Interlude 2.a (Dante Salvo)

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From the case files of Dante Salvo, written circa 1954:

New York City. The only place in America where a cop can be an outlaw and a gangster can be a lawman. Nowhere else was crime ever as rampant as it was here. I looked around and all I saw was a city of gamblers, playing dice with their lives instead of chips. Here, a man could step off the boat with nothing but the clothes on his back and a dream, and in five months he could make a fortune, be a high- roller. Live a life of whiskey and gams, spending every night chatting it up with the big leaguers in the senate all casual like he’s sharing a drink buddy-to-buddy at the bar back in the old country. Or, he could end up dead, nothing left to his name but a coffin and a few ounces of lead. It was all the same. You live to play the game long enough and eventually, one always leads to the other. Always.

My name’s Dante Salvo. I’m a police dick, a detective and investigative pathologist. I’m also a knight, but that’s another story for the boys back home. I came here in the spring of ’31 after I got transferred out of the Atlantic City office for “improper conduct”. I guess that’s what they call it now when you’re the only one not willing to compromise your principles for a paycheck.

The more I think about it, that’s the only way to stay sane in a world like this. You can’t lose your way, not even in the face of armageddon. Never say yes. Never compromise.

I’m sad to report that after almost four years on the job, getting shunted from department to department, I was the only one I knew who still felt that way. The only one who still had convictions, even after all the things you see and do in this line of work. Guys like me, we’re just like canaries in whorehouses, and just as common. Maybe it’s just something wrong with us. Or maybe it’s just something wrong with everyone else.

New York City. A city of six million people all looking for answers, and all of them in the wrong places. Here, you go all in, or you go home. You become a criminal or an accomplice, become a part of a system that’s rotten, or you die slow like a dog, like a slave starving for just one more piece of bread. I came here to buck that trend. I was going to take a third option, and I wasn’t gonna run. I was gonna make this place my home.

Walking into the office, I didn’t exactly have high hopes for the New York PD. Situated right in the heart of Gangland, it was about as dirty and rat-infested as the town, maybe more. I knew it wasn’t going to be much to work with. So I’d just have to make due. This was the last stop on the road to perdition. They had nowhere else to throw me, so this was where I would stick. I’d whip this office into shape like a slave driver, and no one would be able to tell me to hit the bricks. Not this time.

I cast an eye around the room as I looked for my coatrack. Everyone who crossed my eye looked either dangerously out of order, crooked, or both. Almost like I’d walked into an alligator pit, or Wall Street.

Everyone looked at me like they were on edge. As my luck would have it, I’d transferred in only days after one of the biggest bomb threats in New York history. Some whacko nutjob named Mickey Donahue had practically been holding the city hostage for hours before we even heard about it. I was there to find out why.

A fat- looking fella in-uniform walked up to me.

“My name is Sergeant Philips. You are?”

“Dante Salvo, the new detective. I just transferred in from Atlantic City.”

“Oh, uh, of course. Right this way…” He seemed nervous.

We passed row after row of open desks. I could only wonder where everyone was when the city was still recovering from such a crisis. I hoped they were all just busy with relief, but I sadly doubted that was the case. The few people that were around, the sergeant introduced me to personally.

“Michael here is our top-”

“Oi, kid. You lost?” someone asked me.

I turned to get a better look at him. The man was an officer, though you wouldn’t be able to tell if he wasn’t dressed and on the job. His appearance was sloppy and it looked like he didn’t want to be there, kinda like me when I found out the dame I’d been hitting up at the club wasn’t a dame at all, and then things just got all kinds of awkward. I mean all of a sudden you’re just not that into them anymore, and you really just wanna go home and try again tomorrow but you don’t want to leave early and hurt anyone’s feelings… so yeah. Just like this guy. Kinda. Maybe.

… I sorta lost track of that metaphor somewhere along the line, didn’t I?

The sergeant sighed as the other officer mouthed off at me. “And this here is Bobby Thompson, our resident wiseguy.”

