The rat scurried along the drain, thinking to himself about peanuts. The rat had a fondness for peanuts, an obsession for them really. The younger generation was all into the cheese craze, but this rat would have no truck with it. Peanuts were quality, wholesome, food, just like his mother had taught him in the ancient rat tradition of throwing him back into the seething brood of children while she tried claw open the discarded packets and gorge herself on their contents. He sniffed around, habitually more than to find anything in all this trash, which was impossible even for the rat. He reached the end of the drain;garbage bales stacked next to the overflowing dumpster. He walked into the middle of the alley, got onto his back legs, and stood up for a moment in the gap. It looked down towards the one flickering light, which seemed to just weakly emit a glow instead of actually illuminate something. Suddenly it darted like bullet to the pile of refuse on the other side. From the far end of the alley a figure was approaching. The rat fled not just because of the size advantage, which was considerable, nor the speed with which it was approaching, which was negligible. The cities Rats these days were well used to the vermin they cohabitated with, living in, among, around and sometimes on top of them, and they got good at reading them quickly. The rats alive today were the descendants of rats who'd learned to know that a quick romp in the cookie jar while the maids were shrieking could easily lead to an ugly session with a blood crazed butcher. The man, if men as a whole didn't object to the affiliation, which they probably wouldn't because it would involve getting to know the subject, was definitely the Wrong Sort. He walked, for lack of a better term, down the alley looking completely absorbed in his own world, which even to the rat, seemed like a dirty place to be. The man moved with the fluidity of a rusty clock, it was actually jarring to look at, as if the man had an animosity for feet, or frequented the worlds most sadistic cobbler. He came up the alley, after some time, in a series of stomps, pauses, foot collisions and stumbles. The man couldn't be mistaken for a drunk, the amount spirits necessary to produce that walk would have permeated even through the rubbish. From its hidden warren, the rat caught the look in the mans eye as he walked close underneath the light; it was the look you got in men that only got drunk when the bottles where put away and the glass was flying. When the rat saw this, he fled through the trash the other way. Funny, it thought to itself as it descended into the drainage hole, he smelled like peanuts.
"... So what do you think of him Sergeant?"
A terrible example to the community and the force, Sergeant Adams answered in the privacy of his own head. Lieutenant Herc was a conniving, grasping bastard, who clawed his way up off the street with mixture of informing on his peers, suspicious arrests and a healthy dose of petty thievery. These days he had made rank and well beyond such things, there was nothing petty about his thievery now.
"Yes, sir. Know him well, back from the foot units," filtered Adams mouth.
"Good, good, fine commander for the men. I requested him specifically you know?" said Major Hobbes, taking the large bronze oak cluster down from behind his desk and putting it in the box with a thump.
"Sir," replied Adams flatly, refusing to allow any of the bloody visions dancing through his head to show up on his face.
"Yes I rather thought so," said the Major, somehow picking up approval in the verbal sidestep. "An excellent choice to lead the men in my departure," the chubby face stared at the window as it said this, assuming a bemused look that Adams knew was nostalgia.
"I'm going to miss this you know," continued the Major, unwittingly plunging forward into the watery depths of nativity. "The comradery, the fraternal code, the shared burden." Said the man absent mindedly placing his gilded, silver inkstand on top of the stack of heavily framed certificates, commendations and awards, in the last of the boxes. "The sense of doing something to make the world a safer place. Ah, it's a good life being a policeman, isn't it Sergeant?"
You certainly made all those conferences a safer place, was the mental response.
"Sir," was what Adams said.
"Yes," chuckled the pudgy officer stacking the boxes on his desk. The major had a knack of picking up anything from interest to amusement in the standard, curt, response, but an absolute failure to notice things like clenched jaws or whitened knuckles. "I often think my life has been golden since the day I took the Oath."
Adams took a little more time to reply to this one, he himself had often fantasized of going back to the night he took the Oath, finding his younger self, and beating him senseless just to get it over with.
"Uh...sir," was the delayed response, a dangerous lapse in subordinate discipline, as his superior soon proved.
"Yes, yes. Actually to commemorate my service, I've been awarded this truncheon. This right here, on my hip," said the Major, gesticulating to the ornate, useless stick of silver hanging from the front of the belt. Adams up until this point had purposefully not laid eyes on it, hoping that it would not come up.
His "Sir." was delivered perfectly this time though, Adams was determined to not let this go any further.
"Well since I have this, my old truncheon is rather useless now," the Major continued " and I thought you might like to keep this as an inspiration."
Hobbes walked over to his desk and picked up his still shiny, red oak, official police issue truncheon, the only object not packed up into the boxes. He walked back to where Adams was standing at attention by the door, and held out the nightstick where it hung in his clammy hands. Adams looked down at the scarred and battered piece hanging from his belt, he'd picked it up god knows how long ago in one of the little side stores expressly forbidden and therefore regularly frequented to policeman. It was an evil looking dark block of mahogany, almost regulation aside from the hollowed out core weighted with lead.
