Warning: Mild language
Brandt Mason stood in front of the Elmira City Public Services Building and grinned. Even seeing the building itself made him feel suddenly excited about the prospects of his new life. He had been sad to leave behind his family, but he knew there was always e-mails, phone calls or text messages. He also knew that they were just a short trip by car away. This was his time, his moment. He found his calling. How many people can truly say that about their lives?
His stomach was twisted in knots and his throat felt dry. He could barely contain that nervous quiver of excitement in his limbs. He forced his legs to move, though walking felt as though he was wading through drying cement.
He pushed open the door to the police station and tried to calm his hammering heart. He strode into the building and over to the front desk. Sitting behind it, he saw a woman. He didn’t notice her appearance at first, but as she looked up and smiled at him Brandt’s tension suddenly left him. Her smile was so warm and inviting, Brandt could hardly help but smiling back at her.
“Are you Officer Mason?” she chirped.
Brandt nodded, and smoothed down his rookie’s uniform. The woman smiled brighter and rose from her desk. Brandt noticed that she wasn’t wearing a uniform. She walked out from behind the desk and held out her hand for Brandt to shake.
“Welcome to Elmira, Officer Mason. I’m Mina.”
Brandt took her hand in his and was surprised at how firm her grip was.
“Are you a cop too?”
She smiled and chuckled as she shook her head.
“No, no. I’m a civilian. We’re a bit understaffed here in this precinct. I usually work for the 911 dispatch, but I volunteered to man the front desk a couple days a week.”
Brandt nodded, though his confusion remained. “Why so understaffed?”
Mina crossed her arms over he chest and looked away. She chewed on her lip for a moment before turning her gaze back to Brandt and smiled as confidently as ever.
“Elmira isn’t…the safest place in the world. Most cops don’t last here for very long…the good ones anyway.”
She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear and exhaled a little, as if she was trying soothe her nerves. She chuckled a little before speaking again, “if you’ll follow me, Officer Mason, I’ll take you to the Captain.”
Mina led him through the station, pointing out all of the important landmarks on the way. She showed him the water cooler, the desks for the detectives, the door to the locker room and the way to the cells. She stopped in front of a frosted glass door emblazoned: Captain Fredrick L. Jones.
“Here we are. Don’t let the Captain and the other guys be too hard on you. They like to give the new guys a tough time. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Mina turned on her heel and started to walk away from Brandt. Before she completely cleared his sight, she turned over her shoulder and gave him one last smile. Once again, Brandt couldn’t help but return her infectious smile. Mina was certainly nice enough. Brandt hoped that perhaps he had already made his first friend in Elmira.
He forced himself to focus. He faced the frosted glass door, turned the knob and went inside. Behind the desk he saw an older man. His face was lined and his reddish-brown hair tinged with silver.
“Brandt Mason, Captain Jones, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Brandt said as he extended his hand to the Captain.
“Yeah we’ll see how much of a pleasure it is by tomorrow. Sit down, Mason,” the Captain waited for Brandt to take his seat before continuing, “has anyone ever told you about the crime situation in this city?”
“Well, Mina hinted that this wasn’t the nicest city in the world. Other than that, sir, I haven’t a clue.”
The Captain frowned, “I’ll have to speak to Minnie about that. Can’t have her scaring off my rookie cops before they even start working here.”
The Captain’s frown melted into a dark scowl. The lines on his face deepened and he looked ten years older.
“That’s even worse. Look here, Rookie, that gal is off-limits. You got that? I will not have you bothering my sister.”
“Oh no, I-I didn’t…I mean, I wouldn’t,” Brandt stammered.
“Good. You keep that barn door closed, or else I’m going to use your balls for target practice. I’m going to assign you to Clark, he’s one of our senior officers, he’ll show you the ropes and get you acquainted here.”
Brandt smiled at the Captain as he rose and held out his hand. The Captain hesitated for just a moment but shook Brandt’s hand before letting it drop. He didn’t meet Brandt’s eyes, but just told him that Clark was probably still in the locker room. His Captain’s hesitancy to shake his hand troubled Brandt. He had always been taught that a man’s handshake was tantamount to his character. A weak or hesitant handshake usually meant that the person was of a weak character or moral fiber. Brandt didn’t want to imagine that his new boss was that sort of person. So, he convinced himself that the Captain just was unsure of himself. Perhaps Brandt had been the first officer to come along and shake his hand. Perhaps it wasn’t that the Captain was of a weak character, but his fellow officers had never given the Captain the opportunity before.
