It was raining…
and somehow the rain said more than the police commissioner.
“Sarah served her city. She was a fine officer. Nobody deserves to have their life cut short, especially someone who had so much love to give.”
Big droplets hit the crowd of black umbrellas in the police cemetery like a mournful applause, as Gregson stared-out from under one of them—a tear in his eye. He would drown his sadness in alcohol. It never fixed his problems, but it always deadened his pain.
The police bar had a heartbeat, it was the soul of the city and right now it was about to go into arrest. Gregson sipped his rum and coke, not wanting to talk to anybody, but knowing it was inevitable.
“I don’t care what they say, she was a two-bit-whore who didn’t put-out enough—that’s why she got it!”
Gregson looked at the kid. He’d had one too many, so it was the alcohol talking, but that didn’t mean he didn’t need to be taught a lesson.
“Boy, come over here,” Gregson said.
The young man stopped laughing, his sick insecurity noticed Gregson for the first time. “I’m not a boy. Why should I listen to you?”
“Sarah was my partner. I trained her.”
“You were her pimp?”
Gregson’s soul twisted. It was like he was given permission from the Devil. “Why don’t you step outside and prove that you’re not a boy,” Gregson said.
“With you? You look like you’re one step away from the grave.”
“Smart kid, huh? Can you back up your words with your fists?” The boy walked into the alley and Gregson sighed. He hadn’t done this for awhile…
When he exited the bar, he got punched in the face. It felt good—somehow the pain cut his sadness. “My partner worked undercover—you know. She put two mob bosses in the slammer. What’ve you ever done?”
There was more alcohol in the kid than water, but he moved with perfect coordination. His skinny frame and muscles looked like a drug addict.
Gregson’s belly bounced as he leaned 250 pounds into him. It only took one punch, then stars. Gregson vomited in the trash can. “I guess I still have it,” he said.
“My face…” the kid groaned.
“It’s an improvement. What’s your name?”
“Tony… Tony B.”
“Do you have a death wish Tony…? Never insult a cop in a police bar. I’m Gregson. Now I’ll buy you a drink and let’s go fishing.”
One drink turned into two…
and pretty soon Gregson and Tony were swimming in it.
“You can hold your liquor,” Gregson admired, “but can you hold a pole?” Tony looked at him through glassy eyes, like a dead fish.
“Why don’t I have a hangover?” He asked.
“Because you haven’t stopped drinking,” Gregson said. “A little secret of mine.” He lit a cigarette and sucked in the blue smoke. He’d been trying to kill himself for the last twenty years. Lung cancer hadn’t worked. Bad guys couldn’t do it. His ex-wife tried to do it. And despite these failures, Gregson knew he had a date with death. It would be a love affair, a romance, a mystery that he must solve.
“I never thought I would live this long,” Gregson said. “My pecks are sagging, my ass is sagging, and the road never ends.”
“When are we going fishing?” Tony asked.
They staggered out of the bar, and Gregson grabbed his pole from his convertible and put on his waders and galoshes and swam into the river.
“It’s dangerous to fish while you’re drunk, but it’s an excellent way to get sober,” Gregson laughed.