I cast the sergeant a wary glance. “A wiseguy, huh? What exactly do you mean by that?”

“Oh, uhhh… nothing, really.”

I sighed with relief. “Oh good, because for a second there I thought you were implying-”

Anyway, don’t mind his surly attitude. He’s just having his time of the month. Otherwise, I’m sure he would’ve shown you just a bit more respect, right, Bobby?” He cleared his throat for emphasis. “Anyway, time for introductions. This is the detective top brass has been talking about. You know, the new guy? Officer Bobby Thompson, meet Special Detective Dante Salvo.”

I moved to shake his hand. Then I noticed his ears, and I stopped. He had some very interesting ones. Big and floppy, and covered in hair. And also perched on top of his head. They perked up.

“What’s up with you?” he questioned accusingly. “Something about me interesting to you?”

I studied him. Lycan. Aged thirty-two years. The scent of the pheromones leaking off of him indicated he was past the point of full maturity for his species. Seemed to be a tiger-breed as well. Alpha. That made me more concerned than it probably should have.

Was he a problem? Probably not. Then again, I just told you being a member of the police department doesn’t make you clean in this city. It was always better to be sure than sorry.

“You,” I said, responding to his question. “Are you carrying your card with you?”

“My… card?”

He looked at me like he was confused. Not a good sign. Not for him or this department.

“Yes, your card. Your license, identification and registration that lets people know who you are and what you are. As an officer of the law, you of all people should be carrying one at all times to set an example for others.”

The lycan sighed. I got the feeling he was getting impatient. “Look junior, I got my ears on display and everything. Isn’t that enough?”

“No,” I responded quickly, shooting him down faster than a red record-setting German fighter pilot on a sunny day. “The letter of law states that you are required to have your card on your person at all times. You must be willing to display it at a moment’s notice. If your species’ unique morphological traits was sufficient identification, we would not need to hand out demihuman registration applications to orks, gorgons, harpies, vampires, and people of a semi-divine nature.” Amongst others. “I’ve had a lot of problems with your kind before because you refuse to carry your licenses. Your ears and tail do not help identify you in an investigation, nor do they serve as adequate proof of registration and citizenship.”

“My kind?” That made him angry. Upset. I prepared for confrontation. Based on past experiences, he was likely to become aggressive with me. That’s just how lycans are, especially out here in the Big Apple, where everyone wants a piece of everyone. We’re all just worms fighting for a piece of Lady Liberty.

I tried talking him down. Didn’t want nothing nasty happening here, or else we might’ve seen more fur fly that day than a downtown pet show. “Yes, your kind. Demihumans. Ethnic groups of non-human, ex-human, or part-human heritage. That is how you identify yourself, isn’t it?”

We stared each other down for a few tense seconds. Finally he backed off. It didn’t look like anything I said did much to earn his goodwill back, but then again nothing ever does when you’re dealing with lycans. Still, it got him to calm down. That was good enough for me. He sat back down in his chair with a harumph. I could only hope that meant we could continue with business proper.

“As a police officer, you have a reputation to uphold for you and your fellow officers in this district. In the future, I’d ask you to refrain from being so casual on the job.” Adjusting my gloves, I asked the sergeant, “I was told there would be toxicology reports for me to examine?”

“Oh, ummmm… yes?” he said. “Our file system is a little out of control here. What specifically do you want to look at?”

“The results of the autopsies done on the bodies of Mickey Donahue’s men. The ones we recovered in the middle of the gas attack.”

“What?” the sergeant said, looking surprised. “Why do you wanna see those? They’re not even finished yet.”

“I’m looking for a powder trail. I think the five families might have something to do with enabling this Mickey Donahue business, but right now, I don’t have anything to go on. It won’t be much, but if we can find any nepenthe in their blood, hopefully we can follow the trail back to the Sartinis. The results of the chemical analysis on their blood might help us pinch one of the Big Apple’s big five.”

