the office with a redefined sense of lawyers. They weren’t as bad as jokes and television make them out to be. In fact, most of them were just regular people.

It’s always nice to learn something new about the world around you. It’s often a good indication that you’re going to have a good day, even if it involves vampires.

I glanced at my watch and realized I was wearing one.

“That’s odd,” I muttered to myself.

“What is?” Sam muttered to me.

“I’m wearing a watch, that means this is a dream,” I replied.

“Huh, feels real enough. Must be one of those lucid dreams,” Sam said.

Lucid dreams are dreams where the dreamer is aware they are dreaming at the time of the dream. The regular way is to have a dream is to dream it and then remember it when you wake up, then forget it again by the time you walk to the bathroom. Sometimes dream memories might pop back into your head around lunch, but not always.

“Yeah, it must be,” I said while turning to look at the logo on the law office’s door. It was just nonsensical nonsense- no words at all and hardly any letters.

Dreams and dreamers aren’t very good at using language during dreams, so they fake it. If people could easily read in their dreams it would kinda defeat the purpose of all the zany symbolism, which is the point if you ask me. What if you had a dream where you got a note in the mail explaining how you can fix all your problems spelled out in plain, easy to comprehend language? It’d be too easy. You probably wouldn’t even listen.

Checking to see whether or not you’re reading a sign as opposed to just looking at it is one of the tricks a person can play on their mind to see if they are dreaming or not.

“Well,” I said to Sam, “It’s a dream alright.”

Sam nodded before replying “Let’s go do some dream shit then,” while putting on the motorcycle helmet.

 

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