NFL, Part II

Outsider: “You can’t do that!”

NFL: “Why not?”

Outsider: “It’s offensive.”

NFL: “It’s Freedom of Speech.”

Outsider: “Freedom of Speech doesn’t cover that kind of offensiveness.”

NFL: “Not everyone finds it offensive.”

Outsider: “Some people do, though, and you have to respect them.”

NFL: “Whyever for?”

Outsider: “Because you don’t have the right to offend people.”

NFL: “But even some of the affected people don’t find it offensive.”

Outsider:  “But some do, so you’ve got to stop.

NFL: “But…But…Freedom of Speech”

Outsider: “Don’t care.  You can’t name a team the Redskins.”

Hah.  Bet you didn’t think that was where I was going.

Free Speech = Genocide?

So there was this:

“Fuck your laws” she says (Yes, I’m going to assume her gender). “Your fucking freedom of speech is genocide, homeboy.”

Um, you may want to rethink that.

Freedom of Speech matters in this country.  People will not give it up lightly.  You think that by equating Freedom of Speech with genocide people will just shut up and leave your views unchallenged?  That’s not the way it works.

We will not be giving up Freedom of Speech.  So you might want to think about what would happen if you really do convince us that Freedom of Speech and genocide are the same thing, that murder, that genocide, is no worse than wearing a MAGA hat.

Do you really want to convince people of that?  Are you sure?  Do you really want to convince the majority of gun owners, the majority of military veterans, the majority of people that there is no moral difference between saying things with which you disagree and killing you?

Are.  You.  Sure?

Success in that will not convince people to give up their Freedom of Speech.  Just the opposite.  Convince people that their Freedom of Speech is morally equivalent to murder and you don’t make Free Speech anathema.

Instead you convince people as describe above–the ones trained in and capable of violence of a scale most of you cannot even imagine–that they might as well go to violence.

I want you to stop because I don’t want to see the end of that road.

And if you had a lick of sense, neither would you.


On this day: The Invasion of England

September 28, 1066, Duke William II of Normandy invades England and begins the Norman Conquest of England which, in essence provides the foundation for Great Britain as we know her today.

To understand these events we have to go back a bit farther.  In 911, “Charles the Simple”, “negotiating” with a group of Vikings and hoping to create a buffer against other Norse raiders, allowed that group of Vikings, led by one Rollo, allowed that group of Vikings to settle in a region adjacent to the English Channel.  These Vikings were called “Northmen”, shortened to “Normans” and the region called “Normandy.”

The Normans quickly assimilated, adopting Christianity and mostly adopted the local language (keeping some elements of their own).  They did not entirely give up their warlike ways and acquired some of the neighboring lands, incorporating them into Normandy.

In 1002 King Æthelred the Unready married Emma of Normandy, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.  Their son, Edward the Confessor lived in Normandy in exile for many years before ascending the English Throne in 1042.  This, however, led to the Normans casting their eyes across the channel and becoming quite interested in the situation in England.

In England, Edward found himself in conflict with Godin, Earl of Wessex.  He may also have “encouraged” William, Duke of Normandy, Grandson of Richard II, in his own ambitions for the English Throne (wink wink nudge nudge).

When Edward died, still childless, there were a number of claimants to the throne.  The primary claimant was Harold Godwinson, the son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex.   Harold was elected King by the “Witangemot” a “meeting of wise men” an assembly of the ruling class and duly crowned.

Two powerful forces immediately rose to challenge that crowning.  One was Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Haradrada–based on a supposed agreement between earlier Kings of Norway and England that if either died without issue the other would inherit both Kingdoms.  The other was William of Normandy who claimed that Edward the Confessor had promised him the throne.

Both Harald Haradrada and William of Normandy began assembling troops.

A spoiler of a sort arose in Harald Godwinson’s exiled brother Tostic, who began raiding England’s southern coast.  Driven back, Tostig retreated to Scotland to recruit fresh forces.

Harold Godwinson continued to patrol the south of England with levied troops but as the troops were levies and not full-time soldiers they needed to go back to their farms in time for harvest son on September 8, Harold dismissed them.

