My Daddy, the Vampire
by Nancy Taylor
circa March 1997


Laurene dragged Nick down the aisles of the costume
shop. She stopped at a rack to paw through the assortment
hanging there.

"I don't want to be Esmerelda or Pocahontas," she
complained. "I don't want to be a princess, an angel, or a
bride either." She huffed herself over to the next rack.
"Isn't there ANYTHING good here?"

"Well, what is it you want be this year?" Nick was
looking through the costumes as well, wondering what his
precious darling was going to pick for this year's
Halloween party.

"Oh, I don't KNOW!" she sighed in exasperation. "I
just don't want to look like everyone else. Yuck!" she
held up a tacky witch's costume. "Can't they come up with
something better than this?"

Nick smiled and shook his head. Every year it was such
a challenge to come up with a costume that Laurene could
live with. And every year, it was Nick's duty to help her
pick it out. "How about we just have Mommy wrap you up in
yards of gauze and you can go as 'The Mummy'?" Nick
suggested.

"You've got to be kidding, Daddy!" Laurene snorted from
her position by another rack. "I wouldn't be able to go
pee!" She scowled and shook her head. It was all Nick
could do to keep from laughing out loud. Chuckling under
his breath, he headed for the next rack.

As Nick was pondering the possibilities of ghosts,
devils ... vampires ... and the like, as costumes for
Laurene, he heard her excited cry coming from several
aisles away. Looking up, he spotted her over in the adult
costumes section. He walked over to see what had elicited
such excitement from his rather jaded daughter. As she
held up her prize, Nick cringed and took a step backward.

"It's perfect for you, Daddy!" Laurene exclaimed. She
held high a black, high-collared cape with a red satin
lining. "You could go as 'Dracula'! Wouldn't that be
PERFECT Daddy????" She was so excited that she was
literally bouncing around the floor. Nick took the cape
and hung it back on the rack.

"I thought we were here to find YOU a costume,
punkin'," he said, smiling at her.

"But the parents are supposed to dress up too, Daddy!
I could go as the 'Bride of Dracula'!"

"I thought you didn't want to be a bride?" Nick smiled
at her in complete befuddlement. Would he ever understand
the mind of a six-year-old?

"Oh, but this is different," she explained. "Daddy,
you just HAVE to go as a vampire!"

Nick smiled and shook his head. "We'll have to discuss
that one out in the car, sweetie." But Laurene was not
about to be put off. She was strong-willed and stubborn
and had her daddy wrapped around her little finger. The
next thing Nick knew, they were walking out of the costume
shop with the cape and Laurene's bride outfit.

The October night was cool, but dry, so they drove home
with the top down on the Caddy. As the wind whipped
through her blonde curls, Laurene turned to Nick. "Why
don't you want to be a vampire at the party, Daddy?" She
had inherited her mother's wide blue eyes and she turned
them on Nick now with devastating effectiveness.

Nick turned to look at her and gave his head a little
shake. If he weren't a vampire and she weren't mortal, he
would have sworn that Laurene had tried to "whammy" him
just then. He smiled a secret smile at the thought ... he
knew full well that Laurene didn't need any supernatural
powers to have him completely under her spell.

"We've talked about the Code before, Laurene. You know
that I can't let anybody know that I'm a vampire. It's our
secret, okay?"

"But Mommy knows ... and Tracy knows and...."

"They're special, Laurene. Exceptions. And it's still
dangerous for them."

"But, Daddy, nobody really believes in vampires. This
is a costume party, nobody's gonna believe it's real!" She
turned on her persuasion full tilt. Slipping the bridge
with the two plastic fangs into her mouth she lisped, "I'll
bet I'll be the only kid there with a real vampire for a
daddy."

Nick couldn't help but laugh. "I don't doubt that," he
chuckled.

When they reached home, Laurene ran up to the front
porch where Natalie was waiting while Nick unloaded their
booty from the trunk of the Caddy.

