Thursday, July 14, 2011

16349--In Warm Blood (Ch. 5)

Happy Thursday. To help keep my own feet to the fire, I'm using Thursday as my public accountability day. That means, posting a bit of coherently creative output for you to read and feedback on every week. If I perform according to my own intent, what I put here will be available as a whole elsewhere at the same time or shortly after appearing here.

In Warm Blood is currently available as a part of The Official Private Eye Handbook, first book in the CITY OF MAGICK series.  Please, feel free to take a look here, though, and at subsequent chapters. Let me know how you feel about it.  For those of you finding your way here relatively late, no problem. The start of the story is just a click away.

Chapter 5

Overknight and DeBrave were stationed out of Midtown Precinct. I had almost dozed off during the rest of the trip, but the smells at the heart of town snapped me out of it. As someone who kept to the legal side of things on his own time, Midtown was my favorite part of the city. As we drove through it, I could breathe in the scents of China, Shamballa, Atlantis, Italy…and some truly great burgers. All the best foods anyone could ever want and some of the hottest nightclubs, were all crammed within a few blocks. Probably the only place in town that did more to service pure indulgence was Utopia. It belonged to Aphrodite, up on the north end near Tannhauser Gate. I’d never been, but I’d heard there was so much sensory delight there that no mere mortal man would ever leave on his own. Anyplace else in town that even came close was doing it on the wrong side of the fuzzy line between bright and dark. To complicate things, some of ‘em were using and abusing dark magics to make their score. I wasn’t one to complain too much, though. After all, the shadowy parts of this town kept me in business.

“Well, we’re here, Cross,” I said to him from his office door. “Was it something important or did you just want some decorating advice? I‘d suggest steering clear of ‘furnished toilet‘ this time.” It had everything but the flies. They’re filthy, not blind after all.

“Sorry for the delay, sir,” Homer said. “There were--”

“I heard,” Cross said. “I was about to put out BOLOs on the lot of you.”

“Your concern is touching,” I told him, “but I really need to get some food in me, so if we could move this along…”

“D.A. Peace is a busy man, Stone,” Cross said, “and I doubt he’ll want to waste time on your smart-mouth comments.”

“Should I have worn a tux?” I asked. “Homer said this outfit would be alright and I‘ve come to trust and value his--”

“Just get to the conference room,” Cross ordered.

“Why do you give the lieutenant so much grief, Stone?” Homer asked me.

“When you’ve known him as long as I have, it’s hard not to,” I told him. “Besides, I’m doing him a favor.  If not for me, his blood pressure would drop so low he’d probably pass out.”

“Oh…I see. How long have you known him?”

“Met him about five minutes before meeting you two.”

“Alright, conference room,” Overknight announced, pausing at the door. “Brick, behave.”

“Have you met me?” I asked.

“That’s why I reminded you.”

“Yeah, yeah. Kick the door in,” I said.

“Let’s just go in the normal way,” she said.

“I thought that was the normal way.”

“D.A. Peace, we have Brick Stone for you,” Overknight said, leading the way into the conference room.

“Good afternoon! Come in, Brick,” he said, standing up from the paperwork he had covering half the table so he could shake my hand. “Thanks for coming in today.”

“No problem, Mr. Peace,” I said. “Staying on the move makes me a harder target.”

“That’s the spirit, Brick,” he said. “And call me ‘Warren’. I’m sure these two are taking good care of you. Do you have any questions about next week?”

“No new questions,” I told him, “and nothing new to tell, except that Ferrari’s getting desperate.”

“I’ve heard it’s getting dangerous out there,” he said. “You’re not getting cold feet are you?”

“Of course not,” I said. “When you dance with justice, somebody’s gonna get their toes stepped on, but just look at her…She’s blind! It’s gonna happen! Does that mean you leave her out on the dance floor just because of a few missteps? Of course not, man! She’s blind! Who would do that? That’s something the bad guys would do, not a good guy. We just keep on dancing.”

“Alright, Brick,” Homer said. “That’s enough.”

“No, no,” Warren told him. “Let him talk. I like the cut of this man’s gibberish.”

“Unless I end up a stain on a wall,” I assured him, “I’ll be there, sore toes and all. We’ve been handed the best chance to stop Ferrari that anyone’s had in a while. It’s our job to take that hand-off and run with it to make The City the best it can be.”

“We appreciate your dedication, Brick,” Warren said. “I’d understand if you wanted to get out of town.”

“In my book,” yes, the Official Private Eye Handbook (standard issue), “you don’t run from anybody in your own home.”

“What about werewolves?” Overknight asked.

“Well, they’re not in the book,” I said.

“Or vampires?” Homer asked.

“You just don’t invite them inside,” Overknight said.

“How about zombies?” Warren asked.

“Well, sure, zombies,” I said. “You get out and set the house on fire. Now if we get overrun by zombies I’m going to visit my cousin, Sand, in Bermuda.”

“That makes perfect sense,” Warren said.

“Oh, I hear Bermuda’s nice this time of year,” Overknight said.

“Alright, then,” Warren said, “I suppose we’re done here for now. Just try to keep your head down and be in court at noon on Wednesday.”

All the concern might be touching, but I knew he just needed me for the conviction. Getting Ferrari out of circulation was everyone‘s top priority and keeping me alive was just a means to that end. Well, nobody said life was all laughs. “I‘ll be there.”

“Let’s hope so,” Homer said as we left.

As we piled back into my Charger, I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were getting closer to things hitting the fan.

“What’s wrong, Brick?” Overknight asked. “You seem…pensive.”

“I can’t shake the feeling that we’re getting closer to things hitting the fan.”

“Oh, joy,” Homer said.

“Forget it,” I said. “It’s probably just my imagination. Let‘s go see some art.”

“Art?” Homer asked. “You didn’t really strike me as a museum guy.”

“Probably the last place anyone would look for me on a Saturday afternoon,” I said.

“A strange kind of genius all its own,” Overknight said. “Motor on.”

“It’s simple logic,” I told her. “If bullets are coming, don’t be where they’re flying. If somebody’s looking for you--”

“--don’t be where they’re looking. I thought you had bigger balls than that, Stone. From what I’ve heard, I didn‘t think you‘d be one to go hiding from action.”

“Mr. Stone knows how important it is for him to--”

“Maybe we need to get him some milk and cookies before bedtime,” Overknight said.

“You know Sun Tzu?” I asked.

The Art of War? I’ve heard of him,” Overknight said.

“He says I should choose and control my battles whenever possible,” I said. “That’s not to say I don’t try to choose a lot of them, but I want to make sure that when Ferrari goes down he stays there.”

“And here I thought you were getting wussy on us.”

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