Of the two main rivals, Haradrada struck first.  In early September he invaded England.  Tostig joined his forces to Haradrada’s and together they defeated an English force raised by Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria.  They then moved on York and took it.

Harold Godwinson had to raise his army again and march North.  And on September 25, Harold Godwinson defeated Harold Haradrada, killing both the Norwegian king and Tostig at the battle of Stampford Bridge.

In the meantime, in Normandy, William was gathering forces.  Modern historians say probably about 7-8000 men.  Contemporary writers claim as much as 150,000.  In any case, they landed at Pevensey in Sussex on September 28.

Harold (easier to write now that there’s only one of them left), with his army tired and depleted by the hard fighting at Stamford Bridge, had to march south where he met William near the town of Hastings.

Whether through strategem or chance (I have seen arguments for both), William’s forces drew part of Harold’s out of position and was able to concentrate the larger part of their force on a smaller part of Harold’s, severely depleting the defenders of Harold’s forces.  Eventually, Harold fell.  Tradition, and one interpretation of the scene depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, says that Harold was struck in the eye with an arrow.  In any case, his forces, now leaderless, were routed.

And that was pretty much the end of Anglo-Saxon England.  There was some resistance over the next few years but in the end, William, now dubbed William the Conqueror, and his Normans had control of England until the ascension of Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet Kings in 1154.

Politics in Uniform

When I went through Basic Training one thing that was explained to us was that any kind of partisan political activity while in uniform was absolutely forbidden.  No taking opinion polls, no campaigning for candidates, or any other kind of overt political activity that implies, or appears to imply official sponsorship of one side or another of a political issue.

That includes not showing up at political rallies wearing a uniform unless one has official duties that require one to be present (like, say, the President’s Marine Corps guard detail).

That was 35 years ago.  The basic policy has not changed.

From the Army’s web site:

That’s not to imply, however, that military members and civilian employees can’t participate in politics. In fact, DOD has a longstanding policy of encouraging members to carry out the obligations of citizenship, officials said. DOD encourages its military and civilian members to register to vote and vote as they choose, they said. Both groups can sign nominating petitions for candidates and express their personal opinions about candidates and issues.

However, officials emphasized, they can do so only if they don’t act as, or aren’t perceived as, representatives of the armed forces in carrying out these activities.

Beyond that, the list of do’s and dont’s differs depending on whether the employee is a member of the armed forces, a career civil service employee, a political appointee or a member of the career Senior Executive Service, officials said.

Military members, for example, may attend political meetings or rallies only as spectators and not in uniform. They’re not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions.

They also are barred from engaging in any political activities while in uniform.

Then there’s this asshat:


Army Ranger, West Point Graduate, and now Infantry Officer.

While I may disagree with his twitter posts under the handle “Commie Bebop”, those, at least were done at one remove from being “in uniform”.  One might question whether a series of posts/tweets on the same topic might constitute “public political speeches” but as a First Amendment near-absolutist, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there.  It’s not in uniform and doesn’t even give the appearance of implying any kind of official sanction.  His beliefs?  Well, I doubt they are compatible with honorably serving his commission but, again, I would be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until he actually demonstrated through his actions that his beliefs are incompatible with honorable service.

But in uniform at a military (including military academy) event?  That’s a clear violation.  Indeed, that the very demonstration that his beliefs are incompatible with honorable service.  He needs to be court martialed and discharged with something other than honorable (I won’t hold out for a dishonorable–I want him gone and without the benefits of those who serve honorably more than I want sanctions beyond that.  I won’t even hold out for a prison sentence although one is applicable–let’s not make him more of a martyr for the anti-American Left to celebrate).

Of course the usual suspects will bleat about “First Amendment” and “Right of Conscience” (Hey, he’s not being asked to bake a cake).  Those who have served in the military know that Freedom of Speech is limited.  Try saying “Our commander is an utter moron, unfit to lead a marine to a whorehouse, let alone a company into battle” and see where that gets you. (You folk currently serving know that would be a bad idea, right?)

