And on and on the story goes... slowly but surely.
Welcome back. And now, without further ado- same content warning as always- let´s proceed.
It´s been almost two weeks now since Bethany went missing, and looking down on the city it feels like the world is holding it´s breath
But let´s be down to earth. Winter. Snow. Muffled sounds, covered grounds... little light
The world is not holding anything, it carries on regardless as ever
So let us look for a light in the dark... how about this one? It´s one of the shabby terraced houses not so far from the factory grounds where Al lives his dire existance
Oh my. There is a cop standing in that...
And he is holding a coffee mug... so, no, we will not find the girl here. This is a man in the process of getting ready for work, obviously
Smacking his lips, he regards the remarkably dark, hot liquid inside the mug
"Thank God for coffee. I honestly don´t know how I could make it without coffee. Seriously! I hate morning shifts so much, they´re the worst for real... "
Unimpressed, the woman by his side continues washing the dishes as he takes another sip. She shoots him a sideway glance as she reaches for a towel to dry her hands
"Honey, was it not only last week that you told me that you hate night shifts most?"
Now look at that expression. Is the man pouting or what?
"Yes, but that was last week, when I WAS on night shift. NOW I am on morning shift, so... well. And you know, no matter what time of day, I always hate to leave you home alone... these days"
The woman laughs out loud and turns to face him
"Tomasz! You really are behaving as if it´s the first time... oh my, what are you doing now?!"
Laughing, the wife is watching her husband bending down to her swollen stomach
"Shhhhhhhh, I am trying to have a conversation here, if you don´t mind... what did you say, little one? You are not planning on getting out today, no? So I can just go and work unperturbed? Oh now that´s a relief, thank you SO much!"
This is when another child is tugging at the back of his uniform shirt, demanding attention, rubbing her eyes sleepily
"Papa, what means unper.. umpre...?"
Someone is blowing a car´s horn down in the street. Her mother is looking out of the window and answers with a small sigh
" Unperturbed means, without perturbance. Without being interrupted..."
"Tomasz, it´s Harry. You better get down fast, or the poor man will freeze to death in that patrol car"
The cop bows down to give his little girl a bear hug
"Unperturbed, is what we are not right now. Go back to bed hunney, you can sleep in- looks like another snow break day to me for sure. Now, do you have a huuuge huggy for Papa?"
As the little girl runs of with a giggle, the father reaches out for her mother and pulls her into a careful embrace
"You sure you will be ok? Jelena I am not kidding... if anything, whatever, should happen, if you need me- call me on the cell. I will make sure to carry it with me at all times"
"I am good. And will continue being good as you walk out that door. And will still be good when you come home, stupid! Now kiss me, you adorable boyscout"
Reluctantly, but neverless with increasing passion he does as requested until, in the end she pushes him away, laughing once more and gasping for breath
The cop very carefully descends the snow covered stairs that lead down to the street. He already cleared them two times this morning, but it´s been continously snowing for days. Even the main roads are hardly fit for traffic by now
"Tom, get the fuck in and shut that door, it´s winter yanno"
Apparently, said Harry loves mornings just as much as his partner does
They drive down all the way to the precinct in silence. Harry parks the patrol car with some care and remains seated, staring at the steering wheel
Puzzled, Tomasz look over at him
"Hey, what´s up? You good?"
"Shit yeah. I just don´t do mornings, you know that. Common let´s go in and get it over with"
So what is he referring to? Obviously he is not very fond of the regular status meeting, or briefing, that is held at the very beginning of each and every shift
Silent once more, they enter the building
Heading for the briefing room, they spot a man in a black suit entering the large office on the other side of the corridor, originally the common room... now in use for a different purpose
Tomasz slows down and finally comes to a halt, staring, lost in thought
The suit unit
The FBI squad, looking for the missing girl, stationed in this building now since... yeah, the day the parents, no, the mother and her boyfriend, finally came forward to report that there had been a ransom demand
This cop and his colleagues have been doing the footwork for this lot, have been interviewing the whole neighbourhood, have been accumulating all the details... and what now? Now it´s all top secret, insider business
Only that this cop and his colleagues feel that the suits are not making any progress
Harry punches his partner´s shoulder hard from behind
"Oi! Are you coming or what? We´re late!"
Tom hardly flinches
And late they are indeed. The briefing seems to be already halfway over as they enter the room. The sergeant in charge draws a deep breath and announces their arrival on the top of his voice
"No look who is deigning us with their presence after all- may I have a little applause for officers BROWNE AND KOWALSKIIIIIIIIIII!!!!"
