I’m only a man – GS.

Scene setting : Back streets of New York.

co-written with Chor.

 

Chor:  Isa could not make the tears stop. It was like a well within her, the spigot broken and her body unable to end the flow.

Isa lived in a cage of darkness for the longest time and the light she’s just seen has blinded her soul, leaving it warm and alive. Much to Isa’s surprise, Frank lifted her face and his lips met her skin again. The saltwater that poured from her ceased slowly with each kiss, ending as he pulled her into his chest. The hug was the very definition of comfort and she let it soak into her, breathing Frank in like she could will the bad memories away with the scent of him.

What remained of the tears on her face soaked into his shirt leaving little wet splotches over his heart, which she heard beating like a sounding drum. With each beat, she fell rhythmically into a trance in his arms. Soon, though, she knew the moment was ending. His words were joking and light, an appreciated laugh that helped her break from the previous moment however much she didn’t wish to. She let a light grin slip over her features and looked up to his face.

“I say speak for yourself; for an ME I’m pretty hardy,” she joked back, letting her teeth bite gently down on her bottom lip. His next words were infinitely more serious and she sighed, basking in the truth of them. In school, they tell you the things that will go wrong. They tell you about inaccuracies in your work; about how you may encounter troubles with tox screens or other things of that nature. They never tell you that what you really need to fear is the people around you; those who are supposed to be your peers, your mentors, and your saviors.

“The worst affected from corruption is the common man,” Isa quoted, thinking back to a report she’d written before her graduate school years.

 

Razorbackwriter:  Isa was a girl who was wise beyond her years. It was clear that she had suffered in a similar way to Frank. The endless release of tears showed that she had been living with a ghost and a guilt that she could not shake. Been strong for so long, there had been no one that understood, that mirrored her pain in the same way….till now. Through watching Frank go through the motions of release in a way could bring comfort and solace. By bringing her into his arms and holding her against his beating heart he was more than just a shoulder to cry on. He was a man that could hold her up. As she gave him words of wisdom, Frank was able to see through the haze of emotion that had overwhelmed him. He was a man sure, but still a human being. It was wonderful to see the smile that appeared after the rain of her tears. Like the rising of the sun, bright and warm on a new day. Going it alone was not the way forward. Perhaps together they could conquer their demons, not just the ones that had taken their friends and loved ones, but the ones within. The inner demons that taunted them constantly.

“The worst affected from corruption is the common man.”

True words.

“Maybe we need to be the heroes in this. Real crime fighters.” It may have sounded a bit far fetched. It was not like he was speaking of becoming Superman; ripping open his shirt to reveal a big S, but to champion against the Commander and those that were pulling the strings. It was going to take a great deal of work and commitment, and now that Frank had Isa on his side, maybe she would be the wind to his broken wings.

Frank offered his hand to Isa, to walk out of the alley and finally leave Rory to rest. As they walked he said. “One thing I know, is I can’t keep going without sleep. Wanna come back to my place to crash for a few hours?”

 

~RB~

 

Chor:  It was the idea of them being the heroes, these tortured souls with their forsaken past, that made Isa remove herself from his breast. The idea was a wondrous one, full to the brim with hope and she knew looking to the future the difficulty it would bring. She would walk this flaming path anyways. The night at the end of the red and yellow tunnel, where she would rest easily knowing she’d done all she could, is what helped click herself into a new state of being. Instead of naught but existing in this dirty, filthy world, she would choose to live; to break free of the chains that dragged her so far down for so long. Isa was delving deep into her mind, clearing it of the pain so that it may be filled with happiness in return.

Her hand instinctively moved to grasp Franks, as if it was something she regularly experienced, and let him lead her out of the alley. By now their roses had lost their petals and the wind gathering in the empty alley, having nowhere else to go, pushed the mixture past Isa and Franks feet and into the street. At the mention of sleep, Isa’s eyes opened wider. Sleep. Dear lord, when was thelast time she actually, truly slept? Her body groaned to her in answer, praying for her to accept. If she went home, however, she would not even close her eyes before she started at working again. It was a curse.

“I would be delighted, thank you,” She replied, smiling thankfully. Something occurred to her then, and she looked to Frank.

I’m not sure I’ve truly introduced myself to you, Frank Malone, as opposite as that may sound. I am Dr. Isolde von Goethe of the New York Police Department’s Medical Examiners office; and it will be a pleasure to work with you.” It was a small, but true joke. She knew of him, but she had never really met him before this truly strange and captivating day. She’s glad she didn’t go home after her shift. Had she done as she should have and let the next crew take this body, she may never have had this wondrous experience.

“Lead the way.”

 

Razorbackwriter:  
Funny how one can simply connect with another and yet not even really know them This was the case with Isa and Frank. He didn’t even know her full name or her position at the NYPD….until now. Swinging her hand as they walked out of the alley, Isa introduced her name in full, and it had Frank’s ears prick. Sounded German. Interesting. “I think Isolde is a pretty name.” Isolde worked in the force’s Medical examiner’s office in the very same building that he did. No wonder he was just familiar with her first name having only seen her in passing. Her name on the odd report that he happened to have tacked to the wall of his study at home. Oh yes, he had been collecting those over the years.

Would she react to seeing his wall of mystery at home? Maybe, but it was something he wanted to share with her. As he had come by cab, he put his arm out when they reached the main road and whistled for another to stop and take them both back to his place. Frank gave Isa’s hand a light squeeze, as he found her company to be just what he needed, aside from sleep.

“Oh…one thing about my place. It is your typical bachelor pad. Fraid my housekeeping skills aren’t exactly one of my strong points.” Frank was making excuses as he tried to prepare her for what his place looked like. Still having to pay maintenance to a son he hadn’t seen for a few years, the detective was not exactly well off. He’d thought about taking up a second job, but with his mind always on the fate of Rory and the unsolved case, he never had the time.

A yellow cab pulled up beside where the pair stood, and Frank being a gentleman opened the door for Isa.

“After you.”

If she hopped in, Frank would slide in beside her and give the driver the directions to his apartment building across town. The inside of the cab was like something out of a Indian Bollywood movie, with the faint smell of curry and a lot of tassles and satin. Even a little elephant with it’s trunk up on the dash. The music streaming through the cab had a definite Indian flavor and the cabbie bopped his head along to it, barely taking in what Frank had said.

“I hope he knows English, or we’re fucked.”

 

~RB~

 

Chor:  A warmth, a rush of blood, spread across Isolde’s cheeks at Franks comment.

“Thank you, it was my grandmother’s name. My mother was pregnant with me, so my father came first to America. When my mother gave birth, my grandmother was too sick to join her and we had to leave her behind in Germany. We’ve been mailing ever since, but I haven’t heard anything back in a long while. Claura always was her favourite…” Isa explained, realizing that no one knows anything about her. No one in this whole country knows about her. It makes one feel small, being so completely alone and unknown. She looked to Frank, glad she now had someone to confide in; someone to remember her.

Frank whistled for a cab and much to Isa’s surprise, one truly appeared. The light squeeze upon her hand sent a jolt of electricity up Isa’s arm and she leaned into him, smiling when hearing about his abode. She had little room to judge, as her place of living was a mess of furniture, cases, and whatever cats came sauntering in through the cat door from across the hall. Schrodinger didn’t mind, which meant Isa didn’t either.

“Don’t worry, I most assuredly will survive it,” Isolde attempted to convince him.

As the cab door was opened for her, she nodded in thanks and slipped inside the pungent vehicle. This surely was a joke. The complete redecoration of the cab made it a small, Indian paradise for the driver and as much as she commended him for her efforts, she laughed inwardly at the whole thing. She, too, hoped that the man would get them to their destination safely and without trouble.

 

 

Two red roses – GS.

 

Scene setting : Back streets of New York.

co-written with Chor.

 

Razorbackwriter:  
Taking a cab across town, Frank stopped at a curb side flower stand. Paying the driver, he got out of the cab and then went to buy two roses. He handed over the ten dollar bill and took the two long stemmed roses from the florist, who asked if they were for the detective’s favorite lady. Frank coughed a laugh as though he might humor the florist into thinking they were, but he was too shy to say. The truth however, was far different. Taking out a dark pair of shades; he placed them on and crossed the street to the alley where Rory…was killed. Looking up and down the street and seeing no one that he knew, he walked down the bin lined small alley all the way to the last place where he saw his best friend and his partner alive.