I didn’t want to tell him the truth, that I was just using this as an excuse to conduct an investigation into internal affairs. It had long been rumored the cops in this city had a hand in the drug trade, and now I was gonna find out if there was any meat to that. The information from the drug tests could give me insight on how the drugs were made, where they were made, and maybe even potential avenues for distribution. Psychometry might even help me put a time and a place on some of the deals that helped these men score their hit. I’d follow those leads as far as they’d take me, and maybe if I was lucky, I’d find something that would lead me back to their friends in the police department. This was all unauthorized of course, but given the lack of police reaction to the recent bomb threats, I had to do something. Figure out who was fresh and who was a bad apple.

“It’s baby steps, but anything that helps when you’re trying to make a case against some of the most powerful men in New York. Now do you have the files?”

“Yes,” the other man replied. “Aaaaand no.”

Eyebrows were raised. “No? What do you mean ‘no’?”

“I mean we don’t have them right now.. sir,” he said nervously. It was obvious he was offput by having to surrender his seniority to a younger person, despite the obvious disparity in rank. Oh well. I expected that. It was hardly the first time someone underestimated me because of my age. It wouldn’t be the last.

I sighed. “I don’t care how you address me, sergeant, I care about those toxicology reports. I was brought in here to do a job, and would like to begin doing so immediately. Now please tell me where they are.”

“If he says we don’t have ‘em, we don’t have ‘em,” the lycan said unhelpfully.

The sergeant hushed him quick-like. Couldn’t tell if it was fear, secrets, or both. “We loaned them out a few hours ago. Someone came into the office and requested them immediately following the autopsies.”

“… who?” The sergeant fidgeted like a vampire in church. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like it one bit. Where had those files gone, and who were the police handing them out to? “Tell me sergeant, who requested to see those files?”

“Marquis Allesandri, sir.”

I felt a bad taste take root in my mouth, like raw lemons washing over toothpaste. Marquis Allesandri. The illegitimate son of the head of the Allesandri crime family, Frankie Allesandri. Publicly, he headed a successful law firm and made a living as a finance banker and a scholar. He was quite well off. However, there were multiples lines of evidence and paper trails that pointed to him being deeply involved in his father’s illicit business dealings.

Bootlegging. Gun running. Theft. Larceny. Destruction of public and private property. Money laundering. Insurance fraud. Production and distribution of illegal narcotics like opium and cocaine. The Allesandris had a hand in pretty much everything rotten that goes on in this city. A little bit here, a little bit there. Never enough to draw too much attention to themselves. They liked to keep a low profile so they looked good in the eyes of the people, but they were just as guilty as any other gang in this city.

The department willingly gave the papers to a man like that?

I sighed. No choice then. “Get me all the copies of the reports you have on file. Everything on Mickey Donahue and his gang while you’re at it, too.”

“But-”

“Just,” I said, letting the word hang in the air like a dead man. “Do it. Please.”

The sergeant seemed to get my message and scurried off. I sat down. At that moment, I felt like the only thing I deserved in this world more than a break was a smoke. I reached around for the crumpled pack I’d been keeping in my back pocket this past week. They were broken just like this office, but that didn’t mean they burned any less sweet.

The lycan stayed silent. He seemed determined to ignore me. I sincerely hoped this wouldn’t mean he’d become a problem. Instead, he stared at the cross pin on my lapel. Finally, curiosity got the better of him, and he broke the silence.

“That pin… I’ve never seen that insignia before. What’s it supposed to be?”

“Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum.”

“Huh?”

“If you don’t know what that means, then it’s none of your business,” I responded flatly.

Finally the sergeant returned with a fat stack of folders thicker around than my great grandma Mavis. This was about as specific as things were gonna get, huh?

“I told you to only bring me what was relevant, sergeant.”

“It’s uhhh… it’s all relevant, sir. The top brass requested that you help them with the ongoing Broncos investigation before you take on your… thing. These are all the materials we have related to Mickey Donahue and his gang. That, and the preliminary toxicology reports, like you asked. I put those ones on top.” He tapped the thinnest, topmost folder. “They told me that if you want to help out with the next battery of drug tests, they’re ready and waiting for you in the autopsy room, but they won’t put it off any longer than an hour.”

