The week before, after going to see his friend Kyle at the smoke shop and having that strange conversation with Marshall,Jim had strode down the sidewalk and gone straight towards the precinct as Marshall had suggested. Standing outside the building, however, his resolve had wavered. Marshall had told him he had two options. Either he could forget that any of this had ever happened, like everyone else had seemed to, aside from him and Kyle, or he could ask the officers here for help. Jimmy couldn’t imagine what help the officers here could give him, especially since he had no concrete evidence that what had happened that night, had actually occurred. He didn’t even have evidence that Marlon existed.
In the end, he’d left, and gone home. He’d think about it. He’d wait. See if Marlon turned up on his own. He felt like a coward, and it was that shame that kept welling his memories of him back up to the surface, just when the water had gone still. The furthest he got was three days, almost enough that he’d forgotten he’d been trying to forget something at all, only for him find a shirt that had been Marlon’s stashed in his closet that he’d stolen one night after some fumbling half-sex together. He’d felt horrible, horrible that he’d decided to just give up on him, horrible that he could still smell him on the shirt, pressed to his face. Horrible that he was clinging to some strange delusion, an imaginary boyfriend he couldn’t even prove existed at all.
And so, Marshall’s point was proven. There really were only two things he could do, two paths forward. He wouldn’t be able to forget him, he could already see that. Time might stretch longer and longer between remembrances, but Marlon would always come back to him, and that, he was sure, would drive him mad, eventually. The only other choice then, was to find someone who could help–and if the officers of Precinct 27 could help, then that’s where he would have to go. He stepped into the lobby on Thursday afternoon, trying to plan the words that might convince the officers to even listen to him. It would sound crazy, he knew that, but Pigtown seemed to be a little crazy already. Maybe that’s why they would be a little more understanding.
He stepped up to the desk, where a rather bored, disheveled officer had his feet up on the counter, and realized that he was thumbing his way through a rather dogeared porno magazine. A gay one, at that. Unconcerned, the officer looked up at him, raised an eyebrow, and asked, “Can I help you, kid?”
“I…I think I need to file a report,” Jim said.
The officer gave a little snorting noise, something between a grunt and a chuckle, and then leaned in and gave Jim a few sniffs, and sat back, his brow furrowed. “Huh, I think you do, actually. Have a seat, I’ll find someone to help you out.”
“Oh, uh…ok,” Jim said, “Do you…need some info, or anything?”
The officer had already gotten up from the desk and left the lobby, heading down a side hall. Jimmy just looked around, considered leaving before the strange fellow returned, but didn’t. He took a seat on a lumpy chair off to the side, and waited.
He didn’t have to wait long, but for a police station, the place didn’t seem particularly busy. Looking around, it also didn’t seem particularly well cared for either. The walls were stained, the floor tiles peeling up. It was a far cry from the shining, well-funded precinct out in the suburbs where he lived, where the clean, well polished officers had looked at him like he was crazy. He didn’t have to wait long for the officer to return, followed by a rather rotund and stout detective in civilian clothes, with a beard down to his chest. Nothing about him suggested he had abided by any sort of dress code, or that he could even pass a fitness test. “Who, that one?” the other officer said, looking over at Jimmy, “You said he smelled like what?”
“You heard me. Faint though.”
“But it’s the middle of the day!”
“That’s why I didn’t go right to Rumwell.”
The new officer gave a huff, and walked over to where Jimmy was sitting. Now that he was closer, he saw that under the officer’s gut was a substantial amount of muscle, and he found himself second guessing his assumption about the officer’s physical capabilities. He had a name tag on that identified him as Ambrose Winston. “What are you here for, kid? You look a little young to be a resident. Feel fuckin’ sorry for ya if ya are.”
“Uh, no–I…the guy, Marshall, who runs the smoke shop, he said…you might be able to help me. My name’s Jimmy, I live out in Barry’s Hollow.”
“Out in the suburbs?” Something about the way the officer said it, made it sound that it might as well be another continent–another planet in the solar system.