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There was no blood stain, no evidence of a man having died on this spot but to Frank it was burnt into his mind like it was yesterday. Kneeling down, Frank placed the two red roses on the ground – crouching for a moment as he said to himself a silent prayer. His right hand came up and partially touched his lips as though to stop himself from blurting something out that may be heard. You never knew who was watching. Eyes hidden behind the dark glasses, he paused there for a good two minutes or so, before slowly rising up to standing. He gave the area one last look around. A large lump formed in his throat as he fought to suppress the wave of feelings that were ripping through him.

Then without warning he screamed.

“WHY COULDN’T YOU HAVE TAKEN ME?!”

He was answered only by silence.

 

~RB~

 

Chor:  
Isa still had barely snapped into reality as she pushed her small wad of cash through the dirty, clouded slot to the bearded cabbie with teeth like jelly bellys. He tipped his hat and turned, waiting for her to exit. Yes, exit. The worn, cool door handle made a click as the door unlatched from its body and she exerted just enough force to make herself leave the vehicles warm interior. The cabbie rolled down all the windows, for no other reason than to shout inaudible advice and wish her good luck when she closed the door gently behind her.

Smoke clouded the road behind her, some of it billowing up to her nostrils, where her lungs lapped it ungratefully. The poison, though, was ignored. Her focus rested solely on the man at the flower stand. He bought flowers, a gesture Isa didn’t quite understand yet. She let her gaze follow him until he was just nearly out of sight and then she walked.

“Care for a rose, dove?” The florist sang to her, his voice sweet like honey. A thought appeared. Isa wondering how many years it took him to perfect such an inviting and charming tone. She looked at him, eyes lightly narrowed, and nodded. In his hands he held not a red rose, nor was it of any colour. It was completely devoid of and vivid variation of the rainbows skeleton hues. White. Such a pure, simple thing, she felt a knot in her stomach just gazing upon it. Maybe this was hunger, but she felt this pain differently, in a more emotional sense. She gave him all that he asked for and caressed the rose as she headed off in the direction Frank had disappeared a moment earlier.

After a short minute that felt like a century of never ending searching, Isa almost died internally, thinking she’d lost him. If he was truly to disappear, she might never get the chance to finish this. Across the street from her, a voice was found. The voice ripped her soul to pieces, shattering her well-built nonchalant disposition. Why couldn’t you have taken me? Isa’s brain exploded with memories of Claura, small tears beading in her eyes and traveling the distance of her face to fall onto her jacket.

Every single day for days, months, even years, Isa asked herself that question. She would have given anything for it to be her instead of Claura. Her older sister was taken from Isa and she cried to herself every day that she would one day figure out what had happened. This man’s pain was tangible as she absentmindedly crossed the street. She was quiet coming up on him, holding the white rose in her right hand very lightly, as if just by breathing she might ruin the innocence it exuded.

Then, as if suddenly a rope was removed from her throat, Isa spoke,
“I’ve learned the walls don’t tell you what you did wrong; why you’re left and they’ve gone. They only stare back as you bitterly retreat into yourself. They sit silently as your tears turn to acid and your life falls to shambles.They don’t whisper that there was no suffering; there is no reassurance that everything will be okay. Nothing is okay, because I’ll never know.

Isa tiptoed to Frank’s side, crouching to lay the ethereal white rose atop his two red ones.

“I’m so sorry.”

 

Razorbackwriter:  ~The Day you went away~

 

 

Frank’s body was practically rigid. He had not expected a voice. He had not expected her. Behind the dark shades his pupils dilated and his chin wobbled slightly as he fought back the tears. Men don’t cry, right? For so long nothing made sense. Like a white rat trapped in an endless maze with no way out except the lonely nights at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. That numbed the pain, if only for a short time. He could forget it all, and even who he was. But sobering up brought him back to the stark reality and the cycle would begin again. Isa was right. Frank had retreated into himself. The former family man, loving husband and dedicated detective – partner…all that was a bitter memory now. He was a shell…an empty vessel. Sure, he could be funny and make you smile, but within himself he found so little to smile about.

Why was it he could hear the deafening sound of his own heart beat, as though it was right in his ears? Why was this ache twisting his very insides? Frank blinked a few times to quell those tears as he heard Isa say she was so very sorry. As she lay a white rose beside the two red ones that were now resting together on the ground, Frank brought his face around to see Isa’s. For a moment, his face was like stone. Mixed emotions were hard for a man to deal with. He had told her to forget him. To let him walk away. Yet she followed him here to this…most sacred of places. It was where Rory’s life ended….and in a sense, Frank’s as well. It was the reason for the two roses. One for each of the two men.

Frank turned his head away for a moment and coughed, as thought he words he wanted to say were caught in his throat. The detective sniffed loudly – a sign that he was racked with emotion.

“I’m…..trying to make sense of it all. How one single moment can have such a terrible affect on every other facet of my life. If I could go back, if I could….” his voice trailed away into a soft whisper.

When Frank went to look at Isa, she would see a face that had stared back at her on many a day and night. That same sorrow, etched into the lines of his face. Loss, regret….guilt. We can torture ourselves far worse than anyone else ever could.

 

~RB~

 

Chor:  Raw; the only word that could describe this moment. The alley was filled and overflowed with pure, unadulterated, raw emotion.

Isa stared into Franks eyes as if his face were a mirror in which she saw wholly herself. It was impossible to look away, now, as the emotion sucked her up. This black hole she’d tried so desperately to hide behind her antisocial, dark, and cold facade now leaked out of her; her pores oozing this deep sadness that she never let seethe light. Isa’s hands came up to meet Frank Malone’s face and pulled it near hers, so that their foreheads were almost where skin met skin. Her thumb reached to where a small, ashamed tear had escaped and wiped it from his kind face.

If only is a suicidal lullaby; it’s a flame, it is all consuming and it will kill you if you let it,” she whispered seriously to him, her words accented with sternness. The words she spoke were truer than most likely any she’d even spoken in her days on this planet. Isa’s months of ‘what if’ s and ‘if only’ s had taken her down to a level she hoped to never reach again. As she spoke these words, liquid bubbled in her tear ducts and the tears threatened revolt against her now dry cheeks.

The journey is not yet over; you must be strong for him,” Isa persuaded, pointing at the roses as they sat wilting slowly on the filthy alley floor.

And if you truly believe I’m going anywhere, you’re dead wrong.

 

Razorbackwriter:  How long had it been since he had felt the gentle touch of a woman’s hands upon his skin? He couldn’t even remember. But in this moment where both Isa and Frank were kindred spirits – both having loved and lost. Frank was practically transfixed by Isa’s words. They were comforting in a strange way. Those nights where he had taken sleeping pills and drank a sizable amount of vodka all in the aid of never waking again. You could call it a low moment. A time when he had lost all faith. It was friends like Tommy that was always there when he was at his lowest. Offering him a helping hand. They fought like cats and dogs half the time, but the mate ship….that was true.

Frank let his head fall into Isa’s hands and then their foreheads met finally. He could smell her sweet scent permeate through his nostrils as he closed his eyes and simply let himself be held. Was it a sign of weakness to give in so easily? To not fight her off and walk away from everything? No. For once in his life Frank listened. This girl was wiser in her years than any other he had met, and while they had not ever been seriously close before, they were soul mates of this moment. Sharing a bond through loss. The journey was not over. She was right. Frank, was trying to lay it all to rest as he was about to leave once and for all. Beaten. But Isa, in her inspiring words roused in him the spirit that he had thought died long ago.

“And if you truly believe I’m going anywhere, you’re dead wrong.”

Frank raised a hand and removed his glasses so she could see the glistening of his eyes as they captured her own. Lifting his face from her hands, he then leaned in to kiss her forehead. Little did she know…..she had just stopped him from doing the unthinkable.

“Rory would have loved you, you know? Always had a thing for stubborn gals.” A hint of smile tweaked the corner of his lips.

 

~RB~

 

Chor:  Isa watched as his face told tales of his brain. He was reliving dark nights, as she often did, reminiscing unfortunately on hours spent pondering over mathematical equations to see just how much potassium chloride it would take for a woman of her height and weight. Isa’s mind justified these almost self-mortifying moments as she daily starved herself of both food and of human interaction for no other reason than to bury herself in her work as completely as a tick. Alcohol was the least of her poison intake. She was never really a drinker; that was Claura.

Finally, the rigid statue that was Frank melted into Isa’s embrace and in seeing his eyes she knew she’d stopped him from making a grave mistake. As she looked, though, she now saw understanding where there was only pain. The chains which bound him for so very long had retreated from their death-grip, allowing him breath and clarity. The kiss to her forehed was warm and kind and the thanks that came from it diffused through her skin and lit her aflame. The tears that followed in her own ducts came as he spoke. A light chuckle accompanied it as she looked to the ground to let the tears go.