He felt firm in his new convictions as he turned and left his boss’s office. Brandt remembered where the locker room was, thanks to the mini tour Mina had given him. He felt his eyes slide over to the front desk. Mina was filling out some sort of a form and Brandt felt the corners of his mouth tug upward at the memory of her infectious smile. He tore his gaze from her and pushed the door to the locker room open.
Inside the room he saw several of his fellow policemen in varying states of dress. They were chatting happily with each other until they caught sight of Brandt. They stopped what they were doing and eyed the young officer.
“I’m Brandt Mason, I’m looking for Officer Clark.”
A gruff, older looking man stood up from a bench in front of a row of lockers.
“I’m Clark,” he said, staring Brandt down.
Brandt smiled and held out his hand for the man to shake.
“Nice to meet you. The Captain assigned me to you today. He said that you’d show me the ropes and help me get acquainted here.”
Clark smirked and chuckled, “you hear that guys? I’m assigned to the fresh meat today.”
Clark ignored Brandt’s outstretched hand. It hung in the air awkwardly until Brandt pulled it back in. He felt his heart sink a little. It wasn’t the sort of first day he had imagined when he took the job in Elmira.
Brandt hesitated, but ultimately did what the older officer told him. He waited just outside the door of the locker room, running over the previous events in his head.
He jumped and turned his head to see Mina’s concerned face.
“Oh no, I’m sure that what they’re doing is perfectly normal for all the new guys.”
Her small hand came to rest on his forearm. He noticed that her young face was twisted up in concern.
“That bad? Look, my brother tells me he’s put you with Clark. Just…don’t let him get to you, okay? He’s an asshole of the highest order, just…don’t let him get you. If he tries to take you into the city, please, don’t go with him.”
Brandt’s brow furrowed in confusion. He had no time to question Mina’s meaning as the door opened. Brandt straightened himself up a little bit as Officer Clark stepped into view.
Brandt’s head whipped over to Mina to gauge her reaction. A sneer of contempt had replaced the concern she had held for Brandt. She glared at him, her eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared.
She huffed, turned on her heel and stormed away. Across the police station, Brandt could see her slamming down her paperwork. Whatever Clark had done to offend Mina, it was clear that it wasn’t something she was going to forgive any time soon. Brandt turned back to Clark to see how the man had taken the rejection. To his credit, Clark didn’t seem the least bit phased by Mina’s behavior. Instead he just smirked to Mason before jutting his thumb in the direction of the garage.
“Let’s go, I’m gonna introduce you to the city.”
Brandt turned back around towards Mina and saw her pleading face. She shook her head at Brandt, urging him not to go with his new partner. Clark just gave Brandt a little shove.
“C’mon Mason, do you want to be an Elmira Cop or what?”
Despite what Mina had warned him about, Brandt knew the answer to that question. More than anything, Brandt wanted to be a cop. So he shot Mina a sad smile, turned and walked out of the precinct. He got into the passenger side of a police cruiser with Clark. As the older man turned the key, he spoke to Brandt:
“You know, I don’t know what sort of cow town you come from, but here in the city…we gotta different way of doing stuff. If you’re going to be a cop in this town, you gotta pay tribute to the one running the show.”
Confusion mingled with worry as the weight of Clark’s words hit Brandt. He wondered what sort of tribute the man was talking about…was he referring to the Mayor of Elmira? Surely not every cop in Elmira met the Mayor? Clark shifted the gear stick into drive and pushed the pedal. The old car lurched forward, and Brandt knew there was no turning back.
I’m suddenly aware that there’s a mistake in the song list, it should be Charley and Sue. Apologies, here is the complete, correct song list:
Orchard House (Main Title) – Thomas Newman
Charley And Sue – Michael Kamen
Card Game – Michael Kamen
TLJ, The Tower – Bjorn Arve Lagim
Control Room – Andrew Lockington
I’ll Never See Him Again – Alan Meken & Stephen Schwartz
TLJ, Jacob MacAllen – Bjorn Arve Lagim
Gunfight – Michael Kamen
I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who has given me feedback on this generation. I haven’t had a moment to reply to comments yet, but I do read every single comment I get (and usually squee). Thank you all so much, and I’m happy that everyone is enjoying this Gen so far. I’ve already got chapter four written, I just need to shoot it and make a video. 🙂
Toast (Also, meant to publish this earlier but I slept through my alarm clock today, all of my activities are like 2 hours later than usual XD)