Chapter 3 – Getting The Runaround
As soon as Dennis stepped into the lobby at Precinct 27 on Tuesday around noon, he gave a little grimace. This was not the well kept, shiny sort of police station they had out in the suburbs (or at least, it wasn’t the idea of a well kept, shiny police station that he had in mind, since he had never stepped foot in one aside for a tour with the boy scouts when he was a teenager). The room was dimly lit, the tiles were dingy and didn’t look like they’d seen a mop in quite some time. There was one cop at a desk behind a plexiglass partition, but it didn’t look like he was doing any work–just reading a magazine or something, leaning back, and…no, he couldn’t be doing that, that would be so unprofessional!
Dennis cleared his throat as he stepped up towards the glass, and the officer sighed, put down the magazine under the counter, and scooted forward. If he had been engaging in something unpleasant down there, he made no effort to zip back up. Dennis hoped he’d been wrong in his assumption. “Hi, I’d like to file a report,” he said when he got to the glass.
“A club in the area. Depot. I was there on Friday, and I witnessed more code violations than I’d have liked to see. Underage drinking, indoor smoking, drug dealing, public sex, all sorts of stuff.”
He’d expected a little bit of concern from the officer, but he just looked somewhere between bored and annoyed that Dennis was standing in front of him at all. “That sounds like a job for the liquor control board and the health department, bud,” he said.
“I already called both of those places, and they said that, for whatever reason, Precinct 27 handles that stuff around here, so here I am.”
“Ah, I see. Alright, well, we’ll look into it then.”
Dennis stood there in the silence, and he realized that the officer was just expecting him to leave, after that. “Aren’t you going to take my name or number? File a report? I’m a witness.”
With a heavy sigh, the officer pulled out a pad of paper–not even anything official looking, and a pen. “Name?”
“I’d like to speak to your supervisor,” Dennis said.
“Yeah, he’s out. It’s lunchtime. You can wait if you want, but you look like a real busy fellow. Or how about this, you can give me your name.”
Dennis sighed, gave the officer his name, phone number and address, then watched as he tossed the pad back in the drawer beside him and closed it. “I’ll make sure to inform an investigator, don’t you worry.”
The condescension was almost enough for Dennis to take the man up on his offer and wait there for his supervisor to come back, but likely that would just waste more time, and he still had appointments that afternoon at the hospital. So he left. No wonder Depot was flouting the law so brazenly, if this is the sort of enforcement this part of town was dealing with. He was busy coming up with a list of folks even higher up to email that evening–police commissioners, city council members, the mayor even–when he saw a couple of guys on the other side of the street, and his jaw dropped.
It was Kyle again. Kyle, and…and was that the same fucking bear from the club that he’d pulled him away from? They were walking down the sidewalk, chatting, Kyle holding a bag of takeout, likely from one of the hole-in-the-walls around there, before going into a shop front for Marshall’s Cigar and Briar. Dennis jaywalked across the street and followed them inside, as they were doling out the contents of the bag between them.
“Hey bud, come back in a bit, it’s lunchtime,” the older bear said without looking up. Kyle though, recognized Dennis, and his face went pale. Twice in less than a week–was Dennis following him or something?
“Hey, Mr. Case…”
“Kyle, what are you doing here?” Dennis asked, “And isn’t that the guy from the fucking club?”
Marshall finally looked up, recognized Dennis, and gave a little huff. “Oh, it’s you. I hate how this place does this.”
“What?” Dennis asked.
“Bud, Kyle here is an employee of mine. We are currently having lunch. I assure you, everything here is perfectly fine. If you’d like to purchase something, why don’t you come back in half an hour. Otherwise, you can go ahead and fuck off.”
“You’re working? Here? For him? Since when?” Dennis asked Kyle, “Why didn’t you say anything about that on Friday?”
Kyle wasn’t sure what to say, and mostly he just wanted to slip under the floorboards for a while, and maybe die. “You…you won’t tell my dad, will you?”
“Tell your dad you’re working at a fucking smokeshop? Maybe I should. Maybe I should also tell him you’re going out to clubs underage while I’m at it! I still haven’t made my mind up about that, either, you know.”
“You don’t understand, alright? I’m fucking eighteen, you can’t just…just decide what’s fucking best for me!”
“You’re fucking eighteen, you don’t even know what’s best for you!”
While they’d been yelling, Marshall had been calmly preparing a cigar for himself, and lighting it. Before Dennis could wheel on him, and likely try and chastise him for smoking indoors, He took an inhale, and pushed it all into Dennis’ face. Kyle watched, horrified, expecting Dennis to start coughing and explode even more, but instead, he watched as he went rather calm, almost like he was in a bit of a trance.
Marshall stood up, and beckoned Dennis over to the counter where he was standing, and without a word, Dennis did as the finger commanded. Then, Kyle watched as Marshall caught a wisp of smoke out of the air between his fingers, and twisted it, making it longer and thinner, with a little hook on the end. He put one hand on top of Dennis’s head and tilted it to one side, before sliding the wisp of smoke into his ear, twirling it a bit, and then pulling it out–along with…something else. Something a little smoke-like, but almost opalescent. Before Kyle could get a good look, Marshall had waved his hand through both hook and the bit he’d pulled free from Dennis’s head, and they dissolved into the air.
“Now, you’re going to leave my shop, and continue along whatever path you were going before, understand? You will never tell Kyle’s father about his activities. If asked by him about Kyle, you will only ever talk about what a good kid he is, responsible, and as an adult, he should be given as much autonomy as he needs, understand?”
Dennis nodded his head.
“Good, now get out of this shop.”
Dennis turned around and left, leaving Kyle with his jaw on the floor. “What did you do to him?”
“I know a few tricks,” Marshall said.
“Yeah, I’ve seen a couple of them, but what was that?”
“I pulled out the memory of him seeing us on the sidewalk, coming in here and trying to start a fight. Then, I used a little control on him, told him to carry on with his day. Easier than talking to him–I hate blowhards like that, they never know when to shut up. Come on, let’s eat.”
Marshall sat down and took a bite from his sandwich. Kyle stood on the other side of the counter, took a smaller bite from his own, and then set it down. After a couple of minutes, he asked, “Can…you teach me how to do that?”
“I’m not sure yet,” Marshall said.
“What…does that mean?”
“You said you’re going to college soon?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Out of state, right? One of those ivy league places,” Marshall put down the sandwich, and picked the cigar back up. “This place, Pigtown. It’s not just a place, you know. What’s happening here, it’s complicated. Most guys who come in here, eventually, they don’t go back out.”
Kyle thought about Marlon for a moment, the first he had all day, and pulling that memory free was like dragging it out from a swamp. He nodded.
“There’d be no college,” Marshall said. “No family outside of this chunk of city.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I just need you to believe me, and trust me,” Marshall said, “What you want is not a simple thing. This place makes you give up more than you ever thought you’d have to. What you get back is…well, I wouldn’t want to leave, I can tell you that. But if he was right about one thing, it’s that you’re, well, young, Kyle.” He saw him start to get defensive and Marshall shook his head, “I don’t mean it like he does. I mean, you have potential. A future. Many futures. This place is hungry for people like you. It wants you, badly, and it brought us together because it knew I had something you wanted, and wanted bad. I don’t mind giving it to you. But you ought to know what you’ll be giving up. Most never get the choice.”
“I do want it.”
“I know you do,” Marshall said, and picked up his sandwich again, “But think about it. Really think about it for me. We’ll talk again tomorrow, alright? Now eat up, we’ll have some regulars looking for their smokes banging on the door soon.”
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