I sighed. Guess I had a timetable now. “You wanna help me with this, sergeant?”

“I’d like to, but…” Excuses. Always excuses.

“Nevermind then.”

“Alright, then I’ll leave you with Bobby. He can help you out with the paperwork.”

The sergeant turned to leave while the lycan, Bobby, silently curses at him and made rude gestures behind his back. He had a vocabulary as colorful as a van Gogh.

“No point in waiting,” I said, grabbing a file. “Let’s get to work.”

Bobby grumbled, and picked up another.

“I don’t even get this. If you’re here to do drug tests, what the hell are we doing looking at…” He checked the label on the file, reading it aloud. “‘Case reports surrounding the rise in youth delinquency on the streets of New York’? The hell does this have to do with anything?”

“In order to understand the impact a drug has on a person’s final moments, you have to understand what came before all that. You have to take the temple apart and rebuild it, starting from the first brick. The more you know about the stiff, the more he can tell you. Understanding the past is the only way to understand the future.”

I flipped through the folder, and started reading. Bobby, although unhappy, did his part too, and spoke aloud from the folder.

“Mickey Donahue, caucasian male, age 29. Second- generation Irish immigrant, son of Richard Donahue and Marlene Donahue. Says here he was charged with his first murder when he was thirteen years old. Jesus, how the hell does that happen…”

I saw him scan the page, then pale a little bit, like he’d just seen the ghost of Christmas Future in July. He looked like he was going to be sick. Since he wasn’t protesting, I took the folder from him to have a look for myself.

As it turns out, the contents of the folder were very, very graphic, and not in a nudie mag kinda way. It showed Mickey Donahue, aged thirteen, half-naked from the waist down and covered in blood. He was holding a baseball bat, presumably the murder weapon, and stood over two dead bodies, both of them beaten and bruised beyond recognition with their heads mashed into pulp.

I kept reading. There were notes attached to the clipped-on photos, explaining that the dead bodies belonged to none other than Mickey’s own mother and father, who he’d killed that night sixteen years ago after his ill-tempered mother got drunk, beat him, and then tried to sexually assault him while his father was away at work. Reading further, it appeared there was a history of such violence in the household. It would explain Mickey’s own behavior rather nicely. A little too nicely. But not why he’d killed the father as well.

The scene began to play itself out in my mind. Mickey, only thirteen years old, cornered in his bed by his alcoholic mother. Resistant at first, but an uninhibited adult would eventually overpower a thirteen year old child. Plus, Mickey would have been used to it at this point. This would be the fifth time. Mother would drunkenly attempt to straddle him, beating him every time she thought he was resisting. Sometimes just for the hell of it. Eventually, she gets it right. Rest of the details are fuzzy. Her success doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things with what happens next. The father, concerned for his child and burdened with the guilt of leaving him with his mother, leaves work early. Comes home to find his boy being victimized by someone who used to be his wife. He grabs a baseball bat and hits her in the back of the head with it, incapacitating her. He tries to help Mickey up, but instead Mickey picks up the bat and starts hitting her. Blood flies everywhere. The father snaps out of it once Mickey’s made a dent the shape of the bat in her head. Tries to take it away from him. Mickey fights back, probably landing a shot on his groin. Doubled over in pain, the father is helpless to resist the first blow to the head, which disorients him but fails to knock him out. Subsequent hits make him lose consciousness. Mickey continues screaming and beating him until the police arrive.

I glanced at the court transcripts. Although the young Mickey made no attempts to deny the murders, his state-provided lawyer managed to dismiss the charges. Mickey was a child living in a broken home, and if the mental wellness tests they did on him were any indication, he had been unstable long before his mother’s abuse pushed him past the breaking point.

I handed Mickey’s folder back to Bobby. He could have it. I was done. I began perusing the other folders. Similar stories all around, though most of them not quite as gruesome. Most of the Broncos were the products of broken homes, broken relationships, and broken lives. People who’d lost any other reason to cling to besides frustration, and hate with no release. A veritable Wild Hunt of outcasts and lost boys. Almost made you think someone had been putting them out of their misery instead of ours.