Isa couldn’t dispute his words. She was stubborn, born with a drive that saw no end in sight. Without a doubt, Claura would have adored this man. Save for Frank, Claura may have been the only good cop in the whole station before her disappearance. They would have made a great team; maybe unstoppable. Isa now can only hope to do this for him. She’s not a cop, granted, but she is far more helpful in many other ways.

 

Razorbackwriter:  It was only at the end of his own tears that Frank was able to see clearly that his words had a marked affect on Isa. She was crying. A flood like release of her own that had Frank tilt his head slightly. Both of them had been keeping all this sadness and longing for understanding tied up within themselves that neither had had the chance to grieve what they had lost aside from those they loved. Themselves. It was almost instinct what Frank did next. Unexpectedly, he kissed away the falling tears that burnt her flesh. His lips tender to her cheeks till all the tears were gone. It was a gentle action, one that was probably saved for a lover. How he hated to see a woman cry. Even though these were tears were long overdue.

Frank wrapped his arms around Isa gently and brought her in for an embrace, his hand moving to the back of her head as he stroked her head gently. Allowing her to nestle her cheek to his chest. It’s surprising how something like a hug can bring us such warmth and peace. It was instinct. Natural and needed.

“Some tough cops we are. Heh.”

His words were not poetic or romantic. Just saying the first thing that popped into his head.

For the first time in ages, a real smile was on his face. Not forced, or painted. An inner warmth was spreading through out him. Isa would yet to realize what she had done for him. The roses lay upon the dirty ground at their feet, and already the wind was starting to peel back the petals. Frank had just let Rory go. Now it was time to save himself. Releasing Isa slowly, he said.

“Never thought I would be fighting crime within my own office.”

 

~RB~

 

 

 

Disappear – GS.

 

Scene setting : Big Joe’s Pizzeria

co-written with Chor.

 

Chor:   Isa was viciously reminded of her utter starvation the second her foot crossed the threshold. The wind displacement sent a breeze of warm, doughy scent straight to her nostrils and she fought the urge to order and purchase every slice of pizza in the joint. The odd looks she received snapped her mostly out of it and she seated herself in a secluded corner table. Isa had a very unorthodox style about her. She didn’t consider herself beautiful, product of a long, relationship-less life and years of emotional abuse, but she was charming and lovely in a way that drew you to her. If she bothered to eat now and again, she might fill out and stop looking like a corpse herself.

Style wasn’t really in her strong suits; the mess of clothes she called her wardrobe were not of the conventional sort. She wore things for the simple fact that she had to. Another thing that could put her off to people is her tattoos. Now, in an age where mainstream society is basically past the whole ‘tattoos are bad’ idea, her inkings are still a bit much. She’s riddled with symbols, a strange language no one can understand; not even her. It’s not obvious unless she’s in a tank top, but they cover much of her arms as well as her back. Today, though, Isa actually looked presentable. Hair braided loosely until it rested in a ponytail just past her clavicle, a black blouse and a black pencil skirt to match with comfortable flats.

Can I get ‘ya anything, love?” a pleasant-looking woman inquired of Isa. With a shake of her head, Isa dismissed the offer of food. She had to focus, despite her stomach violently grumbling in protest. The woman shook her head, having heard the noise, and stepped away muttering ‘damn shame’. Did she think Isa to have an eating disorder. Do I have an eating disorder? Sighing, Isa pushed these troublesome thoughts from her mind and awaited Frank’s appearance.

 

Razorbackwriter:  Having rushed back to his apartment to have a quick shower and change into a fresh suit, Frank took a cab to the Pizzeria rather than take his own car. It would be easier to lose anyone following him if he was in a non descript taxi than a car that would be recognizable. The yellow cab pulled up at the curb, and the asian driver sung out that Frank owed twelve dollars for the fare. The cost of everything seemed to have skyrocketed of late and Frank fumbled about in his coat to find the right change. Handing over the cash, Frank got out of the cab and slammed the door, before looking up and down the street for sign of Isa. He couldn’t see her in amongst the crowd and decided to head inside and wait for her.

No one could be more surprised than Big Joe, to see Frank coming back into the Pizza shop so soon. He came out from behind the counter, and tossed his checkered tea towel over his shoulder.“Franka….whata you doin’s backa here?” It was not that Big Joe didn’t want to see Frank, he just figured he would be at work. Frank slapped Big Joe’s arm in a friendly manner and then gestured to a booth at the back. “Would you believe your pizza is simply too good to stay away from?’

This brought a loud laugh from Big Joe. “Ha you fulla tha bullshit.” Both men had a good chuckle as they both took a seat. Big Joe had his teen son working out back and Joe had a few moments to spare. “Where is Tommy boy, eh?” Joe asked, now curious as to what Frank was up to. He hadn’t ordered anything yet and seemed a touch flustered. Like he was looking out for someone. “Tommy’s back at his office. I’d say he has a deadline to meet.”

Joe nodded slowly and then said. “Uh huh.”

Both men sat in silence for a moment and then Big Joe smiled brightly. “You still looka like shit. I get you a coffee.”Always hospitable. That was Big Joe.

“Thanks, Joe.”

Left on his own in the booth, he drummed his fingers on the table, looking towards the door….waiting for Isa.

~RB~

 

Chor:  It was not long until the door opened once more and through it came a very fresh-looking Frank Malone. He looked good all cleaned up, healthier than when she last saw him. Isa wondered if that’s how people thought of her…

He had not noticed her yet and she stood and, as he seated himself, ventured over. Settling herself across from him, Isa leaned back in her seat. The urgency of the situation still held in her demeanor, but in this place she felt about forty-seven percent safer than the station. Shortly after her arrival at the table, a cup of coffee also joined them. She stared at it and then up at the woman who’d asked for her order earlier. The girl gave her another once-over before stepping away to attend to the rest of the building’s patrons. Isa’s attention returned completely to Frank, then.

“How are you doing?” she asked, then thinking better of it. Stress, she could see, exuded from him like cologne. She, though, was not bothered by it; it’s almost charming when you wear the same, tense scent. Her left hand opened, like a cage door squeaking after being closed for a thousand year, and the flash drive fell out of it and onto the table in his direction. One blink. Two.

“This is the ballistics report. I haven’t been able to do an autopsy yet, but the findings will be the same. As long as we have this, it can’t be disputed. Bracks is probably having a conniption at the moment, trying to find a way to make it disappear…” She spoke, licking her lips afterward. Bracks was good at making things disappear.

 

Razorbackwriter:  The clatter of the coffee cup being placed on the table broke the silence as Isa sat down at Frank’s booth. He’d been watching the door and hadn’t bothered to check the restaurant for Isa. She must have been there before him. Was he slipping not to notice her right away? Thankfully clean shaven, Frank didn’t feel like a total scrub sitting there. In fact, he was wearing his best suit. He wasn’t planning to go back into work that day…..no he had other plans. In a way, Frank was pleased to see Isa, and in another he wasn’t. Guilt was now weighing heavily upon him, and this would probably be the last time they would meet, though he was not about to let her onto that…not yet. “How are you doing?” Sweet girl. Frank thought. Caring about a bloke like him. He was honest in his answer.“Seen better days.” The answer was short and too the point. He wasn’t about to get into some long winded speech. The time for talking long gone. Frank was a marked man and he knew it. Seeing the flash drive fall out onto the table had Frank stare at it for a moment, before raising his gaze up to Isa’s.

“This is the ballistics report. I haven’t been able to do an autopsy yet, but the findings will be the same. As long as we have this, it can’t be disputed. Bracks is probably having a conniption at the moment, trying to find a way to make it disappear…”

That one word. Disappear. A word to describe the past….the present and the not to distant future. Frank pursed his lips as he heard that Bracks was probably working on a way to make it…the report, disappear. The detective let out a long sigh before reaching across the table and slowly dragging the flash drive up into his hand – closing his fingers around it. It was a brave thing the girl was doing to hand him the report in a flash drive. All things considered. Frank turned his wrist and opened his fingers slightly enough to look at the flash drive, before then closing them again and stuffing the evidence into his pocket. In a way, it was his life insurance policy. Frank had forgotten all about the coffee cup that was sitting before him. He appeared distracted, like his mind was playing out what he had to do and yet he remained perfectly still. It took a moment for him to speak, as though this was the hardest thing he ever had to say.

“You’re a great gal for doing this, Isa. But…now I want you to forget about me. I’m going to do the same thing that report is going to do, till such time as I have enough evidence to take THEM all down. There is no point being a just man in a crooked police force. “

Frank took out a twenty dollar bill and placed on the table. He had still yet to touch his coffee. Frank offered Isa a warm smile…a smile of goodbye.