"Hi, sweetheart," Natalie greeted her. She scooped her
daughter up in her arms as Laurene ran up the steps. "So,
what did you finally decide on for a costume?"

"I'm going as the Bride of Dracula," she said, her
words coming out all in a rush. "Can you help me make it
good and gory? Maybe we could spill some blood on the
dress. Daddy is going to be Dracula. Won't he make a
great Dracula, Mommy?"

Natalie looked up and smiled over the top of Laurene's
head at Nick. He cocked his head a bit to one side and
gave her his best little boy grin as if to tell her, 'How
could I say no?' Shaking her head and smiling, Natalie
turned and carried Laurene into the house. Nick followed
closely behind.

Halloween night was properly frightful. A few wisps of
clouds crossed the nearly full moon on an otherwise crisp
clear night as Nick drove Laurene to the high school where
the trick-or-treating and party were to be held. Nick felt
a little ridiculous, if not conspicuous, in the black and
red cape. Laurene had convinced him to wear his tux under
it because, "Everyone knows that vampires wear tuxedos,"
according to her. He had fed well before leaving the house
because Laurene had insisted that he be vamped out most of
the evening. She refused to let him don plastic fangs like
the ones she had to wear.

They found a parking spot in the large lot of the high
school and walked up the wide front steps and proceeded
through the front doors. The high school students had
volunteered to dress up and man the various classrooms on
the first floor of the school to hand out candy to the
children who trick-or-treated there. It was all part of
the "Safe Halloween" project by the parents' club of the
school. The kids formed a line and went door to door up
and down the long hallway, begging candy from the ghoulies
and goblins that manned the stations.

Laurene was having a great time, and her bag was
getting quite full of treats, when she happened upon Room
15.

"Jenny!" Laurene launched herself at her favorite
babysitter and gave her a monster-sized hug. Jenny Schanke
beamed with pleasure despite having her witch's hat knocked
askew by the enthusiastic child.

"Hey, Munchkin," she addressed Laurene. "Are you
making a good haul on the candy?"

"Oh yeah," Laurene replied. "I've got enough here to
last 'til Christmas." In a little aside behind her hand
she whispered to Jenny, "Mommy and Daddy don't let me have
very much at one time. They think it'll rot my teeth or
something." Jenny giggled along with Laurene, glancing up
at Nick who gave her a grin, flashing his fangs at her.

"Hey, great costume, Uncle Nick!" Jenny grinned back at
her dad's ex-partner. Long ago, when Nick had first become
Don Schanke's partner, Jenny had adopted the charmingly
eccentric man as her long-lost uncle. "If I didn't know
better, I'd really believe you WERE a vampire!"

"Oh, but I am," Nick replied, letting his voice drop to
the guttural level that was natural for him once his fangs
had dropped.

"Yeah, sure," Jenny replied with a full measure of
teenage sarcasm, but grinned up at Nick to let him know
that she was just playing along. "Will I see you guys
later at the party?"

"Oh yeah, wouldn't miss it. Who can resist all those
terrific carnival games?" Nick assured her.

"And the haunted house!" Laurene chimed in.

Quite a group of children and parents had accumulated
behind Laurene and Nick as they stayed to talk with Jenny.
Finally noticing that they were holding things up, Nick
made Laurene move along.

"See ya later!" called Jenny.

Nick stood in line to purchase the tickets that Laurene
would need to play the carnival games in the large
gymnasium. While he waited, Laurene ran off to say hi to
her best friend, Maggie, who was dressed up as Belle from
Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast'.

Schanke, who was on duty as a chaperone that evening,
sauntered over to Nick and slapped him on the back. "Hi,
partner!" Nick turned and smiled his toothy grin at
Schank. "Neat costume, Nick, but who ever heard of a
blond, blue-eyed vampire?" Schanke chuckled under his
breath.

"Yeah, just a bit unbelievable, isn't it? But Laurene
insisted." Nick shrugged and gave Schanke his innocent
'how could I resist her' look.

