Stories from the Crime City

Mon, 08/09/2004 — Nice Chloe

a Raymond Broady adventure

Thick waves of fog rolled down the city streets and converged in a park a few miles south-west of the city centre. A great deal of it seemed to be congealing around the face of the tall clock that served as the park's centrepiece. The time did its best to make itself shown regardless; it was half past ten, or close enough to it. Raymond Broady glanced up at the clock again, as he had done occasionally since the late afternoon to make sure the time didn't get out of hand. The rest of the time, he had been looking at his gun.

Raymond's police-issue revolver could usually be found either in his holster or his hand, but it was now lying on the wet grass at his feet. He was far from alone in the park, particularly with all the young couples enjoying a moonlit stroll, but nobody expressed any alarm or even dismay at the dark-skinned man in the faded yellow suit sitting on the old wooden bench and dejectedly gazing at his gun on the ground; in fact, many of the passers-by turned to him, smiled and nodded once, as if to offer unconditional encouragement. These gestures took Raymond's anxieties even deeper. He imagined himself sitting in the same position twelve hours later, when it would be Saturday morning, and his loaded revolver and dishevelled appearance would be plainly visible to a steady stream of families on a day out. He knew exactly what would happen: children would worry, as they had every right to, but they would quickly be calmed down and reassured by their parents. And maybe, when they returned home, the parents would sit the children down and tell them all about the supreme law.

It had all started with Tony Gibson. Tony was Raymond's partner on the force, and Raymond could remember a time when it had seemed like the perfect partnership. Tony would do most of the talking and decide on the next course of action, Raymond would back him up by being quick on his feet and even quicker with his bullets. But during those first few months, something had changed, and it was either Tony's demeanour or Raymond's perception. Either way, it was now all too clear that Tony had an opinion on everything, and had only his own arrogance to support his arguments. Even in those rare instances when he was, for whatever reason, entirely in the right, he would still sacrifice credibility by making no attempt to back himself up other than shouting his opponents down. And yet, even in situations that demanded tact and subtlety, Raymond would still let Tony do the talking.

He looked up at the clock again. It was a quarter to eleven.

Personality clashes such as these had not interfered with their work as much as he had once feared they would; the two of them were admired for their skill as a team, even within the elite branch of the police force in which they operated. The media had begun taking notice too, which was why they had both been interviewed for a front-page feature article by the Daily Taito earlier that day.

"We catch hold," Raymond had said, when asked about their ongoing mission as crime fighters. "Catch hold of prison breakers, catch hold of smugglers..."

He had trailed off, as he had noticed out of the corner of his eye that Tony had opened his mouth ever so slightly and, true to form, was already stammering the first couple of syllables of the sentence that he was determined to say.

"Crush out the crime! We're the supreme law!"

Ten to eleven. The fog had become a dark haze. Raymond imagined the Saturday morning scene once again, and taking it one step further, he imagined lifting his revolver from the grass and firing it once into the crowd. Again, he could picture it all too vividly: an innocent stranger would wind up seriously injured or even dead, there would be no end of witnesses, the crowd would slowly disperse and never speak of the issue again, and Raymond would not receive so much as a slap on the wrist. It wasn't that he was feared; even worse, he was respected. He was the supreme law.

His thoughts turned to Katrien. Her name was his own deliberate invention, the rest of her had come from the back of his mind. If he could only place her origin with any degree of certainty, he could put her from his mind forever and get back to the business of finding someone more existent. Sometimes he would entertain the notion that she had been the sole hostage of some silver-haired crime boss with enough weaponry beneath his overcoat to defend a small country, an overconfident wretch whom he had dispatched with ten shots to the head and not a moment's thought, and she had escaped so quickly and quietly that she had only registered as an ever-expanding blip in his subconscious, but one day she would track him down and thank him personally. Even considering the number of hostage situations he had resolved in such an efficient fashion, it was still far more likely that she'd been in a movie that he'd long since forgotten having seen.

Half past one. The park was completely empty. Raymond stood up, shot one last distrustful glance at his revolver, now covered in dirt and small drops of water, and walked towards the warehouse district.


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