Standing, he said simply. “If anyone asks….you never saw me.”

With that, he headed out the door.

~RB~

 

Chor:  Isa could only blink silently as the world whizzed around her. Frank left her sitting there, bewildered, hands flat on the chipped wooden booth table. Words did not come to her. Thoughts, too, sat huddled with her confused feelings and refused to comply.
Standing, that was good. She stood and walked out the door, catching him jump into a Taxi like he was joining the Olympics. She found a cabbie idling in front of the place, probably waiting for a late patron. He wore a scowl as she approached the window, hoping to grab his services.

“Just get in, hun. Where to?” He said, as if reading her face. She pointed blankly at the taxi now motoring away from the site and climbed into the ripped vinyl backseat, wincing as the cracked coating scraped against her exposed flesh.

“Oh, you’re that type, huh?” He said, chuckling wildly like this was some sort of conquest of love and she was some sort of hero. There was still fight in her, yet. Frank might not see it, but Isa has a deep, deep well of focus that has latched onto him. She can’t let it go; she doesn’t have the ability to just give up now. Besides, she still has one more trick up her white sleeve. Or in her pocket, rather…

 

 

 

I’ll take the fall – GS.

 

Scene setting : Elissa’s apartment.

co-written with VunG and Chor.

 

VunG:  Even as she finally got the darn bottle open and got a couple aspirins in her, Elissa couldn’t help but feel like she was about to just die of exhaustion. How often was she going to have to deal with these sorts of injuries? It was like she was doomed to hospital bills that looked like the Magna Carta. Sighing softly to herself, she looked up at the sound of Frank saying he was taking off. Suppose that was natural, and she was definitely grateful for all he’d already done for her; she had to admit that she almost wanted him to stay, but she wasn’t about to force him or even attempt to convince him.

She exited the bathroom and headed straight over to him, and was about to shake his hand, maybe give him a hug before he left, when he received a phone call. Immediately, just from the expression on Frank’s face she could tell that something was amiss. Wincing and groaning, she walked over to the fridge, resigning herself to what was likely going to be an even longer day. She didn’t know why, but she had a feeling that things weren’t over just yet… so much for rest. Reaching in, she was about to grab a bottle of Dogfish Head ale… but stopped remembering all the medication that was probably in her and just grabbed some water. Why did she feel like she was about to get dragged into more of this madness?

 

Chor:  “I’ve got the report. Bracks is less than pleased and I have no doubt he’ll soon attempt to wipe the whole department of its existence. Or mine…” The last notes of her phrase she spoke a slight but quieter. The metal bit in her hand dug into her skin as her body used her fingers to shield and protect this item of extreme importance. She ducked out of the view of many passersby and let her gaze pass through the alley before she continued speaking.
“Is there a way we might meet? I need this information to reach you and I have trust in the notion that my computer has already been cleaned.” Her voice was calm, but serious nearly to the point of fright.

 

Razorbackwriter:  “I’ve got the report. Bracks is less than pleased and I have no doubt he’ll soon attempt to wipe the whole department of its existence. Or mine…” Isa said as Frank’s face grew grim. He should have known that the Commander was truly against him and that he would do whatever he could to make the real evidence of his innocence vanish. As Frank held the phone to his ear, he watched Elissa wincing and making painful sounds as she went to get a drink from her fridge. The poor girl. Frank had put her through enough and she needed rest. That was painfully obvious. As much as Frank wanted to stay with her, he knew that his own carrer and that of Isa’s was now on the line. Possibly their lives.
“Is there a way we might meet? I need this information to reach you and I have trust in the notion that my computer has already been cleaned.” Her voice was calm, but serious nearly to the point of fright. Frank heard the fear in her voice and knew that she was in way over her head on this one. He already had the guilt of Elissa being hurt from his actions, and now another woman was in trouble. He refused to let another take the fall for him. Raising his head slightly, Frank knew what he had to do.

“Meet me at Big Joe’s Pizzeria in an hour. I need to run home and change. You give me what you have, and I will let you know what I plan to do with it.” There was an air of finality in his voice….like he had just made up his mind on how to end this nightmare. Once and for all. Closing the call, he looked back at Elissa. It was like seeing a man walking the green mile.

“I wish I had more time to explain, but….I just want to say….it was nice knowing you.” Frank didn’t move to embrace her or touch her in anyway. He grabbed his coat and headed for the door. Pausing a moment before opening it, then walking out to the hall, closing the door behind him.

~RB~

 

VunG:  Elissa watched the man as he talked with the woman on the other end, and immediately her eyebrows were furrowed as she tried to figure out what was going on. She strained to hear the words on the other end, but to no avail. However, when she heard the directions, she also heard the doom in Frank’s voice, and all sleepiness was gone from her eyes as she realized that he was planning something. Of course, her first thought was that he would at least try to include her in at least explaining, some way for her to help him even if she was stuck here. But then… she saw the look in his eyes… the same one that had been in her mirror the morning she returned to work for the last time.

Even as he began moving to leave she tried to scramble after him, but found her sleepiness and blood loss taking its toll on her, and she had to stop. His words taunted her, and as his back turned she glared burning arrows in his head, frantically hoping that her thoughts made it to him: Don’t do it. Don’t go throwing your life away! She knew what it was like! She regretted her decision! She should’ve just quit from the force the day of her husband’s death, it would’ve served everyone better! If chasing Rory’s shadow was going to get him killed, THEN STOP CHASING! “STOP!” she hissed furiously as he closed the door. Running forward, she reached for the door handle only to have her vision begin to double up and she fell against it with a heavy thud. She slowly slid down the front of the door to her knees, giving it a good punch with her good hand before finally admitting defeat.

She wanted to scream! She needed to scream! She refused to let someone else die because of her failure! Part of her wanted tears to at least give voice, but not even those would come forward, she was just left silently fuming at Frank for his bull-headedness. She had no idea what he was planning, but… but she could tell from the look in his eyes it wasn’t anything good. She had to stop him, or at least help him and think it through with him! But… she couldn’t… because she’d failed. She was useless.

Slowly she walked over to her bed, and flopped down onto it, admitting defeat, her thoughts continuing to scream at her until she finally went to sleep.

Heads or Tails – GS.

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/modal_800/2014/09/gotham_police_station_set_design.jpg

Scene setting: NYPD Police headquarters.

co-written with Chor.

 

Razorbackwriter:  Sitting in behind his desk, the Commander was smoking a cuban cigar and staring out the office window. He seemed a million miles away, a carefree look on his face. You’d think after the night before, then having to attend to the crime scene of Joey Patone’s murder that he would be still showing some annoyance about the whole affair, but surprisingly he wasn’t. A knock at the door broke his concentration and he took one last puff of his cigar before shouting “ENTER.”

A young constable opened the door, then in behind him was another officer who was holding one of the evidence boxes from Joey’s apartment. “You wanted this brought here, Sir?” The first officer asked, motioning to the second to bring in the box. Not even bothering to get up from his desk, Commander Bracks simply motioned with his right hand for the box to be set down on the right hand side of his desk where there was enough space. The second officer tread into the room and set the box down carefully. Both officers then stood there silently for a moment. News was buzzing around the office about the morning operation, the fact Detective Malone was there when Joey got shot. Rumors were rife, but the Commander was quick to discipline anyone who spoke about it. The Commander then stared angrily at the two men, as though they were loitering. “Haven’t you two clowns got better things to do than to stand there with your mouths open ready to catch flies. DISMISSED!” He roared. Neither men waited for a second time to be berated, hurrying out of the office and closing the door. The Commander leaned over slightly in his chair to see if anyone was trying to look through the office door glass, then when he saw the close was clear, he tore the evidence tape off the box and lifted the lid. Reaching in he took out a handful of photographs that were taken from Joey’s dark room. A smirk appearing on his face as he held one of the more….erotic photos up…..till the phone rang.

The Commander set down the photograph on his desk and reached for his phone, picking it up.

“Bracks.”

“Nice work this morning, Commander. I must say, you earn your commission.” The voice on the other end had a slight accent to it. Italian. “You got done fitting up Malone for Joey’s murder yet?”

The Commander then remembered that Isa was yet to submit her report. “I’m working on it as we speak.” He lied. The man on the other end was no fool. “Uh huh. Well, maybe I didn’t emphasize the importance to get rid of Malone.” The Commander coughed and tried to keep his cool. “I understand, I do. Look, if I have to squeeze a certain forensics officer to fudge the evidence I will.”

The man on the other end of the phone laughed. “You better, or that pretty young wife of yours is going to be a new star in one of my snuff films. Got it?” The phone call ended, with the Commander sitting stony faced in his chair. He had only recently gotten married to a young Thai mail order bride. She was innocent to all of the Commander’s back room deals.