“Uh, yeah…My, uh, friend went missing, the Friday before last. I…I tried to tell the cops, out where I live, but they didn’t believe me.”
The officer looked at each other. “Was that when…” Winston said, looking back at the cop from the reception desk, who just nodded, eyes a little wider.
“Huh. Alright, come on back, and let’s have a chat. I think we might be able to help each other out, actually.”
“What?” Jimmy asked, but Winston was already walking away, and Jimmy hurried to catch up. They went down a short hallway, then up a flight of stairs, and found themselves in a collection of cubicles where a few other officers were busy with paperwork. Winston led them to a small office off to the side, took a seat at a desk, and motioned for Jimmy to sit across from him. “So, your friend went missing…a week and a half ago then?”
“I tried to report it sooner, but…well, it’s a little hard to believe, I guess.”
“Trust me kid, I’ve heard some weird ass shit in this precinct–let me have it.”
So Jimmy did. He told him about walking back from Depot, leaving out the underage drinking, since they had snuck in. He told the detective about the streetlights going out, about the man stepping out of the shadows–and only then did Winston perk up.
“Can you describe the man for me?” he asked.
“Not really well. He was covered in leather. All I could see was the bottom of his face. His eyes were always shaded.”
“Shaded how? Did you see his eyes at all?”
“I…I don’t think so.”
He kept going, describing how Marlon had stepped into the shadow and disappeared. Then he told them about the two officers coming to his rescue, and again, Winston perked up. He asked him questions about them, their size, even what they’d smelled like, the sound of their voices. Jimmy didn’t understand why he was so interested in them, but he hadn’t even gotten their names. He finished by describing how everyone else seemed to have forgotten that Marlon had even existed. Just he and Kyle recalled him at all. When he’d finished, Winston sat back in his chair for a moment, mouth twisted in a bit of a scowl.
“Unfortunately, I do.”
“Can you find him then? He’s not dead is he?”
“Pigtown doesn’t kill anyone. Death would be a mercy.”
“What does that mean?”
Winston didn’t reply. He just pushed a card into Jimmy’s hand, told him to call if he remembered anything else, or if anything happened that reminded him of that night. Jimmy left, realizing only afterward that he hadn’t left any information with the officers–he made the man at the reception desk take down his name and number for the detective, but he didn’t seem to consider it important. He left feeling demoralized, but in an entirely different way. They believed him, but he had no idea what he was supposed to do. He didn’t know if Marlon was alive, he didn’t know who could have done this. It would have been easier if they’d just laughed in his face.
But inside the precinct, Winston wasn’t laughing. He hustled up the floors to the top story, where Commander Rumwell’s office was. He pushed inside, not even bothering to knock, and interrupted the commander with one officer cleaning his boots, while another one was between his legs, sucking and nursing at his sizable cock. Winston didn’t blink at this, of course–he gave a little salute, and said, “Sir, I have new information regarding the disappearances of Glison and Avery.”
“Oh?” Rumwell said.
“I…I think it was Shadow.”
That brought Rumwell up from where he was reclining, and he pushed the younger officer off his cock. “Excuse me? We know where Shadow is–he’s in the jail.”
“I…have solid testimony that leads me to believe he may have escaped. Have you…uh…spoken to the Warden lately?”
Rumwell’s face soured. He took a long draw off his cigar, and pushed the smoke out his nose in twin jets. “We haven’t been on the best of terms lately, no.”
“What?” Winston said, “I mean…I don’t know what that means.”
“It means nothing, for the moment. He’s just sulking. Tell me what you heard.”
Winston told him, and by the end of it, Rumwell had sucked his cigar down to a thin butt, which he snuffed out in the ashtray on his desk. It was credible, as much as he didn’t want to believe it.
“Do you have a lead?”
“Marshall’s, maybe. I heard he has a new apprentice who seems to know the witness and the victim.”
“He does have a new apprentice, nice kid–little green,” Rumwell said. “Go have a chat. I’ll go see what I can wring out of the Warden.”