Still, I had to admire Mickey for his charisma. Getting so much damaged goods together in one place; some mistook his behavior for crude vulgarity, but that took skill. Someone who was naturally good at picking out and exploiting a person’s insecurities, their flaws.

Sorting through the eye witness accounts was where things got interesting. In the few tense hours of infamy he’d enjoyed before what we could only assume was his untimely demise (no body had yet been recovered), Mickey had evolved into something of a local folktale, a boogeyman. Vastly fictionalized accounts of his exploits in the hours leading up to his death placed him at the sites of numerous bank robberies, the mayor’s office, and even atop the Statue of Liberty, spewing fire like he’d eaten a bad burrito, or my mom’s home cooking.

Inbetween all the tall tales, one detail kept coming back to me. Something really weird that I couldn’t quite place as fact or fake. Almost everyone described him as being with a dame in a red dress. Some of them said she had white hair while others said blonde, and all of them said she had something sticking out of her head. Horns, ears, the reports varied. We had no records of such a person, but she showed up in practically every eyewitness report. The weirdest thing about her though was that everyone agreed she was the only one spared from the massacre.

I knew right away that if I was going to get answers, I needed to find her first. She was my only lead, the only surviving Bronco who I could talk with.

“Bobby, I’m gonna be taking these. Tell the sergeant I’m on lunch break.”

“Huh? But you just got here!” Suddenly, he remembered the pile of reports still stacked in front of him. “And don’t leave me with all the paperwork, you bum! Do your own damn work!”

Ignoring him, I picked up the toxicology reports and a few folders full of the eyewitness accounts, and tucked them into my vest, right over my heart. I got up and grabbed my coat from the rack. I needed to think about this somewhere other than the office. Somewhere I wouldn’t be disturbed as much. Bobby wouldn’t like it, but Bobby could deal.

The weather outside had gone sour fast. Before I even knew it, it started raining, pouring down on me like God, or rather the gods were taking a piss on the whole damn city. I frowned at having to correct myself mid-thought like that. Even after ten years, it still felt weird to me. This whole gods and goddesses thing. I kinda wish the fae had never imparted that little tidbit of knowledge. Call me old-fashioned, but I still think there should be only one god, with a capital G. That’s how I was raised.

I defaulted to lunch in Soho. It wasn’t too far from the station, and stopping for a kosher-style sandwich at Katz’s had been on my to-do list since I stepped off that train. What was its name again? The K-Baller? City of Cleveland? Flying Pussyfoot?

… No, that last one was stupid.

Remembering it was called the Cinderdoss, I walked into Katz’s with high hopes. I wasn’t Jewish, but I’d heard great things about their sandwiches here, and I figured now was as good a time as any to try this food of theirs that was supposedly so great. The line was long, but I wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’d give me more time alone with these files.

“What, do I have to do a little song and dance for you? Say ‘open sesame’? Where’s the hooch, you old geezer?”

I heard him from all the way at the back of the line. Some tough in raggedy clothes was causing a scene with the pudgy, middle-aged manager at the counter. Now I wasn’t an official Prohibition agent, but as far as I was concerned, laws are laws. No self-respecting lawman would turn a blind eye to murder because it was inconvenient or because it wasn’t worth his time, so why should Prohibition be any different? If someone openly sold booze in public, it was my duty to treat it with the same urgency as any other criminal offence.

I decided to wait it out though. I didn’t have enough to make a move yet. All I could do was be patient and see how this played out. Like the tortoise waiting for the hare to tire himself and go to sleep so the tortoise could sleep with hare’s wife.

“Listen friend, this isn’t a gin-mill,” the shopkeeper responded, wiping sweat and grease off on his apron. “What kind of business do you think I am running here?”

“Well obviously you’re making a living serving up bullshit, because I have it on good word they make the rotgut here meaner than my ex-girlfriend, and I want in on that.”