“Shit.” The Commander muttered, slamming down the phone. As soon as Isa had done her report, the Commander was going to have a few words with her.

~RB~

 

Chor:  Isa entered the building as she normally would, except her body was shaking like a wet cat. One of the guards asked if she was alright after she was buzzed in, to which she replied she was ‘just dandy’. Not that he cared. He’s never spoken a word to her in all of her time working in the department. Isa’s eyes grazed across the room as she bee-lined for the elevator. The Commander was on the phone and the look on his face was a mix between terror and anger. He slammed the phone down in such a manner that she jumped. The sour smell that perforated the department was now infiltrating her lungs. One push of the button labeled “1” and down she went. The entrance level was actually level 2, as this was a converted building.
She’d hyperventilated the whole ride back, much to Khalil’s demise. He kept asking if she wanted to pull over, thinking that the putrid smell of the decaying body was getting to her. Little did he know…

“Isa,” someone called her name and she nearly died of a heart attack. Her eyes shot toward the sign. It was Ricardo; he would attempt to apologize. Isa read it in his eyes and didn’t have time for this.

“Look, Isa, I…” He began, but she cut him off with a raised palm.

“Ricardo, forg-” She began, but quick realized something. Ricardo still believed in the goodness of the force. He thought if the Commander knew he’d tampered with evidence, that might be the end of the career. She fought the urge to just laugh right there. Poor boy, didn’t know what he was getting into.

“Okay, Ricardo, I promise I won’t let anyone know if you do me a favour?” She countered, acting sincere. His face softened and eyes brightened. He was like a puppy who just happened to be working the evidence locker. Usually she could try to squeeze visits to the locker out of Molly, the normal ‘keeper of the things’, but with her being on Maternity leave that left Ricardo here alone. His eager nod just brightened her whole day.

“I need any files on Frank Malone. Not by him, on him. Also, those of Claura von Goethe. G-o-e-t-h-e. Got it?” She was hoping to get the report that claimed Frank as a suspect and study it. She also knew what other things would be in there. He set on his way to the back through the shelves.

“Sure thing. Hey, I’m sorry about-“ He started again, Isa rolling her eyes.

“Really, Ricardo, just get to it,” She interrupted, but that didn’t stop him. He was intent on apologizing about the earlier debacle.

“No, it’s the files. The ones for…G-goethe?” He said, struggling with the pronunciation like he was staring at a card that said it. Isa’s heart stopped.

“What about them?” Isa uttered passively, but shakily. He snaked back to her with one file in his hand…and it wasn’t her sister’s.

“They’re not here…can’t read the name, so no idea who took ’em out,” He said regretfully, taking in the look on her face. Suddenly it hit him.

“Oh shit, that’s your sister, isn’t it? The one who went missing? I’m so so-“ He began, but Isa ripped the file from his hand and stormed back to the elevator. She couldn’t get downstairs fast enough. Claura’s file had been removed, probably destroyed. They knew closing it wouldn’t have been enough. As the elevator made its final ‘ding’ on the Morgue floor, the doors grumbled open and she near burst out. Khalil was down the hall in the break room and she saw him watch her dash to her office through the large windows. He knew better than to follow, so she spent the next thirty minutes alternating between crying and throwing things across the room. Once her fit had finally receded, she sauntered with her evidence to the lab. The gun was already there, so she set immediately into her ballistics report. This would be the best damn report she’s ever written.
After a total of two hours and three minutes continually firing and searching weapons on the database and comparing the bullet found in the woman and the deceased male, she finally was able to put it to rest. There was no possible way that Frank Malone’s gun shot the bullet that killed that man, no matter her motives. Not that there were any. Everyone seemed generally shocked about the assassination, the woman Isa imagined because she was going into shock.

Sitting back in her tall wheeled chair, Isa’s eyes finally pulled back from the microscope. The proof was solid, the facts complete and the report bulletproof. A burning sensation in her chest, though, told her something terrible was going to happen. She sighed and wheeled over to her computer and searched the database for ‘Frank Malone’. Taking down his number on her yellow, coffee-stained legal pad and printing her report, she almost wheeled away to give her report to the Commander. However, she thought better and saved the report file, including all of the data files and photos, onto a small, clear flash drive. Snatching up the report from the printed, she left the office with more confidence then she’s had in a long, long time, to deliver to the crooked man upstairs what he needed to see…
‘knock knock’

 

Razorbackwriter:   ~Knock knock~

The sound of someone’s knuckles rapping on the office door brought Bracks out of his dazed state. The man was still staring at the phone handle he had just set down. He stared at it as if it were infected. It was not the phone of course, but rather the man on the other end that made the Commander feel physically sick. Truly stuck between a rock and a hard place, the Commander had to find a way to incriminate the Detective and his hopes that the testing and subsequent report by Isa were high. Little did he know that the woman was not going to bring him the smoking gun report. The ballistics tests and follow up report would show inconclusively that the detective was innocent of the crimes that the Commander was trying to fit him up for. The Commander pushed back in his chair which groaned in protest due to the Commander’s bulk. The idea that cops lived on a diet of soda and donuts seemed to be accurate when you took in the Commander’s obese state. When was the last time he ever passed a fitness test? Was he even fit for duty as a member of the NYPD? Probably not. The only reason he still held the position was because he was nothing more than a pawn of power. Those with total control liked to have lackeys like Bracks in charge of what would become a bent operation. Numerous reports, and evidence had gone missing over the past six months. Millions of dollars worth of narcotics and weapons vanishing from the evidence rooms. Many young cadets were often put in charge of these facilities, later to become scapegoat in the Commander’s schemes. If only there was someone brave enough to speak out. Someone with the balls to face up to what was a corrupt force. So long as Commander Bracks was in charge, justice was not even going to shine it’s light upon the city.

Seeing the female outline of Isa through the distressed glass door pane, Bracks barked “Enter”

As the door opened, the Commander rose to standing as though he was going to use his size and height as a way to intimidate the young woman. Staring down at her, he noted she had a file in her hands. No doubt this was the long awaited report. It had taken a few hours, and now it was time to learn of its contents.

“Took you long enough.” The Commander grumbled. There was no smile or real emotion on his face. He wanted to appear cold and detached. It was no secret of his hatred for Detective Malone, the whole office knew. How on earth Frank lasted this long was a miracle. Tapping his toe on the wooden office floor, he then lifted his chin and snorted like a malley bull.

“So….did Detective Frank Malone shoot Joey Patone and Elissa von Pourtales?”

~RB~

 

Chor:  

Isa liked to pretend the possibility of being murdered in her sleep didn’t scare her. The fact that it very much did made it difficult for her not to fear this conversation. Bracks held power, and not just power with the NYPD, but power in much higher, more dangerous places. She’d completely dissolved into her thoughts until hearing Bracks’ loud mouth calling her in. The knob was cold, since no one really used this door except him. He doesn’t get many visitors. The door creaked furiously, as if upset about all the evil it has seen. Isa’s heartbeat quickened at the sight of the commander, but she repeated a single line in her head again and again as she walked over to the chair in front of his desk; facing him. For Claura, for Claura, for Claura. It made her calmer, more ready for his backlash. Obviously this was only half true as she was also doing this for Frank, who didn’t deserve this kind of betrayal. She’d read his file, she knew the good he’d done for the force. It’s a damn shame that the good ones are the ones who get this kind of shit.

Bracks’ spoke and she raised her brows. Has he ever even read a ballistics report, let alone done one? Isa worked so thoroughly that it would take others’ hours upon hours to finish. More proof of unappreciation for Forensics in a whole. Maybe you should do it next time, she thought, then immediately recanted it. That would be about a billion times worse by far. Isa couldn’t even imagine Bracks doing any real police work at all. By the look of him, he didn’t do much of anything except eat and lie. The fact that he was standing was very apparent to her. It was intimidating only because of Isa’s seriously under-nourished size. He was easily two or three times her weight and the way he was standing it was like he knew it. He purposefully made himself bigger, more scary so maybe she’d back down. The question that arose next was the question of the day. She held the paper in her hand out toward him, her other hand fidgeting with some forceps in her coat jacket.

“You will find that Frank Malone absolutely and unequivocally did not shoot Joseph Patone or Elissa von Portuales,” Isa replied, her voice stern and confident despite the situation. The only thing she had definite faith in anymore was Science. Science isn’t biased and cannot lie. You cannot bribe it and it does not fear.  

