Warning: Mention of drugs and hookers. Corrupt cops and talk of killing people.
“What do you mean by tribute?” Brandt asked his new partner.
The older man smirked and chuckled, “my, you’re an eager one. Don’t worry, you’ll find out what I mean soon enough.”
Brandt felt powerless as the car made its way through the city. As they passed different landmarks, Clark pointed out their significance to the rookie cop.
“There’s the best place to bust hookers,” he said, pointing to an alley behind a Chinese restaurant, “many of them are willing to give some pro bono services to avoid another charge. Some of them ain’t bad looking, too.”
Clark guffawed and Brandt felt as if his voice had been stolen from him. He felt cold, a chill traveling down his spine. This wasn’t anything like how he had ever imagined his first day at work. Mina’s words echoed in Brandt’s ear. Yet, had he refused to go out into the city he would have most likely lost his job. He felt powerless and pinned down. All he could do was go along for the ride.
“That’s where Broke Bob sells his goods. He’ll usually give away product samples if you threaten to bust him.”
Brandt didn’t answer him. Every word out of his partner’s mouth was enough to drive one more sliver of worry into his heart. He shut his eyes and tried to think about something else. He imagined his Momo and his Mom. He thought about his brothers and his sister. He wanted them to be so proud of him. What more could Brandt want than to walk in the footsteps of his heroic mother? Clark’s voice became a low buzz in Brandt’s ears. He shifted in the car seat. He suddenly became aware of the heavy weight of the gun against his hip. He felt his pulse quicken as he glanced over at Clark. Technically the other officer hadn’t done anything wrong, though he had certainly talked a big game. Exhaling slowly, Brandt slid his hand from his knee up to his thigh and towards his sidearm. He cleared his throat as he deftly unsnapped his holster. He stopped and waited to see if the older officer reacted. The car came to a sudden halt, startling Brandt.
“Look, we’re here.”
Brandt looked out his window. They were parked in front of a warehouse. The outside looked grimy and uninviting. The security cameras above the entrance were sure signs that this was certainly not going to be a meeting with the mayor.
“Come on, look alive.”
Numbly, Brand reached for the handle on the door. He pulled it and forced himself to climb out. He felt as if he had a thousand pounds of weight weighing down his body as he trudged forward. Clark led him inside the building, past a security guard and into a backroom of the warehouse. His surroundings were dark and dimly lit. It felt like he was trapped in some sort of nightmare. He had never felt so close to his own mortality in his life. Brandt’s holster was still unsnapped and he tentatively brushed his hand against the smooth leather. The older man knocked on the door to an office. The door opened from the inside and Clark stepped forward first. Brandt followed behind him, silently.
“Officer Clark!” a man called.
Brandt peeked out from behind Clark to see a large, older man sitting behind a fancy desk and chewing on a cigar. He had several suit-clad men standing around him. Brandt could see that they were all heavily armed. He definitely wasn’t at the Mayor’s office.
“Mr. White,” Clark replied, “I’d like you to meet the newest officer on the force, Mason.”
“Mason, Mason…how do I know that name?”
Clark stepped away, revealing Brandt to the older man.
“My grandfather was-”
“Vincent Valentine Mason!” the large man declared, pointing his cigar at Brandt.
“My great-grandfather,” Brandt answered.
“Well, that certainly makes things interesting,” the cigar-smoking man turned to Clark, “Valentine was the king of crime for a spell. Then his own wife got him busted. Last I heard he was dying in prison. Went on some kind of hunger strike.”
Brandt sighed and recapped the same story he had been telling since he was old enough to know who his great-grandfather had been: “My great-grandfather lived for a few more years after we were told that he was dying. He was a tough man. He hadn’t stopped eating completely, but he had lost his appetite. We later found out it was cancer. By that point, his advanced age made treatment more dangerous than letting the illness run its course. He eventually succumbed to it.”
“Such a shame that he went to prison,” the cigar man said, shaking his head, “ah well, so you’re the new recruit. With a legacy like yours, I shall be glad to have you in my pocket.”
“I don’t understand,” Brandt whispered, not daring for his voice to get any louder.
“Of course, you don’t know who I am. How rude of me! My name is Victor,” he raised his cigar in salute to Brandt, “I like to keep several cops in my pocket. I find it makes business a little easier to conduct that way. I can make you rich, you know. If you play along, scratch my back, you’ll find promotions practically thrown at your feet. All you have to do is agree to look the other way at times and of course, there may be a few…odd jobs I’ll require.”
Fists clenched at his sides, Brandt’s heart hammered in his chest. His eyes darted from the cigar smoker to each bodyguard behind him.
“If I refuse?”
Victor laughed heartily, “then I’ll have to kill you.”