"Sir, it´s Kowalczyk. And the streets are completely covered with snow, there was positively no way...
"Jeezas, Browne, will you just shut up for once and take a seat? You and your Polack have already messed up enough for today, don´t you think? Sit, for chrissake!"
"Harry. Leave it be. Common."
And they leave it be. And as the sergeant drones on with the same goddamn speech he has given the officers so many times before, they sit down in the back row
Browne can´t help looking at his partner time and again. He just doesn´t get it. He just doesn´t get why his partner is taking all that shit, day after day
Kowalczyk´s face doesn´t give it away, but frankly, he´s not so sure about the why himself
Maybe it´s because he is weak
Maybe it´s because he doesn´t mind
Maybe it´s because he already has three kids and number four on the way and desperately needs the job
In truth, everybody fears the boss. Especially a boss like this, who is known to be a damn good cop, and a complete sociopathic asshole at the same time
And then, it´s over with the traditional slogan
"... and now, get out and whoop some ass!"
Kowalczyk and Browne make sure not to give the sergeant another chance to parade them and deliberately leave with the crowd
"But... that WAS an offence against the anti- discrimination law of 1983, or not?"
"Rookie, come on now, patrol time... I´ll draw you a picture later, ok?"
Finally released to the streets, things are definitely looking up
"I swear to God, one day I´ll just wait him out near his favorite watering hole and beat the crap out of... "
"Hey, relax. Totally not worth the trouble..."
Browne slows down for a bit, then laughs out loud
"Yanno, you are right- no need for that. Someone else will take care of him, someday, probably sooner than later- why should I get my hands dirty with that "
"My point exactly. Breakfast? My turn today."
Grinning, they enter the car and carefully head down the icey, snowcovered roads
In the end, they stop right in front of a rather old fashioned diner in a not so nice part of town...
Then again, their district basically is the worst part of town anyway
"Good morning to you, Mrs. Henderson! I know we are a bit early today, are you open yet?"
The lady who runs the place appears about as old fashioned; oddly enough, the impression is not sad, way more nostalgic. Old black and white movies come to mind
"Oh don´t worry officer, I am always done with the baking about 4am! At my age, you do not need that much sleep anymore... So no problem, none at all. What would you like today? Oh, silly me, the usual, of course..."
She swiftly reaches out for two already prepared plates behind her and places them on the counter
"Here you are! A jelly doughnut for you, officer Browne..."
Slightly embarrassed, the man murmurs his thanks and grabs his breakfast
"And a chocolate doughnut with extra sprinkles for you, officer Kowalczyk"
With a broad smile, he pays for the food and drink and carefully places his paper cup next to the doughnut
Balancing the plates over to their usual table, they can not help but grin at each other. Cops, eating doughnuts, drinking coffee from paper cups... it´s so clichee it´s almost original again
Those two have only been partners for a short while now, but they get along really well- to the neverending irritation of Sergeant O´Leary, who deliberately teamed up ill tempered Browne with the quiet newbie who just moved into town, hoping they would make each other´s lives miserable
Simply because he could. Sick bastard.
"... wait, wait, just a sec... need to watch this one man, it´s so sick... gotta love it..."
While Kowalczyk is enjoying his coffee - "as black as the soul and as bitter as life" - Browne is fiddling with his smartphone, totally oblivious how quiet his partner is today
Or not. Putting his phone away, he looks straight at him and goes for it
"Tom, what´s up. Something wrong with the wife... the baby?"
Hesitantly, the younger cop searches for the right words, words that won´t make him look like to much of an idiot
"No, no, all good at the home front... it´s just... about that little girl. She is gone for how long now, two weeks? Even if that handing over should really take place... man, let´s face it, that kid is long dead."
With a sigh, he grabs his cup again
"And every time I think ´bout her, I can´t help thinking, that could be our Gosia. She´s eight now, yanno? Or the twins... I can´t help thinking, this could be my little girl. It´s a sick world"
At that, the old Lady looks up from the newspaper she has been reading behind the counter and gets up from her chair.
Seems like she is one of those old matrons who love to hijack other people´s conversations even if she has no idea what they have really been talking about, and so she exclaims through gritted teeth
"I could not agree more. For instance, take those young vandals! No respect for the property! Spraying graffitti all over the place! When will the authorities finally do something about that!"