This crosses the line so this disgrace to the Uniform needs to go.  He can go with public panapoly or he can softly and silently vanish away, but he needs to be gone.


Blast from the Past: Before the Hyphens Came

I am not a fan of country music.  Nothing specific wrong with it, just not my cup of tea.  One thing I will give the genre, though, a number of artists have put out some very good patriotic songs.

So, some time back I went on a quest looking for some rock or metal groups doing patriotic stuff.  Some folk over in another forum pointed me at a group called Madison Rising.  My first introduction was their rock version of The Star Spangled Banner.  Now, I’ve had some people criticize it as just another case of people trying to “personalize” the national anthem but I take a different view which I illustrate with two points:

  1. It’s on my “main” playlist to come up in rotation whenever I’m listening to music.
  2. My daughter (just turned 10) asks to hear it from time to time.

If it gets people who otherwise wouldn’t to listen to the song and pay attention to it, that’s a win in my book.

But it’s another of their songs that I want to talk about today:  “Before the hyphens came.”

So here it is:

My 5 A.M. alarm goes off, I’m rolling out of bed
I turn the TV on, to wake up and clear my head
I catch the news, just in time to view another stirring of the pot
Talks of in-equality, what people need, and forgetting what they’ve got
But in these times of opposition, the prejudice runs deep
Dividing us by heritage is all they ever preach
They tell us that they really care
But to them it’s just a game
‘Cause we were all Americans
before the hyphens came
When people cared ‘bout who you were
and less about your name
‘Cause we were all Americans
Before the hyphens came

Somewhere down along the line, someone had the great idea
to divide us up by heritage, and profit from that fear
But growing up a while back, before these racial trends
Whether immigrant, or white or black, we just called each other friends
And if we spoke an extra language, it was just another way
To pledge allegiance to the flag, God bless the USA
So don’t listen to those talking heads
There’s one thing they forgot
That this Sweet Land of Liberty
Should be one big Melting Pot
So take away the hyphens
We’ll all be the same
No more lines betweens us
Together we’ll remain
Forget about your color
Forget about your name
No more lines between us
Cause we are all the same

Unfortunately, the nostalgia of the song describes an America that never was.  There was never a time where it was generally true that “we were all Americans, before the hyphens came.”

Even so, there is a big difference between now and then.  Back then, they may not have achieved the ideal.  Irish may have hated Italian, Protestant might have hated Catholic.  In a great irony many of the “whites” hated the “indians” (who were here first).  And everyone hated the Mormons.  But “That this Sweet Land of Liberty Should be one big Melting Pot” was the ideal.  It was the goal we strove for.  While individuals may have wallowed in hatred of others, as a nation we recognized that the divisions between individuals were wrong and weakened us.  As Benjamin Franklin put it in his famous cartoon:  Unite or Die:
And people who came to the US came to be Americans.  Becoming a part of the greater culture was a priority.  And when they became part of our greater culture, the brought a little of their own.  To a very great extent, it was true that “This sweet land of Liberty, should be one big melting pot.”
Nowadays, however, that’s changed.  Assimilation is frowned upon.  People come to the US for economic or other advantage with no intention of becoming “Americans” in any cultural sense.  Oh, sure, there’ve always been some, but there’s been a sea change in the numbers and assimilation is actively discouraged.  And reverse assimiliation, if people of “American Culture” adopt things from others it’s called “cultural appropriation” and people get up in arms about it.
All of that is ridiculous and discards everything that makes America America.  Cultural Appropriation?  That is our culture, to take the best of what we see around us and make it our own.  And it starts with the American people deciding, first and foremost, to be American and not some hyphen.
And so I leave with this musical interlude:

The NFL and the National Anthem

So it started last year, this third-string quarterback on the edge of being cut makes a big production out of not standing for the National Athem because “oppression.” (Dammit, can somebody oppress me with an $11 million contract?)

