Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Simpson's Bad Habit

Doyle had come home from the council of war to find Benjamin Stewart waiting for him outside the door. Benjamin steered Doyle away from Simpson’s lab. Finding he could not confer with his colleague, Doyle went to bed. When Doyle awoke in the morning, he found Simpson lounging on the living room sofa in a stupor. That’s when Doyle realized that Simpson had been using cocaine again.

Cocaine was one habit of Simpson’s that Doyle did not enjoy writing about. Simpson had practiced the habit at the beginning of their friendship and had given it up at Doyle’s urging. Apparently, Simpson must have found the pressure of the current situation to be too much for him, and he’d snapped under the pressure.

“What have you done to yourself?” Doyle asked.

Simpson’s skin was a ghastly white and sweat matted the detective’s hair. “Your tone indicates that you are upset,” Simpson said, his tongue tripping over more words than he’d intended it to.

“Dash it all, Simpson!” Doyle’s fist pounded the back of the couch. “Now, when you’re needed the most by those who depend on you, you do this! Young Miss Raintree is missing! Tonight is the night Shalimar makes her move. How dare you incapacitate yourself!”

Simpson struggled to his feet. “Hardly incapacitated. I shall do my duty and more, as you will see. Now, what about Miss Raintree?”

Doyle noticed the strength in Simpson’s voice. Usually in his drugged state, he was listless and relaxed. “The vampires have taken her. The elder Miss Raintree has returned, but she is a vampire herself.”

Simpson nodded. “I was afraid that would happen. Well, we must fight to keep it from happening again. I hypothesize that Miss Raintree will be safe until tonight.”

“Surely the fiends would have done with her immediately?”

“No. Remember the voodoo ceremony we talked about earlier? Shalimar will need someone to kill. Miss Raintree is a maiden?”

Doyle blushed. “I should hope so!”

“No doubt, then, Miss Raintree is a sacrifice of sorts. Now, as long as we find and save her by tonight, I shouldn’t worry about her. We have other matters to investigate. We need to know exactly where this ceremony will take place along Lake Ponchartrain.”

Doyle nodded. Simpson was still in command of his faculties, even though as a doctor, Doyle was disturbed by the detective’s appearance. “You’re ill, aren’t you?”

Simpson allowed himself a slight smile. “Merely the aftereffects of an old habit. It will pass.”

Doyle shook his head. “You promised.”

“I slipped. I shall do my best to never slip again.”

“Then I’ll just get young Stewart.”

“He’s gone,” Simpson stated. “Now there’s a fellow who bothers me, I’ll admit. I haven’t got him quite pegged.”

“I never thought you’d admit it.”

“I’ve admitted that several times,” Simpson said, slightly irritated by the amusement in his companion’s voice. “However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t have him pegged by the end of this episode. Shall we go?”

The two men left the hotel, Simpson being careful to tuck a crucifix in his pocket before they left.

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