"What we won't do for our little girls, eh, Nick?"
Schanke was sporting a clown outfit, complete with orange
curly wig and bright red ball nose. He was in no position
to rib Nick too much about his choice of costume.

At that moment, Laurene came running over to grab her
tickets and her daddy. "Come on, Daddy, we haven't got all
night!" And taking Nick by the hand, she proceeded to drag
him across the room.

Her first stop was the sponge toss where she got to lob
wet sponges at the high school principal whose face was
stuck through a board with a target painted on it. Laurene
hurled the sponges with relish, laughing with glee as she
struck her target in two out of three tries. She happily
collected her prize and moved on to the next booth.

They moved around the room trying both games of skill
and games of chance. The small toy prizes were collecting
in a heap on top of the candy in Laurene's bag.

Finally, having tried everything at least once, Laurene
decided that it was time to try the haunted house.

"Are you sure you really want to do this?" Nick asked.
"Last year you were too scared to go through the whole
thing."

"Ah gee, Daddy, I'm a whole year older now!" Laurene
exclaimed. She looked so cute standing there with her
fists on her hips giving him that disdainful look that only
a six-year-old girl could manage. Nick chuckled.

"Okay then, let's go." He held her hand as they walked
out of the gym and next door to where the haunted house was
located.

Entering the darkened building, they brushed at the
fake spider webs that hung in their faces and made their
way through the nearly black house. Nick wasn't the
least bit hindered by the dark and noticed the young man
dressed as a mummy several seconds before he jumped out and
growled at Laurene, eliciting a shriek from the startled
youngster. She backed closer to Nick's side, holding
tightly to his hand. "Are you sure you want to keep
going?" he asked.

In answer, Laurene let go of his hand and confidently
strode ahead in search of more frightful adventures. As
they were nearing the end of their trip through the house,
they approached a coffin surrounded by dry ice smoke. As
they walked cautiously past, the coffin lid opened and a
man dressed in a cheap Dracula costume, complete with
glowing plastic fangs sat up and moved to jump out at
Laurene. She started giggling. That set the would-be
Dracula back a bit. He'd never had quite that reaction
from a child before.

Nick leaned over and whispered in Laurene's ear, "Watch
this...." Lifting his arms and spreading the cape wide, he
lunged at the pseudo Dracula with a loud deep-throated
growl, fangs fully extended, golden eyes glowing. The man
shrieked in fear and bolted out the exit.

Laurene was laughing so hard that her sides hurt. She
was doubled over in a giggling mass, unable to get to her
feet again. Nick wrapped an arm around her waist and
hoisted her up, tucking her under his arm as though she
were a football, and carried her out of the haunted house.
Once they were out he placed her on the ground where she
finally recovered herself enough to look up and ask, "Can
we go through again?"

It had been a very eventful night and Laurene had
enjoyed every minute of it. Her stash of goodies was
bulging, as was she after a dinner of hot dogs, nachos and
popcorn, with orange pop to wash it all down and chocolate
chip cookies for dessert. No doubt about it, she loved a
night out with her daddy.

She fell asleep on the long drive back home, resting
her head in Nick's lap as he drove. He smiled down at her
softly snoring form as he stroked her golden curls.
Turning his attention back to the road he recalled the
night's activities and smiled. He had to admit that
Halloween had taken on a whole new dimension since Laurene
had come into his life.

When they reached home, Nick gathered Laurene in his
arms and carried her into the house and upstairs to her
bedroom. He gently laid her on the bed and, sitting
carefully down next to her, began removing her shoes and
socks.

Natalie walked in on them. "Have a busy night?" she
asked softly.

"Yeah, we had a good time," Nick smiled back. With
Natalie's help, Nick managed to remove the costume and get
Laurene into her nightie and snuggled down in bed. He
kissed her gently on the forehead and tiptoed out of the
room.

As he and Natalie walked down the hall toward their own
bedroom, Nick heard a soft childish voice call after him,
"Night, Daddy! You're the bestest vampire there is!" He
smiled and hugged Natalie closer to him as they walked.

The End