Brandt’s stomach lurched, but he refused to let it show on his face. His palms sweat, his knees felt that at any moment they would give out.
“Then I suppose I don’t have a choice.”
“Fantastic,” Victor exclaimed, “I look forward to working with you, perhaps some of that criminal genius your grandfather held will rub off on you.”
Brandt shook hands with Victor and felt hated himself for it. He felt sick, like a bucket of cold water had been dumped over him. He wanted to empty his clip into Victor’s face, reload and shoot Clark. He became so absorbed into his thoughts that the rest of his visit with the crime lord passed in a blur. He felt numb and dazed as he was ushered out of the building and into the police cruiser.
Clark drove him back to the station where they met with Elmira’s fellow officers. They all congratulated him on ‘joining the club’. Brandt wondered just how deep the corruption in this town went. When he finally managed to break away from the group, he went outside the station and sat down on a nearby bench. He felt his body begin to shake. Without any real warning, Brandt felt his stomach convulse. He turned to the side and felt his body fall off of the bench and on to the ground below. He dug his fingers into the grass as his stomach emptied its contents violently on the ground.
“That bad, huh?”
He groaned as he looked over his shoulder. Mina had taken a seat on the bench.
“A little warning would have been nice,” he grumbled as he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.
“I did warn you. I said explicitly to not go into the city with him!”
“Like i had a choice!”
Mina sighed as she pulled her purse from off her arm. She dug through it for a moment before producing a travel pack of Kleenex and a small bottle of water. With a deft flick of her wrist she had the bottle opened. She handed Brandt two clean tissues before pulling out two more and wetting them.
“Here, face me.”
Brandt obeyed and started as she lifted the wet Kleenex to his face and gently cleaned him up.
“Thanks,” he said softly.
“Swish the water around and use the dry ones to clean off.”
Brandt did as he was told and handed the water back to her. She waved him off and instead put the pack of tissues back in her purse.
“Most people would run at the sight of puke.”
She smirked, “I’m a mother, I’ve cleaned up worse.”
“Oh,” Brandt said, trying not to sound disappointed. He cleared his throat, “so…you’re not Mina Jones then?”
She smiled, “oh no, I am Mina Jones. I went back to my maiden name after my divorce. My daughter still has her father’s name though, her name is Briana.”
She paused for a moment before turning to face him more directly on the bench.
“You can call me Brandt,” he interrupted.
“Okay, Brandt. D-did you agree to be in Victor’s pocket?”
“I didn’t have a choice,” he dropped his voice to a whisper, “I don’t want to be, but they said they’d kill me.”
Mina nodded, “if you really don’t want to be one of his cronies…and you really want to make a difference in this city, then I know how. There’s a man in Internal Affairs who can help. His name is Rodriguez. Call him, go see him…whatever. Please.”
She stood quickly and walked away from him. She got a few feet away before she turned around and looked at him. Her face was unreadable and Brandt felt his cheeks flush with warmth. Her gaze felt intense, scrutinizing. Almost as if he was under a magnifying glass. She turned suddenly and jogged away. Leaving Brandt alone with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
* * *
In the end, there was really no question of what Brandt was going to do. He went back inside and grabbed a department directory and found out where IA was located in the city. He slipped away, out of the precinct and didn’t stop running until he got to his car. He roared the engine to life and took off like a bat out of hell. He made what he assumed as a record time to Internal Affairs’ building. Before he got out of the car he looked around. It occurred to him that Mina could be in on the whole thing. What if she was one of Victor’s cronies out to get him killed.
Then, he remembered her soft touch and caring nature: the way she had cared for him, wiped his face after he was sick and told him about her daughter. This was not a woman who was part of a crime syndicate. This was a gentle, sweet woman. She was like him, she just wanted a better world.
Brandt bounded out of his cruiser and into the building. He ran up the stairs and into the lobby. He walked slowly, almost stealthily along a long hallway of doors until he found the one marked ‘Rodriguez’. He knocked and waited.
“Come in,” came the muffled reply.
Brandt opened the door, stepped inside and shut it behind him. Sitting at a desk was a middle-aged, but still handsome man. He looked stressed, his ashtrays stuffed with cigarette butts was a testament to that.
“Help you?” he asked, eying Brandt warily.
“My name is Officer Brandt Mason, I would like to report the corruption of police officials.”
LOOK GUISE. IT’S A CHAPTER!!! omgomgomg! *happy seal clapping*
I’m very excited for this. I apologize if its a shitty chapter BUT ITS A CHAPTER. THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN. XD
As a side note, this took an insane amount of time to record. For some reason the line about hookers tripped me up like 10 times. I should release a gag reel or something. XD