Disclaimer: I do not own the Andy Griffith Show nor any of the characters used here. Only the plot, such as it is, is mine.

Town, Drunk (Or, Barney the Vampire Slayer)

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"...should've listened to me, I told you, nip it in the bud, I said. Nip. It. In. The. Bud!" Barney Fife was in fine fettle, his whipcord thin body practically vibrating with righteous indignation. "In the bud!"

"Blood?" asked an interested voice from one of the jail's two holding cells.

Barney spun around like a hair-trigger top, and glared at the prisoner. "Not 'blood', Otis. Bud, I said 'bud'!"

"Oh." Otis promptly lost interest in the conversation. He slumped back on his cot and was soon serenading them with a fresh chorus of drunken snores.

The wiry deputy turned back to the sheriff, whom he'd been harranguing before Otis' interruption. Andy Taylor was slouched comfortably in his battered old chair, both feet propped on the corner of his desk, fingers laced behind his head.

"I told you," Barney continued, after another annoyed glance at Otis. The prisoner snorted loudly and rolled over in his sleep, oblivious to the deputy's ire. "Nip it, I said -- "

"Oh, give it a rest, Barney." Andy sighed. "Things aren't anywhere near as bad as you're makin' them out to be."

"Not near as -- ?" Barney's eyes threatened to bulge right out of his head. "I can't believe what I'm hearing! Not as bad? Just where've you been these last few weeks? Cause from where I'm standin' things are about as bad as they get!"

As he spoke, Barney's voice continued to rise until it was nearly a hypersonic squeak. Which is great if you're talking to bats. Otherwise...

Andy held up a placating hand. "Now, Barne. Just ease 'er down a notch, okay?"

"Andy, we've got the only town drunk in the state who drinks the townfolk, and you want me to ease down a notch! What's the matter with you?" He slapped the desk for emphasis, and winced at the sharp pain that shot through his hand. "We've had nothin' but trouble ever since the Alucards moved into the old Ramsey place. Bad enough when it was just a few cows, but now..."

Barney started to pace, waving his spaghetti-thin arms for emphasis.

"And did you listen to me when I said there was something odd about those people? Did you? No. Don't listen to ol' Barney, what does he know? You and the mayor and the rest of the town council...What do you do? Roll out the welcome wagon, that's what you do! 'Welcome to Mayberry, make yourselves at home, help yourselves to the citizens' jugulars, we've got plenty more where they came from.'" He shook his head, a martyr to the unfathomable workings of small town minds.

"Barney, you've been workin' too hard," Andy said, calmly. "I swear that vein in your neck's throbbin' to beat the band. You're gonna bust a blood vessel if you don't simmer down. Why don't you go on home and get some shut eye? Or head over to Thelma Lou's and watch some TV."

"Somebody's gotta stay with Otis, you know that." Barney rubbed the back of his pencil-thin neck. He was awful tired, and the thought of a few hours in Thelma Lou's company was tempting. "And I know you been pullin' the late shift every night this week. You look like you could use some rest, yourself. You're lookin' kinda peaked. "

"Oh, I don't mind," Andy drawled, smiling lazily. "You go on."

Barney shot a glance at Otis' cell, with its special blackout curtains over the barred window. His pigeon chest puffed out dramatically. "I'm gonna get it outta him this time."

"Get what outta him?"

"Where he's gettin' the stuff," Barney said, striding toward the cell. He wanted to look like John Wayne or Edward G. Robinson; he just about managed Buster Keaton. "C'mon, Otis. Wake up! I want to talk to you."

"Leave him alone, Barney." Andy sounded exasperated, now. "Unless you'd rather he snacked on your neck, which might happen if he can't get the bottled stuff no more."

Instinctively, Barney clutched at his neck. But he wasn't ready to abandon his mission. "Look," he began, ticking off the points on his fingers. "One. We know that Otis ain't gettin' the stuff from just anybody. There ain't that many bootleggers that run blood..."

"Blood?"

"Go back to sleep, Otis!" Barney moved back to the desk and continued in a quieter voice. "Two. He gets it special order, mixed with booze so's he can still get his buzz.

"Three. Whoever these bootleggers are, they --"

"Barney, just drop it, okay?" Andy sighed again. "Even if you do figure out who the bootleggers are, we're not gonna bring 'em in."

Indignation flared in the deputy's eyes and he straightened himself to his full height -- which was still shorter than Andy by several inches. "You can't be serious! We've got to bring 'em in. We're the law!"

"And I'm tellin' you, we ain't gonna," Andy said just as firmly. "We can't."

"Well, why ever not?" Barney demanded. Never what you'd call relaxed, his rail-thin frame was currently twanging taut enough to pluck a tune on. "It'd keep Otis and the others from gettin' their supply --"

"Because, " Andy interrupted, leaning forward and showing his new, strong, white fangs. "If we did, then where would I get mine?"