Razorbackwriter:  The rising red flush on the Commander’s face was like that of a pending volcanic eruption. Purple veins pulsing so close to the skin that they almost were protruding through his sickly pink flesh. Eye sockets drooped slightly to reveal wet watery chasms, from too much drink. Those words of finality in the answer to the question of Detective Frank Malone’s innocence were like a death knell to the Commander. Age lines appeared to grow as he stared down the forensics officer; the words of the man on the phone still going around and around in his head. The words that the Commander wanted to let fly simply went unsaid, as he had to just nod at Isa’s findings. The Commander reached out and snatched the report file from Isa’s hand and then rounded his desk; taking a seat. Again the chair groaned and protested with loud creaks as the Commander settled. He flipped open the file and silently read the report. Bracks didn’t even offer Isa a chair. He simply made her wait. Each turn of a page was preempted by a finger lick so he didn’t miss a thing. But by the last page it was clear that isa didn’t miss a thing either. Her report was solid and factual. Closing the file, Bracks tossed it on his desk haphazardly as though it was yesterday’s paper. There would be no words of appreciation or thanks for the speed in which Isa took to write up the report. The Commander glanced out the office window, deep in thought. Without looking at Isa he simply said….

“Dismissed.”

If Isa left the office without further word, it would only be then that the Commander would watch her go. Once she was well out of ear shot, the Commander picked up the file and tapped the edge to his bottom lip. His eyes narrowed into slits as he pondered, or rather plotted what to do. He needed Frank to be found guilty. He needed to pin a murder on him to appease the men upstairs. But how?

Glancing down at the file in his hands, he simply turned in his chair and dumped the file in the trash bin. Knowing full well that there would be a copy of the file in the forensics, it was going to be one hell of an operation to make it….disappear. Either that…or have something unfortunate happen to Isa.

The Commander eased back in his seat, drumming his fingers together as he mused on what to do. Taking a coin out of his pocket, he turned it over between his fingers before flicking it into the air. The coin spun and spun before coming down to land as the Commander said…“Heads…”

It landed tails side up.

Luck was on Isa’s side.

For now…..

~RB~

 

Chor:  Isa wore a look of complete and utter satisfaction: on the inside. She didn’t let him know how pleased she was with herself, mostly because the more sensible half of her was scared witless. What if he threatened her? Who would even believe her? Much to her surprise, he just read very silently through her report. Almost painfully slow…
He ordered her to exit and by jove she did. No amount of money in the world could have kept Isa in that dingy, pungent office any longer. With a nod of her head, Isa’s feet scrambled from the room and through the maze of desks until she reached the front door. The flash drive with all the information she needed was held tight in her sweating palm and the picture she’d confiscating illegally from the crime scene was burning a hole in her pocket and her character. It was unlike her to be so sneaky, but she’d stepped in a serious shit-pile with this case. If anyone else had been dispatched, the case would probably already be closed with Frank in jail and his cohorts at the bottom of the river.
The air outside caught in her lungs, the smell of cars and hot dogs filling and choking them. Her hands fell to her jacket pockets and the left found a crumpled paper. Pulling it out, her attention drifted down to read it. Frank’s number she’d written from his file. It was only seconds later the phone was ringing. He needed to know just how difficult things were going to be.
Hello?” She whispered, when the ringing ended and a voice broke through the silence.

 

 

Elissa’s place – GS.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.freshome.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/apartment-architecture.jpg

Scene setting: Elissa’s Apartment

co-written with VunG.

 

Razorbackwriter: By now, all three would be feeling drained after being up all night, having been shot at, hospitalized and interrogated for being at Joey Patone’s apartment. But it was late in the afternoon, and Tommy had yet to even call in to his office about his whereabouts and the photographs he still had thanks to Frank. Driving Elissa to her apartment, Tommy knew he was going to have to show his face at the office of the New York Times sooner or later. As much as he wanted to see Elissa settle in at home, he knew he would have to keep moving. Frank; who was sitting in the back seat with Elissa had no intention of going into the Police station till he had heard from Isa. Without his service revolver he felt practically naked.

The traffic was building up as many workers would start to head out of the city, and Frank stared out the window at the procession of cars, trucks and taxis. In the back of his mind he was worried about what the Commander was going to do. Everything hinged on Isa’s report that he was not the shooter. Taking out his cell he quickly checked for messages and there were none, not even from his partner; Detective John Moss. Frank wouldn’t be surprised if John asked for a transfer. John had a wife and a life outside of the force, unlike Frank and John’s wife was sick of the long hours John put in babysitting Frank.

Soon, Tommy’s car pulled up outside Elissa’s apartment building but he kept the car running. Turning in his seat, with his arm draped over the passenger seat, he looked guilty about having to leave the pair.

“I’d come up, but I want to go to see my Editor about the pictures. The story has to be told, or at least investigated further. I want to reach my editor before your fat ass Commander does.”

Frank gave a sigh and nodded as he handed over the crumpled envelope that contained the only pictures of the beast that took Rory. The cops had the others thanks to the Commander, and Frank genuinely believed that those photos would never see the light of day. Swallowed by the same means of all the other evidence that seemed to vanish into thin air.

“I’ll take Elissa up.” Frank said, before getting out of Tommy’s car and going around to open Elissa’s door. He offered his hand to her to help her out of the car and onto the pavement.

When the door closed, Tommy indicated and then pulled out onto the street to head to his office, leaving Frank standing there with Elissa. He glanced up at the apartment building and uttered. “Nice place…..”

 

~RB~

 

VunG:  Elissa felt like she was about to pass out at this point. She hadn’t slept well even before this whole mess had started, and between two sleepless nights, getting shot at, getting into two separate verbal fights with the damn Commander, and now busting out of the hospital she was utterly and completely beat. She was grateful that she was self-employed, because she didn’t envy anyone that had to go to an office tomorrow. Actually, she was fairly certain she may have blacked out for the entire drive over, because it almost looked like the clock was skipping a few times. As much as she wanted to deny it to herself, Elissa wasn’t in any condition to help the guys.

Once they arrived at the apartments, she’d turn and nod to Tommy at his comments, knowing full well that he probably had more than his share of work to do, even after all this. If the commander decided to head off the news on this, then they would be shut down pretty damn quickly. Smiling feebly to him, she attempted to sign ~Thank you,~ though it was pretty ‘slurred,’ if you want to use that term. Besides, he probably had his own life to live besides baby-sitting her, same went for Frank, regardless of what he said. Sighing softly, she took Frank’s offer of helping her out, still feeling a bit woozy but refusing to let it show any more than it needed to.

And then, just like that, Tommy was gone, the two of them left alone. Strange… she didn’t really feel like she was coming home. Then again, how much time had she actually spent here? Upon hearing Frank’s words, she scoffed lightly and shrugged with her good shoulder, conceding that it probably was. She just never felt really all that at home here. Slowly she began moving her way into the building, using the railing but refusing any offered help, firmly deciding that she needed to handle herself. That said, she wasn’t too proud to use the escalator up to the third floor. Assuming Frank followed her on up, she’d be pretty much dead on her feet the whole time, though just as they exited the elevator he’d hear her hiss as she felt the first hints of the anesthetic wearing off.

Once to room 302, she pulled out her keys and opened the door, gesturing for Frank to follow her, if for no other reason than getting him something to drink. She wouldn’t bother with the door herself, at the moment she only had eyes for the restroom; specifically a bottle of painkillers. Though, before she went there, she stopped herself and gestured to the main room and to him in a way that kind of suggested she was trying to tell him to make himself at home. With that, she was away, leaving him alone for a little bit.

The room was probably higher-quality than the actual furniture and appliances she’d brought into it. The refrigerator and such things that came with it were all quite nice, upper-middle-class things, but she seemed to be a bit of a budget shopper as most of it was nice but far from fancy. All around the room there were various pictures, some of them simple landmarks from everywhere from Paris to Tokyo to Las Vegas, others of people and events in her life, and they varied wildly in size too. Her mother was a bit of a shutterbug and had sent a lot of the pictures to her, though if Frank was paying attention he’d notice that in none of her pictures she had a scarf, even when it was snowing. The most common figures in the pictures were either her parents from when she was young or her husband, a man of Native American heritage, about her height and about the same weight, both of them displaying their bands in the pictures. However, the pictures were all pre-pregnancy; she had no interest in haunting herself like that. Besides that, the only thing of note was a cork board near her desk with various pins and yarn set next to it, suggesting a similar set up to his own at home, just not one that was in use at the moment.