"Can't sir," said Adams bringing his eyes up, back to their straight blank stare. "Couldn't deprive you of the memories sir. Besides not right, me carrying a stick with an officers marks on it. Against regulations sir."
Hobbes looked down on the baton, and realized his initials were etched on the bottom. The man had never really inspected the thing, never having much use for it, even though he kept it on a little stand on the front of the desk. Adams however knew the thing in detail, having spent countless hours standing in front of it, he was also the sort of man who automatically appraised the details of his surroundings, starting with the big, spiky or liable to go boom.
"Oh," the Major said, showing that after years of dormancy, his subconscious was not actually dead. Adams suspected that this ill conceived venture was supposed to be some sort of parting gift, the sentimentality made it only slightly less offensive.
"Yes, well....I guess I'll give it to my son or something." Said the Major, showing awkwardness for the first time, that is from his perspective, on the last day of a long career of bluster and good cheer. He stopped again, and looked out the window with a soft gaze, his eyes lost in thought.
"You know...I knew I didn't have the most dangerous job...but you always think you'd be wearing this the day you die," the Major said after a little while, unclipping his badge and placing it on the table.
With that the Major picked up all of his belongings, walked to the door and left Adams alone in the room with a beautiful view of the City, beside an an empty desk with a shiny badge on it.
He picked it up after a little while and looked at it, after he had heard the Major walk down stairs, and pack his stuff into the car, punctuated with the crash of glass and silver, he followed the Major out and down the stairs. He crossed the main hallway ignoring the offices on the side and the half-hearted greetings from men waiting around to be called in. Going down the front steps he transformed into his walk, almost in his own office. He crossed the buildings threshold and he was golden, any traces of the dutiful subordinate were gone now, now he was king. He put the badge in his pocket, put on his cap, zipped up his jacket lit a cigarette and sauntered off into the night to find a dark spot to lurk in.
The plan was foolproof, and it was big. It was more like many plans wrapped up into one giant fiendish puzzle. It definitely would have given everyone a little shiver if it were known to the general public, not from the size or the scope but from the ambition. But it wouldn't, no one would ever know what truly happened and that was the beauty, and that was why it was foolproof. This part was a small facet of the operation involving some dubious associates, a devious little nugget that should have gone off without a hitch. The problem with foolproof plans though, is that they too often are carried out by fools, and sometimes, like now, they smell like peanuts.
The man walking down the alley was definitely, as the rat surmised, the wrong sort. His name was Violet Nelson. He killed people often for, but not always, large amounts of money. He was known to almost everyone as Nutcase Nelson or more formally as Violent Nelson, but almost never as Violet. That was because Nelson was known to forgo his usual fees at times and no one wanted to risk using the possibly provocative title in case he was particular about it. In truth he wasn't, he was perfectly fine with the name, as only a true social pariah could be. He never received taunting as a child over it or funny remarks about it from prospective employers because children like rats are observant and can recognize the signs of a true sociopath easily. As he legged his way up the alley he paused as he passed the light, hidden in the shadows by his drab dark clothing. He waited for a few seconds, looking around, swaying gently, and saw a rat scurry through the garbage and disappear just as fast. He continued down the alley and paused at a rusted door, hidden in the shadows at the base of the sheer buildings on either side. He knocked irregularly on the door, not in some secret code, but with the unusual staccato rhythm he did everything in.
Nothing happened. He wasn't the man to knock twice. He kicked the door, not with any precision or grace but with a solid umph and a marginal amount of body weight. It broke free, corroded bolts didn't give much resistance. It was darker inside but there was a light at the end of a long hall. He reached into the dark grey mass of his jacket and pulled out a small revolver. It didn't shine or gleam or do anything more impressive then sit ominously in the shadowy folds of his hand, but he found it always made a big impression. He walked slowly down the hall, holding the pistol straight up in his hand, his free fingertips brushing lightly long the wall. He got the the end of the hallway and realized it descended off to the side down centers meshing into concrete from the wood panels on the hall. He began going down the stairs taking turns as it descended lit by lights on each wall. It got colder as he went down, by the time he reached open hangar doors at the bottom his breath steamed in front of him and his gun acquired a dull coating of frost. He stepped through the double doors and into a meat cellar, or what a meat cellar is without meat, which I basically a big freezer with a lot of hooks on the ceiling. It was freezing, florescent and ominous. It also had a table.
Adams always admired the ingenuity that the inhabitants of the city managed to put to use in turning everyday objects into weapons capable of incapacitation or death. In his career as a Policeman Adams had come across people trying to attack him with everything from the predictable frying pan to the less deadly but somewhat more surprising clothes pin. The economy of thought that human beings were capable of when it came to violence was endless but the Cities weapon of choice would indubitably go to the always handy, Half Brick. The Half Bricks were lightweight and compact, but still dense, easily wielded in close quarters but equally as useful on a short throw. The Half Bricks were everywhere and could definitely knock a man out, a more determined individual could kill with its close cousin, the Brick, but those were harder to find around here.