Suddenly, the fact that nobody wants this third string quarterback is political.  He’s not being cut because he’s bad, oh no.  He’s being cut because…racism.  And other teams don’t want to hire him, not because he’s bad but because, again, racism. (70% of professional football players are black compared with 13.3% of the US population in general.)

And the story grows.  Other players begin to not only not stand but to expressly kneel as further protest.

What they’re protesting?  Um, that’s a good one.  Aside from a general “America bad” and “Trump bad” this isn’t particularly clear.  And the usual suspects in the media cheer their “courage”.

And the result of this?  People are attending fewer games.  Fewer people are tuning in on television.  And fewer people are buying less NFL merchandise (with some notable exceptions which I’ll get to).

You see, they forgot one thing.  The people who are impressed by this protest, in the vast majority don’t. watch. football. games.  They couldn’t care less about the sport except now to point to the protesters on “their side.” But the thing is, that care, that pointing and saying “see, they agree with us”, doesn’t translate into actual sales.  These protests aren’t pulling those people into stadiums.  They aren’t getting them to buy player jerseys or NFL logo apparel or, really anything.

The folk applauding the logo aren’t becoming football fans.

The actual fans, on the other hand, are annoyed, offended, and insulted.  And. they’re. staying. away.  Sales are tanking.

So what are the teams, and the NFL administration doing?

The coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers decides they’re not going out on the field until after the anthem.  Only one player, Alejandro Villanueva, defied that decision, Villaneuva, a combat veteran, stood alone on his side of the field for the National Anthem.  Of course since then, he’s been “convinced” into apologies for doing so.

I made coach (Mike) Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault.

No, Mr. Villaneuva.  They made themselves look bad.

As for the fans, Mr. Villaneuva’s jersey is the best seller in the NFL.  People are voting with their wallets.

And there you have it.  While I’d be the last person to say that players don’t have the right to peacefully protest as they see fit, I would say that fans also have the right to not buy tickets to games.  That they have the right to not order pay-per-view showings of games.  That they have the right to not buy merchandise.

And if these protests cost the owners of these teams money (and it’s not just the team the individual players play for.  There’s some complicated rules on how income is distributed among teams that means it hurts everyone in the league) then the owners (within the limits of existing contracts) have the right to replace them with players that don’t cost them money.

I mean, come on, this is the league that fined a player for twerking in the end zone.  You think it’s not within their purview to speak out against politicking on the field, particularly when it’s driving away their fanbase?

Now that’s Badass

Let us lift a toast to Ben L. Salmonson, Captain, Dentist, Baddest of Badasses.  Hero.

In June of 1944 the US was in the process of invading Saipan to liberate it from the Japanese.  Attached to an army unit was one Ben L. Salmonson, the regimental dentist.  During active combat, there wasn’t much need for a regimental dentist so Captain Salmonson volunteered to replace a surgeon that had been wounded by mortar fire.  He ended up working an aid station about 50 yards from the front lines.

On the night of July 6, the Japanese gathered for a counterattack suicide charge.  Literally.  Commander of the Japanese ordered: “We will advance to attack the American forces and will all die an honorable death. Each man will kill ten Americans.”

At about five in the morning, with forces of between five and six thousand men, the Japanese attacked the approximately eleven hundred American defenders.  In minutes Salmonson’s aid station was overwhelmed with wounded.  While Salmonson was desperately working to save the most seriously wounded, the Japanese entered the aid tent.  One of them bayoneted one of the wounded soldiers.

No one knows what Salmonson said or thought at that moment.  I imagine it was something like “Oh no you didn’t.  Not my patients.” He picked up a gun and shot the offending Japanese soldier.  He clubbed the next two with a rifle then stabbed one with the bayonet and shot the other.  He head butted a fourth, providing an opportunity for another wounded soldier to shoot the Japanese.  He then ran out of the tent seeking help to defend the aid station.

The situation was hopeless.  The suicide attack had overwhelmed the Americans.  While there were scattered pockets of resistance, most of the American troops were falling back toward the shore.

Salmonson was about to become one of these pockets of resistance.  He grabbed a dropped rifle and joined a handful of others in defending against the Japanese.  Eventually he took charge of a machine gun whose operator had been killed.  This was the last anyone saw of Salmonson alive.