 

Razorbackwriter:  Frank trudged along silently behind Elissa. He had to hand it to her. The way she was keeping up appearances after the last two days was remarkable. A lesser man would have crashed out in the car. Following her into the escalator, Frank stood with folded arms as the lift rode up to the third floor, where he got out after her and continued to stay in behind her till she reached her door. He paused for a moment at the door, till she gestured him to follow. “Thank you.” he said simply, entering after her and letting her close the door. For a single girl in this town, she had a pretty spacious apartment. Tastefully decorated and neat. Elissa showed him with the wave of her hand what part was the main room and to more or less make himself at home. The detective offered a light smile, but knew when she headed into her bathroom that she was probably going to be getting some aspirin or painkillers. The drugs from the hospital must be wearing off by now, and the light hissing sound that she made indicated to Frank at least that she was in pain. Slowly, Frank removed his jacket; all the while checking out the array of photographs on the wall. They say that family photos are a way of looking into your past, your family..those you love. Being a detective Frank had a good eye and was able to spot right away that most, if not all these photos were taken before she had her accident. He noted that she didn’t wear a scarf in any of the photo, and time and again there were pictures of her with another man – presumably her husband. Frank walked right up to the wall, that was covered in photos from all over the globe. What a life Elissa must have led.

Elissa, like Frank had tragedy strike them both. Each had a story. They were more alike than one would dare say. Frank suddenly felt very uncomfortable, like he had stumbled across something that was private. Elissa wasn’t a case, and he shouldn’t be trying to deduct from the pictures just what happened to her husband. Frank wiped the underside of his nostrils and shaking his head slightly.

“You should be okay now. I know you don’t need a dead beat cop on your couch.”

Frank was about to head for the door, when suddenly his cell phone went off in his pocket. Fidgeting to get it out, he answered “Detective Malone.”

“Hello?”

It was Isa. Frank stopped dead in his tracks and noted that she was whispering. “Isa…what’s wrong? Where are you?”

~RB~

 

 

 

Everyone has a tale to tell – GS

 

Scene setting – Fifth and Maple : Joey’s Apartment.

co-written with Chor & VunG.

 

VunG:  Even through her slight daze, Elissa was more than happy to see that idiot Commander Bracks getting so worked up over being proven wrong; pride before the fall asshole. Of course, now that she had made it apparent where she stood and how things had worked out, she realized just how far into the line of fire she had placed herself… no pun intended. Thankfully, someone else came in, someone whom he immediately recognized as Khalil, someone that she had had to cooperate with on more than a few occasions. Even if they weren’t what you would call friends, she was definitely very grateful for the support, even if it was just stating the facts… she would’ve displayed it if she wasn’t so busy trying to keep firm towards the Commander.

She actually wasn’t aware of the corruption that the man went through, but at this point she would’ve been utterly unsurprised. Still, she backed off a bit as the other two came into the fray, but remained near them, glad to see that she wasn’t the only one with a bit of fire in her heart. Unfortunately, the crooked cop went ahead and confiscated all the photos, and while she had no doubt that one of them had pocketed a few, she knew that getting the pictures into the paper weren’t going to happen. If the things went public, Tommy would get charged with taking evidence from a crime scene. Once again, back to square one, and this time not a lead to be found.

And of course, throughout this whole fiasco, the poor EMT was just staying off to the side trying not to get caught in the crossfire.

The moment the commander was gone, she seemed to deflate, actually stumbling a bit before the EMT caught her, her good hand going up to her forehead as the world started spinning. Her eyes turning to see a concerned face looking at her, and suddenly she felt a strange warmth in her, despite her condition. Still, she didn’t have the energy to do much other than nod feebly, to which the EMT grumbled in frustration, “Not that she has much of a choice.” As the man started to usher her out of the crime scene, she turned to Tommy, and had an expression on her face almost begging for him to follow… if for no other reason to bust her out once she had her stitches in.

Provided nothing else happened, she’d be brought promptly downstairs to the ambulance and brought in; though thankfully they spared her the indignity of using a stretcher. And then she would be sped away, siren somewhat unnecessarily blaring.

 

Chor:  Isolde wasn’t sold at all on the idea that this was a drug-bust-turned-assassination. Did anyone really believe that? Maybe they spent so much time settling for ‘just enough’ that they couldn’t tell that this place smelled of serious mischief. She had actually forgott about the Commander, having very little respect for him anyways, and her attention snapped up to him when he countered her. Tested? She snickered to herself, wondering if he knew a single thing about actual crime scene investigation. Obviously, there would be testing done; idiot. That meant very little, though, in this situatio nat this moment, where she could see with her own eyes that it was not a point blank shot or even from across the room. This was a long-range, sniper shot.

Isa did not falter when the Commander stepped up to her. She stared hatefully past his bushy dark brows into his sunken eyes and crossed her arms with closed fists.

You can count on it,” She muttered, fighting the urge to spit where he stood. Khalil seemed to sense her growing attitude and he pulled her towards the body again, attempting to avert her attention to something useless and not even relevant to the case. She looked thankfully at him. He was usually the one whi played mediator, stopping her from saying things she shouldn’t and doing things that would cost her dearly. Once the Commander had finally given up on barraging everyone in the room with insults or questions, he exited the building. He left his rotten stink behind, though, and his corruption choked Isa.

Filthy, sexist bastard,” Isa muttered to herself as Frank approached. She knows of him, has been following a lot of his cases, but has never personally worked with him. Khalil handed her a bag and a sharpie.

Unfortuantely, I’ve got to take it. I’ll make sure to return it in good condition, though,” She said, holding the bag open for the gun to be placed in, then marking it accordingly. She’s certain there’d be no evidential use for it, but the Commander would be ever so pleased she did as he asked.

I won’t let him pin this on you, no matter how much he gets paid or how lazy and ignorant he is,” She said thoughtfully, her more humane side showing. This is a man’s career; and not only that, his life.

 

Razorbackwriter:  Frank turned his service revolver around in the palm of his hand so that the butt end was facing Isolde. The detective then dropped it into the offered bag with something of a sigh. At least Isolde was being compassionate in the light of how the Commander viewed things. The Commander had to be one of the most unpopular men in the force, and with good reason. Especially after the way he spoke to those on the site. He was a sexist pig and a bastard to boot. With the gun handed over, Frank took out his badge and stared at it for a moment. How long before they asked for this too? From beneath his furrowed brow, the Detective glanced up to hear that Isolde was not going to let the Commander pin the murder of Joey on him. It brought a little comfort in what had been a rotten morning thus far. “Its a tough battle when you got dicks like him in charge. Heh, you didn’t hear that from me.” Frank offered with a crooked smile. Ah, there was that sense of humor. It was good to know that he still had that at least.

Watching the other officers boxing up all the photographs and equipment, Frank knew that this was going to get buried at the police holding office. Maybe the porn pics will do the rounds, but the pictures of the beast that will probably be discredited as being photo shopped….or computer generated. That was the key evidence to clear his name over Rory, and as the police teams thinned out to let the forensics do their job, Frank knew it was time to go. One last look at the sheet covered body of Joey, and Frank started for the door. “Keep in touch…okay?” Frank said, before heading out the door.

Tommy was waiting for Frank outside. The paramedics had rushed Elissa off to the ambulance, which meant that the pair would have to follow in Tommy’s car. You could see that Tommy was already angered by the behavior of the Commander, and his eyes narrowed as Frank appeared. “No offence, Frank….but that was some stupid shit in there. Are they all useless as that Commander Klutz?” Tommy knew that his chances of those pictures of the beast making front page were now all but gone. They were really on to something, and now the main witness was dead and the evidence taken downtown. Frank wiped some blood splatter from his cheek and patted Tommy on the back. “We’ll figure this out. Just…not now. Come on, let’s get to the hospital. I’m worried about Elissa.”

The two men headed down the hall to the stairwell, and would make it out to Tommy’s car, as the blazing lights of the police illuminated the alley.

~RB~

 

Chor:  As most of the cops had finished whatever it was they were pretending to do as they stood around breathing precious air and potentially destroying evidence with their sheer idiocy, this left the building empty save for Forensics, Khalil, and her. Khalil was already loading up the body into a bag and pushing it via gurney out to corpse-mobile, which left Isa by herself in what appeared to be some sort of living room. She scoured it for a few moments, finding nothing of significance, and almost resolved to leaving before abrupt laughter caught her attention in the next room. Obviously it was Forensics, she recognized Michael’s distinctly obnoxious chuckling. The room bustled with loud talking, then laughter, so Isa sauntered over and stood in the doorway. It was dark and they couldn’t see her at first.

The five men- including Ricardo the lanky newbie, Michael the unsightly prankster, Bronkov the stoic transfer, Balle the confused alcoholic, and Jameson the fucking prick- were all standing around a box of evidence. In their grubby fingers they held photographs. They were throwing the things around and making horrifying comments like they were playing some sort of pornographic trading card game.

