Sunday, March 09, 2008

Two Guns 20 - I Fought The Law

Sharon's hands rested on the sides of a sink, her head hung low, and the faucet cheerfully splashed water against porcelain, all without her moving. It seemed like she'd sucked out all dynamism from the room; even the overhead light refused to flicker. Through raw will, she summoned the energy to turn the faucet off. She slowly lifted her head and chanced a look at the mirror.

So much for "pretty when you cry". She was a mess.

With plodding steps, she left the restroom, headed for the elevator and pressed the "Lobby" button. On the way down, she rested her forehead against the cool metal of the side panels, as if the touch of technology could suck the fever out of her brain. The elevator car came to a soft stop, the doors opened, and Sharon wouldn't budge. She stayed like this for a minute, trying to calm the storm in her, but finally she gave up, blindly hammered the "Open Door" button and stepped out.

"A moment of your time, Detective..." came a female voice from the side. Sharon didn't have to look to know it was the woman that had left all those calls, obviously none the less motivated for it. Assistant District Attorney Karen Ayers...small, brown hair framing a gaunt face. 28 and already old.
"Do you have a subpoena?" Sharon asked, exhaustion dripping from her words.
"I'm working on it..."

Sharon weighed the legal consequences of punching Ayers versus the amount of satisfaction she'd get out of it and came up short.

"Then there's not a damn thing you're getting from me. 'ta."
"Detective, as part of an official investigation, you will..."
"What?" Sharon asked, stopping her tracks. She turned to face Ayers, who slowly comprehended the magnitude of her misstep. "Official investigation my ass, Ayers. Show me some court orders."
"As I said, I'm in the process of getting them signed off. But it's in your best interest to start cooperating."
"Oh, in the process. So, when can I expect your mythical 'case'?" Sharon said, every breath a step towards Ayers. "When the Yankees make it to the Playoffs? 'cause I gotta tell you, they're not looking good this decade."

Ayers shrunk back from her, almost backing herself into a corner, but when Sharon stopped advancing, she met her stare.

"There's a difference between what I can prove in court and what I know," Ayers said, ratcheting up her own attitude to strike back. "For example, I know that you're dating anIngues hitman. And I can prove in court that Captain Whitton is involved in a criminal conspiracy."
"Oh, that's gonna be a great coup for truth and justice. You want to take down the only decent cop in the whole mess."
"Decent people don't break the law, Detective."
"Yet you're standing here, blackmailing me. Guess the law isn't so great, after all."
"I need results."
"So does Whitton."

Ayers bit her lip.

"I don't exist to fuck with you. Whatever you or Whitton have done in the service of keeping this city safe can be...overlooked. But the situation is out of control, that means people call me, and that means I'm treading on you. Results, Detective. If you don't help me, the only other thing I can do is bring you down - I can't have you running around as a free agent making more trouble."
"I'm sure your superiors would love to hear about your methods."
"Go ahead. You touch me, I go public, we both go down, plus Whitton. The whole thing will blow wide open, and the rest of the office will be all over the rubble."
"So, I get what I want. How do you get what you want, Detective? What do you want?"

For a second, it looked like Sharon would simply rip out Ayers's throat, but after some deliberation, the beast in her quieted down.

"I want your guarantee that you're not going after Captain Whitton or Mark Simmons."
"Simmons, hm? Is that his name?"
"Can you guarantee that?"
"Can you get me Alexandra Ingues?"

Sharon didn't say another word, but nodded slowly.

"I want evidence that she's involved in organized crime," Ayers said, "whatever you can dig up. I don't care about the cartel rabble, I need her."
"And what do I get?"
"There will be ripples in the water, but I can stall things long enough for Simmons to skip town - and I can lose files if the FBI knocks on my door. If you can getWhitton to step down - health issues or what have you -, then you'd save me the trouble of dealing with him."
"That's not a good deal."
"It's the best deal you're getting. So, what's it going to be?"


With heavy steps, Sharon walked through the hallway of her apartment building, fishing for the keys in her jacket. The night outside was getting lighter, it seemed, a blanket slowly withdrawing from the city. The sun wouldn't rise for another hour, no, but the night was retreating.

She found Mark inside the apartment, resting on the couch and watching TV - explosions and aerial combat, at an hour where she would be asleep if things were normal. The back of her mind nagged her about giving the neighbours something unusual to come and investigate, but what she really wanted was a coffee and a hug.

Mark gladly obliged her on both counts.

"What are they doing tonight?" she asked, turning her head and resting it on his shoulder to watch the action on screen.
"Oh, I think they're saving a village in South America."
"Do you think they'll win?"
"Sure. Are you hungry?"
"No, I'm tired."
"Let's go then."

He released her, a bit too abruptly, then went over the switch off the TV just as the theme music started to blare. Sharon stayed in place, tracing his movement with her eyes.

"They'll send someone after us," she said. Mark looked up from his duffel bag. "I mean, there'll be more assassins, right?" she continued.
"I'm not worried about the Russians at this point," Mark replied matter-of-factly. "But we should still move. Wait a couple of days at a safe house, see if this blows over."
"You made a lot of noise."
"That's why we're going to be extra quiet. Come on," he said.

One amusing part of the human condition is layered self-reflection. Sharon observed that, given the amount of emotional dislocation she'd been through, it might have been a logical reaction for her to try to grab some clothes and comfort items. It was a silly little thing to do, and she didn't feel that need at all. On some level, she wanted to feel the need, but on another, more primitive stage, she had already recognized that her old life was done and over with.

She hadn't even fought for it.

She followed Mark in a haze, her faculties less concerned with thinking the situation through but immensely curious about why she felt that way. The raw violence of her entry into this world, her trust in Mark, maybe she'd never been attached to her life at all - all of those seemed plausible at first glance. But how do you tell if you're thinking clearly?

How do you know when you're crazy? Isn't the ability to do that part of not being crazy in the first place?

She took the passenger's seat in Mark's Oldsmobile with the routine of a factory worker, leaned back and closed her eyes. The hard rock soundtrack of her life blared out its final notes, another virtuoso performance finished, another night done. Released from all her duties, she found some rest while the soft thump of the suspension rocked her to sleep.

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