Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rue: Rats In The Cellar Part 1

 It Comes With The Job

As I walked through the door, I was still holding the coffee pot.

"What in the hell are you doing with that Rue?"

I slammed back the puny styrofoam cup of coffee and poured myself another one.

"I'm not done yet."

"It's for everybody Rue. That's why it sits in the break room."

"My apologies sir. I'll put it back as soon as we're done here. You know how slow I am in the morning."

I smiled into his bleary eyes and he looked away. Captain Pieprzak rubbed at his temples, eyes straying to the open drawer in his desk. A Colt Python and a bottle of the hardest whiskey he could find in the city. There was a mark on the side of his temple where the gun rested at least once a day. One day he was going to confuse the two and end up with a gun in his mouth and whiskey on his temples. Oh well.

"You're still bleeding from where you shaved sir."

He dabbed at his upper lip and swore under his breath.

"Rue, do you have any idea why I called you in here?"

"Not in particular. Do you sir? I mean, just as long as one of us does."

He dropped his hankie and glared at me over his glasses.

"Cut the shit Rue. I know you aren't as stupid as you let them believe. You and I both know why I give you all the assignments I do."

"We do?"

"Yes, WE do. You're sharp enough to figure out what the hell's going on out there and big enough to do something about it."

"I'm flattered."

Pieprzak leaned back in his chair, reaching into his desk drawer. He kept his hand below the desk. Whiskey. He'd be pouring his breakfast into three of the shotglasses he kept in the bottom drawer.

"You ought to be. I sign you up for hazard pay on all these goddamn assignments. It costs the department a fortune."

"Almost as much as it would to give me a partner."

"As if anyone would be your partner. This job's a death sentence anyway, let alone hanging out with you."

I poured the last of the coffee into my cup and set the pot on his desk.

"You had an assignment for me sir?"

He sighed disgustedly and tossed a folder at me.

"While you were off hunting, there have been a series of robberies at the... uh... the uh..."

He shuffled through his own paperwork, searching for a name.

"The Grand Imperial Gallery of Japanese Antiquities?"

"How did you know?"

I blinked.

"From the folder you just tossed at me."

"Well if you've got the information, get out of my office and go find a thief."

"I thought I worked homicide?"

"Now you're robbery. Tomorrow you may be narcotics. You are what I need you to be Rue."

"And what's that?"

"Out of my office."

I left dropped my cup into the coffee pot and walked out of his office. I heard it smash against the wall as I walked into the break room. No one said a word as I took the fresh pot and a clean styrofoam cup and walked out the door. No one dared.


"So you're working robbery now?"

"That's what the captain said."

Amy crossed her arms and pouted. She started to sink into the seat before she remembered where we were.

"That sucks Morgan. I thought you were promoted OUT of homicide. For good y'know?"

"I know baby, I know. Look at it this way though, it certainly isn't unfamiliar territory. How bad can this be? I already caught the slipperiest thief in Chrysalis."

She giggled and squeezed my arm.

"You are smooth, I'll give you that Mr. Police Man sir."

She toyed with her hair a moment before opening her mouth again.

"So, spill it big man. Where is our daring thief stealing from? Another set of bank jobs?"

I shook my head and passed her the folder.

"Nah. Museum this time. That gallery of Japanese antiquities on the northeast side of the district."

She fell through and out of the car. The last thing I saw before she went completely intangible were her eyes. I hadn't seen those eyes show that kind of fear in years.

When she rematerialized, she was quiet. Amy was never quiet. Not while showering, not while making love, not even while sleeping (unless she was faking it).

"What's wrong babe?"

"You shouldn't go there."

"Why not?"

"It's wrong."

"What is?"

"That gallery. I knew that much even while I was still alive. I went to rob the place once. Some fat rich slob from the Renner District wanted a sword they had on display. I figured a sword would easy to get out. I swear to you Morgan, I had the alarms disabled, the skylight open, and was just starting to lower myself down... and then..."

"And then what hon?"

"I climbed back up that rope as fast as I could. Something else was there. And it wasn't just there watching over everything."

I nodded slowly.

"What was it doing there Amy?"

"It was hungry. And it wanted to add to its collection."

I stopped the car in the no parking zone at the front of the gallery. A red carpet tongue was rolled out to greet me.

"Don't go in Morgan. Please."

"I have to honey. It's my job."

She kissed me softly and my eyes met hers.

"I love you Morgan. You need me, you just shout alright?"

"Alright Amy. Plan on dinner at seven."

She nodded and melted from sight. That was good. If she'd been here before, the place would remember her. Might even been able to smell her on me.

I opened the door and stepped out into the sunlight, squinting for a moment before a cloud darted to gag the sun. There was a short, stout fellow of what appeared to be Asian decent standing at the top of the steps.

"Welcome to my gallery Mr. Chadwick. My name is Donald Yoku. But you may refer to me as Don. Won't you please come in?"

I bowed, keeping my eyes on his.

"Konnichiwa. Sumimasen. Nanji desu-ka?" Hello. Excuse me. What time is it?

Don Yoku smiled and bowed in return.

"Gogo Juu-ji jip-pun desu. " It's 1:10 pm.

"Arigato-gozaimasu." Thank you.

"Did you spend long in Japan Mr. Chadwick?"

"Never went I'm afraid."

Don smiled and opened the door for me.

"It is good to have someone visit my humble gallery who is cultured enough to appreciate our exhibits."

I stepped through the door. I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a bottle of ProTabs. I downed half of them and chased them with the rest of my coffee.

"Do you have somewhere I could refill my coffee cup Mr. Yoku? I seem to be all out."

"Certainly. Right this way and then I will show you where the filthy thief has struck."

I nodded absently and shivered. There was a chill in my bones that trickled down into my stomach and sank into me. I was staring at the clock on the wall.

"Your clock's broken Mr. Yoku."

"It has been since we moved into this building. I've just never thought to fix it. Now please, follow me Mr. Chadwick."

I nodded and started walking after him again.

The clock was stopped at nine minutes after four.
The clock was stopped at ku minutes after shi.
The clock was stopped at agony minutes after death.

Agony after death.

"Please Mr. Chadwick, we have no time to lose."

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff. I like it.

    My only criticism is that the narrator sees Mr. Yoku and observes that he appears to be of Asian descent. Given that he speaks Japanese, I assume he could tell the difference between someone who was Japanese from Korean from Vietnamese from Chinese, you know?

    It sounds like an intriguing story that will mix gritty crime drama with history, mythology, the supernatural, and plenty of sarcastic humor along the way. Definitely interesting.