The next day, after continual fighting, in which the Americans had lost 919 men killed or seriously wounded, an 83% casualty rate, the Americans regained their position.

They found Captain Salmonson’s body slumped over the machine gun.  He had been hit with bullets, bayonets, and no fewer than 24 times before succumbing to his injuries, and a total of 76 times.  I guess they wanted to be sure that he wouldn’t rise and continue to fight.

In return, the trail of bodies showed that he had killed 98 Japanese soldiers.  The blood trails showed that while wounded, Salmonson had relocated the machine gun several times to maintain clear fields of fire.

Because he was medical corps and not supposed to bear arms–and then following up with paperwork problems when it was recognized that the restriction was for offensive purposes and self defense, which is what Salmonson did, was okay–it took a long time indeed for the Army to properly recognize his heroism with the Congressional Medal of Honor.  48 years actually, with the Medal being awarded in 2002 by President George W. Bush.

Instead of each of the Japanese killing ten Americans, it took more than a hundred to kill one dentist.

Captain Salmonson holds an honored place at Odin’s table..


Minor children brought to the US against their will (at least nominally–I don’t think all of them were kicking and screaming that they wanted to go back to wherever they were leaving).  What to do with them?

One approach is a simple one:  The law is the law and they should go back where they were brought from.  Another is also simple:  it wasn’t their “fault” so we should give them a pass and let them stay.

Arguments can be made both ways and it’s a subject on which reasonable people may disagree.  This is the kind of thing where reasoned debate, votes to determine popular will, and maybe even finding a middle ground that a large majority of the electorate can live with, could beneficially be applied.

Unfortunately, the world is full of unreasonable people.

Some of the unreasonable arguments.

You hate immigrants!

This conflates illegal immigration with all immigration.  A person can be perfectly comfortable with legal immigrants and still be opposed to illegal immigration.  On the flip side, a person could be entirely comfortable with “illegal immigrants” because they like to exploit cheap labor who are limited in their legal remedies to abuse.

Which of those, exactly hates immigrants?  Think about your answer.

As for me, it goes beyond “some of my best friends”.  If you counted off my five best friends, three of them are immigrants.  My wife is an immigrant.  Two of those four people (at least) were temporarily “illegal” despite good faith efforts on their part due to bad legal advice or paperwork errors.

You racist!

Oh, for the love of Mjolnir, not everybody who disagrees with you is a racist.  You can claim it’s about the “brown people” but if you have ten million people living illegally in the US from one part of the world who share certain physical characteristics and one million from other parts of the world with different physical characteristics, it’s not racist that most of ones notice is going to go to the ones that outnumber the others ten to one.

They’re just trying to escape…

I sympathize.  I do.  But we can’t bring everyone who “wants to escape…” here.  It’s not possible.  Any who are “saved” that way are a drop in the bucket.  You might consider even that to be worth doing and that would actually be a reasonable argument except for one thing:  you could help the same people, and more, by helping them make where they came from better.  You know, a lot of nations have pulled themselves out of abject poverty.  Some without much, if anything, in the way of their own natural resources.  Enough of them have used the same basic pattern that you could almost call it a recipe (I’ve discussed this elsewhere).  It works.  It’s effective.  And it helps far more people than we could ever absorb via immigration.

This illustrates the problem well:

It’s hypocrisy since your ancestors came to America illegally

First off, that’s a short form of a rather more involved argument implied by every invocation of Native Americans on the subject.

Europeans invaded and conquered the Americas.  I make no bones about that.  We won.  They didn’t.  And that’s pretty much how things have been since the dawn of time through most of the world.  We may have decided since then that maybe this isn’t the best way to do things going forward (although that might prove to be a pipe dream–time will tell) but that’s how things were done then.

But when you invoke the European invasion and conquest of the Americas as some kind of argument in favor of illegal immigration you are saying that it is once more an attempted invasion and conquest.  It would then follow that the invaded are justified in treating it as such.  That the illegal immigrants are enemies, foreign invaders, waging a covert war on the US.  And that would also mean that folk supporting them are giving aid and comfort to said foreign invaders.  Treason by a strict Constitutional definition.