“Riccy, here this one’s for you,” Jameson flicked a photo at the kid and he grasped the air, sadly not catching it. It fluttered slowly, as if caught on a breeze, landing just by Isa’s booted foot. Ricardo snatched it up, looking at her boot, then following it up to her eyes. Everyone fell silent then.

“This is evidence, you fucking dimwits,” She scolded, eyes narrowed to slits. Anger reddened her normally pale face and she took the picture from the newbie. It was a girl who could be no more than 19, naked and alone on a bed. There was a false sense of hunger in her eyes, followed by a sadness Isa knew all too well. The girls name was Amelia. She’d been a street girl when Isa’s sister was in Vice, but switched out of the game just to fall into another one. Just a week ago, Amelia was found in a hotel bathtub, beaten so terribly they almost couldn’t recognize her. Claura cried for a week.

“Oh, piss off, weirdo,” Jameson spat, making Isa smile because he couldn’t find anything more insulting to say. He growled, eyes shooting daggers, but the rest of the men just gathered everything and started leaving.

“No, leave the boxes, I’ve got to do inventory on it,” She commanded, knowing if any of these boxes disappeared from sight that helpful evidence might never be seen again. The men cursed their way out of the dark room, kicking feet like children at the prospect of being told what to do by a women. In picking up and inspecting the photos, she found that not all of them were of women. There were some that were barely distinguishable, like they hadn’t developed correctly, and some she could barely decipher. Then there were three that were actually frightening to look at. It was some sort of beast. Her eyes dug into the picture and she found herself thinking back to Claura’s third month in Vice. She’d seen something. As it was her duty to lurk in the night through all sorts of streets and alleys, she thought she’d seen it all. Claura was scared of whatever she’d seen. She told Isa every night that she came home that she felt she was being followed. Isa chalked it up to anxiety. Claura never was the best at handling stress and the new job was really getting to her. One month later, Claura disappeared and was never seen again. No one knows what happened. Nobody pays attention to a hooker. With a sigh, Isa went against everything she knew was right and pocketed the photo. Someone would know what this is. Someone had to believe her and if this photo disappeared, she would never figure it out. Collecting the three boxes of evidence, she exited the building and left in the running vehicle with the dead man in the back.

 

 

 

 

Frank takes the heat – GS.

Scene setting : Fifth and Maple Street; Joey’s apartment.

co-written with Chor and VunG.

 

VunG:  Elissa’s face remained stuck in an expression of intense pain and concentration as she tried to keep herself aware, and even as Tom and Frank came to her aid she tried to reach out for her gun again. No, she wasn’t about to try and pull some last stand maneuver, but she damn sure wanted to be armed. Every one of the extra shots made her blood boil, and even with her wound she wanted to fire back. Of course, she realized pretty quickly what a bad idea that was, and would promptly put her hand back into place while Tommy perched over her, stating the obvious. (No fucking shit,) she mouthed, not really caring if he actually saw or understood her words. They didn’t have time for the obvious to come down. But… she had to give up the fight, and nodded and remained in place while he found something to help bandage her.

She was aware of Frank returning fire, but beyond that Elissa was unable to really contribute much here. Still… apparently everything calmed down… which gave her enough time to bring her hand away and punch the floor furiously, slamming her head against the couch she was leaning against as she kicked herself for not noticing that damn sniper. She’d made longer shots than that, much less seen them, how the hell had she missed that?! Was she really slipping that much?! Was she really that much of a has-been?

Of course, just to make matters worse, Joey’s significant other came in at about that moment to see the carnage. Frank was quick on it, of course, and was able to get things under control. Grunting softly, she reached up to the buttons of her coat and undid them as quickly as she could manage, ignoring the pain of moving the arm involved. The moment the thing was off to allow for a little better access to her injury, her right hand returned to its place while the left went limp, tears of pain streaming down her face as she bit her lip. Under her jacket she was wearing what amounted to a grey tank top. Tommy would be able to see the wound clearly if he could get her hand away, and if he was paying attention he’d notice scars similar to her neck’s along both her arms and a single mark on the edge of her right shoulder where she’d been grazed by another bullet.

She was absolutely oblivious to the calls being made… except for Frank’s mention of an 11-41. Immediately shame overwhelmed her and she looked down, biting her lip as more tears streamed down her cheeks. Damn it all… was that all she was now? A freaking ambulance call?!

 

Chor:  Now Isa wouldn’t have called herself busy, but drinking her shitty coffee from the conference/break room down the hall just past the morgue was the one thing that she preferred to be uninterrupted in her morning routine. She guessed, though, that in the city that never, ever sleeps, ten in the morning was not too early for a homicide. Truthfully, she had been on overnight duty and just slept in her office. The lounge served comfortble enough for at most six hours of light, non-murder-interrupted sleep. The crackling of the heat coming on in the room caused her to wake about thirty-seven minutes earlier and her hair was still a raggedy, sad mess.
This, of course, homicidal maniacs did not take into consideration when they started killing for the day. One sip into the sludge shite in the cracked “Best Mom Ever” mug and the radio exploded with sound, turning her quiet world upside down and causing her to drop her liquid breakfast onto the counter. The mug bounced off the edge of the granite and tumbled to the floor, creating a scene more annoying than she wished to handle at the moment. Listening closely to the radio, she stood unblinking. 10-71. Not for her. 11-41. Still not her. Her fingers twitched. Now that she was alert, ready for it, she eyed the device hungrily. So quickly her emotions could change. When nothing else spewed from the muffled speakers and the sound quit its reverberation in the accoustic room, she bent and retrieved her cup. The handle was broken and where the piece sepearated was seen layers upon layers of all sorts of glue of different consistencies and colors. This cup is old, a piece of fine china in their little kitchinette, and she would put it back together again. Just like she always does.
A towel is procured from a bland gray cabinet and used to mop up the black mess. The coffee was actually so thick, it nearly reminded her of coagulated blood. A small smile tugged at her lips as she threw the towel in the ‘to-be-washed’ bin, where it woud sit for about a week and a half until she washed it at home. Her second in command for this shift, Khalil, opened the door gently, holding fresh scrubs she only imagined he planned to change into.
“I got word from the buses it’s homicide. Keep an ear out, I’m headed to change, you’re on dead guy duty, I’ll drive,” He said. Khalil didn’t have an office, mostly because he was new and not because he didn’t deserve one. He worked just as hard as any of the others, just Isa worked harder; and she was more qualified. She nodded, though, and followed him as he left the entrance. There was a pretty good chance they’d be seeing hearing someone call in a body within the next ten minutes. She pulled her coat on and plucked her clip board and pen off the shelf, waiting patiently in the corpse-mobile.

 

Razorbackwriter:  The street below Joey’s apartment, was now filled with brass and the blazing lights of squad cars and of course the ambulance. Tommy sat outside in the hall, his jacket now a disheveled mess, covered in blood and bits of broken glass. After having answered questions to one of the other officers, he was ordered outside while Frank was getting a dressing down from his superior.

“No warrant? Jesus, Frank. What were you thinking? You are just damn lucky this joint is full of drugs.” The Commander scowled, as he was handed a bag from one of the CSI teams. “More in the bedroom, Sir.” The rookie announced, as others were searching throughout the apartment for more. Frank had been consoling Patty, who was now being taken away by a special officer for the bereaved. Joey was laying on the floor under a sheet, while another cop was dusting for prints. There had been no word yet on the dark room, and this had Frank on tender hooks.

“Sir, I’m not going to lie. Joey Patone sent me some photographs and that is the reason I came here. I dragged Elissa and Tommy Xo in with me. So if you are going to throw the book at anyone, throw it at me.”

The Commander raised a brow, and then asked. “What photographs?” At this point, Frank directed the Commander to the dark room. The two gentlemen walked in and this was when the Commander’s face became quite stern. “So he liked a little photography. What has that got to do with anything?” The Commander not being able to see a connection. He could see the p*rn pictures, but then he saw the ones of the beast.

“What the devil?” He pulled one down and stared at it. “He was into Sci fi photography?”

Frank came up behind him and said. “Sir…look at the date.” It was the same date as the day Rory died. The image taken from the alley below. “Sir…that is the thing that took Rory. Joey…saw it too.”

“AHAHAHAHA. What a load of crock. He was fitting you up, Frank. This is ludicrous.” The commander wasn’t about to believe Frank. Who would? He spun on his heel and got in Frank’s face. “You got a dead man out there, and you have motive.”

“What?” It was incredulous to think that Frank would kill Joey, if he was the only other witness to the death of Rory. “Sir, you’ve got this all wrong. A sniper shot Joey through the window. Ask Elissa…..or Tommy.”

 

~RB~