The shopkeepr frowned. “I don’t know who told you that, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. Now are you going to order or just keep holding up the line like a shlemiel?”

“What did you say? You trying to tell me that the Marquis doesn’t know where to get himself some gin?” The shopkeeper didn’t seem to like hearing the Marquis’ name mentioned in his shop, because he flinched, and started looking around in a panic. The young tough grinned, and grabbed the panicked shopkeeper by his apron. “Now listen to me porky, because I’m the butter and egg man for some powerful people, and I’m over here sitting on top of more green than a cabbage farmer, high and dry because you feel like being stingy. Does that seem smart to you? Do you really feel like messing with me now that you know the kinda people I work for?”

For a second it seemed like the shopkeeper was about to relent, but he soon found his footing and shoved the little punk back on his keister. “For the last time, I told you, we don’t serve gin here! We are a clean, reputable establishment! Now are you going to order something or not, you-”

I cleared my throat before the shopkeeper could say anything that would besmirch the sensitive ears of any young Jewish children who might be eating here. I’d waited long enough. There wasn’t going to be an alcohol bust today. If he was guilty, that shopkeeper had tighter lips than a clam sucking on superglue. But I couldn’t let a fight break out in public like this.

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I said, walking to the front of the line. “I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation.”

“Huhhhhh?” the troublemaker growled. “What do you want, pipsqueak?”

“Dante Salvo, detective and criminal investigator for the NYPD.” I flashed my badge. “You said you were the bankroll man for who exactly?”

It’s surprising how quickly bravado fades when a badge is flashed. He became submissive almost immediately, his eyes running around the room like a rat trying to find its way out of a maze.

“Well, I uh… you see, the thing is…”

“First, I highly doubt you even know the Marquis personally, much less work for him. The Allesandris are scum, but they do employ a higher calibre of men than you. Men who don’t mouth off about their supposed power and connections in a place where they might be overheard by cops.”

“Officer, you gotta understand, I was just-”

“Second, your claims to wealth are immediately and obviously false to anyone who thinks about it for more than half a second. Your clothes are worn and tattered, and those shoes are at least a few years old. And if you really had as much money as you claimed, why would you bother buying liquor from a public restaurant when you could simply have it imported? All it would cost is the regular shelf price and a small fee for the Pescatorre’s good will.”

“Come on G-man, I was fucking kidding!”

“Third, you do know the purchase and distribution of alcoholic beverages is illegal under the Eighth Amendment, right? Saying these kinds of things in front of an officer of the law is just asking to be arrested.” I let that sink in, and gave him some time to stew. “Well, today I’ll let you off with a warning. Seeing as I’m not an official Prohibition agent and this isn’t an actual cash transaction for ownership of illegal alcohol, there isn’t really much I can do to you. Remember that next time you have the bright idea to try and break the law in front of half-a-dozen witnesses. Actually, don’t. You’ll make my job a lot easier if you’d just let me arrest you.”

He’d had enough. The wannabe scurried off like a fat guy chasing a BLT sandwich, and I took his place in line.

“P-Please sir, you have to understand there was no t-truth to any of the things that pisher was saying!” the shopkeeper stammered. “Like the sign out front says, everything here is 100% kosher!”

He flashed a fake grin, obviously nervous.

I sighed. “Relax joe, I believe you.”

“Thank you, but… m-my name is not Joe…”

“Figure of speech,” I said. “I’d like to order now.”

“Certainly,” he said, sounding relieved. “What do you want? Anything for the city’s finest.”

“I’d like a reuben with provolone and extra peanut-butter. Double-wide, all the way.” He looked at me like I was a crazy person, with an extra side-order of crazy. “Oh, and a glass of milk too, to wash the chocolate down.”

“Huh?”

Milk,” I enunciated. “You know, baby juice?”

“Of course,” he said, still a bit nervous. “Coming right up.”

“Alright, good. How much do I owe you then?” I said, fishing a checker out of my wallet.