Are you sure that’s an argument you want to make?

There are plenty of arguments that can be made on both sides of the issue.  Arguments about tempering law with compassion and mercy without completely dismissing rule of law.  Arguments about the good of the nation and its people–to which our laws have to give precedence if we are to be a nation at all.

But those above are just a sampling of some really stupid arguments to make.

Snippet from a work in progress

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday.  I was down with some kind of bug and just didn’t have the energy.

So, to make up for it a bit, here’s a rather longish snippet from one of my works in progress (currently got four active projects which I’m cycling through):

The chill night air burned in my throat as I ran.  Sweat rolled between my breasts.  One vampire I could handle.  Two, were a challenge, but an acceptable one.  Four, however?  That was a different story.

I sprinted toward the edge of the roof.  Alley.  Twenty feet wide.  Next building one story lower.  I could do it.  I had to do it.  My left foot hit the low retaining wall at the edge of the roof.  I leaped. The sound of traffic from the streets below became louder, unimpeded, as I passed the edge of the wall.  I sailed over the alley sixty feet below and cleared the far side by a good six feet.

As I continued to run, I stripped off my jacket leaving me clad only in a sleeveless leotard and jeans.  The jacket represented too much weight, too much heat, for my level of exertion.  Bye, bye, six hundred dollar leather jacket.  I dropped it behind me.

A soft thump to my right indicated one of the vampires landing on the rooftop.  A second thump marked another landing nearby.

Where were the other two?  That was the problem with vampires.  They ran almost soundlessly.  Not only did their tread fall lightly even in a sprint, but they made no sound of breathing to alert you.

I shifted to the left.  I was being herded.  I knew it.  But either they had split up or there were more of them.  In the latter case I wad dead.  But if the four of them had split up, two to herd and two to wait, I had a chance.

Next roof edge coming up.  Abutting buildings.  This one a two story drop.  I kick my feet out in front of me, dropping to the roof into a sliding stop that would have made a major league baseball player proud.  I twisted, parallel to the edge of the roof.  I rolled off, one hand and one foot hooked over the edge of the roof.  I released the foot, hanging down at full extension from one hand, then let go, letting the slight kiss of friction against the wall slow my fall.

I hit, letting my legs flex to drop to a low crouch.  Ahead a shadow loomed, silhouetted against the backdrop of the next building.

I reached over my shoulder and pulled a stake from is sheath.  I charged.  The other charged in return.  I drove the stake forward, a specially built stake with a honed steel point backed by a rowan shaft.

The vampire caught my arm and pulled it to the side and up.  My left hand fell to my waistband with practiced ease. The vampire pulled my captive arm closer, fangs piercing the inside of my arm, seeking the brachial artery.  Pain shot up my arm into my shoulder and side.  My left hand wrapped around the hilt of the Kahr K9 in its holster tucked inside my waistband.  Silver does little to vampires, but lead and copper do nothing.  A little silver solder melted into the cavity of Jacketed Hollow Point bullets made a round that would at least sting.  The trade off was screwing up the balance of the bullet so that accuracy went to hell.

I fired three rounds at contact range, up and through the torso of the vampire.  He jerked away a moment before releasing his grip on me.  The movement pulled me off balance.  I continued the motion, dropping to one knee.  My right arm still burned from the bite.  Blood poured from the wounds.  I ignored the pain, ignored the blood, and drove forward and up with the stake.  It pierced the vampire’s flesh just below the breastbone.  I drove in and up, seeking the heart.  I felt the point hit the lump of muscle.  I twisted, putting all the weight of my body behind the shove.  I had to drive the steel through, get wood into the heart.

The vampire shrieked once, a sound abruptly cut off as the stake penetrated.  I stood.  The entire fight had taken mere seconds but the others would be here soon.  I just needed to take the head before…

A heavy weight hit me in the side as another vampire tackled me.  My gun went flying.  The impact drove me toward the edge of the roof.  Toward, and over.