"Well I´ll be damned"
The old lady audibly breathes in, shocked by this blasphemy in her café
"I beg your pardon, officer?!"
The old lady audibly breathes in, shocked by this blasphemy in her café
"I beg your pardon, officer?!"
"Mrs. Henderson, I am happy to be able to tell you that the answer to your question is: Now"
Poor Browne worries for his partner´s sanity right now, it seems
"Eh, Tom... are you... ok? What are you..."
"Never been better- take a look at that...."
"Could be wrong here, but if you ask me, those kids over there with the backpack look like they are up to no good... besides, show me ONE teenager who would willingly be up at this hour. No, there is something fishy about those two"
"Hell yeah, you are right. Let´s go check..."
"Common, hurry up, they are moving!"
"Ah crap, they´re gone..."
"They can´t be far yet"
Kowalczyk is speaking quietly now as they carefully cross the street, scanning all directions
"Maybe we´ll get lucky and they left a mark... let´s see..."
And right enough, a brand new tag, paint still wet, greets the two cops at the corner
Browne takes one cautious look around it, right into the narrow alley next to it, but it´s empty
"Nothing... do you see..."
"I do see them. Now, how about..."
So while the cops plan their further actions, why don´t we take a closer look at our wannabe street artists in the meantime...oh. It´s a small world, is it not?
Oh come on now. You must recall those two, surely? Admittingly, it´s been a while, but still...
" Yanno, man... yanno... this... is.. WAY the coolest stuff you did so far, man, WAY... like... cool, yanno? Like, by far, yanno..."
Little hint here... this one goes by the name of Stevo, and last time he wore a different head wear... he looked a lot healthier... and he was not stoned as hell, neither
So this, very obviously is The Other one, and although his fingers must be freezing holding the metal can with no gloves whatsoever, he continues tagging the wall with smooth, even moves that give away his expertise. This boy has finally discovered that he has a talent, and takes pride in his artwork
"You reckon? Yanno, I took me ages to figure that one out, been drawing sketches for weeks..."
Stevo is taking another deep drag first, but still reacts quiet enthusiastically
"Totally, man! Like, yanno, ´tis... like, art, yanno? Like, the real thing... cool an´all... watcha say, Mister, ´tis, art, right? "
As he turns to the casual bystander who has quietly approached for confirmation, his jaw drops
"Hm, yeah, not bad. Shame that he is spraying it on some back alley wall... by the way, should you be smoking? Especially that stuff, kid?"
It must be true what they say about dope, it calms people down for sure- I do not know about you, but personally I expected Stevo to react a tad more... agressive, but see. He is falling short from curling up in a ball
"Awwwwwww shit man... I ... we.."
The Other One, on the the other hand ( no pun intended ) is wide awake at this time of day. Flinching, jumping, trying to run is all but one movement to him
He turns on his heel to make an escape
Only to find the way blocked by a rather tall and wide cop, so he freezes on the spot
"Easy, kiddo. Where do you think you´re going, eh? Better slow down... road is slippery, and we don´t want you to fall, right, hit your head or summin´ "
Now look at that. When we first met this kid, I was under the impression that eventually he was rather bright, or at least bright enough to last a while... but now I am truly impressed.
"Wait, no, officers, please- it´s just some stupid old wall, I mean, look at the place already, not like another tag would make things worse, right? - And... and we have something to tell you, too, some info you want! About that missing girl!"
"About the girl? Say, say. Really?"
Browne lightly touches Stevo´s shoulder to get his full attention. As he succeeds in his attempt, he automatically lets his hand drop as he finds himself facing the hateful grimace on the boy´s face
"Yeah, for real. We saw her. We saw her with that... bum, yanno? The crazy one. "
The cops exchange an expressionless glance, then Kowalczyk leans in to The Other One, eyes narrowed
"Kid... this one better be good. Yes, we are still looking for her, but it´s been weeks and question comes to mind why you didn´t come forward with anything before, right? So, one thing after the other... who are you talking about? There are a lot of homeless men living in this area of town. I am not making any promises here, but if your info is any good we might cut a deal"
Stevo- Basecap, yes that´s who he is- steps up to the two and leans in close enough that Kowalczyk can smell cigarette and other smoke, old booze and probably some nasty throat infection on his breath
"The one who lives in the old factory... crazy as shit, that one. Dangerous... freak threatened me with knife, yanno? Out of the blue... I bet HE has her... so... we have a deal, or what?"