“Owe? It’s on the house!” he said, still faking his enthusiasm and gratitude. “A token of thanks to our wonderful police officers for helping this meager deli of mine to stay nice and clean and above all, legal.

“Yeah, well make sure it stays that way,” I said. I knew if I bothered getting a warrant I’d find bottles of that same rotgut stacked high to the ceiling, but the way the office was now, no one would ever believe me. Besides, I respected Lady Iustitia too much to unscrupulously manipulate the letter of the law to my own ends.

A table of harpies and succubi were chatting it up in the shop corner. Something about a club called the Castaway. It sounded like juicy gossip, so I picked up my sandwich and took a seat a few tables down. It never hurt to hear the words of the people in a job like mine.

I took my first bite of the sandwich. It was true what they’d said. The quality of the meat here was excellent, and the preparation above amazing. The thick chocolate fudge complemented the taste of the sauerkraut splendidly, the vanilla ice cream melting on top of the bread soaking in and giving it a delicate sweetness, and the meat was cooked to perfection, and excellently seasoned. And the range of serving sizes they were able to offer… this would definitely become my new lunch spot once I finished moving in to my apartment.

Setting aside my sandwich, I began examining the autopsy reports for Mickey’s gang. They’d certainly died gruesomely. All the bodies we’d recovered from the Central Park massacre had either been sliced into pieces, torn apart, shot up, chewed up, or all of the above. The manner of death suggested a higher level of violence that a normal human wasn’t capable of committing. Demihuman then? Maybe demigod? Hard to say. When the victim was just a flesh and blood human, there was hardly any functional difference between the strength of a vampire and the strength of a godchild.

I couldn’t rule out the possibility that these wounds had been inflicted by an exceptionally skilled and highly trained human, but it wasn’t likely. Heroes, champions, humans who could stand up to ghosts, ghouls and gods… well, they weren’t very common. You only get one Monkey King every few centuries or so, if that.

The toxicology reports were especially interesting, though. Mickey’s goons had been more hopped up on drugs than an herbalist in a spriggan’s pawn shop. Opium, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, berserkergang, Red Dragon… Red fucking Dragon? Seriously? I couldn’t believe someone would actually willingly ingest that stuff.

The list went on, and I sighed. Well, I suppose it was no loss. Even if these men had reformed and lead pious, god-fearing lives as productive members of society, it would’ve only been for one week. Their bodies would’ve shut down and calcified long before they even saw their next birthday. The politicians would shed a tear for them, lament the blight drugs had brought on this city, but they wouldn’t do anything about it after that. They’d forget it completely. That’s why it was my job to clean up this city, not theirs.

“Whaddya mean, ‘get out of here’? I’m a paying customer too, aren’t I?”

I looked up from my files. There was more trouble at the front counter.

“I said get out! We don’t serve your kind here,” the middle-aged shopkeeper spat at an ork who’d recently made it to the front of the line. “Remember the sign? This deli is kosher. That means no swine!”

“Swine?!” That seemed like it made him mad. “Listen buddy, you can’t talk to me like that! I have rights!”

“Good for you! Take them somewhere else then! I’m not going to have you just sitting around here in my deli, scaring away my customers and stroking your pork sausage while you make passes at my wife!”

“Wha- I’m not interested in your wife! Just what the hell are you implying?!”

“That you and your pig-nosed brothers should stick to humping sows instead of real women like nature intended! And what’s this I hear from you? Are you implying my wife is not beautiful? That she is ugly like your filthy, mud-covered pigsty children?”

“You want me to shove that baklava up your ass?!”

I sighed, and reached for my detective special. Squabbles like this might seem meaningless to most people, but they paint a clear picture to me. The work of a police officer is never done in this city.

“I wonder if Al’s having this hard of a time…”

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4 comments

  1. If its a kosher jewish restaurant it will never ever sell meat mixed with any sort of dairy.
    Actually the kosher laws are pretty tough on that and any establishment must choose to specialise in meat or in dairy to obtain a kosher license. That piece of paper costs a few hundreds a month.. Read on that oe something

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