Currently Adams was having a quiet smoke in a dark corner trying to decide if he should stop a man trying, without much success, to put one to use.
Both men were past drunk, the build up must have taken awhile because the men were in a state where the human body was operating past the point of anything resembling cognition. They were both currently standing outside a bar, trying to scream at each other, one facing the patrons coming out of the flickering lights to watch the nights festivities, while the other was looking at the people coming up the street to join the growing circle. A slow drizzle was beginning to fall, but people were willing to get wet for some free entertainment, as a big man in black with a long cane hurried his way into the center of the ring, and stopped a few seconds, panting, before announcing.
"Ladies and gentleman, I'm sorry I'm late, I was just polishing these," the man looked down on his copious chains and rings, turning them in that pompous self deprecating way that deliberately shows wealth while still pretending to be self effacing. His neck and fingers were draped in gold, catching the light flickering out of the bar, making the colors run and jump like liquid, but he did it in a lazy sort of way, as if it were more of a duty at this point. It would have been an advertisement for a mugging if it had been anyone else, but this was Jolly Rogers. Jolly was an old street man, loud and boisterous, always talking about his days as a river pirate, and anyone who laid a hand on him was sure only in the fact that the hand in question was not going to be theirs for long and was, more importantly, flat. He was the real reason no-one had turned the fighters around yet, Jolly's men were just beginning to filter in an out of the circle with their notebooks and purses, scratching down bets with professional industry. One of them had comically sidestepped a swing with the Half Brick from one of conscripted fighters, to a general chuckle from the crowd, and was relieving the attempted assailant of the brick, when Adams decided to step into the lights.
It made the crowd go quiet, not to his surprise, but Jolly was smarter then his huff and bluster suggested and was an old hand at working a crowd.
"Ah, Sergeant, how have you been? As you can see my associates here are relieving these gentlemen of potentially fatal items." Rogers gestures vaguely at the men in the simple black button down, black slacks and black bowlers. While their black was a uniform, his was a statement. Jolly was the big man in this area, and he knew what people expected of that, his pomp was not so much of a character trait as a job requirement.
"Ah Jolly, I was actually here to talk to you about a bet," this actually made the crowd freeze, which is exactly what Adams meant it to. After glancing over the startled faces, recognizing most and making sure to remember a few, Adams went on, "A dollar on the man on the right please."
The crowd unfroze at this, this meant Adams wasn't here as an officer of law, but was just an honest working man here for a laugh and a drink, regardless of uniform. The bets were technically illegal, but then again so was public drunkenness, the fight, the bar, the half dozen or so weapons Adams knew was stashed around the crowd, the crowd itself, and the thirty children running around after dark. Adams wasn't here to arrest the neighborhood though, and after years of deliberation had decided it was better to indulge in some pretty vice than to be object of a bigger crime.
"Now Sergeant you know we don't indulge in anything like that around here, we're just here for a laugh and a quiet drink inside, with the lights off, no talking, or nothing. No women of course."
Under the Cities most ancient Laws and Ordinances the consumption or sale of alcohol was illegal while attempting to engage socially in any way deemed outgoing or committing any civil disturbance that could be classified at fracas level or higher. Men were forbidden from drinking with women, technically women weren't even allowed to think about alcohol. Ducks were wholly banned for some reason. Adams read the Laws and Ordinances one day. He'd got about halfway through the Criminal Prohibitions before laughing and stopping. He'd promptly handed it off it to some poor sod unsuccessfully trying to keep out of the rain, who promptly used it as an umbrella.
"Oh sure Jolly, but if you’re trying to tell me that I can't even make taste I'll have to put this back on," said Adams unclipping his badge and stashing it away. He took out a quarter and flicked it at a bowlered assistant who deftly caught it, stashed it, and scribbled it onto the pad he was holding. "Man on the left, three rounds."
Adams walked out of the circle, and the hubbub surged. A Policeman may be the last person anyone wants to see while committing a crime but once you've seen him break the law, you knew that you were among equals. Adams knew this too, and was more than willing to exploit it in a professional way. A Policeman's worst enemy is a hostile crowd, and Adams figured that brewing a little solidarity with the masses was worth a little ethical and literal gamble once in awhile. Not to mention the things that people said when there was blood and alcohol flowing were exactly the sort of thing a Sergeant with eight open homicide victims in the last six months, wants to be hearing. Eight unsolved without any sort of apparent reason or connections that is, plenty of people got killed every day but those sort of people were usually in partial states of undress, inebriation or mostly, just stupidity. These sorts of matches were much more harmless than some of the ones that Adams suspected Jolly had a hand in. Jolly was rumored to allow two men a chance to enter a ring and one of them to come out a very rich man. Adams heard these rumors and did not like them. However this was the Upper Bowery, still high enough in the City to have a sense of community and licit enterprise, partly thanks to Jolly. Adams knew that in plenty of parts in the city that the only thing the men came out with was their lives, and even then it was debatable. Jolly offered a quick, reliable way for many young men to get a start up out of the Cities oceans of poverty, even if it wasn't necessarily humane.