As my head passed the edge of the roof I saw the glaring neon of signs, cars on the street, pedestrians moving purposefully along the sidewalks.  Desperation drove my actions.  First, I hooked my instep, catching the retaining wall with my foot.  This stopped my forward momentum, but did nothing about the pull of gravity.  Four stories to the ground.  The second vampire, my attacker, released his grip on me and began to fall separately.  Freed of that burden, again in desperation I reached back with my right hand to grab a cornice.  My fingers closed on it, then pulled free almost immediately.  I felt the bone in my little finger pop.  The brief grip nevertheless diverted the direction of my fall.  I slammed into the side of the building and hit a windowsill which killed a bit more of my speed before I bounced away from the wall again.  A glance below showed that I had diverted my path enough.

I had time for two thoughts as I rushed toward the awning that marked the main entrance to the building.  How cliché to have an awning break my fall.  And this was going to hurt.

Awnings are not trampolines.  They are not nets to provide safety for circus acts.  They are meant purely to provide a decorative means of keeping rain and snow away from a doorway or window.  Punching through it killed some of my speed, as did my collision with the poor sucker who didn’t get out of the way in time.  I felt a rib go as I hit the concrete.

All in all, I got off lightly.  Even my enhanced constitution might well have not survived the fall.

I staggered to my feet.  Too many people around.  Where was the vampire?

I saw him.  He had grabbed a man by the throat and was holding him aloft in one hand.  The vampire gave the man a shake and the man went limp, his neck broken.

Someone screamed.  As if that sound was a signal others began screaming and stampeding away from the vampire.  He grabbed a young woman before she could flee.  Blonde.  Bottle, according to the dark roots.

“Shit,” I said.  I wasn’t supposed to fight vampires in public.

I didn’t have any choice.

I reached over my shoulder, feeling, and found that my second stake was still in its sheath on my back.  I pulled it free and took a step forward.  Fire in my left ankle.  Something else I’d hurt in the fall.

The vampire pulled the woman in front of him.  His hand over her mouth stifled her screaming.  I took another step forward.  The vampire opened his mouth wide, exposing his fangs.  I heard shouts behind me.

Great.  At least a dozen people were seeing this.  I could hope that the reports would be dismissed but too many incidents like this and people would notice.

I took another step.  My vision blurred.  I glanced down.  Blood still pulsed from my arm.  A lot of blood.  I had to wrap this up quick.

With my next step I sprinted.  Okay, it was more of a lumbering run.  The vampire clearly saw that I would not be deterred.  He bit and tore with his fangs, ripping the woman’s throat out.  He hurled the corpse in my direction.

I lunged to the right, ducking the grisly missile.  The vampire turned to run.  Mistake.  I leaped.  I wrapped my right arm around its neck.  My injured arm had little strength, but it only had to remain in place for a moment.  I drove in with the stake, piercing the creature’s heart.

With a short, strangled cry the vampire collapsed to the street and I collapsed on top of him.

I lay on the body for a moment.  I let my eyes close, just for a moment.  I opened them to an unholy keening and a strange pulsing of blue light.  I shook my head and started to struggle to my feet.


I only half understood the word.  I turned in the direction of the voice.

“I said ‘Freeze!'”

Oh.  My muddled brain finally parsed what ears and eyes were telling me.  Sirens, the flashing lights of police cars.  An officer stood, pointing a gun at me.  Young, barely out of the academy I guessed.  I could see terror in his eyes.

I froze.  I’ve hunted vampires for years but there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more dangerous than a terrified rookie cop.

“Hands on your head,” he said.

I complied.

“On your knees.”

Again, I complied and used the movement to cast a quick glance at my right arm.  Blood still surged from it in time with my pulse.

“Officer,” I said forcing my voice calm.

“Shut up.  Just shut up.”

“I’m bleeding out over here, officer,” I said.  My vision started to tunnel. “And I think I’m about to pass out.”

I didn’t quite get the word “again” out before blackness swallowed me.